President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi has suffered a fatal heart attack, according to a government statement.
Aged 55, Nkurunziza’s death was broken via Twitter on Tuesday.
“The government of the Republic of Burundi is sad to announce to the people of Burundi and the international community the unexpected death of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, president of the Republic of Burundi.
“The president died in hospital after a heart attack. He was hospitalized last week, felt better on Sunday, but experienced a sudden turn for the worse on Monday,” the tweet read.
Speculations about his health became rife in the last two days after his wife was moved to South Africa for COVID-19 related illness.
The late president, who was the Chairman of the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces, had served three presidential terms in the last 15 years.
His administration has been characterized by marked by legion allegations of human rights violations.
In 2015, Nkurunziza said he would run for a third term, a decision that was criticized by the opposition as unconstitutional which sparked mass unrest in the country.
Despite the nationwide protests and a coup attempt, he was eventually re-elected in July of the same year.
On June 7, 2018, Nkurunziza announced that he would step down from the Presidency when his current term ends in 2020.
His announcement came following a competitive race for the Burundian Presidency in May that featured seven candidates, but the top two were Evariste Ndayishimiye, supported by the late President, and Agathon Rwasa, an ex-rebel leader and opposition figure who gained 24.18 per cent of the vote.
Evariste Ndayishimiye, the former Secretary-General of the governing CNDD–FDD party, was elected president with 68.7 per cent of the vote, while the CNDD–FDD secured 72 of the 100 seats in the National Assembly.