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Burundi News Makers: President-elect Évariste Ndayishimiye

He was not known to many East Africans until late last year, when he was rumored to be the anointed successor of outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Évariste Ndayishimiye, Burundi’s president-elect has kept a very low profile despite being one of the most influential political and military leaders in the country.

He was not known to many East Africans until late last year, when he was rumored to be the anointed successor of outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Before his appointment on January 26, 2020 as the ruling party candidate, Ndayishimiye had been serving as the Secretary General of the ruling party National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (French: Conseil National Pour la Défense de la Démocratie–Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie, CNDD–FDD).

A high ranking soldier, he was born in Giheta in the province of Gitega , in central Burundi in 1968.

Burundi President-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye.

At the height of the civil war in 1995, he was reportedly a student at the University of Burundi. He escaped the wrath of the pockets of ethnic cleansing by a Tutsi militia and joined the armed opposition rebels as Defense Forces for Democracy (FDD), started by Hutu elite after the assassination President Melchior Ndadaye.

Ndayishimiye rose through the ranks and was one of the groups top commander, controlling different regions.

As calm returned with the Arusha accord, and Pierre Nkurunziza took over presidency, Ndayishimiye was appointed deputy chief of staff of the new National Defense Forces (FDN) with the rank of general.

He later served as Minister of the Interior and Public Security  between 2006 and 2007, head of the military cabinet to the presidency, a position he held until 2014.

In August 2016, he was elected secretary general of the CNDD-FDD where he replaced Pascal Nyabenda. Since 2005, Ndayishimiye has been one of the most influential politicians in Burundi.

During a congress organized on January 26, 2020 in Gitega, in the central Burundu, CNDD-FDD chose him as candidate for the next election to replace retiring Nkurunziza.