As Burundi continues to mourn the unexpected death of its president Pierre Nkurunziza who ruled the country with an iron fist for more than a decade, authorities in the country announced officially, on Monday, that the new president elect Evariste Ndayishimiye is to be sworn in on June 18, Thursday.
The inauguration ceremony comes when the whole world and the region is grappling with the new coronavirus which has claimed more than 400,000 people world wide and at least 100,000 in the United States alone.
Ndayishimiye, 52, would be sworn in August according to Burundi’s constitution but the sudden death of the country’s president left a leadership vacuum that had to be filled immediately.
Usually if a president in Burundi dies, it is the speaker of the country’s parliament to take over as the long wait for the election of another one continues.
At the the time of Nkurunziza’s death, Burundi had just elected a new president, in May. The constitutional court in Burundi ruled last week that it was okay to inaugurate the President elect as soon as possible. The president elect is to be sworn in Thursday, the foreign ministry, in a letter released on Monday, announced.
Diplomats and foreign organizations were invited “to take part in the inauguration ceremony” in Burundian new capital Gitega, according to the letter sent out by the foreign ministry on Monday.
The government in Burundi has yet to announce when the late president Pierre Nkurunziza will be laid to rest. Nkurunziza left the country in both economic and political turmoil with numerous enemies beyond its borders including Rwanda her neighbour to the north.
Burundi was the first country in the world to leave the International Criminal Court. Ndayishimiye is quite less dogmatic than the man who endorsed him, to succeed him. He is likely to mend relations with some of Burundi’s enemies, especially Rwanda.
Suspicions are high that Pierre Nkurunziza contracted COVID-19 and succumbed to the disease. The country has registered fewer cases and deaths than the rest, in the region, according to the official reports in Burundi.
Denise Bucumi, Nkurunziza’s widow was hospitalised at the end of last month for COVID-10. A medical document seen by AFP news agency stated the first lady had tested positive for the virus.
Pierre Nkurunziza, authorities stated, died of heart failure however, medical officers at a hospital in Bujumbura state other wise. A medical source at the Karusi hospital where Nkurunziza died, told AFP news agency the president, Pierre Nkurunziza, had been in respiratory distress before he died.
A medical source at the Kamenge university hospital in Bujumbura told AFP that the head of the institute of public health went and asked for the hospital’s only ventilator, to save the life of the president.
Nkurunziza was flown to a hospital in Karusi: “It was too late. The president was already dead,” a medic in Karusi disclosed to AFP news agency. Burundi is among the three poorest countries in the world.
Major General Evariste Ndayishimiye, a former rebel like his predecessor Nkurunziza was handpicked by CNDD-FDD the ruling party in Burundi to run in a May presidential election which he won.
He got almost 70 percent of the vote. Agatho Rwasa the opposition leader in Burundi, who came second in the contest, insists the all election process was a “joke”.