Burundi profile - Timeline

  • Published
A general view of a street near the city market in Bujumbura, Burundi, on March 14, 2022Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The commercial capital, Bujumbura. Burundi is classified as one of the poorest nations in the world in terms of GDP per capita, according to the World Bank

Chronology of key events:

pre-1300s - Hutu people settle in the region.`

1400s - Tutsi settlers arrive.

1500s - Distinct Burundian kingdom emerges.

1890 - The kingdoms of Urundi and neighbouring Ruanda (Rwanda) incorporated into German East Africa.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Children in rural Burundi

1916 - Belgian army occupies the area.

1923 - Belgium receives League of Nations mandate to administer Ruanda-Urundi.

1959 - Influx of Tutsi refugees from Ruandan half of the territory following ethnic violence there.

1959-1961 - Independence drive led by cross-communal UPRONA party of Prince Louis Rwagasore, which wins 1961 legislative elections. Prince Louis becomes prime minister of Ruanda-Urundi but is assassinated shortly afterwards.


1962 - Urundi secedes and becomes independent kingdom of Burundi, under King Mwambutsa IV.

1963 - Thousands of Hutus flee to Rwanda following ethnic violence.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Refugees flee violence in Burundi in 2015, which has seen several episodes of inter-ethnic strife

1965 - King Mwambutsa refuses to appoint a Hutu prime minister after Hutus win a majority in parliamentary elections; attempted coup put down by army chief Michel Micombero.

1966 - Michel Micombero abolishes the monarchy and declares himself president.

Massacres and one-party rule

1972 - About 120,000 Hutus are massacred by government forces and their supporters in the wake of a Hutu-led uprising in the south.

1976 - President Micombero is deposed in a military coup by Jean-Baptiste Bagaza.

1981 - A new constitution makes Burundi a one-party state under UPRONA.

1987 - President Bagaza is deposed in a coup led by Pierre Buyoya.

1988 - Thousands of Hutus are massacred by Tutsis, and thousands more flee to Rwanda.

Dashed hopes

1992 - New constitution providing for a multiparty system is adopted in a referendum.

1993 June - Melchior Ndadaye's Frodebu wins multi-party polls, ending military rule and leading to the installation of a pro-Hutu government.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Melchior Ndadaye was assassinated in 1993

1993 October - Tutsi soldiers assassinate President Ndadaye. In revenge, some Frodebu members massacre Tutsis, and the army begins reprisals. Burundi is plunged into an ethnic conflict which claims some 300,000 lives.

1994 January- Parliament appoints a Hutu, Cyprien Ntaryamira, as president.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Wreckage from the plane crash in which killed Burundi's former President Ntaryamira and his Rwandan opposite number

1994 April - Plane carrying President Ntaryamira and his Rwandan counterpart is shot down over the Rwandan capital Kigali, killing both and triggering genocide in Rwanda in which 800,000 are killed.

1994 October - Parliament speaker Sylvestre Ntibantunganya appointed president.

1995 - Massacre of Hutu refugees leads to renewed ethnic violence in the capital, Bujumbura.

Buyoya returns

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Pierre Buyoya (R) seized power twice

1996 - Ex-president Buyoya seizes power.

Transitional government

2001 October - Talks brokered by South African President Nelson Mandela lead to installation of transitional government, but main Hutu rebel groups refuse to sign and fighting intensifies.

2003 April - Domitien Ndayizeye - a Hutu - succeeds Pierre Buyoya as president, under terms of three-year, power-sharing transitional government inaugurated in 2001.

2003 July - Major rebel assault on Bujumbura. Some 300 rebels and 15 government soldiers are killed. Thousands flee their homes.

2003 November - President Ndayizeye and Hutu rebel group Forces for Defence of Democracy (FDD) leader Pierre Nkurunziza sign agreement to end the civil war at summit of African leaders in Tanzania. Smaller Hutu rebel group, Forces for National Liberation (FNL), remains active.

2004 - UN force takes over peacekeeping duties from African Union troops.

2005 January - President signs law to set up new national army, incorporating government forces and all but one Hutu rebel group, the FNL.

Nkurunziza becomes president

2005 August - Pierre Nkurunziza, from the Hutu FDD group, is elected as president by the two houses of parliament. The FDD won parliamentary elections in June.

2006 April - A curfew, imposed during the violence of 1972, is lifted.

2006 September - The last major rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), and the government sign a ceasefire at talks in Tanzania. Sporadic clashes recur over the next two years.

2007 February - UN shuts down its peacekeeping mission and refocuses its operations on helping with reconstruction.

2007 April - DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi relaunch the regional economic bloc - Great Lakes Countries Economic Community - known under its French acronym CEPGL.

2007 December - Burundian soldiers join African Union peacekeepers in Somalia.

Peace agreement

2009 March - The Paris Club of creditor nations cancels all of the $134.3m debt Burundi owed to its members.

2009 April - FNL lays down arms and officially becomes a political party in a ceremony supervised by the African Union.

2010 June - President Nkurunziza re-elected in uncontested poll after main opposition parties boycott the vote.

2013 June - President Nkurunziza approves new media law which critics condemn as an attack on press freedom.

2013 August - The leader of the former rebel FML, Agathon Rwasa, resurfaces after three years in hiding and says he will stand in the 2015 presidential election.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Burundian troops have been part of an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia since 2007 and have suffered some casualties

2014 March - Parliament blocks a government attempt to introduce changes to the constitution seen as threatening the balance of power between the country's main ethnic groups.

Authoritarian moves

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to stand for a third term prompted months of protests

2015 May - Constitutional Court rules in favour of President Nkurunziza's decision to stand for a third term, amid reports of judges being intimidated. Protestors take to the streets and tens of thousands flee the violence. An army officer's coup attempt fails.

2015 July - President Nkurunziza wins a third term in the presidential election with 70% of the vote. Opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describes the polls as a "joke".

2016 January - President Nkurunziza threatens to counter the deployment of external peacekeepers after the African Union announces plans to send in 5,000 troops to protect civilians from escalating violence between government and rebel forces.

Image source, Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Image caption,
Critics accused Pierre Nkurunziza of authoritarian tendencies

2016 March - With the political situation showing little sign of improvement, the EU announces that it is suspending direct financial aid to the Burundian government.

2017 October - Burundi becomes the first ever country to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC).

2017 November - ICC judges approve the opening of a full investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Burundi, where at least 1,200 people have died in unrest since 2015.

2018 May - Official results say a referendum backed constitutional reforms that could allow President Nkurunziza to stay in office for another sixteen years.

2018 December - Burundi issues international arrest warrant for former president Pierre Buyoya over the killing of President Melchior Ndadaye in 1993. Mr Buyoya's supporters say the move is politically motivated.

2019 April - Capital moved to Gitega, although Bujumbura remains the commercial capital.

2020 June - Former Hutu rebel leader Evariste Ndayishimiye takes office as president, a week after President Pierre Nkurunziza died suddenly in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Related Topics