Burundi's president-elect to take power immediately after death of ex-leader

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FILE PHOTO: Presidential, Legislative and Communal council elections, under the simmering political violence and the growing threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Gitega
FILE PHOTO: Presidential, Legislative and Communal council elections, under the simmering political violence and the growing threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Gitega

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Burundi's constitutional court has agreed that president-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye should be sworn in immediately after the death of former leader Pierre Nkurunziza, the government said on Friday.

The constitution provides for the speaker of parliament to take over in such a situation. The court ruled, however, that "the interim period is not necessary and that...Ndayishimiye must be sworn in as soon as possible", the government said in a statement posted on Twitter.

There had been uncertainty as to who was in charge in Bujumbura since the government announced Nkurunziza's death on Tuesday.

Watchers of the country had worried about possible discord over the succession among the ranks of Burundi's powerful group of generals that might have sparked a fresh round of unrest.

The statement did not say when the swearing-in would be conducted.

Ndayishimiye was declared winner of the central African country's election last month after fending off a challenge from the opposition's Agathon Rwasa, and was officially due to be sworn in in August.

It was the country's first competitive presidential election since a civil war erupted in 1993.

Burundi, which shares the same ethnic mix with its neighbour Rwanda, has been convulsed by recurring cycles of power grabs, violence and massacres since it won independence in 1962.

Nkurunziza was a former rebel leader whose rule was marked by widespread brutality and repression of his opponents.

Burundi's economy is also in tatters after donors, whose aid was a key source of government revenue, dropped the country amid continuing human rights violations.

(Reporting by Nairobi Newsroom; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Mark Heinrich)