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Burundi, Belgium vow to rehabilitate bilateral ties

Burundi and Belgium have vowed to rehabilitate bilateral relations that had faced "turbulences" since 2015, the Belgian ambassador to Burundi said Tuesday.

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President Pierre Nkurunziza

"We went through a period of turbulences. Luckily for us, turbulences can not last forever ... What is important is that there is willingness on both sides to improve them," Belgian Ambassador to Burundi Bernard Quintin said after meeting with Burundian National Assembly Speaker Pascal Nyabenda.

"We (Belgium) are willing to resume full cooperation with Burundi, but this will be done step by step," said Quintin.

Relations between Burundi and Belgium, Burundi’s former colonial power, have deteriorated since April 2015 when Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run his controversial third term, which he won in July 2015.

Opponents to Nkurunziza’s third term accused him of violating the national constitution and the 2000 Arusha Agreement that ended a decade-long civil war.

Belgium has been accused of hosting some Burundian citizens who staged a failed coup on May 13, 2015 and who are destabilizing the Burundian government by supporting "insurgents".

The Burundian government also accused Belgian authorities of "influencing all decisions" taken by the European Union (EU) against the Burundian government and Burundian citizens.

More than 500 people in Burundi have been killed and some 300,000 people fled to neighboring countries, mostly Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) since the outbreak of the crisis.

In December 2016, the Burundian government recalled the Burundian ambassador to Belgium over deteriorating relations between two countries.

MJRuguudo

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