Following a coup attempt against president Pierre Nkurunziza last week, Burundi is now facing its worst turmoil since the 12-year civil war, which ended in 2005.
The unrests started on 26 April after Nkurunziza’s announcement that he will run for a third term in office in June. According to Burundi’s constitution, Nkurunziza can only be elected for two terms. However, he is claiming that his first term doesn’t count as he wasn’t elected in 2005 but appointed to the role by parliament.
Loyalist soldiers and opponents of Nkurunziza, who has been awarded several peace prizes by the likes of the UN and the African Forum on Religion and Government, disagreed as to whether it is legal for him to run again. Eighteen people have appeared in court accused of helping to organise the failed coup on 13 May, including former defence minister General Cyrille Ndayirukiye and police commissioners Zenon Ndabaneze and Hermenegilde Nimenya. The alleged coup ringleader, former intelligence chief General Godefroid Niyombare, is still on the run.
While the coming weeks are expected to bring more clarity on the political situation, Burundi, which is home to a population of 10.2 million, remains one of the poorest countries in the world. In late 2009, Monocle’s correspondent Max Delany went to capital Bujumbura when Pierre Nkurunziza was at the end of his first term. Delany talked to Bujumbura’s mayor Evrard Giswaswa and trade, industry and tourism minister Euphrasie Bigirimana. Up for discussion were the country’s political future and business potential, and the way in which the capital’s officials were attracting foreign investment in a bid to kickstart an economic recovery.