Burundi bans jogging groups

2014-03-20 20:44

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Bujumbura - Jogging groups have been banned from Burundi's capital because opposition parties are using them as an excuse to organise "uprisings", Bujumbura's mayoral spokesperson said on Thursday.

Two people constitute a group, spokesperson Candide Kazatsa told AFP, but individually people can run.

"Marches or jogging in the streets is prohibited if it is done en masse, but if someone wants to do sports individually, they can do that for sure," she said.

The ban, which followed the advice of national security officials, comes amid growing tensions in the central African country, with international concern about tensions between the opposition and the government.

The United Nations has called for restraint and dialogue ahead of elections scheduled for 2015, in which President Pierre Nkurunziza is expected to campaign for a third term in office.

Mayor Saidi Juma ordered the ban after groups were "organising uprisings of a political nature", Kazatsa said, following a recent clash between the police and groups of opposition activists.

Organised sports events can now only take part in "grounds and stadiums that have been identified and designated for that purpose by the mayor", Kazatsa said.

Earlier this month activists from the Movement for Solidarity and Development (MSD) party were arrested after large numbers took part in a "group jog" to the centre of Bujumbura, where they were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas.

Opposition Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD) party leader Alexis Sinduhije is now on the run from police wanted for organising a "rebellion" following the clash, while 71 of his supporters are awaiting trial on similar charges.

They face life in jail if found guilty.

Running or walking groups are popular in Bujumbura amongst both men and women, with social and sports groups gathering every weekend on the streets of the city or in the surrounding hills.

Read more on:    pierre nkurunziza  |  burundi  |  east africa

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