The European Union (EU) delegation to Burundi announced on Tuesday that the EU had lifted sanctions against three people in the country, including the prime minister, for their roles in the 2015 political crisis that left Burundi minus 1,200 dead. Accused of being one of the actors in the violent repression carried out during the political crisis of 2015, Gervais Ndirakobuca, appointed Prime Minister on 7 September, was targeted by US sanctions which were lifted from the end of 2021.
Burundi: why Évariste Ndayishimiye appointed a new Prime Minister
“I’m going to lay you down dead”
On the other hand, he remained among the personalities targeted by EU sanctions for his role in this crisis. During the civil war that ravaged the country between 1993 and 2006, and left 300,000 dead, he had inherited the nickname “Ndakugarika”, literally meaning “I’m going to lay you down dead” in Kirundi, the national language.
In a press release, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, while acknowledging Burundi’s “intense commitment” on the issue of human rights in particular, notes that “major challenges remain unaddressed”.
In addition to the current Prime Minister, the sanctions weighing on Godefroid Bizimana, former deputy director general of the police, and Léonard Ngendakumana, former general, have also been lifted.
A diet sous the influence of powerful “generals”
The sanctions, taken by the EU on October 1, 2015, concerned in particular “travel restrictions” and the “freezing of funds”. In 2015, the opposition deemed President Pierre Nkurunziza’s candidacy for a third term illegal. The protest that followed was violently repressed, with summary executions, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture and sexual violence against any dissenting voice. This crisis killed at least 1,200 people and drove some 400,000 Burundians into exile.
Burundi: Évariste Ndayishimiye, a presidency under surveillance
Since coming to power in 2020, the President of Burundi, Évariste Ndayishimiye, who took over from Pierre Nkurunziza, who died the same year, has been swinging between signs of the regime’s openness, which remains under the influence of powerful “generals”, and firm control of power with human rights abuses denounced by of the ONG.