Burkina Faso government expels senior U.N. official

The UN coordinator in Burkina Faso, Italian Barbara Manzi, has been declared “persona non grata” and “asked to leave the country” on Friday, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Ms. Barbara Manzi, resident coordinator of the United Nations system, is declared persona non grata on the territory of Burkina Faso. She is therefore requested to leave Burkina Faso today, December 23, 2022,” the statement said, without giving any official reason for the expulsion.

According to a diplomatic source, the expulsion is justified by the fact that Ms. Manzi recently “requested and obtained the withdrawal of non-essential personnel of the (UN) system from Burkina Faso”.

A decision that “risks placing the country in a delicate situation, at a time when Burkina Faso is in dire need of partners to face the security and humanitarian crisis”, the source continued.

Another diplomatic source told AFP that a “long list of recriminations” have led “Burkina Faso diplomacy to take its responsibilities”.

In addition to the request for the withdrawal of non-essential personnel, Ms. Manzi is also accused of “attempting to influence negatively” and of “interfering in the political affairs of Burkina”, according to this source.

This expulsion comes a few days after the expulsion of two French nationals who worked for a Burkinabe company and were suspected by the authorities of being spies.

Burkina Faso has been ruled since the end of September by Captain Ibrahim Traoré, author of a military coup, the second in eight months.

Its Prime Minister, Apollinaire Kyélem de Tembela, had hoped in mid-November 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 caught up in a serious security crisis, expelled Olivier Salgado, the spokesman for the United Nations Mission in Mali (Minusma), for having published, according to the ruling junta, “unacceptable information” the day after the arrest of 49 Ivorian soldiers in Bamako.