Former Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza
President Uhuru Kenyatta has termed the deceased outgoing Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza as an outstanding regional counterpart who served his country with distinction as Head of State and Government.
In his message of condolence, Uhuru said Nkurunziza “worked tirelessly for the peace and stability of his country and the Great Lakes Region”.
“The President said death had robbed East Africa of a prominent leader whose contribution to the integration and progress of the region shall be sorely missed, and prayed for God’s calming comfort as the family, people of Burundi and East Africans mourn their departed leader,” State House said in a tweet.
In a statement by Burundi government, the 55-year-old President succumbed to heart attack.
However, there have been reports that Nkurunziza had contracted coronavirus, and his wife, Denise, is in Aga Khan Hospital receiving treatment. She also reportedly tested positive alongside three bodyguards.
Nkurunziza, named the “Eternal Supreme Guide”, was due to hand over power in August, after surprisingly agreeing to step down.
However, contrary to President Kenyatta’s message of comfort, Nkurunziza was a known despot, who ruled the small East African country with an iron fist for 15 years.
He caused the Burundi crisis when on April 25, 2015, the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy announced Nkurunziza would run for a third term.
Kenyan journalist said, “People seriously want to mourn Nkurunziza? The guy who forced the third term on Burundi, forced the electoral commission and its highest court into exile, and some 500, 000 people into refugee camps in Tanzania, DRC, Uganda and Rwanda? Dath is kind indeed.”
Mwangi Maina of the Standard said Nkurunziza illegally jailed and forced to exile dozens of journalists.
“Before his death, President Pierre had banned VOA and BBC from broadcasting in Burundi. His government has jailed and forced to exile dozens of journalists according to CPJ_Africa. The recent casualties are journalists from Iwacu media, who are still being held illegally by the authorities,” Maina, who produces regional news, said on June 9.
“As I learn of the passing of Pierre Nkurunziza, I think of the thousands of lives that his regime cut short. The families that won’t see justice. I also think of his wife hospitalized in Kenya. His mother hospitalized in Ngozi. His sister, other members of his family…all sick,” Thierry Uwamahoro, of Partners Global, an international democracy, and peacebuilding organisation, tweeted.
“A Burundi dictator is dead Former President ‘eternal supreme guide’ of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza 55 is dead. 1200 people died in post-election military and Imbonerakure violence after he extended his rule in 2015. 400,000 Burundians got displaced mostly into Tanzania,” Dr John Njenga who lectures in Germany said.