Burundi to withdraw its troops from Somalia

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The Burundian government has said it will start the process to withdraw its troops from the African Union (AU) force fighting Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia, due to a dispute with the EU over the payment of wages.

The presidency instructed the Defence and Foreign Ministries to begin withdrawing troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The country’s first vice-president Gaston Sindimwo said the government decided to begin the process, as it promised earlier.

“Our troops engaged with AMISOM cannot continue to work without being paid,” said Sindimwo.

Burundi’s government threatened the withdrawal of its troops last month.

“We would like to continue supporting and securing Somalia, but we are obliged to put the withdrawal mechanisms in place,” Sindimwo said, adding that Burundian soldiers have not been paid for 12 months.

EU which envisaged to enforce its financial sanctions against Bujumbura has demanded that the allowances of the Burundian soldiers deployed in peace keeping mission in Somalia be directly paid to them without passing through the Burundi national bank (BRB).

The withdrawal of troops will be a significant blow to AMISOM since burundi supplies over 5,400 soldiers which equavelent to a quarter of the total AMISOM forces.

AMISOM troop contributing countries include Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

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