July 22 (Reuters) - Burundians vote in a parliamentary election on Friday, one of a series of ballots seen as a test for Burundi’s democratic credentials after years of civil war.
Here are some facts on Burundi:
— The central African nation’s constitution was drawn up as part of a peace process to end years of civil war between the Tutsi-controlled army and Hutu rebels.
— Its legislative branch is a bicameral body, consisting of the National Assembly and Senate. The assembly has a minimum 100 seats: 60 for Hutus and 40 for Tutsis, at least 30 must be women. If there is a shortfall of either ethnic group, or in the number of women, additional legislators can be nominated to make up the numbers. A further three additional seats are reserved for the Twa ethnic group.
— Five political parties, including the Tutsi-dominated UPRONA which boycotted June’s presidential poll, will contest the ballot. Political observers say President Pierre Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD party is likely to win a comfortable majority in the next assembly after most opposition parties, including the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), led by former rebel leader Agathon Rwasa, decided to boycott the parliamentary poll.
— Rwasa went into hiding last month fearing arrest by Burundi’s authorities who accused him of wanting to mount a new insurgency. Rwasa denies plotting to overthrow Nkurunziza.
— Analysts fear the next lower house will be so dominated by one political party that real democratic debate will be difficult.
— Inflation rose to 8.4 percent year-on-year in May from 7.4 percent a month earlier, driven by high costs of food.
— Like other east African nations, Burundi suffered from high world fuel and commodity prices in 2008, sending inflation surging to 24.5 percent that year from 8.3 percent in 2007.
— The International Monetary Fund predicts Burundi’s economy will grow by 3.9 percent in 2010, up from 3.5 percent in 2009, partly due to expected strong coffee production.
— Burundi has a largely agricultural economy based on tea and coffee. In April it revised upwards its coffee revenue forecasts for the 2010/11 season mainly due to improved harvest forecasts and better than expected global prices.
— Burundi’s coffee regulator, AFRIC, projects revenues will increase by 389 percent to around $81.6 million from $16.7 million for the 2009/2010 crop.
— AFRIC said output will leap to 31,000 tonnes in the 2010-2011 season, up from a revised 6,381 tonnes the previous season. It had previously forecast 2010/11 crop to come in at 30,000 tonnes. Coffee is Burundi’s top hard currency earner and employs 800,000 smallholder farmers.
— It is the smallest economy of the five-nation East African Community trading bloc.
POPULATION: 8.3 million
ETHNIC GROUPS: Hutu are 86 percent, Tutsi 13 percent, Twa pygmies 1 percent.
RELIGION: Christianity 67 percent, traditional African religions 32 percent, Islam 1 percent.
LANGUAGE: Rundi, Kirundi and French are the official languages. Swahili is used in business settings.
GEOGRAPHY: The Republic of Burundi is in the Great Lakes region of Africa on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. It borders Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. (Sources: Reuters; International Monetary Fund: www.imf.org/Alertnet.org) (Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana; editing by Richard Lough) (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit:af.reuters.com/)