Burkina Faso tells UN country chief to leave

Burkina Faso has ordered the top UN official in the country to leave immediately.

The military government declared UN resident coordinator Barbara Manzi “persona non grata”.

Foreign Minister Olivia Rouamba said recent statements by the UN official warning of impending chaos caused by the Islamist insurgency had discredited Burkina Faso and put off potential investors.

The insurgency has already displaced nearly two million people, and prompted two military coups within a year.

Many of the displaced live in camps run by the UN.

Manzi, who was also a UN humanitarian coordinator, had been in her role in Burkina Faso since August 2021.

The UN official’s expulsion comes days after two French nationals working for a Burkinabe company were expelled, with the authorities accusing them of espionage.

Media organisations in Burkina Faso have also accused the ruling junta of a clampdown after Radio France Internationale (RFI), which is widely followed in the West African state, was suspended.

Frustration at the mounting military toll against the jihadists has sparked two coups this year by disgruntled officers, most recently in September when Captain Ibrahim Traore ousted Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

Last month Burkinabe Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela said he hoped to “diversify partnership relations until we find the right formula for the interests of Burkina Faso”.

He also said that “some partners” had “not always been loyal”, without naming any countries.

In July, Burkina’s neighbour Mali, also embroiled in a security crisis linked to jihadist insurgents, expelled Olivier Salgado, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA.

The ruling junta there accused him of publishing “unacceptable information” on the arrest of 49 Ivorian soldiers in the capital Bamako.

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