The Burundian government has served notice that it could withdraw its troops from the African Union (AU) force fighting militants in Somalia, citing the non-payment of troops, reports Anadolu Agency.
The country’s Defense Minister Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye said Thursday Burundian soldiers have gone 10 months without the $800 allowance paid by the EU.
Ntahomvukiye who had been summoned by parliament together with Police Commissioner Alain Guillaume Bunyoni to answer questions about the Burundian peacekeeping force, said the soldiers have only received their low army wages.
Enraged lawmakers then asked their government to call back the troops serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
“It’s been 10 months our troops in Somalia have not been paid, the EU now refuses to send their salaries via the Burundian government … we think it’s time to bring them back,” Anadolu quotes Victor Burikukiye, president of a parliamentary committee on security and defense as saying.
In March, the EU suspended direct aid to Burundi, including funds for its peacekeeping contingent in AMISOM. The EU said conditions proposed by Burundi were not sufficient to meet the bloc’s concerns.
“No country in the world can accept that its soldiers should be paid directly by another organization, Burundi will be no exception,” Ntahomvukiye said in a statement.
Some MPs, however, recommended caution and consultation. “Before making any decision, consult all partners, even the EU,” Gabriel Ntisezerana, a ruling party MP, said.
“The EU has already shown us that it wants to destroy our army, It [EU] is the cause of all these problems, as it continues to increase sanctions against Burundi,” MP Daniel Gelase Ndabirabe, a former spokesman of the ruling party, said.
The EU is the biggest donor to Burundi with a program between 2014 and 2020 worth some €430 million ($468 million).
Burundi is the second largest contributor to AMISOM the AU intervention force fighting al-Shabab insurgents in Somalia. Their over 5400 troops come behind Uganda who have over 6000 troops.
Burundi government said it “will not accept that the compensation of its troops deployed in the African Peace Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are paid directly into their accounts without going through it”.
Xinhua, reports that indeed since last October, the European Union (EU), Senior Financial AMISOM planned to “toughen financial sanctions” against Bujumbura, by requiring that the allowances of Burundian soldiers deployed to Somalia as part of AMISOM their payment directly without going through the official segment of the Bank of the Republic of Burundi (BRB).
“This decision is unfair for Burundi and the Burundian troops who have sacrificed so much human and material resources to fight terrorists from El Shabab, a substantial contribution with Burundian fact that the situation was normalized in Somalia, making it possible the organization of elections, the establishment of a legitimate government and a republican army, ” the defence minister noted during a session of questions and answers in Parliament.
Ntahomvukiye warned about the impact that could occur on Somalia and the Central African courts if the contributing countries would be forced to withdraw their respective contingents.
“The financial countries such missions of peacekeeping in Africa should not think that the troop-contributing countries have deployed their military to search for financial gain and the eventual withdrawal of their troops would make them suffer. They should rather internalize that the primary concern of the contributing countries, is to bring them to the building for world peace.”