Heads of States, Prime and Foreign Ministers met in Arusha, Tanzania, on 31st July to discuss how to bring about discipline, order and peace in the small, landlocked and ethnically divided Burundi. Regional leaders demand that Major Pierre Buyoya who took power in Burundi on July 25, lifts a ban on political parties, restores the National Assembly and opens immediate and unconditional peace talks with Hutu rebels. When last 9 September the 62-year-old Catholic Archbishop of Gitega Joachim Ruhuna was killed together with three other people, observers were left with the impression that the time to find a peaceful accord is running short. Burundi's military government and the National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD), the political wing of Burundi's main rebel movement, have blamed each other for the killings.
Breaking the tradition of "Western Super Powers and Global Police-Force," Eastern and Central African countries resolved to condemn in the strongest terms the coup by Major Pierre Buyoya and to impose sanctions on Burundi. The aim is to force the coup leaders to restore constitutional rule. For the first time in history of East-Central African countries' politics, leaders came together and voted unanimously economic sanctions against their neighbour.
Yet the economic sanctions have received mixed reactions. For Belgium, the former colonial master, the sanctions were "premature." France, with her blemished records on the Rwandan crisis in 1994, abstained from official comments. South Africa encouraged the sanctions, saying that she will support any solution which will bring about peace in Burundi.
According to Burundian leaders and the Tutsi led army, the sanctions are
unfair and a way to gain time, and will harm only the common people. For the
ousted leaders of FRODEBU (Burundi Demo
e target of the rebels. Simultaneously, Hutu peasants fell victims of the Burundian army reprisal. In the Burundi scene ethnicity become increasingly important, while politics and political programs becomes irrelevant.
The economic sanctions on the other hand are not hitting Burundi alone, but also all sanction-making countries. Goods and commodities, manufactured in these countries, are exported to Burundi. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Cameroon and Ethiopia (whose national airlines used to fly to Bujumbura.) will also lose. In Zambia, private companies and businessmen have warned of serious economic losses if the government joined the sanctions.
It is not unfair to assume that the sanctions will increase corruption and smuggling and at the end they will fail to meet the target.
A peaceful, patient dialogue remains the only way to find a lasting solution to the Burundi crisis.
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cratic Front) and the Hutu led rebel movement CNDD, the sanctions are the best option.
In his reaction to the 31st July summit and to the UN ultimatum of imposing arms embargo on Burundi, President Buyoya recalled that his country is not the first and only one under sanctions and that his country will survive them. The sanctions, initially were economic, but now they have turned also humanitarian (no medicines, no food aid) and political (no visas for diplomats).
At the same time, the war between Burundian army and rebels rages on. The FRODEBU leaders and CNDD called on peasants in Burundi countryside not to sell food to Bujumbura. They have also resolved to work together for a military solution of the Burundi impasse. All sides have refused to meet for unconditional negotiations.
Once more the common man suffers, while both sides claim to be "in favour of peace for all Burundians."
Today the sanctions are biting hard the tiny central African state. Tutsi peasants become th