In relation with an official period of mourning for Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza on 10 June, starting a day after the announcement of his death from a heart attack aged 55, the European diplomacy has expressed the condolences to the authorities and people of Burundi, and also expressed willingness to cooperate on new chapter in the history of the country on basis of reciprocity.
“The European Union presents its condolences to the authorities and people of Burundi, and encourages all the political players preserve the peaceful climate and respect the legal and Constitutional framework in these circumstances, awaiting the investiture of the new President” the European External Action Service spokesperson said, commenting on the situation.
“Furthermore the Hight Représentative [Josep Borrell] in his statement two days ago said the the elections and the peaceful transfer of power could open a new page in the history of Burundi, and the European Union is ready to contribute in this new chapter in the history of the country, alongside with our international and regional players, and based on reciprocity principle”, she underlined.
Wearing face masks and gloves to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, senior government officials, foreign diplomats and religious leaders lined up to sign a condolence book opened in his memory at the presidential palace.
Multiple diplomatic sources indicated the late President suffered difficulty to breeze, consistent with the coronavirus pneumonia symptoms when he was rushed to hospital in Karuzi. The officials frantically tried to transport him to Nairobi or Dar es-Salaam hospitals, however this condition deteriorated dramatically and efforts of Burundi medics to save Nkurunziza life failed.
Nkurunziza’s spouse, Denise Bucumi, has been absent. Air ambulance service AMREF had flown her to Nairobi on May 21 for medical treatment, but declined to confirm widespread reports in Kenyan media that this was am emergency treatment for COVID-19 pneumonia.
Late President Nkurunziza‘s 15 years in office had been marred throughout by allegations of massive human rights abuses and muzzling of the press, as well as the opression of critics and opposition.
His death, however, plays into his successor’s hands, according to Thierry Vircoulon, a Burundi expert at the International Crisis Group.
“There was naturally a question after the election of what roll Pierre Nkurunziza would play — if he would be an obstacle for the new president or, on the other hand, if the men would reach an understanding,” Vircoulon told DW.
“That’s a question and post-election scenario that is no longer needs to be asked. The new president of the old regime will have a completely free hand.”
Nkurunziza had been due to stand down in August, making way for retired general Evariste Ndayishimiye, who was declared as a winner of the election last month, the result that the opposition said was marred by violence and fraud.
However the Constitutional court last week rejected opposition complaint of the rigging charges.
Image: EEAS courtesy – Virginie Battu-Henriksson Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy