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Tuesday, 17th July 2018
1:48:37am

East Africa

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Tanzania's main opposition party said about 20 of its members, including an MP, were arrested on Saturday in the south of the country over claims they were "fomenting trouble".

Lawmaker Frank Mwakajoka was arrested in his office in southern Tunduma after going to ask for forms for his party's candidates to take part in partial municipal elections in August, said party secretary general Vincent Mashinji.

"We don't understand the reasons behind this arrest," said Mashinji, adding police had arrested "20 other members of Chadema who were gathered in a local office of the party to prepare these election".

"According to the initial information we have, the police are saying they were fomenting trouble," he added. 

Local police spokesperson Mathias Nyange told the independent newspaper Mwananchi he did not have enough information to comment on the arrests.

President John Magufuli has been accused by detractors of clamping down on opposition and freedom of expression.

In September 2017, Chadema lawmaker Tundu Lissu was shot several times at his home, and in February two local Chadema officials were killed by unknown gunmen, in murders described by the opposition as political assassinations.

-Reuters

South Sudan rebels on Monday rejected a peace plan to reinstate insurgent leader Riek Machar as vice president, saying it failed to dilute the strong power base of the country’s president.

Machar was President Salva Kiir’s deputy until 2013, when a political disagreement between them degenerated into a war that has ravaged South Sudan ever since.

The deal naming Machar first vice president was reached in Entebbe in talks mediated by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and that he and Kiir attended. It was announced on Sunday by Kiir’s office.

But an official of Machar’s SPLM-IO rebel group said on Monday it was not acceptable.

Puok Both Baluang, SPLM-IO deputy spokesman, said the rebels should appoint two of the four vice presidents envisaged under the Entebbe deal and Kiir’s grip on power should be loosened further.

“We will not fall only for the position of the First Vice President in this negotiation. We are focusing more on structural and institutional issues to constrain Kiir’s regime both in the executive and legislature,” he said.

It was not clear if Baluang was speaking on Machar’s behalf, and the SPLM-IO leader could not immediately be contacted for comment.

SPLM-IO is the largest of the rebel groups fighting Kiir’s government, and militants allied to it control several areas close to the capital Juba.

The agreement on Machar’s position would have marked a potential breakthrough in new efforts mediated by regional leaders to end the war, which has primarily been fought along ethnic lines between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer groups.

It has killed tens of thousands and devastated the economy of Africa’s youngest nation.

A similar power-sharing deal in 2015 failed the following year after Machar returned to the capital and disagreements quickly developed, reigniting fighting. 

On Friday, government and opposition signed an agreement on security arrangements that followed on from a ceasefire deal last month, but the truce has been frequently violated by both sides.

-Reuters 

South Sudan’s government proposed a bill to extend President Salva Kiir’s term for three years, undermining peace talks with opposition forces who condemned the move as illegal. 

The bill seeks to amend the constitution to extend Kiir’s tenure to 2021, lawmakers told Reuters on Tuesday. 

Deputy Paul Yoane Bonju said the bill was presented on Monday to parliament and that lawmakers intended to vote it into law this month. 

The world’s youngest nation, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, erupted into violence in late 2013 over a political disagreement between Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since, and more than three million forced to flee their homes.

Kiir and Machar met last week and agreed on a new peace deal that included a ceasefire that took effect on Saturday.

It was violated on that day when government forces and rebels launched attacks on each other’s positions. On Monday, there was more fighting and at least 18 civilians were killed.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for Machar’s rebel group SPLM-IO said the government was proposing an “illegal procedure” in attempting to extend Kiir’s term.

-Reuters 

South Sudan's warring leaders agreed to a power-sharing deal in Uganda on Saturday that will see the rebel leader return to his position as vice president, Sudan's foreign minister said.

"It has been agreed that there will be four vice presidents: the current two vice presidents, plus Riek Machar (who) will assume the position of first vice president, and then the fourth position will be allocated to a woman from the opposition," Al-Dierdiry Ahmed said, following the meeting in Kampala aimed at ending more than four years of civil war in South Sudan.

The foreign minister said South Sudan's president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar had agreed to the proposal, but that further details would be discussed at negotiations to be held in Khartoum and Kenya in the coming days.

The latest agreement is part of renewed regional diplomatic efforts to end a conflict that has killed tens of thousands and forced millions from their homes since December 2013. 

The war began when Kiir accused Machar, his former deputy, of planning a coup.

A similar power-sharing deal, that returned Machar to the vice presidency, was signed in 2015 but fell apart a year later in a deadly battle that saw Machar flee into exile.

On 27 June Kiir and Machar signed a ceasefire agreement which was further consolidated on Friday in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, when the warring parties struck a deal to withdraw troops from urban areas.

Ahmed said the new proposal was "accepted by the government" and that Machar's opposition had accepted the deal "in principle" but would "consider it and come up with the final position" following further negotiations, to begin in Khartoum on Sunday.

Saturday's day-long meeting was hosted by Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and was attended by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as well as representatives of the opposition.

-AFP

 

Kenya’s top prosecutor on Tuesday ordered that a county governor face charges including abuse of office and conspiracy to steal public funds, the latest move in the country’s anti-graft campaign.

Noordin Mohamed Haji said evidence presented by the national anti-corruption agency was enough to prosecute Sospeter Ojaamong, the governor of Busia County, and nine other officials accused of helping him to steal millions of Kenyan shillings in public funds.

The prosecutor said in a statement he had instructed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to arrest all of the suspects and have them brought before court.

Ojaamong was not immediately reachable for comment.

As with some other scandals involving alleged corruption by government officials, the case is based on evidence of suspicious procurement practices for a public works project that was never completed. The project in Busia involved a solid waste management system. 

The prosecutor said last month that several recent investigations by the EACC had gaps and lacked strong evidence, forcing him to return the cases to the agency for further work.

In Tuesday’s statement, Haji said the investigation into the governor had been resubmitted to his office last month.

“It had gaps that, in my opinion, if not covered would not have sustained a credible prosecution,” Haji wrote in a text message.

The government led by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was re-elected last year, has said it is undertaking a renewed push to tackle graft.

The charging of dozens of civil servants and business people over the past two months suggested an attempt to fight corruption through prosecution, but the country’s track record on that front is poor.

Kenyan media have reported on more than a dozen corruption scandals involving state agencies and officials since Kenyatta took power, but there have been no convictions of high profile figures, according to a Reuters review of the cases.

-Reuters

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