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Amnesty calls for release of abducted Libyan protesters | News



Amnesty International pressed for the release of at least six protesters abducted when armed men, allegedly allied with Libya’s UN-recognised government, fired live ammunition to disperse a demonstration in the capital.

The incident took place on Sunday when protesters rallied in Tripoli and elsewhere in western Libya against deteriorating economic conditions and corruption.

The rights group said armed men in military camouflage opened fire on the crowd using heavy weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles and truck-mounted machine guns.

The interior ministry accused “outlawed infiltrators” of firing at the protesters and said an investigation had been opened.

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, criticised the Government of National Accord (GNA) for not reining in abusive, unaccountable militias and armed groups” and instead “relying on them for security, law enforcement and fighting its rivals”.

“The GNA has the responsibility to uphold the right to peaceful protest, protect protesters from those seeking to silence them with live ammunition and address the underlying issues that have led people to come out onto the streets,” said Eltahawy in a statement.

The organisation urged an immediate release of those abducted and called for an independent investigation, as did the UN mission in Libya. It said the protests were motivated by frustrations about sustained poor living conditions, shortages of electricity and water and a lack of services throughout the country.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said the protesters ‘did not obtain necessary permits’ for the rally [AFP]

The London-based group said on Wednesday that in addition to the six individuals who had been abducted, several protesters were wounded in the shooting, which happened in an area that is under the control of the Nawasi armed group that nominally operates under the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

Amnesty, citing eyewitness accounts and its Nawasi contacts, said there were “strong indications that this militia was behind the attack” on the protesters.

The demonstrations continued on Wednesday for the fourth day in a row. Footage circulated online showed demonstrators marching and chanting slogans against the UN-recognised government.

Militiamen also opened fire at protesters in Tripoli’s Martyrs Square on Wednesday, which was the scene of Sunday’s attack, according to a protester who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. He said dozens of protesters were detained and their whereabouts were unknown.

Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga acknowledged that a Tripoli-allied militia fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters. He said in a statement early Thursday the militias, which it did not name, abducted some of the protesters who were forcefully disappeared.

Meanwhile, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said in televised comments the protesters “did not obtain necessary permits” for the rally. In a meeting with military and security officials Wednesday, he described the demonstrations as “riots”, according to a statement from his office.

He also announced a round-the-clock curfew lasting four days to fight the coronavirus, a move protesters say is meant to stop their continued rallies. The protesters defied al-Sarraj’s decision and took to the streets after his announcement, before being dispersed by militias.

Libya has seen a surge in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, with most of the cases in the country’s west. So far, authorities have reported more than 11,800 cases, including 210 deaths, though the actual numbers are thought to be far higher, in part due to limited testing.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Brahim Bouhlel and Zbarbooking jailed in Morocco over video




Actor Brahim Bouhlel and influencer Zbarbooking are seen swearing at children in a viral clip.

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Umeme Turns Up the Heat on Electricity Thieves in Bukedi




Leading power distributor Umeme has picked up the threads of the anti–power theft operation it launched in March. It has fanned out from Central Uganda, Jinja, 80 kilometres East of Kampala, and now to Mbale city, even farther East with an excursion in Bukedi region launched today.

The operation is meant to check illegal connections, meter tampering, and to ensure bills due are settled. It comes on the heels of the increase in energy losses by one percentage point – from 16.4% to 17.5% – between 2019 and 2020.

To underscore the importance of the task, Umeme together with local leaders with support from the Uganda police combed through the township of Palisa, Kibuku and Budaka for suspected electricity thieves.

“Bukedi region covering Pallisa, Kibuku and Budaka are supplied through a power line that carries 1 million units of power and of which power losses average 400,000 units monthly, an average loss of 36%,” Trevor Kigenyi the Regional Manager Eastern Uganda said.

Children look at an underground illegal connection that was uprooted

This accounts for 15% of the total loses in the Bukedi Elgon region losses. This amounts to Ushs 3.6 billion in lost revenue every year.

John Baptist Nuwamanya, the Umeme Metering services engineer says the region has a customer base of 3143 customers of which 153 are small and medium enterprises, 3 phase maize millers with 10 medium industrial maize millers.

In these areas, up to 928 people had by the close of last week been apprehended on suspicion of pinching electricity since the operation was launched.

Some had pirate wires connecting their premises to the overhead the national grid while others could not account for the underground cables linking their homes to the grid.

As police officers took the suspects’ statements, many confessed and offered to pay for the power they have been consuming as well as to formalise their connections.

A 17.5% loss of electricity in transit between a, say, 724 megawatt (MW) power generation plant and households translates into 126.7%.

The 126MW that is dissipated as heat and commercial loss is sufficient to drive up to four factories of Roofings Namanve’s scale.

Power theft stalls the official connection rates since those who should be looped in use the service illegally.

Police lead away a suspect apprehended in the operation

The vice deprives the utility of cash needed for operations and maintenance, which leads to the deterioration of the network.

The Head of Communications and Marketing, Peter Kaujju, said Umeme will not relent in the fight against electricity theft.

“The key function of this Komboa operation is to weed out illegal connections and to ensure people have access to our service in a safe manner clearing following the set electricity connection procedures,” Mr Kaujju said at the launch of operation in Pallisa.

The Electricity Act provides for fines and jail terms for those convicted of electricity theft.

L-R Peter Kaujju, Umeme Head of Communications, SSP Ashraf Chemonges, Komboa Liaison officer, and Pallisa district DPC interract after launching the power theft operation in Pallisa district.

Senior Supretendant of Police Ashraf Chemonges who represented the Inspector General of Police cautioned the public to desist from stealing power and vandalising electricity equipment.

The Pallisa Resident District Commissioner Ms Farida Mayanja Mpiima urged the community to be patriotic by preserving government efforts. She commended Umeme for her efforts and said she will join them in community barazas to sensitise public against power theft.

The post Umeme Turns Up the Heat on Electricity Thieves in Bukedi first appeared on ChimpReports.

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Cheptegei to Take Part in 6th National Trials at Nambole




The world 5000m and 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei has registered to take part in the 6th national Trials slated for April 24th, 2021 at Mandela National Stadium, Nambole.

Cheptegei will be making a maiden appearance at the championship after missing the other editions on the Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) calendar.

Namayo Mawerere, the UAF publicity secretary said Cheptegei will join other local athletes and others from Kenya in the national Trials. Many of the athletes will be all out to try and hit qualifying times for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

According to Mawerere this time Cheptegei will not be competing in his 5000m/10,000m races, but the 1500m which will help him develop speed for 5000m ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

The presence of the World Champion in middle distance and the invited Kenyan runners especially in the long distance races will help improve the quality of the national trials.

Ugandans Ronald Musagala, Abu Mayanja will be the other seasonal Ugandan athletes who will compete in the 1500m race.

Women middle distance race is also expected to be highly competitive with World Champion Halima Nakaayi battling against new kid on the block, Prisca Chesang Chemweno who is currently enjoying good form in the 800m and1500m races. Chesang won the 1500m in the women race of the 5th Track and field competition.

The competition will be intended to select more athletes for the Tokyo Olympics, Africa Senior Championships and the World U-20 Championships.





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