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Customs officials in Dakar discover cocaine hidden in cars from Brazil

This came just days after another 238 kg was found in a separate car shipment – also from Brazil, in the same port.

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15 new cars arrive Senegal with cocaine from Brazil

Senegalese authorities have discovered more than a tonne of cocaine in the past week hidden in shipments of new cars from Brazil waiting to be offloaded in the port of Dakar, the customs service said Monday.

Officials found 798 kilogrammes (1,760 pounds) of the white powder in 15 new cars among a delivery of dozens over the weekend, the service said in a statement. 

This came just days after another 238 kg was found in a separate car shipment – also from Brazil, in the same port. 

Investigations are continuing, said the customs service, without specifying the street value of the cocaine seized. 

At least 15 Senegalese people have been arrested, according to local media. 

Cocaine is regularly found at the port and international airport of Dakar – one of West Africa’s main transit points for passengers and merchandise. 

The single biggest amount ever seized was 2.4 tonnes, in the coastal region of Mbour in July 2007. Suspected dealers from Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela were arrested, tried, and convicted. 

The white powder produced from coca leaves, mainly in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, is increasingly being transported by sea via the Caribbean, Maghreb and West Africa to destinations further afield.

Global cocaine production reached a record high of nearly 2,000 tonnes in 2017, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. 

At the same time, seizures of cocaine rose to a record 1,275 tonnes.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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Central Africa News

Social media restriction in Chad lifted after one year

Access to social media was cut in March 2018, as public opposition mounted over Deby’s plans to push through changes to the constitution

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Chad President Idriss Deby said Saturday he was lifting social media restrictions which were imposed more than a year ago for “security reasons.”

“For some months, security requirements led the government to toughen access conditions and control measures for electronic communications,” Deby said in a closing address to a digital forum in the capital N’Djamena. 

“These measures were imposed in a context of terrorist threats (but)” the current situation ” leads me … to instruct the firms concerned to lift immediately the restriction on electronic communications,” said Deby.

On Saturday afternoon, it was possible to access social media applications including Whatsapp and Twitter, an AFP journalist reported.

Access to social media was cut in March last year as public opposition mounted over Deby’s plans to push through changes to the constitution shoring up his power after almost three decades in office.

Access remained possible using VPN networks but the use of those is costly in one of the world’s poorest nations.

Barely five per cent of the population enjoys internet access.

Chad is a Western ally in the fight against jihadist groups in Africa and notably faces threats from Boko Haram, which has made several deadly incursions into its territory in recent months.

The largely desert north, bordering Sudan, Libya and Niger, is highly volatile while several rebel groups have set up base just over the border with Libya.

In late January, Chad rebels seeking to destabilise Deby entered the northeast of the country from Libya but were pushed back after French air strikes.

In the east, farmers and nomadic groups have also clashed while the south on the border with the Central African Republic is still tense after the 2013 overthrow of former CAR president sparked unrest which spilt over the border.

Legislative elections in Chad are scheduled to take place by the end of the year having been postponed several times since 2015 as Deby, who grabbed power in 1990, looks to maintain his grip on the country.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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18 killed in village raids in Nigeria’s Katsina state

The victims were buried the same day after funeral prayers attended by the emir, his entourage said.

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A detachment of anti-riots policemen keeps watch sitting on an armoured tank at the main gate to Katsina State secretariat

Armed bandits killed at least 18 people in raids in northern Nigeria, where attacks by kidnappers and cattle rustlers have been on the rise, residents said Friday.

Gunmen on motorbikes stormed into four villages in Kankara and Danmusa districts in Katsina state on Wednesday, shooting residents as they fled.

“We collected 18 dead bodies from the four villages after the attacks,” said Sada Iliya, a community leader from Unguwar Rabo village where nine people were killed.

“The bandits rode through the villages, opening fire on people,” he said.

Residents on Thursday transported the bodies to the state capital 130 kilometres (80 miles) away and presented them to the traditional emir in protest at the attacks.

“We took the 18 corpses to Katsina for the emir (so that he could) see what we are going through at the hands of bandits,” said Isyaku Jari from Maidabino village.

The victims were buried the same day after funeral prayers attended by the emir, his entourage said.

Katsina state has suffered months of attacks by cattle thieves and kidnappers, prompting villagers to form vigilante groups to protect themselves.

The gangs hole up in forests, using them as bases from which to launch assaults.

In May, 34 people were killed when bandits attacked three villages in Batsari and Danmusa districts, according to police and residents.

The latest violence comes amid efforts to halt the attacks in neighbouring Zamfara state, which has seen the worst of the bloodshed. 

Bandits, herders and local vigilantes attended a peace meeting on Tuesday brokered by the regional government and police.

Farmers and herding communities in the area have long been terrorised by the gangs but the vigilante groups they have formed have been accused of extra-judicial killings. 

The gangs have demanded that their suspected members stop being targeted for reprisal attacks, while mediators are pushing for both sides to disarm. 

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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East Africa News & Stories

Arab spring deja-vu for Egyptians exiled in Sudan

Post-Bashir Khartoum in 2019 has much in common with Cairo after January 2011, when president Hosni Mubarak was toppled.

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Arab spring deja-vu for Egyptians exiled in Sudan
An Egyptian student who fled political repression in Egypt and moved to Sudan is pictured in Khartoum on June 27, 2019. - Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood who have fled repression in Egypt to seek refuge in Sudan are now feeling a deja-vu as their host country is now engulfed in a popular uprising similar to the revolt in their home country. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Egyptians exiled in Sudan, who fled after their elected Islamist president was deposed by the military, say the current standoff in Khartoum reminds them of their own broken dreams.

“It’s the same young people that are trying to carry out the same revolutionary action,” said Abdelaziz, an Egyptian student who has been in Sudan since 2016.

“They have read the same books, lived the same experiences”, he added.

For him and other Egyptians once close to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement, the popular uprising in Sudan reminds them of events in their own country, even if there are some clear differences.

Sudan’s uprising has been led by liberal movements and unions of professionals, which spurred the military to overthrow Omar-al Bashir’s Islamist regime.

In Egypt itself, the Brotherhood polarised the youth movements that spearheaded the 2011 revolt.

But Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was likewise ousted by the army after mass protests against the Islamist’s divisive year in power.

Like Abdelaziz, many supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood ended up in Sudan after fleeing a deadly crackdown launched in 2013 in Egypt.

He fled to escape a 15-year prison sentence for “protesting” and “acts of vandalism”.

In Khartoum, sitting in the courtyard of his house and dressed in a traditional white Sudanese robe, he spoke to AFP using a pseudonym to protect the fragile stability of his new life.

His host country has been swept up by the same revolutionary fervour that Egypt once experienced.

Post-Bashir Khartoum in 2019 has much in common with Cairo after January 2011, when president Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a popular uprising.

On the walls of the city, the slogans are the same: “Down with the military government”.

The graffiti depicting Bashir is accompanied by the clarion call of the Arab Spring that once reverberated across Egypt, Tunisia and Syria: “get out”.

“A very enthusiastic person asked my opinion of the situation in Sudan… I laughed and said ‘we did the same thing as you and here we are sitting by your side'”, said Abdelaziz, who is in his twenties.

“Let’s not be too optimistic, let’s stay realistic”, he added.

‘Refuge’

If he is cautious, it is because in his country, the democratic moment ended with the removal of Morsi, and paved the way for the repression of not only Islamists but also secularists.

Detained for almost six years and kept in isolation, the ex-president died after collapsing during a court appearance on June 17. 

His Muslim Brotherhood was branded a “terrorist organisation”, and thousands of his supporters were sentenced to years in prison or handed down the death penalty.

In August 2013, security forces dispersed a pro-Morsi sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square, killing more than 700 people in one day.

“Sudan appeared to be something of a safe haven at a particular time for Islamist opponents of the Egyptian regime”, said H.A. Hellyer, senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

Bashir consistently denied that his country granted asylum to members of the Brotherhood.

In 2017, Sudan and Egypt signed an agreement not to host any opposition groups hostile to their respective governments.

The Egyptian authorities even gave Khartoum a list of names of Brotherhood members allegedly residing in Sudan, requesting their extradition, according to several sources.

In fact, Bashir’s regime – which came to power with the support of Islamists – had turned a blind eye to the arrival of the dissidents.

Today, Sudan’s ruling transitional military council has initiated a rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, all fiercely hostile to Islamists.

“The new Sudanese regime is currently reformulating its geopolitical position”, Hellyer said. 

‘The same naivety’

Almost every day for more than a month, Abdelaziz has said goodbye to a departing Egyptian friend.

Fellow exile Ahmed, an Egyptian student who came to Sudan since 2015, saw his circle shrink —  all his friends went to Turkey, a stalwart Islamist supporter. 

“They saw a power change” in Sudan, said the young man who also used a pseudonym.

“The fear of the unknown means they want to find a safer place”.

Detained for a few months in Egypt, he also avoided 15 years in prison for participating in a pro-Morsi demonstration after 2013. 

With time and reflection, he said he has distanced himself from the ideology of the Brotherhood, admitting that it had committed “catastrophic errors” in its management of Egypt’s crisis.

To escape the memories and emotions of a painful past, he avoids Sudanese political life. 

But it is not easy when Khartoum is engulfed in protest.

“I feel like these people in the streets are a lot like us,” he said.

“It’s the same dreams, the same ambitions, the same fears, the same desire for change, the same naivety too”.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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