EAC integration

“Sanctions against Burundi”, only EAC pretext for refusal to sign EPA, says local NGO

PARCEM says, to show solidarity, the EAC region should carry out concrete actions to help Burundi overcome its socio-economic and political woes.

Faustin Ndikumana, the Chairman of PARCEM

Faustin Ndikumana, the Chairman of PARCEM

PARCEM, a local NGO, dismisses the claim that East African Community refusal to sign the EAC-EU Economic Pact Agreement (EPA) has something to do with solidarity with Burundi on which the European Union has imposed sanctions.

“To say the refusal to sign the EPA was a show of regional solidarity so the EU lifts sanctions on Burundi is a pretext”, says Faustin Ndikumana, the Chairman of PARCEM, the local NGO aiming at awakening conscience and changing Burundians’ mentality.

He says the real reason for the refusal is that, except for Kenya (that has already signed the Agreement) and, soon, Rwanda, other EAC countries have no products to sell to Europe.

A release of EAC Heads of State summit held on 20 May in which only two presidents were present, “noted that remaining members that have not signed the EU-EAC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) are not in a position to do so pending clarification of issues they have identified in the agreement”

The Heads of State also “agreed that the EU sanctions on Burundi should be discussed alongside the EPA discussions”,the release reads.

“Burundi is our member and no action should be taken against it without our input. Our house is our house”, said on his Twitter account, YoweriKagutaMusevi, the Chairman of the Summit. “Also, we don’t agree with the EU placing unilateral sanctions on Burundi. It’s part of why we have not signed the EPA”, he added.

PARCEM says if the EAC really wants to show solidarity with Burundi, it should help the country solve its very pressing issues such as poverty, the severe shortage of fuel and foreign currency. “If we really are one house, can the EAC supply fuel and foreign currency for us?” says Ndikumana.

He says solidarity should be real and tangible. He suggests the creation of a fund to help any “room of the house experiencing difficulties”.

In addition to helping Burundi overcome its economic woes, the region should help the country achieve social cohesion by solving its many issues related to good governance, social and independent justice, human rights and the like. He argues that cohesion is prerequisite to socio-economic development.

He says responsibility to work for social cohesion primarily rests in the hands of Burundians themselves through an inclusive dialogue. The dialogue, he argues, should focus on grievances gathered by the National Commission for Inter-Dialogue (CNDI) and the EAC-led facilitation.