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date: 26 June 2022

Burundi: Assessing Military Institutional Reforms Post-Arushalocked

Burundi: Assessing Military Institutional Reforms Post-Arushalocked

  • Astrid JamarAstrid JamarDevelopment Policy and Practice, The Open University, and Political Settlements Research Programme, University of Edinburgh
  •  and Gerard BirantamijeGerard BirantamijePostdoctoral Researcher, Department of Political Science, Université Libre de Bruxelles

Summary

Military politics have been entangled with the trajectory of Burundian public institutions, experiences of violence, and the army formation. From 1994 to 2009, the peace process brought together different political parties, security forces, and rebel groups to negotiate ceasefires and major institutional reforms. Adopted in 2000, the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement contained some of the most ambitious and sophisticated security reforms. While most literature emphasizes mostly on the Arusha Peace Agreement, 22 agreements were signed by different sets of parties, including political parties and rebel groups during these 15 years of peace meditation. The Arusha Peace Agreement provides for complex security arrangements: (a) a strictly defined role, structure, and mandate of the army and other security forces; (b) sophisticated power-sharing arrangements for both leadership and composition of the army and other security forces; (c) demobilization, disarmament, integration, and training of armed forces; (d) transformation of armed groups into political parties; and (e) ceasefires. The peace talks integrated various armed political groups into Burundian institutions.

Responding to four decades of violence and military dictatorship, these reforms of the military and other security forces aimed to disentangle the military from politics. Initially contested, the agreements shaped the reading of the historical contexts that justified these institutional military reforms. Indeed, provisions of these agreements also framed a narrative about violence and imposed fixed interpretations of political mobilization of violence. These imposed interpretations neglected key elements that enabled and, continue to enable, the political use of violence as well as the emergence of new forms of military politics. The main institutional approaches adopted to tackle issue of inclusion and correct imbalances in armed forces was the introduction of power-sharing arrangements based on ethnic dimensions. The formulation and further implementation of ethnic quotas reinforced the binary elements of ethnic identities, rather than promote a more fluid understanding that would appreciate intersecting elements, such as gender, political affiliation, and class and regional dimensions in the undertaking of power, alliance, and relations between executive and military institutions. Security reforms continue to affect the functioning of public institutions, with limited effects for disentangling politics and military.

Subjects

  • Contentious Politics and Political Violence
  • History and Politics
  • Policy, Administration, and Bureaucracy

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