EU criticises violations in Burundi ahead of poll

Thursday January 16 2020

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza arrives for the celebrations to mark Burundi's 55th anniversary of the independence at the Prince Louis Rwagasore stadium in Bujumbura, Burundi July 1, 2017. PHOTO | REUTERS 

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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The European parliament has asked members to expand the punitive sanctions imposed on rights violators in Burundi, ahead of the planned election in May.

On Thursday, the parliament passed a resolution condemning Bujumbura’s alleged crackdown on activists and members of the opposition which it said raised concerns about the fairness of the coming election.

The non-binding resolution passed on Thursday, says; “The European parliament calls for the expansion of the EU’s targeted sanctions and urges the UN Security Council to impose its own targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against individuals responsible for ongoing serious human rights violations in Burundi.”

It also claimed that there had been “large scale” violations of human rights, opposition intimidation, while journalists are arrested for doing their job.

The parliament said it was directing the European Commission Vice President and High Representative Josep Borrell to compile a new list of those involved in the crackdown “with a view to adding them to the list of those Burundian officials who are already under EU sanction.”

Burundi will hold elections in May, which President Pierre Nkurunziza has said he will not be a candidate, suggesting he will end his 15-year rule.

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But the country held a constitutional referendum last May, expanding presidential powers and introduction of simple majority procedure for legal amendments.

It also removed legal barriers, making him eligible to run until 2034.

In 2015, when Nkurunziza ran for a controversial third term, the European Union responded by imposing sanctions on four key leaders said to have led the crackdown on opponents. The EU also refused to send observers to the election.

This latest motion, though non-binding, is the fourth term the Parliament had issued criticism against Burundi over human rights violations.

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