Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has died after suffering a “cardiac arrest”, the government announced Tuesday.
He was 55.
“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… following heart failure on June 8, 2020,” it said in a post on its official Twitter account.
The statement said Mr Nkurunziza was admitted to hospital on Saturday after feeling ill. His condition improved but on Monday he had a cardiac arrest and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, the BBC reported.
The government said the east African country would observe seven days of mourning beginning Tuesday.
Mr Nkurunziza, a controversial figure widely criticised for his heavy-handed rule, came to power in 2005.
In 2015, his decision to run for a third term, amidst widespread rejection, plunged the country into chaos.
The violence that followed left at least 1,200 people dead, displaced thousands as the authorities clamped down on critics and media.
His government later engineered a change in the constitution, and he was able to run for a further term in the latest election in May.
He, however, decided to retire. His hand-picked candidate, Evariste Ndayishimiye, won a seven-year term as president and was due to be sworn in in August.
Mr Nkurunziza believed he was chosen by God to rule, and he was to be known as the “supreme guide to patriotism” after leaving office.