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On Libya’s front lines, Sirte is focus for regional rivalries | News

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In Sirte’s municipal offices, walls are adorned with pictures of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, commander of the eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA). Out in the desert, troops keep watch from behind sandbanks.

Already scarred by Libya’s 2011 uprising and a takeover by the ISIL (ISIS) armed group, Sirte now finds itself not only at the centre of a civil war but also a focus of geopolitical enmities that span the region.

Since Turkish intervention helped drive Haftar’s LNA back in early June from its 14-month offensive on the capital, Tripoli, the front lines have settled around Sirte, in the middle of Libya’s Mediterranean coast and close to major oil terminals.

“The city has seen wars and crises that have made people afraid,” said Adel Mohamed, a 43-year-old resident shopping in a local supermarket in the city of 90,000. “There is always anxiety about what is to come.”

Libya’s civil conflict pits the LNA and its allies against forces aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, in the west.

As the GNA and Turkey looked ready to make further advances, Egypt declared Sirte a red line and pushed through parliamentary approval for possible military intervention.

In recent weeks, Libyan factions and their foreign backers have been mobilising as diplomats try to avert a military escalation and secure a ceasefire.

On a rare tour of LNA military positions, Reuters reporters saw troops stationed at positions southwest of Sirte, some sheltering under awnings or in tents, others manning watchpoints.

A member of the LNA loads his rifle with ammunition at one of their sites west of Sirte [Esam Omran al-Fetori/Reuters]

“Our armed forces are stationed around Sirte, even beyond Sirte. We are prepared,” said Miftah Shaqlouf, head of the LNA’s operations centre in the area.

“Our fingers must remain on the trigger until Libya is purified from mercenaries and colonisers, and from everyone who has greedily sought our land and its riches.”

During a visit to Tripoli this week, Germany’s foreign minister echoed a US call for a demilitarised zone around Sirte and al-Jufra, a military base to the south. He also warned of a “deceptive calm” with both sides and their allies continuing to arm themselves “on a massive scale”.

Foreign meddling

Foreign powers have been involved in Libya since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ended Muammar Gaddafi’s 42 years in power. But in recent months, the meddling has reached new levels.

While Turkey has considered using military bases in western Libya, the US has accused Russia of sending fighter jets and military supplies to help Russian private contractors.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has said the deployment of mercenaries has turned oil installations into “military posts”, and accused the United Arab Emirates – one of Haftar’s main backers – of upholding a blockade that for the last seven months has all but halted the oil production Libya depends on.

Russia has rejected US statements about its alleged military intervention, and the LNA denies it uses mercenaries.

“We have no one with us. No Russians … nothing,” said Shaqlouf, the LNA commander.

The UAE says it supports a diplomatic solution to the conflict and wants to see a return of Libya’s oil production as soon as possible but with safeguards in place.

UAE authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Major oil terminals in Libya’s oil crescent east of Sirte, repeatedly fought over and damaged in recent years, remain blockaded under LNA control.

Sirte itself is still partly in ruins from the battles of 2016 when GNA forces pushed ISIL from the city where the group had set up its North African stronghold.

The seaside neighbourhood that saw the heaviest fighting lies in ruins, abandoned. Elsewhere, shops and cafes are open, and the city does not suffer the crippling power cuts of other regions thanks to a power station nearby.

Abdelaziz Abdelrahim, a 27-year-old butcher’s shop employee, said there were still cash shortages, but fewer than before the LNA took control of Sirte in January.

“More attacks on Sirte? We say God willing, no.”



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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