Standoff between Burundi and AU: Burundi Threatens to Withdraw All Its Troops From Somalia.

Following the exchange of differing opinions between the African Union decision-makers and Burundi officials over the proposed drawdown of AMISOM troops from Somalia, Burundi has threatened to withdraw all of its troops serving in AMISOM Somalia after the decision of the African to draw down 1000 Burundian troops.

Burundi Head of State, Pierre Nkurunziza, had called for an urgent summit to discuss this controversial pullout of Burundi troops from Somalia.

THE BIG PICTURE: The United Nations, with the African Union, have taken the decision to reduce the task force of around 20 000 AMISOM troops from some African Countries by 2020. Somalia has the task of defending itself from Al Shabab militants. Burundi has roughly 5400 troops in Somalia.

Burundi lawmakers(the MPS and Senators) backed the government’s threat to withdraw all the nation’s troops serving under an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, saying a reduced contingent would endanger the remaining soldiers.

Burundi in December proposed to pull out 341 troops and asked that other nations contributing troops to the mission known as Amisom, withdraw the rest, Bloomberg reports.

It should be remembered that Burundi had similarly threatened to pull out all its troops in Somalia when a major standoff between Burundi and the European Union(EU) was sparked by the protestation of Burundi against the EU measure of not transiting AMISOM’s troops’ salary through the Burundi Central Bank. 

A smaller contingent would be ineffective in fighting al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militants, Burundi’s Senate Chairman Reverien Ndikuriyo said Thursday. Removing that many soldiers would endanger the remaining Burundian contingent, he said.

With Burundian troops in charge of the Middle Shabelle region in Somalia, Somali officials have expressed their concerns that Burundi pullout from Middle Shabelle region could spark the surge of Al Shabab militants who would come to vacate the gap left by Burundi troops.

Some other nations have expressed concerns of the full pullout of AMISOM troops, such as Kenya, arguing that Somalia is still having a small fledgling military to fight alone against the Al-Shabab militants.

Burundi is the second-largest contributor of troops after Uganda, which has 6,200 soldiers in the mission, according to Amisom. Other contributing countries include Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya.

All contributing-nations agreed to a gradual withdrawal of troops until 2021 when Amisom is supposed to hand over to the Somali army, Burundian Defense Minister Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye told lawmakers Thursday.“This is not what is being done by the AU Peace and Security Commission,” he said.

ABC News confirmed the beginning of the major pullout of the 1000 Burundi troops from Somalia, citing an anonymous Burundi official that 200 soldiers from Somalia had boarded a flight from Somalia to Bujumbura yesterday, Thursday, February 21, 2019.

The standoff between African Union and Burundi sparked recently when Burundi government issued an arrest warrant to the former president of  Burundi, Pierre Buyoya, accusing him of perpetrating the assassination of the Democratic hero of Burundi, Melchior Ndadaye.

The African Union voiced its dissatisfaction on this decision of Burundi, which drew outright condemnation from Burundi officials.

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