By Scoop Reporter

THE Burundian Government says its President, Pierre Nkurunziza, has died at the age of 55.

In a statement on its official Twitter handle, Government has announced that President Nkurunziza died at Karusi hospital after suffering heart attack yesterday.

“With great sorrow to Burundians and the international community, the passing of Nkurunziza, 55” reads the statement.

In power since 2005, Nkurunziza was due to be replaced in August by political ally Evariste Ndayishimiye, who was declared earlier this month the winner of a May 20, 2020 presidential election.

He was elected as President of Burundi in 2005. Before his election, Pierre Nkurunziza was the Chairman of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD).

In 2015, Nkurunziza was controversially nominated by his party for a third term in office. Supporters and opponents of Nkurunziza disagreed as to whether it was legal for him to run again, and protests followed.

More than two months of anti-Nkurunziza protests, which were often violently repressed, left at least 100 dead. On 13 May 2015, a coup attempt against Nkurunziza occurred while he was out of the country; the coup leader, Godefroid Niyombare, claimed to have ousted Nkurunziza, but Nkurunziza loyalists disputed the claim.

Facing resistance from Nkurunziza loyalists, the coup collapsed and forces loyal to Nkurunziza appeared to be back in full control by 15 May. Independent media was shut down and many opponents fled, joining an exodus of more than 400,000 Burundians.

Amidst an opposition boycott, Nkurunziza was re-elected to a third term in the July 2015 presidential election. On 7 June 2018, Nkurunziza announced that he would not seek another term when his current term ends in 2020.

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