This paper examines the impact of regional sanctions on the trajectory of the Burundian regime following the 1996 coup. Despite the country's socioeconomic and geopolitical vulnerability, the Buyoya government initially withstood the pressure from sanctions. Through a vocal campaign against these measures, the new government mitigated the embargo's economic consequences and partially re-established its international reputation. Paradoxically, this campaign planted the seed for long-term comprehensive political concessions. While previous literature has attributed the embargo's success to its economic impact, the government actually responded to the sanction senders' key demand to engage in unconditional, inclusive peace talks once the economy had already started to recover. Based on a novel framework for studying the signalling dimension of sanctions, I show how the regime's anti-sanctions campaign, with its emphasis on the government's willingness to engage in peace talks, backfired, with Buyoya forced to negotiate after having become entrapped in his own rhetoric.
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