Burundi has expelled the country representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and three other WHO officials ahead of its presidential elections, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
The organisation’s officials have been declared “persona non grata” and ordered to leave the East African country before April 15, according to a statement signed on May 12 by Foreign Affairs Minister Ezechiel Nibigira.
Nibigira declined to comment on the reason for the expulsion.
“We are in communication with the government of Burundi to understand the reason behind the decision they have taken,” WHO Africa director Matshidiso Moeti told journalists on Thursday.
Burundi is scheduled to hold presidential elections on May 20 amid the coronavirus pandemic, to elect a successor of President Pierre Nkurunziza.
WHO recommends that during the coronavirus pandemic, elections should only be conducted with strict hygiene measures in place, with particular focus on wearing masks and maintaining physical distance, according to Moeti.
The government of Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005, has previously expelled officials of international agencies, including UN investigators into human rights abuses, and rejected the deployment of African Union peacekeepers after civil unrest.