Building a path to peace in Burundi: four key actions

Map of Rwanda and Burundi Map of Rwanda and Burundi © Photo by Omersukrugoksu on iStock

This article is a brief presentation of Peace Direct’s report on the situation in Burundi.

In a recent brief report, the British charity Peace Direct analyses the prospect for peace in the state of Burundi. As the new year dawns, the East African country is drawing conclusions from the first six months of Évariste Ndayishimiye’s presidency, which has been marked by major social and political changes. Among these, his call to Burundian refugees inviting them to return from neighbouring countries stands out – it has encouraged thousands of them to return to their country of origin. The refugees had previously left the country due to the authoritarian regime of the previous government led by Pierre Nkurunziza.

However, the first six months of Ndayishimiye’s mandate have also witnessed ongoing, serious human rights violations and attacks that included hundreds of civilians among the victims, fomented by both the government and the rebels of the RED - Tabara movement. Moreover, the roles of Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, entrusted respectively to a former police chief and to the former head of intelligence who are both accused of human rights violations, has also caused debate. The new administration has therefore not proved to be a clear break with the previous government, and the hope for greater political and civic freedom seems to have dissipated. In confirmation of this, the United Nations has extended the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry for another year, thus highlighting the persistent threat of the human rights situation worsening.

Faced with this situation, Peace Direct suggests four key actions for civil society and local activists to follow so their efforts can contribute to lasting peacebuilding. They recommend the following: Monitoring and protecting human rights by disseminating reports, testimonies and evidence of human rights violations; combating the spread of hate speech against ethnic groups by promoting discourses of tolerance and unity; fostering social cohesion to mitigate tensions between rival communities and political groups; and finally supporting the peaceful and sustainable reintegration of Burundian refugees, especially those from neighbouring Rwanda, a country previously accused of supporting forces opposed to the Burundian government.

The Peace Direct report concludes on a positive note, stating that sustainable stability in Burundi is possible if all actors, political and non-political, starting from civil society to the highest offices, work together to achieve the same goals. This process must prioritize the arrest and prosecution of the security forces and Imbonerakure (the youth wing of the ruling party known for its violence against the opposition), perpetrators of intimidation, mistreatment, murder and other human rights violations. With respect to the political line to be followed, Peace Direct calls on the government to mend the dialogue with the opposition in exile, release the remaining political prisoners, journalists and activists and restore freedom of thought and expression.


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Autore: Laura Manzi; Editor: Andrew Goodell

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