BUJUMBURA, 20 December 2020 – Former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya has died of complications from the new coronavirus.
He was 71.
News reports and the Burundian presidency confirmed the sad news Saturday, but said he died from an undisclosed illness.
Buyoya came to power through a coup in 1987, when he ousted President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza.
Buyoya stepped down from power in 1993 after losing the 1993 presidential election to President Melchior Ndadaye.
Ndadaye was only briefly in power.
He died after only four months in office and was succeeded by President Cyprien Ntaryamira.
President Ntaryamira later died in the April 1994 plane crash over Kigali alongside then Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.
Ntaryamira was replaced by Sylvester Ntibantunganya in an interim capacity before Buyoya took over again in 1996.
In 2003, Buyoya concluded a peace deal and left the presidency, retiring from active politics in Burundi
In retirement, he had become very active in negotiating peace in conflict regions across Africa.
His death comes three weeks only after he resigned from the position of the High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel Region.
At the time of his resignation, Buyoya said he needed time to focus on legal battles in Burundi.
Buyoya was very concerned by his trial in absentia and sentencing to life in prison by Burundi’s top court.
The court found Buyoya guilty of the alleged assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye.
Buyoya dismissed the trial as a “sham”.
Ndadaye’s murder plunged Burundi into a year of civil war in which tens of thousands were killed.
Just six months before the passing of Buyoya, Pierre Nkurunziza, 55, who was serving his last days as president of Burundi, died from complications from the new coronavirus.