COVID-19 risk, violence torn Burundi, gears up for elections, Nkurunziza stepping down

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President Nkurunziza

The African Union and the United Nations have raised concerns about clashes in Burundi between rival supporters during campaigns ahead of next Wednesday’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

They have appealed to all sides to refrain from acts of violence and urged the security forces to ensure it’s a fair election.

Human rights groups say close to 150 opposition members have been arrested since Burundi’s election campaign began three weeks ago.

President Pierre Nkurunziza is not running for re-election but is expected to remain politically powerful after parliament approved legislation that gives him the title of “supreme guide to patriotism” after he steps down.

Meanwhile, The World Health Organization (WHO) is in the process of evacuating four members of its staff from Burundi after they were told to leave by the government.

Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa regional head, confirmed the news at a virtual press briefing, but added that she did not know why the authorities “took this action”.

Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the WHO boss in Burundi’s main city of Bujumbura, and his three colleagues were declared “personae non gratae” and told to leave by this Friday.

The term personae non gratae in diplomatic relations means the persons who is unacceptable or unwelcome, especially to a foreign government.

Dr Moeti said that despite the expulsions the WHO would still collaborate with the Burundian authorities in their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

-BBC

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31