Burundi government rejects UN police force, says not needed

AP News
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Posted: Aug 03, 2016 8:48 AM

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — Burundi's government has rejected the proposed deployment of up to 228 United Nations police to the East African nation to monitor human rights abuses and calm more than a year of violence.

The announcement late Tuesday by government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba follows a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing such a force amid reports of serious rights abuses, including against the opposition.

Burundi's security forces are in control, and sending a foreign force without prior consultation with authorities would be a violation of the country's sovereignty, Nzobonariba said in a statement.

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

More than 500 people have been killed and at least 270,000 people have fled Burundi, according to the U.N.

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 U.N. police.

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

But Vital Nshimirimana, a prominent Burundian rights activist, urged the U.N. to deploy the force quickly to save lives.

"The U.N. must stop listening to President Nkurunziza's empty threats and come to Burundi to rescue the people of Burundi," Nshimirimana said.

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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Ssuuna reported from Kigali, Rwanda.