President Obama imposed sanctions on several key officials in Burundi after violence has become commonplace in the wake of its president’s disputed third term.
The White House said Monday it is not targeting the people of the East African nation, but rather government officials and armed groups that have contributed to the violence and engaged in “ threats to peace and security, actions that undermine democratic institutions, and human rights abuses.”
The administration has frozen assets and property and blocked engagement with four Burundian officials, including the current minister of public security, the deputy-director general of national police, the former chief of Burundi Intelligence and the former minister of defense. The administrations says all have overseen or engaged in actions that threaten peace in the country.
“We have received multiple, credible, and ongoing reports of targeted killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, and political repression by security forces, as well as violence and abuses by youth militia affiliated with the ruling party,” said National Security Council spokesman Ned Price. ” Recent dangerous rhetoric by government officials has further contributed to the climate of fear and risks inciting further violence.”
The Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term sparked clashes in the country, which the Obama administration has labeled a “humanitarian, economic, and security crisis.” Some 217,000 have fled the country since last spring, when the president declared he would seek a third term.
He survived a coup and won that election in July. President Obama denounced the election as “not credible” during a visit to Kenya over the summer and has been speaking directly to the Burundian people urging peace.