On Friday, US President Barack Obama issued a statement to the US Congress regarding the termination of Burundi’s designation as a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
President Obama cited Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s failure to establish the rule of law and political pluralism as required by section 104 of the AGOA.
The American president pointed to, “the continuing crackdown on opposition members, which has included assassinations, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and torture, which have worsened significantly during the election campaign that returned President Nkurunziza to power earlier this year.”
The presidential campaigning was fraught since President Nkurunziza pushed Burundi’s Parliament to allow him to run for a third term, an action condemned internationally. In May South African President Jacob Zuma called for the elections to be delayed indefinitely until the legality of a third term for President Nkurunziza was resolved.
On October 17th the African Union (AU), which has a mission in the country, announced that it would begin investigations into human rights abuses in the country and would explore the option of targeted sanctions against government officials contributing to the continuing violence within the country. Thus far President Nkurunziza has yet to respond to Burundi’s removal from the recipient list for the AGOA.