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Feature Burundi


Looking at the situation in Burundi less than six months after the country’s electoral marathon in 2010, one must be forgiven for feeling a hint of pessimism, reports Jamila El Abdellaoui.


Two steps forward, one step back


B


URUNDI HAS COME A LONG WAY and is widely hailed as a “success story”. But at the end of 2010, the United Nations Group of Experts on DRCongo reported


that Burundi’s rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (FNL), has taken to the bush in the eastern part of the country to resurrect their rebellion. Together with over a dozen political parties, the FNL had staged a boycott following the first poll in May 2010. This left President Pierre Nkurunziza as the sole candidate in the presidential poll, representing the rul-


34 | March 2011 New African


ing National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD). As the boycott continued, the legislative elec- tions that followed unsurprisingly saw another victory for the CNDD-FDD. However, two of several smaller parties


that had rejected a further boycott secured a few seats in the National Assembly. As both parties are also participating in the coalition government, there is currently no parliamentary opposition (as the constitu- tion demands). Needless to say, Burundi’s legislature will likely witness the smooth


passing of laws, but the situation does not bode well for the consolidation of the democratisation process. It had all looked promising in April


2009. Following protracted negotiations with the Palipehutu-FNL, Burundi was officially a country at peace when the rebel movement handed in its weapons and be- came the country’s 42nd political party, named simply FNL. Election fever had hit the country the


year before. Political actors strongly be- lieved that the 2010 elections provided them with an opportunity to significantly alter the political landscape in Burundi, which for the past five years had been dominated by the ruling CNDD-FDD. Te FNL was expected to do well at the


ballot box: it would aim for the votes of the same constituency as the ruling party, which was believed to have disappointed many of its supporters. Drawn-out negotia- tions on the country’s permanent electoral body and electoral code illustrated the


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