Burundi. President Pierre Nkurunziza's re-debated
decision in 2015 to be re-elected for a third term continued
to characterize Burundi's political and economic
development. The level of violence has been muted, but
deaths continue to be required. Human rights groups and
international bodies reported continued persecution of the
opposition. Police blamed criminal leagues for firearms and
grenade attacks. Data on disappearances also appeared.
The International Monetary Fund estimated zero growth in
the economy in 2017. The World Bank stated that the
uncertain political situation and declining agricultural
production in the wake of climate change and refugee flows
played a part.
Countryaah.com, UN Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein in
April condemned the ruling party CNDD-FDD's youth branch
Imbonerakure for its fierce outcome and threats of mass
In May, the government appointed a committee to review
the constitution. The chairman and his vice have close ties
to the government party. At the end of October, the
government adopted several proposed constitutional
amendments, for example that the president should be allowed
to sit for two seven-year terms. Nkurunziza could
theoretically sit until 2034. It was unclear when a possible
referendum would be held to approve the change.
The leader of the CNARED opposition coalition, Charles
Nditije, said the proposal was the "impasse" for the Arusha
process, and then aimed at the agreement concluded in 2000
and which contributed to an end to the protracted civil war.
Earlier in the year, for example, the UN chief António
Guterres had warned in a report to the UN Security Council
that the crisis could persist and spread regionally if
Nkurunziza extends its mandate.
In May, the UN chief appointed Burkina Faso's former
president Michel Kafando a new UN envoy with the mission of
supporting UN and regional peace efforts. Split in the UN
Security Council has prevented greater pressure on
Nkurunziza. China and the Russian Federation, among others,
believe that the crisis is an internal matter. China's Vice
President Li Yuanchao visited the country in May. The US and
the EU have previously imposed targeted sanctions on certain
Burundian politicians and military commanders.
In July, Nkurunziza visited neighboring Tanzania. The
visit abroad was his first since the failed coup attempt in
2015. He and the president of Tanzania invited the more than
240,000 refugees to return to Burundi.
In September, the United Nations Human Rights Council
decided to extend the mandate of a special panel that
investigates suspected crimes in Burundi since 2015, despite
strong opposition from Burundi. The three experts noted that
the human rights situation had not improved and that the
International Criminal Court (ICC) should investigate
suspected crimes against humanity.
Burundi became the first of the ICC's 124 members to
leave the Hague-based court on October 27. The ICC announced
in November that it considered it entitled to investigate
suspected crimes against humanity in Burundi between April
2015 and October 2017. A judge at the ICC said that at least
1,200 people are feared to have been killed and thousands of
others imprisoned without cause or tortured.
The Burundi government announced that it would not
cooperate with the ICC. The country received some backing
from the presidents of neighboring countries Tanzania and
Uganda, who said that the ICC's decision hampered regional
The regional organization of the EAC, the former
president of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, held several rounds
of mediation, but failed to draw a close relationship
between the ruling party and the opposition. However, the
parties met during the summer in Helsinki. The meeting was
organized by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari's
mediation institute CMI. The outcome has not been made
At the end of September, broadcasting rights were revoked
for several radio and TV companies for three months, which
also included websites on the Internet. Groups such as
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) criticized the decision as a
further restriction on freedom of expression.