Burundi Rights Abuses Worsening Under New Govt – UN

Burundi President, Evariste Ndayishimiye (Photo by Tchandrou NITANGA / AFP)

 

Despite Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye’s pledges to end repression, the human rights situation in the East African country has “deteriorated” in the 15 months since he took office, United Nations investigators said Thursday.

Ndayishimiye’s election last year had raised hopes of a more open political environment emerging after many years of violence and severe rights violations in the troubled nation.

But in a report released Thursday, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi said that although the authorities appeared to have eased some restrictions, conditions had actually worsened for opposition parties, journalists and NGOs, which are facing a renewed crackdown.

“Since President Ndayishimiye’s inauguration 15 months ago, not only have grave human rights violations continued to occur, but in some respects, the situation has deteriorated,” commission chairman Doudou Diene said in a statement.

“Members of opposition parties… are still regularly targeted by abusive restrictions and are subject to grave human rights violations such as disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions and torture,” the UN statement said.

Observers had hoped that Ndayishimiye’s government would help the country turn a corner and improve its human rights record, but UN investigators said Burundian security forces were still committing violations.

“They continue to enjoy widespread impunity for their actions, as has been the case since 2015,” the statement said.

Burundi has been in crisis since 2015 when then-president Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term and was re-elected in polls boycotted by most of the opposition.

At least 1,200 people were killed and more than 400,000 forced into exile as a result of violence which the UN says was mostly carried out by state security forces.

Nkurunziza remained in power until elections in May 2020 handed the presidency to his handpicked successor Ndayishimiye, and died soon after the vote.

The commission was created by the UN Human Rights Council five years ago to investigate abuses.

Although there have been some signs of easing, the overall picture remains grim, the UN statement said.

“While lifting some sanctions imposed on civil society and the media and releasing some human rights defenders and journalists, the government took measures, in parallel, to tighten its control on the work of international NGOs and regularly manifests hostility towards independent journalism.”

Media rights group Reporters Without Borders ranks Burundi 147th out of 180 countries in its press freedom index.

15 Killed In Horrific Burundi Ambush – Sources

Map of Burundi

 

At least 15 people were burnt alive or shot dead in a horrific attack in central Burundi after armed men blocked off a road and started killing travellers, security sources said Sunday.

The ambush on Saturday night took place in Muramvya province, mirroring similar attacks staged here last year.

Armed men barricaded a road with boulders and sprayed bullets on vehicles. They also poured petrol and set alight two buses, burning the passengers alive in what one witness said were “scenes of horror”.

At least 13 people were torched alive and between two and five shot dead, witnesses and a local official said.

A local official said 15 others were wounded, of whom six had serious injuries.

A security source told AFP on condition of anonymity that the toll was 17 as the “heavily-armed” attackers shot dead two others while fleeing.

The source said at least four people had been arrested.

The interior ministry confirmed the 8:00 pm attack near the Munanira hill but did not provide a toll.

READ ALSO: Church Says Kidnapped Malian Catholics Released

In early May, a similar ambush in the same area claimed at least 12 lives.

Civil society groups in exile blame such attacks on ethnic rivalry and infighting in the former Hutu rebel group Cndd-FDD, which is now in power.

AFP

Rugby: Algeria, Burundi Become Full Members Of International Federation

A picture of rugby balls taken in Sydney, New Zealand on November 5, 2020. Saeed KHAN / AFP

 

World Rugby’s reach across Africa has increased as Algeria and Burundi become full members of the International Federation.

This follows the approval of the two countries’ membership at the virtual meeting of the World Rugby Council held on Wednesday.

World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont said, “We are very pleased to welcome Algeria and Burundi as full members, reflecting their commitment and progress in achieving the relevant criteria, thanks to the many talented coaches, administrators, and volunteers involved in growing the sport.

“We are dedicated to the sustainable global growth of our sport, combined with strong governance and there is no doubt that Africa is a key region with huge potential for the future development of rugby.”

“Africa is home to the current men’s Rugby World Cup winners and we will continue to work closely with Rugby Africa to ensure we provide emerging unions such as Algeria and Burundi with continuous support and a solid framework to further accelerate the growth of the sport across the region,” he added

Both nations were successful after achieving all the necessary criteria and their elevation to full member status saw World Rugby’s membership stand at 128, including 109 full members and 19 associate members.

The announcement comes after the launch of the global body’s new Strategic Plan 2021-25 in April, which provides a framework for the continued development and expansion of rugby, supporting unions and regions in building capacity and capability, as the international federation strives to continue the journey towards becoming a global sport for all.

In his reaction, President of Rugby Africa, Khaled Babbou, said, “I am delighted to welcome the Burundian and Algerian rugby unions as full members of World Rugby, bringing the total number of African member unions of World Rugby to 20.

“Rugby in Africa is growing rapidly and our strategic focus on youth and women’s rugby is evidence of this dynamic growth.”

“In 2020, we recorded more than 350,000 registered female players in Africa, up from 50,000 in 2012. This is the result of a firm collective commitment from all African unions. I wish to congratulate Mr Albert Havyarimana, President of the Fédération Burundaise de Rugby and Mr Abdelkader Sofian Ben Hassen, President of the Fédération Algérienne de Rugby for their dedication and relentless efforts culminating in this recognition today.

“Both countries are in the running for Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification for the first time in their history and the entire African rugby family wishes them good luck in this new chapter,” Babbou added.

Burundi currently has 2,750 registered players and has been an associate member of World Rugby since 2004, while Algeria has over 80 men’s and 40 women’s teams and became an associate member in 2019.

Both countries will enter the qualification journey for Rugby World Cup 2023 as they are set to compete in the Rugby Africa Cup 2021.

The competition begins with a repechage event in June before the group phase sees four pools of three teams each playing a round-robin tournament at a single venue per pool.

Burundi will compete in the Rugby Africa Cup repechage in Burkina Faso from 5-13 June which also includes Burkina Faso and Cameroon.

The winner of the repechage will join Rugby Africa Cup Pool D in Tunisia in July together with Tunisia and Zimbabwe, and Algeria will play in the Rugby Africa Cup Pool C in Kampala against Ghana and hosts Uganda from 10-18 July.

The best two teams from each pool will qualify for the Rugby Africa Cup 2022, which serves as the final round of the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifier for Africa.

The eventual winner of the Rugby Africa Cup in August 2022 will qualify for RWC 2023 as Africa 1, entering group A alongside hosts France, while the runner-up will enter the final qualification tournament for another chance at qualifying.

Increasing the reach and diversity of the international federation’s membership represents a key element of World Rugby’s global growth strategy, ensuring that upon meeting the relevant criteria unions are provided with a framework and support to continue their growth and development as part of the World Rugby family.

Both the Fédération Algérienne de Rugby and the Fédération Burundaise de Rugby are full members of Rugby Africa and have sustainable women’s rugby and development programmes in place as they continue to grow as rugby nations.

Four Burundi Journalists Freed After One Year In Prison

The Burundi flag.

 

Four journalists imprisoned for a year in Burundi on charges that rights groups condemned as “baseless” have been released after receiving a presidential pardon, according to a decree seen by AFP on Thursday.

The journalists were working for Iwacu, the isolated African country’s last independent media outlet, when they were arrested in the western Bubanza province in October 2019 while covering an incursion of rebels from neighbouring DR Congo.

Agnes Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Egide Harerimana and Terence Mpozenzi were charged with threatening state security and sentenced in January to two-and-a-half years in prison, a verdict upheld on appeal in June.

But they were pardoned by a presidential decree signed on Wednesday by President Evariste Ndayishimiye, who was elected in May.

Iwacu’s founder and head Antoine Kubarahe said their release was “a great relief”.

“These four colleagues, I repeat, were guilty of nothing, they were doing their job,” he told AFP.

“I am happy they will be reunited with their families on Christmas Eve,” he added, thanking the “great outpouring of support in Burundi and around the world” for their cause.

“May their freedom open a new chapter for Burundi’s media.”

The European Union’s ambassador to Burundi, Claude Bochu, tweeted that the pardon was a “relief and an excellent sign for the new year!”

The EU has imposed sanctions on Burundi since 2015, but their relationship has been warming of late.

Ndayishimiye’s election had raised hopes for a more open political environment in Burundi after 15 years of Pierre Nkurunziza, whose rule was marked by violence and brutality against dissidents. Nkurunziza died in June.

In October, a group of 65 human rights groups issued a joint statement demanding the journalists be released.

“Their continued detention on baseless charges is a stark reminder that, despite a recent change in leadership, the Burundian government has little tolerance for independent journalism,” said the group.

On Reporters Without Borders’ annual press freedom index, Burundi ranks 160th out of 180 in the world.

AFP

Burundi Ex-President Buyoya Dies From COVID-19

In this file photo taken on November 19, 2003 former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya addresses a press briefing in Durban.  Rajesh JANTILAL / AFP

 

Burundi’s former president Pierre Buyoya has died in Paris of Covid-19 at the age of 71, relatives said Friday, just weeks after he resigned as the African Union’s special envoy to Mali and the Sahel.

Buyoya, who was credited with helping push democracy in the small African country but was accused of involvement in his successor’s assassination, was hospitalised in Mali’s capital Bamako on Wednesday, a family member told AFP.

“He was evacuated to Paris yesterday afternoon. His plane made a stopover and arrived in France in the evening,” the family member said, requesting anonymity.

“He died as the ambulance took him to hospital in Paris for treatment” on Thursday night, the source added.

Several other relatives confirmed the death of Buyoya, who served as the AU’s special envoy to Mali and the Sahel from 2012 until November this year.

He resigned in late November after being sentenced the month prior to life imprisonment in Burundi over the 1993 assassination of his successor.

He said it was “a political trial conducted in a scandalous manner” and that he resigned “in order to have full freedom to defend myself and clear my name”.

Buyoya was sentenced in absentia over Ndadaye’s assassination, along with about 20 military officials and civilians who were also given sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment.

– Coups and war –
Buyoya, an ethnic Tutsi, came from a modest background, making his start in the military before rising to power in a coup in 1987.

During his first term he worked towards a more democratic system in one of Africa’s smallest nations. He stepped down in 1993 in the country’s first democratic elections in which he was resoundingly beaten by Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu.

But hardline ethnic Tutsi soldiers killed Ndadaye just four months into his term.

His murder plunged Burundi into years of civil war between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis.

Buyoya became president again after a coup, ruling from 1996 to 2003.

In 2000, he signed the Arusha Accords, an agreement aimed at ending the civil war which left an estimated 300,000 people dead between 1993 and 2006. He stepped down in 2003 in line with the accords.

Another Burundian former president, Pierre Nkurunziza, died in June aged 55 of what the government said was heart failure — but speculation was rife that he had contracted coronavirus.

READ ALSO: US Sets 24-Hour Record With Over 3,700 Coronavirus Deaths, 250,000 New Cases

At the time, a medical source told AFP that Nkurunziza had suffered “respiratory distress” before dying.

Unlike its neighbours, Burundi had taken few measures to stop the spread of coronavirus under Nkurunziza, who claimed God had spared the country from its ravages.

His successor President Evariste Ndayishimiye quicky declared Covid-19 the country’s “biggest enemy”.

But the deeply isolated country has only officially reported a single Covid-19 death since the start of the pandemic.

AFP

Burundi Changes Tack As President Declares COVID-19 ‘Biggest Enemy’

Evariste Ndayishimiye, Burundi’s elected President from the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), signs the book of condolences at the state house in Bujumbura on June 13, 2020. Tchandrou NITANGA / AFP.

 

Burundi’s new President Evariste Ndayishimiye has declared the coronavirus the country’s “biggest enemy”, in a major about-turn for a nation which has largely ignored the dangers of the virus.

Former president Pierre Nkurunziza, who died suddenly last month, and even Ndayishimiye himself, had until now downplayed the gravity of the pandemic, saying God had spared Burundi from its ravages.

Burundi held a full-blown campaign ahead of a May election, and unlike its neighbours which have imposed lockdowns and curfews, has taken few measures to combat the spread of the virus.

Officially the country has reported only 170 cases and one death in two months.

Ndayishimiye was speaking late Tuesday after the swearing in of his new government in parliament.

“From tomorrow (Wednesday), I declare the COVID-19 pandemic the biggest enemy of Burundians, because it is clear it is becoming their biggest concern,” he said.

“We firmly commit ourselves to fight this pandemic.”

– ‘Treated as a sorcerer’ –

He called for “the strict respect for preventative measures which the health ministry will from now on display across the country”.

He reminded citizens that coronavirus tests were free, as was treatment, warning those who did not get tested when they had symptoms.

“If in future someone does not go and get tested in such a case, it means he wants to contaminate others voluntarily… and he will be considered a sorcerer and treated as severely as one would be,” he said.

Burundi only has a single testing centre, with fewer than 10 technicians capable of carrying out tests for the virus.

Ndayishimiye promised testing centres would be installed and testing campaigns launched across the country.

“An enemy must be hunted wherever he hides and even when his presence is suspected.

“Everyone must know the coronavirus is a pandemic which transmits easily, and which kills if you take it lightly.”

A high-ranking health ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the turnaround comes after the World Bank donated $5 million (4,4 million euros) last month to help Burundi fight the virus.

In May, Burundi — which has increasingly isolated itself in recent years — expelled a team of World Health Organization experts who were supporting the country’s response to the pandemic.

Nkurunziza, who ruled the East Africa nation for 15 often tumultuous years, died suddenly in June aged 55 of what authorities said was heart failure.

However he became ill less than two weeks after his wife had been flown to a Nairobi hospital for treatment for coronavirus, according to a medical document seen by AFP, and speculation is rife he may have caught the virus.

A medical source told AFP he had suffered “respiratory distress” before dying.

AFP

Former Burundi President To Be Buried In State Funeral

Evariste Ndayishimiye (3rd R), Burundi's elected President from the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy - Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), walks in front of members of Burundi's army during the swearing-in ceremony at Ingoma stadium in Gitega, Burundi, on June 18, 2020. - Ndayishimiye rapidly sworn in following the sudden death of President Pierre Nkurunziza, aged 55, came after the May election. (Photo by TCHANDROU NITANGA / AFP)
Evariste Ndayishimiye (3rd R), Burundi’s elected President from the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), walks in front of members of Burundi’s army during the swearing-in ceremony at Ingoma stadium in Gitega, Burundi, on June 18, 2020. – Ndayishimiye rapidly sworn in following the sudden death of President Pierre Nkurunziza, aged 55, came after the May election. (Photo by TCHANDROU NITANGA / AFP)

 

 

Thousands of Burundians on Friday lined the road to the capital Gitega as the body of former president Pierre Nkurunziza was escorted under heavy security for a state funeral after his sudden death earlier this month.

Nkurunziza, who ruled the country for 15 years, died at the age of 55 of what the government said was “heart failure”.

But speculation is rife he may have caught the coronavirus, as his wife had been flown to Nairobi for treatment for the virus just two weeks prior.

The funeral ceremonies began with an “homage by his wife, Denise Bucumi Nkurunziza, his children and those close to him” in an intimate gathering at the hospital in the central city of Karuzi where he died on June 8, a governmental source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Nkurunziza died shortly after an election won by his handpicked successor Evariste Ndayishimiye, who was sworn in last week.

Friday was declared a national holiday for the funeral, and schoolchildren in uniform and citizens lined the roads waiting for the funeral convoy to pass.

The stadium in Gitega where the funeral ceremony is to be held was packed with citizens from across the country, all dressed in white at the request of authorities.

Nkurunziza will be buried at a monument recently built in Gitega at the site of another structure which was to be dedicated to victims of the country’s various crises over the years, but was never inaugurated.

Nkurunziza, a devout evangelical who believed he was chosen by God to lead Burundi, left behind a deeply isolated country in political and economic turmoil.

His 2015 run for a third term in office sparked protests and a failed coup, with violence leaving at least 1,200 dead while some 400,000 fled the country.

A climate of fear marked by a crackdown on the opposition and media settled over Burundi, while a personality cult grew around Nkurunziza which saw the ruling party name him a “visionary” and “supreme guide for patriotism.”

UN human rights investigators have said the period since 2015 has been marked by likely crimes against humanity committed by state forces, citing extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, torture and sexual violence.

 

-AFP

Burundi’s Evariste Ndayishimiye Sworn In As New President

Evariste Ndayishimiye, Burundi’s elected President from the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), raises his hand during the swearing-in ceremony at Ingoma stadium in Gitega, Burundi, on June 18, 2020. – Ndayushimiye rapidly sworn in following the sudden death of President Pierre Nkurunziza, aged 55, came after the May election. (Photo by Tchandrou NITANGA / AFP)

 

Burundi’s new President Evariste Ndayishimiye took the oath of office at a colourful ceremony in the capital on Thursday, taking the helm of a troubled nation after the sudden death of his predecessor.

In his oath Ndayishimiye pledged to “devote all my force to defending the superior interests of the nation and ensure the national unity and cohesion of the Burundian people, peace and social justice.”

 

-AFP

Burundi’s New President Ndayishimiye To Take Office

Evariste Ndayishimiye, Burundi’s elected President from the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), signs the book of condolences at the state house in Bujumbura on June 13, 2020. – Burundi’s constitutional court ruled that the country’s newly elected leader Evariste Ndayishimiye be rapidly sworn in following the sudden death of President Pierre Nkurunziza earlier this week. Nkurunziza’s death on Monday, aged 55, came after the May election of his successor Ndayishimiye, who was meant to be inaugurated in August. (Photo by Tchandrou NITANGA / AFP)

 

 

Burundi’s newly elected president Evariste Ndayishimiye was to be sworn in on Thursday, after the sudden death of his predecessor who left him an isolated nation in political and economic turmoil.

Ndayishimiye was elected in May in a vote disputed by the opposition, and was meant to take office in August, however the inauguration was sped up after his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza’s shock death.

In the administrative capital Gitega, tree trunks were painted white and streets had been swept, with a heavy presence of security forces around the city.

Guests began pouring into the stadium from early in the morning, wearing an identical multicoloured outfit given to them by the ruling party and sitting according to their provinces.

Diplomats, members of the military, police and courts took their seats in the upper platform of the stadium.

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi was expected to be the only head of state attending the inauguration — taking place in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic — however had to cancel last minute, a presidential spokesman told AFP on condition of anonymity.

All attendees had to wash their hands before entering, but despite repeated requests to maintain a distance of at least 70cm (27.5 inches) between them, guests were packed tightly together and few if any were seen wearing masks.

 

‘Respiratory distress’
Nkurunziza, who ruled the East Africa nation for 15 often tumultuous years, was said by the government to have died of a heart attack last week.

However the 55-year-old took ill less than two weeks after his wife had been flown to a Nairobi hospital for treatment for coronavirus, according to a medical document seen by AFP, and speculation is rife he may have caught the virus.

A medical source told AFP he had suffered “respiratory distress” before dying.

Compared to its neighbours which imposed lockdowns and curfews — with the exception of equally sceptical Tanzania — Burundi has taken few measures to combat the virus.

The country last month expelled a team of World Health Organization experts who were supporting the country’s response to the epidemic.

‘A dark and sad legacy’
Nkurunziza, a devout evangelical who believed he was chosen by God to lead Burundi, leaves a “dark and sad legacy”, Carina Tertsakian of the Burundi Human Rights Initiative told AFP.

His 2015 run for a third term in office sparked protests and a failed coup, with violence leaving at least 1,200 dead while some 400,000 fled the country.

United Nations human rights investigators have said the period since 2015 has been marked by likely crimes against humanity committed by state forces, citing extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, torture and sexual violence.

Ndayishimiye, 52, a former army general and Hutu rebel like his predecessor, had been handpicked by the powerful ruling CNDD-FDD party to run in a May 20 presidential election.

He won the vote with 68.7 percent, and an opposition bid to have the results overturned due to alleged fraud was rejected just days before Nkurunziza’s death.

Ndayishimiye is reputed to be more tolerant and open than his predecessor and is not a regime hardliner.

Observers say the death of Nkurunziza — who was expected to continue to play a significant role — might give him more independence.

However he will still have to please the powerful group of generals at the core of the ruling party, who anointed him to succeed Nkurunziza.

After the news of Nkurunziza’s death Ndayishimiye vowed to “continue his high-quality work that he has done for our country”.

The change in president also opens up the possibility of warmer ties with foreign donors, who cut Burundi off after the 2015 crisis.

A source in the French presidency said the country would work with its European partners and “extend a hand to the new Burundian president”.

“For the first time we will have a leader who is not just forging ahead regardless of the consequences, wrapped up in divine faith,” the source said.

The government has yet to announce a date for Nkurunziza’s funeral.

 

 

-AFP

Burundi’s New President Ndayishimiye To Be Sworn In Thursday

Evariste Ndayishimiye, Burundi’s elected President from the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), addresses the nation after signing the book of condolences at the state house in Bujumbura on June 13, 2020. – Burundi’s constitutional court ruled that the country’s newly elected leader Evariste Ndayishimiye be rapidly sworn in following the sudden death of President Pierre Nkurunziza earlier this week. Nkurunziza’s death on Monday, aged 55, came after the May election of his successor Ndayishimiye, who was meant to be inaugurated in August. (Photo by Tchandrou NITANGA / AFP)

 

Burundi’s newly-elected president Evariste Ndayishimiye will be sworn in on Thursday, the foreign ministry announced, in a ceremony fast-tracked by the sudden death of the incumbent, Pierre Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza died on June 8 aged 55, of what authorities said was heart failure.

His death came less than two weeks after his wife had been flown to a Nairobi hospital for treatment for coronavirus, according to a medical document seen by AFP.

The foreign ministry invited diplomats and foreign organisations to “take part in the inauguration ceremony” in the capital Gitega, in a letter sent out on Monday.

Ndayishimiye, 52, a former army general and Hutu rebel like his predecessor, had been handpicked by the powerful ruling CNDD-FDD to run in a May 20 presidential election.

He won the vote with 68.7 percent, and an opposition bid to have the results overturned due to alleged fraud was overturned just days before Nkurunziza’s death.

Normally, following the death of a president, the speaker of Burundi’s parliament would step in as head of state.

But as the country already had a president-elect, the constitutional court ruled last week he should be sworn in immediately, instead of in August as planned.

Nkurunziza, a devout evangelical who believed he was chosen by God to lead Burundi, leaves behind a deeply isolated country in political and economic turmoil after his divisive 15-year rule.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Swearing-In Of President-Elect Days After Nkurunziza’s Death

His 2015 run for a third term in office sparked protests and a failed coup, with violence leaving at least 1,200 dead while some 400,000 fled the country.

United Nations human rights investigators have said the period since 2015 has been marked by likely crimes against humanity committed by state forces, citing extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, torture and sexual violence.

Nkurunziza’s decision not to run in the May 20 election stunned many, as it came after the constitution was changed to allow him to do so.

The government has yet to announce a date for Nkurunziza’s funeral.

Suspicions are high that the president had contracted the new coronavirus, after months of assuring Burundi it was being protected by God from the pandemic, and taking few measures to combat it.

Officially the country has recorded only 104 cases and one death.

Nkurunziza’s wife Denise Bucumi was hospitalised at the end of May with the virus. A medical document seen by AFP said she had tested positive for the virus and suffered “respiratory distress”.

A medical source at the Karusi hospital where Nkurunziza died, told AFP he had also been in “respiratory distress” before his death.

A medical source at the Kamenge university hospital in Bujumbura told AFP that the head of the institute of public health “came to requisition our hospital’s only ventilator” last Monday.

Both were flown to the hospital in Karusi, but it was “too late, president Nkurunziza was already dead,” a medical source in Karusi said.

AFP

Court Orders Swearing-In Of President-Elect Days After Nkurunziza’s Death

File: Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza gives a speech as he inaugurates the new state house constructed by the Chinese aid in Bujumbura, during its inauguration on September 27, 2019.
Tchandrou Nitanga / AFP

 

Burundi’s constitutional court on Friday ruled that the country’s newly elected leader Evariste Ndayishimiye be sworn in following the sudden death of President Pierre Nkurunziza earlier this week.

“No interim necessary, the president-elect …. must be sworn in as soon as possible,” presidential advisor Willy Nyamitwe wrote on Twitter of the court’s announcement.

READ ALSO: Lebanon In Crisis Talks As Currency Plunge Sparks Protests

Nkurunziza’s death on Monday aged 55 came just days after the election of his successor Ndayishimiye, who was meant to be inaugurated in August.

The unusual situation raised questions over how the transition would be managed, with the constitution calling for the speaker of the national assembly to step in if the president dies.

“The constitutional court has made its ruling… there is no point to an interim period, the president-elect must be sworn in as soon as possible,” wrote ruling party information secretary Nancy Ninette Mutoni on Twitter.

AFP

‘A True Patriot’: Buhari Condoles With Burundi Over Death Of President

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari
A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his “profound grief and sadness” over the death of Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Buhari described Nkurunziza as “a true patriot that steered the country through turbulent times with wisdom and foresight.”

 

An evangelical who believed he was chosen by God to rule the East African nation, Nkurunziza came to power in 2005, when he was selected by parliament.

His controversial and ultimately successful bid for a third term in 2015 plunged the country into crisis.

Violence left at least 1,200 people dead, displaced hundreds of thousands and the authorities carried out a sustained crackdown on the opposition and media.

His death comes on the heels of elections on May 20 in which his hand-picked successor, Evariste Ndayishimiye, secured a seven-year term as president — a result confirmed by the constitutional court last Thursday.

“At this time of great pain & loss, the Government and people of Nigeria as well as myself, express our deepest condolences to the Government and people of Burundi,” Buhari said. “Our thoughts & prayers also go out to the family of the President. May God grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.”