Burundi. A harsh political climate caused concern in the area that the system of power sharing between the hutu and Tutsi people groups, which came into force in 2005, would fall apart. According to CountryAAH, Gitega is the capital city of Burundi. The tutsidominated former ruling party UPRONA accused the ruling CNDD-FDD, formerly a Hutu extremist militia, of consistently favoring Hutus in the post of army and police posts.
A ceasefire agreement between the government and the last hutumilis FNL, which was concluded in the autumn of 2006, did not lead to any permanent peace agreement. Negotiations ended and the FNL delegation disappeared from the capital, after which bloody fighting broke out between rival factions of the FNL during the fall.
In January, the Supreme Court acquitted former President and Hutu Domitien Ndayizeye and four other former senior politicians from allegations of trying to overthrow the government. However, two others were sentenced to prison for 20 and 15 years respectively. The charges had been severely criticized both internally and abroad, as the details of the alleged coup attempt were extremely vague. The charges were believed to be linked to a fierce power struggle within the CNDD-FDD, whose authoritarian chairman Hussein Radjabu was deposed at a party meeting in February and was brought to trial at the end of the year after being deprived of his legal immunity. Several of Radjabus’s close confidants, including two ministers and the Speaker of Parliament, were also cleared.
- According to abbreviationfinder: BI is the 2-letter acronym for the country of Burundi.
Burundi began breaking a long-standing relative isolation during the year. In April, Rwanda and Congo (Kinshasa) agreed to revive cooperation in the Greater Zealand Economic Community (CEPGL), which has been down for 13 years, and in June it was announced that Burundi and Rwanda will become members of the East African Community together with Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The most important element of this cooperation is a customs union.
The economy of Burundi has suffered less damage than other African countries since the colonial period, as the same geographical position has always limited the opportunities for exploitation. Independence, with the consequent separation from Rwanda, has rather accentuated the closure of the economic system. The socio-economic conditions of the population are deplorable: life expectancy around 44 years, per capita income just over $ 600 per year (at purchasing power parity), infant mortality close to 7%, about half of the population illiterate.
The subsistence character of the most widespread agricultural activities (with production of corn, millet, sorghum, cassava, potatoes, legumes), the lack of raw materials and the absence of industries enhance the role of plantation crops, for which the ‘monoculture, with coffee accounting for the greatest part, in value, of exports (followed at a great distance by cotton, tea, palm oil). Nor does the consistent breeding (980,000 goats and sheep, 325,000 cattle, over 4 million poultry), introduced by the Tutsi, but considered an element of personal prestige rather than productive interest (dairy products and hides do not leave the local trade circuits, as well as the products of the fishery, practiced in the waters of Tanganyika). Despite encouraging geological prospecting results (Musongati nickel deposits, which make up about 6% of world reserves), the extraction and exploitation of modest mineral resources are limited by the lack of infrastructure. The very modest industrial apparatus – which is limited to small factories for the processing of agricultural products, textiles, footwear and cement – is experiencing an expansion for the production of beer, cigarettes and sugar (export products).
Attempts to plan development inevitably aim at increasing agricultural productivity, through direct government interventions (financing, subsidies) or indirect (promotion of cooperative forms, incentives for industrial processes connected to agriculture). To achieve these objectives, the infrastructural system should be improved, which can count on a decent road communications network (14,500 km), on the Tanganyika lake route that connects the Burundi to the Tanzanian railways and on the international airport of Bujumbura. The trade takes place mainly with countries of the western world: the United States and Germany, which are directed towards the sales of tropical products; the largest imports come from Belgium, France and Japan, largely for consumer goods needed to support the population’s modest standard of living.