Burundi rejects UN police deployment amid violence

Burundi insists its security forces are in control, while recent waves of violence leave more than 500 dead.

Burundi policemen
Burundi has been gripped by violence amid political turmoil [File: Mike Hutchings/Reuters]

Burundi’s government has rejected the proposed deployment of up to 228 United Nations police officers to monitor human rights abuses and try to calm more than a year of violence.

UN to deploy police force to Burundi

Burundi’s government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba made the announcement late on Tuesday, following a UN Security Council resolution authorising the deployment of the UN force amid reports of serious abuses, including against the opposition.

Sending a foreign force without prior consultation with authorities would be a violation of the country’s sovereignty, Nzobonariba said in a statement.

Burundi’s security forces are in control, he said.

Vital Nshimirimana, a prominent Burundian rights activist, urged the UN to proceed quickly with the deployment to save lives.

“The UN must stop listening to President Nkurunziza’s empty threats and come to Burundi to rescue the people of Burundi,” Nshimirimana said.

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Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans in April 2015 to run for a third term in office, sparking protests that were violently quelled by his security forces. Nkurunziza won re-election.

More than 500 people have been killed in the ongoing violence and at least 270,000 people have fled the country, according to the UN.

Burundi’s government has also rejected the proposed deployment of 5,000 African Union peacekeepers. It has said it would accept no more than 50 UN police officers.

On Saturday, more than 1,000 people participated in a government-backed demonstration in the capital, Bujumbura, to protest the UN Security Council’s planned deployment.

Human Rights Watch has documented a pattern of killings and disappearances in Burundi that are often blamed on members of the intelligence services.

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Source: News Agencies