China mourns Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza

FILE PHOTO: Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza addresses supporters during a campaign rally at the Bugendana Stadium in Gitega Province, Burundi April 27, 2020. /Reuters

China on Wednesday sent a message of condolence to Burundi following the Tuesday death of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza died on Tuesday aged 55 from what the government said was a heart attack.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, said in the regular press conference on Wednesday that China was “shocked to learn that President Nkurunziza of Burundi passed away due to illness.”

“President Nkurunziza firmly safeguarded national sovereignty and independence, opposed foreign interference and actively explored a development path suited to Burundi’s national conditions. He was deeply respected and loved by the Burundian people. President Nkurunziza is also a good friend of the Chinese people. He has long been committed to the cause of China-Burgica friendship and has made important contributions to deepening the ‘all-weather’ partnership between the two countries. At this tragic moment, the Chinese people stand firmly with the people of Burundi,” Hua said.

In Burundi, the Chinese ambassador there Li Changlin joined the East African country’s citizens in mourning the death of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Li Changlin signed a condolence book alongside senior Burundi government officials and other foreign diplomats who turned up to pay their respects to the long-serving president.

Chinese ambassador to Burundi Li Changlin signs a condolence book for President Pierre Nkurunziza in Bujumbura onwednesday 10 June, 2020. /Photo courtesy: RTNB

Nkurunziza’s death came just ten days after his wife Denise Bucumi Nkurunziza was airlifted to Nairobi for treatment. Kenyan media report that she contracted COVID-19.

Nkurunziza was expected to hand over power in August following the election of a new president in the just concluded May elections, the first in 15 years that he did not vie. Evariste Ndayishimiye won the election.

Since the announcement of his death, various leaders across Africa has sent their condolences to his family and the people of Burundi.

Here are some of those messages of condolence:

“On behalf of Gov’t and my own behalf I sent our condolences to the Gov’t and People of Burundi for the passing of President Nkurunziza. This also goes to the family of the President,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

“I would like to express my condolences on the sudden passing of President Pierre Nkurunziza Deepest sympathies to his family and the people of Burundi,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

“It is with profound grief and sadness that we received the news of the death of President Pierre Nkurunziza. President Nkurunziza was a true patriot that steered the country through turbulent times with wisdom and foresight,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

“I hereby extend my sincere condolences to the Government and people of the Republic of Burundi. On behalf of the Citizens of the Federal Republic of Somalia and on my own behalf, we mourn the death of HE Pierre Nkurunziza. He was a great friend and ally of the Somalia,” Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo said.

(With input from Tian Chaoying)

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