Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye promised yesterday to unite the country that has been cut off by aid donors due to rampant human rights abuses after he was sworn in early following the sudden death of his predecessor.
Ndayishimiye, 52, a retired army general, won last month’s presidential election as the ruling party’s candidate, defeating the opposition’s Agathon Rwasa and five others.
He had been due to take office in August, but the death of Pierre Nkurunziza this month brought the succession forward.
“I will defend Burundi’s sovereignty and ensure freedom of every Burundian citizen and protection,’’ Ndayishimiye said at the ceremony in the political capital, Gitega.
He urged people who had fled the country, including government critics and human rights activists, to return.
“What did those who went to complain to the world, get? I rather call on them to come back,’’ Ndayishimiye said.
The swearing-in was followed by a 21-gun salute and a military parade in a stadium filled with invited guests.
The constitutional court ruled on Friday that Ndayishimiye should be sworn in immediately, easing concern that powerful generals would dispute the succession.