Michel Micombero

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Michel Micombero
1st President of Burundi
In office
28 November 1966 – 1 November 1976
Succeeded by Jean-Baptiste Bagaza
Prime Minister of Burundi
In office
11 July 1966 – 28 November 1966
Preceded by Léopold Biha
Succeeded by post abolished
Personal details
Born 1940
Rutovu, Ruanda-Urundi
Died 16 July 1983 (aged 43)
Mogadishu, Somalia
Political party Union for National Progress (UPRONA)
Signature and picture of Michel Micombero

Michel Micombero (1940 – 16 July 1983) was the first President of Burundi from November 28, 1966 to November 1, 1976. He was born in Rutovu, Bururi Province as a member of the Tutsi ethnicity.

In the years after independence, Burundi had seen a rapid descent into anarchy. The king Mwambutsa IV rapidly changed the Prime Minister as anti-Tutsi forces threatened to unleash the same violence as had hit Rwanda. On October 18, 1965, Hutu leader Gervais Nyangoma launched a coup, ousting the king. Soon afterward the largely Hutu police force, under the control of Antoine Serkwavu, began to massacre Tutsis in some parts of the country.

Michel Micombero was a young Tutsi army captain who had graduated from the Royal Military Academy of Belgium in 1962. In 1965, he had only recently become Minister of Defense. He rallied the army, and its largely Tutsi officers, against the coup and overthrew them. This was followed by numerous attacks on Hutus throughout the nation.

Micombero became Prime Minister on July 11, 1966 and was the real power in the nation technically ruled by King Ntare V, who deposed his father with the help of Micombero. On November 28, 1966, Micombero overthrew the monarchy and made himself president. He also promoted himself to lieutenant general.

As president, Micombero became an advocate of African socialism and received support from the People's Republic of China. He imposed a staunch regime of law and order, sharply repressing Hutu militarism.

In 1972, Hutu refugees from surrounding nations organized an uprising of Hutus in Burundi. This was repulsed and followed by organized ethnic violence that killed some 150,000 Hutus. Micombero unquestionably played a leading role in these massacres[citation needed]. Afterward, Micombero became increasingly corrupt, and also turned to heavy drinking. Some reports[citation needed] allege he became delusional. He was overthrown in 1976 in a coup by Deputy Chief of Staff Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, a distant relative of Micombero from the same clan and political faction.

Micombero went into exile in Somalia, where he died of a heart attack in 1983.


Political offices
Preceded by
Léopold Biha
Prime Minister of Burundi
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Preceded by
Ntare V Ndizeye
President of Burundi
Succeeded by
Jean-Baptiste Bagaza