||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (June 2014)|
|President of Burundi|
26 August 2005
|Vice President||Martin Nduwimana
Terence Sinunguruza & Gervais Rufyikiri
|Preceded by||Domitien Ndayizeye|
18 December 1963 |
|Political party||National Council for the Defense of Democracy|
|Alma mater||University of Burundi|
Pierre Nkurunziza (born 18 December 1963) is a Burundian politician who has been President of Burundi since 2005. He was the Chairman of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), the ruling party, until he was elected as President of Burundi.
In 2015, Nkurunziza was controversially nominated by his party for a third term in office. Supporters and opponents of Nkurunziza disagreed as to whether it was legal for him to run again, and protests followed. On 13 May 2015, a coup attempt against Nkurunziza occurred while he was out of the country; the coup leader, Godefroid Niyombare, claimed to have ousted Nkurunziza, although Nkurunziza loyalists disputed the claim. Facing resistance from Nkurunziza loyalists, the coup collapsed and forces loyal to Nkurunziza appeared to be back in full control by 15 May.
Background and political career
His father, Eustache Ngabisha, was elected to the Parliament of Burundi in 1965 and later became governor of two provinces before being killed in 1972 during the Burundian Genocide of 1972 when ethnic violence claimed the lives of between 80,000 to 210,000 Burundians.
Nkurunziza was a lecturer at Burundi University when civil war broke out in the country following the assassination of Burundi's first ethnic Hutu democratically elected president, Melchior Ndadaye, in 1993.
He joined the CNDD-FDD in 1995 as a soldier after the army attacked the university campus. In a 2004 interview with the IRIN humanitarian news agency, he recalls the events that occurred:
"In 1995, the Tutsi army attacked the campus and killed 200 students. They tried to kill me too. The attackers shot at my car but I got out and ran away. They torched my car. I then joined the CNDD-FDD as a soldier. This war was forced on us; we did not start it."
After rising through the ranks, Nkurunziza was appointed deputy secretary-general of the CNDD-FDD in 1998. In 2001, he was elected chairman. There was a split in the group in late 2001. He was re-elected to the post of chairman in August 2004.
During the war Nkurunziza is said to have survived a near death experience.
Beginning in late 2003 and after the ceasefire agreement, he was appointed Minister for Good Governance in the transitional government of President Domitien Ndayizeye.
Following a series of CNDD-FDD victories in elections held during June and July 2005, Nkurunziza was nominated as the party's presidential candidate. He was elected president unopposed by members of parliament (acting as an electoral college) on 19 August 2005 and took office on 26 August 2005. The new Head of State inherited a country devastated by over a decade of civil war and dictatorship. His policy was aimed at reconstruction and reconciliation, economic recovery and political stability. President Nkurunziza concluded a peace accord with the last rebel group, the Palipehutu-Fnl.
One of his priorities is to pull Burundi out of poverty. President Nkurunziza initiated ‘Community Works’ carried out every Saturday, and he has taken measures in favour of children and women: free education for primary school children and free health care for those under five, and maternity.
In March 2014, Nkurunziza banned jogging, due to "fears it was being used as a cover for subversion." According to the BBC, "The tradition of Saturday morning runs started during Burundi's long years of ethnic conflict", as residents in the city of Bujumbura, where the surrounding hills were home to armed militants before 2005, "would try to vent their fear and frustration and claustrophobia, by running, often in a group." That same month, twenty-one supporters of the opposition Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD) Party were sentenced to life in prison for using "jogging" as a way to organize "an illegal demonstration that turned violent."
2015 election controversy and coup attempt
In April 2015 Nkurunziza announced that he would seek a third term in office. The opposition said that Nkurunziza's bid to extend his term is in defiance of the constitution, as it bars the president from running for a third term. However, Nkurunziza's allies say his first term does not count as he was appointed by parliament and not directly by the people. On April 26 police clashed with demonstrators protesting Nkurunziza’s announcement that he will seek a third term in office. At least six people were killed in the first two days of ongoing protests. The government shut down multiple radio stations and arrested a prominent civil society leader, Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon said, in a statement, that he had despatched his special envoy for the region, Said Djinnit, to Burundi for talks with Nkurunziza. African Union commission head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said she welcomed a decision by Burundi's Senate to ask the Constitutional Court to rule whether Nkurunziza could stand for re-election. More than 24,000 people have fled Burundi in April, as tensions mount ahead of presidential elections in June, the UN refugee agency said.
On May 13, 2015, Burundi Army General Godefroid Niyombareh declared a coup via radio while Nkurunziza was abroad attending a summit in Tanzania with other African leaders. Niyombareh had been dismissed from his post as head of intelligence in February 2015. Despite reports that gunshots had been heard and people were celebrating in the streets of the capital, government officials dismissed the threat and claimed to remain in control. Nkurunziza tried to return to Burundi promptly, but he was unable to land at the airport in Bujumbura because it had been taken over by rebel soldiers. Nevertheless, loyalist forces managed to retain control of the state radio and television broadcaster, the key means of communicating with the broader population, fending off attacks by rebel soldiers on 14 May. Later on the same day, Nkurunziza announced that he had returned to Burundi, although his specific location was not given for security reasons. He congratulated "the army and the police for their patriotism" and "above all the Burundian people for their patience".
Nkurunziza was one of seven siblings. Two of his siblings were killed after civil war erupted in 1993, and three others died while fighting in the CNDD-FDD. Only one of his siblings, a sister, is alive today. He married his wife in 1994 and is the father of five children.
Nkurunziza enjoys playing soccer and cycling. He began playing football at the age of five, and played in a team at secondary school and his university. As a University lecturer, Nkurunziza used his football talents as a coach of “Union Sporting”, a first division club side. As President, he has re-called some of his former players to form a new team of veterans, “Helleluia FC”. In 2004, when he was a State Minister, Nkurunziza created a “Soccer Academy” which is home to nearly 300 kids learning skills in various training centres across the country.
In May 2015, Africa Confidential reported that Nkurunziza was said to be preoccupied by his football club, had difficulty concentrating for long periods, and believed that he was chosen by God to rule Burundi.
Awards and prizes
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2015)|
President Nkurunzia has been awarded several Prizes and other honorific Distinctions to recognize his endeavour. The awards include “Prix pour la Paix” awarded to him by “Accord” in Durban in June 2006; “Oscar de Paix” awarded by “Assis Pax International”, “Honoris Causa Ph.D” awarded to him by Latin University of Theology in California.
In September 2007, the "Interfaith Peace Building" recognized his efforts. The Greenbelt Burundi also recognized his efforts in the protection of the environment. The award was dedicated to Mwezi Gisabo, a King of Burundi who refused to scorch the Kibira forest in order to track down his opponents. The United Nations Commission on Peace Consolidation in Burundi also decorated him with a peace award.
In August 2009 in Nairobi he was awarded the "Model Leader for a New Africa Award" by AFREG (African Forum on Religion and Government), a Florida-based religious organisation with a sub-office in Accra, Ghana. Pierre Nkurunziza is the first African President to be awarded with such a distinction on the continent.
In September 2010, the India–based Unity International Foundation honoured Pierre Nkurunziza with the "Rising Star of Africa Award" after Indian authorities found HE Pierre Nkurunziza as a role model in peace consolidation and development for the whole of Africa.
- "President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi". worlddiplomacy.org.
- White, Matthew. Death Tolls for the Major Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century: C. Burundi (1972-73, primarily Hutu killed by Tutsi) 120,000
- International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi (2002). Paragraph 85. "The Micombero regime responded with a genocidal repression that is estimated to have caused over a hundred thousand victims and forced several hundred thousand Hutus into exile"
- "Cultural Diplomacy News". culturaldiplomacy.org.
- Africa Confidential, The military moves against Nkurunziza's third term bid, 14th May 2015, http://www.africa-confidential.com/article/id/11090/The_military_moves_against_Nkurunziza%27s_third_term_bid
- "AFP: Burundi's president Pierre Nkurunziza re-elected". Agence France-Presse. First July 2010. Retrieved 4 July 2010. Check date values in:
- "Re-elected Burundian president takes oath as African leaders present", Xinhua, 26 August 2010.
- Franks, Tim (2014-06-15). "Burundi: Where jogging is a crime". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
- "Burundi MSD opposition 'joggers' get life sentences". BBC News. 2014-03-21. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
- "What explains Burundi’s protests?". Washington Post.
- "Burundi anti-President Nkurunziza protests in Bujumbura". BBC News.
- Melvin, Don (May 13, 2015). "Amid fears of ethnic violence, coup attempt reported in Burundi". CNN. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
- "Burundi’s Nkurunziza returns home after coup attempt", France 24, 14 May 2015.
- Charles Bigirimana, "Burundi's born-again ex-rebel leader". BBC News. 26 August 2005.
- "The military moves against Nkurunziza's third term bid", Africa Confidential, volume 56, number 10, 14 May 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pierre Nkurunziza.|
- Video and Summary of Nkurunziza Speech on First Visit to Washington at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
- IRIN interview with Pierre Nkurunziza, leader of CNDD-FDD
- Burundi's born-again ex-rebel leader (BBC)
- Burundi MPs appoint new president (BBC)
|President of Burundi