EU imposes sanctions against four Burundians

AFP , Thursday 1 Oct 2015

The EU imposed sanctions Thursday against four Burundians charged with undermining democracy and blocking efforts to resolve the political crisis in the impoverished central African country.

"The Council adopted travel restrictions and an asset freeze in respect of four persons whose activities are undermining democracy or obstructing efforts to achieve a political solution to the current crisis in Burundi," a statement said.

"Progress is not being made in the search for a political solution to the crisis in Burundi and there is a risk of an escalation of violence. This is why the Council has considered it appropriate to impose restrictive measures on individuals," it said.

The European Council, the political arm of the 28-nation European Union, did not identify the four but a European diplomatic source did, confirming the names and reasons for their blacklisting published in the defence blog Bruxelles2.

The diplomat told AFP the first is Godefroid Bizimana, the deputy head of the national police who is accused of having taken "operational decisions that resulted in a disproportionate use of force and acts of violent repression."

The second is the head of cabinet of the presidential administration in charge of the national police, Gervais Ndirakobuca, also known as Ndakugarika, who the EU sees as "responsible for acts of violence," particularly on 26, 27 and 28 April in the neighbourhoods of Nyakabiga and Musaga in Bujumbura.

An agent from the intelligence service, Mathias-Joseph Niyonzima, who is also known as Kazungu, is the third on the blacklist, the diplomat said.

He is allegedly one of the officials leading the Imbonerakure militia, the youth league of the presidential party, whose role in the crackdown was denounced by the EU.

The fourth is former general Leonard Ngendakumana, which the EU alleges is "responsible for grenade attacks as well as incitement to violence.

Their names will formally be revealed in the EU's Official Journal on Friday.

EU sources told AFP earlier this week that Brussels was preparing sanctions against four associates of Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza after he won a controversial third five-year term in July in polls boycotted by the opposition as unconstitutional for breaking a two-term limit.

His re-election sparked an attempted coup by rebel generals and months of civil unrest.

The EU warned at the time it would review crucial trade and development links with Burundi, with sanctions to follow against those found responsible for "acts of violence and repression."

A 1993-2006 civil war claimed at least 300,000 lives in Burundi and sporadic violence has continued since.

The UN warned this week the country risked sliding back into conflict after a dramatic rise in killings, arrests and detention.

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