1987 Burundian coup d'état

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1987 Burundian coup d'état
Location Burundi AU Africa.svg
DateSeptember 3, 1987

Coup succeeds

Burundi Government of Burundi Army faction

The 1987 Burundian coup d'état was a bloodless military coup d'état that took place in Burundi on 3 September 1987. Tutsi president Jean-Baptiste Bagaza was deposed whilst traveling abroad and succeeded by Tutsi Major Pierre Buyoya.[1]


Jean-Baptiste Bagaza was appointed president of Burundi in 1976, following a military coup that deposed Michel Micombero. As president of the Union for National Progress (UPRONA) party, he was the sole candidate in the 1984 presidential election and was re-elected with 99.6% of the votes.[2] During Bagaza's presidency, there were long-standing tensions over the repression of the Roman Catholic Church, in a country where 65% of citizens are practising Catholics.[3] This was later described by diplomats as a key factor in the coup.[4]

Coup and aftermath[edit]

In September 1987, Bagaza travelled to Quebec, Canada, to attend a francophone summit.[1] The army took over, led by Bagaza's cousin, Major Pierre Buyoya.[5] Hearing of the coup, Bagaza immediately returned to Africa but Bujumbura Airport was closed, and in Nairobi, he was refused entrance to Kenya.[4] Following the coup, Bagaza fled to Uganda, and then in 1989, Libya, where he was granted political asylum.[6]

Pierre Buyoya formed a Military Committee for National Salvation to take control, suspended the country's constitution and was inaugurated as president on 2 October 1987.[2] Buyoya, a Roman Catholic, said that he would lift measures imposed on the Catholic Church by Bagaza's government.[7] He was succeeded by Melchior Ndadaye in 1993 and came to power in Burundi for a second time, following a military coup in 1996 that ousted Sylvestre Ntibantunganya.[8]


  1. ^ a b Kieh, George Klay (2007). Beyond State Failure and Collapse: Making the State Relevant in Africa. Lexington Books. p. 73. ISBN 0-7391-0892-1.
  2. ^ a b Europa World Year, Book 1. Taylor & Francis. 2004. p. 946. ISBN 1-85743-254-1.
  3. ^ Rule, Sheila (24 September 2010), "Burundi Leader Attempts East-West Balance", The New York Times, The New York Times Company, retrieved 8 June 2010
  4. ^ a b Harden, Blaine (5 September 1987), "Dismay at Anti-Catholic Measures Said to Have Inspired Burundi Coup", The Washington Post, The Washington Post Company, archived from the original on 4 November 2012, retrieved 8 June 2010
  5. ^ Europa Publications (2004). Africa South of the Sahara 2004. Routledge. p. 135. ISBN 1-85743-183-9.
  6. ^ "Burundi's Ex-President Granted Asylum in Libya", Spartanburg Herald-Journal, The New York Times Company, 17 January 1989, retrieved 8 June 2010
  7. ^ Rule, Sheila (27 September 1987), "New Burundi Leader Vows to Lift Curbs on Church", The New York Times, The New York Times Company, retrieved 8 June 2010
  8. ^ Palmer, Mark (2005). Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 221. ISBN 0-7425-3255-0.