Burundi + 4 more

Interagency Contingency Plan - Burundi 2015 Elections

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Manual and Guideline
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Originally published

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STRATEGIC SUMMARY

Burundi has made notable progress in the peace consolidation process since the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation agreement, which helped end the country’s long civil war. The upcoming 2015 general elections are considered as a critical milestone for the long-term peace and stability of Burundi. However, tensions continue to increase and the political landscape is marred by polarization and limited political space.

Political exclusion and the struggle for power, which are among the main drivers of Burundi’s past conflicts, still exist. These persisting challenges could potentially trigger electoral violence, with massive humanitarian impact for Burundi and the neighbouring countries in the Great Lakes region. In this context, humanitarian agencies in Burundi have developed a plan to ensure that preparedness measures are in place to help save lives and alleviate acute suffering by providing necessary coordinated protection and assistance for people in need, including food; water, sanitation and hygiene; shelter; non-food items and health.

SITUATION & RISK ANALYSIS

1.Country Information and Context Analysis

Burundi has made notable progress in the peace consolidation process since the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation agreement. However, “the spirit of Arusha, which enshrined the principle of dialogue, consensus and democracy, and the peaceful settlement of disputes, has been eroding, especially since the 2010 elections, which ushered in a period of increased mistrust, polarization and political tensions.” The upcoming 2015 elections are considered as a critical milestone for Burundi’s long-term peace and stability.

Political tensions are currently high and trust needs to be reinforced between the ruling Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party and other actors (e.g. political parties, civil society organizations). Similarly, to maximize chances for free, fair, and credible elections, there is an urgent need to level the playing field among political actors and ensure the exercise of public freedoms, notably peaceful assembly and association. In a recent report by the Secretary-General on the United Nations Office in Burundi, Mr. Ban Ki-moon noted some election-related challenges that “if left unchecked could trigger electoral violence, with potentially devastating consequences for Burundi and the Great Lakes region”.

2.Summary of Risk

Burundi is a country vulnerable to multiple risks (e.g. conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics, food insecurity and malnutrition). Consequently, this proposed plan focuses exclusively on risks related to the 2015 general elections only. All other risks are considered under the national contingency plan and other related documents.

Below is the timetable of the 2015 elections. The round of elections is scheduled from 26 May 2015 to 24 August 2015. The legislatives and communes elections are of particular importance as they generally indicate the trends for the presidential elections.

The areas of highest risk are identified in 38 communes of the country in 8 provinces: Bujumbura Mairie, Bujumbura rural, Bubanza, Bururi, Makamba, Muyinga, Cibitoke, and Kirundo. Close monitoring of the situation in the entire country is required in order to confirm or adjust the above list. Other provinces such as Gitega, which is the area with the highest number of electors, and Ngozi will need to be monitored closely.

The selection and announcement of candidates, particularly for the presidential election, is considered among the most obvious triggers.

CNDD-FDD primaries to select its presidential candidate, initially in March 2015, are being closely watched on whether the party succeeds in building a wide consensus around a possible third term candidacy for current President Nkurunziza or designate an alternative candidate. Risks remain high that Nkurunziza’s candidacy could spark massive street protests and violent response by security forces leading to civilian casualties and population displacement. On 26 January 2015, media reports suggested that over 300 civil society organizations initiated a campaign named as “HALTE AU TROISIEME MANDAT” (Stop a Third Mandate) to prevent Presidential Nkurunziza from running for a third term. Opposition parties, the Church and some international actors have strongly warned against a third term option from Nkurunziza, saying that it would violate the Arusha agreement.

Another candidature-related trigger is the final validation by the Constitutional Court of the election candidates, possibly in late April 2015. Violent rallies could happen if Nkurunziza’s candidacy is validated, and/or if some key opposition candidates are excluded from the race.

The results of the legislatives and communal elections scheduled for 26 May 2015 would be another trigger.

These elections indicate in general the trends for the presidential elections. Some presidential hopefuls could reject the credibility of the whole process and call for rallies to disrupt the remaining elections.

Other potential triggers to be watched would include:

  • Disagreement on voter registration and distribution of ID cards

  • Continuing mistrust and lack of political dialogue among actors

  • Perceived biases of administrative and judicial institutions

  • Shrinking political space for political parties and civil society organizations

  • Retaliatory hate speeches, rumours and calls for violence

  • Confrontation between political parties’ youth wings

  • Politically motivated violence and intimidation against leading political figures and others

  • Rejection of election results

  • Cross-border armed attacks by Burundian armed elements active in neighbouring DRC

  • Mass civilian casualties during efforts to quell demonstrations

  • Creation of new armed movements

  • Apparent divisions among security forces The potential for violence and humanitarian impact needs to be monitored closely before, during and after the elections. Despite the fluctuation in the planning figures, this strategy is related closely with the Burundian Red Cross contingency plan for the elections and the first risk (internal socio-political unrest) identified in the national contingency plan

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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