Burundi threatens to sue AU, pull out troops from Somalia

Friday December 30 2016

Some of Burundian soldiers part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) leave for Burundi after they ended their tour of duty in Somalia on June 28, 2016. PHOTO | AMISOM

Some of Burundian soldiers, part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), leave for Burundi after they ended their tour of duty in Somalia on June 28, 2016. PHOTO | AMISOM 

By MOSES HAVYARIMANA

Burundi has threatened to sue the African Union over failure to pay its peacekeeping troops in Somalia.

President Pierre Nkurunziza said the Burundian forces serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) have gone for more than one year without salaries.

“Failure by the African Union to sort out the problem by next month, Burundian soldiers will pull out of the mission,” he said.

With 5,432 soldiers in Somalia, Burundi is the second leading contributor of troops under Amisom after Uganda. Others are Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The president accused the African Union of ‘undermining’ its peacekeepers whom the country spends a lot of its resources on, training and equipping them before they are sent to Somalia.

“People should know that no one can afford to pay us our soldiers’ lives and those who were injured,” he said.

“We made an agreement with them (AU) and then they decided not respect it.

“The Burundi government is ready to sue the AU and they will pay us with compensation on top of it,” President Nkurunziza said.

Amisom has struggled to pay its 22,000-strong peacekeepers fighting the Al Shabaab terrorist group after the main financier, the European Union, cut its funding by 20 per cent earlier this year.

The EU further asked Amisom to pay Burundi’s soldiers directly instead of through the government as is the case with other troops contributing countries. This was after the EU suspended development aid to Burundi following the political crisis over President Nkurunziza’s third term.

The matter, however, is said to be under deliberations at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa concerning the modalities of paying the Burundian troops.

Amisom pays its soldiers $1,028 each per month; the respective governments then deduct $200 for administrative costs before remitting the remaining amount to the soldiers.

President Nkurunziza said it was unfair that other countries with soldiers in Somalia are paid while those from Burundi go without pay.