President Pierre Nkurunziza at his swearing in last year

Eight people have been arrested in Burundi for ‘defaming’ government leaders and institutions on Facebook and Twitter.

According to police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye the eight were arrested on August 20 in the capital, Bujumbura, while meeting to write messages to spread via social media sites.

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has survived protests and a coup attempt since he announced last April that he was seeking to extend his decade-long rule.

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He subsequently won elections, which were rejected by his critics as a sham.

More than 400 people have been killed in unrest since April 2015.

The use of social media to spur dissent has sent shock waves to several governments in Africa, with many including Uganda incapacitating platforms like Twitter and Facebook during elections.