Now Eala committee summons Bujumbura over national crisis

Saturday January 23 2016

EALA MPs during a sitting in Arusha. EALA has been asked to recommend to the EAC Summit of Heads of State that Bujumbura be bypassed for the chairmanship of the bloc. PHOTO | FILE |

Burundi will appear before the East African Legislative Assembly on January 25 to argue against a move to have it suspended from the East African Community and the African Union.

The Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU) and the East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (Eacsof) have asked EALA to recommend to the EAC Summit of Heads of State that Bujumbura be bypassed for the chairmanship of the bloc until it brings to an end the crisis caused by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s assumption of a third term in office.

The organisations said if the various measures proposed in their petition do not work after a month, then Burundi should be suspended from the EAC and the AU.

The heads of state are expected to make a decision on the recommendations at the EAC Ordinary Summit in Dar es Salaam on February 29.

According to EALA Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee (RACR) chairman Abdullah Mwinyi, Burundi has confirmed that it will appear before it on January 25 to make its submissions.

The delegation will include Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Minister Alain Nyamitwe, Minister for Public Security Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, Minister in the Office of the President in charge of East African Community Affairs Léontine Nzeyimana and Gélase Ndabirabe, spokesperson of the ruling CNDD–FDD party.


“EALA will then debate the report findings after Burundi has made its submissions and recommendations will be forwarded to the EAC heads of state,” said Mr Mwinyi.

The committee’s report on the petition will be forwarded to the House at the next sitting scheduled to commence on January 29 in Arusha. Should the assembly endorse the petition, the decision to suspend Burundi from the EAC will be made by the presidents of the member states.

Atrocities Watch Africa, Centre for Citizens’ Participation in the African Union, East Africa Law Society (EALS) and Kituo cha Katiba appended their signatures to the petition, urging EALA to call upon the chair of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union to take concrete steps towards preventing Burundi from descending into genocide or mass atrocities.

Such measures, the petition stated, include enhancing the numbers and capacity of the human-rights and military monitors deployed to the country. They also called for the AU sanctions regime to be effected.

The petitioners also urged the House to strongly recommend to the heads of state that Burundi not assume the rotating chairmanship of the EAC until it resolves the political, human-rights and humanitarian crisis.

Public hearing workshop

The heads of state appointed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to mediate the intra-Burundi talks but these have not yielded fruit.

RACR had initially called a public hearing workshop on January 13-16 to review the petition that PALU submitted to EALA in November. However, the Assembly received a letter from the Burundi government dated January 8 indicating its unavailability on the set dates but reiterating its desire to participate in the workshop after January 18.

“Burundi needs legitimacy to resume peace,” said PALU chief executive Donald Deya.

The petition also cites numerous reports of assassinations, extrajudicial and arbitrary killings of more than 130 people and wants EALA to condemn these and what it terms inordinate use of force by the police, security officials and members of a youth militia group, the Imbonerakure.

Civil society has also requested the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution demanding that the militia be disarmed and its chiefs identified and arrested and that other persons illegally possessing firearms be ordered to surrender them.

The EALA committee last year tabled the Report on the Goodwill Mission to the Refugee Camps Hosting Burundi Citizens in the Republic of Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Among other things, the report called on the EAC partner states to support immediate interventions towards sustaining peace in Burundi and the region.

It also urged the states to expedite the enactment of a regional legal framework for the management of refugees and to harmonise laws on the handling of intra-refugee matters.