AU still supports Burundi

130127-union-africaine-sommet-addis1“We firmly reject the recent EU decision to differentiate the payment procedure of the contingent of Burundian forces from that of other contingents deployed in the African Union peace keeping Mission in Somalia –AMISOM,” says the AU in a statement issued after a meeting held on 11 November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The AU praises the sacrifices made by the AMISOM troops on the ground and encourages the EU to reconsider urgently its decision that could have serious and negative consequences on AMISOM’s operations as well as on the security progress made in Somalia, especially in the run-up to the elections.

Since last October, the European Union (EU), the main funder of AMISOM, has envisaged to enforce its financial sanctions against Bujumbura, demanding that the allowances of the Burundian soldiers deployed in peace keeping mission in Somalia be directly paid to them without passing through the Burundi national bank (BRB).

For Léonce Ngendakumana, the deputy chairman of the opposition party -Frodebu, these two organizations (AU and EU) have signed a memorandum of understanding that they must respect. In case of violation, a signatory party may suspend the agreement. That is the case now. Several African countries have supported the Burundian government in the current crisis that has been hitting the country since the past few months. “The EU cannot continue to spend its money for nothing. If it pays AMISOM contingents, African countries should not impose the way to finance these missions,” says Ngendakumana. For him, the two organizations should sit together and see how to revisit the memorandum of understanding already violated. He regretted that, despite the requirement of the African Union, the latter is not able to fund AMISOM operation at its own expense.

Willy Nyamitwe, Senior Communication Advisor to the Burundian President, welcomes the African Union initiative to advocate for Burundi. He says he cannot make his own comment before the European Union’s decision.

The recent AU meeting brought together chiefs of staff from troop-contributing countries in AMISOM including the Burundi Army Chief of Staff Prime Niyongabo, who has just completed a tour with his partners to win their support for the issue.

With 5,400 soldiers, the Burundian contingent is the 2nd of AMISOM after that of Uganda. AMISOM, which was deployed to fight against the Islamists shebaab in Somalia, is composed of more than 22,000 soldiers whose salaries are paid by the EU.