Burundi President Pierre Buyoya at news conference in Brussels, Belgium December 5, 2001. REUTERS

The former president of Burundi Pierre Buyoya has died in Paris of Covid-19 at the age of 71.

A close member of his family told The African Gazette that to confirm the ex-special envoy of the African Union to Mali and the Sahel had Covid-19.

He died in Paris following an emergency evacuation from Bamako where he had been hospitalized for a week at the Clinique Pasteur.

In a tweet, the Malina President Ba N’Daw called him a “great Burundian, great African, great Sahelian, great Malian, a compatriot” … who worked “tirelessly for the reconciliation of the Malian people”.

Buyoya first took power in 1987, ousting president Jean-Baptiste Bagaza in a military coup, and came back again in 1996, after another military coup against Sylvestre Ntibantunganya.

He stepped down in 2003, replaced by his vice president, Domitien Ndayizeye, a Hutu, as part of an agreement that helped end the conflict.

Since 2012, he was a Special Envoy of the African Union to Mali and the Sahel.

Buyoya resigned as AU envoy in late November after being sentenced to life imprisonment in Burundi over the 1993 assassination of his successor, Melchior Ndadaye. Buyoya called the conviction politically motivated.