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For weeks, Malians protested for change. Then a coup happened | News

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It was around midnight, hours after his seizure at gunpoint by soldiers in Mali’s capital, when Ibrahim Boubacar Keita finally appeared on national television.

“I would like at this precise moment, while thanking the Malian people for their support throughout these long years and the warmth of their affection, to tell you of my decision to relinquish my duties,” the 75-year-old president said behind a mask worn amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Capping a dramatic day of confusion and turmoil, Keita said he had been left with no choice but to declare the dissolution of the government and parliament. 

“If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end with their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he said. “[I must] submit to it because I don’t want any bloodshed.”

Keita announcing his resignation on national television [ORTM/AFP]

In the early hours of Wednesday, it was time for the mutinying soldiers who had forced Keita out of office and detained several senior government officials to make an appearance on state television.

Dressed in military fatigues, the coup-makers – who called themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People – promised to oversee a transition to election within a “reasonable” period and restore stability in a country struggling to contain a series of urgent crises, including a worsening conflict with armed groups that has spilled into the wider Sahel region.

“We are not holding on to power, but we are holding on to the stability of the country,” Colonel-Major Ismael Wague said in his address to Malians. “This will allow us to organise, within an agreed reasonable timeframe, general elections to equip Mali with strong institutions, which are able to better manage our daily lives and restore confidence between the government and the governed.”

International condemnation of the military coup was swift. Even before Keita’s statement, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – a regional bloc that in recent weeks tried without success to mediate an escalating political impasse between the president and an opposition coalition staging mass rallies demanding his resignation – said it “utterly condemns” his “overthrowing”.

In a statement, it announced a series of sanctions, including stopping trade and imposing land and air border closures. ECOWAS also said it was suspending Mali’s membership, a move followed by the African Union (AU) on Wednesday.

Amid demands for the release of the detained politicians, including by former colonial ruler France, the United Nations general-secretary, Antonio Guterres, also called “for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rule of law in Mali”.

Manu Lekunze, a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, said both ECOWAS and the UN were selective in their condemnations and should have listened to the Malians who have been taking to the streets for weeks.

“Malians are not happy. The army is coming out to do what the protesters were demanding. The protesters were demanding for Keita to resign for a very long time. His removal is an opportunity for the country to take a new path,” Lekunze told Al Jazeera. 

“France, ECOWAS, UN and the AU have come out and said, ‘we don’t want unconstitutional change’ but you see unconstitutional activities going on across Africa. In Ivory Coast, you have a president seeking a third term and the UN is saying nothing about it. In Guinea-Conakry, not far from Mali, the president is seeking a third term. So, the constitutional argument is not really an argument,” he added.

Supporters of the Imam Mahmoud Dicko and other opposition political parties attend a mass protest demanding the resignation of Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Bamako, Mali August 11, 2020.

Opposition supporters attend a mass protest in Bamako demanding the resignation of Keita [Rey Byhre/Reuters]

Tens of thousands of protesters, unhappy with rampant corruption, alleged election irregularities and worsening insecurity that has rendered large parts of Mali ungovernable, have rallied in Bamako since June calling for Keita’s departure.

Although anger over the country’s woes has been simmering for a while, the spark for the political crisis was a decision by the Constitutional Court in April to overturn the results of parliamentary polls for 31 seats, in a move that handed 10 more seats to Keita’s party.

The protests turned violent in July when a crackdown by security forces during three days of unrest killed at least 14 protesters and bystanders, according to rights groups.

Marie-Roger Biloa, an analyst at Africa International Media Group, said Keita’s removal by the army did not come as a surprise.

“The situation has been deteriorating for years in Mali and the country has been in an open crisis for weeks now,” Biloa told Al Jazeera.

“The situation was ripe for the military to take advantage of. The army is not happy because they are ill-equipped to fight the jihadists and they have lost many soldiers. There is also communal violence,” she said. “The situation was getting out of hand.”

Alleged coup attempt in Mali

Tuesday’s coup came amid opposition protests calling for Keita’s arrest that have rocked the crisis-torn country since June [Anadolu]

Keita came to power after winning a 2013 election held the following year after another military coup forced the then-government of Amadou Toumani Toure out of office.

“He was a unifying figure in a fractured country when he came to power. Keita was able to quell the discontent in the military,” William Lawrence, professor of political science at the American University in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera.

The president was re-elected in 2018, but frustration grew amid a failure to lift living standards for most Malians and contain the conflict engulfing the country’s northern and central regions.

“There is severe political crisis that grew out of the botched March 2020 election; there is severe economic crisis complicated by COVID-19; and there is also severe security crisis which has led to the arrest of the one of the major opposition leaders held by terrorists in the north of the country,” Lawrence said, referring to the abduction of veteran politician Soumaila Cisse while campaigning in the volatile centre of the country days before the March 29 parliamentary election.

The overthrow of Keita “opens a phase of uncertainties”, according to Boubacar Sangare, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) think-tank.

“The apparent support of the coup by a section of the population says a lot about how they perceive state institutions and the constitution. It also showcases the depth of disarray and decay in which those institutions find themselves,” Sangare told Al Jazeera.

Sahel countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso that have long suffered cross-border attacks are also watching closely the events unfolding in Bamako. Countries in West Africa fear the violence could further spread into the generally more stable coastal states if the unrest in Mali creates further instability.

“Neighbouring countries are particularly concerned about the consequences of instability in Mali in the context of upcoming elections … and a deepening and expanding instability,” Sangare added.

Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa 





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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