Evariste Ndayishimiye was sworn in as Burundi’s new president on Thursday, reported Reuters.
He was sworn in early following the sudden death of his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza who died on June 8. Nkurunziza had been president since 2005 and was due to hand over to Ndayishimiye in August.
The swearing-in event was held at the state Ingoma in Gitega. It was largely attended by diplomats given the restrictions on travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 52-year-old Ndayishimiye, who is a retired army general, was the head of the department of military affairs in Nkurunziza’s government and served as minister of the interior and security. He won last month’s presidential election of behalf of the ruling party. He defeated the opposition party’s Agathon Rwasa and five other presidential candidates.
Ndayishimiye was originally supposed to be sworn in as the president in August after winning May 20 election, which the opposition unsuccessfully contested in court.
While taking the oath, Ndayishimiye pledged to unite Burundi that has been cut off by aid donors due to rampant human rights abuses.
“I will not fail the unity charter, the constitution and other laws, will uphold unity among Burundians, peace and justice for all, (and) fight the ideology of genocide and discrimination,” Ndayishimiye said.
He made an appeal to government critics, human rights activists, and all others who had fled the country to return.
“What did those who went to complain to the world, get? I rather call on them to come back,” Ndayishimiye said.
His swearing-in was followed by a 21-gun salute and a military parade in a stadium filled with invited guests.
On Friday, the constitutional court ruled that Ndayishimiye should be sworn in immediately after Nkurunziza’s death, easing concern that powerful generals would dispute the succession.
The court also dismissed opposition’s plea which alleged violence and intimidation in the May elections.