Severity: Warning Alert

Security: Heightened security likely across Burundi in run-up to May 20 general election. Clashes possible during campaign events.

This alert affects Burundi

This alert began 27 Apr 2020 22:47 GMT and is scheduled to expire 25 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Election campaign
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through May 17
  • Impact: Heightened security; possible violence; localized transport disruptions

Authorities in Burundi will likely increase security nationwide during the run-up to the country's May 20 general election. Although incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza will not be seeking another term in office, tensions are high amid alleged acts of intimidation against opposition parties by the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), as well as concerns over the government's perceived lack of transparency with regard to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Numerous rallies and demonstrations will take place at locations across the country during the election campaign, which officially runs through May 17. Many such functions could be well-attended despite COVID-19 concerns, with the largest taking place at stadiums, near political party offices, or in prominent public spaces in Burundi's main cities, such as Bujumbura, Muyinga, Ruyigi, and Gitega. Sporadic clashes between groups of rival activists cannot be ruled out.

Security forces will almost certainly deploy to monitor all major election-related events. Localized traffic disruptions are likely near rallies. Authorities could move to disperse any gatherings then deem to be overly disruptive - particularly those organized by opposition parties. Tensions and associated protests could persist after the election, if any accusations of irregularities emerge.

Background and Analysis
Human rights groups have accused local authorities, security forces, and members of the CNDD-FDD youth league - known as the Imbonerakure - of engaging in abuses and violence against political opponents in Burundi, particularly surrounding sensitive votes such as the nation's 2018 constitutional referendum. Police and members of the Imbonerakure arrested over 20 local leaders of the country's main political opposition party, the National Council for Liberty (CNL), on Feb. 23. The CNL asserts that the upcoming polls will lack transparency and fairness.

Avoid all demonstrations and political rallies, as well as party offices and polling stations, as a precaution. Use alternative routes to avoid election-related events; allow additional time to reach destinations.


Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center