African Union chair Cyril Ramaphosa mourns President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi

Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the African Union, has expressed his sadness at the untimely passing of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza. His passing came shortly after Burundi concluded a peaceful electoral process.

The government of Burundi announced on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, that the President passed away at the age of 55 following a short illness.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Greet His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi, and Ms. Denise Bucumi on August 5, 2014 
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Greet His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi, and Ms. Denise Bucumi on August 5, 2014

President Ramaphosa has expressed his sincere condolences to the Government and people of Burundi at the loss of the leader who served Burundi as the second democratically elected President and the first President after the civil war. 

President Ramaphosa said: “Burundi and all of Africa have lost a leader who was devoted to people-centered sustainable development, self-reliance, the sovereignty of his people and country, as well as peace on the Continent.

“It was under the leadership of President Nkurunziza that Burundi became one of the major troop contributing countries in the African Union Mission in Somalia. Burundi also deployed troops in the Central African Republic”, President Ramaphosa said. 

President Ramaphosa recalled the sound bilateral relations between South Africa and Burundi, under which South Africa played a key role in the AU-led Burundi Peace Process which led to the signing of the Arusha Peace Accords in 2000.

A memorable last State Visit undertaken by President Nkurunziza to South Africa was in November 2014, at which a number of bilateral Agreements were signed. These covered among others:

– A Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC)
– Cultural Cooperation 
– A decision to establish a Joint Business Council (JBC)

President Ramaphosa called on the people of Burundi to maintain calm and peace in their country following the passing of President Nkurunziza and in the aftermath of the recently concluded Presidential, Legislative and Municipal Elections. 

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