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Museveni makes U-turn on Nov killings, now blames security 

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President Yoweri Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni

In a dramatic u-turn, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has finally acknowledged that security forces made mistakes that led to the death of more than 50 Ugandans during the November 18-19, 2020 protests.

By the government’s own official count, at least 54 people were gunned during the spontaneous two-day protests in Kampala and the neighbouring Wakiso district, triggered by the arrest of then-presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine in Luuka district on November 18 2021. 

Previously, Museveni praised and boasted about the response of his security forces, claiming they had deployed urban street warfare methods to defeat what he called terrorists, who wanted to overthrow his government through violent protests. 

But during today’s 32nd Heroes Day Anniversary ceremony at Kololo Independence Grounds held under the theme, “Remembering those great men and women who put the nation first in pursuing freedom for our motherland Uganda,” Museveni admitted that mistakes were indeed made by the same security forces that he previously praised.   

The president said that one of the things that pushed them into the liberation struggle in 1980 was to stop extra judicial killings and killing people outside the law. Museveni acknowledged that security forces might have overreacted to some situations in the lead up to the general elections, something he attributed to poor leadership like lack of proper briefing of soldiers by their superiors. 

“They [soldiers] just go into a situation without proper briefing but the law is very clear, we have put it in the law, the procedures are very clear, the standing orders are very clear how to handle the different types of trouble makers. If they are peaceful but lawbreakers in an illegal demonstration, there is how to handle it. There, you use non-lethal methods which are there; tear gas, water cannon. Those are there, they don’t kill, they discourage and somebody goes away. If somebody becomes violent and threatens the lives of the security people, there is also a procedure. In some cases mistakes happen, some of them don’t follow that procedure and make mistakes – fire when they should not fire,” said Museveni.

It is not clear if Museveni change of opinion was influenced by a recent BBC documentary titled; Three Killings in Kampala, which profiled the murder of some innocent Ugandans including Shamim Nabirye, who lost her three foetuses to UPDF/Uganda Police bullets.

There was also the food vendor, Kamuyat Nangobi, who was shot dead by officers travelling on Police Truck 17 while on her way to deliver food to a client during the riots. Daily Monitor editors were last week summoned by police over the publication of the documentary, which the police claimed was full of falsehoods.

Human rights activists have demanded that responsible soldiers be prosecuted for their gruesome actions. During the protests last year, both uniformed and non-uniformed officers without a clear command structure were seen on the streets firing into buildings and at moving traffic in what appeared to be a panicky response. 

According to Museveni, honest Ugandans know too well that the government he leads cannot condone extrajudicial killings because when such acts happen, they follow up the cases.

“And I have the file of all the 54 people who died in that problem of November. And where the security forces made mistakes…we discovered it. The first I did was to hold seminars; you must have seen how I met all the commanders of special forces and all the police commanders in the whole country to review their actions and mistakes. But also to follow up the families of the affected people,” he said.    

He assured Ugandans that there is no way his government can tolerate and condone impunity and wrongdoing. Besides the November 2020 killings, Museveni also said that even the use of insecurity like the recent attack on Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, which cost the life of his daughter Brenda Nantongo and driver, Haruna Kayondo will not bring down his government.

“And the NRM is very strict on that. Even when mistakes occur, we follow them up. Like for instance during these elections which Bishop Ssemogerere talked about, there were mistakes. The opposition made mistakes by being violent, by intimidating, attacking people because they are putting on yellow,” said Museveni.

WAR CAN’T WIN

Museveni emphasized that killing people with the aim of tarnishing the government image would not be tolerated. Museveni reminded Ugandans that the elections are now over and that there is need for opposing parties to work together for the good of the nation. He said use of violence is a miscalculation on the part of the opposition because nobody can defeat the ruling NRM government by force.  

“If you bring force then you’re on the wrong arena, we have a lot of capacity to deal with force. This is a miscalculation and those who encourage the opposition to take that line are misleaders. Of course, they are acting unconstitutionally because there is no need to use force in Uganda.” he added. 

He wondered why someone would choose to use force when there is an option of voting. “In some areas, NRM did not win…opposition won in some areas. So why did we not stop the opposition from winning? We had candidates but, some other groups won. So, there is no need to use force. But some people think they can use force and uproot the NRM, it will not happen. That’s a wrong line,” he emphasized.

Unlike previous Heroes Day celebrations, there was no decoration of heroes due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The scientific event was attended by chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, deputy speaker Anita Among, Church of Uganda Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu and a few dignitaries. The president paid tribute to people who died during the liberation war.



Source – observer.ug

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The scrappy Hong Kong tabloid that refused to bow to Beijing | Freedom of the Press News

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Hong Kong, China – The last edition of the Apple Daily, the small scrappy Hong Kong tabloid that emerged as a champion of democracy and outspoken critic of China, has rolled off the presses, four days after the newspaper celebrated its 26th anniversary.

The paper had been raided by police twice during the past 10 months on suspicion of violating the National Security Law that was imposed by Beijing almost a year ago. Since the first raid last August, founder Jimmy Lai, 73, has been in jail awaiting trial under the law.

Last week’s raid saw five top executives, including its chief editor, arrested for alleged security offences as 500 police officers swooped in on Apple’s headquarters, with another staffer – the head editorial writer – apprehended on Wednesday morning.

The final nail in the coffin, however, was Hong Kong authorities’ freeze on the bank accounts of the media group that owns the paper. The move made it impossible for the paper to pay its staff and vendors, even as readers snapped up copies to show their support.

The decision was based on “employee safety and manpower considerations”, Apple Daily said as it announced its closure on Wednesday.
“Here we say goodbye. Take care of yourselves.”

Staff members of Apple Daily and its publisher Next Digital clap out the final edition of a paper that began publishing in 1995 and became a thorn in Beijing’s side [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” framework meant to guarantee rights and liberties absent in the mainland. For most of the past 20 years, the territory has remained a bastion of press freedom in a country where media is muzzled.

“The demise of Apple Daily negates ‘one country, two systems’ and sets the stage for ‘one country, one system,’” said Willy Lam, a longtime commentator on Chinese politics and a veteran newspaper editor.

Bold, brash

Founded just two years before the handover, Apple Daily was at once a gamble and a leap of faith.

“The paper wanted to have some impact not just on Hong Kong but also to support the liberalisation of China,” Lam told Al Jazeera. “But as China has become less open to Western values, the paper has focused on defending Hong Kong values and holding Beijing to account.”

In its inaugural editorial, Apple Daily said it aimed to be a paper for the Hong Kong people.

Lai, its founder and funder, a devout Catholic who had made a fortune in the fashion business, named the paper after the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden in the Old Testament. Its rhyming couplet jingle – “An Apple a day, no liars can hold sway” – caught the attention of Hong Kong readers used to more staid offerings.

It was loud. It was bold, It was flashy.

The paper grabbed attention when it splashed a surreptitiously shot photo of Deng Xiaoping – China’s then-paramount leader died in February at the age of 92 – on his deathbed on the front page.

Brashness was its selling point.

Its reporters frequently skewered public officials and needled the comfortable.

“It speaks truth to power and finds a way to do profitably,” said Lokman Tsui, assistant professor of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Jimmy Lai, standing by one of the printing presses in 2009, created a hugely popular paper that supported democracy, was unafraid to speak truth to power and critical of the Communist Party in Beijing [File: Alex Hofford/EPA]
Apple Daily’s founder and funder, Jimmy Lai, was arrested in August under the national security law and the paper’s headquarters raided. He has now been jailed [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

The paper catered to high brow and low. Colourful spreads of scantily-clad female models appeared in the same section of the paper as erudite columns featuring quotes in Latin and Classical Chinese. With a couple of exceptions, its ranks of columnists were the who’s who of the territory’s pro-democracy circle.

Giving people what they want

Launched at the dawn of the internet age, the daily was quick to adapt to the digital world. Its website pioneered animated news – a mix of stills, short clips and clever graphics with narration dripping with sour sarcasm. Its lifestyle channel on YouTube built a fervent following.

A decade in, the paper’s circulation peaked at 500,000 in a city of approximately six million people with a dozen dailies.

Apple Daily’s brand of advocacy journalism would soon make the paper a thorn in the side of the Chinese Communist Party. But to Lai, a rags-to-riches maverick millionaire now named Public Enemy No. 1 by Beijing, it was all about giving his customers what they would buy, even down to protest poster inserts.

In the summer of 2019, amid popular opposition to legislation that would send Hong Kong residents for trial in mainland China, the paper shorthanded “extradition to China” into the homophonic colloquial Cantonese expression of seeing someone to the grave. The expression immediately caught on and became a rallying cry in the protest movement.

“At times, we might have gone overboard but everything we did fell within the bounds of the law,” said Robert Chan, 45, who has covered mainland China for the paper for the past three years.

That is until the passage of the security law, which punishes what the authorities deem subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life sentences.

Prosecutors have used Lai’s frequent meetings with US officials in recent years, from the then-vice president on down, as “evidence” of his alleged “collusion with foreign powers”.

Staff from Apple Daily and its publisher Next Digital work on the final edition of their newspaper on June 23. In its first-ever editorial, the paper said it wanted to be a publication of the Hong Kong people. It printed a million copies of its final edition [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Early last month, rumours started to circulate that Beijing wanted to see the paper be shuttered in time for the Communist Party’s centenary celebrations on July 1.

Technology reporter for a decade, Alex Tang, 37, said like most of his colleagues he had become conditioned to taking unsubstantiated gossip with a grain of salt – until the second raid and the company asset freeze.

During the past few days, some of the 800 reporters at the paper were frustrated by the lack of a definitive answer on the last publishing date and severance.

“Management said they’d hang on till the bitter end, and they’ve kept their word,” said Tang. “The company has done its best.”

Apple Daily will live on as a website on the self-governing island of Taiwan, where it ceased paper publication last month.

But in Hong Kong, China news reporter Chan said he will mourn the loss of far more than his livelihood.

“With the paper gone, so would the values it represents: pursuit of freedom and democracy,” he said.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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‘Real and present danger’: Sydney imposes new COVID curbs | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Restrictions cover an estimated five million people after Delta variant-linked cases, as neighbouring New Zealand raises alert level.

People in Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, have been ordered not to leave the metropolitan area, as authorities scramble to contain a number of new coronavirus cases of the Delta variant – a development that has prompted neighbouring New Zealand to raise its alert level following possible exposure from a tourist from Australia.

New South Wales (NSW) State Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the stricter curbs – affecting about five million people who live and work in the city – on Wednesday.

“Clearly this is an evolving situation,” Berejiklian said at a news conference.

The new rules took effect at 4pm Sydney time (06:00 GMT) and will remain in force for a week.

“Given what has occurred the NSW government will be taking action today to limit the spread of what is a very contagious variant of COVID.”

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard described the situation as “a very real and present danger” for the city as a cluster first identified in the beach surburb of Bondi grew to 21 cases with eight confirmed on Wednesday morning.

Most of the newly confirmed cases were traced to a single event, where a mass gathering was held on Tuesday.

“This is a new and more dangerous version of the virus,” Hazzard said during the news conference.

The new restrictions include a limit on household visitors to five people, including children, Berejiklian said.

Mask wearing, which had already been reinstated on Friday, will be extended with people required to wear masks in all indoor settings outside the home and at organised outdoor events. The measures also include capacity limits on public transport and in gym classes, while singing at indoor venues, including places of worship, will not be allowed.

Authorities are also urging people to come forward for testing.

“If we adhere to the health orders today, we will have a good chance on getting on top of this outbreak,” Berejiklian told reporters.

New Zealand on alert

 

As of Wednesday, Australia had recorded more than 30,300 cases and 910 deaths.

The country has been among the world’s most successful in containing the pandemic, allowing it to reopen its border to New Zealand.

But the new cases are testing the travel bubble between the neighbours.

On Wednesday, New Zealand raised its pandemic alert level in Wellington to level two, which is one level short of a lockdown.

Earlier, an Australian tourist who visited the capital city over the weekend tested positive for COVID when they returned to Sydney.

“These are precautionary measures which will remain in place while we contact trace and test all of those we need to,” New Zealand’s COVID response minister Chris Hipkins said.

Under the elevated alert level, offices, schools and businesses are still allowed to open, but people are required to follow social distancing rules.

Gatherings of more than 100 people are banned, including weddings and other parties.

New Zealand has a population of five million people, and has recorded a total of 2,720 cases and 26 deaths. The country has posted a 98.2 percent recovery rate.

In Australia itself, Queensland and Victoria have both closed their borders to people from many parts of Sydney as a result of the new cases.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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River Nile dam: Egypt new African allies

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Recent years have seen a dramatic re-engagement with Africa, especially the Nile Basin countries.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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