Burundi has kicked off the week-long annual National Prayer Retreat organized by the country’s First Family in the stadium of the province of Kayanza.

The crusade was opened by the country’s President Pierre Nkurunziza together with his wife Denise and its objective includes thanking God for his actions in Burundi throughout the year as well as entrusting him with the New Year 2018.

Burundi organizes these prayers almost every year with Burundians from all walks of life attending including the high and mighty.

The meetings have however come under sharp criticism with a section of Burundians believing that they are a convenient way of pretending that ‘everything is fine’ amidst real difficulties at the political, economic, judicial and human rights levels.

“A Christian must give thanks to the Lord, both in misery and happiness,” Burundian blogger Spageon Ngabo was quoted by Africanews.com.

Nkurunziza, who describes himself as a born-again Christian usually organizes prayer meeting and crusades with reports that he travels with his choir. While assuming office in 2005, he made it clear to leaders in his government that prayer is a priority.

His critics have however rubbished his stance noting that his clinging to power, ‘violation’ of the constitution, as well as human rights abuses, are a direct contradiction to his professions of faith in God.

Burundi has been in a political turmoil since 2015 when President Nkurunziza decided to run for office in the April 2015 poll. He was accused of running for a third term, a contradiction to the constitution.