Burundi has enjoyed a short period of peace since 2010, but this could turn out to be the lull before the storm, according to a report by the Institute For Security Studies. Recent events paint a picture of growing tension between the government of Burundi and the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB).
Burundi also faces an increasingly complicated situation with tension mounting ahead of the country's 2015 elections, which could potentially obstruct the peace building processes in the country, and undermine the progress that has already been made.
When the UN established its peace building architecture in 2005, it aimed to create effective mechanisms for long-term responses in preventing conflict and working towards sustainable peace.
At the time of its creation, the Peace building Commission chose two countries as its initial focus countries: Sierra Leone and Burundi. While Sierra Leone has shown remarkable progress and recently saw a relatively uncontroversial departure of its UN peace building mission, Burundi is in a more difficult situation.
Following in the aftermath of a civil war that lasted almost two decades, there are several new challenges in Burundi's peace building process. Recently, there has been an increasing number of concerning reports of crackdowns on opposition leaders, disputes around land issues, constitutional changes and claims that the youth group of the ruling party (Imbonerakure) are inciting violence against certain sectors of society.
In a recent interview, a former rebel leader, Agathon Rwasa, said: 'Burundi has resumed a war ... people are being shot with live bullets when they are not armed.'
The recent arrest of human rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa - for alleging that Burundians are receiving military training in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are being armed - is also a worrying sign that the government is trying to silence critical voices. The Burundian government is accountable to its people, and citizens should have the right to voice their opinions regarding the peace process in their country.
The government seems to be orienting policies towards the political survival of its ruling elite
The UN, international parties and non-governmental institutions in Burundi have added to reports that violence has escalated due to the activities of Imbonerakure.
The ruling party has, however, downplayed the threat that its youth chapter might present to peace building in the country. This has added tension to the already antagonistic relations between the UN and government. Government officials said their words and actions have been taken out of context and used to paint an exaggerated picture of what is really happening in the country.
Despite consistent and continuous engagement, the Burundi government and UN have reached a stalemate on the way forward for the country and ensuring the best course of action for peace building. This is in spite of Burundi having been a major priority in the UN's efforts to strengthen their peace building responses and programs.
The country has been the top recipient of the UN Peace building Fund, which has contributed US$61 million to date to improve national dialogue and social cohesion; youth participation in political and socio-economic life; democratic exercises of human rights and to resolve land disputes. Burundi has also received a higher number of visits from the Peace building Commission configuration chairs than other countries on the Commission's agenda.
In early 2014, the government expressed that it wanted the UN peace building mission, BNUB, to withdraw from the country and hand over its functions to the UN Country Team. While the UN argued for a continuation of the mission - as not all political functions of BNUB could feasibly be led by UN agencies on the ground - the request from government was based on the argument that BNUB's departure would enable Burundian actors to take full ownership of its political process.
A Transition Steering Group (TSG) - co-chaired by the UN and Burundi government - was established in March 2014. This is in preparation for BNUB's expected departure in December 2014.
This adds tension to the already antagonistic relations between the UN and government.
The tension between the UN and Burundi reveals some of the challenges in implementing effective peace building responses and in the engagement between international and national actors.
The government of Burundi seems to be orienting many of its policies towards the political survival of its ruling elite, which causes the UN to be skeptical of the country's attempts to conduct constitutional changes. This tension is certainly not new, as the UN and the government of Burundi have long since had different views on the pace of the democratic process in the country.
This is a complex story that is moving rapidly, and one that SaharaReporters will be watching closely in the days, weeks, and months ahead.