No funding for Burundi, South Sudan delegates over sanctions

Saturday May 12 2018

The  East African Community Secretariat headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. PHOTO | FILE

The East African Community Secretariat headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. PHOTO | FILE 

By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI
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Germany and the US have said they will maintain their sanctions against Burundi and South Sudan and will not fund the two countries’ delegates to the East African Community meetings until the leadership restores political stability.

Bujumbura and Juba were asked to fund their delegates to the EAC Council of Ministers in Arusha last week, after the Secretariat failed to have Washington and Berlin rescind their decision.

In a letter dated March 21 to the German ambassador to Tanzania and the EAC, the EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko requested Berlin to reconsider the decision but Germany was adamant.

In response to the political crisis in Burundi that began in 2015, the EU withdrew aid to Bujumbura, with Germany following suit. But Berlin agreed to support Burundians who are not appointed by the presidency.

Germany and the EAC have had strong collaborations since the latter’s inception. For the past 20 years, Germany development co-operation with the EAC amounts to €290 million ($346 million), including the building of the EAC headquarters in Arusha.

The core focus areas of Germany’s support to the EAC are economic integration and health.

Following the Council’s decision to integrate South Sudan in EAC activities in February 2017, the Secretariat alerted USAid about the inclusion of Juba in projects it funds.

“USAid notes the EAC concerns about the support to the Republic of South Sudan but they cannot change the US restrictions on a country. It was recommended that EAC and USAid continue to engage on the implementation mechanism that could enable effective integration of South Sudan in EAC,” said USAid.

Donor support

For the past 10 years, USAid’s support to the EAC has totalled $218 million including technical support. The areas of support include Customs and trade, agriculture, environment, energy, health and strengthening institutions.

The EAC ministers found it necessary for the bloc to come up with a comprehensive report on all projects funded by the German development agency GIZ and USAid, in order to adequately assess the extent to which alternative funding may be required. The EAC is facing financial constraints as members delay making contributions.

The EAC Council of Ministers noted that conditions set by donors could easily be applied to another partner state, and would eventually affect the Community as a whole. The Council recommended that the matter be resolved on a broader scale.