According to a judicial source, the ‘born-again’ evangelical Christian President Pierre Nkurunziza, who spends much of his time travelling Burundi with his own team, Haleluya FC and his own choir, “Komeza gusenga”, which means “pray non-stop” in the local Kirundi language, imprisoned Kiremba’s administrator Cyriaque Nkezabahizi and his assistant, Michel Mutama on Thursday, on charges of “conspiracy against the president”.
The President’s team faced a side from the northern town of Kiremba on 3 February, and it was gathered that normally, the opposition is well aware they are playing against the country’s president, and it has been said they go easy in the games, even perhaps allowing Nkurunziza to score.
Several town residents told AFP that the administrator Cyriaque Nkezabahizi and his deputy Michel Mutama, had recruited players among Congolese refugees living in a camp in the town, and they did not knowthey were playing against Burundi’s president. They reportedly “attacked each time he had the ball and made him fall several times”, a witness told AFP.
“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.
The 54-year-old Burundi President, a former sport professor at the University of Burundi, continues to practice swimming and cycling and plays up to three football matches a week. He built a 9,000-seat stadium in his home town and dozens others across the country.
Critics say he is allowed to score several “bogus” goals during each match, with no player daring to seriously take him on. In power since 2005, Nkurunziza is leading a push for a referendum in May on changes to the constitution that would allow him to run in elections in 2020.
President Nkurunziza and his government were in 2017 implicated in a United Nations report that said there was strong evidence crimes against humanity had been committed in the country.