EU lifts sanctions on Burundian PM Gervais Ndirakobuca, two others

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

The European Union said on Tuesday it had lifted sanctions on three officials from Burundi, including the prime minister, as it engages in ongoing dialogue with authorities about improving the country’s human rights record.

“The European Union (EU) has reviewed its restrictive measures in view of the situation in Burundi and has decided… to delist three individuals,” it said in a statement.

Those freed from sanctions were Gervais Ndirakobuca, Burundi’s prime minister who assumed office last month, Godefroid Bizimana, a senior adviser in the president’s office, and Leonard Ngendakumana, a former senior military official.

In 2015, the EU imposed travel curbs and asset freezes on several Burundian officials after accusing them of engaging in activities undermining democracy ahead of the disputed re-election that year of then-president Pierre Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza died in 2020 and was replaced by President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

The EU in the statement said it was still in dialogue with Burundian authorities on improving governance and rule of law.

“The EU is seriously concerned that major challenges remain unaddressed and unresolved,” the bloc said.

It asked Bujumbura to boost efforts to improve protection of political and civil rights, release political prisoners, facilitate the return of refugees and ensure the independence of the judiciary.

The central African nation of 11 million people is one of the world’s poorest, and its politics over the years have been marked by widespread human rights violations including killings, disappearances, torture and gang rape of alleged government opponents, according to the United Nations.

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