The Pygmy people are believed to have been
the first to populate the area that today constitutes
Burundi. The details of when the Hutu and Tutsi groups
migrated into the area are uncertain and controversial,
not least in the light of recent decades of mass murder.
Between 1890 and 1962 the area was first colonized by
Germany, then by Belgium.
The hunter and gatherer people began to populate the
area during the first centuries after Christ. Farming
Hutus probably settled there during the 7th and 8th
centuries, while the ancestors of livestock-rearing
Tutsis are believed to have immigrated from the 12th or
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Burundi, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
A Tutsid-dominated kingdom eventually grew and was
firmly established from the 17th century. However, the
monarchy was loosely held together and the king had a
relatively weak position. The real rulers were a number
of Tutsi princes or clan leaders, called ganwa. There
was a strong rivalry between different ganwa, so each
became dependent on the support of "their" Tutsis and
The rivalry between the clans weakened the country,
which in 1890 became an easy prey for German troops.
During the colonial period, Burundi, together with
Rwanda, was ruled first by Germany and after the First
World War by Belgium on behalf of the League of Nations
(United Nations forerunner) under the name of
In the 1950s, the colonial regime underwent some
democratization before a planned independence for the
area. New political parties were formed, among which the
dominant ones were the National Progressive Alliance (in
French abbreviated to Uprona) and the Christian
Democratic Party (PDC).
Uprona was supported by the ruling clan Bezi and led
by the king's eldest son Prince Louis Rwagasore. Uprona
was a nationalist and tried one of the Tutsis and Hutus.
The conservative PDC was founded by the rival clan
Batare and had the support of the small emerging urban
middle class. The Belgians also favored the PDC, which
advocated democratic reforms rather than rapid
Before independence, Rwanda-Urundi was divided into
two states, and in 1961 parliamentary elections were
held. In Urundi, Uprona won. Rwagasore became prime
minister but was murdered after only two weeks by PDC
supporters, probably with Belgian support.
Suggestions for reduced influence for Tutsis
A commission reviewing the constitution proposes a
series of amendments that raise strong protests. Among
the amendments is that Parliament should be able to
adopt a new law with a simple majority, instead of a
two-thirds majority. It would give the Hutus full
control over the legislation, since Tutsis have only 40
percent of Parliament's seats. The Commission is also
proposing reduced power for the Vice President, who
currently has to belong to a different party and ethnic
group than the President. It is also proposed that the
Senate be deprived of its task to ensure that government
work is distributed proportionally among the people
groups. The President must be eligible for re-election
more than once. Several hundred activist movements are
protesting that the government wants to tear down the
agreements that put an end to 13 years of civil war.
Rwasa is being investigated for massacres
Prosecutors launch a preliminary investigation into
crimes against opposition politician Agathon Rwasa. He
is accused of having ordered a massacre of around 160
Congolese Tutsis in Gatumba, west of Bujumbura, 2004.
The prosecution says the amnesty issued for former UNL
rebels does not apply to " crimes against humanity or
war crimes ".
Rwasa appears in public
Former opposition politician and rebel leader Agathon
Rwasa appears in public for the first time since he went
underground after the last presidential election (see
June 2010). Rwasa says he has been
hiding in Burundi, but he has also been observed in
several neighboring countries over the years.
Freedom of the press is limited
The National Assembly adopts a law that allows
journalists to disclose their sources and fines
reporters or media companies for violating the press
law. The media is prohibited from disseminating
information on the armed forces, security issues and the