Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza has died of heart failure at the age of 55, after 15 years in power.
The government said on Tuesday that Nkurunziza died at a hospital in eastern Burundi after he fell ill and was hospitalized over the weekend after attending a volleyball game.
“The Government of the Republic of Burundi announces with great sadness the unexpected death of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi… following heart failure on June 8, 2020,” it said in a post on its official Twitter account.
Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader who said he was chosen by God to rule the East African nation, came to power in 2005, when he was selected by parliament.
His controversial and ultimately successful bid for a third term in 2015 plunged the country into crisis.
Violence left at least 1,200 people dead, displaced hundreds of thousands and the authorities carried out a sustained crackdown on the opposition and media.
His death comes on the heels of elections on May 20 in which his hand-picked successor, Evariste Ndayishimiye, secured a seven-year term as president — a result confirmed by the constitutional court last Thursday.
Ndayishimiye was due to be sworn in in August.