The US government on Thursday removed sanctions placed on Burundi six years ago, crediting elections, a fall in violence, and reforms by President Evariste Ndayishimiye.
Over a thousand people died and many others were injured in the 2015 political crisis under President Pierre Nkurunziza where top brass of the Burundian security and key government officials were accused of gross human rights violations.
On November 22, 2015, the US issued an Executive Order declaring Burundi a national emergency. This led to the freezing of properties owned by some government officials said to have played a role in the rights violations.
“The transfer of power following elections in 2020 significantly decreased violence…Accordingly, I hereby terminate the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13712, and revoke that order,” reads the order signed by President Joe Bidden.
The lifting of sanctions comes two days after US Ambassador to Burundi, Ms Melanie H. Higgins, met Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye in Gitega.
While officially opening the National Development Forum in Bujumbura on Thursday, President Ndayishimiye said relations with the US are improving.
The European Union had also imposed sanctions on Burundi in 2015 following United Nations reports of gross human rights violations, suspending direct aid to the country. At the time, more than 50 percent of Burundi’s budget was dependent on donors.
Currently, dialogue between Burundi and the European Union over lifting sanctions are at an advanced stage.
The resumption of political dialogue came a few months after Burundi’s incumbent president took over office in June last year.
President Ndayishimiye is also working to mend relations with neighbouring countries, including Rwanda, and the rest of the international community.
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