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Ethiopian leader visits Sudan to lead talks with military, protesters

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed hopes to reach fruitful agreements for Sudan’s AU re-admission.

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Ethiopian leader in Sudan to lead talks with military, protesters | News Central TV
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (C-L) arrives at Khartoum international airport on June 7, 2019. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed arrived in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum Friday to broker talks between the ruling generals and protest leaders after a deadly crackdown by security forces this week.

Abiy arrived at Khartoum international airport and headed for a series of meetings with the ruling generals, a correspondent reported from the airport.

The Ethiopian premier was scheduled to meet protest leaders later.

“We have received an invitation from the Ethiopian embassy to meet the Ethiopian prime minister at 11:00 am (0900 GMT) and we will go,” prominent protest leader Omar al-Digeir told reporters.

On Monday, Sudanese security forces launched a deadly crackdown on a weeks-long sit-in outside army headquarters in which more than 100 people were killed, according to the protest movement.

Officials have put the death toll at 61 nationwide, but protest leaders say death toll has topped 100.

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East Africa Politics News

Burundi’s opposition party confirms vandalism of its 18 offices

Inauguration of the new offices on Sunday had been called off upon request of the mayor of Bujumbura

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Burundi's opposition leader Agathon Rwasa says its 18 offices have been vandalised

A Burundian opposition party said Sunday that 18 of its offices had been destroyed in the past two months, condemning acts of “intimidation” by the ruling party. The National Freedom Council (CNL) – a new party formed by main opposition leader Agathon Rwasa – said it was on Sunday meant to inaugurate nine new offices in the capital.

However one “was destroyed during the night by members of the ruling party,” said party spokesman Therence Manirambona. A photo seen by a reporter showed the windows and doors ripped off and walls partially destroyed.

Manirambona said it was the “18th to be vandalised in two months across the country… and each time we are told an investigation is underway to identify those responsible, but nothing has come of it”.

Some have been set ablaze, others partially or totally destroyed, while some have been smeared with human faeces, said the CNL. The ruling Cndd-FDD has repeatedly denied being behind the attacks.

Manirambona said the inauguration of the new offices on Sunday had been called off upon request of the mayor of Bujumbura after clashes erupted between CNL supporters and members of the ruling party.

He said the CNL’s Bujumbura representative Jean-Claude Kwizera had been detained by police for several hours after the incident.

Burundi has been locked in crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza in April 2015 announced he would seek a controversial third term in office, sparking civil unrest that has left 1,200 dead and over 400,000 displaced.

Constitutional reforms adopted in May after a referendum open the way for Nkurunziza to seek another two terms in office in 2020, however, he has assured he will not do so.

A UN Commission of Inquiry last year said it believed the government was committing crimes against humanity such as summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture and sexual violence.  

The CNL has denounced the arrests, torture and disappearances of its members. “Unfortunately we have seen an increase in acts of harassment and political intimidation as 2020 approaches,” said the party spokesman.

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President pardons 4 jailed opponents in Comoros

The four were jailed for life for attempting a coup and threatening state security but had their terms reduced to 20 years in May

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Comoros President Azali Assoumani pardons 4 political opponents

Comoros President Azali Assoumani has pardoned four opposition figures jailed for life for an attempted coup in the Indian Ocean islands. In a decree issued Saturday, writer Said Ahmed Said Tourqui, lawyer Bahassane Ahmed Said, Mohamed Ali Abdallah and El-Had Ibrahim Halifa were “pardoned from all of their remaining sentences”.

The four were jailed for life for attempting a coup and threatening state security but had their terms reduced to 20 years in May when 17 other jailed opponents were pardoned. The charges were linked to unrest that followed a controversial constitutional referendum to extend the president’s term last year. 

Pay Attention: Comoros awaits results of divisive poll

Bahassane is the younger brother of Jaffar Ahmed Said Hassani, a former vice-president to Azali now living in exile in Tanzania after denouncing the president’s authoritarianism. The pardons follow Azali’s re-election in March, in which he pledged “appeasement measures” to quell accusations of voter fraud.

He was credited with nearly 60 per cent of the ballot, an outcome rejected as fraudulent by the opposition. Comoros has had a volatile political history since independence in 1975, enduring more than 20 attempted coups, four of which were successful.

Pay Attention: Comoros oil boom dream hinges on seismic survey

Azali initially came to power in a coup, then ruled between 1999 and 2006. He was re-elected in 2016 in a vote marred by violence and allegations of irregularities.

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Inside Tanzania’s trend of disappearing dissidents

The Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) counts 17 kidnappings since 2016

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Tanzania to export 700,000 tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe

Some turn up dead or injured. Others are never heard of again: A wave of kidnappings in Tanzania that appears to target critics of the government has set the nation on edge.

In May, high-profile dissident Mdude Nyagali was snatched by four gunmen after leaving work, and was dumped, seriously beaten, in a village two days later, according to the main opposition Chadema party.

The incident came just hours after he had branded President John Magufuli a “hypocrite” in a Twitter post. He later blamed security forces for his kidnapping.

Nyagali was one of the lucky ones.

In February 2018 Chadema member Daniel John was kidnapped in the middle of a political campaign, only to turn up dead with machete wounds to the head.

Two years earlier, Ben Saanane, an assistant to Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe, disappeared and his fate is still unknown.

“I cannot recall a wave of kidnappings of this magnitude before 2016,” said Aidan Eyakuze, a civil society activist who has written op-eds criticising a clampdown on Tanzanian media and Magufuli’s approach to democracy.

The Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) counts 17 kidnappings since 2016 of “human rights defenders, journalists, businessmen, politicians and artists”.

“People say they are afraid because no one seems to be safe. In public transport and bars, people no longer talk politics. They are scared of the people seated next to them,” an Arusha bus driver told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Magufuli, whose nickname “tingatinga” means “bulldozer” in Swahili, swept to power in 2015, presenting himself as a no-nonsense, corruption-busting, man-of-the-people.

However, rights watchdogs say a climate of fear has set in since his election. 

“Kidnappings have increased, mainly targeting people who openly criticise the regime, in particular, political opponents,” said Fatma Karume, former president of the Tanganyika Law Society.

“Even amongst us, in the CCM (ruling party), people are afraid. No lawmaker dares to say anything out of fear of being targeted or struck off the list of candidates in the next election,” an MP from the party told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Plot to divide the nation

Opposition parties place the blame on the government, recalling that since Magufuli’s election, their meetings have been banned, top officials arrested while newspapers have been shut and their journalists arrested or threatened for criticising authorities.

Opposition lawmaker Tundu Lissu has blamed authorities for an attack in 2017 which saw him shot multiple times at his home.

“The regime is behind all this. These are the tactics of a regime which does not accept any criticism,” said lawmaker Halima Mdee, leader of Chadema’s women’s branch.

A Tanzanian journalist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said those who survive their kidnappings often remain mum on the details out of “fear of retaliation”.

Opposition members and rights activists say that investigations into the kidnappings go nowhere.

As for the government, it says many of the disappearances are faked.

“On social media, there are people fabricating kidnappings and disappearances. This can divide the nation and sow panic among the population,” Interior Minister Kangi Lugola said earlier this month at a public gathering.

He ordered police to “find and arrest those spreading these lies in order to turn the population against the government”.

In March last year, student activist Abdul Nondo was kidnapped and found injured. But when he reported the incident to police he was arrested for making it up. 

A court acquitted him in November 2018. 

The THRDC this month called for a “national conference” to discuss the issue of kidnappings.

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