Burundi- EU: the European Union clears Prime Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca

Burundi- EU: the European Union clears Prime Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca

The European Union has announced it lifted targeted sanctions against two Burundian personalities, including the new Prime Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca and General Godefroid Bizimana, one of President Ndayishimiye’s advisers. The third individual for whom the European Union has lifted sanctions is former General Léonard Ngendakumana, a former senior Burundian intelligence official, in exile since 2015. The news fell on Tuesday. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

After the announcement of the decision by the office of the Delegation of the European Union in Burundi, people in the province of Cibitoke (North-West of Burundi), where the two high Burundian authorities are from, testified to being very satisfied with the European Union decision. But activists and members of human rights organizations believe this is a monumental mistake.

” The decision to lift sanctions against the two most senior officials on the EU list gives the impression that the EU is no longer concerned about crimes committed in Burundi. It fixes with the EU strategy encouraging president Ndayishimiye’s government, a strategy that is proved to be misguided. This decision actually undermines the whole EU sanctions system as other governments with a bad human rights record will now know that if they wait long enough the EU will simply give up and resume business as usual”, says Carina Tertsakian from the Burundi Human Rights Initiative.

As for Anschaire Nikoyagize, president of the Iteka League, this is a hard blow for the victims.”This political decision makes the victims uncomfortable but we do not despair. I dare to think that justice will play its role despite this decision. The EU which is one of the partners of the ICC (International Criminal Court) should not sacrifice justice for the benefit of diplomatic relations. It should continue to support this court so that it can complete its work and that the perpetrators of the crimes are punished,” said Anschaire Nikoyagize, president of the Iteka League.

According to lawyer Christian Ntakirutimana, responsible for the gathering of jurists in action in Burundi, “If the EU has taken sanctions, this means that it is irrefutable proof that the crimes have been committed. The EU will therefore remain a witness in this case the day there is justice for the victims”.

For his part, Athanase Karayenga, a communication expert, finds that “the European Union has made a lot of mistakes as it has always done”.

For him, this is a decision that favors the 27 and not the Burundians. Some associations and political parties welcomed “a well-thought-out measure, taken on the basis of the changes made in the country, especially in terms of respect for human rights”.

The joy is also on the side of the Burundian authorities. The minister in charge of foreign relations took to Twitter to express it. ” I welcome the lifting of targeted sanctions against two Burundian personalities by the EU. This measure is the culmination of frank, sincere political dialogue, based on mutual trust and the shared desire to warm up the ties of friendship and cooperation with the EU”, wrote Albert Shingiro, Burundian Minister in charge of External Relations.

For researcher Tertsakian, this decision undermines the entire European Union sanctions system. She explains that “other governments that violate human rights will now tell themselves that if they wait long enough, the EU will simply abandon its measures and resume relations as if nothing had happened”.

The European Union has maintained sanctions against an agent of the SNR (national intelligence service). This is Mathias Joseph Niyonzima, known by the nickname of Kazungu. He is accused of having offered military training to Imbonerakure (members of the youth league of the presidential party CNDD-FDD) outside Burundi and on national territory.

The latter being considered by the European Union as “a group hostile to the opposition” and having participated in acts of repression against opponents. The EU had clarified that the persons targeted were involved in acts of violence, repression or incitement to violence, including acts constituting serious violations of human rights.

Previous Rwanda-Burundi: Burundi says it has reopened its borders with Rwanda
Next Rwanda-DRC: the Rwandan government criticizes Congolese authorities for multiplying unacceptable accusations