News / Africa

    Burundi Government Disappointed in New EU Sanctions

    FILE - A soldier patrols the streets after a grenade attack of Burundi's capital Bujumbura, Feb. 3, 2016.
    FILE - A soldier patrols the streets after a grenade attack of Burundi's capital Bujumbura, Feb. 3, 2016.
    James Butty

    Burundi said it is disappointed in the European Union’s decision to suspend some aid to the Burundian government.

    The EU Monday postponed direct financial support for the Burundian government for not doing enough to find a political solution to the continuing conflict that has claimed more than 400 lives since April last year.

    The EU said it blames President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government for the surge in violence and failure to protect human rights. European Union aid to Burundi from 2014 to 2020 is estimated at $480 million.

    Burundian Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe said while his country needs assistance, the EU decision is a wakeup call to all developing countries to be self-reliant rather than depend on foreign aid.

    “I believe that decision is in some way not too negative, but of course as a government we were not happy because we believe we are addressing the situation on the ground using the minimum means at our disposal and we believe that all we needed was more of an encouragement because our aim is to protect and safeguard the interest of the people of Burundi,” he said.

    Nyamitwe said only Burundians can solve their own problems.

    “It is not up to the European Union or to any other partner to determine what the course of a nation should be, be it Burundi, be it Rwanda, be it Congo, and be it whichever country in Africa. It is up to the people of those countries to chart the path for themselves,” Nyamitwe said.

    He said foreign assistance is not the “life blood” of Burundi and that while the country would be glad to get assistance, it can still survive without. Besides, Nyamitwe said Burundi will develop resilience and self-reliance without aid.

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and a delegation of five African heads of state visited Burundi last month and urged the government to go for a political settlement based on dialogue.

    The East African Community (EAC), meeting in Arusha, Tanzania last month named former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa as the new mediator for talks between the government and all stakeholders. 

    The talks had been virtually bogged down under the leadership of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

    Nyamitwe said his government told the EU not to blame the government for what it has not done. He said his government has been engaged in an inter-Burundian dialogue.

    He hopes the external part of the dialogue would be expedited, and a decision reached soon on the agenda as well as the Burundian opposition groups that should participate.

    “Again, I say clearly whoever wants to participate in that dialogue is welcomed. But inside the country, in the framework that has been provided, everybody is welcome. But when it comes to the dialogue happening outside the country, then it doesn’t depend on the government of Burundi alone. It depends on the region, it depends on partners; it depends on how things are being organized,” Nyamitwe said.

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