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Burundians protest against UN plan to deploy special police

30 July 2016 21:46

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About 1,000 people demonstrated in the streets of Burundi’s capital on Saturday to express discontent with a decision by the United Nations Security Council to send a police contingent to the African country.

The protesters marched on the French embassy in Bujumbura, condemning France’s drafting of the UN resolution to send the 228-strong contingent.

A Western diplomatic source said the protest was “organized by the authorities,” adding that the peaceful march was a sign of the government’s hostility toward the UN decision.

French Ambassador Gerrit van Rossum addressed the crowd, saying Burundians had “deep misunderstanding” about France’s role at the UN Security Council. He said the protesters created no problem for the embassy staff.

Images showed a demonstrator holding a banner which said France itself needed UN peacekeepers, referring to recent terror attacks in the European country.

A demonstration was also held outside the Rwandan embassy as people accused Rwanda of providing training to the militants in Burundi.

The UN Security Council members agreed on Friday on an initial one-year deployment of police forces in the capital and throughout Burundi. The contingent will be required to monitor security and human rights in coordination with African Union rights observers and military experts.

The government in Burundi, which had already agreed to allow observers and experts, is against the deployment, saying it will accept no more than 50 officers.

The unrest in Burundi began in April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to run for a third term, which he managed to contest and win. The UN says more than 500 people have been killed and at least 270,000 people have fled the country ever since.

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