Pierre Nkurunziza: Burundi leader to get $530,000 and luxury villa

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President NkurunzizaImage source, AFP
Image caption,
The lawmakers proposed Mr Nkurunziza be elevated to the title of "supreme leader" after he steps down in May

Burundi's parliament has voted to pay $530,000 (£400,000) to President Pierre Nkurunziza and provide him with a luxury villa when he leaves office.

The draft law, which has been presented to the cabinet for approval, also awards him a lifetime salary.

It also proposes that Mr Nkurunziza be elevated to the title of "supreme leader" when he steps down in May.

Burundi was plunged into a constitutional crisis in 2015 when he successfully ran for a third term.

The move sparked violent protests by opposition supporters which morphed into reprisal attacks.

Last year a UN commission accused the government of human rights abuses, including executions, arbitrary arrests, torture and sexual violence.

Burundi called the claims "lies".

Last year, Burundi banned the BBC from operating in the country, accusing it of producing a documentary that had damaged the country's reputation.

Media caption,

Why has the BBC been banned in Burundi?

The new legislation, which was passed on Tuesday by 98 lawmakers and opposed by two, would benefit former presidents but only those who were democratically elected.

"A president who came to power via the simple consensus of a group of politicians does not have the same regard as one who was democratically elected," Justice Minister Aimee-Laurentine Kanyana told the national assembly, news agency AFP reports.

The retired president will also get the same benefits as a serving vice-president for seven years after he steps down, and will for the rest of his life get an allowance equal to that of a lawmaker, the report says.

The draft law does not specify the cost and size of the villa to be built.

A diplomat based in Burundi told AFP anonymously that the proposal was "exorbitant" but was also "a positive measure", because it signalled that President Nkurunziza would not run in the 20 May election.

A new constitution passed in 2018, after a referendum, allowed him to stay in power until 2034.

The lavish proposal is, however, in contrast to the standard of living of most Burundians, where more than 65% of people live in poverty and half of its 10 million population is food-insecure, according to the UN's World Food Programme.

Mr Nkurunziza, a Hutu former rebel leader, became the second president in Burundi to be chosen in democratic elections. He was elected in 2005 after the end of a brutal civil war.

In March 2018, the governing CNDD-FDD party named Mr Nkurunziza the country's "eternal supreme guide".