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Tshisekedi’s inauguration as president of DR Congo postponed to Thursday

Opposition leader Fayulu kicks harder

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Felix Tshisekedi may be installed as DR Congo’s new president this week after a long awaited election whose outcome was disputed by the runner-up, Martin Fayulu. 

The ceremony, which may be fixed for Thursday, will see Felix Tshisekedi 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 indecision over the long and drawn-out counting process after the December 30 vote, which provisionally declared Tshisekedi, one of two opposition candidates, the winner. 

This 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 central African nation.

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

– In Kinshasa –

Ahead of this week’s ceremony, tiny pockets of clashes have taken place in some parts of the capital by supporters of the political leaders .

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.

– ‘Don’t encourage fraud, lies’ –

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

The court’s dismissal of Fayulu’s appeal and its subsequent confirmation of Tshisekedi as president-elect may have left doubts across sub-Saharan Africa.

Although Kenya and the 16-nation Southern African Development Community congratulated Tshisekedi, 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 Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and Angola remained silent.

Fayulu, who has declared himself “president-elect”, has urged African leaders 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 has doubts –

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.

France, which had openly disputed the provisional results, has now issued a 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 the 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.

For now, 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 is the son of DR Congo’s Etienne Tshisekedi, a veteran politician who founded the country’s oldest and largest opposition party. 

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Jailed Egyptian ex-president Morsi dies after court collapse

“He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted.” -Judicial source

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Jailed Egyptian ex-president Morsi dies after court collapsing
Ousted (now late) Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Ahmed Omar / Anadolu Agency

Former Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi died on Monday in a Cairo hospital after fainting during a session in court, judicial and security sources said.

“He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted. He was quickly rushed to the hospital where he later died,” a judicial source said.

The official Al-Ahram news website also reported the death of Morsi, who was Egypt’s first democratically elected president but spent just one turbulent year in office after the 2011 uprising before the army toppled him in July 2013.

While he was president, Morsi issued a temporary constitutional declaration that granted him unlimited powers and the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts as a pre-emptive move against the expected dissolution of the second constituent assembly by the Mubarak-era judges.

The new constitution that was then hastily finalised by the Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly, presented to the president, and scheduled for a referendum, before the Supreme Constitutional Court could rule on the constitutionality of the assembly, was described by independent press agencies not aligned with the regime as an “Islamist coup”.

This led to an uproar that contributed to his government being ousted by Abdelfatah Al-Sisi, the incumbent president.

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Tunisia fishermen are the lifesavers of the Mediterranean

Fishermen from Zarzis have saved the lives of hundreds of migrants in recent years,

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Tunisian fishermen are finding themselves more and more involved in rescuing illegal boats leaving Libya for Italy,

The Tunisian trawler radioed in for help as it passed the migrant boat in distress out at sea. But with the packed craft still adrift two days later, captain Chamseddine Bourassine took direct action. Fishermen from Tunisia are spending more and more time pulling in stranded migrants after a sharp decline in humanitarian and European naval patrols along the stretch of water between war-wracked Libya and Italy.

Bourassine, his crew and three other fishing boats ferried the 69 migrants back to shore on May 11, five days after their boat pushed off from Zuwara on the western Libyan coast. “The area where we fish is a crossing point” between Zuwara and the Italian island of Lampedusa, said Badreddine Mecherek, a Tunisian fisherman from Zarzis near the border with Libya.

Fishermen from Zarzis have saved the lives of hundreds of migrants in recent years, and as the number of boats leaving western Libya for Europe spikes with the return of calmer summer seas, they will probably have to save even more. “First we warn the authorities, but in the end, we end up saving them ourselves,” Mecherek grumbled as he tinkered with his rusting sardine boat.

European countries in the northern Mediterranean are trying to stem the number of migrants landing on their shores, and the Tunisian navy with its limited resources only rescues boats inside the country’s territorial waters.

Since May 31, Tunisia itself has barred 75 migrants from coming ashore after they were saved in international waters by a Tunisian-Egyptian tug boat. Contacted multiple times by journalists, Tunisian authorities have refused to comment.

Angel

“Everyone has disengaged” from the issue, said Mecherek, adding it was hampering his work. Fishermen who run across migrants on their second day out at sea are at least able to have done a day’s work, he added, “but if we find them on the first night, we have to go back”.

“It’s very complicated to finish the job with people on board.” The complexity of the rescues grows when fishermen find migrants adrift closer to Italy.

When Bourassine and his crew last year tugged a boat towards Lampedusa which was adrift without a motor, they were jailed in Sicily for four weeks for helping the migrants. It took months to recover their boat.

Humanitarian boats and those of the European Union’s “Operation Sophia” anti-piracy force had scooped up most stranded migrants in recent years, but rescue operations dropped in 2019. “Now most often we are the first to arrive… if we aren’t there, the migrants die,” Mecherek said.

On May 10, a Tunisian trawler just barely saved the lives of 16 migrants after they had spent eight hours in the water. Sixty others drowned before the ship arrived.

Survivor Ahmed Sijur said the boat’s appearance at dawn was like that of “an angel”. “I was losing hope myself, but God sent the fishermen to save us,” the 30-year-old from Bangladesh said.

Police of the sea

Mecherek is more worried than proud. “We don’t want to see all these corpses anymore. We want to catch fish, not people,” he said, adding his crew was growing uneasy. “I have 20 seamen on board asking, ‘Who will feed our families?'” he added.

“But local fishermen will never let people die at sea.” For Tunisian Red Crescent official Mongi Slim, the fishermen “are practically the police of the sea”, adding that many migrants say large ships won’t stop to help.

Under pressure to catch their quota during a short annual season, big tuna boats out of Zarzis often call the coast guard instead of stopping themselves to help. “We report the migrants, but we can’t bring them back to shore… We only have a few weeks to fish,” said one crew member. For Chamseddine, the summer months look difficult.

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Semenya cleared by court to run 800m in Rabat

Organisers of the Diamond League had initially refused to allow Semenya to take part but on Friday they “confirmed her invitation”

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Semenya cleared by court to run 800m in Rabat

Caster Semenya will run her specialist 800m distance at Rabat on Sunday, organisers said, after the South African two-time Olympic champion won the latest round of a bitter court battle over gender rules.

Semenya was cleared to take part in the Diamond League meeting after Switzerland’s top court rejected an IAAF request to re-impose rules obliging her to lower her testosterone before competing in certain events.

Organisers of the Morocco event had initially refused to allow the South African to take part but on Friday they “confirmed her invitation”.

“After checking the situation of Caster Semenya in the light of the decisions of the Swiss Federal Court, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the head of the international athletics meeting in Rabat, Alain Blondel, is happy to confirm the invitation,” said a statement on the event’s official site.

The Swiss federal court issued their order on Wednesday, explaining “this means that Caster remains permitted to compete without restriction in the female category at this time.”

The IAAF had earlier this month opposed a ruling by the court temporarily suspending the federation’s rules following an appeal by Semenya who won the women’s 800 metres at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

The athlete was contesting a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which previously found the rules were “discriminatory” but “necessary” to ensure fairness in women’s athletics.

The rules require women with higher than normal male hormone levels, a condition known as hyperandrogenism, to artificially lower the amount of testosterone in their bodies if they are to compete in races over distances of 400m to the mile.

“No woman should be subjected to these rules,” Semenya said in a statement, adding she had “thought hard about not running the 800m in solidarity unless all women can run free. But I will run now to show the IAAF that they cannot drug us.”

The athlete also dismissed the IAAF’s claim that it is committed to the full participation of women in sport.

“I am a woman, but the IAAF has again tried to stop me from running the way I was born,” she said in the statement, pointing out the hormonal drugs she had been required to take to compete had made her feel “constantly sick and unable to focus for many years.”

“No other woman should be forced to go through this,” she said.

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