United States lifts 2015 sanctions on four Burundians

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The United States is lifting restrictions on four Burundians whom it had sanctioned in 2015 over violence in the country, the White House said on Thursday.

In 2015, the United States sanctioned four former and then-serving officials, citing targeted killings, arbitrary arrest, torture and political repression by security forces.

The situation in Burundi, US President Joe Biden said in a statement, “has been significantly altered by events of the past year, including the transfer of power following elections in 2020, [and] significantly decreased violence.”

The executive order had sanctioned Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, the former public security minister and present prime minister; Godefroid Bizimana, a former police chief and now presidential adviser; Godefroid Niyombare, a former intelligence chief who attempted a coup and whose whereabouts are unknown, and Cyrille Ndayirukiye, also an attempted coup leader and now deceased.

Former President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose pursuit of a third term Washington said pushed Burundi towards crisis, died last year. He was succeeded by President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

“The United States recognises the positive reforms pursued by President Ndayishimiye, while continuing to press the Government of Burundi to improve the human rights situation in the country and hold accountable those responsible for violations and abuses,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo.

In September, Human Rights Watch said that “grave human rights violations have persisted” since Ndayishimiye took office and his government had not undertaken adequate reforms.

There have been several bomb blasts in Burundi in recent months. One was claimed by rebel group Red Tabara, which is trying to overthrow the government.