The government of Burundi has announced the death of President Pierre Nkurunziza after suffering a heart attack.
President Nkurunziza died at Cinquantenaire Hospital where he had been hospitalised.
Whereas the government indicated in a statement on Tuesday evening that the outgoing Head of State died following a cardiac arrest, sources indicate that he died from Covid-19 related complications.
“The Government of the Republic of Burundi announces with great sadness the unexpected death of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi, at the Cinquantenaire Hospital in Karusi following a cardiac arrest on June 8, 2020,” a statement from the Government Spokesman Prosper Ntahorwamiye reads.
“He watched a volleyball match on Saturday afternoon in Ngozi but became unwell later that night. He was rushed to hospital and by Sunday his health had improved. He was able to interact with people who were around him.”
URGENT: Le Gouvernement de la République du Burundi annonce avec une très grande tristesse le décès inopiné de Son Excellence Pierre Nkurunziza, Président de la République du Burundi, survenu à l’Hôpital du Cinquantenaire de Karusi suite à un arrêt cardiaque ce 8 juin 2020. pic.twitter.com/PP46kKzAM5
— Burundi Government (@BurundiGov) June 9, 2020
The Burundian Government has announced seven days of national mourning and the country’s flags will fly half-mast during this period.
Nkurunziza, who was on record saying there was no Covid-19 in Burundi, was reportedly admitted to hospital after recently contracting the contagious disease.
His wife, Denise Bucumi Nkurunziza, was a fortnight ago flown to Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi for specialized treatment after contracting Covid-19.
The First Lady was airlifted to Nairobi from Bujumbura in an AMREF plane.
Her departure from Bujumbura was in secret as most of the airport staff were barred from accessing her records while the airport manager personally processed her travel documents.
Burundi just concluded presidential elections on May 20 after a month-long campaign period that exposed millions of citizens to Covid-19.
Nkurunziza had not taken any measures to contain the spread of the disease such as social distancing and wearing of masks like many East African countries.
Burundi is also the only African country that did not stop football tournaments during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Burundi government had last month ordered the country’s top World Health Organization (WHO) representative and three other experts coordinating the novel coronavirus response to leave the country.
Burundi, through its foreign ministry in a letter dated May 12 said the four officials “are declared persona non grata and as such, must leave the territory of Burundi”.