KIGALI, Rwanda 

Maj. Gen. Evariste Ndayishimiye on Thursday was sworn in as the new president of Burundi for a seven-year term in office, renewable once.

The swearing-in ceremony before Burundi’s Constitutional Court took place at the Ingoma Stadium in the administrative capital Gitega.

It followed ruling of the same court which upheld Ndayishimiye as the winner of the presidential election held on May 20.

Ndayishimiye, 52, of the ruling party the CNDD-FDD (National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy) won last month’s election with 68.70% of the votes after defeating six other candidates.

He was initially scheduled to take oath on Aug. 20 when his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza’s term was supposed to end.

But the Constitutional Court last week ordered the president-elect to take office immediately after the death of Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza died on June 8 due to heart attack.

Ndayishimiye in a victory speech had appealed to Burundian refugees scattered in different countries to return home to build their country.

He also urged Burundian people to safeguard peace and security and to respect each other in their diversity.

Ndayishimiye also called on the international community to support Burundi.

Burundi’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture and most of the citizens live in poverty.

In a statement on Thursday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, also chair of the African Union, congratulated Ndayishimiye on his election and inauguration.

“The President reaffirmed solidarity of the African Union with the people of Burundi and expressed its willingness to work with the new President to enhance cooperation between the AU and Burundi in its legitimate quest for peace, security, stability, democracy and prosperity,” the statement said.

Who is Ndayishimiye?

Ndayishimiye was born in 1968 in the Giheta district of the Gitega province in central Burundi.

He is a father to six children.

He interrupted his law studies at the University of Burundi in 1995 due to the political-ethnic crisis that erupted in 1993 following the assassination of then-President Melchior Ndadaye, and joined the CNDD, a Hutu rebel movement that became CNDD-FDD later.

In 2003, Ndayishimiye joined the national armed forces after the government and CNDD-FDD had signed a cease-fire agreement.

In the same year, he became the deputy chief of staff of the Burundian army.

In 2006, he was appointed the home affairs and public security minister.

He was later appointed senior advisor in the office of the president in charge of military and civil affairs. In 2016, he served as Secretary General of the ruling CNDD-FDD party.

From 2012 to 2014, Ndayishimiye resumed his studies, completing the law degree at Wisdom University of Africa in Bujumbura.

He chaired the National Olympic Committee from 2009 to 2017.

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