Burundi’s long-serving President Pierre Nkurunziza promised on Thursday to step down when his term ends in 2020, easing fears of fresh violence in the impoverished country.
Nkurunziza had been widely expected to take advantage of recent changes to the constitution to stand for two more terms – raising concerns that Burundi would see a repeat of the unrest that erupted after he stood for a third time in 2015.
“My term is ending in 2020” – he said a ceremony.
“This constitution was not modified for Pierre Nkurunziza as the country’s enemies have been saying. It was amended for the good and better future of Burundi and the Burundian people,” he said in the speech broadcast on state television.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders welcomes the announcement by the President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza of the end of his mandate in 2020. The principle of democratic alternation lies at the heart of the Arusha Accords and of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
Following this announcement, Belgium hopes that the authorities of Burundi will now start working on opening up the public and democratic space, as an essential step towards the elections in 2020. Belgium therefore pleads for a resumption of an inclusive dialogue, under the aegis of the region and in the spirit of the Arusha agreement. Minister Reynders has decided to send his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes to Burundi to bring this message.
This week the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini attended the International Conference on Libya organised in Paris, the event aims to support the United Nations ongoing work to forge a lasting solution to the crisis in Libya and implement the UN action plan.
The European Union continues to encourage and accompany the political process in Libya under the lead provided by the United Nations, including within the Libya Quartet together with the African Union and the League of Arab States.
The diplomat had a number of bilateral meetings in the margins of the conference. In the afternoon, the same day Mogherini addressed the situation in Libya at the plenary meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The Paris meeting, included eastern Libya leader Marechal Khalifa Haftar, backed by Tobruk Parliament; Tripoli Prime minister Fayez el-Sarraj, backed by the UN, and the leaders of rival parliamentary assemblies, aimed to urge them to agree general principles for ending the conflict and moving towards elections.
Although there were signatures, the conference was concluded by a statement, fixing elections on December, 10, however there should be a legal framework adopted mid-September.
“The parties have committed to set the constitutional basis for elections and adopt the necessary electoral laws by September 16, 2018 and hold Parliamentary and Presidential elections on December 10, 2018,” the statement said.
A cholera outbreak has killed 12 people and may have infected at least 134 others in the northeast Nigerian state of Adamawa, an official said on Wednesday (23/05/2018).
“So far 12 people have died from the disease and there are many more cases”, said Ezra Sakawa, medical director of the general hospital for Mubi, the town where the disease has struck.
“We have little manpower to deal with an outbreak of such magnitude,” Sakawa said, adding that nurses were on strike.
Bertrand de Crombrugghe is no longer the ambassador of Belgium in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Belgian Foreign Ministry confirmed it on Monday (30/04/2018) after the publication of an article in the Dutch newspaper De Standaard.
In January, the diplomat left Kinshasa amid diplomatic tensions between the two countries, officially for “a series of consultations“. Finally, he was relieved from his duties.
When Bertrand de Crombrugghe abruptly left Kinshasa at the end of January, some had already spoken of a “rupture” of relations, however the Foreign Ministry was downplaying the crisis. “This is not a reminder in the diplomatic sense of the term,” explained one of his spokespersons. Technically, it is a return to Brussels for discussions for ten days, he added.
Three months later, it was finally decided to call him back. The reason given is “the bilateral context”. In other words, the diplomatic turmoil between the two countries, but not only bilaterally. Kinshasa has announced the closure of the new Belgian development agency and the EU Schengen house. Brussels also recalls that the DRC has no ambassador in Belgium for over a year. But the Dutch-language newspaper De Standard coming up with the news, points to a “breach of trust” between the ambassador and the Belgian Foreign Ministry.
Belgium says it is maintaining dialogue with the DRC and hopes that bilateral tensions can be resolved “so that Belgium and the DRC can again be represented at a level of ambassador in Kinshasa and Brussels. Meanwhile, the interim at the Belgian Embassy in Kinshasa is provided by Philippe Bronchain, former Belgian Consul General in Lubumbashi, where the Consulate was closed upon DRC request last February.
“The critical political situation in Guinea Bissau is putting at risk its institutional and democratic order, with serious implications for the stability in the region.”
“The EU has always acted in close coordination with the other members of the P5 group – the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS), the Community of Portuguese Language Countries – to promote a peaceful solution. The EU supports the conclusion of the recent ECOWAS Ministerial mission to Bissau, including the need to hold those responsible for impeding the implementation of the Conakry agreement. The EU shares the concern of the region for the deterioration of the human rights situation, especially regarding the political rights.”
“In view of the fragility of the security situation all stakeholders must refrain from any action outside of the constitutional order and rule of law which may lead to further instability. The security forces must maintain their non-intervention stance in the political crisis. The EU stands ready to maintain the support to the regional force ECOMIB, ongoing since 2014, once a decision will be taken on its presence in Bissau.”
On January 24th, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Democratic Republic of Congo informed by note verbale addressed to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium, about the decision of the Congolese government to close the Schengen House in Kinshasa. In the current uncertainty following this announcement and the various contacts with the authorities, the Schengen House had to suspend its activities.
The Schengen House is an instrument for implementing the EU’s common visa policy aimed at facilitating the processing of visa applications for States Parties to the Schengen Treaty.
The 18 states participating in the consular system of Maison Schengen Kinshasa consider it important to preserve this form of local consular cooperation to ensure the continuity and quality of visa services for Congolese citizens. As such, they remain open to dialogue.
With regard to the decision to suspend the activities of the Belgian Cooperation Agency, the EU underlines the importance of the complementarity of its actions and those of the Member States in favor of the development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its population. Restrictions on one of the Member States could undermine the collective effort for the benefit of the Congolese.