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Arrests as president 'bashed' in match

By AFP | Published Mon, March 5th 2018 at 00:00, Updated March 4th 2018 at 23:01 GMT +3
Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza kicks the ball during a soccer game with his friends in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 20, 2015. [photo/ REUTERS]

Two officials have been arrested after their town's football team allegedly "roughed up" President Pierre Nkurunziza during a match with his personal team, legal sources and witnesses said Friday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source said the administrator of the northern town of Kiremba and his deputy, who is in charge of sport, had been charged with "conspiracy against the president" on Thursday.

It all started when the Kiremba team played a match earlier this month against Nkurunziza's Allelua FC team, which includes the president.

Several town residents told AFP that Cyriaque Nkezabahizi, the administrator, and his deputy Michel Mutama had recruited players among Congolese refugees living in a camp in the town.

"These Congolese obviously didn't know President Nkurunziza because they roughed him up during the match, attacking each time he had the ball and making him fall several times while the Burundian players were careful not to get too close to him," one witness said.

Critics say he is allowed to score several "bogus" goals during each match, with no player daring to seriously take him on.

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