After months of no pay, Burundi soldiers in Somalia are paid in less than a month, UN envoy tells Burundi during visit.
"We have settled this issue with the Burundian authorities. Burundi signed with me a memorandum of understanding that allows the African Union to transfer these salaries to the benefit of the Burundian National Defense and our soldiers," Smael Chergui told journalists on 19 January. Chergui says that the agreement will allow Burundian soldiers to continue to work in Somalia.
AMISOM's salaries are paid by the European Union. However, the EU had not paid the monthly €5 million contribution for 5,400 Burundian soldiers 11 months. It had asked the AU to find a way to pay these soldiers directly, without going through the Central Bank of Burundi, in order to prevent the government from using this money for other purposes - a proposal that the Burundi Government rejected.
"According to the agreement concluded, the money devoted to the payment of Burundi troops' salaries and their arrears will pass through a Burundian commercial bank," said Gaston Sindimwo, the first Vice-President of the Republic of Burundi. "It is good compromise for the government," he said.
Chergui's visit occurred a few days after the Government of Burundi threatened to withdraw its troops on a peacekeeping mission in Somalia if no agreement was reached on the payment of the wages of these soldiers.
During his visit, Chergui met with human rights observers, AU military experts and members of the Burundian Government.
The deputy head of the civilian cabinet to the president wrote a letter on 10 January to the minister of foreign affairs emphasizing the imminent withdrawal and immediate return of Burundian troops engaged in peace keeping mission in Somalia.
The UN emissary said that the agreement satisfies everyone. "It satisfies the EU our partner and also satisfies the Government of Burundi. We have signed a win-win agreement to the extent that the European Union will continue to be our privileged partner," he said.