meet Sylvère Nsengiyumva

by Campaign ~ December 13th, 2013. Filed under: meet the real peacebuilders, News.

Sylvère Nsengiyumva - Real PeacebuilderSylvère is the Executive Secretariat at Coalition for Peace in Africa (COPA) Burundi. Prior to working with COPA he set up the organisation structure for Peace in Benin where he worked as Expert Consultant for UNDP.

Since its independence in 1962, Burundi has much socio-political conflict, amid identity manipulation and incitement to ethnic hatred. Over the past years inequalities enshrined in institutions that monopolize access to power have become a major cause of conflict.


The 2010 elections were a peculiarity compared to the elections of 1993 and 2005. The combination of a drive of intimidation in the run up to the election and allegations of fraud in earlier local elections led to five opposition candidates, including Agathon Rwasa (considered the strongest contender against the incumbent), to withdraw from the election, alleging that the government intended to rig it.

There is a worry about the 2015 elections and Sylvère and his colleagues will be engaged in the creation of an environment conducive for free and fair elections. Their main objective being the prevention of violent conflict related to the 2015 election. They plan to set up an infrastructure of peace encompassing all levels of society.

They hope to:COPA Burundi

  • Establish dialogue between all stakeholders as an imperative to political governance and governance within political parties
  • Put an end to impunity and banish violence in all its forms as a means of political expression
  • Ensure that youth affiliated with the political parties contribute constructively to an enabling environment for the elections
  • Establish a safe environment that protects all political actors and facilitates their activities and free participation of the population in the electoral process.

Sylvère is currently working as a negotiator between The University of Burundi and its students. The University has a limited number of teachers, but a growing student population who feel they are being betrayed by the declining quality of the university system.

Various allegations have been made by students about the university (and other students) including:

  • The lack of student rights for new students
  • The embezzlement of 23 million Burundian Francs (approx. £9,000).

COPA Burundi
The situation is further inflamed by ethnic tension (Tutsi/Hutu) surrounding the elections to various university bodies and how they relate to students from the different communities.

Sylvère is working to promote dialogue between the various actors and establish a durable solution to the conflict. The objectives for this work include:

  • The creation of a framework for exchanges between actors who play an important role in the intensification of conflicts
  • Strengthening the capacity of the student actors in mediation and negotiation techniques and providing analysis and conflict management tools
  • Setting the output channels and actions to be taken to enable the positive management of the crisis

Coalition for Peace in Burundi (COPA) is an associative network created in 2004 by a group of Burundians who participated in an advanced course on the management and transformation of conflict in Johannesburg.
The network includes 16 member associations and individuals, most of whom have been directly involved in conflict resolution in Burundi.

COPA Burundi’s objective is to promote a culture of peace based on the principle of coexistence of competing interests and ideas so that the common good is safeguarded and enhanced. It cultivates flexible approaches that draw on tradition, culture and local lifestyles.

COPA has international expertise in conflict management, leadership, lobbying and advocacy. It offers training, documentation and research on various topics , advanced management courses and conflict prevention. Its strategy is based on geographical location, diversity of membership (ethnicity, region, gender and age) and impartiality.

COPA Burundi works with communities at the grassroots to promote dialogue. They are current work on issues surrounding land conflict. For more information please visit: www.copafrica.org.


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