The United States is deeply concerned by the rising tensions in Burundi in advance of general elections, calling on all parties in Burundi to play a constructive and peaceful role in the electoral process and to refrain from any acts, including hate speech, violence, or other provocations, that could feed the climate of fear and instability. The U.S. will continue to monitor the situation in Burundi closely and take steps, including, where appropriate, by denying U.S. visas to individuals who order, plan, or participate in acts of violence
We call on the national police, the Burundian military, and all security force personnel to provide security in an impartial manner throughout the electoral process and to protect civilians from intimidation and other abuses.
Burundian police fire tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of protesters opposed to the president running for a third term. Protesters take shelter in shops or buildings before regrouping. Some hurl stones at police. Rain helps disperse them. Opposition groups spokesperson:
The police used brutality to disperse peaceful protesters, but this will not discourage us. We will continue the struggle
A presidential spokesman says the protests have no justification when the ruling party has not announced its candidate.
How can you protest against something that has not happened? The president has not announced that he will run for a third term.
Burundi’s government announces a nationwide ban on demonstrations following threats by the opposition and activists to step up protests against controversial plans by the president to seek re-election.
The government forbids any demonstration for whatever reason anywhere in the country.
The United States condemns President Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office, warning that the central African country is losing an historic opportunity to strengthen its democracy. State Department:
We regret this significant missed opportunity, but the hard work of building democratic practices and institutions must continue…In that spirit, we urge all parties to participate in the legislative and national elections and ensure these electoral processes are inclusive, transparent, credible, free and conducted in an environment without threats, intimidation, or violence…We specifically call on the Burundian government to respect the rights of all peaceful political parties and their candidates to campaign, hold meetings and rallies and express their views…The United States will continue to monitor the situation in Burundi closely and take targeted measures, including, where appropriate, by denying US visas, to hold accountable those individuals who participate in, plan, or order violence against the civilian population…Violence has no place in democratic elections, and perpetrators of such violence will not be welcome to travel to the United States and risk being held accountable in a court of law for any crimes for which they are responsible.
There are clashes between hundreds of protesters and armed police in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura over the nomination of President Nkurunziza to run for a third term, despite a constitution that stipulates the president can only serve for two terms. Nkurunziza’s party says he is eligible for another term as popularly elected president. The president’s backers argue that his first term should not count since he was picked by lawmakers rather than voted in. US State Department:
With this decision, Burundi is losing an historic opportunity to strengthen its democracy by establishing a tradition of peaceful democratic transition.
More than 5,000 Burundians flee to Rwanda over the weekend bringing the total number of arrivals to nearly 21,000. The Rwandan government expects the number of Burundians arriving in the country to rise to 50,000. Most of the arrivals in Rwanda are women and children, adding that the refugees report facing intimidation and threats of violence linked to upcoming elections. Rwanda, which is already hosting more than 74,000 refugees mainly from neighbouring DR Congo, has allocated land in Mahama in the Eastern Province for a new refugee camp, with the capacity to hold up to 50,000 people. UN agencies:
There has been a sharp increase in the number of Burundian refugees arriving in Rwanda…Five thousand people entering the country in two days is quite a significant jump… It is certainly concerning…The situation is quite chaotic at the moment…We think that this violence might continue and this fear of violence might continue and that there might be a bigger outflux, particularly to Rwanda.
Another 3,800 Burundians have fled to the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo since the beginning of July.
Malinowski heads to Burundi seeking to halt escalating unrest triggered by President Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office. Protesters say Nkurunziza’s plan to run again threatens the Arusha peace deal. Malinowski:
On my way to Burundi. Disappointed President Nkurunziza violating Arusha Accord.
The US appeals for African leaders to desist from changing constitutions to ensure them more than two presidential terms. During a discussion on Burundi’s upcoming election, Deputy Assistant Secretary Gilmour reminds African governments that are part of the Arusha agreements of the commitments they made. This includes presidential terms limited to two years.
It is not a good idea to violate the agreed upon commitments to the Arusha-agreement. I’m calling on Burundi to proceed peacefully and we are hoping for a free and fair election.
The government of Burundi blocks mobile access to social media sites –including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Tango — in an effort to crack down on protesters use the messaging services on the sites to coordinate demonstrations over President Nkurunziza’s re-election efforts. Nkurunziza also cuts Burundian phone lines and nonstate media and ban protests. Human Rights Watch:
Government restrictions on communications not only violate basic media freedom but deprive many Burundians of the right to information about events that affect them directly…These radio stations in Burundi are doing their job by covering the news…The Burundian authorities should respect people’s right to demonstrate peacefully.
Britain warns its citizens to avoid all but essential travel to Burundi.
Authorities in Burundi close university accommodation and force thousands of students to leave the campus in an operation apparently designed to halt a wave of protests. Large numbers of students, many of whom come from rural areas, are seen evacuating the University of Burundi, in the capital Bujumbura.
Protesters burn a man alive in Burundi’s capital, saying he’s a member of the Imbonerakure youth wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, which attacked them during their rallies. The government dismisses charges that Imbonerakure is fomenting violence. Witness:
They put tyres around his neck and then burned him
Burundian opposition leaders call for the EU to suspend €8m of financial assistance and to demand that the government postpone the election. The EU is the main financial contributor to the Project to Support the 2015 Electoral Cycle in Burundi. Alliance for Democratic Change (ADC-IKIBIRI) spokesperson:
We believe the EU’s €8m is a considerable sum. It is shocking that the EU is financing these elections which are killing people, forcing voters of the opposition to flee the country like refugees…It would be unacceptable for the European taxpayer to agree that €8m, which can be used for something else, should be thrown in the trash like that. If these elections are forced to happen, there will be a civil war…Radios have been closed, human rights activists have been imprisoned and these prisoners are refused food and care, are being tortured to the indifference of the international community. The violation of these values must be unacceptable for Europeans partners.
Nkurunziza launches his third-term bid in the capital Bujumbura, defying criticism from the African Union (AU) and the US. He denies suggestions that violence is spiralling out of control. The president compares his country’s situation with Nigeria, where he says polls had gone ahead despite there being no security because of the insurgency by Boko Haram Islamist militants.
Burundians have no problem with elections…because 99% of the country is peaceful…These demonstrations have turned into insurrection, but it is something that will be controlled… and I assure you that the elections will go well.
Belgium suspends aid to Burundi, the first country to pull funds due to violent clashes in the African country, after concluding that current conditions do not allow election candidates to campaign. Belgium had pledged four million euros to assist with the organisation of the forthcoming elections — of which a 50 percent tranche has already been paid. The country will also pull out of a five million euro police cooperation deal, which it has in place jointly with the Netherlands. Belgian minister:
In the current circumstances the payment of the remaining two million can only be put on hold.
Nkurunziza’s office posts on the president’s Twitter and Facebook accounts:
A group of soldiers mutinied this morning and made a fantasy declaration of a coup d’etat. This attempted coup was foiled and these people … are sought by defense and security forces so they are brought to justice.
The United States issues a travel warning for Burundi, telling its citizens not to go there and urging those in the country to get out as soon as possible. It says it orders all non-emergency US government personnel and dependents of American staff to leave Burundi.
US citizens should shelter in place until it is safe to move about, ensure that your travel documents are up-to-date, and confirm that air and land borders are open before attempting to depart the country.
Loyalist police and army officers crush an attempted coup in Burundi. The announcement follows two days of confusion over who controls the country. Despite the official declaration that the overthrow plot has been defeated, it us by no means clear that stability will return to Burundi. United Nations officials express fears about retribution and further violence. Niyombare’s whereabouts remain unclear. Nkurunziza:
I would like to thank the army and the police for defeating the wrongdoers. There is peace in the country, including the capital city, where those coup plotters were operating.
Three army generals and two police generals are arrested for plotting a failed coup attempt against Nkurunziza, along with three lower-ranking officers and eight soldiers. One of the generals arrested is a former defense minister. Gen. Niyombare, is in hiding and has not yet been arrested.
The United States helps evacuate American, Canadian and other foreign citizens from Burundi, saying it has assisted more than two dozen people to leave on planes to Rwanda. All US nationals that request evacuation are able to leave Burundi, and that Washington routinely provides such assistance to foreign citizens on a space-available basis. State Department:
In addition to approximately 20 US citizens on the three commercial charter flights that went out on May 17 to Kigali, the US helped four Canadian citizens as well as other foreign citizens,..The security situation remains fluid and volatile because of militia, military and security forces activity in Bujumbura. There may be increased political tensions and civil disturbances related to these actions.
President Nkurunziza purges his cabinet, while protesters are warned that they will be treated as accomplices of the rebel generals who staged the coup. Defence Minister Gaciyubwenge is replaced by Ntahonvukiye, a lawyer who becomes the first civilian defence chief in 50 years. Foreign Minister Kavakure is replaced by Aime, a former ambassador to the African Union; while Trade Minister Ciza is replaced by Inantore. Spokesperson:
The president has powers under the constitution, including being able to change the government, He believes that the time has come and it is up to his discretion.
Outbreaks of cholera and severe diarrhoea strike tens of thousands of refugees from Burundi who are jammed into a village in neighbouring Tanzania. Aid agencies working in the village on the edge of Lake Tanganyika say that sick Burundians are overwhelming health infrastructure and sanitation facilities. There is not enough safe water for drinking. UNHCR reports at least seven Burundian refugees have died of severe diarrhoea.
Protesters battle police in violent anti-government demonstrations, as security forces try to stem unrest. At least two protesters are shot dead and eight are wounded in clashes with police in the capital, Bujumbura. Defence Minister Ntahonvukiye calls for unity in the wake of the abortive coup, which was crushed by loyalist forces after street fighting between rival factions. Military statement:
The survival of Burundi as a nation depends on the cohesion of the army.
Feruzi, leader of opposition UPD-Zigamibanga party, is killed in a drive-by shooting by unknown assailants in the nation’s capital, Bujumbura. Feruzi is outside his house when a car approaches and its occupants sprayed him with bullets. At least one of his bodyguards also died. The presidential office expresses shock at Feruzi’s killing and denies any role
France suspends aid to Burundi’s police and defense establishment, amid a crackdown on anti-government protesters in the Central African country. France helps train the Burundian police, who engage in a violent suppression of anti-government street protests. It also helps train the Burundian army for international peacekeeping missions.
The Roman Catholic Church of Burundi announces that it will withdraw its priests appointed to help organize the elections at the heart of the political upheaval in the country.
The Catholic Church cannot support elections that are full of shortcomings. It cannot support a process which is not based on a consensus.
Heads of state of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, plus South African President Zuma meet in Tanzania to discuss a political crisis in Burundi triggered by the president’s plan to run for a third term. Nkurunziza doesn’t attend, and is represented by the country’s foreign minister, Aime. Rwanda also sends a minister rather than the head of state. The leaders call for the postponement of elections by at least a month and a half. Tanzania’s President Kikwete:
The leaders have been trying to navigate our way so we can help the people of Burundi to land safely under the current circumstances.
In Bujumbura, students climb over the U.S. Embassy wall and under a gate to seek refuge inside the fortified compound. The Embassy confirms about 100 students peacefully remain in the embassy’s parking lot.
The police officers did not resort to violence; no shots were fired and tear gas was not used. Four people suffered minor injuries during the movement.
Attackers in Burundi set fire to a building storing election materials. There is no indication who is responsible. Police fire shots at the gang to chase them away. A local governor:
A group of unidentified young people took advantage of the police who were sleeping on duty and torched a building housing election material, Part of the ballot boxes and voting booths were burned, but people were able to save the rest.
Ntavyohanyuma, the head of Burundi’s parliament, says he has fled the country for Belgium due to violence
For the moment, I am forced to stay in Brussels… I stayed here given the difficulties in my country, difficulties which are due to the illegal third mandate of the president. On the eve of the election … I would like to say to him (Nkurunziza) that the mandate he wants to have is illegal. I would like to say to him that forcing through the election is senseless
Armed groups throw grenades at polling stations in both the capital Bujumbura and in some provinces, delaying the start of voting in many of the centres, police and election officials said. Opposition and civil societies are boycotting the polls, saying the elections are not free and fair. President of the Bujumbura electoral commission:
Voting has not yet begun in many centres in the capital because election officials are trying to prepare materials and in almost all of the stations, these arrived late because of the overnight attacks,
Nkurunziza skips regional talks aimed at brokering a deal to end weeks of unrest in the country, choosing instead to campaign for his third term. Leaders of the five-nation East African Community (EAC) bloc are due to meet Monday in Dar es Salaam. Foreign Minister Alain Aime-Nyamitwe would take his place. Nkurunziza will instead lead his presidential campaign in Burundi’s central Mwaro and Gitega regions.
Nkurunziza’ party – the CNDD FDD — wins 77 out of 100 seats in parliament, in an election that is boycotted by most opposition parties. The turnout for the parliamentary poll is low in the districts of Bujumbura where there are protests, but in some provinces outside the capital it is as high as 98%. The presidential election is scheduled for 15 July.
Soldiers and unidentified gunmen clash in Kayanza province, near the border with Rwanda. The governor of Kayanza says the gunmen crossed from Rwanda, a charge denied by Rwanda’s government. The US is:
deeply concerned by reports that fighting has broken out in several areas of Burundi and by recently broadcast remarks by Burundians threatening to use force against the government.
Rwandan foreign minister:
I would think it’s better for Burundi to concentrate on the issues Burundi has rather than looking for issues elsewhere.
Burundi’s army kills 31 suspected rebels and capture 170 others in fighting in the country’s north. Six soldiers are wounded in fighting with suspected rebels, and nearly 80 assorted weapons are seized.
UN Secretary General Ban presses Burundian authorities to ensure elections are carried out peacefully.
[The Secretary] calls on the authorities to do all in their power to ensure security and a peaceful atmosphere during the election. He further calls on all parties to refrain from any acts of violence that could compromise the stability of Burundi and the region. [The pause in the inter-Burundian dialogue] took place without agreement being reached on a range of issues that would have contributed to the creation of a climate conducive to the holding of credible and peaceful elections, as contained in the relevant recommendations of the EAC and the African Union.
Elections are held in Burundi amidst unrest. Turnout is low in the capital, and one province but 16 other provinces has a good level of voters. U.S. State Department:
The legitimacy of the electoral process in Burundi over the past few months has been tainted by the government’s harassment of opposition and civil society members, closing down of media outlets and political space, and intimidation of voters.
Ndereyimana. a member of Rwasa’s FNL political group, who had been organizing protests, is shot dead outside his parent’s house in the Kinama area and then his attackers, believed to be from the government youth wing, Imbonerakure, throw a grenade at his body.
Senator Leahy, in a statement titled, Buhari’s Mis-Directed Criticism of the Leahy Law on Human Rights, says President Buhari should clean up military units allegedly implicated in atrocities in order to get more military support from US instead of rebuking the Leahy Law. He charges Buhari to direct his attention to and clean up the units implicated in such atrocities.
It is well documented by the State Department and by respected human rights organisations that Nigerian army personnel have, for many years, engaged in a pattern and practice of gross violations of human rights against the Nigerian people and others, including summary executions of prisoners, indiscriminate attacks against civilians, torture, forced disappearances and rape. Rarely have the perpetrators been prosecuted or punished. This abusive conduct not only violates the laws of war, it creates fear and loathing among the Nigerian people whose support is necessary to defeat a terrorist group like Boko Haram. President Buhari ignores the undisputed fact that most Nigerian army units have been approved, under the Leahy Law, for U.S. training and equipment. Only those particular units against which there is credible evidence of the most heinous crimes are ineligible for U.S. aid. And even those units can again become eligible if the Nigerian Government takes effective steps to bring the responsible individuals to justice.
I strongly agree with President Buhari about the need to defeat Boko Haram, and I have supported tens of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to Nigeria for that purpose. But rather than suggest that the United States is at fault for not funding murderers and rapists in the Nigerian military, he should face up to his own responsibility to effectively counter Boko Haram.
Burundian security forces crush anti-government demonstrations, including shooting protesters running away from them, to silence those opposed Nkurunziza bid for a third-term.
Amnesty international says in a report
Burundian authorities sought not just to disperse demonstrations, but to punish protesters for expressing their political views. They used excessive and disproportionate force, including lethal force, against protesters, at times shooting unarmed protesters running away from them,
Nkurunziza wins a landslide victory, taking 69.41% of the vote, 50 percentage points ahead of his leading opponent. He will serve a third five-year term. The head of the national electoral commission (Ceni):
These presidential elections are a critical step for the population and the international community…I have always thought that the elections the Ceni is organising will not resemble those of Gabon, Mali, Nigeria, even less those of France, the US, Cameroon or Belgium. They are elections organised in Burundi for Burundians by Burundians, with challenges that remain our own.
Nshimirimana is killed, along with three bodyguards, in a rocket attack on his car in Bujumbura. Nshimiramana was widely seen as the central African nation’s de facto internal security chief and considered by some as the president’s effective deputy. He was seen as the mastermind behind the crackdown on the protests as well as a key player in foiling the coup attempt. The presidency’s communications chief:
I have lost a brother, a companion in the struggle. The sad reality is that General Adolphe Nshimirimana is no longer with this world.
Reporters Without Borders lashes out at the ‘despicable assault’ against Esdras Ndikumana, a Burundian AFP reporter who says he was held for around two hours, during which he said he was subjected to severe beatings on his back, legs and the soles of his feet. He was later released and hospitalised, with the injuries also including a suspected broken finger. Ndikumana says he was taking pictures at the scene of the general’s assassination in Bujumbura when he was arrested by members of the National Intelligence Service (SNR) and taken to their offices.
Reporters Without Borders calls on the authorities to ‘immediately open an enquiry to identify and punish those who carried out this barbaric act’. AFP’s global news director says she is ‘very shocked’ by the attack.
We will seek explanations from the authorities in Burundi and an assurance that such an incident will not happen again. Our correspondent must be able to continue to carry out his work in complete safety.
The Eastern Africa Journalists Association also says the incident a attempt to ‘intimidate and terrify’ the reporter.
Media are clearly being targeted. It has to stop.
Mbonimpa is shot as he makes his way home from work in the capital, by a gunman on a motorbike. Family member:
His condition is stable, and has even slightly improved.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban condemns ‘the assassination attempt’ and calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
This incident… is part of a growing pattern of politically-motivated violence in Burundi that must be broken before it escalates beyond control.
Several diplomats, including from the United States and France, as well as African Union officials, attend Mbonimpa’s hospital bedside during the night until the arrival of the police.
AU Commission chief Dlamini-Zuma calls on the government to investigate the ‘attempted murder’ as well as ‘all other such killings’, and wishes Mbonimpa ‘a speedy recovery’, while Human Rights Watch Africa chief Bekele calls on the government to ensure his safety.
We are shocked at this blatant attack on one of Burundi’s most prominent and respected activists. The Burundian authorities should take immediate steps to secure Mbonimpa’s safety and protection.
Amnesty International condemns the ‘brazen attack’ it says is part of ‘a disturbing escalation’ of violence.
Ban says he is concerned about the continuing deterioration of the security environment in Burundi.
The Secretary-General welcomes Nkurunziza’s message to the nation to remain calm and to the competent authorities to expeditiously investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. The Secretary-General renews his appeal to all Burundians to resume an inclusive dialogue without delay and peacefully settle their differences under the facilitation of President Museveni as mandated by the East African Community.
Harerimana, president of the CNDD FDD chapter in Kanyosha, is attacked and killed in Bujumbura. He is heading to his office on the back of a motorbike when a crowd throw stones at him, pull him off the bike and shoot him.
Perriello, US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Thomas Perriello says there is a need for both the government and its opponents to be committed to negotiations in a bid to resolve the crisis in Burundi.
We are deeply concerned about the political crisis and the humanitarian crisis. We still believe there is a path forward, but it has to be one in which all Burundian leaders agree to a political dialogue, and the important leadership that the region has shown, through the East African Community, resumes with some urgency to address a situation where you’ve seen approximately over 200,000 [refugees] already and ongoing sporadic violence…Burundians need to continue to hear those calls for calm and the path forward. The United States and the international community are ready to support the regional leadership to force this political dialogue forward that is so important. The point of the dialogue is to address these extremely difficult questions that continue to remain under the surface of the political crisis. But, people need to come to the table. We’ve seen very constructive steps forward when the East African Community and South Africa and others have been a constructive part of this. So, we are eager to resume that and stand ready to support it.
In a meeting with Rwandan President Kagame, Bathily, Special Representative and Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, reiterates the UN Secretary-General’s condemnation of the current violence in Burundi. Bathily will continue to hold consultations with political parties, civil society and religious organizations, government officials and the diplomatic community, with the view to reconvene the political dialogue as soon as possible. Bathily:
[The situation in Burundi is accumulating] the well-known and visible marks of a society which previously suffered divisions leading to grave violence. Currently the humanitarian crisis caused by the escalating political tensions in Burundi has worsened, and uptick in the number of refugees seeking asylum and a deterioration in health conditions at refugee camps receiving them.
In response to a question from the Inkatha Freedom Party, who cites Burundi as an example, Zuma says he tried to dissuade Nkurunziza from seeking a third term but hit a wall when his pleas were ignored.
Many of us interacted to say that might not help the country. We cannot say there was no effort to solve that African problem. I sent an envoy. He said it is not going to cause trouble, he has taken a decision and the constitution is on his side. Once you have reached that stage… when an African leader is not interested, that becomes difficult…No military men can take over as they please. There are a few exceptions. Burundi, where even its own regions could not persuade it … but even there the man is not saying he is going to stay forever… he has argued the point through the constitution and the court has supported him. We can’t force people, we have to talk to them, nudge them.
He says leaders have to respect the sovereignty of other African nations while they try to resolve problems.
It does not mean we will solve all matters at the right time…we are not going to ride roughshod over constitutions.
Burundi’s prosecutor says the killers of General Nshimirimana have been identified and arrested.
The identities of the perpetrators are now known. A certain number have been arrested. The rest of them and the masterminds are being sought.
The prosecutor also says a military vehicle had been used by the killers and subsequently burned. The vehicle came from a military camp in the centre of the capital Bujumbura.