President Yoweri Museveni to Show the Way Out of Burundi Crisis

The Burundi crisis and the country’s status as a partner state in the East African Community are among issues that were expected to feature at the EAC Heads of State Summit in Dar es Salaam.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who takes over the chairmanship of the EAC, had pledged that, he would bring the Burundi conflict to the attention of the other presidents so as to bring peace to the region.

Speaking in London, where he also attended the International Conference on Somalia, President Museveni promised to raise the Burundi issue at the Summit so that the heads of state could make a decision.

He made the remarks during a meeting with France’s Director for Africa and Indian Ocean Remi Marechau, and the envoy to the Great Lakes Region Sophie Makame in London.

“We need consensus on Burundi as a region,” he said.

Burundi has experienced a conflict since 2015, when President Nkurunziza decided to seek another term in office, a move that sparked violent demonstrations in the country, culminating in a coup attempt. The failed coup happened while President Nkurunziza was in Dar es Salaam for a special EAC summit.

President Museveni, who is a mediator in the Burundi peace process, assumes the EAC chairmanship from Tanzania’s President John Magufuli in Dar es Salaam.

Contributed nothing

Apart from the political crisis in Burundi, the country is on the spot for failing to meet its financial obligation to the EAC, not having paid a cent towards its membership this financial year.

President Nkurunziza did not attend the summit and instead sent his vice-president. South Sudan’s Salva Kiir and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta also sent their vice-presidents.

This is the third time President Nkurunziza is missing from the Summit.

Burundi’s relations with the other EAC countries have been deteriorating since his re-election in 2015. In the current 2016/2017 EAC budget, Burundi has contributed nothing.

Only Kenya has paid its full contribution; Uganda has paid 90 per cent, Rwanda 64 per cent, and Tanzania 30 per cent.

The government of Burundi could be sued at a regional court for failure to pay its dues to the EAC while continuing to benefit from remittances from other member states.

Early this year, the East Africa Legislative Assembly said that Bujumbura’s failure to honour its obligations had contributed to the Secretariat’s failure to pay its suppliers and staff, and they threatened to take Burundi to court.

At the EAC Council of Ministers meeting held in Arusha from March 30 to April 4, all the partner states except Burundi endorsed the equal contributions model in funding the bloc’s budget, with sanctions for default. Bujumbura preferred a hybrid financing mechanism, with a certain percentage of equal contributions and a separate proportion based on equity, solidarity and equality.

And now Rwanda has since taken the same position, although the relationship between the two countries has been rocky.

President Nkurunziza’s government has accused Rwanda of harbouring Burundian rebels and backing fighters in northern Burundi.

Burundi’s commitment to the EAC has also been questioned, after its recent move to apply to join the Southern African Development Community, of which Tanzania is a member. The application has been seen as a way by Burundi to slowly leave the EAC.

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Source: The East African

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