By Vatican News
Burundi swears in its newly elected president, Evariste Ndayishimiye on Thursday following the sudden death of his predecessor, Pierre Nkurnziza.
Ndayishimiye, 52, is a retired army general who won the country’s presidential elections last month. He was due to take office in August. The inauguration was moved up, however, due to the death of Nkuruziza on 8 June.
The swearing-in ceremony comes after the East-African nation’s Constitutional Court made a ruling on 12 June aimed at ending the power vacuum left by Nkuruziza’s death. It said that president-elect Ndayishimiye should be sworn in as soon as possible. Their decision overrides the country’s constitution which stipulates that in the case of the president's death, the president of the national assembly is next in succession .
The ceremony took place in Burundi’s capital city of Gitega. Attendees of the event were asked to arrive early to allow time for coronavirus precautionary measures such as temperature checks and handwashing.
Ndayishimiye was a law student at the University of Burundi when the civil war erupted in 1993 following the assassination of president Melchior Ndadaye.
He then fled Burundi and joined the rebel forces that fought against the then Tutsi-led government.
Ndayishimiye worked closely with his predecessor’s government after Nkuruziza’s election as president in 2005. He served as minister of the interior, before becoming military adviser and then secretary-general of the ruling Conseil National pour la Défense de la Democratie – Forces pour la Défense de la Democratie (CNDD-FDD) party.
Burundi, a small country in Eastern-Africa, is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda.
It gained its independence from Belgium in 1962 as the Kingdom of Burundi but the monarchy was overthrown in 1966 and a republic was established.
After about 12 years of civil war (1993 – 2005), Pierre Nkuruziza was elected president in 2005, 2010, and again in 2015.
Evariste Ndayishimiye takes over as president after Nkuruziza’s fifteen-year presidency.