Africa

Burundi’s Ex-President Pierre Buyoya Passes On

Former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya is dead. He was pronounced dead on December 17th at the age of 71.

Details surrounding the cause of his death are still scanty but Buyoya is suspected to have succumbed to Covid-19 while other versions of the story claim that the former president died after emergency evacuation from Mali to Paris where he succumbed to illness upon arrival.

Buyoya served as President of the Republic of Burundi between from 1987 to 1993 and from 1996 to 2003, a sum of 13 years in the country’s big office.

Before his death, Buyoya served as High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel.

However, he had been battling court cases in Burundi until he was convicted in absentia to life imprisonment for the murder of his predecessor Melchior Ndadaye in 1993 even though Buyoya denied claims of murdering his predecessor Ndadaye.

Melchior Ndadaye was Burundi’s first democratically elected president and was assassinated in October 1993 in a military coup that would lead the country into a civil war between the army and rebel groups opposed to government leading  to 300,000 deaths until 2006.

Ndadaye had succeeded Buyoya, with the backing of the army in 1987 and became president again in a new coup between 1996 and 2003, before handing over power to Domitien Ndayizeye, a Hutu, under a peace agreement signed in 2000 in Arusha (Tanzania).

Buyoya was convicted of “attack against the head of state, attack against the authority of the state and attack tending to bring about massacre and devastation”, according to the text which only contains the operative part (conviction and sentence) of the decision handed down by the Supreme Court.

The name of Pierre Buyoya had already been cited in connection with this assassination, without the beginning of any proof being provided.

Eighteen senior military and civilian officials close to the former head of state were sentenced to the same sentence, three others to 20 years in prison for “complicity” in the same crimes and only one, the former transitional Prime Minister, Antoine Nduwayo, was acquitted.

According to Buyoya, the trial was conducted “in violation of the Arusha Accords” and was neither “fair” nor “equitable” as the rights of the defence were allegedly violated.

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Arnold Nkalubo
Arnold Nkalubo is a writer and editor with an exceptional interest in issues that influence passion and lifestyle.