By Keefa Nuwahereza
Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza, 55, died of heart attack, according to a government statement released June, 9, a day after he passed away in local hospital, although some sources indicate he died of Coronavirus.
He had been in power since 2005 and was due to be replaced in August by president elect Evariste Ndayishiiye, who won the May 20 Presidential election.
In this article we look at major developments since his death was announced–from presidential condolences to the next steps to be taken for a transition to the post–Nkurunziza era.
Government declared a week of mourning following the passing of the President. Announcing the national mourning, Nkurunziza’s senior adviser said he was “very much saddened” by his boss “untimely death.”
He weighed in on rumours of the cause of the death stressing the government disclosure that the president of republic and supreme guide of patriotism was “a victim of cardiac arrest”.
With the exit, the speaker of Burundi’s parliament pascal Nyabenda, is in position to take over as interim leader till a new president is officially sworn in, Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday.
A group opposed to the government said the swearing in of the speaker is consistent with country’s laws.
As of yesterday (June 11th) ambassadors and other officials were signing a book of condolences at the Ntare Rushatsi House, the presidential palace located north east of the capital Bujumbura.
Ten Facts About The Late President And His In Office
He Rose to power at the end of 12-year civil war
A former rebel leader whose first mandate was given to him by parliament in 2005.
He won re-election in 2010 but a third-term bid in 2015 sparked off unrest.
In 2018 a referendum allowed him to possibly extend rule till 2034 but he announced retirement.
He survived a 2015 coup attempt when a former army loyalist Godefroid Niyombare led the attempt to over throw him.
Under his regime, Burundi made history by becoming the first African nation to quit the international criminal court in 2017.
In 2019, the country forced the United Nations human rights office to close after 23 years.
Ahead of the May 2020 elections, the World Health Organistion representative and three experts were also expelled.
Opposition, media and other opponents routinely reported mass rights abuses including killings, arbitrary arrest, detentions and forced disappearances.
Burundi’s refuge figures , especially in the neighbouring Tanzania, was estimated at over 200,000.
The Hutu CNDD-FDD rebel group that Nkurunziza led during the civil war metamorphosed into the current ruling party. The civil war was sparked off by the killing of president Melchoir Ndadaye in 1993.
The youth wing of the CNDD-FDD has routinely been accused of gross rights abuses, from killings, enforced disappearances, rape, torture and even ambushes along major roads, killing many travellers, among others.
Nkurunziza generally took up arms in a bid to end the long-standing dominance of the country by the minority Tutsi community. He was sentenced to death in absentia by a Burundian court in 1998 for laying land mines, but received amnesty under the peace accord that ended the fighting.
Our sincere condolences to all the Burundians.
May the soul of our president Pierre Nkurunziza rest in peace.