President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi has died of a heart attack, the government said in a statement on Tuesday. He was 55.
“The government of the Republic of Burundi is sad to announce to the people of Burundi and the international community the unexpected death of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, president of the Republic of Burundi,” read the statement posted on Twitter.
“The president died in hospital after a heart attack. He was hospitalised last week, felt better on Sunday, but experienced a sudden turn for the worse on Monday.”
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Reports said there were speculations about his health in the past 48 hours after his wife was moved to South Africa for COVID-19 related illness.
Pierre Nkurunziza served three presidential terms over 15 years. he also doubled as the chairman of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces.
His presidency was marked by numerous allegations of human rights violations.
On 7 June 2018, Nkurunziza announced that he would step down from the presidency when his current term ends in 2020.
He announced in 2015 that he would run for a third term. The announcement was described by the opposition as unconstitutional and sparked mass unrest in the country.
However, despite the nationwide protests and a coup attempt, he was re-elected in July of the same year. He was meant to leave office at the end of this year.