It is estimated that over 200 000 people have fled to neighbouring countries to avoid the unrest and actions by the military.
Human rights defenders and journalists have been targets of violence and intimidation. Since Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would remain in office, at least 400 confirmed deaths have occurred. Raids in the night have taken men away. They are often found shot dead in the streets with the morning light.
A group that calls itself the Republican Forces of Burundi has vowed to oust the president and reinstall the accords that ended the 13 year long civil war.
It is unlikely that Nkurunziza will go quietly. He is reputed to be a born-again Christian who believes that he is ruling by divine fiat.
A group of former government workers has organized an opposition to Nkurunziza.
The capital city, Bujumbura, has seen much gunfire and grenade explosions are a common occurrence. Every morning people wake to the sight of bodies of the murdered left in the dirt. While police and army claim they have no connections to the extrajudicial killings many of the deceased were in opposition to the current president. The son of a prominent civil rights worker was apprehended and died while in custody. Others have told of harsh torture at the hands of the authorities.
A failed coup attempt in July has split the ranks of the army. Some have fled to neighbouring countries. Currently at least 100 thousand people have left their homes to find uncertain safety in neighbouring countries. As the violence continues to escalate, a further 100 to 250 thousand people are expected to flee.
The cost to provide for the refugees is estimated at $39 million.
The African Union has stated that it will not attend the presidential election.
Many of Burundi’s citizens claim that violence and intimidation are rampant in the lead up to the presidential elections. A vice-president and the speaker of the house have both fled the country, seeking asylum in Belgium. Tanzania is overwhelmed with refugees. At last count, 100 000 people have fled.
The situation is tragic for the people of Burundi. The elections that placed Nkurunziza in power in 2006 were the hope for a nation that saw a 13 year long civil war end. That civil war erupted shortly after the first elections since independence. When Belgium divested itself of the former colony, a monarchy held sway until 1993.
The civil war was particularly vicious, splitting the population along ethnic lines. At final count, there were at least 300 000 dead.
Burundi president precipitates crisis
Nkurunziza is a born- again Christian whose beliefs lead him to believe he has divine sanction to rule.
Mr Nkurunziza indeed believes he is president by divine will, and he therefore organises his life and government around these values," says presidential spokesman Willy Nyamitwe. BBC News
There are some very strange laws in the country. It is illegal for men to jog in a group. If caught and prosecuted, they may be jailed for life. It is a way for those in power to prevent militias from forming.
There are 40 opposition parties who have put forward candidates for the May 26 election. Some are already voicing fears that violence will find them.
Canada Travel Advisory has two large, red exclamation marks on its Burundi page, warning that all non-essential travel is to be avoided. In addition, it points out the areas that border on the Democratic Republic of the Congo(DRC) are unsafe
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