Burundi Rejects Deployment of 228 UN police, Official says Decision was Taken without Their Consent

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Burundi’s government has rejected the deployment of 228 UN police to the troubled African nation, saying a French-led UN resolution authorising the force was made without its consent.

The UN Security Council on Friday agreed to deploy the force in its strongest move to date to try to end more than a year of violence.

“The government of Burundi rejects every aspect of this resolution linked to the deployment of any force on its territory,” said spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba in the first official reaction to the move.

The UN resolution was “in violation of the fundamental principles required of the UN family and above all violating its sovereignty,” he added in a statement released late on Tuesday.

The council adopted the resolution on dispatching the police to the capital Bujumbura, and throughout Burundi, for an initial period of a year.

Nzobonariba said any UN resolution must be approved by the country it affected, which was “unfortunately not the case”.

The planned police deployment has sparked fury from the authorities, who after initially saying they would accept up to 50 unarmed officers rejected even this small number in the statement.

Burundi’s own security forces were “in perfect control of the situation in the country’s interior and throughout the territory,” the spokesman said.

He added that 200 African Union observers and military experts due to be deployed remained welcome, although just under a quarter of that number have so far taken up their posts.

The rebuttal had been expected after thousands of people marched through the streets of Bujumbura on Saturday to protest against the measure in a rally organised by the authorities.

– ‘Better across the border’ –

Burundi also lashed out at neighbouring Rwanda in the statement, whom it accuses of training armed rebels that mount frequent attacks on government troops.

Nzobonariba suggested the police force would better serve its purpose across the border, “to keep an eye on the recruitment sites and training facilities for these terrorist forces that disturb the security of Burundi.”

Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans in April last year to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

More than 500 people have since died, many of them in extrajudicial killings blamed on Burundian police, security forces and militias linked to the ruling party, according to the United Nations.

At least 270,000 people have fled the country.

AFP