The European Union announced on Tuesday that it would lift sanctions on Burundi that were imposed in 2016.
In a communique, the EU said this follows a peaceful political process that started with the general elections of May 2020 and opened a new window of hope for the population of Burundi.
“Since the 2020 elections, the EU has acknowledged the progress made by the Burundian government with respect to human rights, good governance and the rule of law, as well as commitments taken in its roadmap (‘feuille de route’) towards further improvements in those areas,” the statement says.
In 2020, Burundi witnessed its first democratic transition of power from the late president Pierre Nkurunziza to the incumbent Evariste Ndayishimiye.
President Ndayishimiye praised the EU decision, saying, “I salute the wise decision of the European Union and its Member States for having taken the step of lifting with immediate effect the economic sanctions against my country. Burundi is ready to cooperate with all partners. Together, anything is possible.”
Suspension of aid
The European Union Council’s 2016 sanctions on Burundi included the suspension of financial support and disbursements of funds directly to the Burundian administration or institutions.
At the time, EU member states contributed almost 50 percent of Burundi's annual budget. Since the suspension of aid, Burundi relied on taxes that currently contribute to almost 90 percent of the country's annual budget.
“The 2016 measures included budgetary support. With the repeal, the EU will therefore be able to restart this kind of cooperation with Burundi,” said Burundi’s Foreign Affairs Minister Albert Shingiro.
“The lifting of sanctions is a victory shared between Burundi and the European Union and its Member States at the end of a long process of frank and sincere dialogue, which was marked by the spirit of openness, compromise and mutual trust between the two parties.”
The Burundian government and the European Union in February last year resumed political dialogue in efforts to normalise their relations that deteriorated since 2015.
The resumption of political dialogue came a few months after President Ndayishimiye took over the office in 2020.
The EU’s decision comes about three months after the US lifted sanctions on Burundi in November last year.
The US had imposed sanctions on Burundi since 2015 when violent protests erupted against the former late president Pierre Nkurunziza, leading to more than one thousand people losing their lives.
During the 2015 political crisis, Burundian security forces and top government officials were accused of gross human right violations.
The US issued an Executive Order to terminate the declaration of Burundi as a national emergency in November 22, 2015, a move that saw the freezing of properties owned by some government officials accused of human rights violations.