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CAPE TOWN/SOUTH AFRICA, 4JUN08 - Pierre Nkurun...

CAPE TOWN/SOUTH AFRICA, 4JUN08 – Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi, captured during the Opening Plenary of the World Economic Forum on Africa 2008 in Cape Town, South Africa, June 4, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Burundi, officially known as the Republic of Burundi is a landlocked in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west.
Currently the subject of an application to become a member of the British Commonwealth it is one of the world’s poorest nations and is struggling to emerge from a 12-year ethnic-based civil war.   Since independence in 1962 it has been plagued by tension between the Tutsi and the Hutu populations. The ethnic violence sparked off in 1994 made Burundi the scene of one of Africa’s most intractable conflicts.   It began to reap the dividends of a peace process, but currently faces the formidable task of reviving a shattered economy and forging national unity.
Government: Republic
Currency: Burundian franc
Population: 8,575,172 (2011)
Official language: French, Kirundi

Politics:                       After years of bloody conflict the county appeared to be approaching a degree of stability tht had nto been experienced for some consideration time but post election tension in 2010 renewed fears of civil war
Economy:                   Half the population currently lives below the poverty line. Coffee and tea account for the majority of foreign currency earnings
International:        The conflict in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo provides emerging rebel groups with room to plan attacks. alledgely

In 1993 Burundi seemed poised to enter a new era when, in their first democratic elections, it was a major surprise when Burundians chose their first Hutu head of state, Melchior Ndadaye, and in addition  voted for a parliament dominated by the party called Hutu Front for Democracy in Burundi (Frodebu).

Ndadaye was assassinated within months of the election which set the scene for years of Hutu-Tutsi violence in which an estimated 300,000 were killed. In 1994 parliament elected another Hutu, Cyprien Ntaryamira, as President. He died in April alongside the president of neighbouring Rwanda when the plane they were travelling in was shot down over Kigali. Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, was appointed President in October 1994 and within months, the Union for National Progress (Uprona) party withdrew from the government and parliament, sparking a new wave of violence.   Following South African mediated long-running talks, a power-sharing government was set up in 2001 and most of the rebel groups agreed to a ceasefire.   Four years later Burundians voted in the first parliamentary elections since the start of the civil war. The main Hutu former rebel group won the vote and nominated its leader Pierre Nkurunziza as president. The government and the United Nations embarked on the lengthy process of disarming thousands of soldiers and former rebels, as well as forming a new national army, but the authoritarian behaviour of the government following disputed elections in 2010 has cast a shadow over the reconciliation process.

To date Burundi is making progress both internationally and economically and the current government is shaping the country to enter the world stage as a Commonwealth partner.



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