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Botswana president vows to fight embezzlement at inauguration ceremony2 min read

President Mokgweetsi Masisi at his swearing-in ceremony promised to fight graft

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BOTSWANA-POLITICS-INAUGURATION
The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi (C) is being sworn in as the 5th President of Botswana by the chief justice, Terence Rannowane (2R) while the First Lady Neo J Masisi (L) looks on, in Gaborone on November 1, 2019. (Photo by Monirul Bhuiyan / AFP)

Botswana’s newly re-elected President Mokgweetsi Masisi was sworn in on Friday during a ceremony snubbed by his predecessor after the two former allies fell out in a highly public feud.

In a speech before several thousand supporters, Masisi promised to tackle corruption in diamond-rich Botswana, which has been seen across Africa as a beacon of stability and democracy.

Masisi did not mention his predecessor, Ian Khama, who has been embroiled in a dispute with the president since last year and who himself is now entangled in a corruption scandal.

The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi (4L), inspecting the Guard of Honour after being sworn in as the 5th President of Botswana, in Gaborone on 1 November 2019. (Photo by Monirul Bhuiyan / AFP)

“My government will put in place… mechanisms through the application of practices of good governance to ensure that corruption is defeated,” Masisi said.

“I am committed to the rule of law in this country in order to enhance confidence in this country and send a message to all of us that the law must be abided by or face the consequences of non-compliance.”  

Read: Backers of ex-Botswana president summoned to disciplinary hearings

Khama, whose father founded the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) that has ruled since independence from Britain in 1966, has renounced his hand-picked successor Masisi and accused him of authoritarianism.

According to the programme for Friday’s ceremony, Khama was supposed to attend, but he did not show up.

The feud between the two men erupted soon after Khama stepped down at the end of his second five-year term and handed power to Masisi. The president was elected in October general polls, though the opposition called the vote rigged.

Khama and two others — a former intelligence chief, and a South African businesswoman — have been accused of embezzling more than $9 billion in public funds since 2018.

Khama has dismissed the accusations as “ridiculous”.

“This is just fake news designed deliberately to discredit me,” the former leader told reporters.

The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, delivers his speech after being sworn in as the 5th President of the country
The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, delivers his speech after being sworn in as the 5th President of the country in Gaborone on November 1, 2019. (Photo by Monirul Bhuiyan / AFP)

In a statement on Friday, Khama’s lawyers denounced the allegations as fabricated and an attempt to “settle personal vendettas”.

“Our client will launch a thorough investigation of all the allegations made against him, in order to clear his name, offer the nation the truth, and expose this clandestine conspiracy by some government institutions to assassinate his character,” it said.

The businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe also denied the accusations against her in a press conference on Thursday.

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Supporters of Sudan’s Bashir oppose handover to ICC

Supporters of ousted Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir held a protest Saturday vowing to oppose any move by the country’s new authorities to hand him over to the International Criminal Court

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Supporters of ousted Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir held a protest Saturday vowing to oppose any move by the country’s new authorities to hand him over to the International Criminal Court.

Dozens of his supporters, carrying Bashir’s portrait, gathered outside the Khartoum court where he is being tried on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds.

“We are with you. We will never betray you. No, no to ICC,” chanted the crowd as the former president was brought to the courthouse for a hearing.

The demonstration comes amid growing calls from human rights groups, activists and victims of Sudan’s Darfur war for the surrender of Bashir to The Hague-based court.

“President Bashir represents the whole of Sudan. We have an independent judiciary and if any trials are to be held, they must be held here,” said protester Mohamed Ali Daklai.

“We reject any outside or foreign tribunal. ICC is anyway a political court used by Western countries to pressure the weak.”

Bashir was ousted by the army on April 11 following nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.

The military generals who initially seized power after the president’s fall refused to hand Bashir over to the ICC.

He is wanted by the ICC for his alleged role in the Darfur war that erupted in 2003 as ethnic African rebels took up arms against Bashir’s then Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalizing the region economically and politically.

Khartoum applied what rights groups say was a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels — raping, killing, looting and burning villages.

The ICC has accused Bashir of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the vast western region of Darfur. He denies the charges.

About 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, according to the United Nations.

Bashir, who ruled Sudan for three decades after seizing power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, is being held in a Khartoum prison and facing trial on corruption charges.

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Central Africa News

Rebels in DR Congo kill 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives

Assailants in DR Congo have killed 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives against Ugandan rebel strongholds in the east of the country,

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Assailants in DR Congo have killed 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives against Ugandan rebel strongholds in the east of the country, a local official said on Saturday.

The latest killings, which occurred in the night from Friday to Saturday, take the total number of those killed in revenge attacks in the past two weeks to more than 30.

The attacks took place in two locations in the Beni region of the North Kivu province where the Congolese army last month announced an offensive to root out insurgents belonging to the Islamist-inspired rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — a militia of Ugandan origin that has long operated in the border region.

Beni administrator Donat Kibwana said the attackers used machetes and knives and were believed to have gone on to loot shops and homes.

The army said on October 30 it had launched “large-scale operations”, including shelling and troop deployments, aimed at ridding the area of armed groups. 

But the civilian death toll in ADF attacks has been rising, and residents have accused the army of focusing their efforts on the wrong areas. 

“It’s a complicated situation because the population is the target of ADF revenge attacks against army operations,” said Teddy Kataliko, president of the Beni Civil Society.

The ADF, which has been present in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1995, is accused of having killed hundreds or even thousands of civilians in the Beni region in the past five years.

The Islamic State jihadist group has claimed some of the ADF’s recent attacks but there is no clear evidence of any affiliation between them. 

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Politics

Mozambique’s Renamo lose bid to annul election

The Constitutional Court rejected the application on grounds Renamo “did not submit enough evidence to sustain it’s complaint”.

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Mozambique’s largest opposition party Renamo has lost its bid to annul last month’s election results after the country’s top court threw out its challenge, according to a court judgement seen Friday.

Renamo, the rebel group turned opposition party, lodged an application after it lost the October 15 election to the long-ruling Frelimo party.

It accused the government of “massive electoral fraud” and of using violence and intimidation on voting day in a breach of a peace deal between the two parties who once fought a civil war.

But the Constitutional Court, in a judgement dated November 11 but seen on its website on Friday, rejected the application on grounds that the party “did not submit enough evidence to sustain its complaint”.

Last week the European Union cast doubt on the credibility of the ruling party’s victory, saying its observers detected a litany of “irregularities and malpractices” and called on authorities to clarify them.

Mozambican civil society and international observers had already flagged numerous alleged attempts to stuff ballot boxes and chase away election monitors, as well as hundreds of thousands of so-called “ghost voters” on the electoral roll.

Incumbent President Filipe Nyusi won a new five-year term after his Frelimo party secured 73 per cent of the votes cast.

The election posed a major challenge to the country’s already fragile peace agreement between Frelimo and Renamo who fought a civil war from 1975-1992 that left one million dead.

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