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Tshisekedi set for inauguration as DR Congo’s president

The ceremony will see the 55-year-old sworn in as president, replacing Joseph Kabila who has ruled DR Congo since 2001.

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President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix Tshisekedi arrives at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to attend the 32nd African Union Leaders' Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 9, 2019. Minasse Wondimu Hailu / Anadolu Agency Minasse Wondimu Hailu / ANADOLU AGENCY

The Democratic Republic Congo has began plans to install Felix Tshisekedi, probably on Thursday, as its new president this week after a long and bitter election whose outcome was disputed by the runner-up and shunned by some western nations.

The ceremony will see the 55-year-old sworn in as president, replacing Joseph Kabila who has ruled DR Congo since 2001.

The inauguration looks set to draw a line under three weeks of growing tension over the long and drawn-out counting process after the December

30 vote, which provisionally declared Tshisekedi, one of two opposition candidates, the winner.

But the outcome was swiftly denounced by his opposition rival Martin Fayulu, who filed an appeal. He claimed he had been cheated of an outright victory by an “electoral coup” masterminded by Kabila with Tshisekedi’s approval.

Although leaked figures from the provisional count appear to be heavily in his favour, the Constitutional Court dismissed his appeal.

At stake is political stewardship of the mineral-rich but unstable central African nation.

Democratic Republic of Congo has a population of some 80 million and covers an area the size of western Europe.

– Clashes in Kinshasa –

Ahead of this week’s ceremony, tension was on Monday building in the capital.

Some 300 Fayulu supporters clashed there with motorbike taxi drivers whom they took for Tshisekedi supporters, leaving one driver nursing a serious head injury, an AFP correspondent said.

Several journalists were also hurt in the fracas. The Actualite news website said one of its reporters was “assaulted by police”, while others were attacked by Fayulu supporters who accused them of being pro-Tshisekedi.

Although the ceremony had been due to take place on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Cach opposition coalition that backed Tshisekedi said it was likely to happen on Thursday.

Jean-Pierre Kambila, a senior figure in Kabila’s outgoing cabinet, said the date would be settled later in the day.

– ‘Don’t encourage fraud’ –

Without a firm date, officials have been unable to send out invitations to foreign heads of state and government — and given the very public dispute over the result, it remains to be seen who will actually turn up.

The court’s dismissal of Fayulu’s appeal and its subsequent confirmation of Tshisekedi as president-elect has divided sub-Saharan Africa.

The 16-nation Southern African Development Community congratulated Tshisekedi, as did Kenya.

But the result won a mixed reception among the nine nations bordering DR Congo.

Burundi and Tanzania, who are working with Kinshasa to fight rebels on their common border, sent congratulations, while Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and Angola remained silent.

Fayulu, who has declared himself “president-elect”, has urged the international community not to formally recognise Tshisekedi.

“I urge the African presidents who asked the Congolese people to respect the Constitutional Court’s decision, to respect the sovereign decision of the Congolese people who elected me president with more than 60 percent of the vote,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We should not encourage fraud, lies and falsehood,” he said.

– AU, EU unconvinced –

The AU had expressed “serious doubts” about the provisional result and urged the court to delay its announcement pending a visit by its chairman, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, and AU Commission president Moussa Faki on Monday.

But the weekend announcement caught the AU off guard, sweeping aside its concerns and prompting it to “postpone” the visit.

The European Union had also expressed reservations, saying “doubts remain regarding the conformity of the result”.

And France, which had openly disputed the provisional results, issued a low-key statement saying it “noted” Tshisekedi’s victory.

“This election allowed the Congolese people to strongly and calmly voice their desire for change,” the foreign ministry said, indicating the French ambassador would attend the ceremony.

“We hope the new president knows how to respond to this and we call on him to hold dialogue with the rest of country’s political actors to achieve that end.”

DR Congo’s influential Roman Catholic Church has dismissed the official result, saying it “does not correspond” with data collected by its 40,000 election monitors.

On paper, at least, DR Congo appears to be going through its first-ever peaceful handover of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

The president-elect, who has never held high office, is the son of DR Congo’s Etienne Tshisekedi, a veteran politician who founded the country’s oldest and largest opposition party.

In recent decades, DR Congo has lived through two regional wars (1996-97 and 1998-2003) with the last two presidential elections, in 2006 and 2011, marred by bloody clashes.

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Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denies allegations of corruption

Sisi told a youth conference in Cairo on Saturday the accusations were “lies and slander” designed to “break the will of Egyptians”

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Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denies allegations of corruption

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday flatly denied allegations of corruption made by an Egyptian businessman, assuring he was “honest and faithful” to his people and army.

Videos posted online from outside the country since early September accusing Sisi and Egypt’s military of graft have gone viral, sparking rare debate about the army’s growing economic empire. 

The man behind them, 45-year-old construction contractor Mohamed Aly, claims that authorities have misappropriated millions of Egyptian pounds in public funds. 

He also alleges the military owes him hundreds of millions of pounds for projects his company was commissioned to build, including palatial residences for Sisi.

Sisi told a youth conference in Cairo on Saturday the accusations were “lies and slander” designed to “break the will (of Egyptians) and make them lose all hope and confidence”. 

Quoted by local TV, Sisi said he decided to speak out despite “calls from all state bodies” for him not to respond. 

“Your son is honest, faithful and loyal,” he added.

Aly — who says he has fled to Spain — has not provided evidence to back up his claims and the Egyptian armed forces declined an AFP request to comment.

In the footage, released in instalments, Aly mocks Sisi – a former army chief – and lambasts the military.

In the first video, posted on September 2, Aly blasted Sisi, without naming him, saying: “You say the Egyptian people are very poor and that we should tighten our belts.

“(But) you are throwing away billions and your men are wasting millions.”

In a speech on Egypt’s economy two years ago, Sisi had said “We (Egyptians) are very poor”.

The reality is different, according to Aly, who says that some of the projects the military asked him to build included a luxurious guest house for Sisi in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and a palace in Cairo.

“People must know how their money is being spent,” Aly says in one video.

For decades, the military has played a key but opaque economic role, producing everything from washing machines to pasta, alongside building roads and operating gas stations.

Since the arrival of Sisi, who toppled his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the army’s economic involvement has been more visible amid austerity measures and rising prices.

The army spokesman said recently on a popular TV show that the armed forces oversee rather than “manage” some 2,300 projects nationwide, employing five million civilians. 

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189 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks

More than 600 Nigerians are expected to return from South Africa this week, the Nigerian government has said

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189 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks
People disembark from a plane as a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Almost 200 Nigerian migrants were repatriated from South Africa on Wednesday following a wave of xenophobic violence that swept through the country and sparked sharp exchanges between the two countries.

A flight carrying 189 Nigerians landed in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, with some of those onboard punching the air and singing their national anthem while waving pictures of burnt shops.

“I ran for my life, they would have killed me,” said Samson Aliyu, a clothes seller who lived in South Africa for two years.

READ: Police arrests several shop looters in South Africa

“They burnt my shop, everything,” he added.

189 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks
Air Peace flight attendants hold placards to denounce xenophobia as a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

More than 600 Nigerians are expected to return from South Africa this week, the Nigerian government has said.

“We were expecting 317 but from the information we have 189 are on board,” said Nigeria’s minister for diaspora affairs Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

“There was about a five-hour delay courtesy of the South African authorities who actually frustrated this return of Nigerians,” she said, blaming authorities in Johannesburg for failing to help Nigerians without travel documents.

READ: Nigeria plans to repatriate 600 citizens from South Africa

“There was a lot of frustration in getting them back home but we’re glad that they will be here,” she added.

Leading the returnees in singing the national anthem, Dabiri-Erewa promised the government would provide financial support.

Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Abike Dabiri-Erewa speaks after a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrived in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. (Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto)

Johannesburg and surrounding areas were rocked by a series of deadly attacks on foreigners last week, including many directed against Nigerian-owned businesses and properties.

At least 10 people were killed in the violence and hundreds of shops destroyed while more than 420 people were arrested.

READ: South Africa vows to tackle xenophobic attacks against foreigners

No Nigerian was killed but the violence led to condemnation across Africa, particularly in Nigeria, fuelling diplomatic tensions between the continent’s two leading nations.

The violence also prompted reprisal attacks against South African firms in Nigeria and the temporary closing of South Africa’s diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja.

READ: African migrants seek refuge amidst xenophobic attacks in South Africa

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Nigerian court upholds President Muhammadu Buhari’s February election win

The opposition party says it will head to the country’s supreme court to appeal the ruling of the lower court

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Nigerian court upholds President Muhammadu Buhari's February election win

A Nigerian court on Wednesday upheld President Muhammadu Buhari’s election victory earlier this year, dismissing a request by opposition parties to overturn the result over claims of voting irregularities.

Buhari, 76, won a second term with 56 per cent of the February poll, which was long-delayed.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who came in second with 41 per cent, immediately called the result a “sham”. Opposition parties lodged a legal challenge against the result in March.

Abubakar, 72, said he had been cheated of the chance to lead Africa’s most populous state after a conspiracy between the electoral commission INEC and Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

However, on Wednesday, the presidential election tribunal found there was no evidence of the opposition’s claims.

“This petition is, hereby, dismissed in its entirety,” judge Mohammed Garba said on Wednesday.

The ruling was widely expected, with Buhari’s government taking office last month.

Buhari has insisted that the election was free and fair, claiming the vote was “another milestone in Nigeria’s democratic development”. 

In a press statement reacting to the verdict, the opposition party says it will head to the country’s supreme court to appeal the ruling of the lower court.

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