Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza has died from heart attack, according to government officials.
“The Government of the Republic of Burundi announces with great sadness the unexpected death of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi, at the Karusi Fiftieth Anniversary Hospital following a cardiac arrest on June 8, 2020,” the government said.
Nkurunziza’s death comes just ten days after his wife Denise Bucumi Nkurunziza was airlifted to Nairobi after contracting COVID-19.
President Nkurunziza did not vie in his country’s May elections, the first time in 15 years that he did not run for the presidency.
He served three terms, the third of which sparked lengthy unrest in the country.
The statement said Mr Nkurunziza was admitted to hospital on Saturday after feeling ill. His condition improved but on Monday he had a cardiac arrest and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, the BBC reported.
The government said the east African country would observe seven days of mourning beginning Tuesday.
Mr Nkurunziza, a controversial figure widely criticised for his heavy-handed rule, came to power in 2005.
In 2015, his decision to run for a third term, amidst widespread rejection, plunged the country into chaos.
His government later engineered a change in the constitution, and he was able to run for a further term in the latest election in May.
He, however, decided to retire. His hand-picked candidate, Evariste Ndayishimiye, won a seven-year term as president and was due to be sworn in in August.