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Botswana’s high court to rule on anti-gay laws2 minutes read

Homosexual acts are outlawed in Botswana under the country’s penal code of 1965.

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Botswana's high court to rule on anti-gay laws
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Botswana could decriminalise gay sex on Tuesday when its high court is due to rule in a landmark case being watched across Africa after Kenya recently upheld its own anti-homosexuality laws.

Homosexual acts are outlawed in Botswana -one of Africa’s most stable, democratic nations -under the country’s penal code of 1965.

An unnamed applicant is challenging two sections of the code that threaten offenders with a jail sentence of up to seven years.

Last month, Kenya’s high court refused to scrap laws criminalising homosexuality, dealing a blow to the country’s gay community that rippled across a continent where homophobia is rife.

Gay rights organisations had hoped Kenya would follow in the footsteps of African nations like Angola, or those further afield like India, and end decades-old laws which criminalise gay sex.

“After an effort by activists to decriminalise same-sex relations through Kenya’s High Court met a bitter defeat last month, all eyes are on Botswana,” Neela Ghoshal, a specialist in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender law at the Human Rights Watch group, told reporters.

“A positive ruling would give hope to an embattled but resilient African LGBT rights movement.

“It would also demonstrate that Botswana takes seriously its commitments to equality and non-discrimination.”

Twenty-eight out of 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have laws penalising same-sex relationships, according to Ghoshal.

Plea for tolerance –

At the Botswana high court hearing in Gaborone in March, lawyers read a statement from the applicant.

The laws “limit me to interact with others who identify in the same way for fear of imprisonment,” said the applicant identified only by the initials LM.

“We are not looking for people to agree with homosexuality but to be tolerant.”

The state argued that Botswana society was not yet ready to change its attitude towards homosexuality.

But Botswana, a sparsely populated country of just two million people, has shown signs of increasing tolerance of sexual orientation in recent years.

In 2016, the country’s appeal court ruled that the government was wrong to refuse to register an organisation that represents homosexuals and other minority sexual groups.

Activists had launched that legal battle after the Home Affairs ministry rejected an application to register the Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) organisation.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi last year told a meeting on gender-based violence that there are “many people of same sex relationships in this country who have been violated and have also suffered in silence”.

“Just like other citizens, they deserve to have their rights protected,” said the president at the December gathering.

Botswana, in southern Africa, is famed for its abundant wildlife and its diamond mines.

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Business

Sudan plans airline revival

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Sudan announced on Tuesday, that it is in talks with Airbus over a deal to supply eight new planes to its state carrier.

According to a statement from Sudan’s finance ministry, a delegation representing the European manufacturer has met the ministers of finance and infrastructure to discuss the deal and revamp Sudan Airways’ fleet

The document further explains that Airbus has also proposed to provide technical support,  without giving details on the financial aspects of the deal.

The manufacturer has commented on the proposal.

Sudan Airways has suffered heavily over the years from trade sanctions imposed by Washington in 1997, with most of its fleet grounded.

Washington lifted the sanctions in October 2017 but the airline has still not been fully operational due to difficulties in procuring spare parts.

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East Africa News

Aston Villa sign Tanzania captain Mbwana Samatta

27-year-old becomes first Tanzanian to play in the English Premier League

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English Premier league side Aston Villa have completed the signing of Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta for £10m on a four-and-half-year deal, subject to a work permit and international clearance.

The 27-year-old scored 10 goals for Genk in all competitions this season including a goal against Liverpool at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Villa manager Dean Smith hailed the signing “I’m really pleased we have managed to bring Mbwana to the club, he has scored goals throughout his career and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Samatta makes history as the first Tanzanian to play in the Premier League but will be unavailable for Villa’s home match against Watford on Tuesday.

Samatta who is captain of the Tanzanian national side expressed his joy at making the move “I’m so excited, it’s a huge step for me in my career. It’s a big step for the country too. Everyone was looking for a Tanzanian to play in the Premier League.

“I know a lot about Aston Villa. I used to watch Gabby Agbonlahor when he was here.”

Samatta is Villa’s third signing of the January transfer window following loan signings of midfielder Danny Drinkwater from Chelsea and goalkeeper Pepe Reina from AC Milan.

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Business News

President Kenyatta launches Kenya’s first green bond at London Stock Exchange

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President Uhuru Kenyatta today rang the bell to kick off the trading of Kenya’s first green bond at the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Speaking during the launch, the President urged UK investors to use Kenya as a gateway to investing in Africa and AS a bridge to the emerging market of more than 1.2 billion people created by the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“Kenya is one of the top ten fastest growing economies on the continent and also one of the most pro-business nations in Africa,” President Kenyatta said. The President is in London to attend the UK–Africa Investment Summit.

The $40 million (over 4 billion shillings) bond by Nairobi-based property developer Acorn Holdings, started trading today at the LSE and becomes the first Kenya shilling corporate green bond to be listed in the United Kingdom. The bond, which was first listed at the Nairobi Stock Exchange last week, will help Acorn Holdings raise funds to build environmentally friendly accommodation for 50,000 university students in Nairobi.

The Kenyan leader applauded last year’s signing of an MoU by the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and the London Stock Exchange to work with Kenyan companies to help them expand their footprint by jointly listing on the bourse in Nairobi and in London. 

“I note that to date the LSE has admitted over 200 bonds from across the world, raising over 33 billion Pound Sterling worth of capital for sustainable development,” he pointed out. 

Secretary of State for International Development, Rt. Honourable Alok Sharma, said one of the reasons the green bond was happening was because of the support the UK government has provided in terms of the regulation environment and the partial guarantees for investors.

“This is a landmark moment here as well as in the whole of London for we are here today because of the UK-Africa Investment Summit. We have over eight of the 50 fast growing economies in the world in Africa,” Mr Sharma said.

President Kenyatta, along with other African leaders, is in London to attend the UK–Africa Investment Summit.

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