Burundi showing the door to top WHO men

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Burundi is expelling the national head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) during a presidential election campaign as politicians press ahead with large rallies despite the risk from the coronavirus pandemic.

Government confirmed a 12 May letter from the foreign ministry sent to WHO country head Walter Kazadi Mulombo and three aides ordering them out by Friday.

The vote for a successor to President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose government is repeatedly accused of rights abuses and previously expelled other international bodies representatives is due on May 20.

Bernard Ntahiraja, foreign affairs assistant minister, confirmed the WHO officials were declared “persona non grata” but did not give reasons. There was no immediate comment from the WHO, a UN agency.

Burundi has so far reported a low caseload of the COVID-19 disease: 27 infections and one death.

In 2018, it expelled UN investigators looking into rights abuse allegations. The UN previously accused security personnel and a ruling party militia of orchestrating gang rapes, torture and killings.