BUJUMBURA – During the 47th Parliamentary Assembly of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Community held in Belgium this 9 October, Spès Caritas Njebarikanuye, first- vice speaker of Burundi Senate, said Burundi will not have the courage to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement in the context of economic sanctions imposed against it.
She exhorted the group of ACP partner states and all member countries including the EAC countries to ask the EU to lift sanctions imposed against Burundi in order to create favorable conditions for the conclusion of a regional economic partnership. “The EU unilaterally suspended its direct cooperation with the government of Burundi and put the country under a regime of sanctions”, she said.
The first vice speaker of the Senate said, in such circumstances, the interests of Burundi are not taken into account in the post-Cotonou negotiations. “In contract negotiation, criteria must be the same for all the parties, which is not the case for Burundi”, she said.
In March 2016, the European Union, the main long-standing donor to Burundi, suspended its financial direct aid to the government including budget support, but has maintained its humanitarian aid and full financial support for the population. The EU aid was suspended due to the non-respect of the Cotonou Agreement, especially its article 96.
Gabriel Rufyiri, Chairman of the corruption watchdog-OLUCUME says that even if Burundi refutes to sign the agreement, other countries will do so as it happened for the EAC visa with the EAC integration. “Each partner state signs it when it is ready especially by taking into account the interests the country and its citizens”, he says.
OLUCOME chairman also says the majority of the ACP-EU partner states take into account the rate of the import-export to sign such an agreement. “Even if Burundi government exports few products, it should ratify the agreement by considering its advantages for the good of Burundians”, he says.
Rufyiri says the negotiators of the agreement sometimes do not take into consideration the added values of an agreement for the benefit of the populations. He, however, says Burundi government is still dragging behind other countries due to the economic sanctions imposed by the EU.