In April 2015, Burundi descended into a political crisis following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term, which was seen as a contravention of the 2000 Arusha Peace Agreement. This agreement put in place an ethnic ethnic quota system for state institutions, including the army, and established a two-term presidential limit. The political conflict has spiralled into a protracted crisis characterized by numerous human rights violations including killings, torture, and arbitrary arrests, disappearances and abductions. Since 2015, more than 325,000 Burundians have fled to neighbouring countries.
In July 2015, the East African Community (EAC) heads of state appointed President Yoweri Museveni as the mediator for an inter-Burundi dialogue, with former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa as the facilitator of the process. However, progress has seemingly stalled after multiple failed attempts by the facilitator to bring the different parties together. Neither of the sides have agreed to participate in the peace talks.
On 21 March 2017, the Rift Valley Forum and Atrocities Watch Africa hosted a panel discussion, which examined the role of the international community—the African Union and the United Nations in particular—in the EAC-led mediation process and explored what the crisis means to Burundians and the region as a whole. As the crisis deepens, the death toll and number of displaced people rise, the questions remain: Does the EAC have the capacity to manage the crisis? Are there lessons to be learnt from the recent ECOWAS response in the Gambia?
Atrocities Watch Africa
Women and Girls Movement for Burundi (MFFPS)
Forum for Strengthening of Civil Society (Burundi) (FORSC)
Rachel Nicholson (TBC)
International Crisis Group