East Africa: Burundi Troops to Remain in Somalia, Payments Resume

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By Moses Havyarimana
Burundi has “rescinded” the withdrawal of its troops from the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, after African Union Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui signed an agreement on payments with the government.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), pays soldiers $1,028 each per month, then the respective governments deduct $200 for administrative costs before remitting the remainder to the soldiers.

Mr Chergui last week met Burundi’s First Vice President Gaston Sindimwo in Bujumbura and signed a deal on remittances of soldiers’ dues.

“We found a way to deal with this issue in collaboration with the European Union and the Burundian government,” he said.

In December last year, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza threatened to sue the African Union for failure to pay its troops serving under Amisom for more than one year.

“We have agreed that the Burundian troops in Somalia will be paid their salaries and that they won’t be segregated from other peacekeepers in Somalia, so the withdrawal of troops is not an option,” said Mr Sindimwo.

European Union-Burundi relations have deteriorated since 2015 when the bloc suspended aid to Burundi after President Nkurunziza vied for another term despite protests by opposition and civil society. The international community said that there were many cases of human rights violations in the country when violent protests erupted.

With 5,432 soldiers in Somalia, Burundi is the second leading contributor of troops to Amisom after Uganda. Other contributors are Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Earlier on, Uganda’s former Chief of Defence Forces Gen Katumba Wamala warned of a serious security crisis in Somalia if Burundi withdrew its troops.

“It will have a negative impact on the mission and also dilutes the African effort of working together to solve our problems,” he said.

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