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Mali coup leaders promise elections in ‘reasonable’ time

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Soldiers who toppled Mali’s president in a coup Tuesday are pledging to hold new elections within what they say is a “reasonable” time.

The coup leaders call themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People. They went on national television Wednesday, saying they took over the government to avoid further anarchy and insecurity. Colonel Ismael Wague said the soldiers are eager for stability, not power. 

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned late Tuesday, hours after he was arrested following months of political turmoil in the West African nation. Wearing a surgical mask because of the coronavirus outbreak, a weary-looking Keita appeared on state television to announce he was stepping down to avoid any bloodshed.

The 75-year-old deposed leader said if “certain elements” of the military wanted to end his presidency, with “their intervention, do I really have a choice?” Keita also announced that his government and the National Assembly would be dissolved.

Much of the international community immediately condemned the military coup. The Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, sealed its member states’ borders with Mali and suspended all financial transactions between Mali and its 14 other members. For now, ECOWAS  is removing Mali from its decision-making bodies. 

ECOWAS officials have called for sanctions on those it calls “putschists and their partners and collaborators.” 

In a closed-door meeting in New York, the UN Security Council expressed its “deep concern” and urged the soldiers to free all those under arrest. The council also underlined “the urgent need to restore rule of law and to move towards the return to constitutional order.”

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo called for “peaceful dialogue” to resolve the Malian crisis and said the freedom and safety of detained government officials and their families must be ensured.

J. Peter Pham, the US envoy to the Sahel region, issued a statement saying Washington is opposed to any “extra-constitutional change.”

Keita’s resignation capped a day of turmoil that began when soldiers seized weapons from an army base in the town of Kati and advanced on the capital of Bamako. A reporter in Mali told VOA’s English to Africa service that the soldiers “went on the rampage, got to the arsenals, got the guns, started shooting in the air, went out and cut off access to the camp.” 

Malian soldiers celebrate as the arrive at Independence Square in Bamako

Scores of anti-government protesters gathered in Bamako’s central square to cheer on the soldiers as they made their way to Keita’s house to arrest him.

The soldiers arrested Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse at Keita’s house and drove them back to Kati, the same camp where the 2012 coup that overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure began. The overthrow of Toure allowed Islamist militants to temporarily seize the northern half of Mali until a French-led military intervention drove them from power.

There have been no reports of casualties in Tuesday’s coup. Mali’s June 5 opposition movement has led months of anti-government protests in Mali over an economic crisis, corruption and Keita’s failure to quell the eight-year-old Islamic insurgency. Anger is also brewing over the disputed results of 31 legislative races held in April.

Clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces last month left at least 14 protesters dead and 154 injured.





Source – observer.ug

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FDC activists win Bank of Uganda pig case by simply keeping quiet

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FDC activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja

Buganda Road Magistrate’s court has acquitted two opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja of common nuisance charges.

FDC deputy chief administrative officer Ojobile and Mayanja have been acquitted by the grade one magistrate Fidelis Otwao on charges stemming from their protest held in November 2018 when they carried pig heads to the central police station (CPS) in Kampala protesting the rot in the Bank of Uganda that had reportedly resulted into the closure of a number of commercial banks in the country for many years.


According to them, corruption at the Central bank had been the sole ingredient for the closure of commercial banks in Uganda over the years because it reportedly mismanaged them and made erroneous decisions that led to their closure.

With fresh pig heads tied around their necks and stinking blood oozing across their white T-shirts, Mayanja and Ojobile walked through the streets of Kampala to the police in a protest that was spearheaded by their pressure group known as the Jobless Youth.

One pig head had a placard bearing the name of the former and late BOU governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile and the other of his former deputy Louis Kasekende.

The protest at CPS came a few days after another that was staged at the Central bank where two piglets were dumped bearing the name of Juma Kisaame (a Muslim), the former managing director of DFCU bank. 

As a result, the duo was arrested and taken to Buganda Road court on charges of common nuisance and the prosecution adduced evidence from five witnesses who included police officers and Muslims who were reportedly angered by the protest.

According to the witnesses, the actions of Mayanja and Ojobile were annoying to the people whose names were mentioned and tagged on pig heads, and the smell that was coming out of the fresh pig heads was most likely to result in injury to a considerable number of the public by affecting their health, and the protest affected businesses since some shops allegedly had to close to see what was happening outside due to their commotion.

But when Mayanja and Ojobile were asked to defend themselves over the allegations, the duo that didn’t have legal representation chose to keep quiet as their defense and let the court make its decision based on what the prosecution witnesses had testified to.

In a judgement read today Friday by Otwao, he indicated that the evidence from the prosecution witnesses is wanting because none of the people alleged to have been annoyed by the actions of the activists testified in the case or recorded a statement with police.

According to Otwao, the testimonies were based on what the witnesses were feeling as individuals and that there were no abusive statements on the pig heads that the prosecution had indicated which would cause annoyance, save for putting the names of people only. 

As such, the court has ruled that such testimonies cannot be relied on to convict a person because the prosecution has failed to prove that there was common injury, danger to the public or destruction of property.

Consequently, the magistrate has acquitted the duo and directed that each of them starts the process to seek a refund of the Shs 500,000 that each had paid to be released on bail.

The activists have welcomed the ruling saying that the court has recognized that the citizens have a right to protest peacefully.

The pig protests have been commonly used by activists who subscribe to this group known as the Jobless Brotherhood which has since rebranded to the “Alternative”.

In 2016, their members including Luta Ferdinand who is now facing trial in the court-martial on different charges, and Joseph Lukwago were arrested for dumping piglets at parliament protesting the Shs 200 million given to each MP for buying personal cars.



Source – observer.ug

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Saudi Arabia executes 81 people in a single day | Death Penalty News

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The death penalty applied for a range of charges in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom’s modern history.

Saudi Arabia has executed 81 men over the past 24 hours, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national, on charges including “allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations” and holding “deviant beliefs”, state news agency Saudi Press Agency said, in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history.

The number dwarfed the 67 executions reported in the kingdom in 2021 and the 27 in 2020.

“These individuals … were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children,” SPA said on Saturday, citing a statement from the interior ministry.

“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations, such as ISIS [ISIL], al-Qaeda and the Houthis,” it added.

Some travelled to conflict zones to join “terrorist organisations”, according to the SPA.

“The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process,” it said.

“The kingdom will continue to take a strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten the stability of the entire world,” the report added.

The men included 37 Saudi nationals who were found guilty in a single case for attempting to assassinate security officers and targeting police stations and convoys, the report added.

Saudi Arabia’s last mass execution was in January 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people, including a prominent opposition Shia leader who had rallied demonstrations in the kingdom.

In 2019, the kingdom beheaded 37 Saudi citizens, most of them minority Shia, in a mass execution across the country for alleged “terrorism”-related crimes.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights records have been under increasing scrutiny from rights groups and Western allies since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

It has faced strong criticism of its restrictive laws on political and religious expression, and the implementation of the death penalty, including for defendants arrested when they were minors.

Saudi Arabia denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security according to its laws.

SPA said the accused were provided with the right to a lawyer and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Nigerian student in Ukraine: 'Mummy we keep hearing bombs'

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Hauwa’s son Suleiman is a Nigerian student in Sumy – she says the family are fearful and anxious.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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