The European Union has called on Burundi to “consult” its human rights breaches. Brussels is concerned by the rise of violence that has recently hit the central African country, a move that could eventually suspend development aid. The EU, being Burundi’s major aid donor, questions the successful bid of President Pierre Nkurunziza for a third term in office. A EU statement repeatedly referred to the Cotonou agreement saying “the objective of the talks is to find a solution acceptable to all the parties and identify the measures to take to redress non-respect of the accord”. The Cotonou agreement is a comprehensive framework covering the relations between the EU and 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).
For the 2014-2020 period, the EU has pledged to grant Burundi up to €432 million to help the impoverished country to deal with the consequences of the 1995-2005 civil war, which claimed about 300,000 lives. The situation started deteriorating in April when Mr Nkurunziza chose to run for office despite the opposition’s claims that his decision had breached the peace agreement that ended the war. UNHCR estimates that almost 200 people have been killed since April while tens of thousands have been forced to flee. EU’s head of diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, said that the situation in Burundi “remains very worrying.” She added that the talks would contribute to “launch an inter-Burundian dialogue to find a consensual solution to the crisis in the country”.
EU development ministers approved an official letter addressed to President Nkurunziza expressing their hopes that the consultations would lead to “a mutually acceptable solution”. The letter said that “the consultations will allow Burundi to present the government’s program, notably in so far as it concerns democratic principles, human rights and governance”. Mr Nkurunziza now has 30 days to reply under ACP rules.