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Uproar as Nkurunziza rewards daughter at Labour day ceremonies for behaving well at home

Head of state Pierre Nkurunziza gives an envelope (of money) to his daughter Naomie Nkurunziza, who has been behaving well at home. (PHOTO/COURTESY)

BUJUMBURA – Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza lauded his 12-year-old daughter and gave her money at May Day (Labour Day) ceremonies designed to honour the country’s top workers.

“Head of state Pierre Nkurunziza gave an envelope (of money) to his daughter Naomie Nkurunziza, who has been behaving well at home,” state broadcaster RTNB said in an overnight tweet, without specifying the amount.

“Pierre Nkurunziza says that she is hard-working and loves Burundian culture and sport,” it said.

The May 1 ceremonies, which took place at a sports stadium at Rumonge, saw Mr. Nkurunziza hand out awards to senior state officials, farmers, the national football team, a judo champion, governors and district administrators.

The decade-old tradition has also seen Mr. Nkurunziza reward one of his sons, Jonathan, who was aged five at the time, his wife, Denise Bucumi, and one of their nannies.

Burundi has been in turmoil since the president announced in April 2015 that he intended to stand again for the presidency. He was re-elected in July of that year.

Violence claimed at least 1,200 lives and displaced more than 400,000 between April 2015 and May 2017, according to estimates by the International Criminal Court which has opened an investigation.

Civil society activist Pacifique Nininahazwe, who lives in self-imposed exile, said in a tweet that Nkurunziza’s awards to his family “remind me of (Ugandan) dictator Idi Amin, handing out military decorations to his five-year-old son!”

“What resemblences there are between these two Kafkaesque, blood-stained tyrants,” he wrote.

Mr. Nkurunziza’s spokesman, Jean-Claude Karerwa Ndenzako, told AFP “acknowledgement (of hard work) is not something that is exclusive to the state or to organisations — it’s more a reflex that everyone should have.”

The money that the president gave his daughter “came from his own pocket,” he said.

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