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Jean-Baptiste Bagaza

Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bagaza (1946–2016) was a Burundian soldier and politician who ruled Burundi as president and de facto military dictator from November 1976 to September 1987.

Jean-Baptiste Bagaza
Jean-Baptiste Bagaza.jpg
2nd President of Burundi
In office
1 November 1976 – 3 September 1987
Prime Minister Édouard Nzambimana (1976–78)
Preceded by Michel Micombero
Succeeded by Pierre Buyoya
Personal details
Born (1946-08-29)29 August 1946[1]
Rutovu, Ruanda-Urundi
(modern-day Burundi)
Died 4 May 2016(2016-05-04) (aged 69)
Brussels, Belgium
Political party Union for National Progress (UPRONA)

Born into the Tutsi ethnic group in 1946, Bagaza served in the Burundian military and rose through the ranks under the rule of Michel Micombero who took power in 1966. He was involved in the government-backed genocide of 1972 which targeted the ethnic Hutu majority. In 1976, he deposed Micombero in a bloodless coup d'état and took power himself. His rule lasted until 1987 when his regime was overthrown in a further coup d'état and he was forced into exile. He returned to Burundi in 1994 and briefly returned to national politics as the leader of the Party for National Recovery (PARENA). He died in 2016.



Early life and military careerEdit

Jean-Baptiste Bagaza was born in Rutovu in the Belgian-controlled mandate of Ruanda-Urundi on 29 August 1946.[2] He attended a Roman Catholic school before enlisting in the army. In 1962, he went to Belgium to enroll in a military school before moving back to Burundi in 1971.[2]

Upon returning to Burundi, Bagaza became the army's chief of staff assistant because of his family's relationship to Burundi's President Michel Micombero. Bagaza played a part in the 1972 genocide of Hutus, and was promoted to the military's chief of staff after the genocide.[2]

Dictatorship and aftermathEdit

In November 1976, Bagaza overthrew Micombero in a non-violent coup d'état and became the next president of Burundi.[1] In the elections held in 1984, he was re-elected as Burundi's president with an almost unanimous vote of 99.6 percent.[3] After the election, Bagaza organized a military operation against the Roman Catholic Church.[2]

In September 1987, while traveling abroad in Quebec, Canada, Bagaza was deposed in a military coup.[1] He was replaced as president by Pierre Buyoya, and went into exile in Uganda. He later went to Libya, where he lived until 1993.[4]

From 1994 until his death, he led the Party for National Recovery (PARENA).[5] He was a senator for life as a former head of state.[6][7] In 1997, Bagaza was arrested for gathering weapons for a plot against Buyoya.[2]

Bagaza died in Brussels, Belgium on 4 May 2016 at the age of 69 and was buried in Bujumbura on 17 May 2016.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Chan, Sewell (2016-05-04). "Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, Deposed Leader of a Troubled Burundi, Is Dead at 69". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Applah, Kwame Anthony; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., eds. (2010). Encyclopedia of Africa, Volume 1 Abacha, Sani—Kilimanjaro. Oxford University Press. p. 146. ISBN 9780195337709. Retrieved 5 May 2016. Bagaza was born into a family of the ethnic Tutsi-Hima people in southern Urundi, now Burundi
  3. ^ Brooke, James. "Rule by Minority Persists in Burundi". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Former Burundi president dies in Belgium". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Burundi pays final tribute to former president Bagaza". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  6. ^ "POST TRANSITION SENATORS' LIST". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 12 November 2016.(in French)
  7. ^ "The Senate composition". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 12 November 2016.(in French)
Political offices
Preceded by
Michel Micombero
President of Burundi
Succeeded by
Pierre Buyoya