February 2019

In China, Burundi finds a friend, even in hardship. China donated USD 22 million to build the presidential palace in Mutimbuzi district north of Burundi’s commercial capital Bujumbura. The palace was completed this month as part of China’s projects in the country.

Following a meeting held in Bujumbura on February 19, President Pierre Nkurunziza and his Somali counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo called for an urgent summit of the five troop contributing countries to review the decision by the AU Peace Support Operations Division, which according to Burundi, was discriminatory. This is after the African Union’s Peace Support Operations Division, in December, directed that the planned drawdown of a further 1,000 soldiers come exclusively from the Burundian contingent. Burundi’s decision, despite the fact that it may seem selfish, is only fair, considering the fact that, Burundi is the second biggest contributor to the 21,500-strong peacekeeping force with 5,400 soldiers, behind Uganda with 6,200 but ahead of Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.

As stated earlier, the EAC annual summit was held this month. Among the issues discussed was constitution review in Burundi. This is after a referendum that had been conducted by Burundi to amend its constitution which among other terms, was one that increases the presidential term from five to seven years. Burundi has rejected a report by the East African Community-mediated Inter-Burundi Dialogue, with Burundi’s Vice-President Gaston Sindimwo, who represented President Pierre Nkurunziza at the meeting, saying that his country would “not reverse the decision approved by the citizens”. It is noteworthy that Burundi is not interested in the Peace deal anymore, and prefers to tackle its own issues internally.

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