Major Pierre Buyoya (born 24 November 1949 in Rutovu, Bururi Province) is a Burundian politician who has ruled Burundi twice, from 1987 to 1993 and from 1996 to 2003. With 13 years combined as Head of State, Buyoya is the longest serving Burundian President.
In September 1987, Buyoya led a military coup d'état against the Second Republic of Burundi, led by Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, and installed himself as the first president of the Third Republic. He proclaimed an agenda of liberalization and patching relations between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, but presided over an oppressive ruling junta consisting primarily of Tutsi. This led to a Hutu uprising in August 1988, which caused approximately 20,000 deaths. After these killings, Buyoya appointed a commission to find a way to mediate the violence.
This commission created a new constitution that Buyoya approved in 1992. This constitution called for a nonethnic government with a president and a parliament. Democratic elections were held in June 1993 and were won by the Hutu Melchior Ndadaye who created a balanced Hutu and Tutsi government. Nevertheless, the army assassinated Ndadaye in October 1993 and Burundi returned to civil war. Nearly 150,000 people were killed as the war raged. There were numerous attempts at government, but even the coalition government under Sylvestre Ntibantunganya was unable to stop the fighting.
On July 25, 1996 with strong support and backup from the army, Buyoya returned to power in a military coup, ousting interim President Ntibantunganya who had been contested by the population due to his failure to stop killings perpetrated by rebels. The civil war became less intense but continued. Economic sanctions were also imposed by the international community because of the nature of Buyoya's return to power, but were eased as Buyoya created an ethnically inclusive government. Buyoya selected as his vice-president Domitien Ndayizeye, a Hutu. The conditions of the governmental agreement required Buyoya to hand over power in 2003, which he did. Ndayizeye became the President of Burundi on April 30.
Buyoya is a Senator for life as a former head of state.
In his 2007 book From Bloodshed to Hope in Burundi, the former US Ambassador Robert Krueger accuses Pierre Buyoya of orchestrating the 1993 putsch which led to the murder of President Ndadaye.
In 2008, Pierre Buyoya was appointed by the African Union to lead a peace mission in Chad and is still internationally solicited for peacekeeping operations and peace process fora, such as in the Central African Republic, Chad, Mauritania, etc.