By Desire Nimubona
Burundi will next month begin withdrawing its troops deployed with an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia unless they receive months of unpaid wages, President Pierre Nkurunziza said.
“The Burundian government has written to the African Union to announce that if the non-payment situation with our troops continues, we are ready to withdraw them from Somalia starting from January,” Nkurunziza told reporters Friday in Rutana, about 95 kilometers (58 miles) southeast of the capital, Bujumbura.
The African Union peacekeeping force, known as Amisom, is helping the Somali government army fight an insurgency by al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants. The force has 22,126 soldiers and police officers from six African nations, including Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. Burundi has contributed 5,432 troops, second only to Uganda’s 6,223, according to its website.
Nkurunziza said last week the troops haven’t received allowances for 10 months, after the European Union, which finances the AU mission, froze their pay as part of sanctions against Burundi.