President Uhuru Kenyatta sent a message of condolence and comfort to the People of the Republic of Burundi and the family of His Excellency President Pierre Nkurunziza who passed away on Tuesday June 9.
He saved his words for the Burundi Head of State who was due to step down after one and a half decades of power.
In his message posted under State House Kenya’s Twitter account, President Kenyatta termed the outgoing Burundi leader as an outstanding regional counterpart who served his country with distinction as Head of State and Government, and worked tirelessly for the peace and stability of his country and the Great Lakes Region.
The President added that death had robbed East Africa of a prominent leader whose contribution to the integration and progress of the region shall be sorely missed, and prayed for God’s calming comfort as the family, people of Burundi and East Africans mourn their departed leader.
Nkurunziza passed on at the age of 55 after suffering a cardiac arrest, as announced by the government of Burundi.
According to the government’s statement, President Nukurunziza started to feel unwell late Saturday and was taken to hospital.
On Sunday, he seemed to recover before his sudden death on Monday. The letter stated Burundi will immediately enter a week-long period of mourning.
His death comes 10 days after his wife, First Lady Denise Nkurunziza, was flown to Kenya on Tuesday, May 26 aboard an Amref evacuation aircraft for undisclosed medical treatment at Aga Khan University Hospital.
Nkurunziza rose to power in 2005 after a civil war which left 300,000 people dead as he succeeded Domitien Ndayizeye.
Burundi recently held polls with the election commission declaring the governing party candidate Evariste Ndayishimiye the winner of the May 20 ballot.
The election marked the end of Nkurunziza’s 15-year-long rule after his attempt to seek a third term led to riots and political unrest. The polls also took place despite despite a coronavirus outbreak in the region.
Burundi is also the only African country that did not stop playing of sports games during the coronavirus pandemic.
Recently, Nkurunziza received global backlash for doing little to stop the spread of coronavirus in his country. Earlier this month, a top World Health Organization (WHO) representative and three other experts who were coordinating coronavirus response were ordered to leave the country.
The number of coronavirus cases in Burundi have so far been reported to be 83 with one person succumbing to the disease.