By Our Reporter
Former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya is dead. He breathed his last on December 17th at the age of 71.
Details of the cause of his death are scanty but with high suspicion that Buyoya may have succumbed to Covid-19.
Before his death, Buyoya served as High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel.
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.
Buyoya rejected 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.
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.
More About Buyoya
Pierre Buyoya (born 24 November 1949 in Rutovu, Bururi Province) was a Burundian politician and retired soldier who has ruled Burundi twice, from 1987 to 1993 and from 1996 to 2003. With 13 years combined in power, Buyoya is the second longest-serving President of Burundi.
In September 1987, Buyoya led a military coup d’état against the Second Republic of Burundi, led by Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, and installed himself as the first president of the Third Republic. He proclaimed an agenda of liberalization and patching relations between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, but presided over an oppressive ruling junta consisting primarily of Tutsi. This led to a Hutu uprising in August 1988, which caused approximately 20,000 deaths. After these killings, Buyoya appointed a commission to find a way to mediate the violence.
This commission created a new constitution that Buyoya approved in 1992. This constitution called for a non-ethnic government with a president and a parliament. Democratic elections were held in June 1993 and were won by the Hutu Melchior Ndadaye, who created a balanced Hutu and Tutsi government. Nevertheless, the army assassinated Ndadaye in October 1993 and Burundi returned to civil war. Nearly 150,000 people were killed as the war raged. There were numerous attempts at government, but even the coalition government under Sylvestre Ntibantunganya was unable to stop the fighting.
On July 25, 1996, with strong support and backup from the army, Buyoya returned to power in a military coup, ousting interim President Ntibantunganya who had been contested by the population due to his failure to stop killings perpetrated by rebels.
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The civil war became less intense but continued. Economic sanctions were also imposed by the international community because of the nature of Buyoya’s return to power but were eased as Buyoya created an ethnically inclusive government. Buyoya selected as his vice-president Domitien Ndayizeye, a Hutu. The conditions of the governmental agreement required Buyoya to hand over power in 2003, which he did. Ndayizeye became the President of Burundi on April 30.