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Obama aims criticism at Trump in eulogy for civil rights leader | News

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Former US President Barack Obama launched his sharpest attack to date on President Donald Trump on Thursday, condemning the use of federal agents against protesters and attempts at voter suppression in the United States.

“Today we witness with our own eyes, police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans,” Obama said in a fiery eulogy at the emotional funeral service in Atlanta of civil rights leader John Lewis.

“We can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators,” the former president said.

Obama did not mention Trump by name, but he was clearly referencing moves by the Republican president, who used troops to clear protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House and sent federal agents to put down demonstrations in Portland, Oregon.

Obama took a jab at alleged Republican attempts to suppress the minority vote and Trump’s repeated attacks on mail-in voting less than 100 days ahead of the November contest against Democrat Joe Biden.

“Even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick,” he said.

US President Donald Trump walks past a building defaced with graffiti in Lafayette Park near the White House while US Secret Service agents and a White House photographer follow him to St John’s Church, where Trump posed for photographs after riot police had violently cleared peaceful protesters from the park; Washington, DC, June 1, 2020 [File: Tom Brenner/Reuters]

Paying tribute to Lewis, who died on July 17 at the age of 80, Obama said the congressman’s lifelong fight for African-Americans’ civil rights had paved the way for him to become the US’s first Black president.

Lewis, a 17-term Democratic congressman from Georgia, did “everything he could to preserve this democracy and as long as we have breath in our bodies, we have to continue his cause”, Obama said.

“As long as young people are protesting in the streets hoping real change takes hold, I’m hopeful,” he said.

“But we can’t casually abandon them at the ballot box. Not when few elections have been as urgent on so many levels as this one.”

Lewis’s funeral service was also attended by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Former president Jimmy Carter, 95, was unable to attend but sent a letter that was read out to the mourners in the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr served as pastor in the 1960s.

George W. Bush speaks at John Lewis service

Former US President George W Bush speaks during the funeral of late Congressman John Lewis, a pioneer of the civil rights movement at Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 30, 2020 [Alyssa Pointer/Pool via Reuters]

“His enormous contributions will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come,” Carter wrote.

Bush, a Republican, said he had his “differences” with Lewis, a Democratic stalwart, but “we live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis”.

“He believed in humanity and he believed in America,” Bush said.

In his tribute, Clinton referenced a column that Lewis wrote to be published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral service. 

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe,” Lewis wrote. “So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”

“It is so fitting that on the day of his service he leaves us our marching orders,” Clinton said. “I suggest we salute, suit up and march on.”

Before Thursday’s funeral, Lewis’s body lay in state at the US Capitol, a rarely bestowed honour, so Americans could pay their final respects.

Obama eulogy for John Lewis

Obama and former presidents Bush and Clinton addressed the service during the funeral of late US Congressman John Lewis [Alyssa Pointer/Pool via Reuters]

On Sunday, a lone caisson carried Lewis’s body across the Alabama bridge, where in 1965 a policeman fractured his skull during a protest that helped forge his reputation as a fearless civil rights leader. 

Lewis’s death came in a year during which “Black Lives Matter” protests against police brutality have brought thousands onto US streets, underscoring the still-raw depths of the country’s racial history. 

Lewis grew up in the Alabama city of Troy. His parents were sharecroppers, and he once worked in a cotton field. While attending segregated schools, Lewis was inspired by the peaceful protests of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr.

John Lewis beaten civil rights march 1965

State troopers swing billy clubs to break up a civil rights voting march in Selma, Alabama in 1965. John Lewis, in the foreground being beaten by a state trooperwas chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. A future US Congressman, he sustained a fractured skull [File: AP Photo]





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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