Burundi foreign minister Alain Nyamitwe

Belgium has rejected an appeal from the Burundian government to resume its aid to the country, which it suspended last October because of the political crisis.

Early this week Burundi Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Aimé Nyamitwe had urged Brussels to lift all sanctions against it, but in response on Wednesday Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo said that his government saw no reason to resume aid.

NO DIRECT BUDGET SUPPORT TO BURUNDI: Belgian foreign minister Dr Alexander De Croo
NO DIRECT BUDGET SUPPORT TO BURUNDI: Belgian foreign minister Dr Alexander De Croo

“The situation in Burundi has not yet positively progressed. Moreover, the Bujumbura regime rejected the United Nations Security Council appeal to deploy 250 police officers in the country and no true political dialogue has been launched yet,” De Croo said.

He also expressed concern about a continuing deterioration in Burundi’s security since April last year, when the crisis erupted after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was running for a third term, despite the two-term limit in the constitution.

De Croo said “there was neither free speech nor the right of meeting and association” in Burundi.

He added that the economic situation had also kept deteriorating and that the victims were the population, for which he blamed Nkurunziza and his regime.

“The president and his close authorities are greatly responsible for these events which cost hundreds of lives and forced others to flee the country,” he said.

“In such circumstances, we don’t see any reason to rescind our decision,” he concluded.

In October last year Belgium suspended its direct budget support to Burundi to pressure Nkurunziza’s government to negotiate with the opposition.

More than 500 hundred people are reported to have been killed and almost 300.000 to have fled to neighbouring countries since the crisis began.