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Wednesday, 7th December 2022
10:32:05am

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The most anticipated moment since the opening of the September 2009 massacre trial in Guinea, the appearance of Moussa Dadis Camara, came to a halt on Monday when the court accepted the former dictator's request for a postponement on health grounds.

The moment of the appearance arrived late morning when President Ibrahima Sory Tounkara said: "Mr Moussa Dadis Camara, come to the bar, please.

Less than 12 minutes later, the same president pronounced the postponement of the case to December 12, 2022, with these words: "You have one week Mr Camara, the hearing is adjourned. 

In the meantime, the 57-year-old former autocrat, who used to make those who suffered his wrath tremble, obsequiously pleaded for the adjournment, citing his health.

"With all due respect to your august court - I have already informed the director of the prison guard, the chief medical officer of the prison guard - for a very long time I have been suffering," said Captain Camara after taking the stand with an unsteady gait and in civilian clothes, he who never took off his uniform.

"I am not above the law," he said, "but in all sincerity, I don't feel at the moment that I am in a state to testify. 

The main defendant in this historic trial vaguely referred to "malaria I had, a total weakening", and suggested that he preferred not to elaborate.

"The court cannot force you to say or do what you do not want to do (...) If you say you cannot (testify), the court will follow you," the president said before announcing the adjournment.

Captain Camara has been on trial since September 28, 2022, along with a dozen former military and government officials, for the massacre that took place 13 years earlier to the day.

Captain Camara, who came to power in a coup nine months earlier, was president on the day and on the following days when the red berets of his guard, soldiers, police and militia killed dozens of people in and around a stadium in Conakry who had gathered to dissuade him from running for president in January 2010. Dozens of women were raped, individuals were kidnapped and tortured, and many bodies were disposed of.

He was exiled to Burkina Faso a few months after the massacre and was imprisoned after returning for the trial.

-Africa News

Ethiopia’s government has announced an immediate end to its 16 months-long civil war to give way for unimpeded relief supplies into the war-ravaged Tigray region.

A statement by government communication service on Thursday (March 24) reads, "The government calls upon the donor community to redouble their generous contributions to alleviate the situation and reiterates its commitment to work in collaboration with relevant organizations to expedite the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need,"

The government called on Tigray's forces must reciprocate the truce for the humanitarian situation to improve in the region. In the same vein, fighters loyal to Tigray's fugitive leaders are expected “to desist from all acts of further aggression…”

It however not clear if the immediate humanitarian truce is a step toward a comprehensive cease-fire.

Ethiopia's government has faced growing international pressure to ease restrictions on the flow of humanitarian aid into Tigray.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian who considers the Tigray region home, has repeatedly urged Ethiopian authorities to allow free humanitarian access into Tigray.

The United Nations says Angola has expelled more than 8 000 Congolese who entered the southern African country while fleeing deadly violence at home.

A new humanitarian report says more than 30 000 Congolese have fled to Angola during months of violence in Democratic Republic of Congo's central Kasai regions that began in August.

Catholic officials in DRC have estimated that more than 3 300 people have been killed in the unrest, and the UN Human Rights Council on Friday voted to send experts to the region to investigate alleged abuses that include beheadings.

The UN says more than one million Congolese have been displaced inside the country by the fighting blamed on militias and government forces.

It says militias have used an estimated 500 girls and boys as fighters or "human shields."

-AP

At least 18 civilians have been killed after their vehicle came under attack in a part of western Niger frequently targeted by rebel fighters, the government has said.

In a statement on Tuesday, interior minister Alkassoum Indatou attributed Sunday’s attack in the Tillaberi region near the Malian border, to “armed bandits, aboard several motorcycles, who have not yet been identified”.

He said 13 of the victims were from the village of Foney Ganda and five from the village of Tizegorou.

In 2021, armed groups carried out numerous attacks on civilians in the region, including a November 2 massacre of at least 69 members of a self-defence militia. In October that year, motorcycle-riding assailants killed 10 people in a mosque near Tizegorou during evening prayers. 

Earlier this month, an improvised explosive device killed five Nigerien soldiers in the southwest of the Sahel country, according to the defence ministry. The blast also occurred in the Gotheye district of Tillaberi.

For years, western Niger has faced rebel attacks, despite the efforts of international forces deployed to the wider Sahel region to fight the armed groups.

Niger, the world’s poorest country according to the UN’s Human Development Index, is currently contending with two rebel groups that have displaced thousands of people.

The groups are the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) in the west, as well as Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the southeast, near the border with Nigeria. 

Niger’s neighbour Mali has also been struggling to contain a brutal armed uprising that first emerged in 2012, before spreading to Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and two million people have been displaced by the Sahel-wide conflict, which has Mali as the epicentre.

France announced a military pullout last week due to a dispute with Mali’s military, which seized power in 2020 and has since defied international calls to swiftly restore civil rule.

Botswana President Ian Khama on Monday accepted the chairmanship of Southern African Development Community (SADC) from his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe in the Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone.

Mugabe handed over the SADC Chairperson’s Badge to Ian Khama during SADC’s annual Heads of State and Government Summit held on August 17 and 18 in Gaborone.

The latter was reelected as the president of Botswana last October after his party - the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) - won majority of the parliament seats in the country’s 11th general elections.

Born in 1953, Ian Khama is the elder son of Botswana’s founding president Seretse Khama.

He succeeded Festus Mogae as president in 2008 after the latter’s retirement.

He was elected as president for the first time in the following year.

The SADC chairmanship rotates among the heads of the states of the 15 member states, namely Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

-Xinhua

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