AA/Ouagadougou/ Dramane Traoré
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday he “learned with regret” that on Friday Burkina Faso’s transitional government declared “persona non grata” the United Nations Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator and Designated Official in the country, Mrs. Barbara Manzi.
“The Secretary General has full confidence in the United Nations system in Burkina Faso, as well as in the commitment and professionalism of Mrs. Manzi”, explained Stéphane Dujarric Spokesperson of the Secretary General, in a press release.
The United Nations system, “led by the Resident Coordinator, has endeavored to work with the authorities of the Burkinabè transition in order to support development efforts and provide much-needed humanitarian assistance”, he added.
The statement said that the “doctrine of persona non grata does not apply to United Nations officials”.
Shortly after the publication of the press release announcing the expulsion of Barbara Manzi from Burkina Faso, the Burkinabè minister in charge of foreign affairs, Olivia Rouamba, explained on public television (RTB) on Friday that it is Mrs Manzi’s person who is questioned by the Burkinabè authorities and not the United Nations system.
“He is the individual who is not in tune with the current vision in Burkina Faso. We are still maintaining very good cooperation with the United Nations,” she said.
Olivia Rouamba maintained that the Burkinabè government reproaches Barbara Manzi for having taken the “unilateral decision” to evacuate the families of the personnel of the agencies of the United Nations system under the pretext that the security situation of Ouagadougou was threatened.
The Minister further specified that while a United Nations mission is expected in January 2023 in Ouagadougou, to assess the security situation, “to our great surprise, today (Friday), we receive a note from Barbara Manzi who tells us about the evacuation of the families of diplomats from the United Nations system for security reasons”.
She added that President Ibrahim Traore contacted Secretary General Guterres on Wednesday, who said he was unaware of such a decision.
“We learned that Madame Barbara was predicting chaos in Burkina Faso in the coming months,” said the minister, adding that “Madame Barbara did not fail to tell us that she is in contact with terrorist leaders in Burkina Faso. “.
Olivia Rouamba indicated that the resident coordinator has prohibited representatives of the 33 agencies of the United Nations system from cooperating directly with the various ministerial departments of Burkina Faso, so that she is the only channel of contact with the government.
Barbara Manzi was appointed in August 2021 by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. She also held the position of Coordinator of Humanitarian Action.
Faced with a security crisis fueled by terrorist attacks since 2015, in addition to internal actions to regain territory, Burkina Faso is also committed to diversifying its partnerships in the military field in order to intensify the fight against terrorism.
On December 3, the government of Burkina Faso decided to suspend immediately, until further notice, the broadcasting of Radio France Internationale (RFI) programs throughout the national territory because of “deficiencies” observed in the work of the French media, according to an official press release.
On the night of December 17 to 18, 2022, two French citizens were arrested for espionage activities, and expelled from Burkinabe territory.
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