Agathon Rwasa, the head of the National Council for Freedom (CNL), Burundi's main opposition party, wears a face mask as he signs  the book of condolences at the state house in Bujumbura, June 12, 2020.
Agathon Rwasa, the head of the National Council for Freedom (CNL), Burundi's main opposition party, wears a face mask as he signs the book of condolences at the state house in Bujumbura, June 12, 2020.

Burundi’s Constitutional Court has ruled that President-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye must be sworn in as soon as possible, following the death of Pierre Nkurunziza.

A court ruling issued Friday and obtained by VOA’s Central Africa service said, “It is necessary to proceed as soon as possible to the swearing in of elected president Evariste Ndayishimiye."

Nkurunziza died Tuesday at age 55 at a Burundian hospital where he had been taken two days earlier. The government said the cause of death was a heart attack.

FILE - Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza queues at a polling station during elections, under the simmering political violence and the growing threat of the coronavirus, in Ngozi, Burundi, May 20, 2020.

His wife was airlifted to Nairobi late last month to be treated for COVID-19, sparking rumors that Nkurunziza also died of the disease.

Nkurunziza served three terms as Burundi’s president, taking over at end of a brutal civil war that killed an estimated 300,000 people. His decision to run for a third term in 2015 sparked protests and violence that killed hundreds of people and prompted hundreds of thousands more to flee the country.

Ndayishimiye, a retired general who Nkurunziza picked as his successor, won the May 2020 presidential election, and his term of office was originally set to begin on August 20th.

Ndayishimiye may now be sworn in as early as next week. 

Eddie Rwema contributed to this report.