South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said yesterday that his African National Congress (ANC) party remains committed to anti-graft rules under which members charged with corruption or other serious offences must quit as he faces challenges to his leadership from within the movement. Members of an ANC faction loyal to former president Jacob Zuma – who is being investigated for corruption but denies wrongdoing – wanted the rule scrapped, arguing that it was being used to persecute political opponents with trumped up charges. “The overwhelming view of the policy conference is for the retention of the step-aside provisions to enhance the integrity of the movement and its leadership,” Ramaphosa told delegates, wrapping up three days of talks to map out the party’s direction. The conference noted strong concerns about the perceived lack of consistency in the policy’s implementation, he said. These “must receive urgent attention so that the application of the guidelines is impartial, is fair and is consistent”, he added. The talks were a prelude to the ANC national elective conference in December, when the party is to hold internal polls to pick a candidate for the next presidential election. Ramaphosa is expected to seek a second five-year term, but could face a challenge from a faction of the party that is loyal to Zuma. Ramaphosa vowed to clean up the party upon taking charge in 2017, but is himself facing a police investigation of his finances after thieves stole $4mn from his farm in June, and his opponents are hoping to use this to unseat him. If he is charged with any irregularity – such as failing to declare the money to tax authorities or violating exchange controls – then he himself might be forced to step aside. Ramaphosa says the money was proceeds from sales of game animals on the farm, and has welcomed the investigation. A state corruption inquiry report published earlier this year implicated more than 200 ANC members, including some senior officials. Under the step-aside rule, which was agreed in 2017, ANC members charged with serious crimes have 30 days to leave their post or face suspension. The most prominent figure to face the axe was former secretary-general Ace Magashule, a Zuma ally, who was suspended last year over corruption allegations. In other remarks yesterday, Ramaphosa reiterated that the ANC wanted to nationalise South Africa’s central bank, which is currently privately managed. “Delegates urged the ANC government to find mechanisms to restructure the ownership of the bank in a manner and at a pace that takes account of the likely cost implications for the fiscus,” he said. He also said the party has agreed to take urgent measures to accelerate growth, create employment and alleviate poverty, adding it was also committed to achieving gender equality within its ranks. The party of Nelson Mandela, which has ruled South Africa for nearly three decades since the end of apartheid, has been struggling to regain its former glory. Opening the conference on Friday, Ramaphosa scolded the ANC for losing public trust, saying the party was weaker than at any time since it ended white minority rule in 1994. Support the ANC dipped below 50% for the first time in local polls last November. Critics charge that the government lacks a national plan to tackle poverty, inequality and 34.5% unemployment worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, or even provide basic services such as electricity and water.
Thousands of protesters marching towards Sudan’s presidential palace were blocked by police firing tear gas, as an anti-military campaign entered its 10th month. Protests have continued weekly since an Oct 25 military takeover that halted a transition to democracy and plunged the country into turmoil. Police yesterday blocked protesters from reaching the kilometre-long road that leads to the presidential palace and chased them into nearby side streets, Reuters journalists said. Military leaders have said they are prepared to step aside if civilian groups can agree on a new government but political parties have been sceptical. However, former Sovereign Council member Mohamed al-Faki Suleiman said in an interview with local media outlet Sudan Tribune on Saturday that new constitutional arrangements were being discussed between the former ruling Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition and other “revolutionary forces”. Yesterday’s protests were the latest in a series of demonstrations since multi-day sit-ins in Sudan’s capital prior to the Eid holiday. Last week, a protest called for by the FFC was attacked by unidentified assailants. At least 116 people have been killed in the protests, and thousands injured, many by gunfire, according to medics. Protesters assume they will be arrested, injured, or killed, said an injured protester, who asked to be referred to by his nickname Karika. “We don’t think we’ll make it back home, and so we have only one message: the military should go to the barricades and the Rapid Support Forces should be dissolved,” he said, referencing the country’s powerful paramilitary group.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said yesterday that his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party was at its “weakest”, after a historic loss in municipal polls last year. The party leader spoke as the continent’s most advanced economy faces a raft of socio-economic crises. Critics charge that the government lacks a national plan to tackle poverty, inequality and 34.5% unemployment worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, or even provide basic services such as electricity and water. Support for the ANC dipped below 50% for the first time in local polls last November, amid growing disappointment with the party that has ruled the country for nearly three decades since the end of apartheid. “The ANC today is at its weakest and most vulnerable since the advent of democracy,” Ramaphosa told delegates at talks to map out the party’s new direction in Johannesburg. The weaknesses, Ramaphosa said, “are evident in the distrust, the disillusionment, the frustration that is expressed by many people towards our movement and our government”. He said the party of late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was now a “divided movement”, with rifts “driven by competition for positions and access to public resources, and patronage as well”. The cracks were resulting in “weakened governance”, he said, urging delegates to come up with “clear policies”, “coherent ideas” and “practical solutions”. “This is a defining moment for the ANC... but more importantly for our country,” he said. The talks are a prelude to the ANC national elective conference in December, when the party is to hold internal polls to pick a candidate for the next presidential election. Ramaphosa is expected to seek a second five-year term, but could face a challenge from a faction of the party that is loyal to former president Jacob Zuma, who has been accused of corruption. The three-day talks, to run until tomorrow, are also expected to address graft allegations against ANC members. A state corruption inquiry report published earlier this year named more than 200 of its members, including some senior officials. The party is also buckling under financial woes, having struggled to pay salaries in recent months. Dozens of party workers picketed outside the conference venue, protesting over their unpaid wages. Ramaphosa himself is also mired in a scandal following a break-in at his game and cattle farm.
President Kais Saied declared yesterday that Tunisia was moving “from despair to hope” after a referendum almost certain to approve a new constitution that concentrates nearly all powers in his office. But his rivals accused the Saied-controlled electoral board of “fraud” and said his referendum — held on Monday and marked by an official turnout of little more than a quarter of the 9.3mn electorate — had failed. Counting was well under way in the late afternoon, with the first official results due between 7:00pm and 9:00pm (1800 GMT to 2000 GMT). The independent polling group Sigma Conseil has said that of 7,500 participants questioned in an exit poll, 92-93% voted “Yes”. Monday’s vote came a year to the day after the president sacked the government and suspended parliament in a dramatic blow to the only democracy to have emerged from the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. For some Tunisians, his moves sparked fears of a return to autocracy, but they were welcomed by others, fed up with high inflation and unemployment, political corruption and a system they felt had brought few improvements. There had been little doubt the “Yes” campaign would prevail, a forecast reflected in the exit poll. Most of Saied’s rivals called for a boycott, and while turnout was low, it was higher than the single figures many had expected — at least 27.5%, according to ISIE, the electoral board. “Tunisia has entered a new phase,” Saied told celebrating supporters after polling closed. “What the Tunisian people did...is a lesson to the world, and a lesson to history on a scale that the lessons of history are measured on,” he said. But the US State Department said yesterday that it noted “concerns that the new constitution includes weakened checks and balances that could compromise the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. And Tunisia’s National Salvation Front opposition alliance accused the electoral board of falsifying turnout figures. NSF head Ahmed Nejib Chebbi said the figures were “inflated and don’t fit with what observers saw on the ground”. The electoral board “isn’t honest and impartial, and its figures are fraudulent”, he said. Saied, a 64-year-old law professor, dissolved parliament and seized control of the judiciary and the electoral commission on July 25 last year. His opponents say the moves aimed to install an autocracy more than a decade after the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, but his supporters say they were necessary after years of corruption and political turmoil. “After 10 years of disappointment and total failure in the management of state and the economy, the Tunisian people wanted to get rid of the old and take a new step — whatever the results are,” said Noureddine al-Rezgui, a bailiff. A poll of “Yes” voters by state television suggested “reforming the country and improving the situation” along with “support for Kais Saied/his project” were their main motivations. Thirteen % cited being “convinced by the new constitution”. Rights groups have warned the draft gives vast, unchecked powers to the presidency, allows Saied to appoint a government without parliamentary approval and makes him virtually impossible to remove from office. Said Benarbia, regional director of the International Commission of Jurists, told AFP the new constitution would “give the president almost all powers and dismantle any check on his rule”. “The process was opaque and illegal, the outcome is illegitimate,” he added. Saied has repeatedly threatened his enemies in recent months, issuing video diatribes against unnamed foes. On Monday, he promised to hold to account “all those who have committed crimes against the country”. Analyst Abdellatif Hannachi said the results meant Saied “can now do whatever he wants without taking anyone else into account”. “The question now is: what is the future of opposition parties and organisations?” As well as remaking the political system, Monday’s vote was seen as a gauge of Saied’s personal popularity, almost three years since the political outsider won a landslide in Tunisia’s first democratic direct presidential election. The country is now set to hold elections to the neutered parliament in December. Participation in elections has gradually declined since the 2011 revolution, from just over half in a parliamentary poll months after Ben Ali’s ouster to 32% in 2019.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni yesterday defended his country’s relationship with Russia, as Moscow’s top diplomat toured Africa to drum up support over the war in Ukraine. “How can we be against somebody who has never harmed us,” the veteran Ugandan leader said alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a press conference in the town of Entebbe. “If Russia makes mistakes, we tell them. When they have not made mistakes, we can’t be against them,” he added, hailing Russia for backing anti-colonial movements in Africa. Uganda was one of 17 African nations to abstain during a vote in March on a UN resolution that overwhelmingly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Vulnerable countries on the continent and elsewhere in the world, however, have been hard hit by the fallout from the war that has sent prices of fuel and food soaring. Lavrov insisted Russia was not to blame. “There is a very loud campaign around this, but our African friends understand their root cause,” Lavrov said. “They are not related to what is happening within the special military operation,” he said, using the Kremlin’s term for the conflict. Lavrov’s trip comes hot on the heels of a landmark deal Russia and Ukraine signed on Friday with the United Nations and Turkey, which is aimed at relieving the global food crisis caused by blocked Black Sea grain deliveries. Less than 24 hours later Moscow struck the Ukrainian port in Odessa — one of three exit hubs designated in the agreement — sparking fury in Kyiv and heightening fears the Kremlin would not go through with the deal. As relations with the West have collapsed over the conflict, Lavrov said Africa would play a greater role in Russia’s foreign policy. Museveni also said Kampala would co-operate with Moscow in a range of fields including space, energy, agriculture and vaccines. “Our interest with Russia is when there is progress with Russia, we (Africa) benefit,” he added. Lavrov arrived in Ethiopia later on the latest leg of a trip that took him to Egypt and Congo-Brazzaville before Uganda.
At least 15 people were killed and about 50 wounded during a second day of violent anti-United Nations protests in Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern cities of Goma and Butembo yesterday, authorities said. The dead included demonstrators and UN personnel as UN sites were attacked by crowds. A Reuters reporter saw UN peacekeepers shoot dead two protesters as people threw rocks, vandalised and set fire to UN buildings in Goma. The demonstrations began on Monday, when hundreds of people attacked and looted a UN warehouse in Goma — a regional hub for international aid groups — demanding that the mission leave the country. They flared again yesterday and spread to Butembo, about 200km north of Goma. The protests were called by a faction of the ruling party’s youth wing that accuses the UN mission — known as Monusco — of failing to protect civilians against militia violence. “Mobs are throwing stones and petrol bombs, breaking into bases, looting and vandalizing, and setting facilities on fire,” Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York. Some stormed the houses of UN workers who were evacuated from Goma in a convoy of vehicles escorted by the army, a reporter said. One peacekeeper and two UN police personnel were killed when their base in Butembo was attacked, the UN spokesman said. Butembo’s police chief said that seven civilians were also killed when the peacekeepers retaliated. “The situation is very volatile and reinforcements are being mobilized,” Haq said, adding that UN forces had been told to exercise maximum restraint and only fire warning shots. Government spokesman Patrick Muyaya had said earlier that at least five people were killed and about 50 wounded in Goma. The Reuters reporter in Goma said peacekeepers fired tear gas and live bullets at the crowd, killing two and wounding at least two others. Protesters were initially peaceful, but turned violent as some picked tear-gas grenades off the ground and threw them back at the Monusco warehouse. Butembo police chief Paul Ngoma said demonstrators attacked the Monusco base there with stones and gunfire. “That’s how three Monusco peacekeepers died. On the population side the provisional report shows seven dead as Monusco also reacted with weapons,” Ngoma said. India’s foreign minister said two of the peacekeepers who died were Indian. Ngoma said the third one was Moroccan. Among the demonstrators were militiamen recruited from the bush who brought weapons, he said, adding that the number of wounded was unknown. Monusco — the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo — has been gradually withdrawing for years. Resurgent clashes between local troops and the M23 rebel group in east Congo have displaced thousands. Attacks by militants linked to Islamic State have also continued despite a year-long state of emergency and joint operations against them by the Congolese and Ugandan armies. Monusco took over from an earlier peacekeeping operation in 2010. It had more than 12,000 troops and 1,600 police deployed in Congo as of November 2021.
University of Doha for Science and Technology (UDST) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Mowasalat (Karwa). The signing ceremony took place at UDST in the presence of the university’s president, Dr Salem Al-Naemi, Mowasalat (Karwa) chief executive officer Fahad Saad al-Qahtani and different stakeholders. The agreement sets a framework for co-operation and ongoing projects between both entities. This includes conducting research and development studies, particularly in the areas of road safety and technology. UDST and Mowasalat (Karwa) will perform many trainings exchange and professional development programmes focused on health, safety, environment, and train the trainer model. Dr Salem Al-Naemi Mowasalat (Karwa) will also offer UDST students the chance to conduct their internships on its premises, and support UDST graduates with employment opportunities. Further, the organisation will take part in the university’s career fair and will co-operate with UDST and its students on many events and awareness campaigns that tackle road safety such as Traffic Week, Mowater event, and technical advancements such as the Skills Competition, UDST’s largest co-curricular event of the academic year. The signing parties will also benefit from a joint learning experience related to operational aspects of transportation. Fahad Saad al-Qahtani Dr Al-Naemi said, “We constantly seek new partnerships that will benefit our students and hone their skills. We are pleased to collaborate with Mowasalat (Karwa), the premier transportation service provider in Qatar. We hope that this strategic partnership will result in significant added value for the community at large and our students in particular and will lead to improved awareness and better action against unsafe road behaviors. We consider this agreement a great milestone in our journey towards achieving Qatar National Vision 2030 goals.” According to al-Qahtani, “Mowasalat (Karwa) is keen to tap and recruit local talents and provide a continued platform for internship for students and opportunities for graduates. Through this partnership, the company will provide joint learning experience for students and graduates to acquire skills of entrepreneurship and support basic industries contributing to the developmental projects and partaking in growth plans.”
Thirty-three people were killed when a bus plunged into a river at a notorious accident blackspot in central Kenya, officials said Monday. The accident occurred late Sunday when the bus was travelling from the town of Meru to the coastal city of Mombasa. The bus plunged off a bridge about 40 metres into the Nithi River valley below. Pictures published in local media showed the bus ripped apart after rolling down the steep slope, with reports saying wreckage and bodies were strewn in the water and on the riverbank. The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) said in a statement on Twitter that 33 people had died and that it had halted the operations of the bus company involved, Modern Coast Express Ltd. "A thorough multi-agency investigation into the crash and an evaluation of the operator's safety operational standards is currently under way," it added. County commissioner Norbert Komora had told reporters earlier: "The search is still on and we are trying to retrieve the wreckage. "Investigations are still going on to establish the cause of the accident". The number of people killed on Kenya's roads has increased in recent years. In the first half of 2022, 1,912 people were killed, up nine percent from 1,754 in the same period last year, according to NTSA figures.
One of Kenya’s two leading presidential candidates, Raila Odinga, will not take part in an upcoming electoral debate, his campaign team said yesterday, accusing his principal rival of trying to avoid certain topics such as corruption. Odinga, 77, a former prime minister, and Deputy President William Ruto, 55, are the leading contenders in the August 9 presidential poll. But in a statement announcing Odinga would boycott tomorrow’s debate, his campaign spokesman accused Ruto of trying to dodge discussion of key issues. Ruto “has demanded that the debate not focus on corruption, integrity, ethics, and governance — the key existential questions that Kenya faces”, Odinga’s spokesman said in the statement. “Any debate devoid of these questions would be an insult to the intelligence of Kenyans. That is why we do not intend to share a national podium with a person who lacks basic decency,” he added. Instead, Odinga plans to take part in a televised town hall meeting in an eastern neighbourhood of the capital Nairobi with “ordinary Kenyans”, according to the statement. The organisers of the debate said that they “continue to engage all stakeholders, including the various presidential campaign teams”. “In accordance with the Presidential Debate Guidelines, we have shared the thematic areas with all the candidates and the moderators will endeavour to cover all the said topics within the set timeline,” the statement said. The debate, scheduled for six hours, would still proceed tomorrow, the organisers added. Odinga’s announcement follows a letter sent Thursday by Ruto’s director of communications to the debate organisers. It said that he was “ready to answer any question and speak to any matter that arises during the debate” but added that his attendance was “contingent” on certain matters. “We expect that the moderators will allocate equal time to issues affecting Kenyans and equally allow candidates a fair opportunity to address them,” the letter said. “To that end we wish to know in advance the number of minutes that will be allocated to respective interventions including, but not restricted to governance and integrity, agriculture, healthcare, MSMEs and manufacturing, housing, the digital economy, foreign policy, and so on and so forth,” it continued. The debate organisers have insisted that “the moderators will select the questions to be asked, and shall not share the same with the candidates”. “They will not meet with any of the campaign teams or the candidates,” they added in the statement. Sitting President Uhuru Kenyatta cannot run again and has endorsed Odinga over his deputy of nine years after an acrimonious falling out.
Tunisian police used pepper spray to disperse protesters and arrested several demonstrators yesterday, as hundreds rallied against President Kais Saied three days before a controversial vote on a new constitution. More than 300 people had gathered on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in central Tunis, surrounded by a heavy police presence with water cannons and riot gear, AFP reporters said. Some protesters moved towards a police barrier near the imposing interior ministry building, where police roughly blocked their passage. At least 10 demonstrators were arrested, according to two police sources. The protest came as Tunisians prepare to vote Monday on a draft constitution that would enshrine the vast powers that Saied has exercised since he sacked the government and suspended parliament on July 25 last year. His move was a decisive blow against the crisis-ridden political system in Tunisia, the only democracy to have emerged from the 2011 Arab uprisings, and his rivals say his constitution aims to restore an autocracy. Some demonstrators carried placards reading slogans such as “the constitution will not pass” and “Saied the dictator”. “We (Tunisian people) didn’t write anything!” read one, a reference to Saied’s draft charter.
A Kenyan court yesterday found three police officers and an informer guilty of murdering a human rights lawyer, his client and their driver, six years after the killings triggered angry protests. The bodies of lawyer Willie Kimani — who had criticised police abuse — as well as his client Josephat Mwenda and driver Joseph Muiruri were found wrapped in sacks and dumped in a river outside Nairobi in June 2016. The torture and killing of the three men sparked fury in Kenya, where many people fear the police. Yesterday, high court judge Jessie Lessit ruled that three officers as well as a police informer were guilty of murder. A fourth policeman was acquitted. “I am satisfied that there was no other reasonable hypothesis that can be made on the basis of the evidence before me except that of guilt,” she said. Kimani was defending a motorbike taxi driver who accused policeman Fredrick Leliman of shooting him for no reason at a traffic stop in 2015. Leliman was among the three officers found guilty in yesterday’s verdict. The charge carries a maximum penalty of death. The sentencing will be announced on September 3, the International Justice Mission (IJM), the global legal aid group which Kimani worked for, told AFP. When authorities found his body, Kimani’s wrists were bound with rope, three of his fingers had been chopped off and his eyes appeared to have been gouged out. Police in Kenya have been accused in the past of running hit squads targeting those — including activists and lawyers — investigating alleged rights abuses by police. “Willie, Joseph and Josephat met their untimely death while courageously pursuing justice and seeking accountability for excessive use of force by our law enforcement agents,” IJM’s country director Benson Shamala said. “This important decision will send a strong message to rogue police officers who abuse their powers that they will be held accountable under the law.”
Hundreds of metres above the village of Jenakpeng in northern Ghana, a small drone locked its sights on six airplanes parked in the middle of a verdant field miles away from the nearest runway. The drone’s 16-year-old pilot, Jenakpeng native Abdul-Latif Zakaria, stood with his father Danaa in the shadow of a vintage Antonov cropduster, one of six planes that world-renowned artist Ibrahim Mahama has transformed into a community learning space. In 2021, Mahama bought the planes using proceeds from $1mn worth of sales to add to his Red Clay Studio, a multi-acre compound that functions as an open-door, education hub. During the school year, crowds of students like Zakaria attend lectures on the physics of flight, computer science, basic engineering and more — free of charge. “It’s not so much about inspiring artists, but producing thinkers,” Mahama said of the facility, which he built in his father’s village to give residents the chance to nurture critical thinking — a skill he believes necessary for creative and personal liberation. “If children grow up to think differently from their predecessors, that’s a step towards a certain kind of imminent change for our society,” he said. Red Clay contains several warehouse-sized buildings made from recycled materials and locally-sourced red clay bricks. It also doubles as Mahama’s personal workshop where he produces works that go on to sell for thousands, if not millions, of dollars. The material choices are typical of Mahama, who made a name for himself repurposing unwanted objects like shoeshine boxes and industrial equipment into monolithic works of contemporary art. For Zakaria, who has visited Red Clay daily since he was a child, the centre invites local children to explore topics otherwise closed to them, helping them build confidence and learn more about who they really are. To his father Danaa, who has developed a passion for aviation while working as Red Clay’s caretaker, the planes are symbols of a brighter future. “Before [the planes] arrived, I thought aircrafts were small, like a bird,” he said, smiling.
Ethnic clashes in a deadly land dispute in Sudan's Blue Nile state has killed 105 people and wounded 291, the state's health minister said Wednesday, providing a new toll. Fighting broke out in the southern state which borders Ethiopia and South Sudan on July 11 between members of the Berti and Hausa ethnic groups. Troops were deployed in the state on Saturday to stop the fighting, and "the situation is now calm," state health minister Jamal Nasser told AFP. "The challenge now is in sheltering the displaced," Nasser said, speaking by telephone from the state capital al-Damazin, some 460 kilometres south of Khartoum. The United Nations said Tuesday that more than 17,000 people have fled their homes from the fighting, with 14,000 "sheltering in three schools in al-Damazin." But regional Hausa leader Mohamed Noureddine said he believed the death toll would rise further, with some people missing following the heavy fighting, which has seen houses torched. "We cannot determine the number of victims, since there are corpses trapped under rubble," Noureddine said, who called from Blue Nile to speak to reporters at a press conference in Khartoum. Another senior Hausa leader, Hafez Omar, accused local officials of being behind the violence, claiming that "government weapons" were used in the violence. "We hold the governor responsible for what happened," Omar said, accusations rejected by the authorities. In Sudan, deadly clashes regularly erupt over land, livestock and access to water and grazing, especially in areas still awash with weapons left over from decades of civil war. The violence is the latest unrest to hit the northeast African nation, already reeling from months of mass demonstrations demanding the restoration of a transition to civilian rule following a military coup last year. Sudan, one of the world's poorest countries and mired in an economic crisis that has deepened since an October coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has seen only rare interludes of civilian rule since independence. Fighting in Blue Nile reportedly broke out after Bertis rejected a Hausa request to create a "civil authority to supervise access to land", a prominent Hausa member said. But a senior Berti leader said the group was responding to a "violation" of their land by the Hausas. Between January and March this year, the UN said aid was provided to 563,000 people in Blue Nile, a region still struggling to rebuild after years of heavy fighting during Sudan's devastating 1983-2005 civil war. The latest violence in Blue Nile has sparked protests, with Hausa people taking to the streets in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday demanding "justice for the martyrs." Thousands of Hausa also protested Tuesday in the key eastern cities of Gedaref, Kassala and Port Sudan, as well as El Obeid in North Kordofan. Between January and March this year, the UN said aid was provided to 563,000 people in Blue Nile.
At least 25 people were killed and more than 35 injured in Egypt yesterday when the bus they were travelling in smashed into a parked truck, official media reported. The bus carrying around 45 passengers crashed into the stationary truck near the village of al-Barsha, some 300 kilometres south of the capital Cairo in Al-Minya governorate. “The truck was parked on the side of the road to change a tyre when it was hit from behind by the bus travelling from Sohag governorate to Cairo,” a statement from the governorate said. Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity said it would offer “emergency benefits” of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (around $530) to the families of those killed, state media said. Crashes are relatively common in Egypt, where many roads are in disrepair and traffic regulations frequently ignored. Some 7,000 people died in road accidents in the country in 2020, according to official figures.
Tunisia’s Islamist movement leader Rached Ghannouchi appeared before at a Tunis court yesterday to answer questions in a money laundering investigation that his Ennahda party rejects as a political ploy. The preliminary hearing before an investigative judge comes less than a week before President Kais Saied holds a referendum on a new constitution that would greatly expand his powers in a move that Ennahda and many other parties have rejected as illegal. About 200 people gathered in front of the court, chanting “Down with the coup”, referring to Saied’s seizure of powers, and “Ghannouchi, you are not alone”. They raised banners that read “stop political trials”. A judiciary official told Reuters the judge would investigate Ghannouchi over suspicions of money laundering relating to foreign funds paid to an Ennahda-linked association. Local media have reported that he would also be investigated for suspected links to terrorism. The judge has ordered a freeze on the financial assets of Ghannouchi, who is the speaker of the parliament that Saied has dissolved, the former prime minister Hamadi Jebali and several other people. Last week, Ghannouchi told Reuters the investigation into him was politically motivated and said Saied was using the referendum to push Tunisia towards dictatorship. He said in a statement yesterday, “the malicious charges fall within the framework of passing a constitution that enshrines tyranny”.
Thousands of Sudan’s Hausa people set up barricades and attacked government buildings in several cities yesterday, witnesses said, after a week of deadly tribal clashes in the country’s south. In a bid to shed light on the violence in Blue Nile state, which has killed 60 people and wounded 163 others according to local authorities, activists called for a demonstration today in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. The clashes, between tribes, first erupted last Monday after the Bertis rejected a Hausa request to create a “civil authority to supervise access to land”, a prominent Hausa member said on condition of anonymity. But a senior member of the Bertis had said the tribe was responding to a “violation” of its lands by the Hausas. Blue Nile governor Ahmed al-Omda on Friday banned public gatherings and marches for one month and imposed a night-time curfew in the state, which borders Ethiopia. In a statement yesterday, he said authorities will “strike with an iron fist” against those inciting “racism, hatred and strife,” according to state news agency SUNA. Troops were deployed in Blue Nile on Saturday, and since then an uneasy calm has prevailed there although tensions have escalated elsewhere. In the eastern city of Kassala, the government banned public gatherings after several thousand Hausa people “set government buildings and shops on fire”, according to eyewitness Hussein Saleh. “It’s panic in the city centre,” Kassala resident Idriss Hussein said by telephone. He said protesters were “blocking roads and waving sticks.” In the city of Wad Madani, some 200 kilometres south of Khartoum, “hundreds of Hausa people put up stone barricades and burned tyres on the main bridge to block traffic”, resident Adel Ahmed said.
Kenya is a democracy with free and fair elections, Deputy President William Ruto said yesterday in an interview with AFP, confident that he will emerge victorious in the presidential poll on August 9. Previous elections in the East African powerhouse have often seen accusations of vote-rigging but Ruto, known as a sharp strategist, insisted he would respect the outcome of the vote. “I am very confident that I will win this election,” Ruto said in an interview at his Nairobi offices, where huge vehicles plastered with his face or the yellow and green colours of his party, the United Democratic Alliance, line the driveway. “People of Kenya ultimately make their decisions.There is a wrong narrative that elections are manipulated...It is very difficult to steal an election,” the 55-year-old former MP and minister said. At most, elections can be “influenced”, he conceded, but “we will stand (our ground) and still win against the so-called system”. The ambitious politician was originally poised to succeed his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, as the ruling party’s candidate for the top job. But a shock alliance between Kenyatta and his long-time rival Raila Odinga, who is now running against Ruto, has relegated the vice president to the sidelines. Recent elections have frequently been followed by violent clashes and allegations of rigging. The 2017 poll saw Odinga approach the Supreme Court, which annulled the result and ordered a re-run — a first for Africa. The disputed 2007 vote was marked by an eruption of politically-motivated ethnic violence, leaving more than 1,100 people dead. Kenyatta and Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court for their role in the 2007-2008 killings before the cases collapsed. Both the leading candidates have vowed to accept next month’s result, with Odinga telling a press conference yesterday, “If we lose the elections fairly, we will accept the outcome and congratulate the winner.” For his part, Ruto said he would willingly co-operate with his rival if Odinga were to win. “We will have...to make sure Kenya remains a democracy and Kenya moves forward,” he said. After a decade spent at the heart of the Kenyatta government, Ruto now faces a difficult balancing act between claiming credit for the administration’s infrastructure investments and attacking his boss over the surging “crisis of cost of living”. Accusing Kenyatta of abandoning their original agenda to improve food security and housing during his second term.
A passenger plane crash-landed at an airport in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Monday, with no deaths reported and all those on board - more than 30 passengers - rescued. Video from the scene showed the plane upside down after having apparently flipped over on landing. Black smoke and flames rose into the air as fire trucks approached on the runway and firefighters started hosing down the crashed plane.
Police fired tear gas in Sudan’s capital Khartoum yesterday against hundreds of anti-coup protesters who also called attention to increasingly deadly clashes in the country’s south. The capital has been the scene of near-weekly protests since army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan launched a power grab in October last year that derailed a transition to civilian rule. The coup saw key donors pull the plug on funding, exacerbating a long-running economic crisis and feeding into inter-communal unrest in remote parts of the country. Blue Nile state, bordering Ethiopia, is the latest crucible of tribal clashes — and yesterday, authorities there raised the death toll to 60, from 33 the previous day, in fighting that began nearly a week ago. “Al-Damazin is bleeding,” read a sign held up by a Khartoum protester, referring to the provincial capital of Blue Nile. Other demonstrators in the capital chanted: “Sudan is one nation” and “No to racism, no to tribalism.” In the city of Wad Madani, some 200 kilometres south of Khartoum, protesters diverted their demonstration to the local hospital to “donate blood to our brothers wounded in tribal clashes in Blue Nile”, protest organiser Ammar Mohamed said. The clashes in Blue Nile state, between the tribes, first erupted last Monday. The violence came after one tribe rejected another’s request to create a “civil authority to supervise access to land”, a prominent tribe member had said on condition of anonymity. But a senior member of the Bertis had said the tribe was responding to a “violation” of its lands by the Hawsas. Dozens of Hawsas blocked the western entrance to the western city of Kassala with burning tyres and stones “in solidarity with our people in the (Blue) Nile, to stop their murder and displacement”, said protester Mohamed Abkar. The revised death toll of 60 was provided by Blue Nile health minister Jamal Nasser, who also said that 163 people have been wounded. “Violence is never a solution,” Unicef tweeted yesterday, in a country where the UN estimates half the population will be pushed into extreme hunger by September. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, the main armed faction in Blue Nile, denied yesterday any involvement in the clashes. Pro-democracy demonstrators accuse Sudan’s military leadership and ex-rebel leaders who signed a 2020 peace deal of exacerbating ethnic tensions in Blue Nile for personal gain. Security forces had erected road blocks on bridges crossing the Nile linking Khartoum to its suburbs, AFP reporters said, to deter protesters who vowed to take to the streets in large numbers to protest against Burhan. Sudan’s latest coup sparked regular protests and an ongoing crackdown by security forces that has killed at least 114, according to pro-democracy medics. Nine were killed on June 30, the medics said, when tens of thousands gathered against the military.
Nigeria’s main opposition party has won the governorship election in southwest Osun state, the electoral commission said yesterday, in a major upset to President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress. Osun is one of eight of Nigeria’s 36 states where governorship elections are not being held at the same time as the rest of the country because of legal challenges to previous results. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 403,371 votes to unseat incumbent APC governor Gboyega Oyetola, who scored 375,027 in Saturday’s ballot. “I declare...that Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke of the PDP, having satisfied the requirements of the law, is hereby returned elected,” INEC returning officer Oluwatoyin Temitayo Ogundipe said. Adeleke, 62, won 17 of the state’s 30 local government areas while Oyetola won in 13. The announcement sparked spontaneous celebrations on the streets of Osogbo, the state capital. PDP supporters sang and danced and motorists blared their horns. Buhari yesterday congratulated Adeleke, who became the 10th governor since the creation of the state in 1991. “With the election over, the president expresses conviction that the people of Osun have expressed their will through the ballot, and the will of the people must always matter and be respected in a democracy,” Buhari’s office said in a statement. “The president reassures the nation that the commitment of this administration towards having credible elections remains unshaken,” it added. Election observers said the polling, which opened early with a large turnout, was peaceful but cases of vote-buying were rampant.