The special envoy of the African Union to Mali and the Sahel, Pierre Buyoya has resigned from his post.

The former Burundian simply confirmed to the AFP that he had submitted his resignation, without further details or reason for the resignation.

Buyoya was sentenced to life imprisonment in his country in October for the 1993 assassination of his predecessor Melchior Ndadaye.

He denounces a “political trial” and said he would appeal the ruling.

A senior AU official told AFP on condition of anonymity that ‘Mr. Buyoya resigned because he wants to “devote all his time and energy to his defense and wants to avoid a situation in the AU that would become embarrassing for a member state.’’

Another senior official who also spoke on condition of anonymity added that Buyoya’s resignation “was accepted with gratitude for the excellent work done in Mali on behalf of the AU.”

The African Union has not made any comment on Buyoya’s conviction since the verdict was announced on October 20 in Bujumbura.

The Burundian judiciary convicted Mr. Buyoya, along with about twenty of his relatives, for “attacking the head of state, attacking the authority of the state, and attack tending to bring about massacre and devastation”.

Mr. Buyoya’s name had already been mentioned in connection with the assassination of President Ndadaye, without any proof being provided.