The European Union, strife-stricken Burundi’s biggest aid donor, today (15 February) warned the country could face “appropriate measures” if it does not remedy its human rights record.
Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza in July won a third term, which the opposition said was illegal and in breach of an accord ending a horrific 1993-2006 civil war which left 300,000 dead.
EU foreign ministers said talks with Burundi under the Cotonou agreement, which lays down strict rules for mutual cooperation including the promotion of human rights, had failed to resolve Brussels’ concerns.
“The EU will adopt the appropriate measures necessary in view of the lack of positive signals,” a statement said.
The statement gave no details of measures envisaged at a time of almost daily bloodshed in the small central African country.
“The fact is that consultations … were not able to remedy Burundi’s failure to respect essential elements of the partnership,” it said.
The European Union said the government’s full participation in talks with the opposition “is essential”.
“Any other step towards de-escalation and political opening will also be a very significant positive signal,” the foreign ministers said.
“The EU, which is one of Burundi’s main development partners, confirms its willingness to continue its support for the Burundian population through its development activities,” it added.
EU aid programmes for Burundi over the period 2014-20 are worth some €430 million and any threat to them would be serious for the poor country beset by growing violence.
An EU diplomatic source told AFP on Friday that the bloc was considering the suspension of direct aid to Burundi’s government in light of the worsening situation.
A grenade blast on Monday killed a child and wounded at least 30 people in the latest in a string of attacks, Burundi officials said.
Security forces, rebels and the opposition all blame each other for the hundreds of killings since last year.