Radio silence: Burundi’s media during the 2015 election crisis

Civil unrest erupted on 26 April in Bujumbura after the ruling CNDD-FDD party elected President Pierre Nkurunziza on 25 April as its candidate for the 26 June presidential election. On 26 April, the Burundian authorities banned the independent private radios Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), Bonesha FM and Radio Isanganiro from broadcasting outside Bujumbura. Nkurunziza has been in office for two terms since 2005, and a broad array of actors warned that an attempt to seek a third term was unconstitutional and contrary to the spirit of the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that ended a decade of civil war in the country.

This desk study on the state of the media in Burundi was commissioned by International Media Support (IMS) for the purposes of providing information to colleagues in the media support sector and to donors so that they may be better informed when devising and deciding on appropriate intervention strategies in the country. Research for this report was conducted from 15 – 23 June 2015 and was based on interviews with journalists and other actors in both Burundi and Rwanda. In addition, news and other reports were consulted. Readers of this report should bear the fluidity of the situation in mind.