The government of Burundi has confirmed the death of former president Jean-Baptiste Bagaza. Jean-Baptiste Bagaza is said to have given up the ghost in Belgium on Wednesday. The cause of death has not been stated.
Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bagaza ruled Burundi from 1976 to 1987 when he deposed Michel Macombero, the first president of Burundi. During Bagaza’s rule, Burundi was in a state of economic stability. He invested in the implementation of infrastructures, electricity generation and water. Some of his accomplishments include the abolition of poll tax, land reforms, the creation of a sea port in Tanzania on the lake Tangayinka, thereby linking the economies of Tanzania and Burundi.
Bagaza’s rule was however not exempted from discrepancies. Bagaza was a Tutsi, a Burundian tribe that makes up for barely 15% of the country. For years, Tutsis had been at logger-heads with the Hutus, Burundi’s major tribe which makes up about 80% of the population. Bagaza did push for national unity and even allowed 2 Hutus to be a part of his first parliament. This did not however dispel the fears among the Hutus, some who had fled the country during Micombero’s regime which allowed the massacre of the Hutus, wiping out the educated Hutus.
He also ruthlessly persecuted Catholics; imprisoning catholic priests, seizing and closing seminaries and other institutions run by the Roman Catholic church.
In 1987 he was deposed in a military coup d’etat while attending a conference in Quebec. He was succeeded by Pierre Buyoya and was exiled in Uganda, later Libya where he lived until 1993.
The Burundian flag will fly at half mast for three days to mourn the fallen ex president who is survived by his wife and daughters.