The Burundi’s government has announced the death of the country’s outgoing president, Pierre Nkurunziza.
While announcing this in a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday June 9, 2020, the government announced “with great sorrow to Burundians and the international community” the passing of the president.
According to the statement, Nkurunziza had attended a volleyball match on Saturday afternoon and was taken to hospital that evening after falling ill.
Although he appeared to recover on Sunday and spoke to those around him, his condition suddenly deteriorated on Monday morning. He then suffered a heart attack and despite an immediate resuscitation attempt, doctors were unable to revive him.
The government said there would be a period of national mourning for seven days from Tuesday and that flags would be flown at half-mast.
Nkurunziza was due to be replaced in August by political ally Evariste Ndayishimiye, who was declared earlier this month the winner of the vote.
Many Burundians were surprised when the president announced in 2018 that he was serving his last term. Many thought he would continue to wield power behind the scenes.
“Nkurunziza left behind a legacy of ruthless repression,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“He ruled through fear to erect a system synonymous with the worst human rights abuses: extrajudicial killings, torture, disappearances and the systematic crushing of dissent,” he added.
Last month, Burundi expelled the representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) amid criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
It has carried out very few coronavirus tests and held large rallies in the lead-up to the country’s May 20 election.