Pierre Buyoya, Burundi Leader Who Led Two Coups, Dies at 71

Burundi’s former leader Pierre Buyoya, who just two months ago was sentenced in absentia to life in prison over the 1993 assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye and the massacres that followed, has died. He was 71.

Buyoya died in Paris after contracting Covid-19 in Mali, where he had served as the African Union’s High Representative for Mali and the Sahel until he was forced to resign after his conviction by Burundi’s Supreme Court. His death was announced by Burundi’s state-controlled broadcaster on Friday.

“Affable and experienced, he unselfishly committed himself to the preservation of Mali’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Mali’s interim leader Bah N’Daw said in a statement.

A member of the ethnic Tutsi minority, Buyoya seized power twice and led Burundi for a total of 13 years. Six years after his first coup, he lost 1993 elections to Ndadaye, who became the first democratically elected president in the country’s history. Ndadaye was killed three months after he was sworn in, along with his ministers, the national assembly speaker and deputy speakers, and many other officials. The murders triggered a civil war in which more than 300,000 people died and 470,000 became refugees.

In 1996, Buyoya returned to power with backing from the army, prompting economic sanctions from the international community. He stepped down in 2003 and later served as a diplomat for the African Union in Chad and in Mali.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.