Close to 1000 Burundians took to the streets of Bujumbura on Saturday protesting against the United Nations’ decision to deploy a contingent of 228 police officers to monitor the security situation in the country, Al Jazeera reports.
On Friday, the UN Security Council agreed to send police to Burundi’s capital Bujumbura for a one-year period to handle the ongoing security situation that has dogged the country for the past year following the disputed decision by President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for a third term.
“We will never allow a UN policeman to set foot in Burundi, unless we’re all dead. Burundi is a sovereign country and France has to respect that,” one protester told reporters.
The ongoing violence has already claimed over 450 lives and left hundreds of thousands displaced. Burundian opposition supporters claim Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in office violated the constitution and a peace agreement signed in Arusha in 2005.
The peaceful protesters marched through the streets of Bujumbura with banners criticizing France and Rwanda for interfering with their sovereignty.
They camped outside the French and Rwandan embassies insisting that Burundi doesn’t need additional security forces.
The disgruntled crowd condemned the UN’s resolution to authorize France’s proposal to deploy a 228-member security force to Burundi.
“France needs troops to maintain peace: more than 100 dead in Nice,” one banner read. This was in reference to the recent terror attack in Nice, France, where a man mowed down 84 people with a truck.
The protesters also accused Rwanda of training militia with the intention of using them to topple President Nkurunziza.
However, a foreign diplomatic source in Burundi said the protests were organized by the Burundian government, which the international community has continuously accused of frustrating United Nations’ efforts to restore peace to the East African country.
On its part, the Burundian government has insisted that it would only accept 50 unarmed UN police, adding that the international community must respect Burundi’s sovereignty.
Cases of executions and sexual violence allegedly carried out by government troops against unarmed Burundians are still being reported, raising fears that the situation could turn into another tribal war between the Hutus and Tutsis.