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AFRICA DAY 2020

TODAY is Africa Day-2020; Today 57-Years ago, 32 Leaders of 32 African Countries that had Re-gained their Independence met in Addis Ababa for the very First Historic Independent African Leaders Summit. This Fateful Summit ended with the formation of the ‘Organization of African Unity’ (OAU)-Today Known as the ‘African Union’ (AU).

Each of the 32 Leaders in this Summit made Great Historic Speech but the Speech below made by Ghana’s Founding Father H.E President Kwame Nkrumah; a Courageous Anti-Colonialism and Anti-Imperialism Crusader, a Selfless and Visionary Pan-African stood out, stands out and shall forever stand out as the Ideal of African Unity and African Dream.

“Your Excellencies, Colleagues, Brothers and Friends;

I am happy to be here in Addis Ababa on this most historic occasion. I bring with me the hopes and fraternal greetings of the government and people of Ghana.

Our objective is African union now. There is no time to waste. We must unite now or perish. I am confident that by our concerted effort and determination, we shall lay here the foundations for a continental Union of African States.

A whole continent has imposed a mandate upon us to lay the foundation of our union at this conference. It is our responsibility to execute this mandate by creating here and now, the formula upon which the requisite superstructure may be created.

On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.

From the start we have been threatened with frustration where rapid change is imperative and with instability where sustained effort and ordered rule are indispensable. No sporadic act nor pious resolution can resolve our present problems. Nothing will be of avail, except the united act of a united Africa.

We have already reached the stage where we must unite or sink into that condition which has made Latin America the unwilling and distressed prey of imperialism after one-and-a-half centuries of political independence.

As a continent, we have emerged into independence in a different age, with imperialism grown stronger, more ruthless and experienced, and more dangerous in its international associations. Our economic advancement demands the end of colonialist and neo-colonialist domination of Africa.

But just as we understood that the shaping of our national destinies required of each of us our political independence and bent all our strength to this attainment, so we must recognize that our economic independence resides in our African union and requires the same concentration upon the political achievement.

The unity of our continent, no less than our separate independence, will be delayed if, indeed, we do not lose it, by hobnobbing with colonialism.

African unity is, above all, a political kingdom which can only be gained by political means. The social and economic development of Africa will come only within the political kingdom, not the other way round.

Is it not unity alone that can weld us into an effective force, capable of creating our own progress and making our valuable contribution to world peace? Which independent African state, which of you here, will claim that its financial structure and banking institutions are fully harnessed to its national development?

Which will claim that its material resources and human energies are available for its own national aspirations? Which will disclaim a substantial measure of disappointment and disillusionment in its agricultural and urban development? In independent Africa, we are already re-experiencing the instability and frustration which existed under colonial rule.

We are fast learning that political independence is not enough to rid us of the consequences of colonial rule. The movement of the masses of the people of Africa for freedom from that kind of rule was not only a revolt against the conditions which it imposed. Our people supported us in our fight for independence because they believed that African governments could cure the ills of the past in a way which could never be accomplished under colonial rule.

If, therefore, now that we are independent we allow the same conditions to exist that existed in colonial days, all the resentment which overthrew colonialism will be mobilized against us. The resources are there. It is for us to marshal them in the active service of our people.

Unless we do this by our concerted efforts, within the framework of our combined planning, we shall not progress at the tempo demanded by today’s events and the mood of our people. The symptoms of our troubles will grow, and the troubles themselves become chronic. It will then be too late for pan-African unity to secure for us stability and tranquility in our labors for a continent of social justice and material wellbeing.

Our continent certainly exceeds all the others in potential hydroelectric power, which some experts assess as 42% of the world’s total. What need is there for us to remain hewers of wood and drawers of water for the industrialized areas of the world?

It is said, of course, that we have no capital, no industrial skill, no communications, and no internal markets, and that we cannot even agree among ourselves how best to utilize our resources for our own social needs. Yet all stock exchanges in the world are preoccupied with Africa’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ore.

Our capital flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of Western economy. Fifty-two per cent of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the USA stores its bullion, is believed to have originated from our shores. Africa provides more than 60% of the world’s gold.

A great deal of the uranium for nuclear power, of copper for electronics, of titanium for supersonic projectiles, of iron and steel for heavy industries, of other minerals and raw materials for lighter industries – the basic economic might of the foreign powers – come from our continent.

Experts have estimated that the Congo Basin alone can produce enough food crops to satisfy the requirements of nearly half the population of the whole world, and here we sit talking about gradualism, talking about step by step.

Are you afraid to tackle the bull by the horn? For centuries, Africa has been the Milch cow of the Western world. Was it not our continent that helped the Western world to build up its accumulated wealth?

We have the resources. It was colonialism in the first place that prevented us from accumulating the effective capital; but we ourselves have failed to make full use of our power in independence to mobilize our resources for the most effective take-off into thorough-going economic and social development.

We have been too busy nursing our separate states to understand fully the basic need of our union, rooted in common purpose, common planning and common endeavor.

A union that ignores these fundamental necessities will be but a sham. It is only by uniting our productive capacity and the resultant production that we can amass capital. And once we start, the momentum will increase. With capital controlled by our own banks, harnessed to our own true industrial and agricultural development, we shall make our advance.

We shall accumulate machinery and establish steel works, iron foundries and factories; we shall link the various states of our continent with communications by land, sea, and air. We shall cable from one place to another, phone from one place to the other and astound the world with our hydro-electric power; we shall drain marshes and swamps, clear infested areas, feed the undernourished, and rid our people of parasites and disease.

Camels and Donkeys No More

It is within the possibility of science and technology to make even the Sahara bloom into a vast field with verdant vegetation for agricultural and industrial development. We shall harness the radio, television, giant printing presses to lift our people from the dark recesses of illiteracy. A decade ago, these would have been visionary words, the fantasies of an idle dreamer. But this is the age in which science has transcended the limits of the material world, and technology has invaded the silences of nature.

Time and space have been reduced to unimportant abstractions. Giant machines make roads, clear forests, dig dams, lay out aerodromes; monster trucks and planes distribute goods; huge laboratories manufacture drugs; complicated geological surveys are made; mighty power stations are built; colossal factories erected – all at an incredible speed. The world is no longer moving through bush paths or on camels and donkeys.

We cannot afford to pace our needs, our development, our security, to the gait of camels and donkeys. We cannot afford not to cut down the overgrown bush of outmoded attitudes that obstruct our path to the modern open road of the widest and earliest achievement of economic independence and the raising up of the lives of our people to the highest level.

Even for other continents lacking the resources of Africa, this is the age that sees the end of human want. For us it is a simple matter of grasping with certainty our heritage by using the political might of unity. All we need to do is to develop with our united strength the enormous resources of our continent.

What use to the farmer is education and mechanization, what use is even capital for development, unless we can ensure for him a fair price and a ready market?

What has the peasant, worker and farmer gained from political independence, unless we can ensure for him a fair return for his labor and a higher standard of living? Unless we can establish great industrial complexes in Africa, what have the urban worker, and those peasants on overcrowded land gained from political independence? If they are to remain unemployed or in unskilled occupation, what will avail them the better facilities for education, technical training, energy, and ambition which independence enables us to provide?

There is hardly any African state without a frontier problem with its adjacent neighbors. It would be futile for me to enumerate them because they are already so familiar to us all. But let me suggest that this fatal relic of colonialism will drive us to war against one another as our unplanned and uncoordinated industrial development expands, just as happened in Europe.

Unless we succeed in arresting the danger through mutual understanding on fundamental issues and through African unity, which will render existing boundaries obsolete and superfluous, we shall have fought in vain for independence.

Only African unity can heal this festering sore of boundary disputes between our various states. The remedy for these ills is ready in our hands. It stares us in the face at every customs barrier, it shouts to us from every African heart. By creating a true political union of all the independent states of Africa, with executive powers for political direction, we can tackle hopefully every emergency and every complexity.

This is because we have emerged in the age of science and technology in which poverty, ignorance, and disease are no longer the masters, but the retreating foes of mankind. Above all, we have emerged at a time when a continental land mass like Africa with its population approaching 300 million is necessary to the economic capitalization and profitability of modern productive methods and techniques. Not one of us working singly and individually can successfully attain the fullest development.

Certainly, in the circumstances, it will not be possible to give adequate assistance to sister states trying, against the most difficult conditions, to improve their economic and social structures. Only a united Africa functioning under a union government can forcefully mobilize the material and moral resources of our separate countries and apply them efficiently and energetically to bring a rapid change in the conditions of our people.

Unite we must. Without necessarily sacrificing our sovereignties, big or small, we can here and now forge a political union based on defense, foreign affairs and diplomacy, and a common citizenship, an African currency, an African monetary zone, and an African central bank. We must unite in order to achieve the full liberation of our continent.

We need a common defense system with African high command to ensure the stability and security of Africa. We have been charged with this sacred task by our own people, and we cannot betray their trust by failing them. We will be mocking the hopes of our people if we show the slightest hesitation or delay in tackling realistically this question of African unity.

We need unified economic planning for Africa. Until the economic power of Africa is in our hands, the masses can have no real concern and no real interest for safeguarding our security, for ensuring the stability of our regimes, and for bending their strength to the fulfilment of our ends.

With our united resources, energies and talents we have the means, as soon as we show the will, to transform the economic structures of our individual states from poverty to that of wealth, from inequality to the satisfaction of popular needs. Only on a continental basis shall we be able to plan the proper utilization of all our resources for the full development of our continent.

How else will we retain our own capital for own development? How else will we establish an internal market for our own industries? By belonging to different economic zones, how will we break down the currency and trading barriers between African states, and how will the economically stronger amongst us be able to assist the weaker and less developed states?

It is important to remember that independent financing and independent development cannot take place without an independent currency. A currency system that is backed by the resources of a foreign state is ipso facto subject to the trade and financial arrangements of that foreign country.

Because we have so many customs and currency barriers as a result of being subject to the different currency systems of foreign powers, this has served to widen the gap between us in Africa. How, for example, can related communities and families trade with, and support one another successfully, if they find themselves divided by national boundaries and currency restrictions? The only alternative open to them in these circumstances is to use smuggled currency and enrich national and international racketeers and crooks who prey upon our financial and economic difficulties.

Our Resources

No independent African state today by itself has a chance to follow an independent course of economic development, and many of us who have tried to do this have been almost ruined or have had to return to the fold of the former colonial rulers.

This position will not change unless we have a unified policy working at the continental level. The first step towards our cohesive economy would be a unified monetary zone, with, initially, an agreed common parity for our currencies. To facilitate this arrangement, Ghana would change to a decimal system.

When we find that the arrangement of a fixed common parity is working successfully, there would seem to be no reason for not instituting one common currency and a single bank of issue.

With a common currency from one common bank of issue, we should be able to stand erect on our own feet because such an arrangement would be fully backed by the combined national products of the states composing the union. After all, the purchasing power of money depends on productivity and the productive exploitation of the natural, human and physical resources of the nation.

While we are assuring our stability by a common defense system, and our economy is being orientated beyond foreign control by a common currency, monetary zone, and central bank of issue, we can investigate the resources of our continent.

We can begin to ascertain whether in reality we are the richest, and not, as we have been taught to believe, the poorest among the continents. We can determine whether we possess the largest potential in hydro-electric power, and whether we can harness it and other sources of energy to our industries. We can proceed to plan our industrialization on a continental scale, and to build up a common market for nearly 300 million people. Common continental planning for the industrial and agricultural development of Africa is a vital necessity!

So many blessings flow from our unity; so many disasters must follow on our continued disunity. The hour of history which has brought us to this assembly is a revolutionary hour. It is the hour of decision.

The masses of the people of Africa are crying for unity. The people of Africa call for the breaking down of the boundaries that keep them apart. They demand an end to the border disputes between sister African states – disputes that arise out of the artificial barriers raised by colonialism. It was colonialism’s purpose that divided us. It was colonialism’s purpose that left us with our border irredentism, that rejected our ethnic and cultural fusion.

Our people call for unity so that they may not lose their patrimony in the perpetual service of neo-colonialism. In their fervent push for unity, they understand that only its realization will give full meaning to their freedom and our African independence.

It is this popular determination that must move us on to a union of independent African states. In delay lies danger to our well-being, to our very existence as free states. It has been suggested that our approach to unity should be gradual, that it should go piecemeal. This point of view conceives of Africa as a static entity with “frozen” problems which can be eliminated one by one and when all have been cleared then we can come together and say: “Now all is well, let us now unite.”

This view takes no account of the impact of external pressures. Nor does it take cognizance of the danger that delay can deepen our isolations and exclusiveness; that it can enlarge our differences and set us drifting further and further apart into the net of neo-colonialism, so that our union will become nothing but a fading hope, and the great design of Africa’s full redemption will be lost, perhaps, forever.

The Dangers of Regionalism

The view is also expressed that our difficulties can be resolved simply by a greater collaboration through cooperative association in our inter-territorial relationships. This way of looking at our problems denies a proper conception of their inter-relationship and mutuality. It denies faith in a future for African advancement in African independence. It betrays a sense of solution only in continued reliance upon external sources through bilateral agreements for economic and other forms of aid.

The fact is that although we have been cooperating and associating with one another in various fields of common endeavor even before colonial times, this has not given us the continental identity and the political and economic force which would help us to deal effectively with the complicated problems confronting us in Africa today.

As far as foreign aid is concerned, a United Africa should be in a more favorable position to attract assistance from foreign sources. There is the far more compelling advantage which this arrangement offers, in that aid will come from anywhere to a United Africa because our bargaining power would become infinitely greater. We shall no longer be dependent upon aid from restricted sources. We shall have the world to choose from.

What are we looking for in Africa? Are we looking for Charters, conceived in the light of the United Nations’ example? A type of United Nations Organization whose decisions are framed on the basis of resolutions that in our experience have sometimes been ignored by member states? Where groupings are formed and pressures develop in accordance with the interest of the groups concerned?

Or is it intended that Africa should be turned into a loose organization of states on the model of the Organization of American States, in which the weaker states within it can be at the mercy of the stronger or more powerful ones politically or economically and all at the mercy of some powerful outside nation or group of nations? Is this the kind of association we want for ourselves in the United Africa we all speak of with such feeling and emotion?

We all want a united Africa, united not only in our concept of what unity connotes, but united in our common desire to move forward together in dealing with all the problems that can best be solved only on a continental basis.

We meet here today not as Ghanaians, Guineans, Egyptians, Algerians, Moroccans, Malians, Liberians, Congolese or Nigerians, but as Africans.

Africans united in our resolve to remain here until we have agreed on the basic principles of a new compact of unity among ourselves which guarantees for us and our future a new arrangement of continental government. If we succeed in establishing a new set of principles as the basis of a new charter for the establishment of a continental unity of Africa, and the creation of social and political progress for our people, then in my view, this conference should mark the end of our various groupings and regional blocs.

But if we fail and let this grand and historic opportunity slip by, then we shall give way to greater dissension and division among us for which the people of Africa will never forgive us. And the popular and progressive forces and movements within Africa will condemn us.

I am sure therefore that we shall not fail them. To this end, I propose for your consideration the following: As a first step, a declaration of principles uniting and binding us together and to which we must all faithfully and loyally adhere, and laying the foundations of unity, should be set down.

As a second and urgent step for the realization of the unification of Africa, an All-Africa Committee of Foreign Ministers should be set up now. The Committee should establish on behalf of the heads of our governments, a permanent body of officials and experts to work out a machinery for the union government of Africa.

This body of officials and experts should be made up of two of the best brains from each independent African state. The various charters of existing groupings and other relevant documents could also be submitted to the officials and experts.

We must also decide on a location where this body of officials and experts will work as the new headquarters or capital of our union government. Some central place in Africa might be the fairest suggestion, either in Bangui in the Central African Republic or Leopoldville [Kinshasa] in Congo. My colleagues may have other proposals.

The Committee of Foreign Ministers, officials and experts, should be empowered to establish: (1) A commission to frame a constitution for a Union Government of African States. (2) A commission to work out a continent-wide plan for a unified or common economic and industrial program for Africa; this should include proposals for setting up: a common market for Africa; an African currency; an African monetary zone; an African central bank; a continental communication system; a commission to draw up details for a common foreign policy and diplomacy; a commission to produce plans for a common system of defense and a commission to make proposals for common African citizenship.

Ethiopia Shall Stretch Forth her Hands unto God; Africa must unite!”.

UNFORTUNATELY, Sir Nkrumah’s Dream and Grand Vision of an Africa United in Fact and Indeed did not Prevail. This Fateful Summit was divided into 2 Factions; the Casablanca Group led by Nkrumah of Ghana, Modibo Keita of Mali, Sekou Toure of Guinea, Gamal Nasser of Egypt, Ben Bella of Algeria, King Hasan 2 of Morocco and Crown Prince Hassan Rida representing King Idris of Libya who wanted One United Government for One United Africa ‘there and then’ against the Monrovia and Libreville Group led by Felix Boigny of Ivory Coast and William Tubman of Liberia and 23 Others who wanted a gradual Approach towards African Unity. On May 25,1963 the Monrovia/Libreville Group prevailed and the Summit ended in a Compromise; the formation of a Weak-kneed ‘Organization of African Unity-OAU that is Today known as the ‘African Union’-AU. Until then to this Day; the Grand Dream of One Africa United in Fact and Indeed remains just that; a Dream!.

BURUNDI-Turbulent Country goes to a Key Election amid Corona Virus Pandemic

Colonial History

YEAR 10,000-15,000-Hutu and Tutsi People settle in present Day Burundi to form Urundi Kingdom.

1890-Urundi Kingdom and neighboring Ruanda Kingdom (Present Day Rwanda) are annexed into One Urundi-Ruanda Territory by Germans. The Germans rule the Territory for 26-Years until 1916 when Belgium Forces invaded and captured the Territory driving Germans out. The League of Nations later in 1923 gave Belgium Mandate to govern the Territory.

Agitation for Independence begins in the 1950’s.1960 Prince Louis Rwagasore the eldest Son of the then King of Urundi Mwambutsa IV-a Tutsi Monarchy starts mobilizing People under his “Union of National Progress-UPRONA” to demand for Independence from Belgium Colonialists. Under intense Pressure and Resistance Belgium Authorities give way for for Legislative Elections on September 1961 in readiness to leave the Territory. Prince Rwagasore Party UPRONA won 58/64 Seats making him the first Prime Minister of the Territory. A Month later, PM/Prince Rwagasore was Assasinated on October 13,1961 at a Hotel in Bujumbura in what is said and believed to have been a Scheme by Belgian Authorities. His 2 young Children died mysteriously a few Months later. On October 2018 the Government of Burundi openly accused Belgium saying Belgium Authorities were “True Backers in the Assassination of Prince Rwagasore” who is Today Celebrated in Burundi every Year as a Hero of Independence.

July 1,1962-Urundi-Ruanda Territory Regained their Independence as separate Territories; Republic of Rwanda and and Kingdom of Burundi. An Attempt by Belgium to join the 2 Territories towards Independence fails amid escalating Tension and deadly supremacy Battle that claimed Thousands of Lives between Hutus via Parmehutu Movement and Tutsis UNAR Movement in their struggle for Independence. The UN urged Belgium to grant the 2 Independence as separate Territories in a bid to calm the Tension.

Post-Independence History

A new Independent Kingdom of Burundi is established still under Tutsi Monarchy led King Mwambutsa IV. Violent Conflict between Hutu and Tutsi across Burundi and Rwanda leaves Thousands Dead between 1963 to 1966.

May 1965 Legislative Elections saw a big Victory for the Hutus. King Mwambutsa a Tutsi was expected to Appoint a Hutu Prime Minister as a result. His failure to do this creates Anger among the Hutus. The then Army Chief General Michel Micombero a Hutu leads an unsuccessful Coup to Oust King Mwambutsa forcing him to flee to Exile in Switzerland on October 1965. On March 1966 King Mwambutsa from Exile names his Son as the Heir to the Throne. A young King Ntare took over to continue with his Father’s Reign on July 1966. 5 Months later King Ntare gets Ousted by General Micombero on November 1966 forcing him to also flee to Exile.

General Michel Micombero declares himself President bringing Burundi’s Monarchy to an End technically becoming Burundi’s first President. The Ouster of King Mwambutsa and his Son King Ntare angered the Hutus and they started rebelling against the Tutsi-led Government under General Micombero. On March 1972 deposed King Ntare returns to Burundi amid escalating Hutu Rebellion. The Hutu Rebels even came to a point of declaring their Independent Territory of Martyazo within Burundi. Ntare who had been placed under House Arrest was Killed on April 29,1972. This triggered the first Genocide in Burundi when General Micombero ordered Violent quashing of the Hutu Revolt. Between 150,000-300,000 Hutus were killed in what is Today remembered as Ikiza or Ubwicanyi Genocide.

November 1976-Opponents of General Micombero within the Army led by Colonel Jean Baptiste another Tutsi Army Officer lead a successful Coup to overthrow Micombero’s Regime. Although Col.Baptiste also ruled with an Iron Fist, his Regime is credited for some Hutu-Tutsi Calm and Reconciliation Efforts and some Economic Structures in Burundi. While on a Trip to Canada, Col.Baptiste was Overthrown by Major Pierre Buyoya another Tutsi Army Officer. Major Buyoya promises to mend Relations between Hutu and Tutsi Tribes. He did not live up to his Promise and this triggered another Hutu Uprising in 1988 leading to the Killing of Tens of Thousands most of them being Hutus.

Buyoya created a Commission to carry out an Inquest into the Violence. The Commission came up with a New Constitution that advocated for a Non-Ethnic Government in 1992. The very first Democratic Multi-party Elections were held on June 1993 and Melchior Ndadaye a Hutu Intellectual won with 66% defeating incumbent Major Buyoya who came second with 33%. True to Democracy, Major Buyoya stepped down and Ndadaye was sworn in on July 1993. In a bid to have a United Country President Ndadaye Appointed a Tutsi Woman Sylvie Kinigi as his Prime Minister. Barely 3 Months into Office, his Attempts to Unify the 2 Warring Hutu-Tutsi Communities did not augur well with the Tutsi-dominated Army. On October 21,1993; Soldiers layed Siege to his Palace in Bujumbura and shot him severally leading to his Death. The Murder of President Ndadaye sparked another a Genocide and Civil War that lingered in Burundi for over 10 Years between October 1993-August 2005. Francois Ngeze a Hutu Civilian took over as an acting President for One Week before the Army moving in to replace him with Ndadaye’s Prime Minister Sylvie Kinigi who was installed as an acting President between October 1993-February 1994. Technically, Sylvie became Africa’s first Woman President.

February 1994-the Parliament Appointed former Agriculture Minister Cyprien Ntaryamira a Hutu as the New President. Again this did not augur well with some Elements in the Tutsi-dominated Army. Barely 2 Months into Office, a Plane carrying President Ntaryamira and his Burundian Counterpart Juvenal Habyarimana also a Hutu was shot down towards Kigali Airport in Rwanda on April 6,1994 killing both and Everyone on board. This sparked Rwanda’s 100 Days Genocide that claimed the Lives of 800,000 People most of them from the Tutsi Community.

Sylvester Ntibantunganya  then then Leader of Burundi’s Parliament took over as President in an acting Capacity between April 1994-July 1996 when former President Major Pierre Buyoya overthrew him and took Power. Major Buyoya a Tutsi appointed a Hutu Vice President one Domitien Ndayizeye in a bid to calm the Civil War. On June 1998 President Buyoya saw the Promulgation of a Transition Constitution that created a Transitional Government after Negotiations then being led by Tanzania’s first President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. April 2003, President Buyoya stepped down and his Vice President Domitien Ndayiyeze took over as per the Transition Agreement. Burundi Peace Talks were by then being led by South Africa’s late President Nelson Mandela after the Death of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere on October 1999. President Ndayiyeze ruled until August 2005 when he handed over to former Hutu Rebel Leader then Minister for Good Governance and now the sitting/outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza after the signing of the final Peace Agreement; Arusha Accords signed on August 2000 under the Chief Negotiator Sir Nelson Mandela. This marked the start of a Ceasefire to a deadly Civil War that is estimated to have claimed the Lives of up to 300,000 Burundians this time across the 2 Main Hutu and Tutsi Communities and even from Burundi’s Smallest Community; the ‘Twa’ People between October 1993-August 2005.

President Pierre Nkurunziza Autocratic Regime

After Victory in Legislative Elections, Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD Party Appointed him the President and he was Sworn in on August 26,2005. Fast-forward to 2010, Nkurunziza is sworn in for a Second Term after a disputed Election that he ran against himself. All Candidates withdrew citing Intimidation and lack of Transparency after a Violent Campaign pitting Nkurunziza’s Regime Forces against the Opposition. Nkurunziza was Announced the Unopposed Winner of the June 2010 Election with 91%.  His main Rivals among them Agathon Rwasa also a former Hutu FNL Rebel Leader who had already gone into hiding dismissed the Election as Sham.

Nkurunziza went to rule for another 5-Years until 2015 when he was expected to step down as per the 2000 Peace Accord. To the Shock of Everyone, Nkurunziza decided to blatantly violate the Terms of an Accord that ended a dealy Civil War by running for a controversial Third Term using a controversial Court Ruling on May 2015 and what is believed to have been a staged Coup to illegally cling on to Power. In another boycotted Poll, Nkurunziza ran alone garnering 70% of the Votes. This sparked yet another deadly Conflict that claimed the Lives of at least 1,200 People forcing over 400,000 others to flee their Homes between 2015 to early 2019. Using his Regime Forces and a State-sponsored Youth Militia known as ‘Imborenakure’; Nkrunziza unleashed Terror in a Violent Clampdown against Opposition, Critics, Civil Society and the Media with arbitrary Arrests, Detentions, Torture, Abductions and Summary Executions to stamp his Authority. The deadly Conflict and Violence before and after 2015 saw the ICC approve an Inquest on November 2017 a Month after Nkurunziza leading Burundi to become the first Country ever to leave the International Criminal Court-ICC Statute on October 2017. In a Controversial Referendum of May 2018 that was also characterized by significant Violence and Boycott; Nkurunziza’s Government introduced Constitutional Changes increasing Presidential Term Lengths from 5-7 Years and Provisions to revise Ethnic Quotas. These Two Amendments being contrary to the Dictates of the Arusha Peace Accord of 2000. September 2018 Nkurunziza’s Government declared 3 UN-Human Rights Officials as Persona Non Grata revoking their Visas to Burundi. The 3 were investigating the Impact of the Violence that started in 2015 and their preliminary Findings accused Nkurunziza’s Government for violating Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity.

Burundi May 20,2020 General Elections

AMID a deadly escalating Threat of the Global Corona Virus Pandemic; a highly Infectious/Contagious Virus that has already claimed the Lives of 320,000 People with another 5 Million battling with the Disease in Hospitals across the World; Burundi is set to Vote in a New President to Succeed Incumbent Nkurunziza and a New Parliament this Wednesday May 20,2020. Burundi has To-date reported 42 Cases and 1 Death from this Virus after less than 1000 Tests across the Country’s 11.8 Million People. This Number does not represent the real CoronaVirus Situation in the Country which according to Critics and various Burundi Health Officials who have spoken on a Condition of Anonymity is escalating.

Burundi Government has been seriously criticized for playing down the Threat of this Virus and covering up the real Situation in the Country. On May 12,2020 the Government ‘World Health Organization’ Officials in Burundi as Persona Non Grata ordering them to leave the Country by May 15th without Reasons for their Expulsion. Photos of Thousands of Burundians crowded in Campaign Rallies without Face Masks or any form of CoronaVirus Precaution have raised Criticism to the Government for exposing its Citizenry to the deadly Virus. The President’s Spokesperson Jean Karerwa is on record recklessly playing down this real Threat by saying that Burundi has signed a special Pact with God and will hence be spared by this Pandemic.

Presidential Race

According to Burundi’s Electoral Commission CENI Chair Pierre Kazihise,5.1 Million Burundians have been registered to Vote across Burundi’s 18 Provinces. Described as the first competitive Election since 1993; the Race for the top Job shall be a tough Test on Democracy in a Turbulent Nation without the Incumbent President Nkurunziza on the Ballot. The Test is further exacerbated by lack of Free Independent Media in Burundi and lack of Independent International Observers due to Corona Virus Restrictions.The Government also blocked accesss to all Social Media Channels at the Dawn of Election Day.The run-up to Today’s Election has also been marred by Significant Violence and Intimidation with 67 documented Killings,Arbitrary Arrests and Torture according to ‘Ligue Iteka Human Rights Watch Group’ Report.

President Nkurunziza has chosen his Loyalist, retired Army General also a former Hutu Rebel Militant 52-Years old General Evariste Ndayishimiye to succeed him via the ruling CNDD-FDD Party. Gen.Ndayishimiye has previously served  as Burundi’s Security Minister and Head of Military Affairs in Nkurunziza’s Office. Another Key Candidate in this Race is Nkurunziza’s longtime Rival 56-Years old Agathon Rwasa who led Presidential Elections Boycott in 2010 and 2015 leading to Violent Confrontations with Nkurunziza Regime forcing him to hide or flee to Exile on several Occasions. Mr.Rwasa also a former FNL Hutu Rebel Leader is now the Leader of CNL-main Opposition Party and the Deputy Chair in Parliament. Another key Candidate is 69-Years old former President Domitien Ndayizeye vying under KIRA-Burundi Coalition.

The other Candidates are;

  • 66-Years old Mr.Leonce Ngendakumana via FRODEBU Party
  • 55-Years old former Vice President under Nkurunziza’s Government Gaston Sindimwo via UPRONA Party
  • 48-Years old Francis Rohero via the Orange Movement
  • 46-Years old Cleric and Social Activist Dieudonne Nahimana via the New Generation Movement

President Nkurunziza shall however remain in Office until August 2020 since he took Oath on August 2015. He is expected to hand over to the Winner of this Presidential Election come August. On March 14,2020 Nkurunziza signed into Law a Bill that shall elevate him to become Burundi’s ‘Supreme Leader and Guide to Patriotism’; Whoever wins this Election shall be bound by this Law to consult him on Matters National Security and National Union.Critics say this is a Scheme to maintain his Grip and Manipulation of State Power even after leaving Office. The Bill also comes with a Reward of $530,000 and a deluxe Villa Mansion as Retirement Benefits from State Coffers.

*On June 8,2020 at the Age of 55;Pierre Nkurunziza was Announced Dead after suffering a Heart Attack according to Government Statement.Unconfirmed Reports however said he might have contracted Corona Virus from his Wife Denise who was receiving Corona Virus Treatment at a Hospital in Nairobi when Nkurunziza was Announced Dead.His Wife recovered and was among those Present during his State Burial on June 26,2020.*

May 20,2020 Presidential Election Results

The Results of this Election were released on May 25,2020 and to Nobody’s Surprise Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD Candidate Gen.Evariste Ndayishimiye was declared the Winner with 68.72%.His main Challenger,Burundi’s Long-time Opposition Leader Agathon Rwasa was announced Second with 24.19%.The other 5 Candidates were announced as follows;Gaston Sindimwo with 1.64%,Domitien Ndayizeye with 0.57%,Leonce Ngendakumana with 0.47%,Dieudonne Nahimana with 0.42% and Francis Rohero with 0.20%.

Mr.Rwasa vowed to Contest the Results within Burundi’s Judiciary and take the same to the East African Court of Justice should he fail to get Justice from Burundi Courts.”We have Won this Election and I can demonstrate.We won’t negotiate this;the People’s Choice must be respected”-Mr Rwasa said in an Interview.He also claimed CNDD-FDD Regime has ran Burundi’s Economy down while isolating the Country from the rest of the World. “The Results proclaimed by CENI are not Credible.They are Prefabricated from Massive Fraud.We have all the Evidence and the Real Figures of this Election.We will seek Justice”-Mr Rwasa’s CNL Party said in Statements.

Burundi Fact-file

  • Burundi is a Landlocked  Country in Central-East Africa; It is the 5th Smallest Country in Mainland Africa
  • With a GDP Per Capita of $217 according to 2018 World Bank Data; Ranking Position 185 out of 189 Countries in the World on the 2019 Human Development Index it is estimated that close to 80% of Burundi’s 11.8 Million People live below the International Poverty Line of $1.25 a Day.
  • In terms of GDP Burundi is still categorized in the list of ‘Low Income-Least Developed Countries’
  • Coffee is Burundi’s main Export accounting for close to 70% of its total Exports according to ‘Trading Economics’ followed by Tea and Cotton in Agricultural Exports. In Mining the Country also produces Tin, Tungsten, Gold and other Earth Minerals that earns the Country over 50% of its Foreign Exchange Earnings according to the Ministry of Mining July 2019 Statement.
  • Fresh Water Lake Tanganyika; the World’s Longest Lake found within Burundi, DRC, Tanzania and Zambia is among key Tourist Destination in Burundi.
  • The Hutus and Tutsis are the main Tribes in Burundi; Hutus make over 85% of the Population with the Tutsis making 14% while the smallest Tribe the ‘Twa’ makes about 1% according to Population Demographics.
  • Burundi’s National Language is Kirundi; French and English are the Official Languages.
  • Christianity is the dominant Religion although other Religions and Faiths are allowed in Burundi.
  • Burundian Franc-BIF is the Country’s Currency.
  • On January 2019, Burundi’s Parliament voted to have the Country’s Capital City moved from Bujumbura to the Ancient Urundi-Burundi Kingdom Capital in Gitega where according to President Nkurunziza is more Central within Burundi compared to Bujumbura. Bujumbura however remains the Country’s Economic/Commercial Capital.

(Photos Courtesy)