Burundi's president Pierre Nkurunziza dies of heart failure aged 55

President Pierre Nkurunziza died of a heart attack on Monday (Credit: Getty)

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza, died of heart failure on Monday just weeks after a crucial election to choose a successor to replace him after 15 years. He was 55.

Mr. Nkurunziza’s death was announced on Twitter by the government on Tuesday. He died at a hospital in eastern Burundi after he fell ill and was hospitalised over the weekend after attending a volleyball game.

A former rebel leader, Mr. Nkurunziza ruled the country with impunity for years, arresting journalists, stifling media outlets and cracking down on opposition parties.

In 2015, the announcement that he would run for a third term drew international condemnation and plunged the country into chaos.Some also questioned the legality of a third-term bid.

The International Criminal Court opened an investigation into whether his government committed crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, rape and disappearances. In 2017, Mr. Nkurunziza withdrew Burundi’s membership in the Court.

After a change in the constitution, he was able to run for a further term in last month's election but he decided to retire and was to be known as the "supreme guide to patriotism".

Prosper Ntahorwamiye, a government spokesman,called for calm and announced seven days of mourning. Flags will be flown at half-mast.


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