Burundi graft denounced
Bujumbura - Burundi's main anti-corruption watchdog on Monday alleged that funds allocated to the presidency had been misused and urged parliament to stall the 2010 budget vote.
Gabriel Rufyiri, head of the Anti-corruption and Economic Malpractice Observatory (Olucome), singled out a budget line entitled "support to good initiatives".
Speaking during a news conference in Bujumbura, Rufyiri said the $1.6m fund had been earmarked for the purchase of fruit trees and of iron sheeting to be used for building schools.
"Olucome's investigation revealed that some of the sheeting was used to build private homes and local offices for the Cndd-FDD ruling party," he said.
"As for the fruit trees, the presidency is supplied by ruling party members who charge three times market prices," he said.
Rufyiri also said his probe had found inconsistencies in the money allocated for the presidency's vehicles, adding that "figures show that each car guzzles 118 litres of petrol a day."
The incriminated presidential envelope is described by the opposition as a fund for President Pierre Nkurunziza to finance "a permanent campaign".
"All these funds are managed in an opaque manner and in violation of every accounting norm... This is plain and simple graft," Rufyiri said.
"We urge the National Assembly, currently reviewing the 2010 budget proposal, and the Senate, due to examine it next, not to pass it in its current form because it benefits a few people, to the detriment of an increasingly destitute population," he said.
Olucome had already voiced its outrage after parliament approved a new law on Friday granting outgoing heads of state and lawmakers plush severance packages.
The anti-corruption watchdog's vice chairperson was knifed to death in April by unidentified attackers who also stole documents from his home.
Nkurunziza's regime is coming under increasing criticism, ahead of elections scheduled for 2010.
A 13-year-old civil war which left around 300 000 people dead officially ended in 2006 but has left the small central African nation's economy in tatters.