Burundi has ordered the U.N. Human Rights Council to close its office in the east African country.
Geneva-based spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says the council received a letter Wednesday “requesting that we close the office in Burundi.”
Shamdasani told VOA’s Central Africa service on Thursday, “We of course regret this as we are keen to continue our cooperation with Burundi on the promotion and protection of human rights.”
She added, “We will be communicating with [the] government in due course.”
Burundi’s foreign ministry and U.N. sources said the council was given two months to leave the country.
Earlier this year, the U.N. rights chief called Burundi one of the “most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times.”
Burundi leaders have long been angered by U.N. reports alleging abuses during a period of political unrest triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a controversial third term in 2015.
Nkurunziza’s decision sparked civil unrest the United Nations said resulted in more than 1,200 deaths and the displacement of more than 400,000 people.
The alleged killings prompted the International Criminal Court to authorize a probe into suspected state-sponsored crimes that included murder, rape and torture.
Burundi was the first country to withdraw last year from the ICC, which investigates and prosecutes genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Burundi withdrew after the court launched an investigation into alleged atrocities in the country.
The government has denied allegations it has murdered its own citizens, contending the accusations are propaganda promoted by exiles.
Burundi stopped cooperating with the U.N. rights office over two years ago, accusing it of “complicity with coup plotters and Burundi’s enemies.” The move followed a report from the office that alleged the “involvement of the regime in systematic abuses and a risk of genocide.”
Amnesty International Burundi expert Rachel Nicholson said the order to withdraw was “deeply disturbing” and urged the Burundi government to reverse its decision.