Whither Burundi? Violence, protest and the post-Arusha dispensation? By Angela Muvumba Sellström

The current political situation in Burundi poses significant challenges for organizing credible elections in 2015. Thousands have fled to neighbouring Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Tanzania. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), what started as a trickle of a frightened few has grown into a swell of over 50,000 in a matter of weeks. After two weeks of demonstrations in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, the government decided to dismantle barricades that were blocking movement in the city’s outer neighbourhoods. The first thing to happen was a surge of 200 women marching into the city centre on Sunday, 10 May. Their non-violent protest almost made it to Independence Square. But not quite. They too were stopped. Many are. Well over a dozen people have been killed and hundreds injured in the political protests. Continue reading

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Brinkmanship in Bujumbura: a struggle for power at all costs? by Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs

 On Saturday 25 April, the ruling party in Burundi, the CNDD-FDD (The National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy) – a formerly armed group turned political party after the end of the civil war – held its much awaited party congress at the party headquarters in the capital of Bujumbura. As widely anticipated, the party officially designated the sitting President Pierre Nkurunziza as their presidential candidate in the upcoming elections on 26 June this year. The announcement became the triggering event for the escalation of protests and demonstrations in several suburbs surrounding the city center [for more on the street protests see blog post by Jesper Bjarnesen here]. During the week that followed, similar protests were reported from other urban centers in the country too. A coalition of civil society organisations officially took the lead in organising the post-announcement protests, but in cooperation with several political parties in opposition. The ruling party responded heavy-handedly by closing down several radio stations, blocking social media networks, and banning participation in the protests. In the last few days, tensions have increased and violence escalated between the protesters and the police. Continue reading

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Bujumbura Burning: Public Protests and Youth in Burundi’s Emerging Electoral Crisis by Jesper Bjarnesen

Thomas searches half-heartedly for the SIM card he discarded yesterday. He is exhausted. Worn out after three days of protests. He has only been home once to change his clothes since the beginning of the protests against President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term, which was announced at the ruling party’s long-awaited congress on Saturday. Thomas is being watched. Sitting in his sofa in a modest but tidy room in Kamenge, a northern suburb of Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital, he seems to be running out of steam. He discarded the SIM card after receiving threatening phone calls. “We know what you are doing”, they said. “The next time you go out onto the street, you’d better bring flowers to honour the president, or else…” Continue reading

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“Afrophobia”? “Xenophobia”? “Black on black racism”? on phobic violence in South Africa, by Achille Mbembe

“Afrophobia”? “Xenophobia”? “Black on black racism”? A “darker” as you can get hacking a “foreigner” under the pretext of his being too dark — self hate par excellence? Of course all of that at once! Yesterday I asked a taxi driver: “why do they need to kill these “foreigners” in this manner?”. His response: “because under Apartheid, fire was the only weapon we Blacks had. We did not have ammunitions, guns and the likes. With fire we could make petrol bombs and throw them at the enemy from a safe distance”. Today there is no need for distance any longer. To kill “these foreigners”, we need to be as close as possible to their body which we then set in flames or dissect, each blow opening a huge wound that can never be healed. Or if it is healed at all, it must leave on “these foreigners” the kinds of scars that can never be erased. Continue reading

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Defeating the power of incumbency in the 2015 Nigerian presidential election, by Henrik Angerbrandt

While the presidential election was anticipated to be close, there were still doubts that it would be possible to unseat an incumbent president in Nigeria. So when Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) was declared as winner of the election, Nigerian democracy has entered a new stage that will contribute to set the standard for coming elections in Africa.  Continue reading

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The streets speak in Africa! by Mirjam de Bruijn

Students on their moto bikes, accompanying the corps of a fellow student to Walia. The student was killed during the demonstration on 9 March in N’Djamena.

The cruel death of my friend’s cousin during the demonstration of students from high school and university in N’Djamena on 9 March, hits hard, the photo of the tortured body sent via whatsapp showing useless violence. The family will bury the young man in the village after they refused the 3 million Francs CFA (4,573 Euros) offered by the government that some interpreted as money to silence them.
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Is the struggle against Boko Haram entering a new phase? By Henrik Angerbrandt

A week and a half before Nigeria’s presidential election was scheduled, the military declared in a letter to the chairman of the electoral commission that they would not be able to assist with security measures for another for six weeks due to a major offensive to be concluded in the north-east. As a result, the elections were postponed for six weeks. Observers posed the question on what could be done in six weeks when the insurgency has lasted for close to six years. Now it seems like President Jonathan has intensified the struggle and at the moment gives the insurgency the priority he has been criticised for not showing before. Continue reading

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