BAMAKO, 29 December 2020 – Burundi’s ex-president Pierre Buyoya, who died last December 17 in Paris from coronavirus, aged 71, was interred Tuesday in Malian capital, Bamako.
His funeral followed Holy Mass celebrated by cardinal and archbishop of Bamako, Mgr. Jean Zerbo, in Bamako’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.
For the last eight years, Bamako had become Buyoya’s second home, as he lived in exile, away from his native Burundi, where he had been given a life sentence.
A senior Burundian government official said Buyoya’s family was informed that he had “the right to be buried” in Burundi “like any Burundian citizen” but added that he would not be given the honors of a former head of state “because of his sentence”.
Just before his demise, Buyoya was the African Union’s Special Envoy to Mali and the Sahel.
Buyoya first came to power in a coup in 1987.
He stepped down in 1993 when Melchior Ndadaye won Burundi’s first democratic elections.
He staged another coup to return to power in 1996, staying on until 2003 when he left power within the framework of the Arusha Accords which restored peace to Burundi.
In October 2020, he was sentenced to life in prison in absentia along with 18 co-defendants for their supposed role in the assassination of Ndadaye who was assassinated less than four months after he won the country’s first democratic elections.
Ndadaye’s assassination triggered a decade-long armed conflict in which an estimated 300,000 Burundians were killed.
Buyoya dismissed his trial as a “sham… (and) purely political”, quitting his position with the African Union in order, he said at the time, to devote time to clearing his name.