Update to BDI39114.E of 27 August 2002 on the Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) and treatment of its members by the government authorities (January-November 2004) [BDI43154.FE]

The Front for Democracy in Burundi (Front pour la démocratie du Burundi, FRODEBU) and the Union for National Progress (Union pour le progrès national, UPRONA) are the two main political parties in Burundi (Electionworld.org 19 Oct. 2004; IRIN 17 June 2004; Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 3; Europa 2004 2004, 950). The FRODEBU is a Hutu party, while the UPRONA is a Tutsi party (AFP 18 Aug. 2004). According to a 5 July 2004 report published by the International Crisis Group (ICG), the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for Defence of Democracy (Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces de défense de la démocratie, CNDD-FDD) [translation] "has positioned itself as a rival party" (ICG 5 July 2004, 3-4). The CNDD-FDD, a rebel group that has become a political party, consists mainly of Hutus (EIU Business Africa 1 Nov. 2004).

Domitien Ndayizeye, president of the transitional government in 2004, is a member of the FRODEBU party (RFI 4 June 2004). He became president on 30 April 2003 (ICG 5 July 2004, 5; Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 3), in accordance with the 2001 peace accord (Europa 2004 2004, 952). According to this agreement, the first year and a half of the three-year transitional government was to be headed by the UPRONA and the last year and a half, by the FRODEBU (Europa 2004 2004, 950; Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 3).

The ICG report on the transition in Burundi indicated that FRODEBU policies are based on applying the Arusha Accords and on maintaining the ethnic balance established by the transitional arrangements (6).

According to the Arusha Accords, the transition period should have ended on 31 October 2004 (RFI 6 Aug. 2004) with national elections (ICG 5 July 2004, 13). The FRODEBU also wanted elections held before the end of 2004 (PANA 16 Aug. 2004).

Several reports indicated, however, that the elections have been postponed to April 2005 (EIU Business Africa 1 Nov. 2004; BBC News 15 Oct. 2004). The Burundi Electoral Commission indicated that elections could not be held in October 2004 (ibid.). The FRODEBU leader and current president, Domitien Ndayizeye, also stated, during a meeting in Dar es Salaam in June 2004, that it was necessary to eliminate the obstacles to the elections rather than simply discuss the date on which they would take place (African Union 4 July 2004). The party still maintains that the country needs "free and democratic elections" (FRODEBU n.d.) and stability (AFP 18 Aug. 2004). However, because the administration still needed to set up an electoral commission, pass an electoral law, and create an updated voters' roll as of October 2004, elections could not be held in 2004 (EIU Viewswire 19 Oct. 2004).

The presence of the CNDD-FDD brought strong opposition to the FRODEBU; the FRODEBU would therefore like to hold elections as soon as possible "for the sake of a credible election" (ibid.). For this party, [translation] "the elections are essential" (ICG 5 July 2004, 15) because, in 2004, the CNDD-FDD increased its number of members of parliament: in fact, approximately 50 members of parliament who once belonged to the FRODEBU and UPRONA parties crossed over to the CNDD-FDD (PANA 19 Apr. 2004). At the end of 2004, FRODEBU "has remained with only half of its original 61 legislators" (ibid.). According to an ICG report, in order to make progress on the issues important to the FRODEBU, this party must continuously forge alliances that sometimes paralyze it (5 July 2004, 15).

Between 17 and 20 July 2004 (United Nations 1 Aug. 2004), talks were held in Pretoria, South Africa, on the distribution of power after the elections and on the transition period (IRIN 19 July 2004). The FRODEBU insisted on the following power-sharing structure: "60 percent Hutu and 40 percent Tutsi in the National Assembly and Cabinet; an even division between Hutus and Tutsis in the Senate; and 67 percent Hutu and 33 percent Tutsi among communal administrators" (United States July 2004; see also IRIN 19 July 2004). Tutsi political parties did not accept this agreement (EIU Business Africa 1 Nov. 2004).

One obstacle to ratifying the agreement and to holding elections is that the Tutsi parties expect the seats reserved for Tutsis in the National Assembly and in the Senate, representing 40 per cent of seats, to be occupied by members of Tutsi parties; they do not want those seats to be occupied by Tutsis from political parties whose ethnic composition is different (ibid.). However, the Hutus are against the Tutsi proposal regarding the distribution of power (ibid.)

Moreover, a group of prisoners took part in a strike at Bujumbura's central prison (United Nations 1 Aug. 2004) to protest their prolonged detention (AFP 31 July 2004). They threatened the FRODEBU by saying that they would reveal "the truth" about the assassination of Melchior Ndadaye in 1993, the murder that touched off Burundi's civil war (ibid.; IRIN 17 June 2004). The government intervened and sent in [translation] "gendarmes [who] stormed Bujumbura's central prison to quell a protest that had been raging since 19 July, in which prisoners demanded their immediate release" (ARIB 1 Aug. 2004). The intervention took place on 30 July 2004 (ITEKA 31 July 2004).

No information on the treatment of FRODEBU members by the authorities could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints for this Response.

However, [translation] "on 29 June, four FRODEBU members of parliament were taken hostage by the CNDD-FDD in the province of Ruyigi" (ICG 5 July 2004, 7).

According to a 5 July 2004 ICG report,

upon taking the four members hostage . . . the CNDD-FDD attempted to put the government's strategy in check by showing that, without its integration, the government could not begin an election campaign or reformation of the army-two main issues on the Burundian president's agenda (ibid.).

No information on what happened to the four kidnapped members could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints for this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


African Union, Addis Ababa. 4 July 2004. "Rapport du président de la Commission sur la situation au Burundi." http://www.africa-union.org/AU%20summit%202004/excl/Rapport%20Burundi.pdf [Accessed 16 Nov. 2004]

Afrol News. 30 August 2004. "Burundi Massacre 'Committed by Congolese, Rwandans'." http://www.afrol.com/articles/13828 [Accessed 16 Nov. 2004]

Agence France Presse (AFP). 18 August 2004. Mbaraka Islam. "African Leaders Meet on Burundi in Wake of Refugee Massacre." (Dialog)

_____. 31 July 2004. Esdras Ndikumana. "Mutinous Burundi Prisoners Threaten a Leading Political Party." (Dialog)

Association de réflexion et d'information sur le Burundi (ARIB). 1 August 2004. "Kiganahe justifie l'opération 'arrestation de prisonniers.'" http://www.arib.info/flash-infoaout04.htm [Accessed 24 Nov. 2004]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News. 15 October 2004. "Burundi Peace Poll Postponed." http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/3747190.stm [Accessed 17 Nov. 2004]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27715.htm [Accessed 18 Nov. 2004]

Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Business Africa. 1 November 2004. No. 304. "Country Watchlist: Burundi." (Dialog)

Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Viewswire. 19 October 2004. "Burundi Politics: Missing the Vote." (Dialog)

Electionworld.org. 19 October 2004. "Elections in Burundi." http://www.electionworld.org/election/burundi.htm [Accessed 17 Nov. 2004]

The Europa World Year Book 2004. 2004. Vol. 1. Londres : Europa Publications Ltd.

Le Front pour la démocratie au Burundi (FRODEBU). n.d. "Une année de la fin de la transition, une kyrielle d'incertitudes demeure : le secrétaire général du FRODEBU lève le voile (interview de l'Honorable Léonce Ngendakumana)." http://www.frodebu.bi/htm/Intervew.htm [Accessed 16 Nov. 2004]

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). 1 September 2004. "Burundi: Uphill Task as Election Deadline Nears." http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=42961&SelectRegion=Great_Lakes [Accessed 1 Sept. 2004]

_____. 19 July 2004. "Burundi-South Africa: Slow Progress at Power-Sharing Talks." http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=42559&SelectRegion=Great_Lakes [Accessed 16 Nov. 2004]

_____. 17 June 2004. "Burundi : Zuma in Post-Summit Visit to Bujumbura." (AllAfrica/Dialog)

International Crisis Group (ICG). 5 July 2004. Fin de transition au Burundi : franchir le cap. (ICG Africa, Report No. 81). http://www.icg.org//library/documents/africa/central_africa/081_fin_de_transition_au_burundi.pdf [Accessed 18 Nov. 2004]

Ligue burundaise des droits de l'homme (ITEKA), Bujumbura. 31 July 2004. "Les gendarmes lancent des gaz lacrymogènes contre les détenus grévistes à Bujumbura." http://www.ligue-iteka.bi/n310704b.htm [Accessed 24 Nov. 2004]

Panafrican News Agency (PANA). 16 August 2004. "Burundi's Ruling Front for Respect of Electoral Calendar." (Dialog)

_____. 19 April 2004. "Burundi MPs Accused of Being Political Nomads." (Dialog)

Radio France Internationale (RFI). 6 August 2004. "Désaccord ratifié à Pretoria." http://www.rfi.fr/actufr/articles/056/article_29722.asp [Accessed 17 Nov. 2004]

_____. 4 June 2004. "Vers une prolongation de la transition?" http://www.rfi.fr/actufr/articles/054/article_28472.asp [Accessed 17 Nov. 2004]

United Nations. 1 August 2004. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). "OCHA-Burundi Situation Report 26 Jul.-1 Aug. 2004." (ReliefWeb) http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/0/d44f9ad01992a94a49256ee6000669d6?OpenDocument [Accessed 16 Nov. 2004]

United States. July 2004. US Agency for International Development (USAID). "USAID/OTI Burundi Field Report." http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/cross-cutting_programs/transition_initiatives/country/burundi/rpt0704.html [Accessed 16 Nov. 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

Publications: Political Handbook of the World: 2000-2002.

Internet sites, including: Association de réflexion et d'information sur le Burundi (ARIB), Front pour la démocratie au Burundi (FRODEBU), Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), International Crisis Group (ICG), Ligue burundaise des droits de l'homme (ITEKA), ReliefWeb.

Associated documents