Burundi became independent in 1962 and has had a republican and unitary constitution since 1966. The government has been characterized by great instability, with constant coups and at times brutal civil war. A transitional constitution from 2001 was replaced in 2004/05 by a new transitional constitution. According to this, the head of state is a president elected in the general election for five years; however, the first president after the transition was elected by the National Assembly in 2005. The president is also the head of government and has two vice presidents. One of the Vice Presidential positions and 60% of the ministerial posts are reserved for the Hutu, the country’s largest group of people; the other 40% of government posts and the second vice presidential position are reserved for Tutsis. At least 30% of the government must be women. Legislative power has been added to a legislative assembly with two chambers – a Senate with 49 members (34 of whom are elected by ethnically balanced electoral corps in the country’s 17 provinces) and a national assembly with at least 100 members (118 after the 2005 election) elected for five years. The rule of at least 30% women applies to both chambers, while the 60:40 distribution between Hutus and Tutsis applies to the National Assembly, which also has three seats reserved for the two people, an ethnic minority.
Administratively, the country is divided into 17 provinces.
As first instance courts, there are 17 provincial courts and 123 smaller village courts. There are three appeals and a Supreme Court. In addition, the country has a commercial court, a labor court and a administrative court. Under the new constitution, a freer judicial system is to be built, but the civil war has led to the judicial system not functioning. The legislation is based on German and Belgian examples.
Heads of State in Burundi