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Burundi Insists on Using Internal Funds for 2020 Polls; Seeks EU Sanctions Relief

Burundi has reiterated its determination to use its internally generated funds to finance the much-anticipated Presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections scheduled for May 20, 2020.

“We are ready for elections funded by Burundians only,” said Burundi’s Ambassador to Kenya, Bosco Barege.

“This is precisely to safeguard Burundi’s sovereignty,” he added.

Barege spoke Monday while presenting his credentials to the United Nations Secretary General through the Kenya country Director General Ms Zainab Hawa Bangura at the international body’s regional offices in Nairobi.

Until 2015, Burundi was receiving external aid to pay for elections.

Donors would later turn off the taps after a political crisis engulfed Burundi in the wake of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term.

In 2018, Nkurunziza announced at a public event that government would deduct part of civil servants’ salaries and take contributions directly from citizens to pay for the polls.

Every household was asked to raise 2,000 francs ($1.14) a year. Government workers sacrificed 10 percent of their salaries for this initiative.

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The last general elections in Burundi cost $ 60m.

Ambassador Barege said Nkurunziza “stood by his word as he promised in 2015 that this was his last term.”

He also appealed to UN to “support Burundi’s democracy” and urged other development partners such as European Union to lift the “unjust sanctions imposed on Burundi.”

EU said its measures consisted of a travel ban and asset freeze against four persons whose activities were deemed to be undermining democracy or obstructing the search for a political solution to the crisis in Burundi.

Ms Bangura promised to “engage everyone to support Burundi.”

She said she was “aware of hardships when sanctions are imposed on a population since I come from an African country (Sierra Leone)” which endured decades of conflicts.

In the diplomatic world, Ms Bangura is seen as an advocate for conflict resolution and reconciliation and respect for human rights.

She was most recently Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict from 2012 to 2017.

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