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Belarus detains journalists ahead of anti-gov’t protest in Minsk | Belarus News

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Belarusian police detained about 20 journalists planning to cover a protest in central Minsk on Thursday and confiscated their telephones and identity documents, Reuters news agency said.

The interior ministry later on Thursday said the journalists had been driven to a police station for officers to check they had valid accreditation allowing them to work as journalists.

It said all those with official accreditation would be released and denied the journalists had been detained.

Belarus is facing its biggest political crisis since the breakup of the Soviet Union, with tens of thousands of demonstrators rejecting President Alexander Lukashenko’s victory in an August 9 vote his opponents say was rigged.

The journalists planned to cover a demonstration in which hundreds of anti-government protesters marched along central Minsk street on Thursday evening.

‘Nobody should interfere’

Amid unprecedented protests in Belarus, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday called on Russia not to meddle in the crisis after President Vladimir Putin promised military support for embattled Lukashenko.

“Belarus is a sovereign and independent state. And nobody, including Russia, should interfere there,” Stoltenberg on Thursday told Germany’s bestselling Bild daily, in comments translated from German.

The Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council also expressed their dismay with Putin’s comments, saying it was unacceptable for Russia to have set up armed forces of any kind for use in Belarus.

The opposition council said in a statement it “regretted” the force had been set up at Lukashenko’s request and said it “violated international law”.

Putin earlier on Thursday said Kremlin had set up a police force to support Lukashenko at his request, although it would not be deployed unless unrest there spun out of control.

“We have of course certain obligations towards Belarus, and the question Lukashenko raised was whether we would provide the necessary help,” Putin told state television.

“I told him Russia would fulfil all its obligations. Alexander Grigorivich [Lukashenko] asked me to create a reserve police force and I have done that. But we agreed this would not be used unless the situation got out of control.”

The remarks were the strongest signal yet that Russia is prepared to use force if needed in Belarus.

Western expansion fears

Russia sees Belarus as a key bulwark against Western expansion and an important conduit for Russian energy exports.

The two countries have a union agreement envisaging close political, economic and military ties, and Lukashenko has relied on cheap Russian energy and other subsidies to keep Belarus’s Soviet-style economy afloat.

In an apparent jab at the West, which has condemned Lukashenko’s crackdown on protesters and urged him to launch a dialogue with the opposition, Putin accused unidentified foreign forces of trying to win political advantages from the turmoil in Belarus.

“They want to influence those processes and reach certain decisions, which they think conform with their political interests,” Putin said.

The European Union has rejected the results of the presidential election that gave Lukashenko 80 percent of the vote.

Despite the close cooperation, Russia-Belarus relations have often been strained by disputes.

Lukashenko has frequently played overtures to the West and accused Moscow of hatching plans to incorporate Belarus.

Just before the election, Belarus arrested 32 private Russian military contractors on charges of planning to stage riots.

Belarusian authorities released the men shortly after the vote in a bid to mend ties with the Kremlin amid rising Western criticism.



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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