Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza

Comedian arrested for mocking president

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Bujumbura –  A Burundian comedian has been arrested for mocking President Pierre Nkurunziza, sources of the intelligence service and the detainee’s family said on Friday.

The accused, Alfred Mugenzi, populally known as Kigingi, was held while advertising a beer brand in Muramvya in central Burundi on Tuesday while the arrest was made public on Friday.

The 30-year-old was taken to premises of the intelligence service in the capital Bujumbura, said an intelligence source, who did not want to be named.

The source denied reports that the comedian had been tied up for the journey to the capital.

Mugenzi was accused of mocking the president, during a show in neighbouring Rwanda in June last year, saying the president had received two yellow cards in a football game but refused to leave the pitch.

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A video of the show has now started circulating on social media, where it has become very popular.

Mugenzi’s joke was referring to Nkurunziza’s determination to seek a third term in office, despite the constitutional two-term limit.

The president’s announcement of his plans and his subsequent election victory in July triggered a wave of protests, police repression and opposition attacks that have claimed more than 400 lives so far.

Mugenzi was held on charges of insulting the president, according to the intelligence source.

The arrest sparked concern that the comedian could be tortured or even killed, as has happened to other detainees, according to human rights groups.

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“Our son is innocent, he is a victim of his profession,” said a member of the comedian’s family, who did not want his name published. (dpa/NAN)

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