By Kwame Ismail Nkurunziza
Multiple sources reveal that former Burundian president Pierre Buyoya breathed his last on Thursday December 17, 2020.
Buyoya, who ruled Burundi twice between 1987 to 1993 and 1996 to 2003, is said to have died as a result of COVID-19 related complications at the age of 71.
A trained soldier, Buyoya first became president in 1987 after leading a military coup against Jean-Baptiste Baganza’s government.
A Tusti by ethnicity, Buyoya proclaimed a liberalization agenda and working to improve the relations between Hutu and Tustis, although he was later accused of having presided over a ruling military junta comprised of mainly Tustis.
That led to a Hutu uprising in 1988 which resulted into an estimated 20,000 deaths.
After the killings Buyoya appointed a commission to mediate and the commission created a constitution that was approved in 1992.
Democratic elections were held in 1993 and won by a Hutu, Melchoir Ndadaye, who created a balanced government between Hutus and Tustis.
Unfortunately the army assassinated Ndadaye in October 1993 and Burundi returned to civil war.
Numerous attempts to stop the war failed and on July 25 1996 Buyoya, with massive support of the army, returned to power and ousted the interim president Ntibatuganya.
The fighting became less intense when Buyoya created an inclusive government and selected a Hutu, Domitien Ndayizeye as vice president.
The conditions of the new government required Buyoya to hand over power in 2003 which he did and Ndayizeye became president on 30th April the same year.
In 2008 Buyoya was appointed by the African Union to lead a peace commission in Chad.
On October 2020 the supreme court of Burundi sentenced Buyoya to life in prison over the killing of president Ndadaye, something he rejected.
It should however be noted that this is the second death of a former Burundian president, following the demise of Pierre Nkurunziza, who passed away in June this year as a result of COVID-19.