Burundi’s President-Elect to take power immediately, court rules

Evariste Ndayishimiye,
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Burundi’s constitutional court has agreed that President-Elect, Evariste Ndayishimiye, should be sworn in immediately following the death of former leader Pierre Nkurunziza, the government said in a statement posted to Twitter on Friday.

The constitution provides for the Speaker of Parliament to take over in such a situation. The court ruled, however, that “the interim period is not necessary and that Ndayishimiye must be sworn in as soon as possible”, the government said.

Official mourning 

Burundi began an official period of mourning for President Nkurunziza on Wednesday, a day after the announcement of his death from a heart attack at the age of 55 shocked the impoverished East African nation.

Wearing face masks and gloves to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, senior government officials, foreign ambassadors and religious leaders lined up to sign a condolence book opened in his memory at the presidential palace.

In the video below, Kurunziza’s legacy is discussed:

Nkurunziza’s successor 

Burundi’s economy is mired in poverty and cut off by international donors after the United Nations documented the widespread rape, torture and murder of political opponents by ruling party activists and state security forces.

It remains unclear whether the powerful cabal of army generals and security chiefs who propped up Nkurunziza during his 15-year rule remain united over the succession.

Nkurunziza had been due to stand down in August, making way for retired general  Ndayishimiye, who won an election last month that the opposition said was marred by violence and rigging. The constitutional court last week rejected the rigging charges.

Burundi expelled the representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) last month amid criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. It has carried out very few tests and held large rallies during the election period.