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Sudan to release political detainees amid protests

By News desk

As protest in Sudan intensified, the Government has decided to release political detainees arrested in the last six weeks.

It would be recalled that anti-government protests have continued in Khartoum and other cities in the country.

The country’s Ministry of Information said: “The chief of the National Intelligence and Security Services NISS has decided to release all the detainees arrested during the recent incidents,” said a news release by the Council of External Information, which is part of the Ministry of Information.

In the meantime, the head of a government investigation committee to probe the killing of the protesters, Aamir Ibrahim, told reporters the death toll has risen since the beginning of demonstrations more than a month ago.

“We can confirm that the death toll of the people killed during the protests has accelerated to 30, including 6 deaths in River Nile State, 9 in Gadaref State, 3 in White Nile State, 3 in Northern Sudan and the remaining in Khartoum,” Ibrahim said.

Opposition groups said the number of the deaths is more than 50, while human rights organizations put the number at 40.

Two students killed amid protests in Sudan

By News desk

At least two persons were said to have been killed during an anti-government demonstrations in Sudan.

The independent Sudanese Doctors’ Central Committee, in a statement on Thursday, disclosed thata university student died from torture in custody.

There has been no official confirmation, however, over the death recorded during the protest.

Another student, 24-year-old Abdulazim Abu Bakr, was shot in the chest during demonstrations in the capital Khartoum, the committee said.

The number of people killed during the roughly month-long demonstrations has reached 29, said Amir Muhammed Ibrahim, the chief prosecutor who was assigned to investigate the protests.

It was learned that Amnesty International puts the death toll from the crisis to about 40 persons.

Sudan has been rocked by popular protests since mid-December, with demonstrators decrying President Omar al-Bashir’s seeming failure to remedy the country’s chronic economic woes.

Earlier this month, al-Bashir — in power since 1989 — pledged to carry out urgent economic reforms amid continued calls by the opposition to protest.

A nation of 40 million, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of three quarters of its oil output — its main source of foreign currency — since the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

U.S. accepts court verdict new Congo president

By News desk

The United States Government has Wednesday welcomed court’s certification of Felix Tshisekedi as the new president of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

U.S certification on Wednesday came barely three days after the country’s Constitutional Court backed Tshisekedi’s contested presidential election victory, but his main rival rejected the ruling, called for protests and declared himself leader.

“The United States welcomes the Congolese Constitutional Court’s certification of Felix Tshisekedi as the next President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement. “We are committed to working with the new DRC government.”

Last month’s election was meant to mark the first democratic transfer of power in the vast central African country, where conflicts have regularly destabilized the region.

But monitors pointed to major flaws in the voting. Unrest over the vote has already killed 34 people, wounded 59 and led to 241 “arbitrary arrests” for the week after the provisional results were announced on Jan. 10, according to the U.N. human rights office.

“We encourage the government to include a broad representation of Congo’s political stakeholders and to address reports of electoral irregularities,” Palladino said.

Prosecutors frustrate Gbagbo’s return to Cote d’Ivoire

(Reuters) Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court on Wednesday asked judges to bar former Ivory Coast President, Laurent Gbagbo, from returning to his homeland, a day after he was acquitted on all charges.

In a filing ahead of a hearing on Wednesday in which judges are expected to discuss the terms of his release, prosecutors said if they appeal the acquittal, Ivory Coast might not ensure or be able to compel Gbagbo’s return to the Hague.

After Gbagbo’s arrest and extradition in 2011, Ivory Coast’s government has not cooperated with the court in other matters, prosecutors said in a statement.

Facebook tightens rules for political adverts for Nigeria, others due to upcoming election

Facebook is tightening the rules of political advertising on its platform in countries with big elections to be held in 2019, such as India, Nigeria, and Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The company is taking such measures in order to counter interference with the electoral process, the source noted.

According to Katie Harbath, director of global policy and coverage, beginning on Wednesday in Nigeria, only ads located in the country will be able to run electoral ads, mirroring a policy unveiled during an Irish referendum last May.

Tthe same policy will take effect in Ukraine in February, the source noted adding that Nigeria holds a presidential election on Feb. 16, while Ukraine will follow on March 31.

What comes to India, which parliamentary elections set for this spring, Facebook will place electoral ads in a searchable online library starting from next month, said Rob Leathern, a director of product management at the company.

“We’re learning from every country,” he said. “We know we’re not going to be perfect, but our goal is continuing, ongoing improvement.”

Facebook believes that holding the ads in a library for a total of seven years is a key part of fighting interference, he noted.

Turkey donates military equipment to Gambia

By News desk

The Turkish Government has donated military equipment to Gambia at the latter’s military headquarters in the capital Banjul.

According to local officials, as many as 7,500 Gambian soldiers have been trained by the Turkish military both in the country and in Turkey.

The Turkish Ambassador to Gambia, Ismail Sefa Yuceer, who disclosed the donation on Tuesday, explained that the items handed over to Gambia include military boots, jackets and bags.

He said: “This cooperation scheme is a technical assistance program that has been going on for over the last 16 years and in that respect the total volume of the assistance has reached $1.4 million,”

The small West African country is in a political transition and the country’s military is being reformed as it progresses from its dictatorship past.

“The support is huge in our efforts to ensure that the Gambia Armed Forces is fully equipped and ready to be able to take of its responsibilities both at home and abroad,” said Gambia’s army Chief of Defense Staff Masanneh Kinteh.

ICC acquits former Ivory Coast president, Gbagbo

By News desk

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday acquitted former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and the then youth minister of all charges and ordered their immediate release.

“Having thoroughly analysed the evidence, the Chamber concluded by majority that the Prosecutor has failed to demonstrate several core constitutive elements of the crimes as charged,” said a statement issued by the ICC.

The Chamber also decided that Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude don’t need to submit further evidence to defend themselves and ordered their release, the statement said.

Post-electoral violence in 2010-2011 had resulted in the death of some 3,000 people in the West African nation, according to UN figures.

Gbagbo had refused to recognize the victory of his rival and current President Alassane Ouattara in the November 2010 presidential election.

Since late 2011, the ICC has been trying Gbagbo and Ble Goude due to their alleged role in the violence.

In 2018, Ouattara pardoned 800 prisoners, including former First Lady Simone Gbagbo, who was serving a 20-year prison sentence for undermining national security.

32nd AU summit focuses on displacement, migration

By News desk

Ahead of the 32nd African Union (AU) forthcoming summit, the leaders have concluded plans to center their discussion on ways to improve the situation of the displaced in the continent.

AU Commission Deputy Chairperson, Kwesi Quartey, disclosed the plans on the sidelines of the Permanent Representatives Committee meeting consisting of ambassadors, who gathered to prepare agenda items for the summit slated for Feb. 10-11.

Quartey told reporters on Tuesday that displacement and migration were major problems confronting the continent, saying, displacement is a serious problem in Africa.

African leaders will meet in the 32nd summit themed: “The year of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons: Towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa.”

It would be recalled that last year saw massive displacements in Africa as ethnic-based clashes made 2.7 million people flee their homes from some areas in Ethiopia — making the Horn of Africa nation surpass even Syria in the number of displacements.

However, hundreds of thousands have returned to their respective villages following the return of normalcy and peace.

Quartey said the summit will also dwell on democracy, governance and human rights in addition to the reform agenda that includes furthering the ongoing efforts of the pan-African body to become financially independent.

Sudanese police arrests lecturers over anti-president protest

By News desk

Scores of lecturers including two professors from Khartoum University have been arrested law enforcement agencies after joining anti-government protests that have posed the most serious challenge to President Omar al-Bashir’s rule.

The arrests came amid fresh demonstrations in Khartoum and Wad Madani in response to a call by a coalition of professional unions to push for Bashir to step down.

Witnesses said security forces blocked professors and lecturers from coming out to protest outside the university, arresting at least eight.

It was the first time the faculty of the country’s oldest and most prestigious educational institution has joined the protests since they began last month.

The rest were forced to return into the faculty club house, where security forces surrounded the building trapping about 100 professors and lecturers inside for nearly three hours.

“We demand the president of the republic to step down,” one placard read carried by the lecturers inside the club house, according to pictures posted on social media.

Efforts to get the police spokesman for his reaction over the allegation proved abortive.

Intermittent protests have rocked Sudan since anger over food shortages and rising bread prices erupted into demonstrations in the city of Atbara in the north on Dec. 19.

Security forces have used tear gas on occasions, live ammunition against demonstrators and rounded up more than 2,000 people.

The Sudanese government has said that 19 people were killed in the protests, including at two members of the security forces. Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37.

UN list Nigeria, 15 others as Africa’s peace, democracy model

By news desk

The United Nations (UN) has said Nigeria and 15 other West African countries remain shining example of peace consolidation and democracy on the continent, acknowledging Economic Communiy of Wes Africa (ECOWAS) role in the continent.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, disclosed this at the 54th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS of Heads of State and Government in Abuja on Saturday.

Chambas, who is also the Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), said significant progress had been made in the ECOWAS region.

“The past months have witnessed the successful conduct of elections, contributing to the progress the sub-region is making in consolidation of democracy.

Chambas, however, called on member states to intensify efforts to address “contentious issues” to prevent and mitigate election-related violence, human rights abuses and promote respect for the rule of law.

“Peace and security remain under threat, including an increasing number of terrorist attacks, the consequences which have a direct impact on development.

“We must intensify our efforts to reverse the trend. Conflicts between farmers and herders are among threats to peace and stability in the sub-region.

“The implementation of measures taken at the ECOWAS ministerial meeting of April 26 on this issue, will prevent and peacefully resolve these conflicts,” he said.

He also urged member states to strengthen efforts to ensure greater representation of women and youth in decision making positions across the region to harness its full human resources potential.

Chambas further called for enhanced collaboration to implement regional strategies to promote peace and stability in the region.

“Other significant challenges in the sub-region, for which concerted efforts are required, include Security Sector Reform, maritime piracy, drug-trafficking and transnational organised crimes,” he said

He reiterated the commitment of the UN in the promotion of inter-regional cooperation.

Earlier, President, ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, while commending members efforts in development of the sub-saharan region, urged member states to consolidate efforts to address challenges and promote peace and security in the region.

“Despite these undeniable advances, our community faces significant challenges. It is for us to continue to consolidate our Customs Union and common market, to deal with extremism and terrorism and to fight effectively against the effects of climate change on our economies.

“Employment, especially for young people, remains a priority for each of our member states. As in the past, these challenges will be overcome only in the solidarity and cohesion that have characterised our organisation since its creation,” he added.

The summit would consider the reports on ECOWAS Single Currency, the political situation in Guinea Bissau and Togo and any other business.

The Heads of State would also sign Community Acts and Decisions and consider the Annual Report of ECOWAS, reports of the 41st Ordinary Meeting of the Mediation and Security Council and the 81st Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers.