A First Step Toward Reform: Ending Burundi’s Forced Contribution System

The “voluntary” contributions that the Burundian authorities have looked to since 2017 to fund the organisation of the 2020 elections have fed the exhaustion, anger and resentment of the already impoverished population. Despite officially halting the contributions scheme in July 2019, government officials and the Imbonerakure youth militia continue to extort contributions. To help dial down tensions in the runup to the elections in May, and set the stage for constructive engagement after they take place, international partners should urge the current administration and the CNDD-FDD’s candidate, Ndayishimiye, to bring these and all forced contributions to a real and final halt while pledging to provide clarity on how the funds were spent and investigate those involved in embezzlement. Progress on this limited but important front could be the first step toward the kind of changes that will be required to bring donors back into the fold and help create the stability that Burundi requires for stronger economic growth and a more peaceful future.