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Burundi President named country's 'Eternal Supreme Guide'

Burundi President named country's 'Eternal Supreme Guide'

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has reportedly been named "Eternal Supreme Guide" by his governing party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (or CNDD-FDD).

The new title outlaws any disagreement with the president, party Secretary-General Evariste Ndayaishimiye said. 

In a video sent to AFP, Ndayishimiye says that Nkurunziza is "our leader. Therefore in our party... no one is comparable to him".

"He is our parent, he is the one who advises us. That is why I ask all our members to respect that because a home without the man (its head) can be overlooked by anybody. For us, we have the best," he said. 

The President, who is already serving a controversial third term in office, has already put plans in place for a referendum to be held in May which would allow him to remain in office until 2034. 

Critics of the president, however, decried the bestowed title. 

Some have called it a cult of personality that has developed around the leader. 

"President Pierre Nkurunziza's naming himself the leader of the ruling party, is part of his plan to reach his goal and to make it easy for him to eliminate every challenge without difficulty," leader of the Rally of Burundi Democrats (RDB), Jeremy Minani, told Burundi Radio Publique Africaine

Rights groups, as well as the opposition have been reporting that authorities have begun a huge operation of forced voter registration, reportedly forcing the registration of minors and inciting violent action against opponents of the referendum. 

Nkurunziza, 54, is a former rebel leader who has been at the helm of the East African country since  2005.

In 2015, his controversial third term re-election led to violence in the streets of Burundi, which saw more than 1 000 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. 

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