Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza died on Monday after “suffering a cardiac arrest”, the government said on Tuesday.
According to the Burundi government, Nkurunziza was admitted to hospital on Saturday after feeling unwell, his condition improved but on Monday he had a cardiac arrest and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
The official statement announcing the president’s death said he was taken ill the evening after helping out at a volleyball match in Ngozi, northern Burundi, on Saturday.
He went to the hospital, but appeared to be recovering on Sunday and was able to communicate with the people surrounding him, the government said.
The situation, however, rapidly changed on Monday.
The government has announced seven days of national mourning.
Since last week, Mr. Nkurunziza’s wife, Denise Nkurunziza, has been receiving medical treatment in Kenya at the Aga Khan Hospital after contracting Coronavirus.
Sources indicate that Mrs. Nkurunziza, was airlifted to Nairobi from Bujumbura, flying in on an AMREF plane.
Nkurunziza received global backlash for downplaying and covering up the spread of COVID-19 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.
Burundi is the only African country that did not stop sporting activities during the COVID-19 period.
The country even held its general elections in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic period against advice from health proffesionals.
Nkurunziza was due to step down in August after 15 years in power during which he was accused of intimidating opposition and an avalanche of political murders .
In 2015, the announcement that he would run for a third term plunged the country into chaos.