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Amnesty Calls For Unconditional Release Of Ivory Coast’s Opposition Leader, N’guessan

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Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of Ivory Coast’s opposition leader, Pascal Affi N’guessan, and others who were arrested days after the constitutional court confirmed President Alassane Ouattara’s re-election.

Mr N’Guessan is facing charges of terrorism and sedition after rejecting President Ouattara’s election win for a third term and announcing the establishment of a parallel government.

The rights group, in a statement on Monday, also said several human rights abuses were committed before and after the electoral period, including attacks on demonstrators by people armed with machetes and guns.

President Ouattara last week held talks his main rival, Henri Konan Bédié, in the commercial hub of Abidjan to make peace in the country after weeks of violence over a disputed presidential election.

After the meeting the opposition said no dialogue would proceed unless all those arrested over election protests are freed.

Officially 85 people died while 484 were wounded in the electoral crisis.

The statement read in part, “Amnesty International has also documented the arrests of dozens of opposition members around the election. This follows a call from the opposition for civil disobedience, a boycott of the election, the establishment of a National Transition Council and the rejection of President Alassane Ouattara’s re-election.

“Opposition leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan was arrested and detained incommunicado from the evening of the 6 to 9 of November, during which period neither his family nor his lawyer had access to him. N’Guessan said he did not see the light of day for 60 hours. There are 30 charges against him including “attack and conspiracy against the state authority, murder and act of terrorism.”

“His lawyer only managed to see N’Guessan during his appearance in front of the judge on 9 November. Since then, neither the lawyer nor N’Guessan’s family was able to communicate with him. N’Guessan’s whereabouts cannot be confirmed. The authorities must allow him to communicate with his lawyer.

“On 3 November, 21 people were arbitrarily arrested at veteran opposition leader Henri Konan Bédié’s house, five of whom are still in detention. They include Maurice Guikahué, deputy leader of Côte d’Ivoire Democratic Party (PDCI in French), senators Seri Bi N’Guessan, Bassy Koffi Bernard, and Henri Konan Bédié’s chief of staff Narcisse N’dri Kouadio.

“They are facing 16 charges, including “attack and conspiracy against state authority”. Security forces are still stationed around the houses of former Minister Hubert Oulaye and that of Pascal Affi N’Guessan, preventing any person to enter or leave the buildings. Amnesty International considers this as an arbitrary restriction on the right to freedom of movement of all people inside the houses.

“This wave of arrests of political opponents follows another series of arrests earlier this year. In August, Amnesty International reported a wave of arrests of political dissidents. Between 13 August and 25 October, at least 41 people were arrested in Abdijan, Korogho, Toumodi and Alepe while protesting or after calling on people to protest.

“This includes five members of the opposition party, GPS, who were arrested on 13 August while on their way to a protest, and Pulchérie Edith Gbalet, coordinator of the NGO Alternatives Citoyennes (ACI), who was arrested on 15 August in the hotel where she was residing along with two collaborators after she called on people to protest against Ouattara’s third term.

“The growing crackdown on opposition leaders and government critics is an attack on human rights. Authorities must stop restricting the right to freedom of movement of people inside the residence of opposition leaders by removing security forces surrounding them,” said Samira Daoud.

“They must immediately and unconditionally release Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and all those detained simply for exercising their human rights. They must commit to creating a space where people can freely express their opinions and peacefully protest without fear of being arrested, assaulted or killed.”

North Africa Politics

Algeria’s President Tebboune to Return Home after COVID-19 Treatment in Germany

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Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is set to return home from a German hospital “in the coming days” after treatment for COVID-19.

“The president assures the Algerian people that he is recovering and will return to the homeland in the coming days,” the office said in a statement, published on Facebook.

In late October, Tebboune was transported to Germany for an in-depth medical examination following a doctor recommendation.

Shortly after, the office announced that the president was diagnosed with COVID-19.

In compliance with the recommendations of his medical team, the 75-year-old Algerian leader continues to undergo the rest of recovery procedures after leaving a specialised medical facility in Germany, the office added.

Tebboune has served as the president of Algeria since December 2019.

He assumed the post after the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika following months of protests.

Since the start of the pandemic, 83,199 cases of the coronavirus have been registered in Algeria.

To date, the North African country’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 2,431, while the number of recoveries is approaching 54,000.

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Ghana to Bury Ex-President Rawlings December 23

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Jerry Rawlings calls for review of Ghana's constitution

The remains of deceased former President of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings, will be buried on December 23, his family has said.

James Victor Gbeho, Head of the funeral planning committee, in a press release on Monday, said the family, in consultation with government, has agreed on the date.

The funeral rites for the 73-year-old will come off at the Independence Square in Accra.

Mr Gbeho said, “The family is working in conjunction with government on the finer details of the funeral ceremony and will communicate the arrangements in due course.”

Rawlings, Ghana’s longest-serving head of state and founder of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), died on 12 November at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra after a short illness.

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Akufo-Addo, Mahama Go Toe to Toe as Ghana’s Presidential Election Draws Closer

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President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) will face former president John Dramani Mahama, leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), in the West African country’s December 7 presidential election.

The election has been dubbed the “battle of two giants.”

It is the third time Akufo-Addo and Mahama will compete against each other for the highest office in the country, with each previously having won one poll each– Akufo-Addo in 2016 and Mahama in 2012.

Although 12 candidates are vying for the presidency, including two women, only Akufo-Addo and Mahama are said to have a chance of coming out victorious.

The electoral campaign has been dominated by Ghana’s economy, infrastructure development, education, corruption, and debt relief.

Akufo-Addo, 76, has been touting economic growth during his current four-year term in office as well as the streamlining of government services and implementation of free schooling for senior high school pupils.

Mahama, 62, has meanwhile stressed the many infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, he realised during his presidency, promising do invest more in this area if re-elected.

Political analysts of the University of Ghana in the capital, Accra, predict a slim win for Akufo-Addo in the December elections.

Polls have indicated voters prefer Akufo-Addo’s policy-driven approach to run the nation of 30 million people, the university’s head of the political science department, Kaakyire Frempong.

A candidate is required to gain at least 50 per cent of votes to be elected in the first round.

Ghana’s roughly 17 million registered voters will also elect 275 legislators from 914 candidates on Dec. 7.

Akufo-Addo’s NPP is expected to once again gain the majority of seats in parliament.

Voting will take place at more than 33,000 polling stations between 7 am and 5 pm (0700 and 1700 GMT).

The electoral commission will announce results within 72 hours after the election.

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