Burundi, in long form the Republic of Burundi, is a country in East Africa without access to the sea, but having a large shore on Lake Tanganyika, located in the Great Lakes and surrounded by the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Rwanda to the north, and Tanzania to the east and south. Its capital is, since February 4, 2019, Gitega. Bujumbura, the former capital and the most populous city in the country, is the economic capital.

Burundi’s history

The first archaeological traces of a Burundian state date back to the sixteenth century in the east of its current borders. From 1903, Burundi became part of German East Africa. After the First World War, the country fell into the fold of the Belgian colonial Empire which was supported by the Tutsi aristocracy. The independence of the country is proclaimed on July 1, 1962, the date then chosen to celebrate the national holiday, and King Mwambutsa IV establishes a regime of constitutional monarchy which will be abolished in 1966. “The Tutsi tribe, which accounts for between 10 and 15% of the population, dominates and strips their rights there of that of the Hutus, who are five to six times more numerous. The central political power remains a Tutsi monopoly. In 1987, 13 out of 15 provincial governors were Tutsi, and the entire army too. Clashes took place between Tutsis and Hutus in the 1960s. In 1972, the Hutu insurrection against the dictatorial regime of President Tutsi Micombero was severely repressed, the massacres reached several tens of thousands of victims among Hutus (estimate 100,000 ).

The latent conflicts between Tutsis and Hutus continued in the 1970s and 1980s and led to the Burundian civil war in 1993. At the start, thousands of Tutsi civilians were massacred by their Hutu neighbors. Then the army reacts very violently as in 1972, and engages in a very harsh repression and massacre of the Hutus. A total of 50,000 to 100,000 people (mostly Hutu) are killed. A new, transitional constitution was promulgated on October 28, 2001, establishing an “ethnic” alternation of power, the presidency and vice-presidency changing every 18 months, alternating Tutsis and Hutus. The Arusha Agreement comes into force on November 1, 2001, ending the conflict. The CNDD-FDD (Hutu) came to power in 2005, winning the legislative elections of July 4, 2005. During the presidential elections of August 19, 2005, the National Assembly and the Senate united in congress elected Pierre Nkurunziza president for a mandate of 5 years re-eligible only once. 162 parliamentarians vote for Nkurunziza, 9 against and 2 abstain. These elections constitute the final stage of the peace process. Five years later, an extraordinary congress of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy / Defense Forces for Democracy (CNDD-FDD) designates on April 24, 2010, Pierre Nkurunziza as CNDD-FDD candidate to run for a second term in the head of the country in the presidential election of June 28, 2010. Opposition leaders are arrested, and this opposition refuses to participate in the poll. The campaign was peppered with incidents, several members of the opposition were arrested. Pierre Nkurunziza was re-elected president with more than 91% of the vote, the only candidate in the election. In 2015, Pierre Nkurunziza imposed himself in April as the candidate of power for the presidential election of June 26, 2015. This decision is contrary to the constitution of Burundi, promulgated in March 2005. His candidacy is nevertheless validated by a controversial decision of the Constitutional Court. A new political crisis, interspersed with violence, is opening.

In May 2015, an attempted coup failed. This attempt engendered a bloody repression of the opposition on the part of the president, with hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands of Burandans taking refuge outside the country. After several postponements, the presidential election, deemed illegal and rigged by all observers of Burundian politics, is finally held in July. On July 24, the independent national electoral commission proclaimed Nkurunziza the winner with 69.41% of the vote. The economic situation continues to deteriorate. In early 2020, General Évariste Ndayishimiye was nominated as candidate for the presidential election of May 20, 2020 by the ruling party, to succeed Pierre Nkurunziza.

Burundi’s politics

Burundi is a multi-party republic with a presidential system where the President occupies the offices of head of state and head of government. Executive power is in the hands of the government while the two chambers of Parliament (Senate and National Assembly) share legislative power with the government. The National Assembly has 121 seats distributed in 17 constituencies. Among the deputies, 100 are elected by direct universal suffrage. 60% of them must come from the Hutu group and 40% from the Tutsi group and have at least 30% women. If these quotas are not reached, as many additional Members as necessary to fill them are co-opted. Three additional seats are also reserved for Twa deputies to coopter. The Senate is composed of two members per province, a Hutu and a Tutsi, elected by the municipal councils, three people from the Twa ethnic group and former heads of state. It must also include at least 30% women. If necessary, co-optation can be used to reach the quotas. Burundi is a member of the International Organization of the Francophonie as well as of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie.

Burundi’s economy

Burundi’s economy is mainly rural and is based on agricultural exports and livestock. Agricultural production is divided into products for export, such as coffee, tea and cotton, and food crops. The coffee sector represents the country’s primary resource (80% of exports). Burundi was also the eighth on the list of African tea producers at the start of the 2010 decade, dominated by Kenya. The population depends on more than 90% of this agriculture, which represents more than 50% of the GDP (800 million dollars in 1999). Industry accounted for 18% of GNP in 1999, and services 32%. The active population doubled between 1990 and 1999, from 2 million to 4 million; one in two workers is a woman. Child labor is regularly denounced as being common in Burundi. Recently, Burundians have been betting on tourism. Burundi is a signatory to the international treaty on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

Burundi’s demography

In 2019, the population of Burundi is estimated at 12 million inhabitants, its growth rate in 2016 was 3.3%. At the last census in 2008, the country had 8,053,574 inhabitants, of whom 497,166 lived in Bujumbura, the former capital. The median age is 16.9 years and the proportion of those under 15 corresponds to 46% of the country’s total population.

Burundi’s language

The official languages ​​of Burundi are Kirundi and French. In August 2014, the National Assembly passed a law making English a third official language, this law has not yet been promulgated. Both languages ​​of instruction, to which Kiswahili is added although it is not an official language of the country. French remains, however, an elite language, spoken by less than ten percent of the population. As for Swahili, the regional Bantu language, it is above all spoken by traders and remains mainly confined to urban areas.