Boys walk behind patrolling soldiers in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 15, 2015.
Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Throughout Burundi’s history since independence, intermittent bouts of political turmoil have escalated tragically into genocide between the country’s Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. Many international observers warned that this year would be no different. The country was hit by a succession of political shocks starting in the spring, when President Pierre Nkurunziza ignored the constitution’s two-term limit to announce that he was running again, on grounds that his first term should not count because he had been appointed rather than elected. His defiance triggered mass protests in April, an unsuccessful military coup in May, a call from the opposition in June to boycott the July election, and an incipient rebellion.

This summer, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights declared that Burundi was “on the brink of devastating violence.” A UN human rights panel alarmingly warned of “mass atrocities.” And yet, those predictions have not borne out.

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