Burundi: “Back to Square One” politically after ten years of power sharing? [Update 9-14]

From a new story on IRIN today assessing the state of democracy in the "other" partner in the East African Community:

“We convened on a political system liable to take into account both the political and ethnic dimensions of Burundi’s problem,” recalled Jean-Baptiste Manwangari, one of the Tutsi negotiators who worked on the pact. “It was a democratic system functioning much on the basis of a consensus and dialogue instead of a system of majority [rule], which for Burundi was likely to bring forth dictatorship.”

Now, according to one civil servant, Burundi has “gone back to square one… a [new] political accord needs to be negotiated to bring the opposition back on board.”

The pre-Arusha winner-takes-all style of politics is dangerous because it “creates a kind of survival strategy for the losers”, explained Pacifique Nininahazwe, head of the Forum pour le Renforcement de la Societé Civile, a coalition of civil society organizations outlawed in 2009.

“If the ruling party behaves in the same way as other victorious parties did in the past, the losers will adopt the same survival mechanisms,” he added.

One-party warning

The more than two-thirds parliamentary majority won by the CNDD-FDD “will transform the state from a multiparty system to essentially one-party dominance”, Henri Boschoff and Ralph Ellermann warned in a paper for the Pretoria-based Institute of Security Studies – Elections without competition and no peace without participation: where might it go from here.

“Ultimately [this] could have a highly detrimental effect on peace and democracy in Burundi,” they wrote, arguing that “the reluctance of Nkurunziza and the CNDD-FDD to govern the country in the spirit of its power-sharing constitution … drove the political climate towards a hostile environment where trust between the parties and in the constitution dissolved.

“Burundi is at risk of civil disobedience… The worst-case scenario would be a rebellion [against] state institutions caused by opposition parties,” the paper warned.

Update: See at the Africa Works blog “A Great African Journalist Sheds Tears for Burundi”.

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