Pierre Buyoya, a former president of Burundi, has died of Covid19 on his way to hospital in Paris, France, late December 17 night.
Buyoya was aged 71.
He had been treated in Bamako, Mali’s capital, on December 16 before he was rushed to Paris.
Buyoya, from the enthic Tutsi tribe, took power in 1987 in a coup.
He lost to Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, in 1993, and accepted to hand over power, winning the praise of many for promoting democracy.
But the assassination of Ndadaye four months after he took power opened the door for a war between the Tutsis and Hutus.
At least 300,000 people died in the war that raged on between 1993 and 2006.
Buyoya would later take over in 1996, ruling until 2003 when he quit in respect of the 2000 Arusha Accord whose aim was to end the conflict.
In his retirement, Buyoya served as the AU’s special envoy to Mali and the Sahel from 2012 to November 2020.
He quit this position after a Burundi convicted him of the assassination of Ndadaye and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Almost 20 of his alleged accomplices, mostly military officers, were also sentenced to long sentences or condemned to spend their remaining lives in jail.
Buyoya passed on months after former president Pierre Nkurunziza succumbed to heart failure – although some reports suggested he had died of Covid19.