Burundi military opposes Somali withdrawal plan

The Burundi army on Sunday said it opposed a request by the African Union that it withdraw 1 000 soldiers serving in an African peacekeeping force in Somalia by February 28.

Burundi army spokesperson Colonel Floribert Biyereke said in a statement that the military would ask the government to argue for a proportionate number of troops be withdrawn from each AU member country, rather than solely Burundian soldiers.

Burundi is the second biggest contributor to the 21 500-strong peacekeeping force with 5 400 soldiers, behind Uganda with 6 200 but ahead of Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.

The African Union is gradually scaling back its AMISOM force as Somalia's nascent armed forces are trained and deployed to replace them.

AMISOM was first deployed in 2007 to support Somalia's fragile internationally-backed government and fight Al-Shabaab jihadists blamed for scores of bloody attacks.

The African Union request, made through a diplomatic document called a note verbale, came amid recent tension between Burundi and the AU.

The AU has called on Burundi - criticised abroad for its record on human rights - to ease its hardline stance on dissent and talk with its exiled opposition.

A key consequence of an eventual troop drawdown is financial.

Participation in AMISOM is a valuable source of hard currency, and the scaleback is likely to have a big impact on Burundi - every quarter, the AU pays it around $18 million.

That represents a major source of foreign currency for Burundi, which has seen funding from the European Union suspended over human rights issues.

Burundi soldiers also earn much less once they return from serving with AMISOM, and an AU official who asked not to be named said they were poorly equipped, and thus logical candidates for the first phase of departures.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
1% - 1 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
94% - 72 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
5% - 4 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.