What Now for Burundi? Five Key Risks
18 May 2015
Hours before an army general in Burundi announced he had relieved President Pierre Nkurunziza of his duties, a small group of experts were making predictions before a packed audience in Nairobi.
Tensions had been building for a fortnight in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, where police repeatedly clashed with protestors demanding Nkurunziza abandon his bid to run for a third term in the presidential election set for next month.
A coup d’état was one of the contingencies being discussed in Wednesday’s morning meeting, but those gathered at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) event couldn’t possibly have known what was about to happen.
That afternoon, with Nkurunziza away in Tanzania attending a regional summit on Burundi’s crisis, Major-General Godefroid Niyombare, a former chief of army staff recently sacked from his post as head of the national intelligence service, went on the radio and made his announcement.
Rival army factions then began fighting each other and on Thursday afternoon they were still battling for control of the state broadcaster.
The biggest concern now is that the decade of peace Burundi has enjoyed since the end of a 1993-2005 civil war could unravel, prompting fresh waves of refugees and spreading conflict to neighbouring countries.
“The stakes for Burundi but also for the wider region are high,” Sarah Jackson, deputy regional director of Amnesty International, told the seminar.
Here are five key risks. (…)
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