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Former Burundi President Pierre Buyoya dies of COVID-19

The former president of Burundi Pierre Buyoya died this Thursday in France, where he had been evacuated to receive treatment for complications derived from COVID-19, as confirmed by his family to the Burundian media Iwacu.

“He left us last night,” said a relative, confirming that he “evacuated to Paris, he has not endured the trip.” Buyoya, who a few weeks ago had resigned from his post as African Union envoy for the Sahel, contracted the coronavirus when he was in Bamako, the capital of Mali, and had been hospitalized for a week, the RFI station said.

Faced with the abrupt deterioration in his health, the 71-year-old former president was transferred on a medicalized plane to Paris on Thursday night, but died on his arrival before being transferred to the hospital, according to this medium. .

Buyoya, who was president between 1987 and 1993 and between 1996 and 2003, resigned at the end of November as envoy of the UA to face the appeal process of the life sentence handed down against him by the Supreme Court in October in connection with the murder of his successor, Melchior Ndadaye, during the 1993 coup attempt in the African country.

Along with Buyoya, former Vice Presidents Alphonse Marie Kadege and Bernard Busokoza were convicted, while former Prime Minister Antoine Nduwayo was acquitted. Most of those sentenced at the trial were senior army officials at the time of Ndadaye’s murder.

In 2018, the Burundian authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Buyoya, a member of the Tutsi community and president between 1987 and 1993 and later between 1998 and 2003, after ascending to power in two coups.

Buyoya was succeeded in 1993 by Ndadaye, a member of the Hutu community -majority in the country-, who tried to promote a process of national unity after winning the elections that year, when he became the first elected president in the history of the country.

However, just three months later he suffered a riot apparently sparked by his reform efforts within the Tutsi-dominated Army. During the coup, he was captured and killed by bayonet blows by the rebels.

The coup plotters buried his body in a common grave along with those of the President of Parliament, Pontien Karibwami; the vice president of Parliament, Gilles Bimazubute; the head of the intelligence services, Richard Ndikumwami; and the Minister of the Interior, Juvénal Ndayikeza, although they later exhumed him and handed him over to the family.

The coup, led by Army Chief Jean Bukomagu and former President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, led to the creation of a board that days later handed over the Presidency to Prime Minister Sylvie Kinigi, who had taken refuge in the French Embassy along with others high positions, due to international pressure.

The failed coup and assassination of Ndadaye – for which Buyoya was later blamed for his alleged behind-the-scenes acts during the coup – led to increased ethnic tensions that sparked the outbreak of a civil war that ended in 2005.

The end of the civil war – which left nearly 300,000 dead – brought Pierre Nkurunziza to power, who remained in office until his sudden death in June, at a time when he was preparing to hand over powers to his ‘dolphin’, Évariste Ndayishimiye, winner of the elections held weeks before.

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