Evariste Ndayishimiye to be sworn-in today as Burundi President

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FILE PHOTO: Presidential candidate Evariste Ndayishimiye of the Burundi's ruling party, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), casts his ballot at a polling centre during the Presidential, Legislative and Communal council elections, under the simmering political violence and the growing threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread, in Gitega, Burundi May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana/File Photo

Burundi’s newly elected president, Evariste Ndayishimiye is due to be sworn in on Thursday – two months earlier than planned.

The fast-tracked ceremony comes after his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza died suddenly last week.

Mr Ndayishimiye is a former rebel leader, like Nkurunziza.

He was backed by his predecessor and was declared the winner of May’s presidential election, which the opposition said was rigged.

Nkurunziza died aged 55 on June 8 after suffering a cardiac arrest, the government said. There are unconfirmed reports that he was suffering from Covid-19.

After 15 years in power, Nkurunziza was due to step down in August.

According to Burundi’s constitution, if the head of state dies in office then the president of the national assembly, currently Pascal Nyabenda, should succeed him.

But after a ruling by Burundi’s Constitutional Court, Mr Ndayishimiye’s inauguration in the capital, Gitega, was brought forward.