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Montenegro votes in tense election testing long-governing party | News

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Polls have closed in Montenegro’s tense parliamentary election that is pitting a long-ruling, pro-Western party against an opposition alliance seeking closer ties with Serbia and Russia.

The pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of President Milo Djukanovic was in close call against the pro-Serbian and pro-Russian alliance on Sunday, pollster CEMI said in a preliminary forecast.

On the basis of just over 49 percent of ballots from a sample of polling stations, CEMI forecast the DPS garnered 34.2 percent of votes, while the alliance of mainly Serb nationalist parties, For the Future of Montenegro, which wants closer ties with Serbia and Russia, was just behind with 33.7 percent.

Peace is Our Nation, an alliance of centrist and pro-Western parties, came third with 12.6 percent, CEMI said.

By the time polls closed at 18:00 GMT, voter turnout stood at 75.9 percent, slightly higher than the 2016 parliamentary elections which marked a voter turnout of 73.4 percent.

Sunday’s parliamentary election was largely marked by a dispute over a law on religious rights introduced in late 2019 that is staunchly opposed by the influential Serbian Orthodox Church.

The church has argued the law allows the state to confiscate its property as a prelude to setting up a separate church. This has been denied by the government.

The Serbian Orthodox Church remains Montenegro’s largest religious institution and a third of its population identify as Serb.

The issue has fuelled divisions and sparked protests in the Adriatic nation of 620,000 people and a NATO member since 2017.

Djukanovic has led Montenegro for three decades and his DPS has never lost an election.

But its majority in parliament is razor thin, and this year the party has faced a challenge from an emboldened right-wing For the Future of Montenegro opposition alliance, which has backed the church-led protests against the religion law.

Ljubomir Filipovic, a policy analyst and former mayor of Budva, said the protests held in the country “all have to do with the church, with inter-ethnic tensions, with the divisive media campaign coming from Serbia, Russia and [Bosnia’s Serb-run entity] Republika Srpska in the last couple of months”.

Filipovic said a victory for the coalition of pro-Serb and anti-European Union parties backed by the church means Montenegro would have a “strong change” in foreign policy, directed from Belgrade or even Moscow.

“We would have a problem with the recognition of Kosovo, with our NATO membership and of course the very existence of the independent state of Montenegro is in question,” Filipovic said.

“Not only once, the main parties in the opposition have questioned the rationale for Montenegrin independence.”

‘Political infantry of Greater Serbia nationalism’

Before the election, demonstrations have taken the form of car rallies, with protesters waving Serbian flags.

Djukanovic, who projects himself as a custodian of stability, has used such reactions to raise fears about a threat to Montenegro’s sovereignty.

The opposition parties are “the political infantry of Greater Serbia nationalism,” he said recently, referring to a Serb ultra-nationalist dream to unite all parts of the Balkans to form a Greater Serbia.

An opposition supporter participates in a church-led protest in Podgorica, Montenegro on August 27 [Risto Bozovic/AP]

Zdravko Krivokapic, leader of the For the Future of Montenegro alliance, said on Sunday that he expected “a new day for Montenegro which will take a different path”.

Krivokapic said his grouping wants to unite a divided nation and “distribute this wealth we have equally for all”.

Indicating high interest in the election, more than half of eligible voters had cast their ballots by midday. Lines formed outside some polling stations on a very hot summer day.

Opinion polls ahead of the election predicted that the DPS will finish ahead of other groups, but might not garner enough votes to form government on its own.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies



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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