Medics in Burundi have confirmed that former President Pierre Nkurunziza died of coronavirus, according to reports we have received from the little Central African country.

Suspicion grew suggesting that the president had COVID-19 when his wife (Lady Denise) was hospitalised in Nairobi with the virus. Consequently, a medical document purpotedly seen by the Agence France-Presse (AFP) said she had tested positive for the virus and suffered ‘respiratory distress.’  

Advertisement.

Advertisement

Burundi announced President Nkurunziza’s death on June 9th and declared a week of national mourning. He was aged 56 at the time of his death.

Yet to announce a date for the funeral, the Burundian government is still marking the seven-day period of national mourning, during which, music in bars, nightclubs and karaoke have been banned.

The government had initially communicated that he felt unwell on June 6th and was quickly rushed to hospital. They communicated that the cause of death was cardiac arrest.

However, medical sources at the hospital where Nkurunziza died said he had been in ‘respiratory distress’ just like his wife. The same sources further confirmed that a request was made for the hospital’s only ventilator ‘in the name of the presidency.’

The late Nkurunziza took office as President of Burundi in 2005 and has been at the helm since then. A rather unpopular decision to run for a third term in 2015 led Burundi into turmoil that left hundreds of people dead while others fled as refugees to among other countries, Uganda.

After facing allegations of abuses and crimes against humanity, Nkurunziza ensured that Burundi avoids that scrutiny by becoming the first country to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This development makes the late Pierre Nkurunzinza, the first Head of State to succumb to the coronavirus. In April, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson scared the world when he was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) battling the same virus. He survived though!

In May, Burundian ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces de defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD) party candidate, Gen. (Rtd) Evariste Ndayishimiye was declared winner of a controversial presidential election whose polling was done without any election observers whatsover.

He won 68.72 percent of the votes with the main opposition candidate Agathon Rwasa polling just 24.19 percent, the Burudian Election Commission said on Monday 25th May, 2020.

Gen. Ndayishimiye, a very close ally of the the late President Pierre Nkurunziza also doubled as Secretary General of the ruling party.