[LIVE] Zimbabwe under military siege, ‘Mugabe and family safe’

Zimbabwe’s military has taken over the public broadcaster and other public buildings in what looks like a coup, a day after they issued threats to the ruling Zanu PF party to stop the purge of former liberation fighters.

The army denied staging a coup in an early morning television broadcast on the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation stating that they are targeting criminals around Mugabe.

“We wish to assure the nation that His Excellency Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are bringing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” the army said.

#Zimbabwe Military take over video published on#ZBC TV at 4am local time pic.twitter.com/5zfplo80h3— Dewa Mavhinga (@dewamavhinga) November 15, 2017

They ordered the civil servants, judiciary and parliament to go ahead with their duties without fear of being obstructed. They also called on the public to remain calm and “limit unnecessary movement”.

The military’s announcement follows hours speculations after armoured cars were seen blocking roads to the presidency and other state institutions.

The army commander’s warning on Monday was described as treasonous by the Zanu PF party and the youth league which accused General Constantino Chiwenga of illegally interfering in politics.

The army and war veterans expressed displeasure at the sack of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who was also sacked from the party after rifts with Grace Mugabe and her faction over Mugabe’s succession.

The army says the insecurity in the party is creating instability in the country which they want to address.

Follow our LIVE page below for updates on the situation in Zimbabwe

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Zanu PF youth league jumps to Mugabe’s defense against army threats

The youth league of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party has denounced the threats of the army against the party saying its interference is illegal.

The group said in a press conference on Tuesday that they are prepared to die in defense of their leader President Robert Mugabe in the face of threats by the army.

“We as Zanu PF Youth league are a lion which has awakened and found its voice, therefore we will not sit idly and fold our hands whilst cheap potshots and threats are made against Mugabe,” said the secretary of the youth league Kudzai Chipanga.

He told the media that “defending the revolution and our leader and president is an ideal we live for and if need be it is a principle we are prepared to die for”.

“This is an assault on our freedom as we now have a new constitution which places soldiers in barracks and civilian authority in power … The guns will follow the politics and not the politics following the guns. Cde Chiwenga therefore cannot be allowed to dictate who will lead the Party and the Country,” he added.

This was in direct response to the statement of the army commander General Constantino Chiwenga who called for an end to the purge of former liberation fighters in the party by people he described as counter-revolutionaries.

Chipanga cited the constitution which frowns against the military interfering in politics and advised them to do so.

“Conniving and conspiring to overthrow a constitutionally elected government is a crime in this country and anywhere in the world … The youth will stand guard in the defense of the revolution,” he emphasized.

The youth league rejected the claims by the army commander that war veterans are being attacked. They also disputed the position of the military that the instability of the party resulted in the country’s economic instability.

“We also note with concern that the renewal of the party and strengthening of its organs by replacing deadwood, traitors, looters and common criminals is being taken as an attack on war veterans,” they said, adding that those members were alligned with the sacked Vice President and Army Commander.

They accused General Constantino Chiwenga and former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa of being responsible for missing funds when the latter was Defense Minister.

Chipanga says General Chiwenga should first account for the missing US$15 billion together with ex-VP Mnangagwa as they presided over revenue from the country’s diamonds. ZiFMStereo 263Chat #ZANUPF pic.twitter.com/ZnAA0N7agY— Garikai Fadzi (@gariefadzi) November 14, 2017

The presidency has not yet responded to the threats of the military.

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Zimbabwe army warns Mugabe against party purge or they will step in

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who is also the leader of the ruling Zanu PF party has been warned by the Zimbabwean army to end the purging of liberation fighters in the party or they will step in.

The threat was issued in a press conference on Monday by the army commander General Constantino Chiwenga who said the infighting in the party is a security threat which is affecting the country.

“Unfortunately since the turn of 2015, Zanu PF’s protocol and procedures have changed with a lot of gossiping, backbiting and public chastisement being the order of the day … We must remind those behind treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolutions, the military will not hesitate to step in.

“The current purging of which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith. The known counter-revolutionary elements who have fermented the current instability must be fished out,” General Chiwenga said in the presence of over 90 army chiefs.

He also called for all members of the party to be allowed to vote during Zanu PF’s extraordinary congress.

“Those bent on hijacking the revolution will not b allowed to do so. It is our strong and deeply considered position that if drastic action is not taken immediately, our beloved country Zimbabwe is definitely headed to becoming a neo-colony again,” he added.

The threat by the military follows the sack of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who was pivotal during the independence revolution. He was also sacked from the party in which he was a strong contender to succeed Mugabe.

Mnangagwa belongs to a faction in the party which is supported by the security services and war veterans. A rival faction is also backing Grace Mugabe to take over from the president.

Supporters of both factions have been at each other’s throats as Grace Mugabe and Mnangagwa openly engaged in conflicts that resulted in the latter’s sack.

Some members of the Mnangagwa faction have been arrested for allegedly booing at the First Lady during a rally where she openly promised to ensure the sack of the former Vice President.

“As a result of squabbling within the ranks of Zanu PF, there has been no meaningful development in the country in the past five years resulting in economic impasse. Our revolutionary path is reprieved by conduct of rebellion by people who are attempting to destroy the revolution from within.

“While our people might be persuaded to take what is going on in Zanu PF, as internal political matters in that party, the truth remains that Zanu PF’s conduct and behaviour as a ruling party has a direct impact on the lives of every citizen, hence all of us regardless of political affiliation are affected by the party’s manner of doing business,” General Constantino Chiwenga warned.

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Africans are to blame if others define and solve our problems – Rwanda’s Kagame

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has called on African leaders to coordinate among each other to successfully address security problems.

He said failure to coordinate internally has allowed insecurity to flourish in the continent.

“Insecurity takes many forms, from security to uncontrolled migration to divisive politics. Whatever the challenge is, we can successfully address it by working together. This means coordinating among ourselves as Africans,” he said on Monday at the 4th edition of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa in Senegal.

“If we allow others to define our problems and take responsibility for solving them, we have ourselves to blame. A major pillar of institutional reform of the AU is a more focused and assertive Africa,” he told the participants in Dakar.

He was quick to add that the unity of Africa does not mean shunning the importance of “productive collaboration with external partners”.

“We must take responsibility for ourselves, which doesn’t include partners but they add to our efforts. We must take full responsibility in defining our problems and financing efforts. Working together is key,” he said.

Kagame also stressed the need to go beyond a military approach to solve insecurity in Africa. “It is important to talk about integrated solutions, security & development and governance as well.”

The forum was attended by the Senegalese President Macky Sall, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Chadian Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacké and the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

President Macky_Sall welcomes President Kagame to Dakar for the fourth Edition of the International Forum on Peace and Security pic.twitter.com/jS7CfMipqG— Presidency | Rwanda (UrugwiroVillage) November 12, 2017

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Kenyans online slam primary school textbook for being ‘ethnic biased’

The content of a primary school textbook for Kenya’s Kiambu County has generated a wave of criticism and accusations of ethnic bias on social media.

The page 36 of the Comprehensive Social Studies textbook for Standard 4 pupils which generated the controversy was tweeted by a journalism student for its definition of the occupations of other ethnic groups in the county.

Just wow ! Kenya is sicker than we are even imagining ! pic.twitter.com/BQDcMM8lx2— Leon Lidigu (@LeonLidigu) November 11, 2017

The book says “some” Bantu speakers in the county “work in the flower farms, coffee farms and tea farms”, while “most” of the Cushites including the Somali and the Borana “moved to Kiambu from other countries to work in offices and trading centres.”

The next sentence that stoked the controversy talks about the Nilotes who include the Luo, Kalenjin, Turkana and Maasai ethnic groups. It says: “Most of them work in large flower farms, tea farms and coffee farms.”

The tweet elicited over a hundred replies which were condeming the county and the education authorities for not scrutinizing the textbook properly and allowing such “inaccuracies”.

A Twitter user by name Jane Bisanju said: “I saw it with my daughter and I felt disgusted. The difference between you and I is that you at least pointed it out…”

I saw it with my daughter and I felt disgusted. The difference between you and I is that you at least pointed it out….wmnjoya have you seen this?— jane Bisanju (janeBisanju) November 11, 2017

Another Twitter user Mohamud J blamed the education authorities saying: “Its important to note that KICD is mandated with reviewing and evaluating such curriculum material. So who is sleeping on the job for such biases and incorrect info. Its something to do with KICD and not Govn Waititu.”

Its important to note that KICD is mandated with reviewing and evaluating such curriculum material. So who is sleeping on the job for such biases and incorrect info. Its something to do with KICD and not Govn Waititu.— Mohamud J (@mjalimire) November 13, 2017

Eugene Akello tweeted: “Donno whether to cry or to weep?!! stereotyping, tribalism, this is just sick. searing a thought into a kids mind.”

Donno whether to cry or to weep?!! stereotyping, tribalism, this is just sick. searing a thought into a kids mind.— Eugene Akello (@swedenhill) November 12, 2017

Others also think there is no problem with the content when the determiner “some” and superlative “most” are used.

However, this has ignited the debate about Kenya’s ethnic division which has influenced the creation of a political divide evident during its contested presidential elections of August 8 and October 26.

The East African country has 44 recognised tribes with the latest being the Asian community. Inter-ethnic clashes have been recorded in the past and traditional, political and religious leaders continue to preach inter-ethnic and religious tolerance.

The Kikuyus are Kenya’s largest ethnic group, comprising an estimated 22% of the population followed by the Luhya, Luos and Kalenjin.

Below are some reactions to the textbook described as ethnic biased.

we now have a bigger problem than we thought— Mkenya Mzalendo (@JKwoma) November 12, 2017

This isn’t right, Building a strong case for genocidal acts, Us Vs them. Very dangerous! How about the same content in Kajiado, Mark, Molo, Laikipia? The notion that you can’t be a land owner in a certain area. Ole_kaparo and FredMatiangi we need action.— Stephen M. W (@STEMULI3) November 12, 2017

You mean this book was approved by KIE and ministry of edu and all those ‘s**t bodies which are supposed to do quality analysis?— Odhiambo Issa (@Odhiambo_Issa) November 12, 2017

hehehe, with all the inaccuracies and it’s still called “comprehensive”— oscar omondi (@oscaromondi2007) November 12, 2017

The humiliation when such kids meet those from other countries that will have a better understanding of Kenya! Shameful & myopic— Milcah Asamba (@MilcahAsamba) November 12, 2017

And at the end of the day the exam is the same…..We should be worried.— jane Bisanju (@janeBisanju) November 11, 2017

So our kids should be told that Cushites and Nilotes are originally from Kiambu County?Those who work in flower farms as graders,Engineers and managers and are nilotes were born there?Wacheni ufala..You cried for Majimbo,that’s what it is..Kiambu lives Matter too..Nkt— Emilio (@EmilioMwas) November 11, 2017

hahahaha I don’t think whoever posted is malicious… Whoever approved kids to read such is malicious— king elf (@king_elf33) November 11, 2017

It’s not about them….. it’s about us,the moment you exalt one tribe above the rest,the moment you treat some people as 2nd class citizens hate and division will reign.EmilioMwas you should be worried.— Maako (markessau) November 12, 2017

Propaganda and ethnic prejudice being introduced to the kids at very young age.— Nzeka (@BreezeWhizz) November 11, 2017

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Thousands petition Rwandan govt to release Kagame’s critic and her family

Presidential hopeful and critic of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has been in prison together with her sister and mother since September 22 over charges they describe as politically motivated.

35-year-old Diane Rwigara who was disqualified from running against Kagame in the August presidential election is charged with forgery and inciting insurrection during her bid to run for president.

She is also charged with evading taxes of nearly Rwf5 billion ($6 million) together with her sister Anne Rwigara and mother Adeline Rwigara who are also accused of inciting insurrection and promoting sectarianism.

They pleaded not guilty and said their arrest and detention are politically motivated. The three were refused bail pending trial on the tax evasion allegations related to the family’s tobacco company.

Nearly 3,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that the Rwandan government releases the three who are influential in the country. The petition was started by the civil rights group African Great Lakes Action Network (AGLAN).

“Demand that Paul Kagame and the Rwandan regime produce Ms. Rwigara and immediately release her, her mother and the other family members,” they stated.

Diane Rwigara stood up for your rights, now stand up for hers! Sign this petition: https://t.co/iupMiR7REo#FreeDianeRwigara #HumanRights #Rwanda #RwOT— Diane Shima Rwigara (@ShimaRwigara) November 12, 2017

The tax evasion accusations did not appear on the charge sheet and prosecutors did not give details of the insurrection charge.

Rwigara’s sister Anne said they had not had enough access to their lawyer. Adeline Rwigara had told the court that they had been tortured and deprived of food.

The country’s revenue authority has threatened to auction their properties including mansions, lands and cars if they don’t settle the outstanding bill.

“If they have not paid the tax by the end of November, we shall begin to put their properties on the market,” the Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority Richard Tusabe threatened.

The authority has closed down their company and proposed a payment plan of 12 months to renege on the decision to auction their properties.

Anne Rwigara who is the head of the family business told the court that she is being forced to sign the payment plan which they do not agree with.

Diane Rwigara’s father was a wealthy businessman who died in a car crash in 2015. He had fallen out with the ruling party prior to his death which the family alleges it was an assassination.

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Kenya’s president calls on court to dismiss election petitions against his win

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on the Supreme Court to throw out petitions challenging his election on October 26.

Kenyatta said in a statement on Sunday that the over ten petitioners’ claims were unsubstantiated and a waste of judicial time and resources, reports local news portal Daily Nation.

“Accordingly, it is deceitful and misleading for the petitioners to masquerade as bona fide defenders of the public interest,” he said in the statement describing them as agents of the main opposition party led by Raila Odinga.

The president accused the National Super Alliance (NASA) party of making unlawful attempts to stop the repeat elections which he won by 98% as a result of the opposition boycott.

The petitioners including opposition members and some civil rights activists are calling on the Supreme Court to nullify the outcome of the repeat polls citing supposed illegalities including the push for the amendment of the electoral laws, the holding of elections despite the withdrawal of the opposition and the skip of renomination of candidates before the polls.

The court has until November 14 to rule on the petitions. If it upholds the result, Kenyatta will be sworn in on November 28.

Uhuru Kenyatta won the October 26 repeat election with a total vote of 7.4 million (98% of total votes).

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Togolese opposition calls for renewed series of anti-government protests

Togolese opposition parties have called for another series of protests this week after last week’s peaceful protests calling for the return of the original 1992 Constitution that stipulates a two five-year term limit for presidents as well as a two-round voting system.

The coalition of 14 opposition parties called on their supporters to come out on November 16, 17 and 18 to push for their demands which includes the introduction of diaspora voting, launch of an independent inquiry into the deaths of protesters, the immediate release of political detainees and the cessation of arrests and persecution.

The November 7,8 and 9 round of protests were held under new measures taken by the government including the invitation of “neutral observers” from the civil society to observe protests and give vivid accounts; and the withdrawal of plainclothes security officers from protests to “avoid controversies” and deaths.

The coalition said in a statement that their leaders will join the protests in the northern towns of Sokodé, Bafilo and Mango where tensions are high. Spokesperson for the group, Eric Dupuy said they will defy the government’s order not to lead the protests in the towns.

At least 16 people were killed at the start of the nationwide protest in August.

President Faure Gnassingbe who is being asked to resign has said that he was an elected leader yet social media is being used to portray him as a “bloodthirsty dictator”.

The government has called for a dialogue with the opposition which stated clearly that it’s not yet ready to sit down for talks.

A bill was tabled before parliament by the cabinet during the early September round of demonstrations to reinstate the term limits which were struck out by the father of Faure Gnassingbe before his death.

The opposition rejected the draft bill to modify Article 59 of the constitution which has maintained the exclusion of the clause that says “no one can serve more than two terms”.

They believe it is a ploy to allow Faure, who is serving his third term, to attempt a fourth in 2020.

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U.S. appeals against withdrawal of AU troops from Somalia, pledges support

The United States has appealed against the downsizing of African Union troops in Somalia fearing escalation of extremist attacks.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) announced last week that following a decision by the AU and UN Security Council to hand over security responsibilities to the Somali Army, a thousand soldiers will be withdrawn from the country by the end of 2017.

The U.S. State Department told East African regional news portal The EastAfrican that the decision calls for concern and they are ready to continue their support for the mission until the time the Somali forces can take over.

“We do not support further drawdown of forces beyond that level at this time, due to ongoing security concerns. The United States supports a conditions-based Amisom drawdown that is tied to the development of capable, professional Somali security forces,” said Wohlers Marion, Foreign Service Officer at the State Department.

AMISOM chief Francisco Madeiro had said that the withdrawal will be gradual and 500 police officers will be deployed to train and mentor the Somali Police who will enforce law and order in the country.

He called for timely support for the Somali Army as it fights the Islamist insurgency which has heightened its attacks in the country.

Somalian President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed sought support from neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti to help launch an offensive against al Shabaab.

Uganda offered to send 5,000 extra troops to Somalia despite being the highest troop contributer to the country. Ethiopia and Djibouti had also made promises.

The withdrawal will see five countries reduce their troops by four per cent. Each of them will contribute to the 500 police officers needed to train the Somali Police Force.

Al Shabaab has killed thousands of civilians and soldiers through car and suicide bombings as it seeks to topple the western-backed government and impose its strict version of the Sharia law.

Its deadliest attack on October 14 killed at least 400 people when a truck carrying explosives was detonated at a busy junction in Mogadishu.

Somalia had appealed to the international community to lift the arms embargo imposed on it by the United Nations 25 years ago.

This has limited its soldiers from engaging in a swift offensive as they only carry light weapons to fight al Shabaab.

The jihadist group is still attacking as at least two bombings were recorded a week after the deadliest October 14 bomb blast.

AMISOM has 22,000 soldiers in Somalia. It is expected to fully withdraw by 2020.

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Somaliland’s planned social media blockade during election challenged in court

Somaliland’s decision to ban social media during its election on November 13 has been challenged by the country’s human rights body at the Supreme Court.

The Somaliland Human Right Centre submitted a petition to the court to halt the move by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) which said on Friday that the shutdown will be observed from Monday until the results are announced.

The NEC said it was necessary to block social media to avoid the spread of fake news and rumours.

The court’s ruling is expected by Monday ahead of the opening of polls.

The self-declared independent state of Somaliland ended its campaign on Friday ahead of its third elections on Monday.

The three candidates are former minister Muse Bihi Abdi of the ruling KULMIYE (Peace, Unity and Development Party); veteran politician Faisal Ali Warabe of UCID (Justice and Welfare Party); and then the former speaker of the House of Representatives Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi Irro of Waddani (National Party).

They marched together through the capital Hargeisa on Saturday holding hands to depict unity and call for peace as the country goes to the polls. They addressed the media after a meeting with the Electoral Commission.

Today in #Hargeisa. This is how we do it in #Somaliland #SLelection2017#SomalilandVotesNEC2017 pic.twitter.com/j1dOI7u1HE— Khadar Mariano (APuntite) November 11, 2017

This election is touted to be the first incident-free polls to be held in the Horn of Africa.

Out of the about 4 million Somaliland population, 704, 089 registered voters are expected to elect the new president. There are 1,642 polling stations in the 21 constituencies across the six regions of the country.

The country will be the first in Africa to use the iris-recognition biometric voter registration system.

A team of 60 international election observers from 24 countries have been deployed to the country by the international election observation mission (EOM) funded by the British government.

Somaliland’s decision to block social media follows those of Uganda, Congo, Chad, Gabon, Niger, and Gambia where internet connection was blocked during their elections last year. The blockade did not reduce controversies during those elections.

Countries such as Ghana, Zambia, and recently Rwanda, Angola, Kenya and Liberia kept their internet active and were not threatened by fake news.

NEC Chairperson Abdukadir Iman Warsame said everything is ready for the election on Monday.

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Liberia’s Sirleaf honoured with statue in Nigeria next to that of Zuma

Liberia’s outgoing president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been honoured in Nigeria’s southeast state of Imo with a statue, chieftaincy title, the state’s highest award and a road named after her.

Sirleaf honoured the invitation of Governor Rochas Okorocha who had been criticised for conferring the same honours on embattled South African President Jacob Zuma last month.

The first elected female African president was first conferred with a chieftaincy title by the traditional leaders of the state at the Eze Imo Palace and then awarded the Grand Counsellor of Imo State.

Liberian President Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf being decorated by Traditional Leaders of Imo State. pic.twitter.com/BmGg5gsS53— Gov. Rochas Okorocha (@GovernorRochas) November 9, 2017

Liberian President Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf conferred an award as “Grand Counsellor of Imo State” by Imo people 10/11/17 pic.twitter.com/KnceQYxZzV— Gov. Rochas Okorocha (@GovernorRochas) November 10, 2017

This was followed by the street-naming and a visit to the Rochas Okorocha Foundation College in the state capital Owerri which admits under-privileged students from all over Africa.

“I have seen leaders of Africa build schools, roads, give scholarships, and so on, in all of these things. I have not seen any of them go beyond the ordinary by gathering indigent children of Africa from all of our countries, bring them together in one family, sharing together,” Sirleaf praised the foundation which has 10 colleges across the country and admits five children every year from each African country.

She met the students and advised them to study hard and “be the best in the world”.

“Go out, be the best in the world” – Liberian President Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Rochas Foundation College of Africa Children. pic.twitter.com/uZBVZrT85J— Gov. Rochas Okorocha (@GovernorRochas) November 10, 2017

Today, a road would be named after this great African Female Hero, a woman who has preached peace & love, Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf pic.twitter.com/tlR7SKicjU— Gov. Rochas Okorocha (@GovernorRochas) November 10, 2017

The unveiling of the statue at the Ikemba Ojukwu Square in Owerri was done during a ceremony attended by dignitaries and leaders of the state.

Her statue stands next to that of South African President Jacob Zuma and yet-to-be unveiled statues of Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Kwame Nkrumah, and Governor Rochas Okorocha himself.

The Statue of the African Female Hero, the Liberian President Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf unveiled in Imo State. pic.twitter.com/LQIsOOgOR6— Gov. Rochas Okorocha (@GovernorRochas) November 10, 2017

Photos: See monumental statues in Imo’s statuary… Tafawa Balewa, Azikwe, othershttps://t.co/AyHHfaGMrV PhilipObinGovernorRochas APCNigeria pic.twitter.com/GeyR76VJXo— i-reporting (OlufemiAjasa) November 10, 2017

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked the state for the honour which she says is exceptional and the first of its kind she has received.

“My alma mater, Harvard University, honoured me with a statue but it was not like this. There weren’t people like this and it was just a little one in a corner,” she said.

A lot of Nigerians have attacked the governor for spending an unspecified amount of money to honour African leaders.

He addressed the criticism saying: “I erect statues to immortalise people so that children yet unborn can know about them. History is dying in Africa, we must keep it alive.”

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Gambia police bans protest over electricity crisis after interior minister sack

The Gambian police has revoked the permit granted to a pressure group planning on demonstrating on Sunday against the electricity and water crisis in the country.

The #OccupyWestfield group which was denied a permit a week ago and later permitted to hold the demonstration had threatened to sue the government for denying them their constitutional rights.

The police announced the revocation of the latest permit on Saturday, hours after the sack of the Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty who had met the organisers of the demonstration to dialogue.

The president said in a statement that the minister has been “redeployed to the diplomatic services” and his position has been temporarily assigned to the Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou.

The president did not give reasons for the minister’s sack.

The police said in its statement that the demonstration poses security concerns and advised the organisers and the public to desist from taking part in the process.

“This action by the police is necessitated due to security intelligence report which has posed security concerns … Anyone found wanting will be dealt with according to law,” the police said.

The leader of the #OccupyWestfield group Alieu Bah condemned the decision of the police and compared their action to that of ousted ex president Yahya Jammeh’s regime.

“IGP and govt of the gambia. y’all took the constitution into your own hands like jammeh use to do. and all of you who are rejoicing at this have shown clearly that we are not yet ready for a democracy, for the constitution to take its place in the fitness of things,” he said on Facebook.

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Uganda bans homework and exams for nursery school students

The Ugandan government has directed all nursery schools to stop assigning homework and organising examinations for students at that level.

The government gave the directive, during a review of the country’s education sector on Wednesday, to allow children to develop their cognitive abilities through recreational activities, reports local news portal Daily Monitor.

Primary schools where also banned from using entry interviews to select students who will transition to Primary One, the report added.

The op-ed report said children as young as three years old are given homeworks in some pre-schools which affects their socialisation skills which are critical at that age.

Some schools around the world have banned homework for primary school children which is deemed a strain on the brains of the children after spending seven hours in school.

The Sun Valley Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa decided to cancel homework for its pupils in 2015 as part of a research to measure performance.

The principal Gavin Keller said the pupils excelled after only six months of instituting the policy which allowed them to take off pressure at home.

“We had to rethink the function of education. We asked ourselves, ‘what is the purpose of homework when children are already spending 7 hours at school and how are these kids going to have a balanced life.

“We made sure that the 7 hours they spend at school are so focused, so on task, so full of fun that after school there’s till time to play sport, have their friends around, and in the evening they can still go to bed and read,” he said.

The school gained the support of parents and the education authority after recording an increase in academic results.

A similar policy was implemented this year in Florida, in the United States where the principal wants parents to read with their kids for 20 minutes each night instead of homework.

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Egyptian TV presenter sentenced to 3 years for ‘promoting indecency’

A popular Egyptian television presenter Doaa Salah has been sentenced to three years in prison over a statement she made on her show that was deemed immoral.

A misdemeanor court in Cairo found her guilty of inciting debauchery and sentenced her to three years in prison including a 10,000 Egyptian Pound ($566) fine to be paid to a lawyer who filed the lawsuit against her, reports local news portal Ahram Online.

The episode of her “With Dody” show that got her in trouble was aired on private TV channel Al-Nahar in July when Doaa Salah discussed the choices of women to be single mothers.

The show was suspended for three months by Egypt’s media union which said the discussion “promoted immoral ideas that are alien to our society and threaten the fabric of the Egyptian family.”

They also accused her of performing “bizarre and controversial acts” on her programme including wearing a fake pregnant belly and opening her show with a bubble bath in a bathtub.

Another popular presenter on the same channel Reham Saeed was also suspended for three months for discussing extra-marital affairs by introducing a married woman and her lover.

She has also been accused of exploiting stories for attention, resulting in two prison sentences for defamation which she narrowly escaped after appeals.

The head of the media union Hamdy El-Konayissy said in a statement in August that the two presenters discussed deviant issues in Egypt which “breached professional and ethical standards.”

Doaa Salah can appeal her three-year sentence.

In another discussion on the satellite channel Al-Assema, a notorious Egyptian lawyer Nabih al-Wahsh said women who wear ripped jeans deserved to be sexually harassed and raped.

He made the statement last week as they discussed the law on fighting prostitution and inciting debauchery, local news portal Al Arabiya reported.

Women advocacy groups have condemned his statement and vowed to file a complaint to the attorney general and the media union against Wahsh and the television station.

Last year, the lawyer beat up an imam on live television with his shoes for arguing that wearing a hijab is a choice and not an obligation for Muslim women.

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Turkey delivers new assault rifles to Somalia to fight al Shabaab insurgency

The Turkish government has delivered 450 of its newly designed and manufactured MPT-76 assault rifles to Somalia to fight al Shabaab.

This was revealed in a report by the Turkish news agency Anadolu saying the government ordered local defense industry companies to mass produce the country’s first locally designed rifle which has passed 47 NATO tests.

The MPT-76 rifles are going to replace the German G-3 rifles used by the Turkish Armed Forces, the report added.

Somalia is under an United Nations-imposed arms embargo for 25 years after the civil war began. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has appealed with the international community to lift the embargo to allow the country to purchase heavy weapons to fight al Shabaab.

The restrictions were loosened in 2007 when the UN Security Council resolved that the embargo would not apply to weapons supplied for use by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

It was further loosened in 2013 to allow the sale of light weapons. President Abdullahi Mohamed has said several times that with light weapons and the restrictions, they cannot defeat al shabaab which is equally using light weapons.

He has called for military support from neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti who have responded positively to renew the offensive against the jihadist group.

Turkey recently opened a military base in Mogadishu to train Somali soldiers.

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Hundreds of Ethiopian troops enter Somalia to back fight against Shabaab

Hundreds of Ethiopian soldiers have been spotted crossing the border town of Dolow into Somalia carrying heavy artillery.

Residents of the town in the Gedo region told VOA Somali that at least 30 vehicles carrying about a thousand heavily armed soldiers crossed the border on Tuesday.

They are believed to be Ethiopia’s promised reinforcement for the renewed offensive against the jihadist group al Shabaab which is seeking to topple the western-backed government and impose its strict version of the Sharia law.

The group has killed thousands of civilians and soldiers through car and suicide bombings. The deadliest attack on October 14 killed at least 400 people when a truck carrying explosives was detonated at a busy junction in Mogadishu.

Somalia’s president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed sought support from neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti to increase the offensive against the group.

Uganda has the highest contribution of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and it promised to add more. Ethiopia and Djibouti made the same promises.

Somalia had appealed to the international community to lift the arms embargo imposed on it by the United Nations 25 years ago.

This has limited its soldiers from a swift offensive as they only carry light weapons to fight al Shabaab.

The jihadist group is still attacking as at least two bombings were recorded after the deadliest October 14 bomb blast.

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