The International Crisis Group has issued a report on the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Burundi. Word on the street is that election preparation is getting a bit militarized:
The CNDD-FDD youth wing’s physical training, war songs and quasi-military organisation raise the spectre of militia violence and a large-scale intimidation campaign. The other former rebels, the Forces nationales de libération (FNL) and the Front pour la démocratie au Burundi (FRODEBU) are mobilising their own youth wings to oppose intimidation tactics. The police have remained passive or become accomplices to the ruling party’s abuses. There are thus legitimate fears they could become further politicised, similar to the National Intelligence Service (Service national de renseignement), which is already trying to destabilise the opposition. Meanwhile, the main opposition political parties’ election strategies either have yet to be worked out or, apart from those of a few new players, fail to offer an alternative political vision.
With a lacking opposition (as awesome as oppositional candidate Alexis Sinduhije is, his political networks beyond the Bujumbura elite are shallow) and a return to the aesthetics of youth wing force, politics in Burundi aren’t looking so hot. With the expulsion of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the Mission in Burundi and weak African Union electoral delegations, there aren’t any strong third parties to enforce election recommendations. Rwanda’s probably-not-so-democratic elections, which will be held just a few month before Burundi’s election, might stoke the political flames.
The Crisis Group follows up their insightful political analysis with a series of recommendations on how to ensure a free and fair election in Burundi. However it is difficult for any set of democratic directions to not sound pre-packaged and it is unlikely they will be implemented.
So, what to do? Hope that Government sponsered political TV Show, “Coup Plotters,” is really entertaining.