Washington, DC — Today President Obama issued a new Executive Order imposing sanctions against persons who have contributed to the ongoing crisis in Burundi. This Executive Order provides the authority to block the assets of those who, among other things, have engaged in or provided material support for actions that threaten peace and security in Burundi, undermine democratic processes, or who are responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses against people in Burundi.
The Executive Order also imposes visa restrictions on those individuals meeting the criteria for the asset freeze. In enacting sanctions, the United States joins the European Union and the African Union, which have also decided to impose sanctions on those Burundians undermining peace in the country.
President Nkurunziza’s pursuit of a third term in office has precipitated a humanitarian, economic, and security crisis, forcing more than 200,000 Burundians to become refugees in neighboring countries. We have received multiple, credible, and ongoing reports of targeted killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, and political repression by security forces, as well as violence and abuses by youth militia affiliated with the ruling party. Recent dangerous rhetoric by government officials has further contributed to the climate of fear and risks inciting further violence.
At the same time, some of those opposed to the Nkurunziza government have resorted to violence against the government, government security forces, and civilians, including murders, grenade attacks, and a coup attempt in May 2015. These actions are also contributing to the instability in Burundi. The United States remains opposed to the use of violence or other unlawful means to achieve political aims or to seize power.
We call upon all parties in Burundi to reject violence, and we will continue to investigate and impose consequences against leaders from the government or opposition who resort to violence and obstruct a political resolution to this crisis. Our consideration of sanctions against additional individuals is ongoing.
Burundi is on the precipice, but there is a clear path available to Burundi’s leaders to avoid further violence and reach a political solution to the crisis. Now is the moment for all sides in Burundi to demonstrate the strength and leadership necessary to put aside violence and engage in an internationally-mediated dialogue outside Burundi.
We stand together with the many countries in the Great Lakes region, the African Union, European Union, United Nations, and others who have made this same appeal, and will support Burundi if it chooses this path. As President Obama said in his recent message to the people of Burundi, now is the time to stand against violence and to begin the hard work of uniting.