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24 arrested, weapons seized in Senegal post election violence

Violence erupted in Tambacounda, pitching supporters of President Macky Sall against those of opposition candidate Issa Sall.

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Tires burn on a motorway in the north of Dakar during a revolt of supporters of Khalifa Sall in front of the headquarters of the liberal Bokk Gis Gis (BGG) party - AFP

Police in eastern Senegal have made two dozen arrests and seized knives and clubs after clashes in the run-up to presidential elections left at least two dead, officials said on Tuesday.

The violence erupted on Monday in Tambacounda, 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of Dakar, pitching supporters of President Macky Sall against those of opposition candidate Issa Sall. 

One supporter of the president was fatally stabbed by a suspected member of the opposition Unity and Assembly Party (PUR), the sources said.

A second fatality was part of a group of young pro-government motorcyclists that tried to prevent Issa Sall’s motorcade from leaving the town. He was hit by a vehicle and died, they said.

Local media reported that a third supporter of the president died of injuries, but the officials did not confirm this.

“The gendarmerie have arrested 24 people,” a security source in Tambacounda told AFP on Tuesday.

Moustapha Sarr, a senior official with PUR, said 20 of the arrests were supporters of Issa Sall. 

Macky Sall and Issa Sall share the same surname but are not related.

Tambacounda public prosecutor Demba Traore said the arrests were mainly members of Issa Sall’s security guard, and police had seized knives and clubs on PUR members.

Eight journalists who were covering Issa Sall’s campaign were hurt when their minibus was attacked by suspected supporters of the ruling coalition, organisations representing media workers said.

Senegal, a former French colony, has been buffeted by violence ahead of the February 24 vote, which Macky Sall hopes to win outright in the first round.

On Sunday at least two people were “seriously injured” in Fatick, a presidential stronghold in Senegal’s centre-west, in clashes with supporters of rising opposition candidate Ousmane Sonko, local media reported.

Four people, all Sonko supporters, were badly hurt on February 4 in the northern city of Saint-Louis, Sonko’s campaign said.

Issa Sall said on Twitter on Tuesday that after the “tragic events” in Tambacounda, he would be “suspending” his campaign and heading back to the capital.

On Monday, the president called for calm but took aim at his predecessor and political rival, Abdoulaye Wade, who last week called for his supporters to burn their electoral registration cards and ballot sheets.

The clashes “are the result of the call for violence by certain political leaders… who will be brought before the courts to account for their acts,” President Sall said.

Senegal’s election campaigns are often marred by accusations of corruption, influence-peddling and dirty tricks, misinformation, although the country is also often held up as a beacon of democracy and relative prosperity in West Africa.

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East Africa News & Stories

DR Congo military kills 16 militiamen in northeastern region

A spokesperson for the military said militia positions were targeted in Walendu Pitsi sector, killing 16 militiamen and capturing one

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DR Congo military kills 16 militiamen in northeast region
Soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

The military in DR Congo said on Tuesday that sixteen militiamen have been killed in the northeastern part of the country, an area where ethnic violence has left at least 160 dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee in the past two weeks.

A spokesperson for the military said militia positions were targeted in Walendu Pitsi sector, killing 16 militiamen and capturing one.

“At the moment, operations are concentrated around the Kpadruma locality where there is violent fighting,” Lieutenant Jules Tshikudi, a provincial army spokesman, told reporters.

He said;

“The soldiers of the armed forces of the DRC have chased attackers from several localities which they were occupying and sowing insecurity.” 

He also added that four AK47 rifles were recovered.

Lieutenant Tshikudi did not reveal the name of the group that was targeted, but there have been repeated outbreaks of violence between different ethnic groups in that area.

Between 10 and 12 June, there was a flare-up in violence in the Djugu region in DRC’s volatile Ituri Province which led to the deaths of at least 160 people, local authorities said. Earlier death tolls put the figure at somewhere between 50 and around 70.

The UN refugee agency has voiced deep concerns over the developments, which it said had seen “multiple attacks” involving the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups since early June.

The agency has said the recent wave of violence in the area has forced more than 300,000 people to flee their homes, with “large-scale displacement” reported in three of Ituri’s five administrative territories, with people fleeing unrest in Djugu territory especially.

The region which is known to be rich in gold, has experienced extreme violence before, with deaths numbering tens of thousands due to clashes between the Hema and Lendu form the periods of 1999 to 2003.

The DRC counts an estimated 4.5 million internally displaced people. Ituri and North Kivu province, just to the south, are battling with a major epidemic of Ebola that has claimed more than 1,400 lives since August last year. Both provinces are in the eastern part of the DRC, where the country shares its border with Uganda.

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Zuma’s lawyer says he will attend ‘prejudiced’ graft inquiry

Jacob Zuma, who was forced out of office last year over corruption allegations, has denied any wrong doings

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Jacob Zuma will attend ‘prejudiced’ graft inquiry -lawyer
Former South African President Jacob Zuma speaks with his lawyers at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg. (Photo by Themba Hadebe / POOL / AFP)

South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma, will attend a judicial inquiry into government graft during his tenure even though he believes it is prejudiced against him, his lawyer said.

Zuma’s lawyer Daniel Mantsha, on Tuesday, said:

“He is going to the commission as invited from July 15-19.”

However, “our client remains of the view that the commission is prejudiced against him and lacks the requisite impartiality,” Mantsha wrote separately in a letter to the inquiry seen by reporters.

It wasn’t specified in the letter if Zuma would testify or answer questions. It described last week’s invitation from the commission for Zuma to attend – in which it said he had been implicated in graft by at least nine witnesses – as part of a “disinformation campaign”.

The primary brief of the inquiry is to investigate corruption allegations, notably at state firms Eskom and South African Airways, which are in serious debt after years of mismanagement.

It is reviewing accusations that three prominent businessmen – brothers Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh Gupta — unduly influenced Zuma during his presidency about political appointments and the awarding of state contracts.

Jacob Zuma, who was forced out of office last year over corruption allegations, has denied any wrongdoings.

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East Africa News & Stories

Kagame calls out the West’s ‘human rights superiority complex’

Kagame said compared to what it was 25 years ago, Rwanda is now a different country

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Kagame criticises West's 'human rights superiority complex'
Photo credit: AFP

In an interview with French TV broadcaster, France24, Rwandan president, Paul Kagame has termed criticisms of his country’s human rights record as “rubbish” and “ridiculous”.

Kagame said compared to what it was 25 years ago, Rwanda is now a different country.

He challenged the host of the program to look at what he called Europe’s failing human rights record, particularly the way migrants have been treated.

“[Europe] is violating people’s rights, with this problem of people being bundled and sent back to sink in the Mediterranean and so many being mistreated in your own country”, he said.

He further added that criticisms from the West were tinged with a superiority complex:

“You really need to stop this superiority complex nonsense about human rights.

“You think you are the only ones who respect human rights, all others are about violating human rights. No, we’ve fought for human rights and freedoms for our people much better [than] you people who keep talking about this nonsense.”

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