Institutional engineering, management of ethnicity, and democratic failure in BurundiInstitutional engineering, management of ethnicity, and democratic failure in Burundi
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Development processes, actors and policies
Africa spectrum / Institut für Afrikakunde [Hamburg]; Institute of African Studies [Hamburg] - Hamburg, 1966, currens
51(2016):2, p. 65-78
University of Antwerp
This article argues that constitutional engineering along conso¬ciational lines in Burundi explicitly accommodating ethnicity rather than attempting to suppress it was instrumental in reducing the political role of ethnicity, but that other endogenous and exogenous factors also played a role. After surveying developments since 1988, this article fo-cuses on the 2005 polls. The outcome of the parliamentary elections suggests that the disappearance of the ethnic factor, extolled by many at the time, was achieved by constitutional constraints rather than by social or political dynamics. Nevertheless, with regard to the countrys most important and lethal historical problem, the ethnic divide, constitu-tional engineering has proved hugely effective. Burundis main cleavage is now between (and within) parties rather than ethnic groups, and when violence occurs it is political rather than ethnic. Burundis current crisis is therefore not a failure of consociationalism but of democracy.