Tanzania paid tribute to Nkurunziza, who maintained good, friendly, and historic relations with the country. The presidents of Kenya and Rwanda ordered flags be at half mast. Since the announcement of Nkurunziza's death earlier this week, there has been a leadership crisis in the country.
Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda, which are members of the East African Community, have united to mourn the Burundian President, Pierre Nkurunziza, who died suddenly on Tuesday this week. Tanzanian President John Magufuli has announced three days of mourning from Saturday to Monday, with all flags at half mast.
Pierre Nkurunziza was a Burundian politician who served as president of Burundi from 2005 to his death in 2020. Before his election, Pierre Nkurunziza was the Chairman of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD).
In a press release, President Magufuli said that Tanzania pays tribute to Nkurunzinza in recognition of the fact that he was the president of a neighboring country who has had good, friendly, and historic relations with Tanzania. He said:
“Burundi is a member state of the East African Community and President Nkurunzinza really loved this community, he loved Tanzania and he supported us whenever he needed, so I found Tanzanians to associate with our brothers to mourn and remember President Nkurunzinza who saw Tanzania as home.”
In Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, has ordered the flag of the East African Community lowered to half mast for three days, starting on Saturday in honor of Nkurunziza. “Flags will be flown at half-mast in all public buildings in the country and in all Kenyan embassies abroad,” a statement by the White House said.
In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame has announced that the Rwandan flags and East African flags will fly half-mast from Saturday to the day before Pierre Nkurunzinza will be buried. All presidents have sent condolences to the family of the deceased.
Pierre Nkurunziza was a Burundian politician and had been in power since 2005. Mr. Nkurunziza, the friend of a former MP, survived the 1993 massacre of Hutu students at a Burundian university where he was a lecturer, and joined the FDD insurgency. It later transformed into the ruling CNDD-FDD party that came to power. He was chairman of the ruling CNDD-FDD until he was elected president of Burundi.
The Burundian Civil War was a civil war in Burundi lasting from 1993 to 2005. The conflict began following the first multi-party elections in the country since independence from Belgium in 1962, and is seen as formally ending with the swearing in of Pierre Nkurunziza in August 2005.
Following the Arusha Peace Agreement between the government and the rebels, Nkurunziza was named interior minister before parliament appointed him as president in August 2005. In 2015, Nkurunziza was re-elected in a controversial election by his party for the third term in office. Nkurunziza failed to agree with his supporters and opponents on whether it was legitimate for him to contest again, and protests ensued.
Since the announcement of Nkurunziza’s death earlier this week, there has been a leadership crisis in the country. The country’s constitution stipulates that the Speaker of the National Assembly will have to replace him when the president dies. However, Speaker Pascal Nyabenda was not immediately sworn in by a situation that analysts have interpreted as a sign of dissension within the country’s ruling party.
The cabinet in Burundi, at its Thursday session, decided to take the matter to the constitutional court, and announced it would lead the country together until the new president was elected. The decision was reached at a meeting under the leadership of First Vice President Gaston Sindimwo. The Burundian lawyers’ party has called for an immediate oath of office to the president-elect.