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Somalia grants justice using DNA to convict rapists

This is time ever that forensic science has been used in Somalia for criminal trials.

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somali cracks first criminal case with DNA evidence

Three men have been convicted and sentenced to death in Somalia using DNA evidence, for the gang-rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl, according to the Bureau of Forensic Science.

In an effort to tackle widespread sexual violence, the country got its first-ever forensic laboratory in 2017 in Puntland. This is a major stride in restoring faith in the judiciary as two decades of conflict and turmoil have put justice out of reach for most.

First case solved with DNA evidence in Somalia

This is time ever that forensic science has been used in Somalia for criminal trials.

The bureau said in a statement that Somalia had “joined, for the first time, the rest of the world in utilising science to solve a heinous criminal case”.

In February, the kidnapping of 12-year-old Aisha Ilyas Adan – who was gang-raped and tortured to death, her body dumped outside her parents’ home – sparked outrage and protests in the region.

The Puntland state government enacted a Sexual Offences Act in 2016, which criminalised sexual offences and imposed tough penalties. 

The central government in Mogadishu is still working on adopting Somalia’s first-ever national rape laws.

A new Sexual Offences Act was adopted by ministers in May 2018. It awaits approval by parliament.

Fighting a ‘normal’ crime

Human Rights Watch has described rape as “normal” in Somalia, with police often failing to take cases seriously.

About 10 suspects were arrested in connection with Adan’s rape and murder.

According to State prosecutors 37 DNA samples were taken from the suspects and sent to Kenya for processing the lab where they were stored in Somalia cannot analyse such material at present. 

On Sunday, High court judge Abdinur Jama Hussein sentenced the three men “to the death penalty for kidnapping, raping, and murdering Aisha Ilyas.”

In Somalia, the death penalty is carried out by firing squad.

Business

Comoros oil boom dream hinges on seismic survey

Though the survey is yet to begin, the political oppositions are blunt in their verdict of how the president would treat any discovery.

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Comoros oil boom dream hinges on seismic survey

For years, the Comoros islands off the eastern coast of Africa have dreamt of an oil or gas strike -now the first planned seismic survey could reveal if the country’s hopes are about to come true.

The possibility of a lucrative resources boom has gripped Comoros for seven years after then-president, Ikililou Dhoinine awarded a batch of offshore oil and gas exploration permits.

Optimistic residents imagined a future where public coffers overflowed with petrodollars that funded a rapid economic transformation of a country facing deep economic issues.

But any economic miracle has yet to materialise, with only uncertain clues pointing to possible oil or gas deposits 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) below sea level -far beyond the financial means of small-scale exploration companies.

The arrival last year of Tullow Oil changed the game, as the British company boosts a strong record striking deposits in Ghana, Uganda and Kenya.

It has joined up with partner Discover Exploration to explore three underwater blocks covering 16,000 square kilometres (6,200 square miles).

“We are gearing up for a modern 3D seismic survey,” Alexander Mollinger, chief operating officer for Discovery Exploration in Comoros, told AFP.

“This will be Comoros’ first ever 3D seismic survey and represents a significant investment. It is the final exploration activity prior to deciding whether to drill an exploration well.”

‘Significant potential’-

With the survey scheduled for later this year, the prospectors have reason to be confident -the three blocks border on Mozambican waters where US giants Anadarko and Chevron, and Italian firm ENI have hit the largest gas deposits found in the past 20 years.

“There have been no oil or gas discoveries anywhere in the Comoros,” said Mollinger.

“There is no certainty of any commercial accumulations of oil or gas, but we believe based on technical work that these blocks have significant potential.”

Any discovery could transform the politically-unstable country, which is made up of three islands with a population of 800,000 and a per capita annual income of about $800.

The weak economy relies on exports of vanilla, clove and perfume essence, as well as foreign aid and remittance money sent home by overseas workers.

President Azali Assoumani, who was re-elected in March in a vote count rejected by the opposition, has put oil revenue at the centre of his development plans, vowing to make Comoros an “emerging economy” by 2030.

“The first indicators give a lot of hope,” he said during the election campaign. “If we have a united country, this oil can be a springboard for the country’s economy.”

However, he added “oil is not an easy exercise… If we do not have people who can exploit it for the benefit of the population, it is useless.”

Personal wealth?

Such promises to share the wealth have not convinced all everyone in Comoros, and Assoumani is regularly accused of corruption and a dictatorial style.

Foreign diplomats posted to Moroni express concern over how any discovery would be handled.

“If the project progresses, it could get the country out of poverty -in theory,” one told AFP. “But the requirements are huge for Comoros. A gas processing unit costs billions of dollars, and you have to have a credible financial system.”

Though the survey is yet to begin, the political oppositions are blunt in their verdict of how the president would treat any discovery.

“He sees the oil as his personal wealth, not for the country,” said opposition leader Mohamed Ali Soilihi, warning that countries like Venezuela “are full of oil, but the people do not see the benefits”.

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East Africa

Sevilla arrive Tanzania ahead of friendly with Simba

Sevilla will face newly crowned Tanzanian league champions, Simba on Thursday in a friendly match.

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Sevilla arrive Tanzania ahead of friendly with Simba

Hundreds of fans and media thronged the Julius Nyerere International Airport as Sevilla FC arrived Tanzania ahead of their season-ending East African tour.

They are the first Spanish top flight side to visit East Africa, one year after Atletico Madrid ’s planned trip to Kenya was aborted due to lack of a suitable stadium.

Sevilla will face newly crowned Tanzanian league champions, Simba on Thursday in a friendly match. Manager, Joaquin Caparros named an 18-man squad which includes Jesus Navas, Quincy Primes, Munir, and Wissam Ben Yedder.

According to SportPesa director of Administration and Compliance, Tarimba Abbas, the eagerly awaited clash will kick off at 7pm local time on the 23rd of May at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

“Sevilla’s tour will, among other things, help tourists and investors discover the uniqueness of Tanzania as a travel and business destination.” – Tarimba Abbas

“We invite top teams from Europe and other parts of the world to promote tourism and ensure that young footballers get the opportunity to train and learn from the very best,” he added.

While in the country, Sevilla officials will also conduct a coaching clinic for young players at the Uhuru National Stadium.

The objective is to pass on football tips to local young talents, according to Abbas.

The match and coaching clinics are part of the La Liga World Challenge powered by SportPesa, which sponsors the country’s football heavyweights, Simba and Young Africans.

According to Tanzania Football Federation competition director, Salum Madadi, FIFA badged referee Herry Sasii will handle Thursday’s match between Simba and Sevilla.

He will be assisted by Mohammed Mkono from Tanga and Soud Lila of Dar es Salaam.

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East Africa

Voters in Malawi go to the polls in ‘unpredictable’ race

Incumbent president, Mutharika faces opposition from his own VP Saulos Chilima and former baptist preacher, Lazarus Chakwera.

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Malawi begins tough three-way election
A polling clerk checks electoral list at Goliati Primary School in Goliati village, the home of Malawi's President Arthur Peter Mutharika in Thyolo District, southern Malawi, during presidential elections on May 21, 2019. -(Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

Malawi polls opened on Tuesday after a closely-fought election campaign, with President Peter Mutharika battling to hold off two serious rivals in a race that has focused on corruption allegations and economic development.

Mutharika, who has been in power since 2014, faces opposition from his own deputy Saulos Chilima and former baptist preacher, Lazarus Chakwera.

“We have set Malawi on the path of progress,” Mutharika, 78, told several thousand cheering supporters of his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at his final campaign rally at the weekend.

His bid for a second term has highlighted on the economy and his record of improving road and electricity infrastructure across the southeastern African country.

Under Mutharika, inflation has fallen from 23 per cent to below nine percent, but still only 11 per cent of the population has access to electricity.

The election is the first since a new law forced parties to declare large donations and banned the once-common practice by candidates of giving cash handouts.

“I’m hoping for change. We need jobs to change our lives and that is what I hope my candidate does,” voter Madalitso Willie, 25, a motor mechanic in Lilongwe, told reporters, declining to reveal his preference.

“We have been disappointed so many times before but now we want something different,” said Violet Moyo, 30, businesswoman, as she waited to vote after polls opened at 6am (0400 GMT). “I’m super excited for voting,”

‘We are winning’

Food shortages, power outages, and ballooning external debt have hurt Mutharika’s popularity while in office.

He faces a strong challenge from Chakwera, leader of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), who came a narrow second in the 2014 election.

As campaign ended at the weekend, Chakwera told reporters that he expected “nothing less than victory -we are winning.”

Mutharika’s other opponent, Chilima, quit the ruling party last year to form the youth-focused United Transformation Movement, while staying on as Vice President.

Under Malawi law, the president cannot fire the Vice President.

Chilima, 46, emphasised his youth credentials by doing push-ups on stage during the campaign, while his wife releases a popular rap video extolling his credentials to be president.

More than half of the 6.8-million registered voters are under 35.

Narrow margin?

Dan Banik, a politics professor at the University of Malawi, told reporters that the election posed many questions.

“What will happen when a winner is declared by a narrow margin?” he said.

“How will losing presidential candidates take defeat? Will supporters of the incumbent DPP peacefully accept losing?”

Banik said that the election commission and the courts could be severely tested by counting complaints after polling day, when voters also choose lawmakers and local councillors.

In Malawi’s “winner takes all” system, Mutharika won in 2014 with just 36 percent of the vote.

He came to power in the aid-dependent country vowing to tackle corruption after the “Cashgate” scandal erupted a year earlier, revealing massive looting from state coffers.

But his government has been dogged by several high-profile cases of corruption and nepotism.

Last November, Mutharika himself was forced to return a $200,000 donation from a businessman facing a corruption case in a $3-million contract to supply food to the Malawi police. 

“It will even be more uncertain and tight than last time. It could undermine the legitimacy of the winning candidate,” said Michael Jana, a Malawi politics specialist at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand.

Malawi won independence from Britain in 1964, and was then ruled by Hastings Banda as a one-party state until the first multi-party elections in 1994.

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