East African leaders press EU to lift Burundi sanctions

The presidents of Tanzania and Uganda called on the European Union ( EU) to lift sanctions on neighbouring Burundi.

Speaking at the 18th Ordinary Summit of EAC Heads of State held in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, the two presidents made a joint plea.

“This is our problem. We don’t want the European Union to take measures against a member state without discussions with us,” said Uganda’s Museveni, who is EAC president and lead mediator in Burundi’s seemingly intractable two-year-old political crisis.

Tanzania’s president said Europe should be focused on its own issues.

“They are taking sanctions against Burundi when they too are facing difficulties at home, like the Brexit,” Magufuli said.

The call was, however, immediately rejected by the EU ambassador to Tanzania and the EAC Roeland van de Geer, stating that  sanctions will remain if the current situation pertains.

“The sanctions will remain in place as long as the situation does not change,” he said.

Burundi’s political crisis began in 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza  decided to run for a third term, sparking protests by those opposed to Nkurunziza seeking a third term in office.

Over 400,000 Burundians have fled the country to neighbouring countries, while more than 400 people have been killed since April 2015, this according to the Global Conflict Tracker.