BURUNDI: Belgium to grant US $4 million for teachers' salary arrears
BRUSSELS, 23 September (IRIN) - Belgium will assist Burundi with a grant
of 4.3 million euros (US $4,218,730) to cover a portion of public school
teachers' salary arrears "as this has unsettled civil life", Belgian
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt announced last week, at the end of a
meeting with Burundi President Pierre Buyoya in Brussels.
The 18,000 public school teachers in Burundi (almost the half of the
total civil servants of the country) were on strike from 13 May to 4
July 2002 for an improvement of their living conditions and adoption of
a special statute for teachers. The strike threatened to plunge the
country into deeper crisis.
The government of Burundi has since promised to increase the teachers'
salaries some 30 to 40 percent beginning in 2003, AFP reported.
The Belgian funding came at the request of Buyoya, IRIN learned from the
office of Belgian State Secretary for Cooperation, Eddy Boutmans, who
also attended the meeting.
Verhofstadt and Boutmans also discussed the political situation of the
country. They recalled the "need for a [peace] agreement in the coming
days". Newly appointed Belgian Special Ambassador for the Great Lakes
Region, Koen Vervaeke, is due to lead a mission to Burundi in the coming
days in order "to place maximum pressure on all parties, including
rebels, to sit around the table", Verhofstadt said.