After back and forth negotiations, President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi has managed to convince the European Union to lift tough sanctions that had crippled his country under his predecessor.
EU sanctions on Burundi were first imposed in October 2015, by Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1755 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1763, following Pierre Nkurunziza’s disputed election to a third term as President, breaking a decade-old agreement on a two-term limit, and the violent crisis that followed.
Claude Bochu the European Union Mission envoy in Burundi met with President Ndayishimiye on June 21 and informed him that the EUs opinion on his country was not the same as in the previous situation.
“This is remarkable progress, significant progress, which is why I asked to inform the president of it since a few months ago, 6 to 7 months ago, the opinion was not the same”, he noted.
The EU Ambassador to Burundi, said that there has been an important shift in the views of EU ministers and institutions and this view has been attentive to what has happened in Burundi.
According to him, “it is on the basis of the positive developments initiated by President Ndayishimiye in terms of good governance and the rule of law and human rights that these measures were taken.”
“We were delighted, the President and myself, that this political dialogue between the EU and Burundi had resumed few months ago. The exchanges made it possible to follow and feed the reforms which, little by little, are emerging in this country. So we welcomed them with pleasure and the president welcomed this news.”
Ambassador Claude Bochu briefed President Ndayishimiye on the development projects the EU intends to support by the end of the year.
“There was a release for the rehabilitation project of the port of Bujumbura, a dossier which links the EU to the African Development Bank with funding of Euros60 million. This will allow the port to go ahead and enter into contracts to remedy a number of malfunctions due to obsolete equipment “.
Another project concerns agricultural development: “This project is ready, it is about assisting the birth of value chains in the agricultural sector. We are only waiting for the signing of the financing agreement with the Minister for the Economy and Finance.”
There are three other projects mentioned in particular support for the health sector: “Next week, there will be the inauguration of a blood transfusion center in Gitega,” Bachou said.
There are also projects for the protection of the environment, natural resources and water management. That’s not all, there is a new project to support the Ministry of Justice in its efforts to facilitate access to justice for Burundian litigants.