Burundi now safe to host activities – EAC

Photo copyright Eric Miller / World Economic Forum 2008 Africa Summit, Cape Town, 3 - 6 June 2008 emiller@iafrica.com Pierre Nkurunziza

After a year of uncertainty since protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in office began, the East African Community has now declared Burundi safe to host its activities.

The EAC suspended its activities in Bujumbura in the run-up to the June 2015 elections at the height of protests by activists who insisted that Nkurunziza’s candidacy violated the Constitution, even though the country’s highest court had cleared him to run for the presidency.

Last week, an EAC security mission comprising representatives from the other four partner states was in Burundi for four days to assess the situation. The team released a report showing that they were satisfied that the security in Burundi “is satisfactory for continuation of activities with minimal risk to staff and delegates.”

The mission comprised the assistant director in Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and EAC, Aman Mwatonoka, Uganda’s director of strategic intelligence at the military headquarters, Lt-Col David Lumumba, advisor on EAC Affairs in Burundi’s Ministry of Public Security, Emmanuel Niyonizigiye, and the director of political affairs in Kenya’s State Department for EAC Ministry, David Njoka.

According to the delegation, Burundi has returned to normalcy especially in the capital which has been a hotspot for violence that claimed more than 500 lives and led to thousands fleeing the country.

Kenya’s ambassador to Burundi Ken Vitisia, asked the East African countries to support the country end the political crisis.

“Burundi has a lot to give back to the Community especially in the agricultural sector, which is still underdeveloped,” said Mr Vitisia.

The regional security assessment mission also directed the Secretariat to urgently convene a bilateral meeting between Burundi and Rwanda, whose relations continue to deteriorate.

Rwanda has accused Burundi of sheltering the FDLR rebel group, which it links to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Burundi and the United Nations on the other hand have raised concerns over Rwanda’s involvement in military training of Burundian refugees with the aim of ousting President Nkurunziza.

Just recently, Rwanda deported Burundian nationals. Kirundo Burundi’s Northern Province, which borders Rwanda received more than 3,000 of them.

“We have been receiving the deportees daily, and most of them have been transported to their native homes though some had difficulties finding families since they had been in Rwanda for many years,” said a local administrator in Bugabira.

Rwandan authorities said that those deported had failed to legalise their stay in the country, but were free to return after doing so.

According to the local communities living along the border of the two countries, people routinely use their national identity cards and crossed over to visit or work mainly on farms.

Many Burundians have integrated with Rwandans. Since the beginning of the political crisis, Rwandans have also been leaving Burundi fearing that they could be targeted.

The East African

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