Burundi Civil War

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The Burundi Civil War is driven by ethnic rivalries between Hutu and Tutsi tribal factions of Burundi. Rivalry escalated into a bloody power struggle following the presidential election of June 1993. The swearing in of Pierre Nkurunziza as president in August 2005 was seen as a formal endpoint to the conflict, but one major rebel group remained outside the peace process.


Burundi's first multiparty national elections were held on June 27, 1993. Melchior Ndadaye of the Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) won the presidential election, the first person from the Hutu tribe to become the president since the country secured independence from Belgium in 1962. Hutus are the majority ethnic group, at about eighty-five percent, in the country, but the government has been dominated by Tutsis, through the Union for National Progress (UPRONA) political party. Ndadaye was killed in a coup d'état by Tutsi military officers on October 21, 1993.

Course of the war

Violence between the ethnic groups followed the coup almost immediately, as Hutus sought revenge against Tutsis for Ndadaye's killing, and the Tutsi military killed thousands of Hutus in an attempt to retain power. For much of the conflict the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) was the major Hutu rebel group operating in the country. While some factions of the FDD have abided by a peace agreement signed with the government, the largest faction continues to carry out attacks. There are gunfights daily in Bujumbura, the country's capital, and people walk around armed on the street.

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