Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s continued disregard for the Arusha Agreement has resulted in dozens of deaths, the exodus of over 144,000 Burundians to neighboring countries, and a freefall in the Burundian economy causing suffering to millions of Burundians. The Burundian Government’s decision to push forward with the June 29 parliamentary elections despite the complete absence of the necessary conditions for credible elections and widespread calls, including from the African Union and United Nations, to delay the voting further exacerbated an already dire situation.
With presidential elections now scheduled for July 15, the United States joins with the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, and other regional bodies and leaders in urging President Nkurunziza to place the welfare of Burundi’s citizens above his own political ambitions and participate in dialogue with the opposition and civil society to identify a peaceful solution to this deepening crisis. This solution should include the delay of the July 15 presidential elections until conditions are in place for free, fair, and peaceful elections.
Due to the precarious political and security situation in Burundi and the Government of Burundi’s unwillingness to engage in good faith efforts to negotiate a solution, the United States has today suspended several security assistance programs on which it has cooperated with Burundi. In response to the abuses committed by members of the police during political protests, we are suspending all International Law Enforcement Academy and Anti-Terrorism Assistance training that we provide to Burundian law enforcement agencies.
Recognizing that Burundi’s National Defense Force has generally acted professionally in protecting civilians during protests, the United States continues to value our partnership with the Burundian military and urges them to maintain professionalism and respect for the rule of law. However, due to the instability caused by the Burundian Government’s disregard for the Arusha Agreement and its decision to proceed with flawed parliamentary elections, the United States is unable to conduct peacekeeping and other training in Burundi. As a result, the United States has suspended upcoming training for the Burundian military under the Department of Defense’s Section 1206 Train and Equip program, as well as training and assistance under the Africa Military Education Program. We remain deeply concerned that the current crisis will further hamper our ability to support the important contribution of the Burundian military to international peacekeeping.
Finally, during our upcoming review of Burundi’s eligibility for the trade preferences available to it under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, we will be taking into consideration ongoing violence and instability and the Government of Burundi’s lack of respect for the rule of law in determining their eligibility for these trade preferences moving forward.