EU may restrict Burundian ties over rights concerns

December 9, 2015, 7:41pm

AFP on Business Day Live, photo: thinkstock

European Union says it could restrict ties with Burundi to humanitarian aid after talks fail to resolve concerns over human rights in restive central African country

BRUSSELS — The European Union (EU) said it could restrict its ties with Burundi to humanitarian aid after talks on Tuesday failed to resolve its concerns over human rights in the restive central African country.

A statement issued after lengthy talks in Brussels said the EU, the country’s top donor, took note of Burundi’s explanations but that these did not go far enough to remedy the problems.

"The consultations are now closed and appropriate measures will be put up for decision," the statement said.

"In the meantime, provisional measures could be taken regarding current co-operation, limiting new activities to humanitarian actions directly benefiting the population," it said.

The EU added that it would "take positively" the government agreeing to open a dialogue with the opposition.

Tuesday’s talks were held under provisions in the Cotonou agreement, the framework for the 28-nation EU’s economic and development ties with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, which lays down strict rules for mutual co-operation including the promotion of human rights.

Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term earlier this year, which the opposition said was illegal and breached an accord ending a horrific civil war which left 300,000 dead.

There have been increasingly violent clashes between loyalists and the opposition, sparking a warning on Tuesday from the United Nations (UN) that the country risked sinking into genocidal violence.

Last month Belgium, the former colonial power, told its nationals to leave and the EU evacuated staff families after the UN warned Burundi was on the brink of "mass violence".

EU aid programmes for Burundi over 2014-20 are worth some €430m.