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East African leaders press EU to lift Burundi sanctions

 “This is our problem. We don’t want the European Union to take measures against a member state without discussions with us,” said Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (AFP Photo/HANNAH MCKAY)

Dar es Salaam (AFP) – The presidents of Tanzania and Uganda called Saturday on the EU to lift sanctions on Burundi, but a diplomatic for the European bloc dismissed the appeal.

The joint plea, by Yoweri Museveni and John Magufuli came at a meeting of the East African Community (EAC) — which also includes Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan — in Dar es Salaam.

“This is our problem. We don’t want the European Union to take measures against a member state without discussions with us,” said Uganda’s Museveni, who is EAC president and lead mediator in Burundi’s seemingly intractable two-year-old political crisis.

Tanzania’s president said Europe should be focused on its own issues.

“They are taking sanctions against Burundi when they too are facing difficulties at home, like the Brexit,” Magufuli said.

But EU ambassador to Tanzania and the EAC, Roeland van de Geer, insisted that “sanctions remain as long as the situation does not change”.

Burundi’s sometimes violent political crisis began in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term that his opponents regarded as unconstitutional.

Around 400,000 people have left Burundi because of the crisis and hundreds have died in violent clashes and targeted attacks.

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