More than two years of crisis in Burundi

Burundi has since April 2015 been rocked by a deadly political crisis born of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s divisive bid for a third term, which he secured in July of that year.

Between 500 and 2 000 people have been killed in the violence, according to sources such as the United Nations and non-governmental organisations, and nearly 400 000 pushed into exile.

A UN report released on Monday accused Burundi’s government of crimes against humanity, including executions and torture, and urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a case “as soon as possible”.

Here is a summary of key developments in the crisis engulfing the central African country.

Demonstrations start 

April 25 2015: Nkurunziza is declared candidate for a third term by his ruling CNDD-FDD party. The opposition says the move is unconstitutional and violates a peace deal that ended the 1993-2006 civil war.

The following day thousands of protesters take to the streets across the capital, kicking off six weeks of almost daily demonstrations.

Failed coup

May 13: Top Burundian general Godefroid Niyombare announces the overthrow of Nkurunziza hours after the president flies to Tanzania.

The coup attempt fails, with some leaders surrendering and others fleeing.

Defections, re-election

June 28: Outgoing parliament head Pie Ntavyohanyuma denounces the president’s “illegal” third term bid and says he has fled to Belgium.

He joins a long list of opposition leaders, journalists, civil society representatives and disillusioned ruling party members who have chosen exile.

July 21: Nkurunziza is re-elected in a vote boycotted by the opposition.

Targeted attacks 

August 2: De facto internal security chief General Adolphe Nshimirimana is killed in a rocket attack.

August 3: Human rights activist Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, who publicly opposed Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, is wounded in gunfire.

August 15: Tutsi Colonel Jean Bikomagu, the former head of Burundi’s army during the 13-year civil war, is assassinated.

December 11: At least 87 people are killed in coordinated attacks by unidentified gunmen on three military sites that trigger a fierce riposte from the security forces.

‘Risk of genocide’

July 2016: The UN Security Council authorises the deployment of 228 UN policemen but Burundi rejects the resolution.

September 20: UN investigators say Burundi’s government is behind systematic human rights violations, including executions and torture, which amount to “crimes against humanity”. They warn of a risk of genocide.

October 27: Burundi decides to quite the ICC which has launched a preliminary examination into allegations of murder, torture, rape and forced disappearances.

Move to ‘violent dictatorship’?

December 30 2016: Nkurunziza, hints he might seek a fourth term in office in 2020.

January 1, 2017: The environment minister is killed in Bujumbura.

January 3: Authorities ban the country’s oldest human rights organisation, the Iteka League.

January 19: Human Rights Watch says young men belonging to Burundi’s ruling party are waging brutal attacks on perceived opponents.

July 4: The International Federation of Human Rights says the regime is moving the country toward violent dictatorship.


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