Burundi Government

New presidential palace in Gitega Burundi

Form of government and constitution

Burundi is a presidential republic. The President Pierre Nkurunziza – in office since 2005 – is both head of state and head of government. In 2005 a new constitution was introduced adopted, which is still valid today. The legislature rests with the parliament, which consists of two chambers: the National Assembly and the Senate. The regulation of ethnic representation in the government and in all areas of the state should be emphasized: the National Assembly consists of 100 members. Here 60% of the mandates are reserved for the Hutu and 40% of the mandates for the Tutsi (quota system). In addition, up to 21 mandates are given to women or representatives of the TWA. The Senate consists of 54 members, 34 of whom are elected senators, three women and three representatives of the Twa as well as ex-presidents who automatically become senators. There are currently four former presidents in the Senate. Here, too, the seats are distributed between Hutu and Tutsi in a 50/50 ratio. In 2010 the president was re-elected. A women’s quota of 30% was introduced in parliament. Burundi’s government officially adheres to these guidelines. But lately voices are raised that the ratio of the ethnic groups in the real cast doubt. The re-election of Nkurunziza as president in 2015 was not officially allowed. As early as 2013, voices were raised that Nkurunziza would change the constitution in order to take up a third mandate. Even at this point in time, criticism was high – even in his own party. A functioning party system does not yet exist; on the contrary, the CNDD-FDD is expanding its position of power more and more. Despite their mixed ethnic composition, the parties are still perceived by the population as “Hutu” or “Tutsi” parties.

According to cheeroutdoor, Burundi is divided into 18 provinces, which can be divided into 116 districts. The provinces are: Bubanza, Bujumbura Mairie, Bujumbura Rural, Bururi, Cankuzo, Cibitoke, Gitega, Karuzi, Kayanza, Kirundo, Makamba, Muramvya, Muyinga, Mwaro, Ngozi, Rumonge, Rutana, Ruyigi. The capital Bujumbura had 13 districts before 2014, since then 3 ” mega-zones ” have been designated. In the Arusha Peace Agreement, the decentralization of Burundi was identified as an important point. The often passive attitude of the population towards politics was to change and showed first successes in the years after 2005. Nevertheless, the rural population sees decentralization to this day more as the award of services than an opportunity for political participation in government activities.

At the end of 2018, President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that the provincial capital Gitega will be the new capital of Burundi instead of Bujumbura. In the course of this, with financial support from China, a new palace was built and various historical sights were renamed. During the renaming, Tutsi personalities were also replaced by important Hutu personalities, which many see critically as a further step towards ethnic differentiation.

New presidential palace in Gitega Burundi

Governance and the rule of law

The governing parties since July 2015 have been the CNDD-FDD (which provides the president), the UPRONA and the FNL or the newer party founded under Agathon Rwasa (Burundians Hope Independent). The latter had boycotted the election, but was still elected to the government. These three parties are the only parties still represented in parliament after the unrest over President Nkurunziza’s third term and the elections should not have been officially held. After the referendum in May 2018 banned Nkurunziza the party of Rwasa, so that democracy was curtailed even further. To date there have been a large number of parties outside of parliament that are only weakly anchored in the population and often only pursue local or regional interests. The internal cohesion of the parties is often poor, so that the government’s ability to function is fragile and stability can be jeopardized by splitting off parties. The extra-parliamentary opposition is mainly characterized by its absence. The democratic structures are not yet consolidated. In some cases considerable deficits exist in questions such as the situation of human rights, the enforcement of the state monopoly on the use of force or the creation of independent political and civil society groups. The judicial system also needs urgent reform; Because of the limited functioning of criminal prosecution, rebel movements can easily form. Due to the political developments since Nkurunziza’s controversial re-election as president, such as the restriction of freedom of the press, the curtailment of human rights, etc., the regime has been heading towards a dictatorship since 2018 rather than consolidating democratic structures. On the Democracy Index(BTI), Burundi slipped from 82nd to 93rd (out of 129 states) in the two years from 2016 to 2018. In 2018 Nkurunziza is numbered among the eight ruling dictators in the world.

Central government functions can currently only be maintained with the support of the international community. The efficiency and assertiveness of the administration is weak, crime, corruption, abuse of office and impunity are widespread and are rarely prosecuted. This is especially true for the army.

The judiciary is heavily influenced by politics. The state separation of powers is not really implemented or only barely implemented: the president determines the policy, the appearance of which he informally negotiates with political decision-makers and the army.

On the positive side, there was the abolition of the death penalty in 2009, the introduction of tougher penalties for violence against women and the introduction of torture, genocide or war crimes.

In late 2008, the adoption of a new criminal code made relations with the international community more difficult. Despite international protests, homosexuality became a criminal offense. If homosexuals come out, they face up to three years imprisonment.