MPs concerned over withdrawal of Burundian troops from Somalia

The Upper and Lower Chambers of Burundi Parliament met this February 21st to discuss the withdrawal process of 1,000 Burundi troops from Somalia until 28 February. They demand the revision of this decision which was taken by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.

The first team of 200 troops landed at Bujumbura International Airport at 4:00 pm on February 21

Révérien Ndikuriyo, Speaker of Burundi Senate says the AU Heads of State must intervene to stop the withdrawal of Burundian troops from Somalia as they did for the deployment of an African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU). “Thousands of troops were planned to be deployed in Burundi but thanks to the intervention of AU Heads of State, it didn’t work,” he says.

MP Agathon Rwasa, First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly says it is regrettable to hear that conventional decisions have been violated. For him, it would be better if the issue continues being discussed so that the Burundian troops return safe. “We don’t want to lose other troops in Somalia,” he says.

MP Anicet Niyongabo, First Deputy Speaker of Burundi Senate calls on Burundi government to consult the AU chair as the AU commission has failed to solve the issue. “An urgent summit with the contributing countries to AMISOM needs to be called in order to stop the withdrawal of troops from Somalia,” he says.

As for MP Fabien Banciryanino, Burundi government should first assess the achievements of Burundi troops instead of standing against the withdrawal decision. “Do they really represent Burundi as it should be?” he asks.

Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye, Minister of Defense says the measure aims at destabilizing security in Burundi in the wake of 2020 elections. He adds that Burundi government has sent correspondences to the African Union to review that decision. “If the competent authorities do not review that decision in accordance with the law, all Burundian troops will be removed from Somalia,” he says.

The Defense Minister says it is an unjust measure that contributing countries need to discuss seriously. “There is no doubt the decision is politically motivated,” he says.

Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, Minister of Public Security says what happened to the Burundian troops in Somalia has also happened to Burundi police officers who contributed to the peacekeeping missions in other African countries. “They were accused of many mistakes and ended up returning home,” he says. For him, if the withdrawal of troops continues, Somalia will be transformed into a bomb that will explode and cause many problems to Africa.

According to the Defense Minister, the first team of 200 troops was supposed to land at Bujumbura International Airport at 4:00 pm on February 21 while the remaining troops will arrive by February 28. Minister Ntahomvukiye says the gradual withdrawal of all troops in Somalia was scheduled until 2021.

Burundi has the second largest contingent in AMISOM with 5,400 troops, after Uganda, which has 6,200 men. Other contributors are Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.