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View on Africa: reaching the point of no return in Burundi
Date: 18 November 2015
Time: 11h00 - 12h00
Venue: Online via VoiceBoxer

Pour la version française, cliquez ici

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The issue

After more than six months of violence and unsuccessful mediation in Burundi, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council have recently passed resolutions strongly condemning the escalating confrontation between security forces and armed factions of the opposition.

While the crisis has not reached boiling point, there are concerns that the longer it lasts, the more Burundi will see irreversible erosion of post-Arusha social, political and security gains. Will this new wave of action by regional and international actors encourage the government to pursue an inclusive dialogue?

This week’s View on Africa was presented by Dr Yolande Bouka, researcher in Nairobi. She highlighted the latest developments on the ground and shared new insights from recent field research in Burundi. 

Key points:

  • On 17 October 2015, the AU Peace and Security Council issued its strongest-worded communiqué on Burundi since the beginning of the crisis, calling for genuine and inclusive dialogue, preparing measures for targeted sanctions, setting the conditions for possible peacekeeping interventions and calling for deployment of 100 human-rights observers.
  • The recent increase in targeted assassinations and inflammatory language from key government officials has raised concerns of mass violence in Burundi.
  • Increased pressure and scrutiny from international and regional actors have forced the government to act with more restraint during disarmament activities.
  • The AU, United Nations, European Union (EU), and United States continue to support the East African Community (EAC)-led mediation with President Museveni at the helm, despite the body’s previous inability to make any headway in the negotiation process.
  • Comparisons between the current Burundi crisis and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda fail to recognise Rwanda’s unique security context prior to the genocide and ignore Burundi’s own legacy of violence.
  • The armed opposition, which is not currently under a single command, has increased its attacks, contributing to violence and insecurity in the capital.

What to watch:

  • The crisis and the suspension of bilateral assistance have crippled the economy, which is expected to see 7% growth in 2015.
  • The Burundian government has until the end of November to decide if it will engage in consultations with the EU under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. Failure to engage in these consultations and/or reach specific benchmarks could result in Burundi losing much of its bilateral assistance from the EU and individual countries in Europe.
  • While international and regional actors are calling for dialogue between the government and the opposition, neither side has been clear on what they expect from the mediation. 
  • Mediation should take place before the end of 2015 in order to quickly de-escalate violence in Burundi.
  • Change in leadership, both in the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and EAC, could alter regional power dynamics and impact the quality of the mediation.

About View on Africa

Do you want to know what's happening in Africa, where it's happening and what it means for the continent's many actors?

Join the new ISS View on Africa weekly briefing every Wednesday from 11h00 - 12h00 CAT. ISS researchers from Dakar, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Pretoria provide expert analysis of major events and trends in Africa. Introductory remarks are followed by discussions among participants.

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Vues d’Afrique : le point de non-retour au Burundi 

Après plus de six mois de violences et de médiation non fructueuse, le Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l’Union africaine et le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies ont adopté des résolutions condamnant fermement l’escalade de la confrontation entre les forces de sécurité et les factions armées de l’opposition.

Même si la crise n’a pas encore atteint un stade critique, les observateurs craignent une érosion irréversible des gains sociaux, politiques et sécuritaires engendrés par l’Accord d’Arusha. Cette multiplication des actions de la part des acteurs régionaux et internationaux encouragera-t-elle le gouvernement à mettre en œuvre un dialogue inclusif ?

La réunion de cette semaine sera présentée par le Dr Yolande Bouka, chercheure à Nairobi. Elle se penchera sur les derniers développements au Burundi  et partagera les résultats de ses recherches de terrain.

À propos de Vues d’Afrique

Vous voulez savoir ce qu’il se passe en Afrique, quand cela se passe et ce que cela signifie pour les nombreux acteurs du continent ?

Rejoignez-nous tous les mercredis de 11h00 à 12h00. Lors de ces réunions « Vues d’Afrique », nos chercheurs de Dakar, Nairobi, Addis Abéba et Pretoria apporteront leur expertise sur des sujets qui marquent l’actualité africaine ; ces exposés seront suivis par des discussions entre participants.

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The ISS is grateful for support from the members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the USA.
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Lusungu Kamudoni
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