Published On: Sat, Jan 21st, 2017

Burundi extends mandate of Somalia peacekeeping force

Burundi and the African Union have signed a deal to renew the mandate of Burundian peacekeeping troops in Somalia, the bloc said Friday.

The move comes more than two months after Burundi said it would withdraw all its troops on duty in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) due to a dispute with the European Union over the payment of salaries.

“I thank the Burundi Ppl for their legendary hospitality & Govt for fruitful visit. Agreement reached; Burundi Peacekeepers will stay in Somalia,” tweeted Smail Chergui, the African Union’s commissioner for peace and security.

“Africa is grateful for sacrifices made by Burundi & all AMISOM TCCs for peace in Somalia. We also deeply appreciate EU’s critical support,” he added, using the acronym for troop contributing countries.

Chergui also said that very soon AMISOM’s Burundian troops will receive their allowances, local media reported.

“I have just received Chergui, African Union commissioner for peace and security, with whom I have had fruitful exchanges. The question of the salary of our troops in Somalia is settled,” Burundi’s First Vice-President Gaston Sindimwo told a press conference in the capital Bujumbura.

“We are satisfied, we have discussed well with Chergui, and a memorandum of understanding has been signed,” he said.

In March 2016, the EU suspended direct aid to Burundi, including funds for its peacekeeping contingent in AMISOM. Burundian troops have not been paid for 12 months, Gaston Sindimwo said Tuesday.

Burundi’s crisis began in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would run for a third term in office.

The country is highly dependent on international aid, especially since more than 50 percent of government expenditures depends on it.

The EU is the biggest donor to Burundi with a program for 2014-2020 worth some €430 million ($468 million).

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