Burundi is threatening to withdraw its peacekeepers from Somalia and the Central African Republic over leadership issues and plans to pay peacekeepers directly, two Burundian ministers have told Burundian lawmakers in a plenary session.
“Burundian soldiers are not given leadership positions at the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
“Another problem is that there are plans to pay our (Burundian) peacekeepers directly into their accounts in violation of the Memorandum of Understanding stipulating that it is the government that pays them after receiving the money,” Burundian Defence and War Veterans Minister Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye told lawmakers at the National Assembly.
According to him, consultations with the African Union (AU), which is a signatory of the Memorandum of Understanding, are underway.
“Before sending troops into Somalia, we discussed with the AU on the Memorandum of Understanding. The withdrawal from the AMISOM also requires prior discussions with the AU, Burundian citizens and the Burundian parliament,” said Mr Ntahomvukiye.
He added that there are plans of paying Burundian peacekeepers directly to their accounts.
“Since the beginning of peacekeeping missions, no troops have been able to get their wages directly from donors.
“The money goes first to the contributor country and then the country pays its troops. We will not accept a direct payment to Burundian peacekeepers’ accounts,” said Mr Ntahomvukiye.
Meanwhile, Burundian Security Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni told lawmakers that the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) is “unfair” with Burundian police officers serving in that mission.
“The MINUSCA, through Parfait Onanga Anyanga who is the Mission chief and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, is unfair with Burundi.
“They do not realise that Burundian peacekeepers are even losing their lives there.
We will pull out our peacekeepers from the Central African Republic if the cooperation with the UN does not improve,” said Bunyoni.
Following the outbreak of Burundi’s crisis in April 2015 with Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza bidding and winning a controversial third term, some army and police officers were sent to lead peacekeeping missions in Somalia and the Central African Republic, but were rejected for their alleged involvement in violent repression during demonstrations against Nkurunziza’s third term bid.
Meanwhile, a car bomb attack near the parliament building in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu killed at least three people and wounded six others on Saturday, a security official and witnesses said.
“A car bomb rammed into a security checkpoint close to the parliament house. There are casualties both death and injuries, but I cannot give you a specific number now as an emergency operation to assist the wounded and secure the area is underway,” Abdifitah Omar Halane, a spokesman for the Mogadishu regional administration told VOA.
But Aden Mohamed Hassan, a police officer who was among the first responders, said he saw the dead bodies of two soldiers, a suspected suicide bomber and at least six wounded government soldiers.
“The suicide bomber was apparently targeting a security convoy which returned from a routine city night patrol,” Hassan said.
The attack comes as the first members of the Somalia’s upcoming national parliament were elected in Garowe, the provincial capital of Puntland.
No group has immediately claimed the responsibility of the attack, but it has the hallmarks of Al-Shabab, al-Qaida affiliated group.
Al-Shabab was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union peacekeeping forces in 2011 but has remained a potent antagonist in Somalia, launching frequent suicide attacks on hotels, restaurants, government buildings and African union troops.