Cyprien Ntaryamira

Cyprien Ntaryamira (6 March 1955 6 April 1994) was the Hutu President of Burundi from 5 February 1994 until his death two months later, when the aircraft he was travelling in, together with Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, was shot down near Kigali, Rwanda.

Cyprien Ntaryamira
5th President of Burundi
In office
5 February 1994  6 April 1994
Prime MinisterAnatole Kanyenkiko
Preceded bySylvie Kinigi (acting)
Succeeded bySylvestre Ntibantunganya
Personal details
Born(1955-03-06)6 March 1955
Mubimbi, Bujumbura Rural Province, Burundi
Died6 April 1994(1994-04-06) (aged 39)
Kigali, Rwanda
Cause of deathsurface-to-air missile
Political partyFront for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU)
Alma materNational University of Rwanda

Early life

Ntaryamira was born in the Mageyo zone's commune of Mubimbi, Bujumbura Rural Province, in what was then the Belgian-administered United Nations Trust Territory of Ruanda-Urundi. He entered school in Bujumbura, but after an abortive Hutu rebellion in 1972, he and thousands of other ethnic Hutus fled the country.

Ntaryamira eventually received a degree in agriculture from the National University of Rwanda in Butare in 1982. During this time, he became politically active in socialist movements. He returned to his native country in 1983 to work as an agricultural official. He was briefly a political prisoner of the regime of Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bagaza in 1985.

Political career

In August 1986, he became a founding member and economic policy director of the Hutu-dominated Front for Democracy in Burundi party (FRODEBU). His party gained power after Burundi's first democratic elections in 1993, ending a long history of rule by the Tutsi minority and the Union for National Progress (UPRONA). The new president, Melchior Ndadaye, appointed Ntaryamira Minister of Agriculture.

In October 1993, however, Ndadaye and his two top officials were assassinated, sparking parliamentary deadlock and civil war. Ntaryamira was selected as president on 5 February 1994 as a compromise: He was Hutu but considered a moderate in Ndadaye's tradition; Anatole Kanyenkiko, a UPRONA figure, was made prime minister.


The respite was brief, as the plane carrying Ntaryamira and Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, a fellow Hutu, was shot down on April 6, 1994, by unidentified men while landing at the Rwandan capital of Kigali, killing both. The deaths set off the Rwandan genocide.

Two days later, on 8 April, power was passed to Ntaryamira's longtime associate, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, the president of the National Assembly.


Political offices
Preceded by
Sylvie Kinigi
President of Burundi
Succeeded by
Sylvestre Ntibantunganya
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