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The Financing of Services and Economic Sectors (Years 2006-2015) and Its Influential Role to the Current Political Crisis in Burundi

Abstract of the Student #Thesis: Ir. Jean Claude Karorero

In the last 50 years, Burundi has experienced recurrent conflicts between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups. Similar to Rwanda in 1994, Burundi has witnessed the tragic loss of hundreds of thousands of lives since 1993. Despite a peace agreement between the Hutu and Tutsi signed in 2000 (UN, 2000), violence resurfaced in 2015. The ruling political party, CNDD-FDD, controversially nominated the same candidate for a third term, violating Burundi's laws. This led to widespread violence, resulting in thousands of deaths, imprisonments, cases of sexual abuse, torture, and over 325,000 people becoming refugees. Some parties warn that the risk of a new genocide remains high.

As an academic researcher and a native of Burundi, I am deeply interested in uncovering the root causes of the current crisis. My aim is to contribute positively to finding a sustainable solution during the ongoing peace process in Arusha, Tanzania. While many researchers focus on the Arusha Agreement of 2000, the Constitution of Burundi, legal frameworks, or the spirit of vengeance, few have examined the influence of political corruption. I believe that political corruption and its implications have a significant impact on the current crisis.

Evidence from Italy demonstrates that corruption skews public budget allocation towards general services like security rather than education and health, leading to significant policy implications (Baraldi, 2008). Moreover, corrupt recipients tend to receive more humanitarian assistance and less aid for productive sectors and infrastructure (Lopez, 2015).

This paper aims to quantitatively prove that the findings of Baraldi and Lopez are applicable in the Burundian context. Using a quantitative design, I analyzed and compared the budgets of all service ministries (S-Ministries) with those of production/economic/infrastructure ministries (E-Ministries) from 2006 to 2015. Additionally, I tracked the destination of foreign aid to both E-Ministries and S-Ministries. I utilized Google Scholar to review studies, journals, and research on political corruption, foreign aid, ethnic crises, democracy, and favoritism.

My findings reveal that Burundi is indeed a corrupt recipient, validating the observations of Baraldi and Lopez. Since 2006, the services and humanitarian sectors have consumed a significant portion of the national budget and foreign aid. According to Neudorfer and Theuerkauf (2014), this corruption distorts the political decision-making process and fosters political favoritism. In Burundi, this bias has resulted in a greater portion of humanitarian assistance and corruption benefits flowing to CNDD-FDD supporters and key decision-makers. This, I believe, is central to Burundi's problems. The national budget, corruption dividends, and the allocation of foreign aid have financed the violation of laws and the Arusha Agreement.

Since 2016, peace negotiations have been ongoing in Arusha involving politicians, donors, and mediators. It is imperative that these stakeholders consider the significant findings of this study to inform their efforts in achieving lasting peace in Burundi.

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