France condemns Burundi's ban of three U.N. investigators

PARIS (Reuters) - France said on Tuesday it deplored a decision by Burundi to ban three U.N. investigators from its territory, saying the east African country was losing credibility over promises to respect human rights.

In a brief letter from Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe, Burundi on Monday blacklisted the investigators linked to a report which identified officials suspected of ordering political opponents to be tortured or killed.

“France deplores the decision by the Burundi authorities to declare personae non gratae the three members of the independent experts mission on the human rights situation in Burundi,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal told a daily briefing.

“This decision harms the credibility of Burundi’s commitment to respect human rights.”

The African country has been gripped by political strife since President Pierre Nkurunziza sought and won a third term in 2015, which opponents said violated the constitution and terms of a peace deal that ended civil war in 2005.

The U.N. Human Rights Council agreed last week to set up a commission of inquiry to identify perpetrators of killings and torture in Burundi, and to ensure they are brought to justice. Burundi rejected the move.

Nadal called on the central African country to reverse its decision and cooperate with the United Nations.

Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Ingrid Melander/Mark Heinrich