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Burundi Moves Ahead With May Election Amid Coronavirus Outbreak 

Current president Pierre Nkurunziza, center, arrives at the national conference for the ruling CNDD-FDD party in the rural province of Gitega, Burundi Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.

The race to become Burundi's next president is officially underway as authorities proclaim God will protect citizens from the novel coronavirus, which has already infected 15 people in the central African nation and caused the death of one other.

Seven candidates launched campaigns Monday, with large rallies that are off limits in other parts of Africa, where governments are mandating that people practice social distancing to curtail the spread of the virus.

Burundi’s presidential, legislative and municipal elections are scheduled for May 20. Opposition groups accused President Pierre Nkurunziza’s administration of being irresponsible for not delaying the election.

Nkurunziza, who is stepping down from power and is apparently shunning measures to slow the spread of the virus, told supporters at a large rally Monday that he is backing General Evariste Ndayishimiye, the CNDD-FDD's presidential candidate.

Nkurunziza's 15-year tenure has been marred by controversy, including his 2015 decision to seek a third term, which resulted in a deadly civil uprising.