Burundi Sees European Union Lifting Sanctions Before End of Year

Burundi and the European Union have accelerated talks on lifting sanctions imposed by the bloc, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Albert Shingiro.

The EU placed penalties on some politicians and state officials and froze government financing in 2015 during a political crisis that followed former President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term, a move seen by the opposition as a violation of a peace deal. Ensuing violence left about 1,200 people dead and forced 400,000 others to flee the country.

Evariste Ndayishimiye succeeded Nkurunziza as president in June last year.

Shingiro has held two meetings with EU representative Claude Bochu and ambassadors from France, Belgium and Germany, he said in comments on the national broadcaster. The minister is expected to travel to Europe in June for further talks on lifting the sanctions before the end of the year.

The EU froze 432 million euro ($514 million) of funding and Belgium blocked disbursement of 60 million euro to the country that depended on foreign aid for much of its budget.

About 315,000 Burundians are still sheltering in other nations, according to the United Nations refugee agency. The government expects 150,000 of them to return this year and about 21,000 have been repatriated since the start of 2021, according to Security Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca.

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