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Burundi expels Human Rights Watch Official

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Kigali: The Burundian government has ordered the researcher of New York-based Human Rights Watch to leave the country accusing her of disparaging the government’s efforts to restore peace and security, reports say. Burundi follows Rwanda which sent another official packing.

Neela Ghoshal, who has been working for Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Burundi for nearly three years, was ordered by Burundi’s foreign affairs minister on Tuesday to leave the country by June 5.

In a report released last week, HRW said political violence before local and national ballots which start this week risked jeopardising the central African nation’s efforts to build a multiparty democracy after years of civil war.

The human rights watchdog said the ruling CNDD-FDD party and rival Forces for National Liberation (FNL) had a hand in most of the violence that it had observed and that the police had failed to carry out proper investigations in many cases.

“The Human Rights Watch report turns a blind eye to the work done by the Interior Ministry to prevent confrontation between youth organisations affiliated to political parties,” Foreign Affairs Minister Augustin Nsanze wrote in a letter to Ghoshal dated May 18 and released to reporters on Wednesday.

“Given this is not the first time you have shown bias against government institutions, the government has no choice but to put an end to your accreditation,” Nsanze said in the letter.

HRW delegate Neela Ghoshal declined immediate comment, saying the rights group would issue a response in due course. On April 25, Carina Tertsakian, the Human Rights Watch researcher in Rwanda was sent packing for using forged documents to apply for her work permit.

Burundi holds district elections on May 21, a presidential election on June 28, a parliamentary poll on July 23 and a vote for senators on July 28. The electoral process will conclude with local elections to be held separately in September.

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