After four days of counting & claims of vote theft by the opposition, Burundi’s ruling party’s Evariste Ndayishimiye has been declared the Presidential election winner with 68.72% of the vote.
Ndayishimiye’s victory marks a peaceful end to, at least on paper, President Jean Piere Nkrunziza’s 15-year old stranglehold on the presidency of the poor country which he grabbed after a bloody war that ended in 2005.
But Nkurunziza’s decision to step down did not come cheap for the people of Burundi. First, when he announced he would run for a third term, against the provisions of the constitution, hundreds and possibly thousands of people died in months of public protests as the government tired to suppress people power pressure.
And in 2018, Burundi’s Parliament passed a law that imposed a heavy take-home package for the President as a way to persuade him to step down.
The retirement package includes building of a new luxury villa when for a former president who would have been democratically elected. It also includes a one-off sum of US$530,000 package on top of the same amount of privileges given to the vice president for seven years after retirement.
At the end of the seven years, the former president would receive a salary equivalent to that of a legislator.
All this would be crowned with the title of a Supreme Leader that almost ensures he stays relevant in the political life of the country.
Being the third poorest country in Africa and in the world, the cost of Nkurunziza’s retirement will deprive hundreds if not thousands of people.
But despite its poverty crisis that has condemned at least 65% of her people under the poverty line, Burundi is hardly the first country to introduce these parasitic laws as a way to persuade a dictator to leave power.
Before his death, former President of Kenya Daniel Arap Moi and his successor Mwai Kibaki were costing Kenyan taxpayers over one million dollars annually, as of last year to keep them happy