‘Bomb in corpse kills two in Burkina Faso’

Two Burkinabe soldiers were killed on Thursday in the northern town of Djibo near the border with Mali after a bomb hidden in a corpse, dressed in military uniform, exploded, news agency AFP reports quoting a statement from the army.

“The body, which turned out to be a trap, exploded when it was handled, killing two soldiers and wounding six, three of them seriously,” the statement said.

A security source told AFP that the corpse exploded when soldiers tried to turn it over, killing an army doctor on the spot, and wounding others.

Burkina Faso is among countries in the vast Sahel region battling Islamist insurgency in the region.

It formed a regional force G5 Sahel along with Niger, Chad, Mauritania and Mali to take on the militants.

More than 300 people have been killed in Burkina Faso in four years of jihadist attacks, according to an AFP count.

Last month Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thieba resigned from office along with his entire cabinet.

His government had faced growing pressure over a rise in the number of kidnappings and jihadist attacks.

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Zimbabwe violence could last months

Opposition figures are in hiding as arrests and beatings continue. But the anger at Mnangagwa’s regime persists

Protesters set up barricades in Harare on 14 January after the price of fuel was doubled.
Protesters set up barricades in Harare on 14 January after the price of fuel was doubled. Photo: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

Activists and lawyers in Zimbabwe fear that the brutal crackdown by security forces will continue “for the foreseeable future” as authorities seek to crush all possible opposition to the ruling Zanu-PF party.

Hundreds of activists and opposition officials remain in hiding this weekend after almost two weeks of arbitrary arrests, beatings, rapes and abductions committed by police and military in the poor southern African country.

The crackdown followed an outbreak of rioting and looting during a shutdown called by union leaders to protest a hike in fuel prices. So far 12 people have been killed, many more injured and between 700 and 1,500 detained.

“This is not going to be over quickly. We have seen that the state have just notched up the level of oppression and that is the level they are going to be operating at for the foreseeable future,” said Doug Coltart, a human rights lawyer in Harare.

The abuses are the worst seen in Zimbabwe for at least a decade and have dashed any remaining hopes that the ousting of autocratic ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017 would lead to significant political reform.

One veteran activist described the crackdown as likely to become “the new normal”.

“This is going to go on for weeks, months, however long it takes for the authorities to feel sure they have made certain that there’s no real opposition left,” the activist, who requested anonymity, said.

Around 20 arrests were reported on Friday and Saturday across the country, as well as scattered incidents of assault. Police appeared to be targeting poor vendors and taxi drivers.

Hundreds of opposition activists are currently in hiding, or have fled overseas.

“They are not just trying to arrest me, they are trying to kill me,” said Ishmael Kawzani, a former independent candidate in local elections, who has fled his home in Kuwadzana, a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Harare, the capital, which has seen repeated army dragnets in recent days.

Jacob Mafume, an MDC spokesperson, said the five members of parliament, 10 councillors and more than 200 members of the party had been detained.

At least six people have been charged with subversion – an unprecedented number – and so face prison sentences of up to 20 years. They include four trade union officials, an MDC parliamentarian and a well-known social media activist.

“There is a kind of messaging here. They are saying: ‘We can go for your leaders, so we can go for anyone. They are saying to Zimbabweans we don’t care who you are,” said Alec Muchadehama, a lawyer representing Peter Mutasa, a senior trade union leader charged with subversion.

There are also concerns about mass trials of up to 60 men and women accused of participating in riots and looting.

It now appears very unlikely that Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe and won contested elections last year, will achieve his stated aim of ending Zimbabwe’s pariah status to unlock the massive financial aid necessary to avert total economic collapse.

This suggests that basic commodities such as food, fuel and medicine will remain both scarce and increasingly expensive, making further protests likely.

Mnangagwa cut short a trip to Europe and Asia to return to deal with the unrest and pledged dialogue with opposition groups.

Authorities have defended the crackdown as a necessary measure to restore order.

Labour activists and unions are considering further protests in coming weeks. Teachers have been among the most vocal advocates of further direct action to force concessions from the government over pay and conditions. However, the detention of several leaders of teachers’ unions has made mobilisation harder, officials said.

On Friday the powerful Apex council, which combined dozens of civil service unions, said it would not accept the latest government offers of increased allowances and might move towards industrial action.

“The unions are cautiously moving towards the front line but they will want to move with a collective position. These guys are in an invidious position because they still need to earn and protests would contribute [to] a further erosion in government services,” said Piers Pigou, a South Africa-based expert with the International Crisis Group.

Lawyers are also meeting to consider their strategy in the face of the crackdown, and may demonstrate during the coming days week.

“After the sheer brutality of the last two weeks, the population has been cowed into submission. Lawyers have that layer of protection that might allow them to march, though being beaten up or shot is still possible,” said Coltart.

South Africa removes tax on sanitary pads

South Africa’s newly appointed Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has promised additional funds to ensure female students have access to sanitary pads.

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There have been growing calls for this amid complaints that girls – especially those in poor, rural communities – have been missing out on school because of the high cost of the pads.

In some provinces they are already free for all female students.

To cheers in parliament, he also announced that from next April the 15% tax on sanitary pads would be scrapped.

Bread flour and cake flour were also now going to be exempt from VAT, he said, explaining that he had asked people on social media for their tips ahead of the speech:

Quote Message: I received 3,299 tweets in total. One of them is from Tintsi Ngwenya in Johannesburg, who said: ‘Sanitary pads should be tax free – after considerable debate and consultation, as of the 1 April 2019, government will zero-rate the following items: One, sanitary pads. Two, bread flour Three, cake flour.’”

Mr Mboweni, who has only been in his job for two weeks, also gave a frank assessment of South Africa’s economy in the mid-term budget speech.

He said the country could not afford to continue borrowing at its current rate and must reduce its national debt, now expected to reach 60% of GDP in the next five years.

He said that the public sector wage bill exceeded its budget by 30bn rand ($2bn, £1,6bn).

Mr Mboweni repeatedly spoke about the cancer of corruption and said that those who were found guilty “must be locked up” in jail.

The speech was free of financial jargon – and he quoted from the Bible and Charles Dickens:

Quote Message: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity… we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

Quote Message: So too is the present time. As a country, we stand at a crossroads. We can choose a path of hope; or a path of despair. We can go directly to heaven, or as Dickens so politely puts it, we can go the other way.”

Quote Message: “So too is the present time – we can choose the path of hope or the path of despair.”

Sudanese refugee nominated for rights prize

A Sudanese refugee is one of three people nominated for a prestigious human rights prizes.

Abdul Aziz Muhamat is from Darfur and left Sudan in 2013

The annual Martin Ennals Award recognises the work of human rights defenders at risk of persecution.

Abdul Aziz Muhamat, 26, has been held on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island for five years and the award organisers say he has been “a compelling and tireless advocate for refugee rights”.

According to the Martin Ennals Award, he was granted refugee status in early 2015, but remains on Manus Island, along with several hundred other men who were transferred there after arriving in Australian territory by boat and seeking asylum.

Since 2013, Australia has detained all asylum seekers who arrive by boat on Manus Island and Nauru, a small Pacific nation.

The award jury said Mr Muhamat had documented the allegations of abuse and cruelty they suffer in detention centres.

Quote Message: Aziz is one of the primary public voices among the men held on Manus Island and regularly speaks out on international news media. For two years, he sent over 4,000 thousand voice messages to report on his experience in detention for the multi award-winning podcast, The Messenger.” from Martin Ennals Award

Martin Ennals Award

The jury also tweeted this film about why they had nominated him for the prize:

The AFP news agency also quotes the awards organisers as saying: “He has paid a price for this as he is seen as a ‘ring leader.’” Mr Muhumat, whose profile on Twitter says “detained by Australian government for five years, stolen my dreams”, tweeted his thanks to the jury for their recognition:

The Martin Ennals Award is named after the late British lawyer who became the first head of the human rights organisation, Amnesty International.

The award ceremony will take place in Geneva on 13 February 2019.


Cover photo: Abdul Aziz Muhamat is from Darfur and left Sudan in 2013

Angola ‘to close unregistered churches’

Angola is planning to close down “illegal” churches starting November, nearly a month after the state made public legislation to regulate religious activity, online newspaper Jornal de Angola has reported.

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“Religious denominations that are illegal in Angola will be closed starting in November, the national director for religious issues at the Ministry of Culture, Francisco de Castro Maria, said,” the website reported.

The move is expected to impact foreign-led churches in Angola, as “Mr Castro Maria affirmed that 50% of the churches in the country are established by foreigners from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Nigeria and Senegal”.

Defending the plan, Culture Minister Carolina Cerqueira said that while the government was neutral, it was forced to act against unregistered bodies which “exercise commercial activities or which are a threat to human rights and against the principals of urban life and positive coexistence”.

More than 1,000 churches are waiting to pass the legal process, with the government giving unregistered denominations a month after the 4 October publication to regularise their status.

However, the discussion has been in the pipeline since as early as 28 August, when the council of ministers passed proposed legislation on freedom of religion, faith and worship to establish more rigorous conditions for the legalisation of religious activities in the country.

Angola ‘expels 180,000 migrants’

At least 180,000 Congolese citizens have crossed the border with Angola since 1 October – most heading to the city of Kamako where they are living in precarious informal camps, local officials have confirmed.

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The numbers are likely to be much higher as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola share more than 300km (186 miles) of border.

Many migrants are saying they were kicked out despite having documentation to live in Angola and there are unconfirmed reports that a number of them have been brutalized and even killed by Angolan forces.

The reason for the crackdown is unclear.

For many years, Congolese migrants have been in Angola, where they dig for diamonds on artisanal mines.

It could be linked to an attempt by the new Angolan government to take control over its mining industry.


Cover photo: Migrants expelled from Angola cross a river on the road to DR Congo. Photo: Reuters

Everything about Jacque Maribe’s police statement

Citizen TV anchor Jacque Maribe has admitted to police that her fiancé Joseph Irungu shot himself in her house in an incident investigators believe was a suicide attempt.

According to Ms Maribe, Jowie, as her fiancé is known, shot himself in his chest following a “serious” disagreement between them in her house in Lang’ata on the night of September 20.

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Jowie later claimed in a police statement that he had been shot by three thugs after dropping off Ms Maribe at her house. Police have since questioned the narrative.

Ms Maribe and Jowie are being detained in separate police stations in Nairobi over the gruesome murder of Monica Kimani, whose body was found at her Kilimani apartment.

Jowie is the prime suspect in the murder.

The fresh details of the quarrel that led to Jowie shooting himself is contained in an affidavit sworn by the lead investigator. “That according to the statement from the Respondent (Jacqueline Maribe), the said Joseph Irungu alias Jowie on the night of 20/21st September 2018 at around 1am attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself on [sic] the left chest following serious disagreement between the two,” the investigator stated in his affidavit.

Police are yet to provide a link between Jowie’s stated suicide attempt and Ms Kimani’s murder.

They have also not expounded on the reason of the quarrel between Ms Maribe and her fiance.

On Monday, Ms Maribe and a third suspect Brian Kassaine were arraigned in Kiambu and the court ordered their detention for a further 10 days to allow for investigations.

The police have also announced they will extract DNA samples from Ms Maribe, information that will help in investigations.


Cover photo: Citizen TV journalist Jacque Maribe talking to her lawyer, Katwa Kigen, at the Kiambu Law Courts on October 1, 2018. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Your Independence Day food is shrimp curry sauce

As the country celebrate its 58 years of freedom from their colonial masters, a lot of activities which we have been following have been going on, and we have been publishing couple of things to do today to enjoy the holidays, from movies to watch, to places to visit, now here is a special meal to relax at home with.

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Ingredients
  • 20-25 shrimps (peeled, devined and cleaned)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (more as needed)
  • 1 can (400ml) Coconut milk (Thai brand is my favorite)
  • 1-2 maggi cubes
  • Salt – to taste

Food 1

Directions
  1. Place a skillet on medium high heat. Add in the oil. Stir in minced onion. Stir fry until the onion is wilted but not brown. Add in curry powder and turmeric. Stir fry for another minute.
  2. Add in coconut milk. Season with maggi and salt. Stir well.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add in shrimps. Simmer for another 2 minutes.