BURUNDI: Around 1,000 people marched through the streets of Burundi’s capital Saturday to protest against a United Nations Security Council decision to send a police contingent to the troubled country.
The demonstration — “organised by the authorities,” according to one Western diplomatic source — passed off peacefully but showed the government’s hostility to the proposed unit of 228 UN police.
Protesters marched to the French embassy, angry that France had drafted the UN resolution to send the controversial police squad.
One demonstrator carried a banner saying that it was France that needed UN peacekeepers, making a reference to a truck attack in the southern French city of Nice that killed 84 people.
French ambassador Gerrit van Rossum, who went out to address the crowd, said there was “a deep misunderstanding” about France’s role at the UN Security Council.
He said there was “no problem” at the demonstration.
The crowd also demonstrated outside the Rwandan embassy, accusing Rwanda of training Burundi rebels.
On Friday, the UN agreed to send the force of 228 police to the capital Bujumbura and throughout Burundi for an initial period of a year.
The UN police force would be tasked with monitoring security and human rights in co-ordination with African Union rights observers and military experts.
The police force “would help create an environment conducive to political dialogue by averting further deterioration of the security situation as well as human rights and abuses,” the UN resolution said.
Burundi has agreed to allow 100 AU rights observers and 100 AU military experts into the country to monitor the crisis, but fewer than 50 have begun work on the ground.
But the planned police deployment has sparked fury from the authorities, who have said they will accept no more than 50 officers.