Benin has ordered the European Union’s ambassador to the country to leave citing political interference, a statement from the president’s office confirmed on Wednesday.
The statement described Ambassador Oliver Nette as “harmful,” whiles reiterating that the West African country had nothing against the EU.
“He has interfered too much in domestic affairs,” an anonymous government official told the AFP news agency as saying. “He constantly calls on civil society to protest against the government,” he added.
Benin is not the only African country to go down the path of expelling meddlesome diplomats. Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia have in the last few months thrown out ambassadors.
- Rwanda ‘expelled’ German ambassador in March 2019
- Somalia sacked UN envoy over interference with sovereignty
- DRC ordered EU envoy to leave in December 2018
- Burundi closed UN offices in the country
Diplomats and the Vienna Convention
Diplomats are often granted certain privileges and immunities to ensure they may effectively carry out their duties, and also allow for maintenance of government relations, including during periods of difficulties and armed conflict.
While diplomats may not be prosecuted by the host countries, they can be ordered to leave, often within a short period of time.
Article nine of the Vienna convention says the host country can declare any member of foreign diplomatic staff as “persona non grata” and require them to be removed.
This can be done by a state “at any time and without having to explain its decision”, it adds.