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Obama ejects Burundi from Africa trade pact

October 30, 2015

U.S. President Obama has announced that Burundi will be removed from an African trade pact due to rising violence in the country. The decision comes after Burundi's president controversially secured a third term.

Security forces in Burundi on patrol
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Kuroawa

Burundi will no longer be part of a sub-Saharan trade pact with the U.S., Obama announced on Friday. The country, he said, has not made enough progress towards securing the rule of law.

"In particular, the continuing crackdown on opposition members, which has included assassinations, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and torture, have worsened significantly during the election campaign that returned President (Pierre) Nkurunziza to power earlier this year," Obama said in a letter to Congress.

The delisting will take effect as early as January 2016.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act program was started more than 10 years ago to boost exports from the poorest sub-Saharan African nations. It is a trade preference program which offers much-desired access to the US market.

Violence in Burundi rose drastically after Nkurunziza secured a controversial third term earlier this year. Political opponents said his re-election broke a peace agreement which helped end the country's 13 year civil war in 2006.

Around 200 people have been killed and numerous others have been arrested or detained since the violence first broke out in April. Since then, the government has also blocked opposition parties from campaigning and meeting.

Over 200,000 refugees have fled to neighboring countries, with the United Nations warning that Burundi is at risk of another civil war.

The European Union, as an important partner in trade and aid donations in Burundi, has threatened to sanction the country due to human rights violations.

rs/bw (AP, AFP, Reuters)