Perceiving the Burundi social crisis : a matter of ethnic interests or conflict over natural resources

Detta är en Master-uppsats från SLU/Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

Sammanfattning: The ethnic conflict of Burundi has deep historical and social roots. In the pre-colonial period, Burundi was a hierarchical society, but the interdependence of the political and social system gave coherence and social strength. It could be argued that the reasons for the violent internal conflicts of Burundi range from the impacts of the measures of the colonial administration to processes that have occurred during the post-independence period. The tensions between social groups in Burundi are interpreted by both Burundians as well as external observers as being caused by an ethnic strife. The ethnic identities of people are never the main cause of social crisis and violence. The ethnic divisions of communities however become an extremely dangerous source of conflicts, when they are manipulated politically. Today, the strategic natural resources are still unexploited. However, the competition for land contributes to aggravate the present social conflict. The public sector, however, remains the most important source of income for the elites. Hence, the roots of the ethnic conflict in Burundi stems from a combination of factors, such as poverty, competition for scarce resources, governance policies and practices which cause economical and social exclusion, the struggle of groups and corporations for interests and the control of the country’s limited resources. The combination of these reasons have strengthened the ethnic tensions in Burundi, particularly between the groups labelled Hutu and Tutsi and these divisions have become a tool which elite groups deploy for political mobilisation, in order to secure economical and political benefits. This thesis briefly explores the historical, political and economical causes of the Burundi social crisis, how people interpret this conflict, the role the political elite groups and the national and international actors play for these conflicts, particularly concerning the struggle for the control over natural resources. The thesis recommends that all factions in the conflict form a committee and draft a political agreement, which both spells out the explicit causes of the conflict and presents a political action plan which accounts for how the conflict shall be solved and how a reconciliation process between the groups of the conflict shall be staged.

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