Country Risk

Announced Burundian constitutional changes will probably cause further defections and divisions in military, increasing civil war risk

31 October 2017

Key Points

  • The constitutional changes would enshrine into law the effective end of cross-party and ethnic power-sharing in Burundi, established by the Arusha Agreement and the 2005 constitution.
  • This is likely to drive a new wave of defections from the political opposition and Burundian military to the armed opposition.
  • Challenges to these revisions raise the likelihood of further coup and assassination attempts in Bujumbura, but the armed opposition’s capacity is likely to be limited by increasing divisions and fracturing.


On 24 October, a meeting of the Burundian cabinet reportedly adopted a draft constitutional revision that would permit President Pierre Nkurunziza to potentially remain in office until 2034, re-establish the position of prime minister (abolished in 1998), and allow the legislature to pass laws with a simple rather than a two-thirds majority.

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