Burundi Political System

Political system

Short for BI by Abbreviationfinder, Burundi adopted a new constitution in 2005 after a civil war between Tutsi and Hutu ended. The Constitution stipulated that power should be shared between the two peoples groups and that political parties must stand with candidates from both groups in elections. Since then, the balance has again been disrupted and in 2018, the Hut-dominated government managed to have the Constitution amended in favor of the Hutu people.

Burundi is a republic whose president is head of state and government as well as commander-in-chief. The president was previously elected by Parliament, but has since 2010 been elected in general elections for a term of five years. As of the 2020 elections, the term of office is seven years with the possibility of re-election at most once.

  • Countryaah: Total population and chart of Burundi for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.

According to the constitution, the government must consist of 60 percent Hutus and 40 percent Tutsis. The Minister of Defense and the Minister responsible for the police must not belong to the same ethnic group. At least 30 percent of ministers should be women.

The Legislative Parliament has two chambers: the National Assembly (Lower House) which adopts laws and the Senate (Upper House) which oversees the legislative work and has an advisory role in relation to the President. Basic amendments must be approved by both chambers.

The National Assembly shall consist of 60 percent Hutus and 40 percent Tutsis, and 30 percent of the members shall be women. The National Assembly must have at least 100 members, and an additional up to 20 can be appointed for the ethnic distribution to be correct. Minority people two are guaranteed three places. The members are elected in general elections for five years. All parties must have both Hutus and Tutsis, as well as women and men, in select places.

The Senate must have at least 34 and a maximum of 54 members, of which as many Hutus as Tutsis plus three representatives of the two. The senators are appointed for five years by an electoral college with representatives of the 18 provinces plus the metropolitan area. Former presidents also have the right to sit in the Senate.

During the 2010s, then-President Nkurunziza’s Hut-dominated government made several attempts to change the constitution to give the Hutu more power. In May 2018, the project was carried into port when a new constitution was approved in a referendum. The new Constitution came into force the following month. The distribution of mandates between Hutu and Tutsi exists (60/40), but now decisions in Parliament can be taken by a simple majority, that is without the participation of the Tutsis.

Furthermore, an earlier system was abolished with two vice presidents from different parties and different ethnic groups. From the 2020 elections, there is a Vice President appointed by the President. The Prime Minister is to be taken from the largest party in Parliament, which has long been the hut-dominated CNDD-FDD (see below). The President appoints the Government after consulting with the Vice President and the Prime Minister. A rule that every party that received at least 5 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections is entitled to governmental positions was abolished by the constitutional amendments 2018.

Burundi is divided into 18 provinces, which in turn consist of districts and municipalities. Through the provincial governors appointed by the president, the government exercises control in the country. The municipal mayors also have the task of implementing the government’s policy at the local level. The district is governed by a council that is elected in general elections every five years.

Political parties

The Hut-dominated National Council for Defense-The Forces of Democracy (National Defense Council for Democracy-Forces for Defense of Democracy, CNDD-FDD) has been the country’s leading and by far the largest party since 2005. It had previously emerged as a Hutu extremist movement and the FDD faction fought an armed struggle against the regime until 2003. After being transformed into a party, the CNDD-FDD managed to win support even among Tutsis.

The formerly dominant party of the Hutuma majority Front of Democracy in Burundi (Front pour la Democracy au Burundi, Frodebu) has weakened since the 2005 election.

The Tutsidominated Party National Progressive Union (Union pour le Progr├Ęs National, Uprona) was the only allowed party until 1992. Nowadays, Uprona is also marginalized.

Ahead of the 2015 parliamentary elections, an opposition alliance was formed called the Independent Coalition for the Burundian Hope (Abigenga Mizero y’Abarundi). Frodebu boycotted the election while Uprona stood outside the opposition alliance, which received 21 seats in the lower house and a number of ministerial posts in the government.

Following the 2015 elections, a series of opposition parties formed the umbrella organization National Council for the Restoration of the Arusha Agreement and the Rule of Law (National Council for the Respect of the Arusha for the Paix et la Reconciliation at Burundi and the State of Droit, CNARED). Read about the Arusha Agreement in Modern History.

Alongside the political parties, the youth militia Imbonerakure has played a prominent role. The movement is said to have around 50,000 members and is described as the CNDD-FDD’s youth federation and also as Nkurunziza’s private army. Imbonerakure consists of young men (usually poor, unemployed and illiterate) and accused of threatening and abusing opposites and helping the police to turn down demonstrations.

There are also a number of armed groups fighting the government. In December 2015, a new rebel group, the Burundi Republican Forces (Forces R├ępublicaines du Burundi, Forebu), was launched. In the following years, a number of retired officers joined Forebu, who in 2017 changed their name to Burundi’s people forces (Forces Populaires du Burundi, FPB). A third resistance group is RED-TABARA with bases in eastern Congo-Kinshasa.

Burundi Urban Population



The Vice President resigns

Second Vice President Alice Nzomukunda, a member of the CNDD-FDD government party, resigns. She motivates the run-off with corruption within the government and accuses it of violating human rights. Her departure strengthens the hypothesis that the alleged coup attempt was really about internal power struggles within the government (see August 2006).

Arm rest with huturebeller

The Burundian government enters into an armistice with the Huturebelene FNL.


Suspicious cupmakers are arrested

Authorities claim that a coup attempt has been averted. Among those arrested for alleged interference is former President Domitien Ndayizeye. Within the opposition, there are suspicions that the coup attempt was rather a power struggle within the CNDD-FDD government party.