WEDNESDAY February 23, 2022
By Patty Magubira
The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
East African Community (EAC) partner states should be vigilant, lest ill motives temper with peace the region is currently enjoying, Burundi has warned.
The Burundi Minister for the East African Community Affairs, Youth, Culture and Sports, Mr Ezéchiel Nibigira, said as the region was celebrating the lifting of sanctions imposed on his country by the European Union and the United States, end to the ‘ill motive’ was not in sight.
“We’re celebrating a big triumph because the community has gained from the lifting of the sanctions illegally imposed on Burundi and so have the US and the EU themselves,” he said.
Mr Nibigira, the country’s former envoy to Kenya, attributed the victory to all EAC partner states for backing Burundi since 2015 when the sanctions were imposed on the East African country.
He recalled how the then EAC Summit Chairman, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, stood firm and travelled all the way to Europe to ask the EU to lift the sanctions.
“We thank the United Republic of Tanzania, the late president John Magufuli took a very strong position on this,” said the minister, adding: “The incumbent Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday reiterated (in Brussels) that Burundi should be treated like any other EAC partner state.”
Mr Nibigira said President Uhuru Kenyatta last year travelled along with him to Europe to also ask the bloc to lift the sanctions. “We need to be vigilant; we do not know what happened to Burundi in 2015 will stop,” he cautioned when addressing the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) recently.
The EALA Speaker, Mr Martin Ngoga, officially announced in the House that the Kenya government had asked Burundi to execute responsibilities of the Chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers pending the appointment of the country’s new Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development.
Mr Adan Mohamed, the former Kenya Cabinet Secretary for the docket and chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, resigned from the post a fortnight ago ahead of the country’s August 2022 General Elections.
“… I have considered options on the future roles I can play in the development of our country and reached the decision to run for the position of Governor, Mandera Country,” Mr Mohamed said shortly after tendering his resignation to President Kenyatta.
Mr Nibigira pleaded with the EALA members and members of the EAC Council of Ministers to pray for Mr Mohamed for taking a bold decision of competing for a post he believed would put him in a better position to serve his country effectively.
MORE INFORMATION: US, EU Sanctions
The US and the EU imposed sanctions on Burundi at the height of a political crisis in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The late president Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to extend his tenure triggered protests which saw over 300,000 Burundians flee to neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Security forces and top government officials were blamed for gross human rights violation during the crisis.
The US issued an Executive Order to terminate the declaration of Burundi as a national emergency in November 2021, a move that saw the freezing of properties owned by some government officials accused of human rights violations. The EU said in a communique on Tuesday February 8, 2022, in turn, that a peaceful political process that started with the May 2020 General Elections had opened a new window of hope for population in Burundi. The EU Council’s sanctions on Burundi included the suspension of financial support and disbursements of funds directly to the country’s administration or institutions. EU member states contributed almost 50 per cent of Burundi’s annual budget. The Burundi government and the European Union in February last year resumed political dialogue in efforts to normalise their relationsΩ