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Egypt seeks support of Libya tribes amid threat of intervention | Egypt News



As Egypt flexes its muscles with threats to intervene in Libya’s civil war, its President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has sought to join forces with some of the neighbouring country’s powerful tribes. 

Cairo hopes the alliances would boost its legitimacy if it were to wade into the battlefield against forces backed by regional rival Turkey, and give it a local partner aside from the volatile renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, analysts say. 

Last month, el-Sisi hosted Libya’s Supreme Tribal Council, its sheikhs, and elders dressed in white turbans and robes, at a conference in a Cairo hotel organised by Egyptian intelligence agencies. 

For many of Libya’s tribal leaders, Egypt offers a “lifeline” of support, said Abdelsalam Bohraqa al-Jarrari, a tribal elder from Tarhuna, south of the capital Tripoli.

“We want a complete military intervention – air and ground support,” he said after meeting with el-Sisi, claiming preparations had already begun along the Libya-Egypt border.

“We want new and advanced weaponry,” he said. 

Libya’s patchwork of tribes – including the Warfalla, Tuareg, Berber and other ethnicities – command powerful loyalty and have in the past fought against Ottoman and European colonisers. 

Some of them support the UN-recognised and Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli in the west, which made a series of battlefield gains against Haftar earlier this year.

But many powerful tribes back Haftar, who is based in the eastern city of Benghazi and enjoys the support of Egypt as well as the United Arab Emirates, Russia and other powers.

‘Men who can eat rocks’

Traditional tribal leaders are seen as having greater influence in the Haftar-controlled, rural east than the more densely populated and urban west of Libya.

Haftar spent 14 months trying to seize Tripoli before his forces suffered a string of defeats in early summer – among them tribal fighters proud of their battlefield prowess.

“We have men who can eat rocks and spit them out,” said Arafallah Daynoum Hurra, of Libya’s Al-Barasa tribe in the eastern Al-Bayda region. 

But, he explained, “we’re in an uneven battle and that’s why we retreated.”

The front line is now halfway between the capital and Haftar’s stronghold Benghazi, just west of the central Mediterranean coastal city of Sirte.

Haftar’s forces spent 14 months trying to seize Tripoli before his forces suffered a string of defeats in early summer [Reuters]

Sirte is the strategic gateway to Libya’s main oil fields and export terminals, and to the key Al-Jufra airbase to the south.

It is also a symbolic site as the hometown of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose 2011 overthrow and killing in a NATO-backed uprising threw the country into chaos.

For now, fighting has stalled in what German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas this week called a “deceptive calm” with arms and mercenaries still flooding into the county. 

Western powers, fearing a GNA attack on Sirte would raise the prospect of direct clashes between regional heavyweights Turkey and Egypt, have called for renewed peace efforts. 

‘Diversify risk’

El-Sisi has promised not to let GNA forces take Sirte – although Cairo has since also stressed it is open to peace initiatives through dialogue.

The head of Libya’s Supreme Tribal Council, Saleh al-Fandi, said the tribes stand firmly with Haftar and Egypt.

“The Egyptian army has been given the greenlight from us … to strike immediately if the [GNA] militias lift a finger in Sirte,” he said while in Cairo.

“[El-]Sisi told us when we met that Egypt will give us air and ground support if the Turks cross the red line of Sirte,” said Fandi. 

“As tribes we are giving legitimacy to Egyptian troops to protect … Libya’s national security,” which was in line with Egypt’s interests, he said.

Al-Jarrari, the tribal elder from Tarhuna, said he sees Egyptian support as the only way to end a grinding civil war centred on some of Africa’s richest oil reserves. 

‘Hard to manage’

Jalel Harchaoui, research fellow at The Hague-based Clingendael Institute, said Egypt hopes its support for Libyan tribal leaders will “kill two birds with one stone”.

It aims to counter and delegitimise Turkey’s presence in Libya while finding local allies aside from Haftar, he said.

“Cairo wants to diversify its risk away from excessive dependence on the 77-year-old Haftar, whom the Egyptians find too whimsical and hard to manage,” Harchaoui added. 

“That is why the Egyptians now wish to put in place an array of Libyan figures … more dependable, more malleable and more stable from an Egyptian perspective.”

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema



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.


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




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.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




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.  

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