Earlier this week, we reported that the Burundi government released a strong worded statement to the African Union Commission (AUC) stating that the commission should not interfere in its internal politics.
This was as a result of the AUC's statement where it condemned the actions of President Pierre Nkurunziza. Nkurunziza issued an international arrest warrant against the former president of the country, Pierre Buyoya, 11 senior members of the security forces (army and gendarmerie), and 5 of his close civilian allies for what he claims to be their involvement in the assassination of the country's first ever democratically elected Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye in 1993.
Well, it appears Burundi is indeed not welcoming any 'interference' in its affairs as a United Nations spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, has confirmed that the council received a letter from the government of Burundi yesterday "requesting the closure of the United nations Human Rights office in Burundi."
Speaking to VOA's Central Africa service yesterday, Shamdasani said:
"We of course regret this as we are keen to continue our cooperation with Burundi on the promotion and protection of human rights."
"We will be communicating with [the] government in due course."
According to reports, the reason for the call for closure is as a result of the Burundi government's anger over the UN reports of alleged abuses during a period of political unrest which was was caused as a result of President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek a controversial third term in 2015.
Nkurunziza's re-election bid in 2015 sparked unrest in many parts of the country which resulted in more than 1,200 deaths and the displacement of more than 400,000 people.
The alleged killings prompted the International Criminal Court to authorize a probe into suspected state-sponsored crimes that included murder, rape and torture.
Earlier this year, the U.N. human rights chief called Burundi one of the "most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times."
Apart from the statement to the AUC and its decision to vacate the U.N. Human Rights Office, Burundi was the first country to withdraw last year from the ICC, which investigates and prosecutes genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Burundi withdrew after the court launched an investigation into alleged atrocities in the country.
In January 2017, African leaders adopted a resolution to collectively withdraw from the ICC.
Reports claim that Burundi stopped cooperating with the U.N. rights office over two years ago, accusing it of "complicity with coup plotters and Burundi's enemies."
The move followed a report from the office that alleged the "involvement of the regime in systematic abuses and a risk of genocide."
Amnesty International Burundi expert Rachel Nicholson said the order to withdraw was "deeply disturbing" and urged the Burundi government to reverse its decision.
Header Image Source: Premium Times