Panafrican News Agency

Rwandan media highlight state funeral of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) -  The funeral services for former Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza held at Ingoma Stade in Gitega (Central Burundi).was the main subject covered by Rwandan newspapers this week.

Nkurunziza, 55, died in office earlier this month shortly before handing over to his successor, General Evariste Ndayishimye.

Writing under the headline "No mourning for Burundian refugees as President Nkurunziza is buried", the semi-privately owned 'KT Press' wrote that the cortege with Nkurunziza’s body left Bujumbura in the morning and drove to Gitega, some nearly 100 km east of the capital where he was buried.

According to the newspaper, the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD–FDD), youths were mobilised to line up the road and wait for the cortege as it made the 2-hour journey to the capital where Nkurunziza was to be sent off.

But the newspaper reported that as the East African country bid farewell to the former leader, Burundian refugees who fled the post-election violence that followed Nkurunziza’s decision to forcefully seek a third term in 2015, felt no remorse and had little hope to return home.

A former Burundian lawmaker now in exile, Emmanuel Nkengurutse, told 'KT Press' that despite the new leadership and the death of Nkurunziza, there was little to celebrate and no hope for refugees who felt it was not safe to return home.

“He is gone; we don’t celebrate death in our culture but again we are not remorseful that he is gone. He is responsible for the problems that made us flee our country; even as he goes, he leaves behind a system that will continue his agenda,” Nkengurutse said.

In another article, the English daily, The New Times, wrote that thousands of Burundians took to the streets of Gitega as the body of Nkurunziza was escorted under heavy security for the state funeral.

To pay tribute to the deceased Burundian president, 'The New Times' recalled that in Rwanda, President Paul Kagame on June 13, ordered that the national flag must fly at half-mast in solidarity with Burundi.

Friday, the day of the funeral, was declared a national holiday and schoolchildren in uniform and citizens lined up the roads waiting for the cortege to pass.

The stadium in Gitega where the funeral ceremony was held was packed with citizens from across the country, all dressed in white at the request of the authorities.

Nkurunziza was buried at a monument recently built in Gitega at the site of another structure which was to be dedicated to victims of the country's various crises over the years, but was never inaugurated, the newspaper said.

Among other dignitaries who attended the funeral ceremony were Tanzania's Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and the first lady of Zambia.

President Ndayishimiye said Nkurunziza left behind a legacy that would drive him and the people of Burundi.

"We won't disappoint you. We shall follow your footsteps," he told thousands of Burundians in Gitega.

Focusing on the number of dignitaries who attended the funeral ceremonies, another newspaper, 'The East African', another daily newspaper, wrote that no sitting East African Community head of state attended the burial ceremony for President Nkurunziza.

The newspaper reported that while in power, Nkurunziza became diplomatically isolated after 2015, when his decision to run for a third term sparked protests.

Last week, Rwanda’s President Kagame sent a message of condolences, sending signals that he would take the opportunity to mend fences with his neighbour.

“Nkurunziza was a great east African leader whose death was a great loss to the region,” President Salva Kiir of South Sudan was quoted by the newspaper as saying.


-0-    PANA    TWA/RA   27Jun2020