African Union an­gry over EU pay­ment for So­mali troops

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The African Union has lashed the EU for say­ing it will pay Bu­run­dian peace­keep­ers in So­ma­lia di­rectly, rather than through their gov­ern­ment, os­ten­si­bly to pre­vent the money be­ing di­verted to the regime in Bu­jum­bura. In a state­ment is­sued late Fri­day af­ter a meet­ing of its mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions co­or­di­na­tion com­mit­tee in Ad­dis Ababa, the AU said it “strong re­jects” the EU’s de­ci­sion to “dif­fer­en­ti­ate its pay­ment pro­ce­dure” to the Bu­run­dian mil­i­tary con­tin­gent in So­ma­lia.

Such pay­ments are dis­crim­i­na­tory, as Bu­run­dian troops are part of an over­all AU de­ploy­ment, it said, not­ing “the sac­ri­fices be­ing paid by the forces on the ground”. It called on the EU “to ur­gently con­sider modal­i­ties for re­vers­ing this de­ci­sion, which could have far-reach­ing neg­a­tive con­se­quences on AMISOM op­er­a­tions and the over­all se­cu­rity gains achieved in So­ma­lia”. The AU peace­keep­ing mis­sion in So­ma­lia (AMISOM) was de­ployed to back So­ma­lia’s in­ter­na­tion­ally-backed ad­min­is­tra­tion in fight­ing the Shabaab ji­hadist mili­tia.

The Shabaab was forced out of the cap­i­tal, Mo­gadishu, five years ago but con­tin­ues to at­tack mil­i­tary, gov­ern­ment and civil­ian tar­gets. AMISOM, whose wages are paid by the EU, com­prises 22,000 troops. Bu­rundi, with 5,400 troops, is its sec­ond big­gest con­tin­gent af­ter Uganda.

Fri­day’s meet­ing in Ad­dis, gath­er­ing mil­i­tary chiefs from coun­tries pro­vid­ing troops for AMISOM, in­cluded Bu­run­dian Gen­eral Prime Niy­ongabo, who had been on a swing through part­ner coun­tries in a bid to gain sup­port in the dis­pute with the EU. The EU’s pay­ment for the Bu­run­dian con­tin­gent amounts to five mil­lion eu­ros ($5.43 mil­lion) each month, but the bloc has re­fused for months to make this pay­ment via Bu­jum­bura.

No pay for months

The funds will be dis­bursed by the EU as soon as the AU finds a way to pay the troops di­rectly, with­out hav­ing to go via the Bu­run­dian gov­ern­ment, an EU diplo­mat told AFP. The first vice pres­i­dent of Bu­rundi, Gas­ton Sindimwo, has told AFP that the Bu­run­dian mem­bers of AMISOM have re­ceived no pay for 10 months. — AFP

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