Government Crisis in Burundi

1 minute read

I have not seen too much discussion on this, but after a failed coup, Burundi's government is struggling with a question of legitimacy. The coup was a response to President Pierre Nkurunziza's claim to another term, which, according to the constitutional court of Burundi, is legal. However, many opponents of Mr. Nkurunziza believe that the courts were pressured into giving the rubber stamp of approval.

Photo copyright Eric Miller / World Economic Forum 2008 Africa Summit, Cape Town, 3 - 6 June 2008 emiller@iafrica.com

The military led the coup under general Godefroid Niyombare, and the revolt only occurred after weeks of protests by citizens. While the coup has some legitimacy in my view, the reality is that the nation at large did not coalesce into a unified opposition to the president, meaning his third term may actually be recognized by most citizens of Burundi. As a result, the coup has failed as of May 15th.

The abuse of the judiciary is a common tactic for despotic and authoritarian leaning regimes. In Argentina, every new president chooses their judges, a precedent established after years of government transitions between civilian and military rule. Whether this was another instance of a powerful executive twisting the courts to its will remains unseen. For those who do not know, Burundi registers as one of the poorest and hungriest nations in the world.