Nkurunziza-Pierre

EU Denies Claims of Involvement in Burundi’s Unrest

The European Union has rejected claims that it was involved in destabilising Burundi after the latter said it came across what it describes as crucial documents.

“Those documents reveal terrible facts involving the EU delegation in Burundi in 2014, several months before the insurgency and the failed coup plot in May 2015,” said government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba in a statement.

According to Burundi, the evidence shows that the EU “financed people and organisations” who it accuses of participating in the violent protests that rocked the country and are now facing international arrest warrants issued by the Burundian judiciary.

According to Mr Nzobonariba, that evidence adds to other elements that pushed the Burundian government to “denounce a foreign hand” in acts of sabotage during the country’s 2015 elections.

Promoting human rights

Dismissing the accusations as false, the EU envoy to Burundi, Wolfram Vetter, said the European bloc does not seek to pursue any form of regime change in the country.

“The accusations are based on a deliberately wrong interpretation of a programme to support human rights defenders,” he said.

“For many years and throughout the world, the EU foreign policy is based on promotion of human rights and protection of their defenders.”

The new claims are likely to strain further the relations between the two trade partners.

The EU cut aid to Burundi in 2015 accusing the government of human rights violations following violent protests that erupted when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a controversial third term.

Last October, Bujumbura suspended co-operation with the UN Human Rights Office after a UN report on widespread rights abuse by the ruling party’s youth wing, Imbonerakure. The government said the report was biased and influenced by the EU in order to destabilise Burundi.

During the East African Community Summit last month, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called on the EU to lift sanctions on Burundi, an EAC member state, in order to promote and ease trade between the two trading blocs.

But a diplomat for the European bloc dismissed the appeal.

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