Briefing Paper

The Burundi Political Crisis: Strategies for Resisting the War Entrepreneurs

The attention of the world was captured by the political crisis which unfolded in Burundi in 2015, following the controversial re-election of President Nkurunziza for a third term in office. Local and international news headlines quickly raised the spectre of an unfolding ‘genocide’. World leaders, such as Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), and Louis Michel, Commissioner and Member of European Parliament, and other international partners, called for action before ‘it is too late’. It is important to recognize how elevating the notion that genocide is imminent can be a powerful aid for those trying to actively promote violent conflict. Indeed, as much as ignoring or denying genocide, while the region’s history of inter-ethnic violence should not be ignored. Whether deliberate or not, it is an unnuanced way of analyzing the complex and deeply serious reality now affecting the streets, suburbs and communities of Burundi.