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More state-controlled firms join strike against Belarus president | Belarus News

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More state-controlled companies and factories have joined the strike in Belarus, turning up the pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko to step down after winning an election they say was rigged.

Tuesday’s walkouts strengthened the strike that began on Monday, encompassing several large tractor factories in Minsk, a huge potash factory in Soligorsk that accounts for one-fifth of the world’s potash fertiliser output and is the nation’s top cash earner, state television and the country’s most prominent theatre.

The development marked the 10th day of unprecedented mass protests against election results that handed Lukashenko his sixth term with 80 percent of the votes, while his top challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya apparently received only 10 percent.

“The authorities should understand that they are losing control. Only Lukashenko’s resignation and punishment of those in charge of rigging and beatings [of protesters] can calm us down,” head of an independent miners’ union Yuri Zakharov told The Associated Press news agency on Tuesday.

“The people said their ‘no’ to Lukashenko, and we will not back down. The strike will continue and grow until he steps down.”

Lukashenko on Monday dismissed the strikes as insignificant and said he would not cave in to pressure, but appeared nervous as dissent grew.

An envoy resigns

Also on Tuesday, the Belarusian ambassador to Slovakia, Igor Leshchenya, said he had handed in his resignation after coming out with a statement in support of the protests.

In a video released on Saturday, Leshchenya expressed “solidarity with those who came out on the streets of Belarusian cities with peaceful marches so that their voice could be heard”.

He said he had been shocked by the reports of mass beatings and torture of protesters and accused Belarusian law enforcement of restoring the traditions of the Soviet secret police.

Leshchenya, the first top government official to support the protests against Lukashenko, said in an interview on Tuesday that resigning after that was “a logical move”.

The mass protests, which drew hundreds of thousands of people, have continued despite a brutal response from the police, who in the first four days of demonstrations arrested almost 7,000 people and injured hundreds with rubber bullets, stun grenades and clubs. At least two protesters died.

On Tuesday, nearly 1,000 people gathered in front of a theatre to support its troupe who gave notice en masse after the director, Pavel Latushko, was fired for siding with the protesters.

A ‘coordination council’ forms

Tikhanovskaya left the country for Lithuania in a move her campaign said was made under duress.

On Monday, she announced she was ready to act as a national leader to facilitate a new election.

Her top ally, Maria Kolesnikova, said on Tuesday that a “coordination council” is being formed to represent the people and negotiate the transition of power.

The council will figure out the best way for the transition of power, “be it new elections or some other option”, she said.

Lukashenko, who has run the ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million with an iron fist since 1994, called the launch of the council an attempt to seize power.

“We see it unequivocally: it is an attempt to seize power,” he said, adding that he would take measures against those who join the council. “We have enough of these measures to cool down some hotheads.”

Lukashenko has run the ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million with an iron fist since 1994 [Tatyana Zenkovich/EPA]

Western officials refused to recognise the Belarusian election as free or fair and criticised the country’s authorities for their violent crackdown on protesters.

In Brussels, European Council President Charles Michel said an emergency summit of European Union leaders would convene on Wednesday to discuss the election and crackdown.

Last week, the 27 EU foreign ministers decided to start drawing up a list of people who could face sanctions resulting from their involvement in the violence.

Merkel, Putin talk

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, according to her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

“[Merkel] underlined that the Belarusian government must refrain from violence against peaceful protesters, immediately release political prisoners and enter into a national dialogue with the opposition and [civil] society to overcome the crisis,” Seibert said.

In its statement, the Kremlin said Putin warned Merkel against foreign interference in Belarus.

Moscow also said it expected the tense situation in its neighbour and ally to soon calm down.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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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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