Ex-Burundi leader Nkurunziza to be buried in the capital

He was destined to be crowned the "Supreme leader of patriotism".

In Summary

• Mr Nkurunziza, who some accused of overseeing "a brutal regime", spent most of his last years in office preaching more than he engaged in politics.

• The government has urged the public to be on the roadsides and give him respect as his hearse travels from Karusi hospital where he died, to Gitega stadium, for the last honours.

The late Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza/REUTERS
The late Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza/REUTERS

Former Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza who ruled for nearly 15 years will be buried on Friday in the capital, Gitega.

The government said he died of "cardiac arrest" almost two weeks ago. He was expected to officially hand over power to his successor who won the elections held in May.

He was destined to be crowned the "Supreme leader of patriotism".

 
 

Mr Nkurunziza, who some accused of overseeing "a brutal regime", spent most of his last years in office preaching more than he engaged in politics.

On several occasions, he would repeat that "God was given the first place in Burundi", but would also remind what he called "enemies of Burundi" of God’s "iron fist".

The government has urged the public to be on the roadsides and give him respect as his hearse travels from Karusi hospital where he died, to Gitega stadium, for the last honours.

Mr Nkurunziza spent eight years in the rebel Forces for the Defence of Democracy, before signing a peace agreement in Arusha which saw him being elected President by Parliament in 2005.

The peace deal ended a 10-year civil war in Burundi, ushering a new era for the country. His first ten years in office were much-admired by Burundians and the international community as well.

However, in April 2015 he announced plans to run for a third term in office. This was rejected by the opposition, leading to nationwide protests.

An attempted coup was aborted, and he reacted with a fierce crackdown. Burundi was once again thrown into violence and political uncertainty.

 
 

Hundreds of people were killed, and at least 200,000 fled to the neighbouring countries. In June 2015 presidential elections took place amidst violence and crackdown on his 'enemies'.

In the last five years, President Nkurunziza boasted in his speeches to have boosted the economy, started seven hydroelectric dam projects, built hospitals, schools and launched a youth bank.