NAIROBI – The president of the National Assembly, Pascal Nyabenda, is set to become interim president of Burundi, following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s unexpected death.
Nkurunziza died of heart failure on Monday after being admitted to hospital on Saturday, BBC reported. He was 55.
Nkurunziza was due to step down in August after fellow ruling party member Evariste Ndayishimiye won the May election.
AFP reported that Nyabenda will be sworn in as interim president until Ndayishimiye becomes president in August, as per the country’s constitution, which states that a president elect will not take office in the event of an outgoing president’s death, in this case Nkurunziza.
In a tweet, NTV Uganda journalist Mujuni Raymond quoted “a source close to power” confirming that Nyabenda was on his way to becoming Burundi’s interim president.
iBurundi, a self-declared “group of concerned Burundians who aim to raise awareness and denounce injustices”, also tweeted a picture of Article 121 of the constitution, which makes provision for the absence of a president.
The apparent Article 121 of the 2018 constitution states: “In case of vacancy due to resignation, death, or all other causes of definitive cessation of his functions, the interim is carried out by the President of the National Assembly or if the latter is in his turn unable to exercise his functions, by Vice President of the Republic and the Government acting together.”
Meanwhile, AFP reported that First Lady Denise Bucumi had returned to Bujumbura after recovering from Covid-19 in a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.