Burundi students Deface President Pierre Nkurunziza Photo on Text book, Over 200 Suspended

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A Burundi school suspended 234 students after pictures of President Pierre Nkurunziza in their textbooks were defaced, an official said, in a further sign of political dissent in the East African nation’s classrooms.

The defacing of the shared textbooks occurred at a school in the country’s eastern Ruyigi province, Guillaume Kwizera, the local education director, said Tuesday by phone. Earlier this month, similar actions resulted in 300 students being suspended in the capital, Bujumbura, and some arrests in Muramvya town, about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) east.

Landlocked Burundi has been rocked by unrest that’s left more than 470 people dead since April 2015, when Nkurunziza decided to stand for re-election, a move his opponents said was unconstitutional.

Kwizera Guillaume, the provincial director of education in Ruyigi province, 200 km (124 miles) east of the capital Bujumbura, said they had sent home a total of four classes who were sitting an exam.

“It is an option we took to push them to reveal the authors of the acts,” he told Reuters by phone.

Earlier this month police clashed with students protesting at the arrest of other students for a similar offence of defacing the president’s portrait in Muramvya, which is 50 km east of Bujumbura.

Another 300 students were sent home by their school in Bujumbura for defacing portraits of the president.