Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza dies at 55- HOW?

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, seen in Bujumbura in 2017. (AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI — The government of Burundi on Tuesday announced the “unexpected” death of President Pierre Nkurunziza, aged 55. He has died after suffering a cardiac arrest, the government says.

He was admitted to hospital on Saturday after feeling unwell, his condition improved but on Monday he had a cardiac arrest and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, officials say.

The government’s statement on Nkurunziza’s death said he had been well enough Saturday to assist during a volleyball match in his home district of Ngozi but was admitted to a hospital in a neighboring district Sunday after feeling unwell. His condition improved Sunday night but on Monday he had a cardiac arrest. All the efforts to revive him were unsuccessful and the government of the Republic of Burundi announced with great sadness the unexpected death of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi.

The statement asked people to remain calm and announced seven days of mourning.

He will always be remembered as a young, optimistic and charismatic leader who was passionate about football.

Before the civil war, President Nkurunziza, who had graduated in sports education, was a teacher and assistant lecturer at the University of Burundi. He is known to have survived the killings of 1993 when ethnic Hutus were targeted at the university and joined the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) rebel group. Thereafter, he emerged as its leader and after the 2003 peace deal, he was named minister of interior before parliament elected him president in August 2005.

According to the constitution, if the head of state dies in office then the president of the national assembly, who is currently Pascal Nyabenda, should succeed him.

The winner of May’s presidential election, Evariste Ndayishimiye, is due to be sworn in as president in August 2020.

May President Nkurunziza’s soul rest in peace.