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Burundi kicks out top WHO official in country ahead of vote

Burundi kicks out top WHO official in country ahead of vote

After the WHO official raised concerns about crowded political rallies in Burundi, he was kicking out the country just days before the presidential election, Associated Press reports.

Burundi foreign ministry letter declares the WHO representative to Burundi, Walter Kazadi Mulombo, a persona non grata. He must leave the East African nation by Friday together with three WHO experts.

The expulsion of the UN health body’s hasn’t been commented yet by the Foreign Minister Ezechiel Nibigira hung up Thursday morning. Meanwhile, the WHO representative, Mr Mulombo, did not immediately respond to phone calls.

While Burundi crowded political rallies are continuing, the country has 27 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. As the WHO experts suggest, the figures are underestimated. Authorities have been accused of downplaying the virus, and rights groups have alleged squalid conditions and lack of access to quarantine facilities, said the head of the WHO Africa region in his message to the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about it.

As WHO believes, Burundi is using virus restrictions to limit election observers, however, telling the East African regional bloc that any arriving foreigners would face a 14-day quarantine. The election is May 20.

The previous election in 2015 sparked deadly political turmoil as President Pierre Nkurunziza successfully ran for a third term that some said he had no right to pursue. This time he’s not running, but critics have accused the ruling party of targeting the leading opposition party and its supporters ahead of the vote.

Some fear further unrest if this election’s results are disputed over allegations of rigging.