The announcement of the death of Burundian former Pierre Buyoya by several sources, exposed the divisions between Burundians, in and outside the country, on his legacy. To date, neither the government nor his family has officially announced his death.
As a president who came in power twice through military coups, in 1987-1993 and 1996 to 2005, Mr Buyoya is considered a peace-maker by some while others see him as a war criminal.
“Saddened by the death of former president Pierre Buyoya who devoted the last chapter of his life entirely to the service of the African Union,” tweeted Smail Chergui, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security.
Mr Buyoya resigned from his position as the AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel region last month after serving for eight years. It came after an international arrest warrant issued by the Burundian government.
He was accused of having played a role in the assassination of the country’s other former president, Melchior Ndadaye.
Opposition leader Jean De Dieu Mutabazi issued a statement saying; “We want to let Burundians and the international community know that we received the news with doubts because first of all you know that he was sentenced for life in relation to the assassination of former president Melchior Ndadaye and crimes against humanity.”
Burundians on social media also expressed their opinion about the death and the fact that the Burundian government is silent on the subject, meaning there is no state funeral being planned for the former president.
“The government has more important work to do other than think of Buyoya who committed crimes,” tweeted Ntakarutimana Jean.
“Late Buyoya helped CNDD-FDD to come to power despite having gained an upper hand over the rebellion ready to give up the fight,” Lyse Pascal Inamuco tweeted.
“Mr Buyoya, organised the elections and accepted his defeat. Initiator of the Charter of National Unity, of the multiparty system and of the Arusha Accords. Misunderstood by most Burundians and now we are back in the one-party system, we will understand later,” Manuel Musoda tweeted.
Mr Buyoya, 71, died on December 17, in France after a short illness reportedly linked to Covid-19. Several sources say his body will be laid to rest in Mali where he was serving as the AU special envoy for the past eight years.