Burundi celebrated first edition of the ‘National day of patriotism’ and commemoration of the death of Pierre Nkurunziza

The day is a paid day off, as June 8 is now the national day of patriotism and commemoration of the death of Pierre Nkurunziza just one year ago. The anniversary of his death has thus added to the list of days of celebration on the official State calendar, and this is causing controversy.
The festivities took place yesterday morning in Gitega, the new capital of Burundi, where the body of Pierre Nkurunziza lies. They are taking place in front of the huge funeral monument that is being erected around his grave.
The most senior Burundian officials were present, all wearing the same loincloth bearing the effigy of the deceased president, with the vice-president of Tanzania, Phillip Mpango, as guest of honor.
Prayers, songs to the glory of Pierre Nkurunziza and speeches followed, culminating in a speech by his successor, General Evariste Ndayishimiye, who justified his posthumous elevation to the rank of “Supreme Guide of Patriotism” by describing him as the man who “overcame ethnic divisions and definitively installed democracy in Burundi.
The absence of Burundi’s main opponent, Agathon Rwasa, was particularly noticeable. The historic leader of the CNL party refused to join the commemoration. But this opposition from within is keeping a low profile, because “the repression is still fierce, even if it has diminished in intensity today,” explains a deputy from the main opposition party.
This is not the case of the opposition and society in exile, which are up in arms against this commemoration. They have therefore decided on their side, to commemorate on this day “the day of the victims of 15 years of Nkurunziza dictatorship”, by publishing on social networks hundreds of photos of victims of the 2015 crisis.
This prompted an unequivocal reaction from President Ndayishimiye for whom “those who do not celebrate Pierre Nkurunziza today are supplicants of the devil.”