Burundian citizens on Tuesday commemorated the 21st anniversary of the killing of the east African nation's first democratically elected Hutu President Melchior Ndadaye, whose death sparked interethnic violence, leaving the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.
Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, his two deputies, the speakers of both chambers of the parliament, government members and foreign diplomats attended the memorial ceremonies held in the capital city of Bujumbura, honoring the late president, who was assassinated on Oct. 21, 1993, and loss of lives after his death.
Ndadaye left a "big legacy" in terms of democracy gains, said Leonce Ngendakumana, Chairman of the Front for Democracy in Burundi.
"Nowadays, there is a pluralism of media. Civil society organizations are numerous and political parties were created and enjoy somewhat some freedom. This is a result of democracy that was initiated by Ndadaye," said Ngendakumana.
The Association of Widows and Orphans for the Defense of their Rights (AVOD) said that Burundian citizens should remember democracy principles that Ndadaye was preaching.
"Burundians should know that we no longer need martyrs, widows and orphans. Leaders and citizens have to avoid any action that would cause violence," said Jacqueline Karibwami, AVOD chairperson and widow to Pontien Karibwami, the then speaker of the National Assembly killed along with Ndadaye 21 years ago.
After three months in office, Ndadaye was killed at the age of 40 by a group of soldiers from the Tutsi-dominated army.
Ndadaye's assassination triggered violence in several parts of the east African nation with Hutus killing their neighbor Tutsis and the army retaliating against Hutus.