Dar-es-Salaam: During the 18th Summit of the East African community (EAC) Head of states held in Tanzania on May 20th, the president of Tanzania John Magufuli pleaded for the lifting of sanctions on Burundi in these terms: “We will talk with our EU partners. We will talk about those issues that refrain us from signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). They will understand that Burundi is a member of East Africa Cooperation and that`s why if they lift the sanctions it will also help them in this process of signing the agreement. Lifting sanctions against Burundi would be like a catalyst in a chemical reaction.”

President Yoweri Museveni Tweets during the 18th EAC Heads of State Summit.

At his turn, the President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and chairman of the Community was straightforward in his speech as well as in a series of tweets pleading for the lifting of sanctions on Burundi from the EU as one of the conditions for the remaining EAC members to sign the said agreement. It`s worth mentioning that Rwanda and Kenya, both members of the EAC, have already signed the EPA agreement.

Nevertheless, members of the opposition did not expect such a stand from both presidents and wondered why the EAC have not imposed sanctions on Burundi in the first place, seemed to let the EU do so. They also claim the EAC should have imposed sanctions on Burundi a long time ago. They emphasize that when representatives from Burundi’s government, opposition, civil society, and churches met in Uganda for dialogue on the Burundi peace process in December 2015, Museveni acknowledged the existence of the problem in Burundi and most of all he acknowledged the existence of people being killed. He then advised the Burundi government representatives in these terms: “Don`t waste your chance. Your people are dying, there is a problem. It`s internal, it could also be regional, it could also be international so that is how; that`s why you discuss.”