Officially: Repubulika y’u Burundi; République du Burundi.
Seat of government: Bujumbura.
Status: Questionably democratic.
Structure: The president was elected directly. Parliament consists of the Assemblée Nationale, elected by party lists within multi-member geographical constituencies, with three-fifths of seats reserved for abaHutu, and two-fifths for abaTutsi, and a Sénat, comprising one umuHutu and one umuTutsi chosen in each province by local governments.
Governing party: Conseil National pour la Défense de la DémocratieForces pour la Défense de la Démocratie.
Head of government: Nkurunziza Petero, president.
Chief opposition parties: Front pour la Démocratie au Burundi; Forces Nationales de Libération; Union pour le Progrès National; Front pour la Démocratie au Burundi – Nyakuri.
Assessment: Shares the same traditional social composition as Rwanda: a stratification between abaTutsi (herders) and the more numerous abaHutu (farmers), with the ruling class (Ganwa) predominantly Tutsi, a hierarchy maintained and further institutionalized by colonial powers Deutschland (prior to World War I) and Belgique. UProNa, then broad-based, won elections (1961) and its prime minister Rwagasore Louis (son of mwami Mwambutsa) was assassinated (1961) prior to independence (1962) as a semi-democratic monarchy. A second prime minister, umuHutu Ngendandumwe Petero, was assassinated in 1965; when abaHutu won subsequent elections, Mwambutsa’s choice of an umuTutsi as prime minister sparked a putsch by the Hutu gendarmerie, followed by the killings of thousands of abaHutu, élite and mass alike, in reprisal. Mwambutsa was deposed in 1966 by umuTutsi defense minister Micombero Michel (1966-76), with Mwambutsa’s son, Ntare, as figurehead mwami for a few months, before Ntare was also formally removed. Micombero coopted UProNa and built a new Tutsi-supremacist authoritarian state. At least 100,000 abaHutu were killed after a 1972 uprising. Micombero was deposed by Bagaza Jean-Baptiste (1976-87), who was deposed by Buyoya Petero (1987-93, 1996-2003), both abaTutsi, with little change in policy. Another uprising took place in 1988, resulting in many thousands of deaths. 1993 elections were won by the mainly-Hutu FroDeBu, and umuHutu Ndadaye Melchior (1993) became president; while generally conciliatory towards abaTutsi, his rebalancing of state power and privilege led to his assassination by the Tutsi-dominated army; tens of thousands were killed over the next year, primarily abaTutsi killed by ordinary abaHutu, and some abaHutu killed by the army in reprisal. In 1994, FroDeBu chose umuHutu Ntaryamira Cyprien as the new permanent president, but he was killed later that year in a plane crash with Rwanda’s president Habyarimana Juvénal, which was followed by the Rwandan genocide, but also many more tens of thousands of war deaths in Burundi; Ntibantunganya Sylvestre (1994-6) served as president, until overthrown by Buyoya. Buyoya stepped down for his vice president, umuHutu Ndayizeye Domitien (2003-5) of FroDeBu, under a power-sharing arrangement negotiated by the Tutsi régime and Hutu political parties, setting down the three-fifths/two-fifths rule, applying to parliament and other government posts. Not all insurgents agreed to the arrangement, but the FDD (the CNDD armed wing), which did, was brought into the government, and a new merged army began to be set up. Parliamentary elections, twice postponed, took place in 2005, won by the CNDD-FDD, and its leader Nkurunziza Petero (2005-20) became president. The revolt of the Parti pour la Libération du Peuple Hutu – FNL, the last armed group, led by Rwasa Agathon, ended during his first term. A 2010 presidential election, held directly for the first time, was tainted by the withdrawal of chief challenger Rwasa and the subsequent overwhelming victory of Nkurunziza; the opposition also boycotted the parlimentary election later that year. In 2015, civil turmoil began over Nkurunziza’s plans to stand for a third term; intelligence chief Niyombare Godefroid, fired for opposing the plans, led a putsch while Nkurunziza was away.
FH: 4-5, partly free (democratic). Econ: 4.51 (106), hybrid.
Updated: 2020 June 9.