On 9 June 2020, government officials announced that outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza died from an apparent heart attack the previous day. Nkurunziza — the leader of the ruling Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party — was expected to leave office soon but retain a leadership role in the newly created “Paramount Leader” position. His hand-picked presidential successor, General Evariste Ndayishimiye, won the 20 May presidential election; however, Burundi’s opposition parties contend that the election was unfair. Nkurunziza was initially admitted to the Karusi Fiftieth Anniversary Hospital on 6 June for unspecified health concerns and his condition reportedly improved before a sudden cardiac arrest on 8 June. The government has declared a seven-day mourning period for Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, who had been president since he was initially elected in 2005 after the civil war
Analyst Comment: Although Ndayishimiye is expected to succeed Nkurunziza, a period of political uncertainty is likely to continue considering Nkurunziza’s intended role as Paramount Leader. Additionally, the opposition’s ongoing denouncement of Ndayishimiye’s victory in the recent election indicates that political opponents may seek to challenge his presidency. Travelers and entities with interest in Burundi should closely monitor forthcoming political developments in the country.