Burundi kicks out top WHO official in country ahead of vote

The letter has no explanation for the expulsions. Reached by phone and asked for details, Foreign Minister Ezechiel Nibigira hung up Thursday morning.

The WHO representative, Mulombo, did not immediately respond to phone calls.

The day that election campaigning in Burundi began late last month, images circulated online of crowded political rallies. The head of the WHO Africa region messaged the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about it, the Africa CDC chief has said.

Burundi has 27 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but some have raised concerns that more cases exist. Authorities have been accused of downplaying the virus, and rights groups have alleged squalid conditions and lack of access to quarantine facilities,

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.

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