BUJUMBURA – Pierre Nkurunziza, who died on Monday, June 8 in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, had days earlier tested positive for the novel Coronavirus currently ravaging the world.
The government of Burundi announced on Tuesday June 9, that the outgoing president died of cardiac arrest but with Mr. Nkurunziza’s wife Denise, currently admitted to Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya for Covid-19, the cause of his demise as officially announced, could not be far from the truth.
“Pierre Nkurunziza ignored alerts on Coronavirus and continued with open policy. Things got to a head when his wife Denise was airlifted to Nairobi with Covid-19. Pierre himself was admitted internally at the weekend with Covid-19. He died on Monday with the government delaying the announcement to prepare how to deliver the terrible news. Heart attack was found more convenient as a cause,” a commentator wrote, hours after his death was announced.
Like Tanzania, Burundi adopted a dismissive approach in her response to the Coronavirus pandemic and even went ahead to organise the country’s scheduled elections on May 20, where Mr. Nkurunziza’s successor Evariste Ndayishimiye was chosen as other neigbhours locked down.
On May12, Burundi under President Nkurunziza announced expulsion of the country’s top World Health Organization (WHO) representative and three other experts coordinating the coronavirus response saying the four officials were “persona non grata” after they reportedly questioned the transparency in the approach of the government.
Those expelled included Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, then Burundi’s coronavirus coordinator Dr. Jean Pierre Mulunda Nkata, communicable diseases head, Dr. Ruhana Mirindi Bisimwa, and a laboratory expert in the testing for COVID-19, Prof. Daniel Tarzy.
Diplomatic and administrative sources quoted by AFP then indicated that the foreign ministry aborted a similar attempt to expel the same four officials a month earlier.
According to sources in Bujumbura, Mr. Nkurunziza has become the biggest victim of what they called the “country’s shabby response to the Coronavirus pandemic and failure to listen to the WHO expertise” in advancing measures to combat it’s spread in Burundi, with his close family members hospitalised in various facilities.
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