Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza dies at 55

President Pierre Nkurunziza

Burundi’s government announced the “unexpected death” of the president, saying that he had died following cardiac arrest.

Nkurunziza had been president of the smaller neighbor to the DRC, Uganda and Tanzania since 2005.

“The Government of the Republic of Burundi announces with great sadness the unexpected death of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi… following cardiac arrest on June 8, 2020,” the government said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Change of presidents was already pending

Nkurunziza’s death comes just weeks before he was due to step down following Evariste Ndayishimiye’s electoral victory last month, in a vote the sitting president did not contest.

Nkurunziza assumed power on August 26, 2005 and was reelected in 2010 with more than 91% of the vote after an opposition boycott.

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He won a controversial third term in 2015 but announced he would not run for a fourth in 2018.

Burundi’s government has declared a week of mourning.