The EU is withholding €2m ($2.3m) of aid to Burundi amid increasing concern over the government’s violent crackdown on protesters opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s attempts to secure a third term in office. The president’s decision to try to extend his decade-long rule has prompted weeks of unrest that have killed at least 19 people and forced tens of thousands to flee to neighbouring countries. His opponents argue the move is a clear violation of the constitution, which limits a president to two terms in office. The EU envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes region, Koen Vervaeke, said that although the union had disbursed €6m ($6.7m) of the €8m designated for elections, it had decided to withhold the rest until Nkurunziza heeded calls for a transparent poll.
“Today it is out of question to release the €2m unless conditions for a free, peaceful and credible election are secured,” he told a news conference in the capital, Bujumbura, on Monday.
Burundi’s former colonial power, Belgium, has also announced a suspension of electoral aid, opting to withhold half of the €4m it had set aside for the polls.