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Profile of Pierre Nkurunziza

Pierre Nkurunziza, 40, sworn is as the nation's president on Friday for a five-year transition period was born in 1964 at Mwumba in the northern province of Ngozi.

His father was elected member of the National Assembly in 1965 while his mother was a nurse. The younger Nkurunziza became orphan at 7 years old when his father was assassinated in the 1972 ethnic massacre.

After he finished primary school in 1979, he joined Gitega Secondary School where he left in 1987 to enter the University of Burundi. He had applied to enter the Faculty of Economic Sciences or the High Military Institute but, instead, he was admitted to the Faculty of Physical Education and Sports.

Students were at the time admitted to different faculties depending on their ethnic and regional origins. Some faculties were more highly prized than others while Hutus were not admitted into the military institute.

Four years later, Nkurunziza left the university holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education and sports. He started his sports teaching career at the Vugizo and Muramvya secondary schools before returning to the University of Burundi as an assistant lecturer. At the same time, he lectured at the military institute and coached a football team.

In 1995, ethnic clashes at the university targeted Hutu students, prompting him to flee the country. Nkurunziza remembers that he escaped assassination by his own students.

"It was no longer possible to live in Bujumbura," he said.

He joined the rebellion of the CNDD-FDD and during the fighting in 1999; he was seriously injured and left for dead. He hid for four months without medical care and is today convinced that only God saved him.

In 2001, he was elected CNDD-FDD leader during the movement's first congress. After several sessions of negotiations with the transition government, Nkurunziza signed a ceasefire accord with the government in November 2003. The CNDD-FDD joined the transition government with Nkurunziza becoming the state minister for good governance, a position he held until his inauguration as president.

Nkurunziza, a born again Christian, likes to organize prayer sessions at his home and fasts every Thursday. He is married and a father of three boys.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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