EU ex­tends travel bans, as­set freezes on for Bu­jum­bura of­fi­cials by one year

The East African - - NEWS -

The European Union has re­newed sanc­tions against Burundi un­til 31 Oc­to­ber 2018, cit­ing lack of mean­ing­ful progress in re­solv­ing the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try.

In a press state­ment, the European mis­sion in Burundi said the sanc­tions con­sist of travel bans and as­set freezes against four top Bu­run­dian of­fi­cials whose ac­tiv­i­ties are deemed to be un­der­min­ing demo­cratic gov­er­nance and ob­struct­ing the search for a peace­ful po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion in Burundi.

“The EU re­mains pro­foundly con­cerned by in­for­ma­tion on con­tin­u­ing ex­tra­ju­di­cial ex­e­cu­tions, ar­bi­trary ar­rests and de­ten­tions, forced dis­ap­pear­ances, tor­ture and cruel, in­hu­man or de­grad­ing treat­ment, and gen­der-based vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence com­mit­ted in Burundi since April 2015,” the mis­sion said in a state­ment.

The move comes barely two weeks after the Bu­run­dian gov­ern­ment asked the EU to lift the sanc­tions to en­able Burundi rat­ify the Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship Agree­ment the Union has with the East African Com­mu­nity.

Spès Car­i­tas Nje­barikanuye, first vice speaker of Burundi Se­nate told the 47th Par­lia­men­tary As­sem­bly of African, Caribbean and Pa­cific States and the EU in Bel­gium to sup­port Burundi in call­ing on the EU to lift the sanc­tions, a move she said would cre­ate fa­vor­able con­clu­sion for the re­gional part­ner­ship.

The re­quest fol­lows an ear­lier, sim­i­lar call by the coun­try’s par­lia­men­tar­i­ans in May, who ap­pealed to the EU and mem­ber states to con­sider the coun­try’s achieve­ments in im­prov­ing hu­man rights and re­move the sanc­tions.

The EU first im­posed sanc­tions against the four Bu­run­dian of­fi­cers — se­nior po­lice, in­tel­li­gence and pres­i­dency of­fi­cials and an army gen­eral linked to a 2015 coup — in Oc­to­ber 2015 for their al­leged par­tic­i­pa­tion in the re­pres­sion of protests against Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza’s third term bid in April 2015.

Barely a year later, the EU can­celled di­rect fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to Burundi, in­clud­ing bud­get sup­port, ar­gu­ing that the gov­ern­ment had failed to ad­dress the hu­man rights abuses and failed to up­hold democ­racy and the rule of law.

Burundi plunged into a cri­sis in April 2015 when Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­inza an­nounced that he would run for a con­tro­ver­sial third term in of­fice, de­spite strong op­po­si­tion from rights groups and the op­po­si­tion party.

Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions Com­mis­sion for Refugees, 410,413 have al­ready fled the coun­try, driven out by the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, with a ma­jor­ity hosted in Tan­za­nia.

Pic­ture: File

Burundi Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza (cen­tre) at a past func­tion.

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