Freedom in the World
Burundi’s political rights rating declined from 4 to 5 due to arrests and intimidation by the government and ruling party during local, parliamentary, and presidential election campaigns.
Local, presidential, and parliamentary elections were held in May, June, and July 2010, respectively. Irregularities in local elections and efforts by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s National Council for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD)to close political space led opposition candidates to boycott the subsequent presidential and parliamentary elections. Sporadic political violence occurred throughout the electoral period, with the CNDD and opposition parties accusing one another of complicity in the attacks.
Burundi is not an electoral democracy. The country lacks representative institutions at the national level, in both the legislative and executive branches of government. Despite citizens’ ability to change their government democratically in 2005, serious electoral irregularities and repression during the May 2010 local elections led most opposition parties to boycott subsequent presidential and parliamentary polls. The 2010 presidential election was the first by direct vote for a five-year term, but without meaningful competition, the results lacked legitimacy. The president appoints two vice presidents, one Tutsi and one Hutu, and they must be approved separately by a two-thirds majority in both the lower and upper houses.