Africa CDC Head Rebukes Burundi for Expelling WHO

Vue de Bujumbura, capitale du Burundi (file photo).
analysis

Africa's top official leading the continental fight against the Covid-19 pandemic has rebuked the Burundi government for kicking out the World Health Organisation's top official in the country after the WHO raised concerns about the danger of crowded election rallies spreading the deadly virus.

Burundi is pressing ahead with its election on 20 May despite the pandemic and the WHO Africa department head recently expressed concerns about people crowding together during a recent election rally for the governing party of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Burundi's foreign ministry then wrote to the WHO saying its representative to Burundi, Walter Kazadi Mulombo, had been declared "persona non grata" and must leave by Friday, along with three WHO experts, according to AP. The agency said it had seen the letter -- which gave no reasons for the expulsion.

Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said Burundi's action was "unfortunate", coming at a time when the maximum co-ordination and co-operation were needed to fight the pandemic.

"We don't have the luxury of kicking out the WHO which has been a strong partner," Nkengasong said in a virtual press conference from Addis Ababa on Thursday. "This war has to...

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