Burundi’s first lady returns after husband’s death

Denise Nkurunziza, the widow of Burundi’s late president, returned home from receiving medical treatment in Kenya hours after the announcement of her husband’s death, the BBC has learnt.

On Tuesday afternoon, the government announced that President Pierre Nkurunziza had died aged 55 after suffering a cardiac arrest.

An official in the Burundian president’s office denied that Mrs Nkurunziza, who was airlifted to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on 28 May, had been treated for coronavirus.

She was discharged on Tuesday, an official at the private Kenyan hospital where she was staying told the BBC, without giving details about her condition.

A journalist in Burundi’s main city of Bujumbura confirmed to the BBC that Mrs Nkurunziza had arrived home on Tuesday evening.

Mrs Nkurunziza, a mother of five and former immigration officer, is known in Burundi for her philanthropic work through her foundation called Buntu.

A devout Christian, she and her husband regularly organised prayer gatherings.

After 15 years in power, Mr Nkurunziza had been due to step down in August. His campaign for a third term in office in 2015 plunged the country into chaos.

The government has announced seven days of national mourning for the man who was to be known as Burundi’s “supreme guide to patriotism” after he stood down.

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

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