Burundi has ordered the expulsion of the country’s top World Health Organization (WHO) representative and three other experts coordinating the coronavirus response, the foreign ministry said in a letter seen by AFP on Wednesday.
In a letter dated May 12 and addressed to WHO’s Africa headquarters, the foreign ministry said the four officials “are declared persona non grata and as such, must leave the territory of Burundi” by Friday.
The directive expels WHO’s top official in Burundi, Doctor Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the country’s coronavirus coordinator Doctor Jean Pierre Mulunda Nkata, communicable diseases head Doctor Ruhana Mirindi Bisimwa, and a laboratory expert in the testing for COVID-19, Professor Daniel Tarzy.
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“It is the whole WHO team responsible for supporting Burundi in its response against COVID-19,” a Burundian official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They are expelled and the health minister has totally excluded WHO, accusing it of unacceptable interference in its management of the coronavirus.”
The letter does not provide a reason for the decision. Diplomatic and administrative sources told AFP the foreign ministry aborted a similar attempt to expel the same four officials a month ago.
The announcement comes just days before Burundians go to the polls on May 20 to choose a new president, parliamentarians and local officials.