News / Africa

    Burundi Facing Many Challenges as President Begins New Term

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Zack Baddorf

    Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza has been sworn into office for another term.  He was re-elected in the country's first presidential direct-vote election in late June, while the opposition boycotted the poll, claiming massive fraud and intimidation by the government in previous legislative and local-government elections.

    Up on a hilltop overlooking vast green countryside and countless rolling hills, 28-year-old Suleyman Aronge sways from side to side beating a traditional Burundian drum.  He and about 20 others are wearing tunics colored red, green and white - the colors of Burundi's flag.

    Terrorism, Ethnic Division Threaten

    Aronge voted in the elections despite fears by many of a terrorist attack.  The Somali militant group al Shabab promised to target Burundi next after taking credit for the deadly bombings in Uganda on July 11th that left 76 people dead.  But Aronge, who lives in Burundi's countryside - like the majority of the country's 10 million people - said he was not afraid to vote.

    Uganda and Burundi both have a few thousand troops in the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.  Aronge says Burundians think their army is able to stop those attacks.  "We are confident in our army," he said, but "we hope such an attack will never happen in our country".

    Another challenge the country faces is ethnic division.  A 13-year civil war between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-controlled government ended in 2006, but left about 300,000 dead.  About 86 percent of the population is Hutu.  The rest are mostly Tutsis.

    In Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, 22-year-old student Gloria Kaneza said she does not like to think of people along ethnic lines.  She is a Tutsi and is going to marry a Hutu.  "So me, I cannot judge someone because he is Tutsi or Hutu because there are Tutsi who are not so good.  There are Hutu who are not so good.  You can judge someone by his actions, his heart, what he are doing.  Me, I do not like the expression that I am Tutsi or I am Hutu because it makes barriers."  She also said discrimination between the two ethnic groups still exists, but with peace now, she said her country will be "very beautiful" in the future.

    East Africa Collaborates

    Jacques Mafarakura, a 55-year-old museum curator in Gitega, agrees, saying life has never been better in Burundi.  Mafarakura says if you look at the way people live, they produce more wealth than they have in the past.  They have more, he said.  Although it is not obvious, he claims things have improved.  When you are walking in the street, you can see that things are slightly better, he added.

    Things could get even better now that Burundi and four other nearby countries started the East African Common Market in July. It allows people, goods, and services to travel across borders with less taxes and less red tape.

    For Elias Dina, that is good news.  The 29-year-old sells phones and phone covers in Burundi.  Dina said the Burundian economy is not as bad as before because the country has its own products, like rice, that are good at the moment.  He added that now that East Africa has come into play, Burundians will have good things and cheap stuff, too.

    The International Monetary Fund expects Burundi's economy to grow by nearly four percent this year, mostly thanks to its production and export of coffee and tea.

    Corruption Lurks

    In July, however, Transparency International named Burundi the most corrupt nation in East Africa, with a corruption prevalence of nearly 37 percent.  Burundi's revenue authority and police force topped the list of most corrupt institutions in the region.

    That is a problem for salesman Dina, who said corruption is everywhere.  "It is alive here, it is going on," he claimed.  "There are things that come into the country without paying taxes."  He said sometimes if the police catch someone, they do not take the person straight to the police station,  they just sort it out on the streets.

    An opposition party leader, Jean de Dieu Mutabazi, agreed that corruption is a serious challenge for the country.  His party boycotted the recent elections, but said the opposition groups need to help build a "strong Burundian society."

    "The problems will be from now on," Mutabazi said, "since the ruling party will have all the power and they will have the tendency to dictate everything to the people."  The opposition is weak, he added.

    On Monday, Amnesty International issued a report describing how opposition party politicians were allegedly tortured by the country's security services.  Burundi's National Intelligence Service denied the accusations.

    The president of the ruling party, Jeremy Ndikumana, though, said the political environment in Burundi is improving.  "The democracy in Burundi is now taking place, slowly of course.  We are in the beginning, but we see that we are going well."


    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora