Thousands in Burundi celebrate lifting of US, EU sanctions

Move is big relief that will lead to economic growth, says foreign minister

Burundians marched in the streets of the capital, Gitega, on Saturday to cheer the lifting of EU and US sanctions imposed amid deteriorating political situation more than six years ago.

The march was organized by civil society organizations.

Civil society representative Hamza Burikukuye said the lifting of sanctions was a big relief to Burundians since it had caused economic hardships.

There is hope that the economy will likely grow significantly, he said.

Burikukuye thanked authorities for a series of diplomatic engagements and restoring conditions that led to the reversal.

The EU said the lifting of restrictions on financial support to the country was a result of the peaceful political process that started with general elections in May 2020 which opened a new window of hope for the population of Burundi.

Last year, the US lifted sanctions on the military and security officials, citing positive political developments following the 2020 elections.

The EU reportedly was the country’s biggest aid donor, sending €60 million ($68 million) per year.

Burundi’s Foreign Minister Albert Shingiro said the lifting of sanctions marks “the return of Burundi on the international scene.”

“It is now time to tackle the country’s socio-economic development work by focusing Burundian diplomacy on the economic sector,” he said.

The sanctions were imposed at the height of a political crisis in 2015-2016 following the late President Pierre Nkurunziza’s extension of his tenure which triggered protests.

More than 330,000 Burundians fled to Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, during the political crisis.



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