INTL Africa: Politics, Economics, and the Military- October 2020

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB
September's thread is here:

Pertinent long threads:

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French court approves transfer of Rwanda genocide suspect Félicien Kabuga to UN tribunal
Issued on: 30/09/2020 - 15:03
A wanted poster with a photograph of Felicien Kabuga is displayed at the French Gendarmerie's Central Office for Combating Crimes Against Humanity, Genocides and War Crimes (OCLCH) in Paris on May 19, 2020.

A wanted poster with a photograph of Felicien Kabuga is displayed at the French Gendarmerie's Central Office for Combating Crimes Against Humanity, Genocides and War Crimes (OCLCH) in Paris on May 19, 2020. © Benoît Tessier, REUTERS
Text by:FRANCE 24Follow
3 min

France's top appeals court ruled Wednesday that alleged Rwandan genocide financier Félicien Kabuga should be transferred to a UN tribunal in Tanzania to stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Kabuga, arrested near Paris in May after 25 years on the run, has asked to face justice in France. But the Court of Cassation ruled there was no legal or medical obstacle to implementing an international warrant for Kabuga's transfer to the Arusha-based tribunal.

Kabuga, 87, is accused of bankrolling and importing huge numbers of machetes for ethnic Hutu militias who killed some hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda during a 100-day period in 1994.

He has denounced the charges, including genocide and incitement to commit genocide, as "lies".

In a statement, France's Cour de Cassation said it "considers that the investigating chamber was able to consider correctly that there was no legal or medical obstacle to the execution of the arrest warrant transfer order to the United Nations detention centre in Arusha, Tanzania."

In their submission, his lawyers argued that Kabuga's health was too frail for him to be transferred to Tanzania, particularly during a dangerous pandemic.

They also argued that French law violated the constitution by failing to provide for a thorough examination of international arrest warrants.

The Cour de Cassation's ruling upholds one by a lower court on June 3 that Kabuga be extradited, ruling that his health was not "incompatible" with a transfer to a UN tribunal.

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Violence still rife in DRC after UN rights abuses report
The United Nations released a report in October 2010 on atrocities committed in DR Congo's conflict. A decade later, nothing much has come of it.

[IMG alt="An armed UN peacekeeper observes a town from a gated compound. (DW/Flávio Forner

The recent brutal murder of two police officers and the killing of 16 separatists in the southeastern mining town of Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was a grim reminder that the vast mineral-rich country is far from securing peace and respect for human rights.

Other reports of at least three United Nations agencies launching investigations over allegations that UN staff were involved in sexual crime only point to DRC's complex political and security situation.

Ten years ago, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released the Mapping Report — a comprehensive documentation of about 550 pages, outlining "indescribable" human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo between March 1993 and June 2003.

The UN's Mapping Report came as a result of the discovery of mass graves in eastern Congo.
"The idea was to investigate those heinous crimes and help the transitional government of former President Joseph Kabila bring justice to suspected perpetrators," Michel Luntumbue, senior researcher of conflict, security and governance in Africa, at the Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security (GRIP) in Brussels, told DW.
Human skulls unearthed. (Getty Images/AFP/J.D. Kannah)
DR Congo has for decades witnessed some of the worst forms of human rights abuses
Another goal of the report was to help the DRC government establish a truth and reconciliation process that could end the cycle of violence and human rights abuses.
Read more: Aid workers accused of sexual abuse in DR Congo

Delayed justice
Ten years since the report's publication, and despite the presence of a UN peacekeeping force (MONUSCO), foreign armies and dozens of militia groups still roam the jungles in DR Congo.
Graph showing UN peacekeepin mission in DRC.
For Luntumbue, one of the report's problems is the legal assessment of the serious crimes committed. "Whether they are attacks against the camps, attacks on specific groups, or rapes; because of their systematic nature, they can be classified by legal judgment as crimes against humanity, some even as genocides," Luntumbue said. "But this can only be done if the crimes are brought before a court."

For an investigation to be conducted, all the actors involved must first recognize the International Court of Justice and have signed the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court.

Millions of victims
Conflict in the DRC has killed millions of people since the country's independence from Belgium in 1960. Tens of thousands of women and girls were raped, and more than three million were displaced.

Despite these atrocities, few have been brought to justice. Dr. Denis Mukwege, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has often denounced authorities' inaction to protect and deliver justice to the victims.

Recently, Mukwege has spoken out in favor of establishing a special tribunal for the DRC.
  • The UN mission in DRC. (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kappeler)

    DR Congo: UN's largest mission
    Since 1999, the UN has been trying to pacify the eastern region of the DR Congo. The mission known as MONUSCO has nearly 20,000 soldiers and an annual budget of $1.4 billion (1.3 billion euros). Despite being the largest and most expensive mission of the United Nations, violence in the country continues.
"It will probably require prioritization through a commitment to the agenda," Congolese political analyst, Luntumbue said. "A reaffirmation of the Mapping Report and its recommendations."
Read more: 1 million people displaced in DR Congo in 6 months

Reforms needed
DR Congo is in the process of reforming its judicial system, which lacks resources.
"In 2007, the Congolese authorities already accepted the principle of the Mapping Report's recommendations and the perspective of fighting impunity. But this is a long process that requires resources and reforms," said Luntumbue.

Read more: Attacks on UN troops in Congo 'not the solution': Denis Mukwege
According to the DRC analyst, one of the biggest challenges is the judiciary's emancipation from executive power. "Doctor Mukwege and others have reminded us that there can be no peace without justice and that this could take the form that the South Africans initiated with their Truth and Reconciliation Commission or the Gacaca in Rwanda," said Luntumbue.

Watch video01:46
Tensions mount in Eastern DR Congo
Wendy Bashi contributed to this report.

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Tight security, many arrests for Ethiopian Irreecha festival
By ELIAS MESERET46 minutes ago

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Ethiopians celebrate the festival of Irreecha by throwing grass and flowers into a pool of water to thank God for the blessings of the past year and to wish prosperity for the coming year, amid tight security in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, the Oromo, on Saturday celebrated the annual Thanksgiving festival of Irreecha amid tight security and a significantly smaller crowd due to political tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, on Saturday celebrated the annual Thanksgiving festival of Irreecha amid tight security and a significantly smaller crowd due to political tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of people were arrested ahead of the festival, some accused by authorities of plotting terror attacks and a new wave of unrest.

Wearing face masks and white clothes stitched with the colors of the Oromia region’s flag, people in downtown Addis Ababa were subjected to at least six security checks complete with body searches and, in some areas, sniffer dogs.

“I don’t know the kind of information they have but these security checks are too much,” said Hassen, a participant who gave only his first name, fearing for his safety. “Added with the COVID-19, it really has ruined the festive mood.”

The festival usually attracts hundreds of thousands of people, but only a few thousand were allowed to attend this year.

More than 500 people were arrested on suspicion of plotting to disrupt the festival, the Oromia police commission said Thursday. On the same day, the National Intelligence and Security Service said it had arrested people suspected of planning to carry out terror attacks and cause unrest at the celebrations in Addis Ababa and nearby Bishoftu, adding that 10 Kalashnikovs were seized.

People travelling to the capital from other regions were banned from entering the city, multiple sources told The Associated Press. Officials said they were carrying out strict security checks but did not confirm the ban.

Notably, people carrying the Oromo Liberation Front and Oromo Federalist Congress party flags were absent in this year’s festival. Some of the parties’ leaders are behind bars for alleged involvement in the deadly unrest that followed the killing of popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa in June. On Friday, an Ethiopian court charged four people suspected in the killing, which led to turmoil that saw more than 180 people and thousands arrested.

The Oromo, while the country’s largest ethnic group, traditionally have expressed frustration over perceived marginalization. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is the country’s first Oromo leader, but he faces growing criticism by some Oromo that he hasn’t done enough for them.

The Irreecha festival marks the end of the rainy season and the start of the harvest. It has seen violence in the past.

During the 2016 celebration in Bishoftu, a town 40 kilometers from the capital, several dozen people were crushed to death in a stampede after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse anti-government protesters.

“Amid a pandemic, reasonable restrictions on public gatherings may be justified. But with tensions already high, expressions of dissent and resistance to government directives may be expected. The government should show it has learned lessons from its recent responses to demonstrations and the events of 2016 by ensuring security forces exercise restraint and allowing gatherers to celebrate safely,” tweeted Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director for Human Rights Watch.

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Sudan govt, rebel groups sign landmark peace deal
Issued on: 03/10/2020 - 14:51
South Sudan's Vice President Riek Machar attends the signing of a peace agreement between Sudan's power-sharing government and five key rebel groups in Juba, South Sudan August 31, 2020.

South Sudan's Vice President Riek Machar attends the signing of a peace agreement between Sudan's power-sharing government and five key rebel groups in Juba, South Sudan August 31, 2020. REUTERS - SAMIR BOL
2 min

Sudan's government and rebel groups on Saturday inked a landmark peace deal aimed at ending decades of war in which hundreds of thousands died.

Ululations and cheers rang out as one by one, representatives from the transitional government and rebel groups signed the deal, a year after the peace talks began, at a ceremony in the South Sudanese capital Juba, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

"Today we have reached a peace agreement. We are happy. We have finished the mission," Tut Gatluak, head of the South Sudanese mediating team said shortly before the signing took place.

Guarantors of the deal from Chad, Qatar, Egypt, the African Union, European Union and United Nations also put their names to the agreement.

Sudanese paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo -- best known by his nickname "Hemeti" -- signed the deal on behalf of Khartoum.

A representative of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) and others from the groups making up the coalition, also signed.

The SRF comprises rebel groups from the war-ravaged western Darfur region, as well as the southern states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

The peace agreement covers a number of tricky issues, from land ownership, reparations and compensation, to wealth and power sharing and the return of refugees and internally displaced people.

Under the deal, SRF fighters are to be slowly incorporated into joint units with government security forces.

Two other well-established rebel groups did not sign, reflecting the challenges still facing the peace process.

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Three Rwanda genocide suspects arrested in Belgium, prosecutor says
Issued on: 03/10/2020 - 15:33
Displaced Tutsi refugees in a camp in Kabgayi, Rwanda, on May 28, 1994.

Displaced Tutsi refugees in a camp in Kabgayi, Rwanda, on May 28, 1994. Alexander Joe / AFP
2 min

Three men suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwanda genocide have been arrested and charged in Belgium with serious abuse of human rights, the prosecutor's office said Saturday.

The office gave no details about the three but said their identities had been established with the help of witness testimony collected in Rwanda by a Belgian investigation.

"Two were arrested Tuesday in Brussels and the third Wednesday in Hainault (province)," said Eric Van Duyse, spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor's office.

"All three have been charged with serious human rights abuses," the spokesman said, confirming a report in the weekly publication Vif/L'Express.

One of the men has been put under electronic surveillance while the two others are in detention, he said.

Whether the men face trial will be "decided in the end by the dossier compiled by the investigating magistrate and the prosecutor's office," Van Duyse said.

The 1994 genocide claimed 800,000 lives, mostly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus.

Belgium has held five trials since 2001 of Rwandans implicated in the killings, with four that year — including two nuns — sentenced to terms of up to 20 years for handing over Tutsis in their shelter to Hutu militants.

Last December, former senior Rwandan official Fabien Neretse was found guilty of genocide and sentenced to 25 years prison.

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Mali releases 180 jihadists in likely prisoner exchange
By BABA AHMEDyesterday

FILE - This Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018 file photo released by the Union for the Republic and Democracy party shows Soumaila Cisse, opposition presidential candidate, casting his ballot during the presidential second round election in Niafunke, Mali. The leader of Mali's political opposition and members of his campaign team have been taken hostage by unidentified gunmen in the north, the spokesman for his political party said Thursday, March 26, 2020. (Boubacar Sada Sissoko/Union for the Republic and Democracy via AP, File)

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Malian authorities have released 180 Islamic extremists from a prison in the capital and flown them to the country’s north, an official confirmed late Sunday, fueling speculation that a prominent opposition politician held by jihadists could soon be freed after more than six months in captivity.

The militants who abducted Soumaila Cisse back in late March were believed to be seeking a prisoner exchange with the Malian government. Some 70 men were released on Saturday and another 110 on Sunday, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

There was no immediate comment late Sunday from Mali’s transitional government, which was only recently put in place more than a month after the country’s democratically elected president was ousted in a military coup.

Cisse, a 70-year-old who has run for Mali’s presidency three times, was campaigning ahead of legislative elections not far from Timbuktu at the time of his abduction. His bodyguard was killed in the attack, and the only proof of life has been a handwritten letter delivered back in August.

Government efforts to negotiate his release were thrown into upheaval after the coup that forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from power, though it did not appear progress was being made toward Cisse’s release.

Little is known about Cisse’s conditions in captivity after the initial abduction, when the assailants opened fire on his vehicule and he was injured by broken glass from the attack.
Islamic militants are active throughout northern and central Mali, though typically launch attacks on the Malian military and U.N. peacekeepers. A 2013 French-led military operation dispersed the jihadists, who then regrouped and have expanded their reach in the years since.

Many fear that the political upheaval in Mali since the coup will allow them to do so again, a fear underscored by the weekend prisoner release.
Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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Kwasizabantu Mission scandal rocks South Africa
A well-known religious mission in South Africa is under police investigation after allegations of wide-ranging abuse. So far, the mission's political connections and economic power has helped it avoid scrutiny by law.

Hands on Bible (Getty Images/S. Morton)

Kwasizabantu Mission (KSB) goes back a long way in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province. It was founded in 1970 by South African evangelical and revivalist preacher Erlo Stegen. Built in a rural area on 540 hectares of land, it is one of Africa's largest missions, with thousands of worshippers.

Now the mission has come under scrutiny after a report by South Africa's News24 network alleging widespread misconduct by church members, including human rights abuses like rape and beatings. The church has also been accused of acting like a cult.
A South African woman walks through the a village in rural KwaZulu Natal (Gianluigi Guerica/AFP)
Missions are important centers for education and community life in rural KwaZulu Natal. Kwasizabantu Mission is one of the biggest missions in Africa
Rights abuses

News24 interviewed former members of Kwasizabantu over a period of seven months. As the story unfolded, more and more victims came forward with tales of abuse. This led business partners of Kwasizabantu and its affiliates to either cut ties or suspend their dealings with the mission.

"This has the potential of shutting down this place," according to Adriaan Basson, editor-in-chief at News24, who says the media outlet was very thorough in its research.

"You have to get source after source after source to confirm and corroborate each other, so that you can stand up in court ultimately. And that is what we built. We built a case that can stand up in court. We worked with an attorney as well on the matter."

Kwasizabantu has faced allegations of "virginity testing" young girls, underpaying workers on various farming projects and cutting off families from each other before. But, so far, the mission has largely avoided scrutiny by the law.

"There hasn't been one investigation that pulled together all the elements of the alleged wrongdoing: the abuse, the sexual abuse, the cultism, as well as the financial misconduct. If you put it all together, you get a much clearer picture of how this happened," says Basson.

Business interests and money laundering
Kwasizabantu used to have branches in Germany and Switzerland. The Swiss and German churches cut ties with its South African parent organization in 2019, after accusations of embezzlement of donor money surfaced.

Read more German Catholic Church decides on new compensation model for abuse victims
The mission, however, is also a multi-million euro business. Kwasizabantu operates numerous farming companies on its premises. Its Ekhamanzi Springs plant, for example, supplies aQuellé bottled water to some of South Africa's biggest retailers including Pick n Pay, Makro, Spar and Shoprite.

The mission has also been accused of not paying salaries to staff working on its projects.
"People at KSB headquarters were allegedly being forced to work basically as slave labor. A few labor court cases have been shown as proof of these allegations, which are quite, quite disturbing," says Nicole Engelbrecht, producer of the South African podcast TrueCrime.

Listen to audio03:53
World in Progress: Shady pastors and dubious promises in South Africa

Close ties with apartheid South Africa's military intelligence
A former church member, Koos Greeff, revealed that, during the 1980s, he was an informant for the government to help apprehend enemies of the apartheid state or "ANC terrorists who came to Kwasizabantu". This meant people on the run from the state were welcomed to Kwasizabantu and given refuge, only to be arrested by apartheid authorities in the middle of the night. Sources on both sides have corroborated these allegations, according to News24.
While KSB claims to be diverse and open to all, Basson is unconvinced.

"When you speak to people that grew up there, white and black people, it very quickly becomes clear that at the mission there was also apartheid. There was also separation. The black kids stayed in very poor dormitories, whereas the white kids and their parents stayed in better accommodation, for example."

KSB's leadership has repeatedly denied these allegations.
File photo of the South Africa's special investigations unit, the Hawks (Reuters/J. Oatway)
The Hawks, a special unit in the South Africa Police Service, are investigating allegations of money laundering at Kwasizabantu

How to avoid scrutiny

In the beginning, the mission's popularity and power were a result of the charisma of its leader, Erlo Stegen. But South Africa's socioeconomic issues make the country "a breeding ground for cults," said Engelbrecht.

"For many, many years, the Christian religion was the basis of our country. The high levels of unemployment, drug addiction, when people are really in that place in their lives, when they are struggling and they are desperate, it is so much easier for them to be drawn into an organization that promises them the world."

Before the dam broke, after the News24 report, few had spoken out about their ordeals at KSB. Psychologist Amorie Kemp, who has researched cults, including KSB, for many years, says the flood of allegations at this time makes sense.

"You need a leader. If something happens to you, and you speak out, then others will have the guts to come out as well. They just need that push," she explains.

The role of fear
"The whole thing boils down to fear: fear for their lives, fear of Erlo Stegen. And if you're not afraid, then you don't belong and then you try to get out and then they start maltreating you."
KSB also nurtured ties with local and national leaders. The longtime leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, an influential political party in KwaZulu-Natal, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, admitted to having close family ties to KSB. Former President Jacob Zuma's mother worshipped at the mission.
Former South African president Jacob Zuma campaigning (Getty Images/AFP/A. Joe)
Former South African president Jacob Zuma's family has been known to go to Kwasizabantu Mission

"There's definitely a lot of power in this mission. They have definite links to politicians and to senior and powerful people in KwaZulu-Natal. But the other half of the story is the fear," says Basson.

Engelbrecht says KSB shares many traits that are attributed to cults.
South African politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi (Rajesh Jantilal/AFP)
South African politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who has been an influential figure in KwaZulu-Natal, said allegations against the church were "devastating"

"There is the ultimate devotion to the cause. People have allegedly been cut off from their families, which is another attribute of an abusive cult. And then there's the psychological and physical manipulation and abuse which has been alleged."

Kwasizabantu has released a videotaped statement asking victims to come forward and assist in a probe into the allegations of wrongdoing.

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Military appointed to key posts in Mali's interim govt
Issued on: 05/10/2020 - 20:37
The new interim president of Mali Bah Ndaw is sworn in during the Inauguration ceremony in Bamako, Mali, on September 25, 2020.

The new interim president of Mali Bah Ndaw is sworn in during the Inauguration ceremony in Bamako, Mali, on September 25, 2020. © Amadou Keita, Reuters
3 min

A transition government tasked with leading Mali back to civilian rule was appointed on Monday, with numerous members of the military junta that seized power in a coup occupying key posts.

Following the bloodless August 18 coup that toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the junta vowed to relinquish control and hold fresh elections.

But Mali’s West African neighbours imposed potentially crippling sanctions, and a key sticking point in negotiations with the junta has been whether the transition will be led by soldiers or civilians.

Interim president Bah Ndaw, a former foreign minister and retired colonel who was sworn in last month, appointed a 25-strong government on Monday.

At least four central cabinet posts – defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation – went to colonels in the army, according to a decree read live on state television by the president’s secretary-general Sekou Traore.

One of the junta’s leaders, Colonel Sadio Camara, becomes defence minister, while Colonel Modibo Kone gets the security and civil protection portfolio.

Junta spokesman Colonel Ismael Wague, who broke the news of the coup in a dramatic night-time television broadcast, will become national reconciliation minister.

But civilians were also appointed, including former prosecutor Mohamed Sidda Dicko as justice minister and former ambassador Zeini Moulaye as foreign affairs minister.

The coup came after months of protests over the country’s bloody jihadist insurgency, economic struggles and chronic inter-ethnic violence.

Different groups represented
Former armed groups that signed a peace agreement in 2015 will also be represented in the transitional government.

Members of Tuareg groups that led a rebellion in the north were awarded the agriculture and fisheries as well as youth and sports ministries, while pro-Bamako groups also received posts.

The movement that led the protests that built up to the coup received three ministerial posts.

The West African bloc ECOWAS has heaped pressure on Mali’s junta to swiftly restore civilian rule, including imposing sanctions.

After long negotiations, the junta finally agreed to complete that transition within 18 months at most.

The junta will hope that the appointment of the transition government will help convince ECOWAS to lift the sanctions.

But it was still not met all of the ECOWAS demands, in particular the dissolution of the junta and the release of civilian and military figures arrested during the coup.

Last week the junta abandoned a contentious measure that would have enabled its leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, to potentially replace Ndaw – himself a retired colonel – if ever he was incapacitated.

Goita officially holds the post of interim vice-president.

Mali’s interim prime minister is former foreign minister Moctar Ouane.

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Tens of thousands attend Senegal pilgrimage despite COVID-19
By YESICA FISCHyesterday

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In this aerial photo taken with a drone, pilgrims from the Mouride Brotherhood arrive at the Grand Mosque of Touba during the celebrations of the Grand Magal of Touba, in Senegal, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of people from the Mouride Brotherhood, an order of Sufi Islam, gather for the annual religious pilgrimage to celebrate the life and teachings of Cheikh Amadou Bamba, the founder of the brotherhood. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

TOUBA, Senegal (AP) — Tens of thousands of Muslims descended upon Senegal’s holy city this week for the annual Grand Magal pilgrimage, a tradition in West Africa that some fear could become a super-spreader event for COVID-19.

The Magal honors the founder of the Mouride Brotherhood, Senegal’s most influential religious order. In previous years, as many as 3 million people have traveled to the city of Touba during Magal, with many coming from neighboring Gambia.

With Senegal’s land borders still closed, fewer pilgrims attended the main events Tuesday. Closely packed lines queued up to enter the Grand Mosque of Touba, though hand sanitizer and masks were required to enter.

Mam Thierno, 41, has lived in Italy for nearly a decade but chose to travel home to Senegal for Magal even amid the pandemic, calling it a deeply moving experience for him and his family.

“To go a year without Magal would be too much for me,” he said. “With the pandemic there are people who say we shouldn’t hold the Magal in Touba ... I know the disease is here, COVID-19 exists, but I still came.”

Senegal was among the first African countries to report a confirmed COVID-19 case but has avoided the high death tolls seen elsewhere, in large part due to widespread required mask-wearing and restrictions on travel.

The country has had more than 15,000 confirmed cases and 312 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus.

Even with the precautions taken, some are fearful that Touba — once an early virus hotspot — could now see a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the weeks after Magal. Many people crowded into homes due to limited accommodations in town during the pilgrimage.
The virus also could potentially spread to communities far from Touba via people returning home on public transport. Buses only leave for their destination once completely full.

Sokhna Bousso Diop couldn’t help notice many of the pilgrims were not following the face-covering rules outside the perimeters of the mosque. Still, she turned to her faith for assurance.

“We are confident that Serigne Touba has not forgotten us,” she said, referring to the founder of the Mouride Brotherhood. “Let’s keep on praying. Everything will go smoothly.”
Associated Press writer Abdoulie John contributed to this report.

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Westgate attack: Kenyan court finds two men guilty
A court has convicted two men of supporting al-Shabab in an attack on the Westgate shopping center in 2013, while another man was acquitted. The verdict has been met with skepticism.

Three defendants in the Kenyan court (Brian Inganga/AP Photo/picture-alliance)

A Kenyan court on Wednesday found two men guilty of aiding al-Shabab during an assault on the Westgate shopping mall in 2013. A third man was acquitted of all charges.
The al-Qaida-linked Somali group attacked the shopping mall in Nairobi, killing 67 people.
Westgate was seen as a symbol of Kenya's growing prosperity at the time of the Islamist attack.

Sentencing is expected to take place on October 22 — the men could face up to 20 years in prison.

Attack planners still unknown
"The prosecution has proved its case against the accused on charges of conspiracy of committing a terrorist act and supporting a terrorist group," Chief Justice Francis Andayi said in his verdict.

Survivor of the attack, David Odhiambo, called for the men to be executed. He was shot in the head while working as a security guard at the mall. As a result he still has to make regular visits to the hospital.

Read more: Reports warn of abuse in Kenya's war on terror
The verdict was met with skepticism and claims of the authorities not going far enough with their investigations.

Otsieno Namwaya, a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, highlighted that the three men "are not in any way the masterminds. Not even the attackers. It’s believed that the attackers escaped, and masterminds are still unknown. These three must have been fringe players, if at all."

A four-day siege
On September 21, 2013, a group of four men launched an assault on the luxury shopping mall in the Kenyan capital. They held the complex for four days, under siege, while cameras streamed the events live on TV.

The response by the Kenyan police and military was heavily criticized and ended up with one policeman being killed by friendly fire.

The attackers allegedly died of smoke inhalation when the army blew up the part of the mall where they were holding out.

Read more: When al-Qaida brought terrorism to East Africa
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack as retribution for the Kenyan army's involvement in incursions against the militant group's strongholds in southern Somalia.
ab/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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Mali: 3 European hostages, 1 Malian politician freed

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In this photo provided by the Mali Presidency, Italian ex-hostages Father Pierluigi Maccalli, left, and Nicola Chiacchio, right, arrive at the presidential palace after being released and flown to the capital Bamako, Mali, late Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. A prominent Malian politician and three European hostages freed by Islamic extremists in northern Mali this week landed in the country's capital late Thursday where they held emotional reunions with family members and were greeted by government officials. (Mali Presidency via AP)

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A prominent Malian politician and three European hostages freed by Islamic extremists in northern Mali this week landed in the country’s capital late Thursday where they held emotional reunions with family members and were greeted by government officials.

Their freedom came just days after the Malian government released nearly 200 militants and sent them by plane to northern Mali, fueling speculation of an imminent prisoner exchange that some fear could further destabilize the country. It was not immediately known whether a ransom was paid.

On Thursday night, the son of 75-year-old French humanitarian Sophie Petronin, who had spent nearly four years in captivity, cried out to her as she made her way off the plane. He swooped her off her feet in an enormous hug, calling out “Mother! Mother!” over and over.

Three-time Malian presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse descended next in a flowing white robe and turban, embracing first his wife and then his son.

The Malian government also made a surprise announcement that two Italian nationals — Father Pierluigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio — had been released by the jihadists too.
All four released hostages were then brought to a late night reception at Mali’s presidential palace where they met with dignitaries.

“I spent six months in ... very difficult living conditions, in almost permanent isolation, but I must confess that I was not subjected to any violence, neither physical nor verbal,” Cisse told ORTM, Mali’s state broadcaster.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he had spoken by phone with Petronin and would greet her upon her return to France on Friday.
“What a joy to hear her voice and to know that she is now safe,” he tweeted.

Maccalli, a Roman Catholic missionary priest from the African Missionary Society (SMA), was kidnapped from Niger in 2018. Jihadists seized Chiacchio in central Mali last year, according to Menastream, an independent risk and research consultancy firm specializing in the Sahel and North Africa.

The two men were known to be held by same extremists after a video was released of them together back in April.

The hostages’ release came just days after Malian authorities freed nearly 200 jihadist prisoners over the weekend, which had fueled speculation that a prisoner exchange was imminent.

But there was a 48-hour delay between relatives of Cisse and Petronin were first notified and when the former hostages showed up for the flight in Tessalit. Malian authorities indicated their release had taken place Tuesday.

Cisse indicated that the delay was due to security conditions in northern Mali that had made it too dangerous for them to travel to Tessalit for the flight.

While there was no immediate information on whether a ransom was paid, extremists groups in the Sahel have long funded their organizations through ransom payments made by European governments, analysts say.

The al-Qaida-linked group known as JNIM and its associates are still believed to be holding at least five other foreigners: Australian doctor Ken Elliott, Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, South African national Christo Bothma, Swiss national Beatrice Stockly and Romanian citizen Julian Ghergut.

In March, extremists ambushed Cisse’s vehicle while he and his entourage were campaigning in northern Mali. The three-time presidential candidate was later re-elected to his parliament seat while in captivity and now emerges as the front-runner for the 2022 election.

Negotiations for his release had appeared to stall after an Aug. 18 military coup overthrew democratically-elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who beat Cisse in both the 2013 and 2018 elections. The military junta has handed over power to a transitional government now tasked with organizing elections, though the junta’s leader still serves as vice president.
Associated Press writers Nicole Winfield in Rome; Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, contributed.


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Swiss hostage killed by terrorists in Mali, says Switzerland
The Swiss foreign ministry said its citizen was killed by an al Qaeda-linked coalition in Mali. The news came hours after another hostage, a French national, arrived back home after being released by the Islamist group.

A damaged mausoleum in Mali, Timbuktu (picture-alliance/AP Photo/B. Ahmed)

A coalition of Islamist groups linked to the al Qaeda terror network executed a Swiss woman in Mali, Swiss authorities said on Friday.

"It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of our fellow citizen," Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said. "I condemn this cruel act and express my deepest sympathy to the relatives."

Switzerland's Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said it was informed of the woman's death by French authorities on Friday afternoon. "She was apparently killed by kidnappers of the Islamist terrorist organization Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslim (JNIM) about a month ago," the ministry said.

FDFA said the exact circumstances were "currently still unclear" but pledged to find out more about the killing and demand the return of her remains.

Read more: An uncertain future for Mali 60 years after independence
The news of the hostage's death came hours after a 75-year-old French aid worker, who had been held hostage by the same group for six years, arrived back home. The aid worker Sophie Petronin was released on Thursday, along with two Italian men.

Watch video01:38
Islamist militants free hostages in Mali
Christian missionary in Timbuktu

Swiss authorities did not reveal any details about the identity of the woman, or the purpose of her visit to the West African nation in its official statement.
However, Swiss media have identified the woman as a Christian missionary from the northwestern city of Basel who was kidnapped four years ago. This was confirmed by the FDFA.

Read more: Mali's junta and opposition on diverging paths
She appeared for the first time in a terrorist video in July 2017. Her face was wrapped in a black headscarf and was identified as Beatrice S, the newspaper reported.

The woman had been abducted by an Islamist group earlier in 2012 but was released days later on the condition that she would not return to Mali. According to the Berner Zeitung, she was recaptured in January 2016 while working in the Malian city of Timbuktu.
adi/dj (AP, AFP, dpa)

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Freed Malian politician details months as al-Qaida hostage
By BABA AHMEDyesterday

1 of 6
In this photo provided by the Mali Presidency, three-time Malian presidential candidate and ex-hostage Soumaila Cisse, center, is accompanied by his wife Astan Traore, left, and Issoufi Maiga, right, head of the crisis unit for the release of Cisse, as they arrive at the presidential palace after Cisse was released and flown to the capital Bamako, Mali, late Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. A prominent Malian politician and three European hostages freed by Islamic extremists in northern Mali this week landed in the country's capital late Thursday where they held emotional reunions with family members and were greeted by government officials. (Mali Presidency via AP)

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Malian politician Soumaila Cisse’s captors kept him constantly on the move in the inhospitable desert, he told French television, describing his six months with al-Qaida-linked militants as “near permanent physical and moral isolation.”

His interview with TV5 Monde came as Swiss authorities confirmed that another hostage held by the same group was dead.

The militants freed Cisse in the past week along with French hostage Sophie Petronin and Italians Nicola Chiacchio and the Rev. Pierluigi Maccalli days after Mali’s government released nearly 200 jailed jihadists in an apparent exchange.

Late Friday, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said French authorities had informed them that Swiss hostage Beatrice Stoeckli had been killed about a month ago. Authorities had been trying to negotiate her release since she was kidnapped four years ago.

There was no immediate information about the four other foreign hostages still being held by the group known as JNIM: Australian doctor Ken Elliott, Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, South African national Christo Bothma and Romanian citizen Julian Ghergut.
It was not known whether a ransom had been paid, though extremist groups have long funded their operations with such payments from European governments.

Cisse, 70, who was abducted while campaigning in northern Mali for re-election as a parliament member, told TV5 Monde that his captors moved them by motorcycle, boat, even camel.

“I was detained most of the six months in the Sahara, in more than 20 different locations, I can’t tell you exactly where — south and north, west and east,” he said.

While he said he was not abused physically or verbally, he described extremely difficult conditions in the desert, and said he lacked the medication he needed. He said he was kept apart from the European hostages.

Cisse said he was able to listen to the radio and was angered by news of the Aug. 18 military coup that overthrew Mali’s democratically elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

On Friday, the French and Italian hostages returned to Europe, where they were greeted by dignitaries and family members. Petronin, 75, said she had been treated well by her captors, and identified herself as a Muslim going by the name Mariam, not Sophie.

“I was always highly respected during my captivity,” she told TV5 Monde.

Petronin has said she was allowed to listen to the radio, and her guards shared messages and videos with her, including one from her son.

“I hung on — I prayed a lot because I had a lot of time,” Petronin told reporters at the French Embassy in Bamako. “I transformed detention ... into a spiritual retreat, if one can say that.”
Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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Russia Is Expanding Its Energy Influence In Africa
Profile picture for user Tyler Durden
by Tyler Durden
Mon, 10/12/2020 - 03:30

Via Global Risk Insights,
In 2019, Scottish politician Michael Ancram, Marquess of Lothian, requested of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) the information they held on the installation plans of Russian military bases in Africa, particularly in Zimbabwe. There was concern that Moscow’s influence might collide with London’s.

Another major actor in Africa, Paris, became alarmed in 2018 as Russian Wagner and GRU security consultants started to appear in political circles in countries such as the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Libya alongside Khalifa Haftar’s troops.

In Libya, Russian security forces reportedly suffered heavy losses in the battle for Tripoli.

Security expertise as a diplomatic tool
Part of Russia’s engagement with Africa is military.
The Russian army and Russian private military contractors linked to the Kremlin have expanded their global military footprint in Africa, seeking basing rights in a half dozen countries and inking military cooperation agreements with 28 African governments, according to an analysis by the Institute for the Study of War. U.S. officials estimate that around 400 Russian mercenaries operating in the Central African Republic (CAR), and Moscow recently delivered military equipment to support counterinsurgency operations in northern Mozambique. Russia is the largest arms exporter to Africa, accounting for 39 percent of arms transfers to the region in 2013-2017.

Moscow’s influence in Bamako?

The fact that the Russian ambassador to Mali, Igor Gromyko, was one of the first officials to be received by the Junta is thus unsurprising. Local media source reports that the military leaders of the coup had just spent a year training in Russia. While this kind of activity is not extraordinary, with countries such as the U.S. training armies from more than 20 African countries and shaping its military leaders, it indicates that Russia considers its security presence in Africa necessary. The coup is a blow to French diplomacy, as Paris had heavily invested in Mali security through a tight alliance with former Mali President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Keita’s time in office, which began in 2013 after a coup in 2012 ousted Amadou Toumani Toure, coincided with a French peacekeeping mission, and the Kremlin may seek to supplant France in West African countries where Paris has a stronghold and influence. Russia could also leverage the Mali coup to secure economic deals while bolstering its geopolitical standing in West Africa.

According to FPRI, Russian nuclear energy giant Rosatom, which directly competes with its French counterpart for contracts in the Sahel, could benefit from favorable relations with Mali’s new political authorities. Nordgold, a Russian gold company that has investments in Guinea and Burkina Faso, could also expand its extraction initiatives in Mali’s gold reserves.
However, Professor Irina Filatova, Research Professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, who specializes in Russian Foreign Policy, insists on caution about assuming Russian interference in Malian politics:
“It’s difficult for me to judge how reliable this information is because Moscow has said nothing about it.”
Indeed, even though Russia has been a long term partner with Mali since Mali’s independence from France in the 1960s, no significant diplomatic agreement has recently been passed, outside of weapons trade. Moreover, the shift in the Junta’s alliance from France to Russia might also be related to distrust of its more traditional allies, with France unable to stabilize Mali so far. To take further advantage of the coup in Mali, Russia has positioned itself as a counterinsurgency partner for countries in the region.

In a September 9 interview with Sputnik, Cote d’Ivoire’s Ambassador to Russia Roger Gnango called for increased military cooperation with Russia, due to instability resulting from the Mali coup.

The next step in Putin’s African Policy
Russia’s growing involvement in Africa can also be explained by its vital need to establish new commercial roads and diplomatic alliances after the Crimea-related Western sanctions imposed on Moscow in 2014. According to CSIS, an American think tank, Moscow recently tripled its trade with Africa, from $6.6 billion in 2010 to $18.9 billion in 2018. Russia also broadened its economic strengths beyond arms sales, adding investment in oil, gas, and enhancing nuclear power across the continent, while also importing extractives, such as diamonds in CAR, bauxite in Guinea, and platinum in Zimbabwe.

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Scores killed in protests against Guinea's President Alpha Condé, says opposition group
Issued on: 13/10/2020 - 05:13
Alpha Conde this year pushed through a revamped constitution that opponents say was crafted to reset the term counter.

Alpha Conde this year pushed through a revamped constitution that opponents say was crafted to reset the term counter. CELLOU BINANI AFP/File
2 min

Over 90 people have been killed in a crackdown on protests against Guinea's President Alpha Conde's bid to seek a controversial third term in elections at the weekend, a leading opposition group said Monday.

The 82-year-old is bidding for re-election on October 18, after pushing through a new constitution in March that critics say was designed to sidestep a two-term limit in the West African country.

Opposition to a third Conde term brought tens of thousands of Guineans to the streets from mid-October last year.

The protests often turned violent, however, and dozens were killed. The constitutional referendum in March was also marred by violence.

On Monday, the anti-Conde coalition FNDC published a tally of 92 protesters killed since mid-October.

Some 45 of those protesters were shot dead, the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) said, and eight remain unidentified.

Guinea's Security Minister Albert Damantang Camara dismissed the FNDC tally, however, saying that he refused to submit to a politically motivated "macabre accounting".

"There have been violent deaths, which we regret, and we are working to ensure that this does not happen again," he told AFP, "but it would be very surprising if there were 92 of them".

The minister admitted that political clashes may be responsible for 42 deaths, but said there was not enough evidence to attribute them to security forces.

Rights groups accuse Conde -- who is a former opposition figure himself -- of drifting into authoritarianism.
Amnesty International, in a report published on October 1, blamed Guinean security forces for killing at least 50 protesters and urged the government to hold the perpetrators accountable.

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Cocoa price hike benefits Ghanaian farmers
Ghana has announced an increase of the guaranteed the cocoa price it pays to farmers by 28% per ton for the new growing season. It's the West African nation's latest attempt to improve the livelihoods of its farmers.

Moderne Sklaverei (Nile Sprague)

Ghana is the world's second-largest exporter of cocoa, after Ivory Coast, and exports around 850,000 metric tons of cocoa each year. Most of this is unprocessed, ready to be turned into chocolate and other products in Europe and the United States. But in recent years, production has fallen by around 30%.
Aging cocoa trees, poorly-managed plantations and drought have all played a role in the sector's decline. If production in Ghana continues to fall, it will have consequences not only domestically, but also for manufacturers internationally.
Read more: Making Ghana's cocoa plantations more sustainable, and more productive
  • Ghana Project BG Ghana's viele Gesichter (picture-alliance/JOKER)

Farmers benefit
However, the latest increment in the cocoa price means that farmers can afford to plant new cocoa and also employ skilled workers, as opposed to child labor.

"The increase in price for cocoa beans will boost the farmers' morale and we commend Ghana’s leadership for this initiative," Moses Djan Asiedu, of the World Cocoa Farmers Organization told DW.

Low income among cocoa farmers is a big concern because in Ghana, they depend on cocoa for 90% of their income. And due to unforeseeable calamities — such as weather patterns — sometimes they get poor harvests.

Read more: Ghana: Making one of the earth's most polluted places safer

Women sorting cocoa beans
Some cocoa farmers say the hike still falls far short of what is needed
Sampson Adu Essel and his wife are both cocoa farmers in Eastern Ghana, and in the coming weeks they will be harvesting their cocoa. They attribute the delay in harvest to climate change.

"You are able to weed your cocoa, do pruning, apply your fertilizer and the weather doesn’t favor you," Essel said. "So, all the cocoa will prematurely turn to red. That is the major challenge."

But the good news is that his cocoa will fetch a higher price compared to last season.

"I am going to earn a lot of money this year because I have about five farms that sit on 21 acres," Essel told DW. "So if I harvest about ten bags from one acre — you can imagine how much I am going to earn."

Read more: The 77 Percent - The Magazine for Africa's youth

Watch video02:56
Ghanaian cocoa farmers get more money for their beans
A lucrative industry with poor remunerations

The cocoa–chocolate industry is worth $131 billion, according to, yet when that figure is broken down, the cocoa farmers from smallholdings are given 6% of what the industry's ever-growing annual is worth. The rest goes to cocoa processors, chocolate manufacturers and their marketers who are all predominately in the West.

Asiedu thinks such disparities in earning must end. "The 6% cannot be something farmers should be happy about, he said. "Because we are talking about is sustainability where farmers involved in the production are aging."

"The youth of today is not attracted at all to engage in cocoa farming. We have children who are not showing any interest because they have seen what has happened to their parents."

Read more: In Ghana, farmers try to boost ailing cocoa production

  • Abdul Sumud Shaibu, 50, showing a picture of his grandfather on his smartphone.

Market forces against cocoa prices
For many years, cocoa prices have been subjected to global market prices, Edward Akapire from Fairtrade Africa West Africa Network told DW. Therefore, a hike in the guaranteed minimum price for cocoa farmers is an attempt to correct some of these imbalances.

"The initiative by the Ghana government is to bridge the gap between what farmers currently earn and what they are supposed to earn in order to secure a dignified livelihood for their households," Akapire added.

There have been allegations of Fair Trade condescending cocoa farmers for the benefit of everyone other than the cocoa farmer. However, Akapire refuted these allegations and told DW that, "Cocoa farmers in Ghana who are certified by Fair Trade received a differential for their cocoa sales under fair trade terms which did not accrue to other farmers who are not certified."

Ghana is one of the major suppliers of cocoa into the EU market, to which they have duty-free and quota-free access under their respective Economic Partnership Agreements.

With the new minimum cocoa prices farmers like Adu Essel hope to improve on their livelihoods and boost production for years to come.

Read more: Ghana, Rwanda seek to emulate Singapore's economic model

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Dozens killed in spate of attacks in central Mali
Issued on: 13/10/2020 - 18:42
Soldiers of FAMA (Malian Armed Forces) stand and salute during the national anthem at the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of Mali's independence in Bamako, on September 22, 2020.

Soldiers of FAMA (Malian Armed Forces) stand and salute during the national anthem at the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of Mali's independence in Bamako, on September 22, 2020. © Michele Cattani, AFP
2 min

Suspected Islamist militants killed 25 people including 13 soldiers in multiple attacks in central Mali, burning down an army base and ambushing troops sent as reinforcements, the army and local authorities said on Tuesday.

The attacks were the deadliest since the Aug. 18 military coup that overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and came just days after scores of jailed militants were freed by the interim government in a prisoner swap.

Nine soldiers were killed in the first attack that took place overnight against a base in Sokoura near the border with Burkina Faso, an army statement said.

At around 8:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) on Tuesday, another three soldiers were killed in an ambush at a bridge near the base as their unit headed to the scene of the first attack, it said.

Nine militants were killed in clashes with the reinforcement unit and two of their vehicles destroyed by the air force.

In a third assault about 40 minutes later near the town of Bandiagara, gunmen ambushed a commercial truck, killing 12 traders and one soldier, according to Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of nearby Bankass, to which the traders were en route.

A witness said he saw nine bodies at the military base and helped transport 20 wounded to local medical centres.

"They (jihadists) took all the vehicles and burned those they could not take away. The camp is burned," said the witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

A transitional government has been appointed since the military coup. But regional and international powers fear the violence could further destabilise the West African nation and undermine a French-directed military campaign against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the wider Sahel region.

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Uganda: Security forces raid office of presidential hopeful Bobi Wine
Security forces arrested several supporters and seized Bobi Wine's presidential bid papers. Singer-turned-politician Bobi Wine is seen as a challenger to Yoweri Museveni, who has been ruling Uganda for over 30 years.

Uganda Kampala Festnahme Bobi Wine (Getty Images/AFP/Stringer)

On Wednesday, Uganda's security forces detained opposition leader and presidential hopeful Bobi Wine, after raiding his office in the capital city of Kampala. The reason for the raid wasn't revealed.

"The police and the army raided the office of the NUP, sealed off the premises and all the roads leading to the place, before detaining Bobi Wine and other party officials," Wine's lawyer, Anthony Wameli, told AFP.

Wine was in a meeting with other leaders of his party, the National Unity Party (NUP), when police raided the office and cordoned off the area.

Read more: Uganda's unequal political campaigns during COVID-19 times
Security forces also arrested several supporters of Wine and seized papers which had signatures endorsing his candidacy for next year's election and promotional materials like red berets and T-shirts.

Wine told Reuters that security forces had also seized 23 million Ugandan shillings ($6,200, €5,300) from his office.

Watch video06:30
Bobi Wine on Uganda elections
A spokesman for the police, Fred Enanga, told news agency DPA that security forces were looking for army uniforms in the NUP office they claim were being used "illegally" by civilians.
Read more: Pandemic spells disaster for Uganda's young entrepreneurs combatting waste and malaria

"We were targeting all locations that are illegally supplying and using uniforms whose ownership and designs was gazetted and a preserve of the armed forces," said Enanga.
Bobi Wine, the stage name of Robert Kyagulanyi, a singer-turned-politician, commands large support among young people in Uganda.
Supporters of Bobi Wine gather outside his campaign headquarters in Kampala after armed police raided the office (Ronald Kabuubi/AP Photo/picture-alliance)
Supporters of Bobi Wine gatheredoutside his campaign headquarters in Kampala after police raided the office
He is seen as a challenger to the current president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, who plans to run for a sixth term in February 2021.

"It's the habit of President Museveni and his regime to intimidate his most fierce opponent especially ahead of elections ... This is basically to intimidate people," Wine told news agency Reuters, after the raid.
Read more: Uganda: Artists fight against homophobia

Intolerance of the opposition
Wine announced in 2019 his decision to run in the presidential race to challenge Museveni, who is known for his intolerance of the opposition.
Museveni has been ruling Uganda since 1986 and has been accused by his critics of using the armed forces to stay in power.
Yoweri Museveni (picture-alliance/dpa/A. Novoderezhkin)
Yoweri Museveni has ruled Uganda for over three decades
Wine has been arrested several times, put under house arrest and charged in court, since becoming an MP in 2017. He has called for Museveni to retire.
Meanwhile, Museveni has accused Wine of encouraging young people to riot. The president said that people associated with Wine are a misguided group being used by some foreigners to "destabilize" Uganda.
Read more: Ugandans seek to rid capital of colonialist names
  • Malema addressing a crowd of supporters wearing red clothing (picture-alliance/dpa/C. Tukiri)

    Leader in red
    Julius Malema and his allies founded South Africa's far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party after being expelled by the youth league of the ruling African National Congress in 2013. Malema and his party have since gained wide pan-African appeal.
am/dr (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

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Kilimanjaro fire: Foreign mountaineers evacuate as blaze rages
A camp of international mountaineers had to be evacuated after strong winds reignited a massive blaze on Africa's highest mountain. Germans, Swiss and Austrians are among those who had to leave the slope.

Tanzanian firefighters battle the blaze on Kilimanjaro

Tanzanian authorities have announced plans to deploy helicopters and planes to help put out an out of control blaze on Mount Kilimanjaro.

"We are still battling the fire. The work is harder than we thought earlier. The challenge is strong winds and dry grass and vegetation," Tanzanian Minister of Tourism Hamisi Kigwangalla said on Twitter.

"Once arrangements are completed today we might start using helicopters and planes to tackle the fire," he added.

The blaze, which has been raging for five days, has burned 28 square kilometers (11 square miles) of vegetation and is strongest in the area of Kifunika Hill, officials said. Some 500 people are working to extinguish the flames.

At 19,443 feet (5,926 meters), Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest mountain.
Read more: Mount Kilimanjaro fire: What is at risk for the local ecosystem?
Flames burning through bush on Mount Kilimanjaro
The fire has scorched at least 28 square kilometers of bush on the mountain, which is home to a number of unique plant and animal species

Europeans evacuated
A tour organizer said that a camp of international mountaineers also had to be evacuated on Thursday due to the raging fire.

"Besides my Swiss group, there were five to six other groups who had to break up their tents at midnight," Henning Schmidt, a Kilimanjaro guide from Germany, told the German Press Agency (DPA), adding "the fire is now expanding more and more."

Austrian mountaineers in the area also reported strong winds and said their tents had become covered with a thick layer of ash.

"There is too much smoke here: We are afraid of carbon monoxide poisoning," mountain guide Debbie Bachmann told DPA, saying she and her group of tourists would halt their expedition.
A satellite image shows smoke surrounding Mount Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano and is the highest single free-standing mountain in the world

Firefighters initially made progress in extinguishing parts of the blaze, but strong winds prompted massive flames on Wednesday. The fire could be seen as far as 18 miles away in the town of Moshi, northern Tanzania.

The blaze then went on to destroy the Horombo Tourist Camp, including 12 huts, two toilets, and solar equipment, officials said.

The fire started on Sunday afternoon in the Whona area, a tourist stopover for hikers climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and using the Mandara and Horombo routes.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism said.

mvb/nm (AP, dpa)

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Attacks in northern Burkina Faso leave more than a dozen dead
Issued on: 16/10/2020 - 04:56
In this March 3, 2019 photo, soldiers are in the village of Gorgadji in the Sahel region of northern Burkina Faso.

In this March 3, 2019 photo, soldiers are in the village of Gorgadji in the Sahel region of northern Burkina Faso. © Luc Gnago, Reuters
2 min

Jihadists have killed around 20 people in attacks in three villages in northern Burkina Faso, the epicentre of a five-year-old jihadist insurgency, government officials said on Thursday.

The attacks took place on Wednesday in the villages of Demniol, Bombofa and Peteguerse in Seno province, government spokesman Remis Fulgance Dandjinou said in a statement.

“The provisional count of these attacks perpetrated in markets and villages shows about 20 victims, as well as wounded and missing persons,” he said.
Regional governor Salfo Kabore confirmed the attack in another statement.

An area resident told AFP at least 24 people were killed in the attacks.
“Wednesday is the day of the weekly market in the area,” said the resident, adding that the toll could be much higher as many people were still missing.

“The government condemns these cowardly and barbaric attacks against the peaceful civilian population,” said Dandjinou, adding that security forces have been deployed to the three villages.

Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, is being battered by a jihadist insurgency that came in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

Hundreds have been killed in dozens of attacks on civilians this year.
Earlier this month 25 civilians, most of them people displaced by jihadist violence, were killed in an ambush in the central-north of the country, according to the UN’s refugee agency.
According to UN figures, around 4,000 people died from violence in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso last year.

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Ivory Coast heads into crisis as opposition calls for election boycott
On October 31, Ivorians will elect a new leader. President Alassane Ouattara is running for a third controversial term. The opposition is urging supporters to shun the poll — a political crisis appears imminent.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara (AFP/I. Sanogo)

There is calm in Ivory Coast just days before voters go to the polls. This comes after protests in August left a dozen people dead and more than 100 injured. Roadblocks and burning cars were to be seen at the time, but now life is back to normal. With one difference: Police cars are patroling almost every crossroads in the economic hub of Abidjan, says Thilo Schöne, who heads the Ivory Coast office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), which is close to Germany's Social Democratic Party.

"The current situation is worrying," Schöne told DW. "We are heading towards an election that is not perceived as legitimate by many political actors, who are worried about how free and democratic the election will be."

He said everyday life is interestingly calm at the same time. "The opposition has not managed to mobilize," he said.
After the sporadic protests in August, the situation has been under control for about five weeks now.
Protesters block a street in Abidjan (Getty Images/AFP/I. Sanogo)
The protests in August turned violent

Calls to boycott vote
On Thursday, two leading opposition candidates, Pascal Affi N'Guessan, a former prime minister, and Henri Konan Bedie, a former president, called on their supporters not to participate in the electoral process.

The presidential election on October 31 is controversial for several reasons.
Out of 44 would-be candidates, the electoral commission allowed only four contestants to be on the ballot — Alassane Ouattara, 78, Konan Bedie, 86, Affi N'Guessan, 67, and Kouadio Konan Bertin, 51.

The candidacies of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo, who lives in exile, and of ex-Prime Minister Guillaume Soro were rejected by the electoral body, leading to protests. Although the Ivorian constitution allows only two terms in office, incumbent Ouattara received the Constitutional Court's green light to run for a third term. The court reasoned that due to a constitutional amendment in 2016, Outarra's first two terms in power did not count.

"Alassane Ouattara's third candidacy is completely inadmissible and unconstitutional; Ouattara knows that, too," Simone Gbagbo, vice president of the opposition Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), told DW. Gbagbo, the wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo, said the law must be respected. "In the current situation, we cannot and will not participate in any election."
Read more: Ivory Coast's Simone Gbagbo: 'France ejected Gbagbo from power'

Legitimacy of election questioned
Opposition politician Guillaume Soro agrees. "We demand that this election does not take place and that the politicians get together to define an ideal framework for a democratic, transparent and inclusive election that will enable lasting peace in our country," he said.
As in the case of ex-President Gbagbo, the electoral commission rejected Soro's bid to run as candidate for the presidency because he had been sentenced to prison in absentia. The sentence on charges of embezzling public funds and money laundering was handed down in late April. In 2018, Ivorian authorities sentenced Gbagbo to 20 years in prison for allegedly misappropriating funds from the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) during the 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis.
  • A Peul woman from Ivory Coast in traditional dress

Gbagbo was also accused of committing crimes against humanity and sent to The Hague. The International Criminal Court, however, acquitted him in 2019.

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights in September urged Ivory Coast to reinstate Gbagbo in the presidential election. Those pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Read more: Ivory Coast court clears President Ouattara's contentious third-term bid

Ouattara's challenger not a stranger
Now it appears that Ouattara's primary challenger is Henri Konan Bedie.

Bedie has already once been president of Ivory Coast, from 1993 to 1999. Ironically, in 1999, he forbade Ouattara to participate in the elections and was overthrown in a coup the same year.

Ivory Coast presidential candidate Henri Konan Bedie. (picture-alliance/dpa/AP/D. B. Blonde)
Konan Bedie seems to be the only main challenger left for President Ouattara
In 2010, he then supported Ouattara in the presidential elections to oust Laurent Gbagbo, who was president at the time.

Bedie's chances are good if there is a runoff vote between him and Ouattara. He will likely receive the votes from other opposition contenders.

The disturbing thing about the election is the personal conflicts between the three big players, said Florian Karner, country representative of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), which has affiliations with Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, in Abidjan.

"These players have been shaping the political business for decades, and perhaps that is where the problem lies," he says, adding that the election campaign was characterized by pride and seniority. "No one wants to back down. The country is getting caught in this three-way constellation," said Karner.

Read more: Ivory Coast issues arrest warrant for ex-rebel chief ahead of presidential election

No repeat of 2010
The calm before the election could, therefore, be deceptive. "I cannot say how the country can avoid outbreaks of violence and clashes. There is not the slightest sign of dialogue between the president and the opposition," said Karner.

Supporters of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo cheering. (Reuters/P.v.d. de Wouw)
The ICC acquitted former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo of crimes against humanity in 2019
Nevertheless, he does not believe that there will be a crisis like that of the 2010 elections when both incumbent Gbagbo and challenger Ouattara claimed victory. Riots broke out — 3,000 people lost their lives; 450,000 fled the country.

"The difference to 2010 is that there are no two camps with equal power, which are forced to negotiate with each other," explains Thilo Schöne from the FES. "This time, we have a government that controls the army, that has international networks and that tries to show that it is striving to improve the living conditions of Ivorians. The opposition has its leaders abroad, cannot mobilize, and has neglected to present itself locally."

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Guinea's Condé faces longtime rival Diallo as country heads to the polls
Issued on: 17/10/2020 - 18:00
Guinea's President Alpha Condé wraps up his re-election campaign at a rally in the capital, Conakry, on October 16, 2020.

Guinea's President Alpha Condé wraps up his re-election campaign at a rally in the capital, Conakry, on October 16, 2020. © Reuters stringer
Text by:FRANCE 24Follow
3 min

Guineans cast ballots for a president on Sunday, with the 82-year-old incumbent Alpha Condé facing his longtime rival Cellou Dalein Diallo for a third time.

Canvassing in the West African state ended Friday at midnight, capping a tense political campaign marked by insults traded between President Alpha Condé and his leading rival.
After decades as an opposition activist, Condé became Guinea's first democratically-elected president in 2010 and won re-election in 2015.

He pushed through a new constitution in March, arguing that it would modernise the country. But the move also controversially allowed him to bypass a two-term limit for presidents.

Rights groups have become increasingly critical of the president, accusing him of veering towards authoritarianism.

Diallo, 68, now Guinea's leading opposition politician, was formerly a prime minister under authoritarian leader Lansana Conté.

Sporadic clashes between their supporters have broken out across Guinea in recent days, sparking fears of further violence on polling day.

'Retire with dignity'
Kabinet Fofana, a Guinean political scientist, cast the election as a battle between Condé promoting his record in office, and his opponent arguing for change after a decade of his rule.

"This election will play out for Alpha Condé on (his ability) to promote his public policies," Fofana said.

But Condé's advanced age will weigh on voters' minds, according to Fofana.

Diallo raised the issue several times during the campaign, even encouraging Condé to "retire with dignity".

The sharpy-dressed president has brushed off the gibes, however, and conducted a vigorous helicopter tour of the country.

Condé spent decades as an opposition activist, and was even sentenced to death in absentia by a former autocrat, before finally ascending to power in 2010.

He beat Diallo to the presidency then, and pulled off the feat again when he was re-elected in 2015.

Among other things, Condé promised to boost the economy of the nation of some 13 million people and to increase Guinea's lamentable electricity access.

He has stuck to a similar script during this year's campaign, pledging to make Guinea "Africa's second (economic) power after Nigeria".

But Diallo — a self-described technocrat — has criticised Condé's "catastrophic record" and took to pointing at his watch while campaigning, symbolising that the octogenarian's time has run out.

String of West African polls
Guineans interviewed by AFP expressed deep frustrations about the state of the country, regardless of their political colours.

The former French colony is rich in minerals such as bauxite, iron and gold, and has abundant fresh-water resources. However it remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

Guinea's poll on Sunday is due to resonate outside its borders.
The vote is the first in a string of elections scheduled across West Africa, including in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Niger.

Some of the major issues in these elections bear a striking semblance to the political debate in Guinea.

In Ivory Coast, for example, incumbent President Alassane Ouattara is running for a third presidential term after having revised the country's constitution. The October 31 vote will also take place in a highly tense atmosphere.

Some 5.4 million registered voters in Guinea are due to cast their ballots on Sunday, and initial results are expected to be announced several days afterwards.
A second round is scheduled for November 24.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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Nigerians are between skepticism and revolt after the dissolution of SARS
After days of protest, a police unit known for committing crimes is dissolved and replaced. In Lagos, people don't believe that the move with end police brutality. The dissolution of SARS prompted fears in volatile parts of the country.

Watch video01:54

SARS was repeatedly accused of corruption, torture and killings. Street protesters demanded an end to the police unit. On social media, the hashtag #EndSARS trended. On Sunday, the government said SARS would be dissolved. And replaced it with a Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT). SWAT will "fill the gaps" left by SARS, the government said. Some Nigerians are reacting under the hashtag #EndSWAT. They fear that SWAT is just a new name for SARS. However, in volatile northeastern Nigeria, the public have one the opposite way. They want to protest the dissolution of SARS.

Plain Jane

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Congo: Militants free 900 inmates in Beni jailbreak
Armed men have broken into a jail in eastern Congo and released almost all the prisoners. The local mayor said an Islamist militant group was behind the attack.

Soldiers from the Congolese army

More than 900 inmates have escaped from a prison in Beni, in eastern Congo, during an early morning jailbreak on Tuesday, authorities said.

The town's mayor, Modeste Bakwanamaha, said a large group of armed men managed to break into the Kangbayi central prison using welding equipment. By the time the operation was over, only about 110 of the prisoners were left behind.

"Unfortunately, the attackers, who came in large numbers, managed to break the door with electrical equipment," Bakwanamaha told the Reuters news agency.
Read more: Violence still rife in Congo after UN rights abuses report

No claim of responsibility
Bakwanamaha urged local residents in Beni not to protect the escapees.
"We believe that it is the ADF who did this," he added, referring to the Allied Democratic Forces. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The ADF is an Islamist militant group from neighboring Uganda that has been active in eastern Congo since the 1990s. According to the United Nations, the group has killed more than 1,000 civilians since the start of 2019.
nm/msh (Reuters, dpa)

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Trump to remove Sudan from US terror blacklist
The US president has said he is willing to remove Sudan from a terror blacklist once it pays an agreed compensation package to American victims and their relatives.

Sudan's government signed a peace deal with rebels earlier this month.

Sudan will be removed from a US blacklist of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism, US President Donald Trump said on Monday.

He said that the African country's year-old transitional government had agreed to pay a $335 million (€285 million) package to American victims of attacks and their relatives.

"At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan," Trump posted on Twitter.

"Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list," he added.
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok replied to Trump, thanking him for the move.
"We very much look forward to your official notification to Congress rescinding the designation of Sudan as a state-sponsor of terrorism, which has cost Sudan too much," he wrote.

Washington blacklisted Sudan in 1993, accusing the regime led by Omar al-Bashir of supporting terrorist organisations.

Bashir, who was ousted by protests last year, had links with Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin-Laden.

The US said Sudan provided a safe haven for its operatives under his watch.
The package would compensate victims and families from a series of terrorist attacks, including the bombing of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, as well as an attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.

Sources quoted by the Reuters news agency said that the payment could pave the way for Sudan to recognize Israel.

The Trump administration has brokered similar peace deals between the Israeli government and Arab nations in recent months.

Both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have agreed to normalize ties with their former foe.

Asked whether an Israel-Sudan breakthrough was imminent, Israeli Finance Minister Israel Katz told Israel's Army Radio: "There are contacts, accompanied by the Americans, and there is complexity. I hope that the intensive contacts will yield positive fruit."

Earlier this month, Sudan's government signed its own peace deal with rebels aimed at ending decades of war in which hundreds of thousands died.

jf/aw (AFP, Reuters)

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#EndSARS protests expose Nigeria's fault lines
Nigerian law enforcement has begun training the newly established SWAT unit. On the streets, protests against police brutality continue — more so in the south of Nigeria than in the north.

Nigeria's #EndSARS protests | Demonstranten (Kola Sulaimon/AFP/Getty Images)

Protests against police brutality in Nigeria are growing despite the government's decision to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. The demonstrations started after a widely shared video on social media appeared to show SARS officers abusing a victim.

On Monday, Nigeria's police force announced that it had invited the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to offer training to the newly established Special Weapons and Tactics unit. SWAT was created to replace the SARS force, which was dissolved on October 11.

"While it's certainly a good initiative to have external training of state security apparatus accused of unprofessionalism, it's very difficult to see how this initiative alone is going to placate the protesters," Brian Cummings, a security expert on Nigeria, told DW.
Read more: Could Nigeria's #EndSARS protests grow into a movement?
Nigeria's #EndSARS protests | Demonstranten (Pius Utomi EkpeiAFP/Getty Images)
In Nigeria, a country of more than 200 million people, the average age is 18

According to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, former SARS members cannot join the SWAT unit. "We don't have many details about how SWAT is going to operate," Isa Sanusi, Amnesty International's spokesperson in Nigeria, told DW.

"But the way the protests have been going on despite the actions the government claims to be taking shows that Nigerians are not convinced," Sanusi said. Nigerians have had experiences where the authorities promised that they would reform the police, but little happened at the end of the day. "They had promised to change the way SARS operated with brutality and impunity for so long, and nothing has changed. SARS continued to commit torture, extort Nigerians, and commit extrajudicial killings," Sanusi said.

"That is why even now Nigerians don't trust their leaders when they say that they are going to replace SARS with a better well-trained human-rights compliant force." According to Sanusi, the Nigerian government has time and again missed out on opportunities to carry out proper police reforms.

Protests in the south, support for SARS in the north
Whereas protesters have been quite active in the south of the country, counter-demonstrations supporting SARS have taken place in northern Nigeria. Mayowa Adebola, a political analyst, says people in the north support SARS because the police unit never employs the same brutality in the north as in the south, where it is notorious for killings.

"Check the record yourself, check the records for the brutality, for the murdering it is all in the south, it does not get to the core north," Adebola told DW.
Read more: Opinion: The power of celebrity over state menace
A Boko Haram training sketch on a wall in Nigeria's Borno State (picture-alliance/dpa)
The militant Islamist Boko Haram group often recruits children in northeastern Nigeria

The northern part of Nigeria is dealing with banditry, kidnappings, and the Boko Haram insurgency. "The north is not safe from the things that triggered the SARS protests. It is just that the north has different problems that it is contending with, which are quite different from the issue of SARS," Sanusi said.

According to DW correspondent Sam Olukoya, open support for SARS in the north would further fuel the south's feeling that the police, which is seen to be northern dominated, adopts different standards between the north and south.

For Nigerian security analyst Cummings, the #EndSARS protests continue to show Nigeria's underlining bitter divisions. "We do know that northwestern Nigeria is the stronghold of President Muhammadu Buhari. Participating in these protests would be seen as going against Buhari's administration."

Protesters and police killed
On Monday, Amnesty International said at least 15 people, including two police officers, have been killed since the protests erupted.

Some protests against SARS have been violently broken up. In two incidents in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, unknown armed men attacked peaceful protesters.
Read more: Death toll climbs as Nigeria protests spiral

Olatunde Joshua Oluwanifemi described the attackers as hired thugs. "So apparently they paid them 1,500 Naira ($3,900/€3,300) and they told them to come with knives, with sticks and the likes. The aim is to destabilize the whole protest, scatter us so that we can leave," Oluwanifemi told DW. "It's like we are a problem to some people, but we will continue to do what we are doing until all our prayers are answered."
A car bearing the image of Muhammadu Buhari (Reuters/N. Nwanri)
Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria's president since 2015, was born in northwestern Katsina State in 1942

It is suspected that pro-government politicians pay the attackers. Gbenga Sonoiki of Activists for Good Governance says the government must investigate the attacks. "We will not accept it. We will also do our investigation to ensure that those who are involved are not left unpunished," Sonoiki told DW.

Shifting #EndSARS protest demands
Joined by celebrities and armed with the #EndSARS hashtag, Nigerian protesters managed to pressure the government to dissolve the notorious SARS police unit. However, the demonstrators' demands have since changed to include sweeping changes in the police and compensation for victims of police brutality.

Some observers now fear the protests may have taken a life of its own. "The question is whether it's dangerous for Nigeria as a country or the current administration," Cummings said. The momentum that the protests have enjoyed has managed to open up other grievances in the country, including northern Nigeria, where people protested against banditry.

"But for what it's worth, Nigerians are holding their government to account for the first time in contemporary history," Cummings said.

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Burundi: Ex-president gets prison term for killing another former president
Buyoya was accused of the murder of Melchior Ndadaye, who had defeated him to become Burundi's first freely elected president. Nineteen others were also sentenced, three of whom were given 20 years in prison.

 Pierre Buyoya, High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel, addresses his statement during the 23rd special session of the Human Rights Council on Boko Haram,
Peirre Buyoya at the European UN Headquarters in 2015.

Burundi's top court sentenced former President Pierre Buyoya to life imprisonment on Tuesday, for the murder of another former president in 1993.

Buyoya was accused of murdering Melchior Ndadaye, who had defeated Buyoya to become the central African country's first freely elected president.

The court also sentenced 19 others in relation to the case, three of whom were given 20 years in prison. Many of those convicted did not appear in court since they were abroad.
Those sentenced were also ordered to collectively pay a fine of 103 billion Burundian francs (€45 million $53 million).
Read more: UN 'extremely concerned' as Burundi's president appoints suspected rights abusers

Long civil war
After winning independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi had growing tensions between the majority Hutu group and minority Tutsis.

Ndadaye was killed along with several of his cabinet ministers, in an ambush by Tutsi soldiers four months after he won the election. A few low-ranking officials were arrested for the assassination in 1998.

The murders and the following political turmoil led to a civil war that lasted until 2016. Around 300,000 people died in these ethnic clashes.

After a military coup, Buyoya, a Tutsi, ruled the nation between 1996 and 2003.
Ndadaye's FRODEBU was Burundi's largest political party at the time. His successor Cyprien Ntaryamira died in a plane crash in 1994 in Rwanda.
  • A soldier runs towards a crowd

'Another diversionary move'
Pierre Buyoya is currently positioned as the African Union's representative in Mali and Sahel.

The African Union is yet to comment on the sentence.

In November 2018, an international arrest warrant was issued against Buyoya. He said it was "another diversionary move aimed at burying painful, unresolved questions," referring to a political crisis in the nation following the 2015 elections.

He said that the officers who had killed Ndadaye had already been arrested.

tg/aw (AFP, Reuters)

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Nigeria must be heating up.

Chaos In Nigeria After Soldiers Open Fire On Large Anti-Police Demonstration
Profile picture for user Tyler Durden
by Tyler Durden
Wed, 10/21/2020 - 19:20

Late Tuesday night chaos broke out in the Nigerian capital of Lagos as demonstrators calling for an end to police brutality were reportedly fired upon by national soldiers or police attempting to clear the streets. At least one person was killed and one or more others were severely wounded, while dozens more were reported injured as the crowd of about 1,000 fled, according international reports.

Amnesty International initially reported fatalities among the protesters while citing “credible but disturbing evidence” that security forces were responsible. The standoff with security forces came during a curfew and as protesters attempted to erect a blockade.

It further comes a day after another 'live fire' incident may have resulted in injuries, and as authorities attempt a crackdown while imposing a 24-hour curfew. There's been an estimated total of ten deaths during the recent wave of anti-police protests across multiple cities, in a situation the government says in spiraling out of control into a "monster".
Protests in Lagos via AFP

While there are conflicting accounts, eyewitnesses told Reuters of the scene: "More than 20 soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire," resulting in at least two people shot.

The mass protests and clashes with police have been growing more intense after a little over two weeks ago a video surfaced and went viral purporting to show officers with an elite police task force beating and torturing a man.

The video purports to show the notorious tactics of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, which has long been despised especially by Nigeria's youth. Mostly young people have been seen in the streets demanding the permanent disbanding of the SARS unit, something the government has vowed to do. Lagos is also promising further reform efforts among police and security branches.

But Nigeria’s military is denying it was behind the latest shootings on protest crowds, dismissing it as "fake news" in official statements.

President Muhammadu Buhari, meanwhile has downplayed the state security shootings while calling for calm and promising reform. Amid greater international media scrutiny US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden weighed in.

“I urge President Buhari and the Nigerian military to cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already resulted in several deaths,” wrote Biden. “My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one in the violence. The United States must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy.”

Meanwhile Nigerian military and police officials have blamed most of the violence on the protesters themselves as well as what they've identified as armed gangs taking advantage of the chaos to unleash violence.

Plain Jane

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Guinea post-election violence turns deadly as police clash with opposition supporters
Issued on: 21/10/2020 - 19:07Modified: 21/10/2020 - 19:09
A police officer throws a stone at protesters, during a mass protest the morning after preliminary results were released for five communes in Conakry, Guinea on October 21, 2020.

A police officer throws a stone at protesters, during a mass protest the morning after preliminary results were released for five communes in Conakry, Guinea on October 21, 2020. © John Wessels, AFP
Text by:FRANCE 24Follow
4 min

At least eight civilians and one police officer have died in violence following the weekend's tense presidential election, in clashes between security forces and opposition supporters, Guinea's security ministry said on Wednesday. President Alpha Condé called for calm, as partial results showed him holding his election lead.

In a statement, the security ministry pointed to shootings and stabbings in Guinea’s capital Conakry and elsewhere in the country since Sunday's presidential vote.

The ministry said in a statement that "this strategy of chaos [was] orchestrated to jeopardise the elections of October 18", and also pointed to numerous people who were wounded in the unrest.

"I reiterate my appeal to all to calm and serenity, pending the outcome of the electoral process under way in our country," President Condé said in a statement. "If victory is mine, I remain open to dialogue and available to work with all Guineans."

Partial vote tally
Guinea’s electoral body announced a provisional vote tally for parts of the country Wednesday night, suggesting encouraging results for Condé.

In a broadcast statement, the president of the electoral authority Kabinet Cissé read out results from 16 constituencies, out of 38, in the West African nation. Condé won a majority of votes in over half of those constituencies, the authority said.

The announcement followed a similar one the previous day in which the authority gave him a majority in four constituencies in the capital Conakry.
But the latest update came during days of clashes between opposition supporters and security forces following Sunday’s tense presidential race in the poor nation, which has been beset by months of unrest.

Ongoing clashes
Even as clashes continued in Conakry on Wednesday, a security officer, Mamadou Keganan Doumbouya, told AFP that at least three people had died.
Many other were injured when supporters of Condé's main rival Cellou Dalein Diallo set alight piles of old furniture and burned tyres in some opposition neighbourhoods of Conakry, Security Minister Damantang Albert Camara said.

Youths in alleyways also hurled stones at police officers stationed along a main artery who fired back tear gas cannisters.

Hadjiratou Barry, a resident of a Conakary district where clashes were taking place, also told AFP – through tears – that her brother had been shot dead.
And a local doctor, who declined to be named, said he had received two dead bodies, and nine injured people, at his clinic.

Main opposition Diallo claims victory before official results
The unrest follows a high-stakes presidential election on Sunday, in which Condé ran for a third term in a controversial bid that had already sparked mass protests in the West African country.
At least 12 people are reported to have been killed in violence since the election, in which Diallo claimed victory on Monday based on his campaign's tallies. It worsened the already-tense post-electoral ambiance, as the official results have not yet been announced – they are expected this week.

Opposition supporters are deeply suspicious about the fairness of the poll, although the government insists that it was fair.

Much of the tension in Guinea centres on Condé's candidacy, and security forces repressed mass protests against the move from October last year, killing dozens of people.

In March, the 82-year-old president pushed through a new constitution that he argued would modernise the country. It also allowed him to bypass a two-term limit for presidents, however.

Clashes and barricades after calm polling day
Ten candidates are running for president alongside frontrunners Condé and Diallo, old political rivals who traded barbs in a bitter campaign.

Despite fears of violence after the pre-vote clashes, polling day was mostly calm.
Then Diallo's self-proclaimed election victory ratcheted up tensions, and celebrations by his supporters descended into violent clashes with security forces on Monday. The opposition politician said that security forces killed three youngsters that night, although AFP was unable to confirm the details.

Security forces also barricaded Diallo inside his house, the politician said on Tuesday.

Monitors from the African Union and the 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS both said that Guinea's election was mostly fair, despite insistence from Diallo's camp that it was fraudulent.
Diallo served as Guinea’s prime minister under authoritarian leader Lansana Conté – a fact that Condé underscored repeatedly on the campaign trail.

A former opposition activist himself, Condé became Guinea's first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015. But rights groups accuse him of veering towards authoritarianism, saying he is prone to fits of anger and reluctant to hold his security forces to account.

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Oh golly, I think that Nigeria's blowing up now.

Nigerian Protesters Are 'Liberating' Prisons As Police Respond With Live Fire
Profile picture for user Tyler Durden
by Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/22/2020 - 14:45

Unrest and violence are continuing to escalate in the Nigerian capital of Lagos after at least two weeks of angry street demonstrations calling for the abolishment of the elite police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, over allegations they torture and abuse citizens - resulting in live fire being used against protesters this week.
It appears there's an attempt at a mass prison break underway Thursday, as detailed by AFP:
Shots rang out and a prison was set ablaze as fresh unrest rocked Nigeria's biggest city Lagos on Thursday after the shooting of protesters that drew international outrage.
Gunfire was heard and smoke could be seen billowing from the detention facility in the upscale Ikoyi neighbourhood in central Lagos, an AFP journalist said.
Police said assailants had attacked the site on the second day of violence in the city of 20 million people after a brutal crackdown by security forces on demonstrations.

Anti-police demonstrations have raged since Oct.8 across various cities, resulting in the deaths of 56 people and injuring of hundreds more.
Beginning Tuesday there were international reports that Nigerian soldiers, who have since imposed a blanket security curfew over Lagos and other places, have begun firing on protesters. Amnesty International said 12 protesters were gunned down early this week, allegedly by state security forces.

In an incident Wednesday at least two people were shot amid a crowd of some 1,000 demonstrators, one of which reportedly died at the scene. But the military has meanwhile blamed "armed gangs" for the violence while calling the allegations "fake news".
AP image showing the new prison fire in Lagos on Thursday. Details remain murky.
Currently, AP reports that "Elsewhere in the sprawling city of 14 million, the streets were empty and shops were shuttered, as residents largely obeyed a government curfew meant to curb the chaos."

For the first time the US State Department weighed firmly against the government, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying, "We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces," and further that "Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law."

The mass protests and clashes with police have been growing more intense after a little over two weeks ago a video surfaced and went viral purporting to show officers with the elite police task force beating and torturing a man.

The video appears to show the notorious tactics of the hated SARS unit, which has long been despised especially by Nigeria's youth. Mostly young people have been seen in the streets demanding the permanent disbanding of the SARS unit, something the government has vowed to do. Lagos is also promising further reform efforts among police and security branches.

Just days ago there was a large prison break at Benin Correctional Center in Edo, in southern Nigeria, after crowds stormed the complex. Some 200 inmates are believed to have escaped while one person died during the Monday riot.
Video of the prior prison break earlier this week in southern Nigeria:

"Free the prisoners!" a man can be heard shouting in English in one video of the Benin prison attack.
There's widespread anger at 'unjust' and arbitrary imprisonments on the part of Nigerian police, thus the rioting crowds see themselves as "liberating" state prisons in a trend that looks to continue.

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Guinea President Alpha Conde poised for landslide election win
A preliminary count has shown Guinean President Alpha Conde will win a third term in office following a bitterly fought election that has led to deadly violence. Conde's opposition says the count was rigged.

Alpha Conde at a rally ahead of the vote

Preliminary results released Thursday show Guinea's President Alpha Conde as the winner of a controversial election that keeps him in office as president for a third term.

Conde's opposition, led by his main election rival Cellou Dalein Diallo, say he his breaking the law by seeking a third term and will contest the results of the election in constitutional court.

Diallo said he has evidence of electoral fraud, accusing the government of manipulating the vote count in Conde's favor.

With 37 of 38 electoral districts counted, Conde received 2.4 million votes versus 1.26 million for his rival Diallo, the Reuters news agency reported. Official final results are expected to be announced on Saturday.
Read more: Guinea: Tensions ahead of crucial presidential elections
Widespread violence follows contested results
Diallo had declared he won the election on Monday, without waiting for official results or citing figures.
Opposition supporters clash with police in Conakry
Opposition supporters clash with police in Conakry on Wednesday

Conde's Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) party said Diallo's premature announcement was "irresponsible and dangerous."

Cities across Guinea have been wracked by violence since Sunday's vote, with Diallo's supporters clashing with government forces. At least 10 people have been reported killed.
Fresh clashes were reported in the capital, Conakry, Thursday, with demonstrators blocking streets, lighting fires and hurling stones at police, the AFP news agency reported.

Conde says a constitutional referendum in March reset his two-term limit. His decision to run for a third term has sparked repeated protests since then, resulting in dozens of deaths.

Watch video02:38
More deaths in Guinea clashes over disputed election
wmr/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

ILLEGAL MIGRANTS / ALGERIA - 10/23/2020Algerian authorities crack down on migrants, deporting many to Niger

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Since early September, police in Oran, a town in northwestern Algeria, have arrested a number of people suspected of living and working illegally in the country. The migrants who were arrested are being held in detention centres, where they are enduring poor conditions while awaiting deportation. But when they finally are deported, they don’t get to return to their countries of origin. Instead, the Algerian authorities have been taking them and dropping them in the desert near the border with Niger.

"It’s true that we are migrants here, but we have rights and responsibilities (...). Look at the condition of the place where we are supposed to sleep! We can’t even sleep. Coronavirus… look at how we are living in Algeria!” says a man, narrating a video of the migrant detention centre where he is crammed into a room with about 50 other people. Their only comfort is foam mattresses on the ground, where they both sit and sleep. The facility is incredibly overcrowded.

Our Observer sent us this video, which he filmed on October 5 in a deportation centre for undocumented migrants in Oran, Algeria.

'We are given food only once a day'
Paul (not his real name) took this footage the week of October 5 in a detention centre in Oran. He is Cameroonian and has been living in Algeria for the past three years:
I went to run an errand and gendarmes stopped me, put handcuffs on me and pushed me into a truck. In the centre, we were only given food once a day. The toilets were dirty and smelled like urine. There were sick people there. They told us that they were being taken to Niger. Thankfully, one night, I managed to escape.

I came to Algeria to work. But I don’t have a passport and I’m undocumented. I live in a site under construction and I have to steer clear of the police.

Our team received photos showing people being arrested at the construction sites where they were sleeping in Misserghin, a town in Oran, in early October.

'We don’t go out. We send each other messages and wait'
Several photos that have been circulating in various WhatsApp groups show arrests taking place at the construction sites in Oran where many migrants work and sometimes even sleep. In each instance, the people who were arrested were taken to a detention centre, then brought by a bus or truck to the border with Niger and left in the middle of the desert. Jacques (not his real name), who is also from Cameroon, has been living in Algeria for the past eight years:
On October 7, police came to my home in Oran. I had my papers and so did the person I was with, so they left us. But then they went to the neighbour’s house. She had misplaced her papers. They didn’t give her time to look for them; they just took her away. Now, she’s in the desert [Editor’s note: at the border]. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you have papers or not; the police don’t differentiate.

They don’t deport people from Cameroon or Mali or many places back to their country of origin. The authorities just bring them to the desert on the border with Niger. But why would these people ever stay in Niger? Or go back to their countries of origin? Here, in Algeria, they have their lives; they have work. So many people pay exorbitant fees to be smuggled back into towns in Algeria.

When there was a wave of arrests, people panicked. The authorities know everything; where the “Blacks” live, where the “Blacks” work. So we don’t go out, we send each other messages on WhatsApp about what’s going on outside and we wait. We are used to it. It’s always the same story.
Another man, Soufiane (not his real name), who didn’t tell us what his nationality is, contacted the Observers on October 12 from the Oran detention centre. A few days later, he was brought to the border between Algeria and Niger and sent our team a video showing several men stranded in the desert. He said that he was in Tamanrasset, without food and with no way to return to Oran.

Screengrab of the video sent to us by one of our Observers, who was brought to the Nigerien border and left in the desert.

Similar arrests documented since 2016

Over the past few weeks, Algerian authorities have carried out sweeps arresting migrants in Oran as well as Tlemcen, Alger, Blida, Boumerdès, Tipaza, Zeralda, Sétif and Annaba, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report dated October 9. Some were arrested at home, others in the street, others at their workplace.

HRW estimates that Algeria has deported more than 3,400 migrants of at least 20 different nationalities to Niger, including 430 children and 240 women since early September. According to the NGO, this brings the total number of deportations to Niger to over 16,000 in 2020. Only just over half of those deported there are actually from Niger.

Between 2016 and 2018, the FRANCE 24 Observers team documented several waves of arrests targeting people from West and Central Africa.

Fouad Hassam, an activist with the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), says that these deportations were suspended in 2019 with the Hirak protest movements then again in 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic.

"But now, they can justify their behaviour because they say that the number of Covid-19 cases are dropping in the country,” he says.

He’s worried that people don’t care about what is happening.

"In 2018, NGOs were following what was happening and were able to react when these mass arrests took place. Today, no one is speaking out about what is happening.”

'Official' and 'unofficial' convoys
Moctar Dan Yaye, who is the head of communication and public relations for Alarm Phone Sahara, an organisation that helps migrants who are trapped in the desert, says these deportations can be extremely dangerous and that, sometimes, people get lost in the harsh, disorientating landscape:
There are official convoys that transport people from Niger back to their country and unofficial convoys that transport people of different nationalities back to Niger. These people are then dropped off in the middle of the desert. Often, they are brought there at night or early in the morning. Then, they can see a light in the distance. That’s the first village on the Niger side, Assamaka. That’s where they need to go. There, they’ll find people working with the International Organization for Migration [Editor’s note: IOM, the UN’s migration agency], who help organise voluntary repatriation.

Some refuse to walk to Assamaka and try, instead, to return to Algeria. It doesn’t matter what choice they make; some people get lost. That’s why we do patrols. When I was in Assamaka in January, I saw the grave of a migrant. I don’t know when he died. It’s impossible to have statistics on the number of people who died when getting lost in the desert.

This Facebook post by the NGO Alarm Phone Sahara (as translated from French) explains that Algeria is still carrying out mass deportations of migrants to Niger. This post mentions a group of people who had been deported from Algeria who arrived in the border town of Assamaka, Niger on October 8, 2020. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned human rights violations by Algeria in their treatment of these migrants.

On October 1, the Algerian Minister of the Interior Kamel Beldjoud announced that a new national strategy had been adopted to fight undocumented migration “in strict respect for international conventions and treaties signed by Algeria, especially those concerning respect for Human Rights and dignity for migrants".

Algeria is working with the IOM and the minister claimed that that would ensure “all the proper conditions” would be met during repatriation operations. In one notable example, he cited that there would be "the creation of housing centres, restaurants, transportation and medical care”.

Niger and Algeria have had an agreement about the deportation of people from Niger back to the country since 2014. But the agreement doesn’t address the deportation of people from other countries in West or Central Africa. In 2018, Niger asked, in vain, for Algeria to stop deporting people who aren’t Nigerien citizens to their country.

This article was written by Maëva Poulet.

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Gunmen kill several schoolchildren in Cameroon
Local witnesses have said the ongoing separatist movement was responsible for the deaths of at least eight pupils, but that has yet to be officially confirmed. Authorities have vowed to "hunt and kill" the perpetrators.

Empty Kumba school classroom

Gunmen stormed the Mother Francisca Memorial College in Kumba in southwestern Cameroon on Saturday, killing at least eight schoolchildren and wounding eight more.
One parent who was just outside the school at the time of the attack said the gunmen arrived on motorbikes and in civilian clothes in the middle of the day before shooting the children indiscriminately.
Read more: Cameroon: 'One of the great neglected conflicts'

It wasn't clear if the attack was linked to the ongoing struggle between the army and groups attempting to form a breakaway state called Ambazonia in the English-speaking west. But a local witness in the area said Ambazonian fighters were responsible for the bloodshed.

"Ambazonian fighters arrived [at] the school …started shooting into the classes. They say the students are traitors for attending classes when they have called for an effective school boycott in the Northwest and Southwest regions … we ran into the house for safety. It was so terrifying," he said on condition of anonymity.

Watch video03:34
Embedded with government troops in Cameroon's conflict
'Military will hunt and kill them all'

Chamberlin Ntou'ou Ndong, prefect of the Meme department where the Kumba school is located, said authorities were looking for the perpetrators.
"I will not only condemn the cowardly action but I want to tell the criminals that they can run as far as their legs can take them but the military will hunt and kill them all," he said, adding that those responsible for the students' safety would be arrested.

Read more: Nobel Prize laureates call for Cameroon ceasefire
Saturday's shooting at college was the first major attack on schools since the beginning of the academic year in Cameroon.

It was not immediately clear if the Anglophone separatist movement was behind the violence.

'Shock and consternation'
"It is a day that started like any other, but for some families and the Cameroon Anglophone community at large, it quickly turned into a nightmare," writes DW's Mimi Mefo Takambou.
"The sense of shock and consternation has been palpable as another school has come under attack in the restive Southwest Region of Cameroon. The incident has received widespread condemnation from Cameroonians of all walks of life who have taken to social media to express their shock."

Violent unrest
The region has been engulfed by ongoing unrest since 2017 between Anglophone separatists and government security forces in two western districts. The conflict has taken more than 3,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Anglophone secessionists have imposed curfews and closed schools in protest against President Paul Biya's French-speaking government, though some local separatist leaders and activists have been against school shutdowns.

Read more: 'No dictatorship considers protests legal,' Cameroon's opposition politician says
In early September, the army launched an operation against separatists in the English-speaking Northwest region, which has complained of decades of discrimination from the Francophone majority. The Southwest region has also claimed similar discrimination.

Watch video02:16
Cameroon's Anglophone separatist crisis
kbd, dr/shs (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB
A peaceful election in Africa!

Click to copy
Upset in Seychelles presidential election as incumbent loses

FILE - In this Sunday April 14, 2019 file photo, Seychelles President Danny Faure speaks

during an interview with the Associated Press, on the island of Desroches, Seychelles. The Seychelles presidential election has seen an upset, with the electoral commission on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 declaring longtime opposition contender Wavel Ramkalawan the winner over incumbent Danny Faure. The ruling party has been knocked from power for the first time since 1977. (AP Photo/Steve Barker, file)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Seychelles presidential election has seen an upset, with the electoral commission on Sunday declaring longtime opposition contender Wavel Ramkalawan the winner over incumbent Danny Faure. The ruling party has been knocked from power for the first time since 1977.

Opposition leader Ramkalawan, a 59-year-old priest who has largely devoted himself to politics, received 54% of the vote in the Indian Ocean island nation while Faure received 43%, the commission chair Danny Lucas said, calling the race “hotly contested.”

“Mr. Faure and I are very good friends and an election does not mean the end of one’s contribution to one’s motherland,” Ramkalawan, a six-time presidential candidate, said shortly after the announcement. He promised a consultative approach and “no interference by the executive” in the work of the country’s various institutions.

Faure accepted his loss and added “I wish you all the best,” the Seychelles News Agency reported. The outgoing president promised to continue living in the country and said he would be available to dispense advice.

The new president is expected to be sworn in Monday.

Ramkalawan’s party also won more than a two-third’s majority of National Assembly seats, the news agency reported.

The voting turnout was roughly 75% in the archipelago nation of just under 100,000 people whose tourism-heavy economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States and other nations quickly congratulated citizens of the Seychelles for the peaceful election, with the U.S. calling the vote “orderly and free.”

The U.S. congratulated Ramkalawan, saying that “your historic election is evidence that Seychelles has become a truly democratic nation.” The country’s history includes a stretch of one-party rule, a coup in 1977 and a coup attempt in 1981.

Faure, who has been outspoken on the dangers of climate change and the need to protect island nations like his own, assumed the presidency in 2016 after longtime President James Michel stepped down after the ruling United Seychelles party lost parliamentary elections to an opposition coalition.

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Cameroon school attack puts spotlight on neglected conflict
The massacre of schoolchildren in Cameroon has grabbed global attention. Experts have called for the international community to stop ignoring the Anglophone conflict.

Cameroonians demonstrate against US silence on violence in Cameroon (DW/E. Asen)

Cameroon's government has blamed Anglophone separatist militants for the killing of eight children in Kumba in the country's Southwest Region. Thirteen other children were wounded, some of them seriously, as gunmen burst into the school compound and opened fire around midday on Saturday.

Some social media users, however, were quick to point out that another massacre in February in Ngarbuh, in northwest Cameroon, was carried out by government forces. At least 21 civilians, including 13 children, were killed when soldiers attacked the village.

Read more: Cameroon separatist: 'I don’t call myself a fighter, I defend myself'
In the past, rights groups have accused both separatists and government troops of killing civilians during the conflict in the Northwest and Southwest provinces, where English-speaking separatists have been fighting for independence since 2017.

'Violence begets violence'
Kah Walla, president of the opposition Cameroon People's Party, who is from Kumba, has condemned the massacre and all violence related to the ongoing Anglophone crisis.

"When you take up arms you lose an advantage. You lose the high moral ground from which you can say: 'Look, we are protesting peacefully and the government is being violent'," Walla told DW in an interview. "Violence begets violence."

Separatist leader Ayuk Tabe, currently under arrest, tweeted his condemnation of the killing of the Kumba schoolchildren, who were aged between 7 and 12.

International community looks the other way
Cameroon's armed conflict has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people and forced 700,000 to flee their homes.

Despite the scope of the crisis, the international community seems unwilling to respond adequately to President Paul Biya's handling of the situation, said Kah Walla.

"When you take up arms against a state you embarrass all other states. They have difficulties supporting you because they may be creating a precedent from which they themselves will suffer one day," she said.
Cameroon's President Paul Biya
Cameroon's reclusive President Paul Biya has been criticized for his handling of the Anglophone crisis

Fear of contagion
Cameroon's biggest and most influential neighbor, Nigeria, for instance, relies on the cooperation of Yaounde to help fight the Islamist insurgents of Boko Haram.

Nigeria also has its own separatist agitations, such as the Biafran movement in the eastern part of the country, points out Walla. She believes that makes them "unwilling to take any action," adding that the African Union had yet to put Cameroon's Anglophone crisis on its agenda.

Read also: Cameroon's separatist leader is willing to talk peace, but only with UN backing
The European Union and the United States have also failed to take a more forceful stance, besides releasing statements condemning the violence.

Walla believes the violence perpetrated by the separatists has helped Biya fend off international pressure to find a solution to the crisis.

"The government says: 'We are dealing with separatists who are kidnapping, who are cutting off people's heads, who are committing violence on children'," she said.

'Germany could play a more important role'
Christoph Hoffmann, a German member of parliament with the pro-business FDP party, has been pushing for years without success to get Berlin more involved in peace efforts in Cameroon.

"We tried to get the German Chancellor Angela Merkel [to travel to Cameroon] but she officially declined. Now we are trying to get Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to go there and negotiate and contribute to a peaceful solution," Hoffmann told DW.
Map of Cameroon showing French speaking and English speaking areas
Maas could also help free Wilfried Siewe, a German with Cameroonian roots jailed in the capital, Yaounde, for participating in and taking pictures at a demonstration, Hoffmann said.
"There have been a lot of excuses because of COVID-19 and the risk of going to Africa, which is ridiculous. I went to Mali three weeks ago and there is no risk at all," he said, adding that he took the necessary precautions.

Read more: Coronavirus: Expats fear abuse in Africa
Traditionally, he said, Germany is loath to interfere in countries where France has vested interests, such as in Cameroon, a former French colony.

But Hoffmann believes Germany's lack of colonial connection is an advantage his country should use to "play a more important role within the European Union and even looking toward the African Union," he said.

As for Cameroonians, they are increasingly agitating for peace. Emboldened by the success of a recent social media campaign that kept the government from implementing a tax on imported phones, they have created the hashtag #EndAnglophoneCrisis, directed at both sides of the conflict.

Read more: 'Federalism is the solution,' says opposition leader Maurice Kamto
Politician Kah Walla applauds the initiative, saying the effectiveness of such movements shouldn't be underestimated. In the end though, she still believes the regime of President Paul Biya needs to go.

"We will not get a sustainable solution from this corrupt government," she told DW.
Mimi Mefo Takambou and Isaac Mugabi contributed to this article.

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

France, Mali at odds over whether to talk to jihadists in Sahel conflict
Issued on: 26/10/2020 - 18:36
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) during an official visit with the interim President of Mali Bah Ndaw (R) in Bamako, Mali, on October 26, 2020.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) during an official visit with the interim President of Mali Bah Ndaw (R) in Bamako, Mali, on October 26, 2020. © Malian Presidency, AFP
4 min

France and Mali differed on Monday over whether to talk to jihadists to help end the Sahel state's eight-year-old insurgency, with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian ruling the option out.

During a news conference in the capital Bamako, Le Drian distinguished between engaging with armed groups which had signed peace accords, and "terror groups".
"Things are simple," he said.

Le Drian's visit marks the first by a French politician since young army officers toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18.

Le Drian told AFP the reason for his visit was to "establish a relationship of trust with the new authorities".

After international pressure, Mali's military junta handed over to an interim government which is meant to stage elections within 18 months.

Le Drian said his position against dialogue was shared by United Nations Security Council and the G5 Sahel countries -- a regional anti-jihadist force which includes Mali.

But Mali's interim prime minister, Moctar Ouane, swiftly disagreed with him, in a sign of a policy rift between the Sahel state and France, the former colonial power.

He pointed out that a forum on Mali's crisis last year, gathering local leaders, had "very clearly indicated the need for an offer of dialogue with (jihadist) armed groups."

Mali's coup came after waves of anti-government protests partly fuelled by Keita's failure to end the brutal insurgency.

Conflict has raged in Mali since 2012, and has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians.
Intense fighting has continued despite the presence of French and UN troops, prompting many to argue that dialogue with jihadists is the best way to end the bloodshed.

'We can talk'
Ouane told reporters that dialogue offered "an opportunity to launch a huge discussion with communities to define the contours of a new governance," he said, without further details.
In a reference to France, Ouane cautioned however: "This will require synchronisation and coordination with our partners, especially those who are involved militarily."

The French government in January pledged to step up its military engagement in the Sahel, and designated the Islamic State group as its "number one" enemy in region.

Keita's government, under domestic pressure to resolve the conflict, said shortly afterwards that it was prepared to talk to groups affiliated to al-Qaeda, which are at odds with Islamic State.

It is unclear to what extent Keita's government engaged al-Qaeda-linked jihadists before the army overthrew him in August.

Jean-Herve Jezequel, an analyst at the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, explained that Sahel jihadists are "rooted in their communities, which are sometimes sympathetic to them".

They are also increasingly involved in local affairs, which is why many "are trying to explore the path of dialogue," he said.

Informal contacts between the new government in Bamako and jihadist groups are apparently already underway.

This month, the government swapped some 200 detainees -- many of them thought to be jihadists -- for four captives held by Islamist groups, including 75-year-old Sophie Petronin, the last remaining French hostage in the world.

Le Drian's visit also comes at a time when world leaders appear to be considering the possibility of jihadist talks.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told French daily Le Monde in September "there will be groups with which we can talk, and which will have an interest in engaging in dialogue to become political actors in the future".

Swathes of Mali, a vast West African nation of some 19 million people, lie outside government control.

France has 5,100 soldiers deployed across the Sahel region as part of its anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane.

The United Nations has some 13,000 troops deployed in Mali as part of its peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA.

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Tanzania: Opposition leader in Zanzibar arrested briefly on eve of vote
An opposition party in Zanzibar says its presidential candidate was arrested when casting his vote. But police disputed the party's claims that officers had killed nine people.

Tansania Dar es Salaam | ACT Wazalendo Vorsitzender - Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad (Ericky Boniphace/DW)

The Tanzanian opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo) says authorities have arrested their presidential candidate for the semi-autonomous island region of Zanzibar and killed at least nine people one day before Wednesday's (October 28) national elections.

ACT says those who were killed late Monday night were attempting to keep security forces from distributing boxes they claim contained pre-filled election ballots. ACT claims police used teargas and live ammunition in the incident and that some of those killed were shot in their homes.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam, Simon Sirro, Tanzania's inspector general of police, said authorities had no reports of killings, "No one has been killed either by police or anyone else."
Sirro told reporters that arrests were made on the island of Pemba after youths attacked police, "when we were offloading ballot boxes, they started throwing stones." In all, Sirro says 42 arrests had been made — ACT claims the number was more than 100.
Read more: Tanzania elections: A choice between Magufuli and democracy?

Opposition candidate arrested
Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, the ACT Party candidate for Zanzibar's presidency, was arrested Tuesday morning while attempting to participate in early voting. Hamad, whose party seeks independence from Tanzania, previously served as vice president of the semi-autonomous Zanzibar region and has repeatedly run for its presidency.

Hamad is seen as the strongest challenger in Zanzibar to incumbent Hussein Ali Mwinyi of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Party.

Police in Zanzibar say Hamad was arrested because he was not among those designated to take part in early voting. He was later released.

Wednesday's vote will see both Tanzania and Zanzibar vote in presidential and parliamentary elections in which Zanzibar residents will cast ballots for Tanzania's president as well as their own government.

Zombies' patrol the streets
Throughout the day Tuesday, heavily armed soldiers, security forces and members of a ruling party militia group known as the "zombies" swarmed the streets of Zanzibar. Journalists say they were chased away from areas where police were beating citizens before hauling them away in trucks. Residents also reported very slow internet connections on Tuesday and voiced fears that it may be shutdown altogether on election day.

US Ambassador Donald Wright took to Twitter to voice his concern: "I'm alarmed by reports from Zanzibar and elsewhere of violence, deaths, and detentions. It's not too late to prevent more bloodshed! Security forces must show restraint."

Wright also called on Tanzanian and Zanzibari election officials to carry out their work with integrity.

President tightening his grip
Rights groups like Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) say Tanzanian President John Magufuli and his government have systematically muzzled political opposition and the free press during his first five-year term in office and fear that things could get worse, "We are concerned that the last five years of human rights deterioration in the country could continue into the next five," according to Amnesty's Seif Magango.

Magufuli's main opponent — whom observers expect he will defeat — is Tundu Lissu, who recently returned from three years in exile after escaping an assassination attempt that forced him to be flown to Belgium as his life hung in the balance. In September, Lissu's convoy was tear gassed by authorities during a dispute as to which route it should take. Lissu backs Hamad's bid for the Zanzibar candidacy.

Split screen photo showing Tanzanian President John Magufuli and his challenger Tundu Lissu (both photos originally from AFP)
In the vote in Tanzania, President John Magufuli (l.) goes head to head with Tundu Lissu

'Shrinking democratic space'
Observers say Magufuli's grip on power has already tipped the election in his favor due to the harassment of opposition candidates like Lissu as well as government bans on opposition parties holding public events.

Ravina Shamdasani of the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said: "We have been following with concern the shrinking of democratic space in the country, with worrying reports of intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrests and physical attacks against political opponents."

In the past, Zanzibar's security forces killed at least 35 people and injured more than 600 putting down protests against suspected election fraud in 2001. Violent clashes came again during the 2005 elections and in 2015 elections were cancelled outright by the head of the country's electoral commission.

The opposition boycotted a repeat election in 2016, handing victory to CCM.

js/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Algerian president Tebboune transferred to German hospital amid Covid-19 fears
Issued on: 29/10/2020 - 05:08
Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune during a press conference in Algiers, on December 13, 2019.

Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune during a press conference in Algiers, on December 13, 2019. © Ramzi Boudina, Reuters (file photo)
2 min

Algeria’s president was transferred from hospital in Algiers to Germany on Wednesday, officials said, days after the 74-year-old went into self-isolation following reports of suspected coronavirus cases among his aides.

“The President of the Republic, Mr. Abdelmadjid Tebboune was transferred... to Germany for in-depth medical examinations on the recommendation of medical staff,” a statement from the presidency said.

The transfer comes after officials said Saturday that Tebboune had “voluntarily” gone into self-isolation for five days amid reports several officials in the presidency and government had contracted the Covid-19 disease.

On Tuesday, Tebboune, a heavy smoker, was admitted into a “specialised care unit” in a military hospital in Algeria’s capital.

The presidency said at the time that his “state of health does not raise any concern”, but gave no further details.

On Wednesday, Tebboune had been expected to inaugurate the prayer hall of the new Grand Mosque in Algiers, the third largest in the world.

The president’s hospitalisation also comes ahead of a referendum on November 1 on constitutional reforms that the government hopes will satisfy a protest movement. The vote is a flagship initiative of Tebboune.

Algeria has seen a resurgence in novel coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
Over 57,000 cases have been recorded in the country of 44 million, including more than 1,940 deaths.

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Locusts again.

Southern Africa faces new locust plague
Biblical locust swarms are laying waste to southern Africa's crops. But lessons learnt from a similar plague in East Africa show that regional cooperation and early detection are key to avoiding an equally big disaster.

A swarm of locusts in Kenya

As the rainy season approaches in southern Africa, fears are rising of a locust infestation. This year, a similar plague swept through East Africa, with swarms decimating grasslands and trees.

Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and most recently Angola have already been affected. The livelihoods of farmers and cattle herders, who are already dealing with food shortages caused by a crippling drought, are at stake.
Read more: East Africa: Why are locusts so destructive?

According to Mathew Abang, southern Africa's Crop Production Officer for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the effects in rural areas is already substantial. In Zambia alone, locusts have already infested some 300,000 hectares (741,000 hectares). Meanwhile, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) reports 45 million people could be facing food shortages.

Experience of the locust plague in East Africa has shown that both regional cooperation and finances are lacking, making it even more difficult to stop the insatiable swarms.
Motorcyclist engulfed by locusts in Kenya
Kenya was badly hit by a locust plague earlier this year

Insecticides in short supply
As farmers prepare to plant their crops ahead of the November rainy season, newly hatched locusts are lying in wait. This means the already strained humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is likely to get even worse.

"The harvests in May were bad," Regina Feindt from the German NGO Welthungerhilfe told DW from Zimbabwe. "The country has been going through a two-year long drought, and the economy is on its knees."

The lockdown measures implemented to stem the coronavirus pandemic have not helped matters, either.

"The Ministry of Agriculture does not have enough insecticides and has already asked us if we can deliver these," Feindt adds.

The locusts have already infested previously unaffected areas in Zimbabwe's southern and western regions.

Read more: Tiny bugs with destructive powers
Meanwhile in neighboring Zambia, the locust infestation has spiralled. The FAO emergency plan involves Zambia and affected neighboring countries identifying and monitoring hotspots better. This includes killing the locusts before they can gather in swarms.
The FAO has made technology and funds available so that the locust swarms can be subdued with chemicals. However, topping-up stocks of insecticide remains a major challenge.
Locusts devouring crops
Adult locusts can eat can eat three times their own body-weight per day and travel hundreds of kilometers

Namibia also urgently needs insecticides, says Farayi Zimudzi, leader of the FAO-bureau in Windhoek. Because most of southern Africa buys insecticides from the same supplier, deliveries have been delayed. But time is running out, particularly in Namibia's eastern Kavango and Zambezi regions.

"Food security will be seriously impacted because newly planted crops and any crops that are currently standing in the fields right now are at risk of being totally annihilated," Zimudzi told DW.

Read more: How East Africa is fighting locusts and coronavirus
An early warning system would be a major weapon against locust invasions, but monitoring is difficult in remote areas, Zimudzi adds.

Lack of membership payments stunt monitoring efforts
Frances Duncan, head of the University of Witwatersrand's Institute for Animal, Plants and Environmental Sciences in Johannesburg, sees the situation more critically.

Theoretically, FAO member states pay scientists over time to monitor rural and farming areas. The body of work produced is used to create models which monitor climate, rainfall and cyclones.

This information is vital in predicting the probability of locust plagues. However, "when there are no locusts around, governments tend to forget that this is a problem," Duncan told DW.
"Recently member countries have actually not paid and there's no money to have people surveilling," she explains.
Toyota pick-up truck modified to spray insecticides
Pick-up trucks modified to spray insecticides have helped slow locust invasions, but they are in short supply

This cost-cutting can prove expensive in the long run. Detecting locust swarms early and taking action means swarms can be destroyed in their infancy when the hatchlings can only hop, covering just two or three kilometers a day. This is a far cry from the capabilities of adult flying locusts, which can cover hundreds of kilometers.

"When we have people on the ground looking to see what the local populations are doing, then we can try and chemically control them before they actually reach plague status," says Duncan.

This would require farmers to develop a centralised system where observations from remote rural areas can be shared quickly and action can be taken.

More regional cooperation needed
For Duncan, the lesson from East Africa is clear: Regional cooperation across borders is essential to stamping out locust infestations.

Atinkut Mezgebu Wubneh speaks from experience. The head of Agriculture and Rural Development of Tigray in northern Ethiopia has first hand knowledge of coordinating an inter-regional effort to stop a locust plague

"The sustainable solution is that the remedial measures can't be done separately. The countries should come together and act in a well-organised way," he told DW. "Otherwise it is difficult to combat the desert locust as the insect moves across countries."
This article was translated from German by Cai Nebe.