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Archive for the ‘Africa Section’ Category

Gambia’s 1st president, Dawda Jawara, dies at 95

August 28, 2019

BANJUL, Gambia (AP) — Gambia’s government says the country’s first democratically elected president, Dawda Kairaba Jawara, has died at the age of 95. The Gambian presidency said Tuesday that Jawara died in the capital, Banjul, and called him a “champion of international peace, justice and humanity.”

Jawara was known as the father of the nation. He spearheaded the talks that led to Gambia’s independence from Britain in 1965. He served as prime minister while Queen Elizabeth II was head of state before he succeeded her in 1970 with his election as president.

Jawara remained in office until a 1994 coup. The soldiers who overthrew him were led by Yahya Jammeh, who also would lead Gambia for more than two decades. Jawara went to the U.K. after the coup and returned to Gambia in 2002.

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Zimbabwe comedian is latest in torture of government critics

August 23, 2019

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A wave of abductions, torture and arrests in Zimbabwe are targeting opposition activists and other government critics, the latest being a popular comedian dragged from her home by armed and masked men.

Barely two years after euphoric scenes engulfed Zimbabwe following the forced resignation of former repressive ruler Robert Mugabe, frustration and fear have returned. Comedian Samantha Kureya was this week dragged from her bed, stripped naked and tortured by masked men with assault rifles for skits perceived as anti-government. She spoke to The Associated Press from her hospital bed.

“I am living in fear,” she said, complaining of “severe pain” in her legs and on her back. Kureya said the men claiming to be police officers dragged her from bed half naked and bundled her into a waiting car on Wednesday night. They beat her using short whips, forced her to roll in a stream of sewage and drink from it, she said.

“I was wearing my underwear and a T-shirt when they took me, they didn’t even give me a chance to dress properly,” she said. Her abductors forced her to strip naked during the torture and warned her against mocking the government before abandoning her to seek clothing and help from strangers, said Kureya.

She had received threats on social media before the abduction, she said. Her latest skit mocked security agents for beating up demonstrators that included elderly women. Political tensions are rising in Zimbabwe as the economy deteriorates with inflation at over 175% and growing dissatisfaction with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Mugabe less than two years ago with promises of a “new dawn” and a “flowering of democracy.”

Human rights groups say at least six activists were abducted and tortured by suspected security agents ahead of an opposition demonstration last week. Police later used violence to disperse demonstrators in Harare on August 16.

One of the activists abducted and tortured ahead of last week’s demonstration, Tatenda Mombeyarara had visible wounds on his legs, hands, buttocks and back. His kidneys were damaged and doctors put metal plates and pins on his fractured left leg and hand, he said, showing AP a scan while lying on a hospital bed. He said he was beaten with sjamboks (short whips), gun butts and a wheel spanner and also submerged in a pool of dirty water at a quarry dumpsite.

“They told me ‘you think you are a hero, all that will end today. You are going to die and your American sponsors will not save you’,” said Mombeyarara, who has been in hospital for the past nine days. “I am still traumatized. The pain was unbearable. I thought I was going to die.”

An opposition member of parliament said unknown people fired shots at his house Wednesday night, while a top official was arrested Thursday and accused of failing to stop supporters from demonstrating against the government. Since January, more than 20 activists have been charged with plotting to unseat Mnangagwa.

Police spokesman Paul Nyathi said the recent abductions and attacks “are being investigated” but denied that security agents were involved. “We cannot blame security agents (for the abduction) because investigations are still underway,” he said.

Government spokesman Nick Mangwana blamed the attacks on “a force” he associated with Mugabe “to impair President Mnangagwa’s image as a sincere reformer.” The U.S embassy in Zimbabwe and the European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe said in a joint statement earlier this week that reports of worsening human rights abuses were of “great concern.”

Kureya, the comedian, said she would continue poking fun at the government despite her abductors threatening to “put a bullet” in her mother’s head if she continues with her work. “That is how I survive,” she said. “I don’t have any other job, plus we all can’t just keep quiet when things are as bad as they are in this country.”

Ethiopia says military chief killed, regional coup failed

June 23, 2019

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s military chief was shot to death by his bodyguard amid a failed coup attempt against a regional government north of the capital, Addis Ababa, the prime minister said Sunday.

The abortive coup Saturday in the Amhara region was led by a high-ranking military officer and others in the armed forces, said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who addressed the nation on state TV at 2 a.m. while wearing fatigues.

The soldiers attacked a building where a meeting of regional officials was taking place, said Nigussu Tilahun, a spokesman for the prime minister. The regional governor and an adviser were killed, while the attorney general was wounded, he said.

Not long after afterward, army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen who assassinated at his home in Addis Ababa, and a retired army general visiting him was also killed, the spokesman said. “There is a link between the two attacks,” Nigussu said without elaborating.

The attack in Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara, was led by a renegade brigadier who had recently been pardoned by the prime minister after being jailed by the previous government, authorities said. Most of the perpetrators were captured, and others were being hunted down, the spokesman said.

The brigadier remained at large, according to two officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Addis Ababa was peaceful on Sunday as soldiers stood guard in Meskel Square and set up roadblocks throughout the city. Ethiopia’s internet appeared to be shut down.

The attempted coup was the latest challenge to Abiy, who was elected last year. The 42-year-old Abiy has captured the imagination of many with his political and economic reforms, including the surprise acceptance of a peace agreement with Eritrea, the opening of major state-owned sectors to private investment and the release of thousands of prisoners, including opposition figures once sentenced to death.

Last June, a grenade meant for Abiy wounded many people at a big rally. Nine police officials were arrested, state media reported. In October, rebellious soldiers protested over pay and invaded Abiy’s office, but the prime minister was able to defuse the situation.

Ethiopia is a key regional ally of the U.S. in the restive Horn of Africa region. Tibor Nagy, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, said the latest violence was a “shock, but it could have turned out so much worse,” adding: “Thankfully Prime Minister Abiy escaped this attempt, because there are many, many more people in Ethiopia who support his reforms than those who are opposed to them.”

Speaking in South Africa, Nagy said “there are vestiges of the old regime” who are opposed to Abiy. “I wish I could say that this is will be the last of these attempts, but no one can be certain,” Nagy said.

In Addis Ababa, politicians and government officials went to the home of the slain army chief to offer condolences to his family.

AP journalist Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria, South Africa, contributed.

Algeria Postpones Presidential Vote After Contenders Disqualified

2 June 2019

Algeria has postponed presidential elections planned for next month after the two candidates were disqualified. The polls were to elect a successor to Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned after pressure from protesters.

Algeria’s Constitutional Council announced Sunday that it would be “impossible” for the presidential vote to go ahead on July 4 because the only two candidates in the race had been rejected.

The elections were planned after mass pro-democracy protests and pressure from the military forced long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April.

Algerians have been holding marches for months, calling for political reforms and a clear break from the elite that dominated politics during Bouteflika’s two decades in power. The protesters have also demanded the polls be delayed over fears of vote rigging.

Two candidates rejected

Only two, largely unknown, candidates lodged bids by the deadline last week. The council said it had knocked back both application but did not explain why.

“Based on this decision, it is impossible to conduct the presidential elections on July 4,” the council said in a statement, according to Algeria’s official news agency APS.

The council added that it was now up to interim President Abdelkader Bensalah to set a date for a new vote. Bensalah had been appointed interim leader until July 9, but protesters say they want him gone.

On Friday, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched in the capital, Algiers, and other cities to demand his resignation, along with that of Bouteflika ally, Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

Source: allAfrica.

Link: https://allafrica.com/stories/201906030002.html.

Algeria to hold first post-Bouteflika presidential election July 4

By Darryl Coote

APRIL 11, 2019

April 11 (UPI) — Algeria’s newly appointed interim leader set July 4 to hold the presidential election following last week’s resignation of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Senate leader Abdelkader Bensalah, 77, made the televised announcement Wednesday, according to state-run media Algeria Press Service, which comes a day after Algerian lawmakers appointed him the nation’s interim president for the next 90 days.

Bensalah, who is unable to run in the election, also announced plans to create a “sovereign” body with both politicians and civil society in order to foster conditions necessary for an honest election process, Al Jazeera reported.

The announcement failed to placate protesters who have held mass demonstrations since February demanding a change in the country’s leadership.

The protests first erupted after President Bouteflika announcement late February that he would be running for a fifth term.

The 82-year-old Bouteflika, who had held tight to the reigns of his country since 1999, resigned April 2, after Algeria’s army chief said it would pursue a constitutional procedure to declare the ailing, wheelchair-bound president unfit to rule.

Despite Bouteflika’s resignation, protests persisted as the public worried the country’s rule would only shift to another member of the same regime, and Bensalah’s appointment did little to assuage those concerns as he had served as Speaker of the Council under Bouteflika.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior, Local Authorities and National Planning announced through the state-run Algeria Press Service Wednesday that it had authorized 10 political parties and 22 national and inter-provincial associations.

The ministry said it had examined files on the different parties and associations on a case-by-case basis and allowed 10 political parties “to hold their constituent congresses in accordance with the provisions of the organic law on political parties” while “certificates of approval have been issued to 22 national and inter-provincial associations.”

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Link: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/04/11/Algeria-to-hold-first-post-Bouteflika-presidential-election-July-4/3061554973003/.

Former Congolese vice president seeks compensation from ICC

March 11, 2019

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A former vice president of Congo who was acquitted on appeal at the International Criminal Court of crimes in Central African Republic is seeking millions of euros (dollars) in compensation.

Lawyers for Jean-Pierre Bemba released a lengthy written application Monday in which they ask judges at the global court to award Bemba a total of nearly 69 million euros ($77 million). The sum includes compensation for a decade he spent in jail and also covers legal costs and losses to his assets, which were frozen by the court.

Appeals judges last year overturned Bemba’s 2016 convictions as a military commander on two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes for a campaign of murder, rape and pillaging by his troops in Central African Republic from 2002-2003.

Nigeria: Buhari Sworn-in For Second Term as President

29 May 2019

By Ayodeji Adegboyega

President Muhammadu Buhari has been inaugurated for a second term in office.

The inauguration was done at the Eagle Square in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Wednesday’s inauguration was low-key with many foreign leaders and former Nigerian presidents absent.

The government had earlier announced that the event would be low-key as major parts of the event had been rescheduled for June 12, which has been declared Democracy Day.

Mr Buhari won the February presidential election, defeating dozens of other candidates, including his main challenger Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party.

According to the electoral commission, Mr Buhari polled 55.6 per cent of the votes (15,191,847) to defeat Mr Abubakar who polled 41.2 per cent (11,262,978).

Mr Abubakar is challenging the result of the election in court.

Source: allAfrica.

Link: https://allafrica.com/stories/201905290434.html.

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