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Police act to quell civil disobedience in Sudan

Sudanese police fired warning shots Sunday to disperse protesters building roadblocks as part of a civil disobedience campaign

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Sudanese soldiers stand guard a street in Khartoum on June 9, 2019. - Sudanese police fired tear gas Sunday at protesters taking part in the first day of a civil disobedience

Four people were killed in Sudan on Sunday as protesters launched a civil disobedience campaign against the military after a bloody crackdown on a sit-in demonstration calling for civilian rule.

The campaign got underway nearly a week after the assault on demonstrators at the sit-in outside army headquarters in central Khartoum, which followed talks breaking down between protest leaders and military rulers over who should lead a new governing body – a civilian or soldier.

A Sudanese man walks towards a barricade made of bricks to block a street for cars in Khartoum's twin city Omdurman on the first day of a civil disobedience campaign
A Sudanese man walks towards a barricade made of bricks to block a street for cars in Khartoum’s twin city Omdurman on the first day of a civil disobedience campaign across Sudan on June 9, 2019. – Sudanese police fired tear gas at protesters taking part on June 9 in the first day of a civil disobedience campaign, called in the wake of a deadly crackdown on demonstrators. Protesters gathered tyres, tree trunks and rocks to build new roadblocks in Khartoum’s northern Bahari district, a witness told AFP, but riot police swiftly moved in and fired tear gas at them (Photo by – / AFP)

Following the call for the campaign of civil disobedience, protesters set about building roadblocks in Khartoum while markets and shops were closed in several other towns and cities. A doctors committee linked to the demonstrators said two people were killed on Sunday in unrest that rocked Khartoum and two others in its twin city of Omdurman, just across the Nile river.

Sudanese residents walk past barricades in Khartoum on June 9, 2019. - Sudanese police fired tear gas on June 9 at protesters taking part in the first day of a civil disobedience
Sudanese residents walk past barricades in Khartoum on June 9, 2019. – Sudanese police fired tear gas on June 9 at protesters taking part in the first day of a civil disobedience campaign, called in the wake of a deadly crackdown on demonstrators. Protesters gathered tyres, tree trunks and rocks to build new roadblocks in Khartoum’s northern Bahari district, a witness told AFP, but riot police swiftly moved in and fired tear gas at them. (Photo by – / AFP)

Dozens shot dead during the civil disobedience

The Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors blamed forces of the ruling military council and paramilitary “militias” for the four deaths, which it said took the overall toll to 118 since the June 3 crackdown to disperse the sit-in. The health ministry says 61 people died nationwide in Monday’s crackdown, 49 of them by “live ammunition” in Khartoum.

In the capital’s northern Bahari district, people gathered tyres, tree trunks and rocks to build new roadblocks as the campaign began Sunday. “Almost all internal roads of Bahari have roadblocks. Protesters are even stopping residents from going to work,” a witness said.

But riot police swiftly moved in, firing gunshots in the air and tear gas at demonstrators before clearing the makeshift barriers, he said. The Sudanese Professionals Association, which first launched protests against longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in December, said the campaign of civil disobedience would continue until the military rulers transfer power to a civilian government.

A Sudanese man walks past closed shops and makeshift stalls at the Omdurman market, in Khartoum's twin city on June 9, 2019. - Sudanese police fired tear gas Sunday at protesters taking part in the first day of a civil disobedience
A Sudanese man walks past closed shops and makeshift stalls at the Omdurman market, in Khartoum’s twin city on June 9, 2019. – Sudanese police fired tear gas Sunday at protesters taking part in the first day of a civil disobedience campaign, called in the wake of a deadly crackdown on demonstrators. Protesters gathered tyres, tree trunks and rocks to build new roadblocks in Khartoum’s northern Bahari district, a witness told AFP, but riot police swiftly moved in and fired tear gas at them. (Photo by – / AFP)

In Bahari district, onlookers saw a police truck full of people in civilian clothing but it was not possible to confirm whether they were arrested demonstrators. “We blocked the streets to send a message to those trying to steal our revolution that they will fail,” said Emad Ibrahim, 25, a protester from Bahari.

“It is a long road ahead for us, but after the sacrifice made by our brothers who have been killed, we believe that we will achieve our goal.”

Related: Vendor killed in Sudan during protests in Khartoum

Empty streets during the civil disobedience

Several protesters said they faced difficulties but were still backing the campaign. “The roadblocks prevented me from reaching the market to buy vegetables,” said Hassan Abdelrahim, a vegetable vendor.

“This will impact my income, but when I look at these youngsters who are on the streets for six months, I’m not angry even if I lose my income.” Khartoum residents have mostly remained indoors since Monday when men in military fatigues raided the protest camp.

Civil Disobedience: Shoppers walk through the great market of Omdurman, the Sudanese capital Khartoum's twin city, on June 8, 2019, a few days after heavily armed paramilitaries roamed the Sudanese capital,
Shoppers walk through the great market of Omdurman, the Sudanese capital Khartoum’s twin city, on June 8, 2019, a few days after heavily armed paramilitaries roamed the Sudanese capital, forcing fearful residents to hide indoors. – The military ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April after months of protests against his authoritarian rule, but thousands of demonstrators had remained camped out in front of the army headquarters calling for the generals to cede power to civilians. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Several vehicles of the feared Rapid Support Forces, blamed by witnesses for the killings, were seen Sunday moving across some parts of the capital loaded with machineguns. RSF members were also seen surrounding the main electricity station.

Several airlines have scrapped their Sudan flights since the deadly raid and passengers were left waiting outside Khartoum airport’s departures terminal Sunday, although it was unclear whether any flights would take off.

The downtown business district was largely shut and buses were not running in several areas, but private vehicles were ferrying passengers in some locations. In Omdurman, many shops and markets remained closed but people were seen buying staples in some grocery stores.

“Troops were also seen removing roadblocks from some streets in Omdurman,” an onlooker said.

Markets, bakeries close due to civil disobedience

In the central city of Al-Obeid, the main market was shut and several bank employees did not report to work, residents said. In the town of Madani, southeast of the capital, people were seen queueing outside closed bakeries while the main market was also shut.

“I went to three bakeries and have been unable to buy bread,” a Madani resident told AFP by telephone, adding that protesters had built roadblocks on several streets making it difficult for vehicles to pass. It was the tripling of bread prices that first triggered protests against Bashir in December, which later turned into a nationwide movement against his iron-fisted rule.

After the president was ousted in April, demonstrators remained camped out for weeks in Khartoum to pressure the ruling generals into transferring power. After several rounds of negotiations between protest leaders and the military, talks broke down in mid-May.

A Sudanese man sits on a motorbike in front of a closed photo studio in Khartoum on June 9, 2019.
A Sudanese man sits on a motorbike in front of a closed photo studio in Khartoum on June 9, 2019. Arabic writing on the shutters of the closed shop reads: “Another time, we shall take to the streets, crying out our demands loudly.” – Sudanese police fired tear gas at protesters taking part on June 9 in the first day of a civil disobedience campaign, called in the wake of a deadly crackdown on demonstrators. Protesters gathered tyres, tree trunks and rocks to build new roadblocks in Khartoum’s northern Bahari district, a witness told AFP, but riot police swiftly moved in and fired tear gas at them. (Photo by – / AFP)

Witnesses say the subsequent assault on the sit-in was led by the RSF, who have their origins in the notorious Janjaweed militia, accused of abuses in the Darfur conflict between 2003 and 2004.

Related: Sudan protesters seek army talks, about 2500 arrested

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed travelled to Sudan on Friday in a bid to revive negotiations, holding separate meetings with the two sides after which he called for a “quick” democratic transition.

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Anti-graft agency seizes NFF chiefs’ properties in Nigeria

Rasheedat Okoduwa said “many officials of the NFF are under investigation

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Senior NFF officials under investigation
Courtesy: NFF - thenff.com

Nigerian authorities on Monday seized a dozen properties from senior officials of Nigeria’s top football body, including its president Amaju Pinnick, in a fresh corruption probe.

Agents of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) took over 12 properties – half belonging to Pinnick, including a property in London — in the latest investigation to target senior officials of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), accused of laundering millions of dollars.

ICPC spokesperson Rasheedat Okoduwa said “many officials of the NFF are under investigation. What they have is in excess of what they have earned.”

NFF bosses led by Pinnick are currently under three separate corruption probes, including a 17-count charge in courts ranging from failure to declare assets and embezzling $8.4 million (7.5 million euros) paid to the federation by world football governing body FIFA.

The case continues on September 26.

In a separate case, Pinnick, general secretary Mohammed Sanusi and three NFF accountants have also been charged to court over an alleged theft of over $10 million in grants from both FIFA and the African Football Confederation (CAF),  meant for the development of football in Nigeria.

In July, CAF sacked Pinnick as vice president of the body following the charges against him, which he denied, with the NFF branding the investigations a “witch-hunt.”

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Kenya becomes 3rd country to adopt world’s first malaria vaccine, RTS,S

Kenya, which joins Malawi and Ghana, earlier this year, commenced their own pilot vaccination programmes supported by the WHO

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Kenya becomes 3rd country to adopt world's first malaria vaccine, RTS,S

Kenya on Friday became the third country to start routinely innoculating infants against malaria, using the world’s first vaccine to combat a disease that kills 800 children globally every day.

The vaccine — RTS,S — targets the deadliest and most common form of malaria parasite in Africa, where children under five account for two-thirds of all global deaths from the mosquito-born illness.

Kenya, which is rolling-out RTS,S in the western county of Homa Bay, joins Malawi and Ghana, which, earlier this year, commenced their own pilot vaccination programmes supported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is the most advanced malaria vaccine that we have today. It has been in the making for the last almost three decades,” Dr Richard Mihigo, WHO’s co-ordinator of immunisation and vaccine development programme, told reporters before the Kenyan launch, which will expand to other malaria-prone areas of the country.

“Children are the most vulnerable group to this severe disease that is malaria, so protecting children can make a big impact in preventing malaria.”

The vaccine will be added in these pilot areas to the other routine shots given to young children under national immunisation schedules.

RTS,S acts against ‘Plasmodium falciparum’, the deadliest form of malaria, and the most prevalent in Africa, where illness and death from the disease remains high despite some gains.

The shots, administered over four doses, have been shown in clinical trials to significantly reduce cases of malaria, and malaria-related complications, in young children.

The vaccine prevented about 4 in 10 cases of malaria and three in 10 cases of the most severe, life-threatening form of the disease, within the trial group, WHO says.

RTS,S will be considered for use more broadly as a tool to fight malaria, alongside other preventative measures such as long-lasting insecticidal nets.

The disease kills more than 400,000 people around the world every year. Of these about 290,000 were children under five. 

WHO says a child dies roughly every two minutes from malaria somewhere in the world. 

Most of these are in Africa, where more than 90 per cent of the world’s malaria cases — and fatalities — occur.

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Tunisia decides: Voters head to polls in test on democracy

Tunisia has been praised as a rare success story for democratic transition after the Arab Spring regional uprisings

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Tunisia decides: Voters head to polls in test on democracy
Tunisians walk in front of posters of presidential candidates in the capital Tunis, on September 7, 2019. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

Tunisia will hold on Sunday its second free presidential election by universal suffrage since the 2011 uprising that toppled an autocratic regime, with growing uncertainty over who will reach the next round.

Twenty-six candidates are in the race, including the incumbent prime minister and a media magnate who was arrested just weeks before the polls, as well as a presidential hopeful put forth by an Islamist-inspired party.

Seven million voters are expected to head to the ballot box after a campaign that largely focussed on social and economic challenges that have plagued the country’s fledgeling democracy.

“There are favourites and everything is possible, but even God cannot predict the results of the first round, let alone what will happen next,” columnist Ziyed Krichen said.

Political analyst Hatem Mrad agreed. “This election is really one of uncertainties,” he said.

Tunisia has been praised as a rare success story for democratic transition after the Arab Spring regional uprisings sparked by its 2011 revolution.

Three years later, it held its first post-revolution election, during which the political fault lines were clear, said Mrad, with Islamists squaring off against modernists.

But this time around, the differences are huge, with a plethora of candidates — Islamists, secularists, populists and partisans of the toppled regime — political programmes and issues, he added.

Preliminary results are expected to be announced by the electoral commission on September 17, but the date of the second round, which will decide the presidency, is not yet known.

Heavyweights –

Heavyweight candidates include Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and his nemesis Nabil Karoui, the media magnate arrested on charges of money laundering just three weeks before the election.

Tunisia decides: Voters head to polls in test on democracy
Prime Minister of Tunisia, Youssef Chahed speaks during a meeting ahead of the upcoming presidential elections, in Tunis, Tunisia on September 02, 2019. Yassine Gaidi / Anadolu Agency

Karoui’s supporters accuse Chahed of orchestrating his arrest, a charge denied by the ambitious prime minister who became the country’s youngest-ever head of government in 2016 at age 40.

A controversial businessman, Karoui has built his popularity by using his own Nessma television channel to launch charity campaigns, handing out food aid to some of the country’s poorest.

On Wednesday, the jailed candidate started a hunger strike, according to a member of his defence team, Ridha Belhaj.

Studies suggest that his arrest boosted his popularity, and observers say that if Karoui makes it to the second round of voting, it will be hard for authorities to justify keeping him behind bars without a trial. 

Tunisia decides: Voters head to polls in test on democracy
Nabil Karaoui, founder of Nessma TV, poses in his studio in Tunis. – The Independent High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HAICA), created in 2012 to reform the audiovisual landscape, fails to impose its decisions on media outlets with political support. With the elections approaching, however, measures were taken against Nessma TV, one of the country’s major private broadcasters, which was accused of “political advertising” for its founder Nabil Karoui. (Photo by Fethi Belaid / AFP)

Also in the race is lawyer Abdelfattah Mourou, 71, who was selected to run by the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, and Mohammed Abbou, who was imprisoned under the ousted regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Candidates also include former defence minister Abdelkarim Zbidi, a technocrat who said he would “restart the social ladder” and make public services accessible to all Tunisians, if elected.

Two women are also eyeing the presidency, including Abir Moussi, a staunch anti-Islamist lawyer and champion of Ben Ali’s regime.

Tunisia decides: Voters head to polls in test on democracy
Ennahdha Party’s Candidate for the presidential election in Tunisia Abdelfattah Mourou (C) holds a press conference regarding his election pledges ahead of the Tunisia’s presidential election which is slated for September 15, in Tunis, Tunisia on September 9, 2019. Yassine Gaidi / Anadolu Agency

Social challenges – 

The presidential campaign wraps up on Friday, but none of the candidates appears to have stood out despite squaring off in multiple debates that were broadcast on radio and television.

Around two to three million Tunisians are believed to have tuned in to three major debates, during which candidates were asked to respond to questions drawn randomly.

The economic and social hardships that undermine Tunisia’s transition to democracy took centre stage during the campaign.

The country, hit by terrorist attacks against its key tourism sector and security forces, has struggled to combat unemployment and bring down inflation.

Unemployment in Tunisia is at 15 per cent, while the cost of living has increased by more than 30 per cent since 2016.

The election was brought forward from November after the death in July of Beji Caid Essebsi, Tunisia’s first president democratically elected in nationwide polls in 2014.

It will be followed by legislative elections, due to take place on October 6.

Some of the 26 hopefuls have called for the president’s powers to be beefed up in Tunisia, which has a parliamentary system.

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