Burundi demands $43bn reparations for colonialism

Burundi wishes Belgium and Germany to pay $43 billion in reparations for harm done during decades of colonial rule.

The move follows similar calls for compensation by the Democratic Republic of Congo after Belgian King Philippe in June offered his “deepest regrets” over his nation’s colonial past in the Congo.

Burundi also intends to recuperate from Belgium and Germany the archival material and objects expropriated between 1899 and 1962, Senate President Reverien Ndikuriyo told senators in the capital, Gitega, on Thursday, August 13. In 2018, the Senate appointed a panel including historians and anthropologists to investigate the impact of colonialism rule on the nation.

Much of Burundi’s present-day political challenges can be traced back to a decree by Belgian King Albert I to classify the population along three ethnic groups, according to Aloys Batungwanayo, a historian and doctoral researcher at the Lausanne University.

“It is this decree that has led to conflicts in Burundi and the region because some of the population was excluded from the ruling class because of the decree,” Batungwanayo said in the commercial hub Bujumbura, Bloomberg reports.

The Black Lives Matter movement has stirrred the debate about racism in the West, and in the sub-Saharan Africa much of the experts has focused on the legacy of colonialism.

The demands of reparations conicided with the request of the Council of Ministers of the East Africa Comminity (EAC) to Burundi to disburse the outstanding budgetary contributions ($6.5 million) by September 15, to enable the EAC organs and Institutions discharge their mandate.

The East Africa Community’s 41st Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers was held on August 4, under the chairmanship of Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Vincent Biruta. “The Secretariat as well as the other organs and institutions are already experiencing liquidity challenges,” said Mr Biruta in the report. “A number of providers of goods and services need to be paid. Some activities are being put on hold until the partner states disburse the outstanding contribution.”

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