In recent weeks, protests surrounding the upcoming presidential election in Burundi have resulted in violence, killing more than 20 people and wounding more. Tens of thousands of Burundians have fled the violence to neighbouring states. A coup attempt was launched to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza, amid his bid to be re-elected for a controversial third term.
International Alert, as a peacebuilding organisation that has been supporting civil society in Burundi since the start of its peace process in 1995, strongly urges all parties to restrain from violence and to adopt dialogue in resolving their differences.
In solidarity with our colleagues and partners in Burundi, we call on the country’s army, police and political leaders to ensure stability and people’s safety, and to respect the rule and institutions of law.
We also believe the international community, especially regional leaders, have an important role to play in supporting the dialogue processes in a co-ordinated manner, to resolve the impasses through negotiations.
Nearly a decade after the end of its civil war that left 300,000 people dead, Burundi is still recovering from generations of violent conflict, and peace remains fragile. While progress has been made in many areas, challenges such as poverty, youth unemployment, poor governance and conflicts over land and resources remain. This is hindering long-term peace and stability in the country, and means that violence might spread, unravelling the peace. To resolve these challenges, it is important to continue to support peacebuilding and strengthening community resilience in the country.
International donors who want to give practical support to the ambition of ordinary Burundian citizens to live in a peaceful, law-abiding society should learn the lessons of current events and undertake to stay the course in providing resources to underpin development, good governance and peace in the country over the long term.
Burundi suffered profoundly during the civil war, yet never attracted as much international attention and support as some of its neighbours. Now is the time to re-energise the international commitment to supporting peace in Burundi.