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]