The Republic of Benin has ordered the European Union’s ambassador to the country to leave immediately. In a statement released by the office of the presidency yesterday, Ambassador Oliver Nette, the European Union envoy to the country was accused of interfering in domestic affairs.
President Patrice Guillaume Athanase Talon’s office however made it clear that the West African country had nothing against the European Union and that a new envoy could be assigned to the country. The statement described Ambassador Oliver Nette as “harmful” and a threat to the national security of a result of his continuous in local politics and affairs which the government finds disturbing.
“He has interfered too much in domestic affairs,” an anonymous government official told the AFP news agency as saying. “He constantly calls on civil society to protest against the government,” he added.
You will recall that this is not the first time an African country is expelling a foreign diplomat due to interference in domestic affairs. Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia have all expelled ambassadors from the countries in recent times.
In March 2019, Rwanda ‘expelled’ a German ambassador. Somalia also sacked a United Nations envoy earlier this year over interference with the sovereignty
The Democratic Republic of Congo ordered a European Union envoy to leave the country in December 2018.
Burundi surprised the world earlier this year when the president ordered all offices of the United Nations in the country to be shut down due to interference.
Diplomats are often granted certain privileges and immunity to ensure they may effectively carry out their duties, and also allow for maintenance of government relations, including during periods of difficulties and armed conflict.
While the host countries may not prosecute diplomats, they can be ordered to leave, often within a short period.
Article nine of the Vienna convention says the host country can declare any member of foreign diplomatic staff as “persona non grata” and require them to be removed.
This can be done by a state “at any time and without having to explain its decision”, it adds.
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Header Image Credit: AFP