Francophone Group Lifts Four-Year Sanctions Against Burundi

The International Organisation of la Francophonie will resume cooperation with Burundi after suspending programs in 2016, citing a political crisis in the East African nation.

Burundi’s new President Evariste Ndayishimiye is moving to renew relations with nations and organizations that were strained or broken amid political upheaval under his predecessor’s rule. Ex-president Pierre Nkurunziza, whose decision to seek a third term in 2015 triggered deadly clashes, died last month after Ndayishimiye won the elections in May.

“In light of recent political developments in Burundi, the Council of la Francophonie has noted and welcomed the request from the Burundian authorities to lift the measure to suspend multilateral cooperation,” the organization of 88 French-speaking nations said in a statement on its website. The decision will be formally adopted at the next council later this year.

Burundi has had strained relations with neighboring Rwanda, which it accuses of harboring people suspected of attempting a coup in 2015. The Francophone group is led by former Rwandan foreign affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

Rwanda is in talks with Burundi to restore relations and reopen borders closed in 2015, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said on Friday in comments aired on the national broadcaster. The two nations are addressing “the history of bad relations,” Kagame said.

Burundi has also had a falling out with former colonizer Belgium, and the European Union after it placed senior state officials under sanctions for alleged human rights violations and undermining democracy. The sanctions led to dwindling foreign exchange inflows and hurt the nickel-producing nation’s economy.

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