Burundi profile - Leaders

  • 23 July 2015
  • From the section Africa

President: Pierre Nkurunziza

Pierre Nkurunziza, a former Hutu rebel leader, became the first president to be chosen in democratic elections since the start of Burundi's civil war in 1994.

He was selected as president by parliamentarians in August 2005 after his Force for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) won parliamentary elections a few weeks earlier.

He was re-elected in June 2010 presidential polls. The vote was boycotted by the opposition, which complained of fraud in the earlier local elections.

The European Union praised Burundi for holding a peaceful presidential election but criticised the government for limits on political expression.

Since 2010 opposition leaders and international observers have complained of increasing attacks and pressure on opposition parties and the media.

In the run-up to the next presidential election, opposition parties accused Mr Nkurunziza of seeking to rewrite the constitution for his party's own gain, and of behaving increasingly like a dictator.

Demonstrators took to the streets to oppose Mr Nkurunziza's plans to run for the third term in May 2015, eventually prompting to the government to postpone the polls, which were finally held in a tense atmosphere on 21 July.

The 2005 vote was one of the final steps in a peace process intended to end years of fighting between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-controlled army.

A peace agreement between the government and the remaining Hutu rebels was signed in 2006, but broke down after the government rejected rebel demands for power-sharing.

A ceasefire with the last major active rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (FNL), was signed in May 2008.

Born in 1964 in Ngozi province, Pierre Nkurunziza trained as a sports teacher. His father, a former MP, was killed in ethnic violence in 1972.

He joined the Hutu rebellion in 1995 and rose through the ranks to become head of the FDD in 2001. He sustained a serious mortar injury during the conflict.

The married father of five is a born-again Christian.