Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza has died of heart failure, the government said on Tuesday in a post from its official Twitter account.
“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,” the post said.
A statement from Burundi’s presidency on Tuesday said Nkurunziza was hospitalized over the weekend and that his health “abruptly changed” on Monday.
It said the country would observe seven days of mourning beginning Tuesday.
An evangelical who believed he was chosen by God to rule the east African nation, Nkurunziza came to power in 2005, when he was selected by parliament.
His death comes on the heels of elections on May 20 in which his hand-picked successor, Evariste Ndayishimiye, secured a seven-year term as president – a result confirmed by the constitutional court last Thursday.
Ndayishimiye was due to be sworn in in August.
Nkurunziza took office in 2005, chosen by lawmakers to lead the East African nation after the 1993-2005 civil war killed about 300,000 people.
The peace process known as the Arusha Accords specified that a president’s term can be renewed only once.
But Nkurunziza, who won a second term in 2010, announced he was eligible for a third term in 2015 because he had not been chosen the first time by universal suffrage.
The deadly turmoil that followed badly damaged ties with the international community, and Burundi became the first country to leave the ICC after it started investigating allegations of abuses.
Nkurunziza survived a coup attempt shortly after the 2015 vote. International donors cut support, leaving the government struggling.
Many Burundians were surprised when the president announced in 2018 that he was serving his last term. The government approved legislation meant to bestow upon Nkurunziza the title of “paramount leader” once he stepped down.