Tanzanian President John Magufuli warned on Friday of a crackdown on anyone who participates in illegal demonstrations, vowing not to let his economic reforms be derailed by street protests.
Magufuli, nicknamed “the Bulldozer” for his forceful leadership style, has introduced anti-corruption measures and tough economic reforms, including cuts to wasteful government spending, since taking office in November 2015.
“Some people have failed to engage in legitimate politics; they would like to see street protests everyday…Let them demonstrate and they will see who I am,” he told a public gathering in northwestern Tanzania.
Some people have failed to engage in legitimate politics; they would like to see street protests everyday…Let them demonstrate and they will see who I am.
Critics say his cost-cutting measures and policy changes are excessive and undermine growth in East Africa’s third-biggest economy by stifling foreign investment in critical sectors such as mining. Magufuli said the reforms were on course.
“We want to build a strong economy for all Tanzanians and we are on the right track. Let us be patient, Tanzania will become a land of honey,” the president said.
Police ready to quash social media fuelled protests
A senior police official said on Friday that security forces were on alert against street protests being organized via social media platforms.
A U.S.-based Tanzanian social media activist, Mange Kimambi, has called for nationwide anti-government demonstrations on April 26 to protest over a diminution of political freedoms and human rights abuses in his home country.
Kimambi, who has a large youth following on social media, is rallying Tanzanians via Telegram chat groups to take to the streets after previous demonstrations called by the main opposition CHADEMA party in 2016 were called off.
In Tanzania, anyone wanting to stage a demonstration must inform police and receive a permit from them. Police have declared the Kimambi-led protest illegal and an act of treason.
Foreign diplomats express concern
The United States, European Union and several Western embassies in Tanzania voiced concern last month over political violence and allegations of rights abuses.
But the criticism is unlikely to hurt Magufuli’s government politically, after the ruling CCMparty won a majority in recent local government and parliamentary by-elections.
The foreign affairs ministry dismissed the concerns of Western embassies as “sensational, ill-informed and inciting”.
Aliko Dangote, ex-Emir of Kano test negative for coronavirus-Africanews
Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote on Sunday (March 29) revealed that he had tested negative for COVID-19. According to him, he took the test as a global citizen and business leader.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted modern society, affecting our collective health and well-being,” he said in a tweet.
After an initial 200 million naira donation to the federal government for the efforts to combat the pandemic, the Dangote Foundation convened a private-sector led initiative to support ongoing government efforts.
“CACOVID (Coalition Against COVID-19) is an initiative that I am leading with other private sector leaders and our common goal is to support ongoing Government initiatives with our resources in the fight against Covid-19. We are in this together & I am optimistic we will overcome,” he said in another tweet.
Meanwhile, a test result for Nigeria’s former Emir of Kano also came out negative. The Emir’s close ally and friend governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, reported testing positive on Saturday.
The two had met earlier this month after the Emir was dethroned by the state government and banished to exile in neighbouring Nasarawa State. el-Rufai visited the Emir and escorted him to Lagos after a court ordered his release.
South Sudanese President appoints five Vice Presidents
South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir on Friday appointed rebel leader Riek Machar as vice president, paving way for the formation of a unity government that seeks to end six years of war.
“I President Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of South Sudan, do hereby issue a decree for the appointment of Dr. Riek Machar Teny as first vice president of South Sudan with immediate effect,” said a statement read on state television.
The presidential decree also dissolved all institutions at national and state levels,” Information Minister Michael Makuei told AFP.
The decree was read on state television, the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, appointing Machar as the first of five vice-presidents in a bloated cabinet to accommodate various warring parties.
But consensus has only been reached on three of the four others, including current first vice president Taban Deng Gai, a former Machar ally who defected.
James Wani Igga from Kiir’s ruling party, and Rebecca Nyandeng, a former minister and Kiir ally-turned-critic are the other named vice-presidents as part of the long-awaited unity government..
The swearing-in ceremony will take place on Saturday, Makuei said. Kiir had initially said his longtime rival would be sworn-in on Friday, after they had reached the unity deal
“The vice presidents will take oath tomorrow and thereafter we will continue to process the appointments of the cabinet and appointment of the governors of the 10 states and three chief administrators of the three administrative areas,” Makuei told AFP.
Meeting the deadline
Saturday is the third deadline for the formation of the unity government which was agreed upon in a September 2018 peace deal, but pushed back as crucial issues remained unresolved.
Key among these were the delineation of state boundaries, formation of a unified national army and security arrangements for Machar, who has been living in exile since 2016.
A last-minute deal on the number of states was achieved, although little progress has been made on the other issues.
The leaders have come under increased pressure in recent weeks both from regional heads of state and main donor, the United States, to form the government.
A compromise by Kiir to cut to 10 the number of states, which he increased unilaterally to 32 after independence, was seen as key in moving towards the creation of the government.
However the opposition remains reticent about an additional three “administrative areas” pushed through by Kiir.
Machar spokesman Manawa Peter Gatkuoth said the two men would “continue to solve the problem” after the government is formed.
Dare to hope?
“This is a major step forward, if indeed they form the government as they say,” Alan Boswell, a South Sudan expert with the International Crisis Group (ICG) told AFP.
“Kiir’s compromise on the states issue paved the way for the two sides to finally move forward, even if the parties have much more to work through in the coming weeks, months, and years.”
Machar was sacked as vice-president in 2013 and later accused of plotting a coup against Kiir, kickstarting a civil war characterised by violence, rape and UN warnings of ethnic cleansing.
A 2015 peace deal brought Machar back as vice-president and he returned to Juba with heavy security.
When that deal fell apart in July 2016, the capital was plunged into a brutal battle between their rival armies and Machar was forced to flee on foot.
The ensuing war drew in new parts of the country and other local grievances and disputes came to the fore.
Several heads of state are expected to attend Saturday’s inauguration, although no names have been confirmed.
DRC warlord nicknamed terminator slammed 30 years sentence by ICC
A former Congolese rebel leader has been sentenced to 30 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Fighters loyal to Bosco Ntaganda carried out gruesome massacres of civilians, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) said in July.
Ntaganda, nicknamed “Terminator”, was convicted on 18 counts including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.
The sentence is the longest that the ICC has handed down.
Ntaganda was the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery by the ICC and overall the fourth person the court has convicted since its creation in 2002.
The Rwanda-born 46-year-old former rebel has been involved in numerous armed conflicts in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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