Elections in 2015: Burundi

In Burundi, elections in 2015 are likely to be a focal point of opposition-led demonstrations against the government. Burundi’s 12 party opposition coalition, the Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC-Ikibiri), has already criticised the government for irregularities in the distribution of voter registration cards, which allegedly favour the ruling CNDD-FDD party. ADC-Ikibiri’s leader, Leonce Ngendakumana, has claimed that the CNDD-FDD party has cheated through distributing identity cards to members of the ruling party while “systematically refusing them to opposition supporters”. This is important as, under Burundi’s electoral law, voters must provide an identity card in order to register to vote.

The opposition has also accused the government of eliminating dissent through intimidation ahead of next year’s election and, considering that the majority of opposition parties boycotted the election in 2010, there is a strong possibility that a similar boycott might be announced in 2015. In turn, this would increase the likelihood of demonstrations against the government as the opposition reverts to using protest rather than the ballot box in order to get its voice heard. That being said, the ADC-Ikibiri coalition has declared that they will field a joint presidential candidate and common lists for the legislative elections next year.

Moreover, it appears that Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, may attempt to run for a third term in office, which is prohibited by the country’s constitution. Africa Integrity understands that he may attempt to circumvent the constitution by arguing that he was not directly elected for his first term in office as he was appointed under exceptional circumstances at the end of Burundi’s civil war. If Nkurunziza attempts to run for a third term, there is a significant risk that it will cause protests and civil unrest. This is particularly the case in 2015 following the success of demonstrations against Blaise Compaore’s attempt to extend his presidential term in Burkina Faso in late October 2014. Thus, Burundi’s legislative and presidential elections in May and June next year are highly likely to attract protests led by the opposition, which has potential to cause widespread social unrest.   

[The above is an extract from a comprehensive report on the political outlook for Africa in 2015 which will be distributed to clients in the New Year]   

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