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‘Achieved our goals’: Yemen’s separatists abandon self-rule | Saudi Arabia News

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Yemen’s southern separatists have pledged to abandon their aspirations for self-rule and implement a Saudi-brokered power-sharing agreement with the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The Southern Transitional Council’s (STC) announcement on Wednesday marked a major step towards closing a dangerous rift between the nominal allies in Yemen’s chaotic proxy war, and came hours after Saudi Arabia presented a plan to “accelerate” the stalled peace deal’s implementation. 

The proposal calls for the formation of a new government within 30 days and the appointment of a new governor and security director for Aden, the interim seat of Hadi’s government.

“We have achieved our goals” Nizar Haitham, spokesman for the STC, said in a Twitter post.

“The Southern Transitional Council announces the abandonment of the declaration of self-administration in order to allow the Arab alliance to implement the Riyadh agreement,” he said. 

The announcement followed intense pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Haitham noted, and affirmed “the continuing and deepening” of the STC’s “strategic partnership with the Arab coalition”.

Last year’s power-sharing deal, signed in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, set the stage for the end of a long-running rivalry between the Saudi-backed Hadi government and the UAE-backed southern separatists. Both sides are supposed allies in the Saudi-led coalition’s war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who control the country’s capital, Sanaa.

The Riyadh agreement proposed the formation of a new cabinet made up equally between the north and south and the centralisation of all armed groups under government control.

But the deal was thrown into disarray in April, when the separatists declared self-rule and seized control of the port city of Aden, in a move that ignited fierce fighting across southern Yemen and the Socotra archipelago.

The standoff between Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s respective allies in Yemen has threatened to shatter the coalition and complicated broader peace efforts to end the five-year conflict, which has killed more than 112,000 people and created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

Saudi proposal

The Saudi plan on Wednesday lays out commitments that have been obstacles for months, such as the formation of a government composed of 24 ministers with equal representation for northerners and southerners, including the separatists. It also asks for the withdrawal of rival forces from Aden and the flashpoint southern province of Abyan.

The blueprint gives Yemen’s current prime minister, Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, the mandate to form a government over the next month. And shortly after the STC accouncement, Yemen’s state-run SABA news agency named the newly appointed security director and governor of Aden – Ahmed al-Amlas. 

Rajih Badi, a spokesman for Hadi’s government, welcomed the Saudi initiative and expressed hope that the separatists would make good on their promise to implement the agreement “out of necessary and urgent national interest”.

Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s vice minister of defence, said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “efforts have succeeded” to implement the Riyadh deal “and achieve lasting peace, security, and prosperity for Yemen”.

The rapprochement comes as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the conflict’s main sponsors, have sought to inch away from their war with the Houthi rebels, which has pushed millions to the brink of famine and settled into a bloody stalemate.

Saudi Arabia announced a unilateral ceasefire earlier this year, which swiftly collapsed but more broadly reflected its growing unease with the war. Last summer, the UAE announced it was ending its role in the conflict, although it continues to wield influence through its proxies, such as the separatist group.

‘New phase of prolonged escalation’

Mahjoob Zweiri, director of the Gulf Studies Center in Doha, Qatar, said Wednesday’s developments indicate that “all parties are tired and exhausted by this conflict”.

“But I’m not sure the Riyadh agreement can be implemented, taking into consideration two important facts,” he told Al Jazeera.

“First, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi do not agree 100 percent on how things should be moved. Second, it’s not only those two countries that can decide the situation in Yemen. They also need the international community on board, including the United Nations, Iran. But none of these players have confidence in [Saudi and the UAE].”

He added: “There is no long-term vision. There are different parties with different agendas and no agreement on where things should go”.

Although the deal is not likely to be a step towards lasting peace, even the vague prospect of a settlement was welcome, as Yemen’s devastated health sector grapples with a major coronavirus outbreak and the country faces a drastic shortfall of humanitarian aid that has forced 75 percent of UN programmes for the country to end or reduce operations.

On Tuesday, UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths painted a bleak picture of the situation in Yemen to the Security Council.

UN-mediated peace negotiations between the rebels and government have failed to produce an agreement, he said.

Houthi forces were pushing fiercely into the oil-rich province of Marib “with profound humanitarian and economic consequences”, Griffiths said, while missile attacks across the northwest have resulted in civilian deaths, many of whom were children.

Yemen’s economy is collapsing, he continued, food prices are surging, and to make matters worse, an abandoned oil tanker moored off the coast and loaded with more than 1 million barrels of crude oil is at risk of rupture or exploding.

“I do not wish to sugarcoat things,” Griffiths said, warning that the country could plunge at any moment into “a new phase of prolonged escalation, uncontrolled spread of COVID-19, and economic decline”.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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Museveni issues ultimatum to police boss

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Museveni flagged off distribution of motorcycles for NRM chairpersons

President Yoweri Museveni has given Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martins Okoth Ochola a chilling ultimatum: You either do your work or I will do it myself!

Museveni disclosed the ultimatum he gave to the IGP today Monday at the NRM secretariat at Plot 10 Kyadondo Road in Kampala where he was flagging off the distribution of motorcycles to parish chairpersons of the ruling National Resistance Movement party across the country. 

“I told the IGP that if the police doesn’t do their work, I will do it myself by arresting the police officers themselves,” Museveni stunned his audience as he commented on the electoral violence that marred the NRM primaries held on Friday last week. At least 4 people were killed across the country during the primaries. 

“There was violence in Bukono county [Namutumba district] where people were beaten. I got information that police has not done much work. Some (policemen) have been arrested and given police bond; there is no police bond for somebody who has attacked Ugandans!,” Museveni added. 

Museveni vowed to deal with all persons who messed up the party primaries.  In some parts of the country, there were massive regularities where candidates who had been defeated ended up being announced winners. In some places like Namutumba, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Jinja, Katakwi, among others, there was violence that led to the killing and wounding of civilians. Museveni said that they are going to make sure that all those who participated in these irregularities and violence are held to account. 

Museveni said although the violence was orchestrated by the politicians, the police personnel are to be held accountable for failing to contain it.

Last week, police spokesman Fred Enanga warned police personnel especially those guarding VIPs against being drawn into the politicians’ political wrangles, reminding them that they would face the music if they did. With the president now threatening to go and conduct the arrests of errant policemen himself, IGP Ochola is likely to move fast to avert the spectacle. 

Museveni wondered why police would shoot at unarmed people who were fighting amongst themselves: “That policeman must be arrested; even the ones who are threatening people you will go to jail for that if we get evidence,” a seemingly incensed Museveni said.

He also said that the state minister of Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana who was captured on camera attempting to shoot people over the weekend in Ntugamo after he lost the  Rushenyi primaries, will be charged with threatening violence and attempted murder. 

 “This game is finished,” Museveni said.

Rukatana has since been charged and remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district in western Uganda. Museveni called upon all those dissatisfied with the election results to write petitions to the regional panels of elders which he said are going to be constituted to hear all election complaints.

“We are going to get three respected people who are not part of the struggles, then we shall go and audit village per village and we shall discover. If you have committed forgery, the registrar or the politician who ordered,  you all shall go to jail. The game is finished; the voting is by lining and if you miss-add, you are ‘miss-add’ yourself,” Museveni said.

Museveni’s speech came shortly before that of Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary general of the NRM who called upon the president to reign over some senior people who with impunity were freely changing the results of the elections.

“Some of our staff were lured into changing declaration forms on the way forgetting that people who had participated at the village don’t need to write; they registered the record in their faces…Some have done things with impunity… in Butemba county Kyakwanzi district, one of the candidates who got 3,000 votes brought in soldiers, cordoned off that place and was declared a winner and off they went away,” Lumumba said. 

The ball is now in Ochola’s court to get the police to execute their duties professionally and with impartiality. In March 2017, President Museveni warned Ochola’s predecessor Kale Kayihura to clean the police force of wrong elements. As months passed with no visible sign of police officers shaping up, Museveni resorted to other security agencies who started arresting rogue senior police officers and charging them in the military court for various crimes.

Kayihura was then removed from office, arrested and jointly charged with the errant officers in the army court. To avoid similar fate, Ochola is likely to use a firmer hand on the police officers so that by the time of the February 2021 elections, there is no laxity in the force’s execution of its mandate to maintain law and order.





Source – observer.ug

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