New Burundi leader takes power early after predecessor died

Evariste Ndayishimiye

NAIROBI — A new president has taken power in Burundi two months early after the abrupt death of his predecessor, whose 15-year rule ended in deadly repression and a sharp rejection of outside scrutiny. Now the country waits to see if more of that will follow.

Evariste Ndayishimiye won the May election and was set to take office in August, but the death of Pierre Nkurunziza from what the government called a heart attack threw the East African nation into uncertainty.

Ministers turned to the constitutional court, which said the president-elect should be sworn in as soon as possible.

This is the first time a Burundian president has been sworn in before the people and not parliament.

With little sign of face masks or social distancing at Thursday’s ceremony, it appeared there was no immediate change in the government’s belief that divine protection would largely suffice for the coronavirus. That’s despite suspicion that Nkurunziza died of Covid-19.

Burundi’s president-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye, 2nd left, and his wife Angeline Ndayubaha, left, pay their respects in front of a photograph of the late President Pierre Nkurunziza, at the presidential palace in Bujumbura, Burundi Saturday, June 13, 2020. Burundi’s constitutional court on Friday said president-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye should be sworn in as soon as possible, ending uncertainty created by the death of President Pierre Nkurunziza this week

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