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EU cuts financial aid to Burundi

Lewis Sanders IVMarch 14, 2016

Brussels has suspended direct aid to Burundi following a surge of politically-motivated violence. The EU said humanitarian aid would not be cut amid concerns the East African nation may slip back into civil conflict.

Burundi forces have been accused of targeting opposition figures and human rights activists
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Kurokawa

The European Council announced Monday that Brussels will cut financial support to Burundi after judging that the government's proposals to address EU concerns were "insufficient."

"The EU has suspended direct financial support to the Burundian administration, including budget support, but is fully maintaining both its financial support to the population and its humanitarian assistance," the EU said in a statement announcing the decision.

In December, the EU launched consultations with Burundi under article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, deemed the "most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU."

Article 96 of the agreement aims to safeguard and promote human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific through political dialogue, according to the EU.

Burundi has witnessed a surge in politically-motivated violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April 2015 he would seek a third term in office. The move was criticized by activists and oppositions figures for undermining the country's constitution.

The 2005 Burundian constitution ended a conflict lasting more than a decade, and is cited as the pillar of stability in a country with a similar ethnic makeup as Rwanda, which in 1992 witnessed genocide take the lives of 800,000 people.

'Concrete measures'

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc would resume direct aid once "concrete measures" were taken by Bujumbura.

"The situation in Burundi remains of serious concern for the EU, though we have seen recently some glimpses of hope. Today's decision makes clear that for our relations to be fully resumed, we expect a number of concrete measures to be carried out," Mogherini.

Neven Mimica, the EU's international development commissioner, said humanitarian services would not be affected by the bloc's decision.

"The EU is, and will remain, firmly committed to supporting the Burundian people in this crisis, which has already cost more than 400 lives, left thousands injured and forced over 240,000 people to take refuge in neighboring countries," Mimica said.

"EU funded projects which aim to ensure access to basic services for the population, but without channeling financial resources through accounts held by the Government of Burundi, are being prepared and the EU remains committed to providing emergency assistance," the development commissioner added.

In October, the EU sanctioned political figures close to President Nkurunziza, who clinched a third term in November's elections.

Mogherini: "The action we are seeking is achievable with will and determination."
Mogherini: "The action we are seeking is achievable with will and determination."Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Warnand