[ACNS Digest] The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Burundi have expressed “great sorrow” at the death of President Pierre Nkurunziza. The bishops met on June 10 following the death of President Nkurunziza last Tuesday (June 9). Officials in Burundi say that the president died following a heart attack.
Nkurunziza had announced his intention to stand down later this year, after 15 years in office, and he did not contest the country’s General Election last month. The president-elect, Evariste Ndayishimiye, was due to be sworn in during a handover ceremony in August. Following an emergency ruling by Burundi’s constitutional court, President Ndayishimiye will now be sworn in on Thursday (June 18). Both men are from the country’s CNDD-FDD party.
In a communiqué following their meeting last week, the bishops expressed their condolences to Nkurunziza’s family, the government, and all Burundians. They urged people to be calm and united as a tribute to the late president, who they said “always called people to seek for unity and social cohesion.”
In a statement, the Anglican Church of Burundi said that the House of Bishops appealed to other religious groups to join together in solidarity with the whole population in prayers during this hard time.
The primate of Burundi, Archbishop Martin Blaise Nyaboho, issued the communiqué in the presence of the bishops representing the nine Anglican dioceses of the province. In a television broadcast he said that they were grateful for all the good work that Nkurunziza had done for his country during the last 15 years he was in power. He stressed that they will always remember what he achieved for the benefit and development of Burundi.
All nine bishops in Burundi visited the State House in Ntare Rushatsi to sign the book of condolence.