Burundi: Electoral System

Updated March 2020

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Legal and institutional framework

Legal basis
  • Constitution de la Republique du Burundi 2005
  • Loi No 1/11 du 20 Mai 2019 portant modification de la Loi No 1/20 du 3 Juin 2014 Portant Code Electoral (electoral law)
  • Loi n 1/02 du 25 janvier 2010 portant revision de la Loi No 1/016 du 20 Avril 2005 portant organisation de l'administration communale (communal Law)
  • Loi No 1/16 10 Septembre 2011 Revision de la Loi no 1/006 du 26 juin 2003 portant organisation et fonctionnement des Partis Politiques
Electoral system President is directly elected by universal suffrage with an absolute majority for seven year term once renewable[1].
At least a hundred National Assembly members elected by proportional representation from closed multi-ethnic party lists for each province; minimum quota of 2% of the votes for representation; must have 60% Hutu and 40% Tutsi members. For every three people on the list at least one must be female and not more than two can belong to the same ethnic group; three members of Twa ethnic group are co-opted. The INEC, in consultations with political parties, is empowered to make amends so that the National Assembly to reflect the stipulated quotas[2].
Senate composed primarily of 2 members per province, one Hutu one Tsutsi, elected by colleges of members of the Commune Councils; 30% of members must be women; three Twa members co-opted[3].
Electoral management bodies (EMBs) National Independent Electoral Commission (Commission électorale nationale indépendante; CENI) is responsible for the organization of national level, communes and local elections including voter registration[4].
Independence of EMBs CENI is established by Constitution as an independent body; members appointed by President after the members have been ratified by the National Assembly and the Senate with a 75% majority each[5].
Political parties[7] Party registration is undertaken by Ministry of the Interior.
Funding of parties by the state is restricted to subsidising electoral expenses; foreign funding is prohibited; parties must submit annual accounts to the Ministries of Interior and of Finance.
Mass media The National Council of the Communications must ensure equitable access of all candidates during the campaign period to state owned media and it issued a Code of Conduct for Media and Journalists in 2020[9].

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Election management

Election period and dates Presidential elections held every seven years, all other elections including National Assembly held every five years; election day determined by presidential decree issued at least 45 days before election day[10].
Voter registration and voters' rolls Registration undertaken by CENI, but provision is made for the implementation of continuous registration; voters register at their polling stations and present national identity card or official identification; issued with a voter's card; once compiled voters' rolls must be made available for public inspection at commune and provincial levels and copies supplied on request to political parties[12].
Civic and voter education The portfolio of one the five Commissioner's of the CENI includes responsibility for civic education[13].
Candidate nomination Presidential nomination must be sponsored by group of 200 people, all eligible for election to Parliament, of the required ethnic and gender balance; must submit dossier of documentation of eligibility and political programme; pays refundable deposit of 30 million francs[14].
Multi-ethnic and gender balanced National Assembly candidates submitted on party or independent candidate lists with a dossier for each documenting eligibility and a refundable deposit of 500 000 francs per list; Parties nominate two Senate candidates each per province with a dossier for each documenting eligibility[15]
Election observation Parties and candidates designate agents accredited by the CENI to observe polling and counting of the votes[16]
Election campaigns Campaigning begins 16 days before and closes 48 hours before election day; only registered parties, coalitions and candidates my hold election meetings and these must arranged with Communal Administrators 24 hours in advance; display of insignia is prohibited at polling stations[17].
Secrecy of the ballot Voting booths must be designed and placed to ensure the secrecy of the vote; voter places ballot papers in envelopes before leaving polling booth, incapacitated voters choose person to assist them[20].
Voting and counting process In presence of candidates and their agents, Presiding Officer demonstrates ballot boxes are empty; security forces barred from precinct[21]. Voters vote at polling station where registered, present voters card and identification; officials check name on register, issue a black and a white envelope and ballot papers of candidates; in booth voter places ballots of candidates of choice in white envelope and others in black, leaves and places envelopes in designated boxes; finger marked with indelible ink[22]. Reconciliation and counting undertaken at polling station after close of polling in presence of candidates and agents[23].
Announcement of results When counting is complete the Presiding Officer compiles the results and declares them publicly and records them; Issues copies of results to the candidate agents, Communal Commission and CENI; Provincial Commission tallies results received from Communes in presence of agents, proclaims them publicly and forwards them to CENI; CENI tallies results and proclaims provisional results in presence of agents; results submitted by Provincial Electoral Commission to the president of the CENI who then announces provisional results. Provisional results may be challenged within four days of announcement of provisional results, the Provincial Electoral Commission will make a determination within six days following complaint and their decision is final. Thereafter final results submitted to the CENI who then submits to Constitutional Court for verification and proclamation of final results[24].

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Table notes

[1] Constitution of Burundi 2005, Article 97. If an absolute majority is not obtained in a first ballot a second ballot round must be held within 15 days with the two candidates with the most votes in the first round competing with one another. The election of a new president takes place at least one to two months before the end of end of the incumbent's term (Loi No 1/11 2019, Article 93).
[2] Constitution of Burundi 2005, Articles 169, 173, 174; Loi No 1/11 2019, 107, 108. (1) Burundi is divided into 18 provinces, one of which is the capital city (Bujumbura Mairie), each acting as a constituency for elections of both National Assembly and Senate. The number of National Assembly seats allocated to each constituency is proportional to its share of the population at the last census. (2) For every three candidates on a party list only two may have the same ethnicity and for every four candidates at least one must be a woman. Articles 98, 168 and 169 provide that lists of independent candidates may also be submitted. (3) Cooption of members, in consultation with political parties, is undertaken by CENI in the event that representation targets not met(Article 108).
[3] Constitution of Burundi 2005, Article 185; Loi No 1/11 2019, 142. See also footnote 2 above.
[4] Constitution of Burundi 2005, Article 92; Loi No 1/11 2019, 1.
[5] Constitution of Burundi 2005, Article 90, 91.
[7] Loi no 1/16 2011, 47-54; Constitution 2005, Article 83, 84; Loi No 1/11 2019, 41.
[9] Loi No 1/11 2019, 31.
[10] Constitution of Burundi 2005, Articles 97, 170; Loi No 1/20 2019, 11, 36, 109.
[12] Loi No 1/11 2019, 13-21. Expatriat registration is undertaken by diplomatic missions (Article 207-212)
[13] Décret no 100/125 2018, Article 5.
[14] Loi No 1/11 2019, 94, 97, 100, 101, 104. The deposit is refunded if the candidate obtains 5% or more of the votes in the first round.
[15] Loi No 1/11 2019, 127, 131, 135, 141, 158, 162. The deposit of a National Assembly candidate list is refunded if the list obtains 2% or more of the votes in the election.
[16] Loi No 1/11 2019, 41-43.
[17] Loi No 1/11 2019, 25, 29, 30, 35. If a presidential runoff is required then campaigning reopens with the proclamation of results of the first round and closes 48 hours before election day.
[20] Loi No 1/11 2019, 39, 56, 57.
[21] Loi No 1/11 2019, 47, 55. Expatriate voting is treated in Articles 210-217.
[22] Loi No 1/11 2019, 49, 56, 57.
[23] Loi No 1/11 2019, 63, 64.
[24] Loi No 1/11 2019, 70-74, 75-87.

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CONSTITUTION LA REPUBLIQUE DU BURUNDI 2005, with amendments up to 2018.

Decret N 100/125 Du 27 Aout 2018 portant organisation et fonctionnement de la Commission Electorale Nationale Independant (CENI)

LOI N 1/11 DU 20 MAI 2019 Portant Modification de la Loi N1/20 du 3 Juin 2014 portant code electoral, with amendments up to 2019.