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Tens of thousands rally in Belarus despite pre-election crackdown | Belarus News

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Tens of thousands of supporters of President Alexander Lukashenko’s top election rival have rallied in the Belarusian capital Minsk despite an increasing crackdown on the opposition.

The rally came on Thursday as Belarus authorities accused top members of the opposition of collaborating with Russian fighters to destabilise the country.

Backers of political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a stay-at-home mother-of-two, packed a Minsk square in what appeared to be the largest opposition protest in the country in 10 years.

Protesters waved flags and balloons emblazoned with the opposition’s campaign symbols – a victory sign, a clenched fist, and a heart. “Change!” – read one of the placards.

The human rights organisation Vyasna said at least 63,000 people had turned out.

Russian mercenaries

Earlier on Thursday, Belarus investigators accused Tikhanovskaya’s husband, blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, and another prominent critic, Mikola Statkevich, of working together with Russian mercenaries to plot mass unrest before the August 9 election.

Both Tikhanovsky and Statkevich were jailed in the run-up to the polls.

The accusation that they were involved with Russian mercenaries was just the latest twist in an extraordinary election campaign in which the 65-year-old Lukashenko, who has dominated Belarus for nearly 30 years, is seeking a sixth term in the face of rising anger over his rule.

Tikhanouskaya, centre, said authorities were ‘ruining’ not only her husband’s life but those of all political prisoners [Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters]

Belarusian authorities on Wednesday arrested 33 Russian “militants” on a mission to destabilise the country. 

The arrests sparked an apparent crisis in ties with ally Moscow which denied any involvement.

Belarusian authorities say the arrested men are members of the Wagner group, a shadowy military contractor reportedly controlled by an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin that promotes Moscow’s interests in Syria, Libya and Ukraine.

Addressing her supporters at the rally, Tikhanovskaya, 37, said authorities were “ruining” not only her husband’s life but of all political prisoners.

“The situation involving the fighters is very scary,” she said to shouts of “freedom”.

She denied that the opposition was collaborating with the Russians to stage an uprising.

“People, what revolution? We want honest elections,” said Tikhanovskaya, who has emerged as Lukashenko’s top rival after main would-be candidates were jailed.

Supporters of presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanouskaya attend an election campaign rally in Minsk

The human rights organisation Vyasna said at least 63,000 people attended the rally [Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters]

She questioned the timing of the arrests, saying Russian private contractors might have been transiting through Belarus for a long time.

“I have a question: where was the security service before and why are they raising this issue right before the election?”

Investigators opened a criminal case against “Tikhanovsky, Statkevich and 33 arrested Russian citizens”.

“They acted together,” spokesman Sergei Kabakovich told the AFP news agency.

‘Social hostility’

An investigative committee also said another criminal probe had been launched against Tikhanovsky for inciting “social hostility” and calling for violence against police.

Tikhanovsky, 41, is a popular blogger, who has nicknamed Lukashenko the “cockroach”.

Statkevich, 63, challenged Lukashenko in a 2010 election and was sentenced to six years in prison afterwards.

Lukashenko’s top election rival, former banker Viktor Babaryko, has been accused of financial crimes and also jailed.

Moscow denied any involvement.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said claims that “organisations from Russia are sending some people to destabilise the situation in Belarus” were “nothing but insinuations”. 

The Russian foreign ministry said its nationals were transiting through Belarus because they worked for a Belarus company, adding that they were en route to Istanbul.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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