Burundi Political Context

Burundi was once part of German East Africa and was won by Belgium under a League of Nations mandate in 1923 and subsequently Burundi with Rwanda were transferred to the status of a United Nations trust territory. Burundi gained independence on July 1, 1962 under the rule of King Mwami Mwambutsa IV and legally changed its name from Ruanda-Urundi to Burundi.

The constitution making process

The independence of Burundi was followed with rebellions, coup d’etat and civil wars mainly due to ethic conflict between the Tutsis and Hutus. In the process many people lost their lives and Prime Minister Pierre Ngendanduwe was assassinated in 1965. King Mwambutsa was deposed in 1966 by his son, Prince Ntare V, who claimed the throne.  Subsequently Prime Minister Captain Michel Micombero deposed Ntare, abolished the monarchy and declared the nation a republic. In 1970-72 there was a civil war and over 100,000 civilians lost their lives and many people sought asylum in Tanzania and Rwanda.

In 1976 Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, led a bloodless coup and promoted various reforms and in 1981 a new constitution was promulgated in 1981, keeping Burundi a one-party state under UPRONA. In August 1984 Bagaza was elected head of state and he was overthrown by Major Pierre Buyoya in 1987.

Major Pierre Buyoya suspended the constitution, dissolved the political parties, and reinstated military rule under the Military Committee for National Salvation (CSMN). In 1992 a new constitution providing for a multiparty system was adopted following a referendum.

1993 Democratic Elections

In June 1993, Melchior Ndadaye, leader of the Hutu-dominated Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) won the first democratic election and became the first Hutu head of state. In October 1993 President Ndadaye was assassinated. The violence which followed led to the death of over 300,000 people. This was followed by a lot of uncertainty until 1996 when Major Pierre Buyoya stated a successful coup d’etat.

Peace and Reconciliation Agreement

In 1998 Buyoya and Parliament agreed on a transitional constitution under which Buyoya is formally sworn in as president. Under President Buyoya rule, long peace talks mediated by South Africa started. Both parties signed agreements in Arusha, Tanzania and Pretoria, South Africa, to share power in Burundi. On 28 August 28, 2000 a transitional government for Burundi was planned as a part of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. In January 2002 Jean Minani, leader of main Hutu party Frodebu was elected president of transitional national assembly set up to bridge ethnic divide.

Power Sharing

In 2003 Domitien Ndayizeye succeeded Pierre Buyoya as president, under terms of three-year, power-sharing transitional government inaugurated in 2001.

In Novermber 2003 President Ndayizeye and Hutu rebel group Forces for Defence of Democracy (FDD) leader Pierre Nkurunziza signed an agreement to end civil war at summit of African leaders in Tanzania.

Peace Keeping

UN force takes over peacekeeping duties from African Union troops. The mission was closed in February 2007.

National Army

President signs law to set up new national army, incorporating government forces and all but one Hutu rebel group, the FNL.

Power-sharing Constitution

In March 2005 voters approved power-sharing constitution. In August 2006 Pierre Nkurunziza was elected as president by the two houses of parliament under the new constitution.

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