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EU set to suspend aid to Burundi: diplomat


The European Union (EU) on Monday is expected to announce the suspension of direct aid to Burundi’s government over democracy and human rights concerns, a diplomatic source told AFP.

Foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states, meeting in Brussels Monday, will approve a text outlining the stalemate in talks with Burundi on human rights and announce the upcoming adoption of “appropriate measures” including a suspension of direct aid, the diplomat said Friday.

Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term last year which the opposition said was illegal and breached an accord ending a horrific civil war which left 300,000 dead.

There have been increasingly violent clashes between loyalists and the opposition, earning a warning from the United Nations that the country risked sinking into genocidal violence.

The EU is the biggest donor to Burundi with a programme over 2014-20 worth some 430 million euros ($468 million).

The proposed EU measures include “suspension of the EU cooperation programme with the Burundi authorities and of all the acts of assistance which are in effect boosting Burundi’s finances,” the diplomat said.

The measures should be in place before the end of the month, he added, stressing that humanitarian aid channelled directly to the Burundi people would be maintained.

The EU held a day of unsatisfactory talks with Burundian officials in December on the violence which has plagued the Great Lakes country since April 2015.

The fighting has left more than 400 people dead and pushed another 230,000 to leave the country, including numerous opposition figures, journalists and members of campaigning groups, according to the United Nations.

The EU has taken similar punitive measures in the past against Zimbabwe, Guinea and Madagascar.

Last October the EU imposed sanctions against four Burundians charged with undermining democracy and blocking efforts to resolve the political crisis in the impoverished central African country.

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