The Council has approved a draft letter inviting Burundi to consultations in accordance with the procedure provided for under Article 96 of the EU-ACP Partnership Agreement in the event of failure to respect essential elements of the Agreement, namely human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. The objective of these consultations is to find an acceptable solution for the parties, through the identification of the measures to take in order to remedy to the non-respect of the agreement.
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said: 'The situation in Burundi remains very worrying. Our consultations must also contribute to the efforts of the African Union and the region to launch an inter-Burundian dialogue to find a consensual solution to the crisis in the country. It is the only way to preserve peace and consolidate democracy and the rule of law in Burundi. In Addis a few days ago, I agreed with Mrs Zuma, President of the Commission of the African Union, to work closely together to reach this objective". The Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, added: 'The EU is, and will remain, firmly committed to supporting the Burundian people in this crisis, which has already cost more than 120 lives, left thousands injured and forced over 190 000 people to take refuge in neighbouring countries. We reaffirm our full solidarity with the people of Burundi, who are even more vulnerable as a result of the crisis."
The opening of consultations within the framework of the Cotonou Agreement forms part of the EU's action in support of efforts by the international community, and particularly by the East African Community and the African Union, to achieve a lasting political solution through an inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue, in which all parties committed to supporting a political process, whether inside or outside the country, should be able to participate. It is essential that this dialogue, based on the principles of the Arusha peace agreement, takes place as soon as possible in Kampala or Addis Ababa.
The situation in Burundi deteriorated in the run-up to the legislative and presidential elections in June and July. The EU had stepped up the political dialogue with Burundi conducted in accordance with Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement in order to contribute to creating a political consensus on the electoral process and the set-up of credible and transparent conditions.
The EU has repeatedly called on all parties to refrain from, and condemn, any acts of violence. On 1 October, the Council of the EU adopted travel restrictions and an asset freeze in respect of four persons whose activities are undermining democracy or obstructing efforts to achieve a political solution to the current crisis in Burundi. However, the lack of progress in the search for a political solution to the crisis has resulted in an escalation of violence.
Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement provides for consultations to begin in the 30 days following the invitation. It is proposed that these consultations be held in Brussels, on a date to be agreed with the Burundian authorities.