UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a two-paragraph statement to commiserate with the government and people of Burundi over the death of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The statement is curiously devoid of the usual eulogies for prominent individuals at death.

However, in the statement released on Tuesday, he extended his sympathy to the members of the former president’s family.

He said the UN remained willing to support Burundi in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, and in its “continuing efforts to create a stable, prosperous and peaceful future for all the country’s citizens”.

Nkurunziza’s death was confirmed by the country’s government on its official Twitter page.

The tweet reads, “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 deceased was due to be replaced in August by political ally Evariste Ndayishimiye, who won the May 20, 2020, Presidential election.

A statement by the Burundian authority said Nkurunziza had attended a volleyball match on Saturday afternoon and was taken to the hospital that evening after falling ill.

Although he appeared to recover on Sunday and spoke to those around him, his condition suddenly deteriorated on Monday morning.

He then suffered a heart attack and despite an immediate resuscitation attempt, doctors were unable to revive him.

Nkurunziza died at a hospital in Karuzi, eastern Burundi.

The government said there would be a period of national mourning for seven days from Tuesday and that flags would be flown at half-mast.

In May, Burundi expelled the representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) amid criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

It has carried out very few coronavirus tests and held large rallies in the lead-up to the country’s May 20 election.

However, the two-paragraph statement by the UN Chief is curiously devoid of the usual eulogies for prominent individuals at death.