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New Sudan intelligence chief resumes amidst tension among operatives2 minutes read

The Transitional Council which runs the country also accepted the resignation of General Abu Bakr Dumblab, who previously headed the NISS.

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Sudan's military council cancels talks with protesters, calls for elections in 2020
Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, Sudanese Army lieutenant general who is currently serving as Chairman of the Sovereign Council, the country's collective transitional head of state.

Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council has appointed General Jamal Abdul Majeed as the new head of the General Intelligence Service, formerly known as National Intelligence and Security Service, NISS.

Until his appointment, Majeed had previously headed the country’s military intelligence, a council statement said on Thursday.

The council which runs the country also accepted the resignation of General Abu Bakr Dumblab, who previously headed the NISS.

Dumblab resigned “to open the door for a new leadership to take over the agency at this sensitive and delicate stage,” the intelligence service said in statement.

Dumblab had become head of the service after the removal of Bashir, a Reuters report said.

Majeed’s appointment came days after putting down an armed revolt by former agents linked to toppled ruler Omar al-Bashir, the sovereign council said.

The army said two soldiers were killed and four wounded in fighting late on Tuesday in Khartoum with former members of the country’s once-feared security service before government forces quelled the uprising.

It was the biggest confrontation so far between the old guard and supporters of the transitional authorities, which helped topple Bashir in April after 30 years in power.

Former agents of the intelligence service, who had been protesting against their severance packages, also shut two small oilfields on Tuesday.

The military took control of the two fields, which have an output of around 5,000 barrels a day, and production resumed on Wednesday.

The revolt also forced the authorities to close Sudan’s airspace but it was reopened on Tuesday.

In a speech early on Wednesday, the sovereign council head, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, vowed to stand firm against any coup attempt and added that the army was in control of all buildings used by the intelligence service.

Restructuring the security apparatus, blamed by many Sudanese for suppressing dissent under Bashir, was a key demand of the uprising that had forced his removal. However, once dismissed by the new transitional government, many of the security agents returned to barracks without handing in their weapons.

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Guinea referendum, legislative polls must be ‘transparent’: UN rights chief

Months of protests against the referendum have resulted in “dozens of deaths,” Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.

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Guinean President Alpha Conde on a campaign. The referendum on constitutional changes is seen by critics as a ploy by President Conde, 81, to stay in power for a third term, after a decade in power./AFP

The United Nations on Thursday called on Guinean authorities to ensure that this weekend’s referendum and legislative votes are transparent and inclusive, warning that any escalation in the country’s crisis would be “profoundly harmful”.

Guinea, a country with a long tradition of political turmoil, is to vote on Sunday in a referendum and in a legislative election.

The referendum on constitutional changes is seen by critics as a ploy by President Alpha Conde, 81, to stay in power for a third term, after a decade in power, an AFP report said.

Months of protests against the referendum have resulted in “dozens of deaths,” Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.

“Reports also indicate that ethnic divisions are deepening, with increasing incitement to hatred and violence on social media and at political rallies,” she said.

“Any further escalation of this crisis could be profoundly harmful.”

Bachelet highlighted a warning about  “serious irregularities in the voters’ register” from the international association of French-speaking countries, OIF, earlier this week.

“I urge the authorities to avert greater turmoil and ensure that the electoral process is transparent and inclusive,” she said.

Guinea has suffered serious unrest over the plans for constitutional reform. At least 30 people and a gendarme, have lost their lives, according to an AFP tally.

Jailed under previous hardline regimes, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010.

He was returned to office by voters in 2015 for his second and final five-year term under the current constitution, but critics say he has become authoritarian.

Earlier this month he left the door open to running for a third term, saying there was “nothing more democratic” than the referendum on constitutional change.

The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) has called for a boycott of the vote.

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‘Africa will not succumb to gay rights pressure’, AU chairman tells European Union

“African countries will not want to be lectured on governance and human rights.”

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African leaders ready to sign AfCTA
Chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat. /AFP

Chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat on Thursday told the European Union leaders that the continent will not succumb to pressure for the recognition of gay rights in various countries.

Mahamat at a press conference kicking off a meeting between AU and EU leaders highlighted “differences” over topics like international justice and gay rights at a meeting with the European Union intended to deepen the partnership between their continents.

“Certainly, we have our differences. International criminal justice, sexual orientation and identity, the death penalty, the centrality of the African Union in certain crises, etcetera,” Mahamat said.

Calling these differences “normal”, Faki said they could be overcome only with “recognition and acceptance”, an AFP report quoted him as saying.

Thursday’s talks mark the second visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to AU headquarters in less than three months. 

In December she chose to visit the AU on her first trip outside Europe after taking her post, a decision she said at the time was intended to send a “strong political message” about Europe’s partnership with Africa.

Von der Leyen is in the process of preparing a new “Africa Strategy” for the EU, due to be unveiled in early March. 

In her own remarks Thursday, she said the two continents were “natural partners” and stressed areas of cooperation like trade and the fight against climate change.

Later at a press conference she said she believed the two blocs could work through the disagreements Faki had pointed out.

“This is what the essence of a good partnership and a good friendship is. You build on a solid foundation with common projects you can work on, and you’re able to mark very clearly where differences are,” she said. “We try to convince but we acknowledge that there are different positions.”

“We should not follow the notion of expecting the African Union to adapt to the European Union,” she added. 

The majority of African countries criminalise same-sex sexual acts.

Various African countries have resisted efforts to try African leaders at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In 2017, Burundi became the first country to pull out of the court altogether. 

Europe will try to use Thursday’s talks to promote trade and economic cooperation in response to “the flood of Chinese investment in the continent”, said Mikaela Gavas, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, an international non-profit foundation.

But the question of human rights remains a major potential barrier to deeper cooperation, Gavas said.

“African countries will not want to be lectured on governance and human rights,” she said. 

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Absa Kenya signs almost 5 million customers on virtual platform

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Kenya’s Absa Bank , a part of South Africa’s Absa Group, has signed almost 5 million customers on its virtual banking platform, which it sees as a major driver for future growth, chief executive, Jeremy Awori announced yesterday.

When the bank first launched its virtual savings and loan app known as “Timiza” — Kiswahili for “Achieve” — in March 2018, it attracted 300,000 customers. By the end of the year it had 3 million users, with lending standing at 10 billion Kenyan shillings ($98.91 million).

The bank, formerly known as Barclays Kenya, also has a separate mobile-based banking service to process normal customer transactions such as deposits and withdrawals.

Absa Kenya, posted a pretax profit of 8.18 billion shillings in the first nine months of 2019, compared with 7.72 billion shillings in year-earlier period.

Kenyan lenders have in recent years , turned to technology as they try to counter competition from mobile phone-based financial services such as from telecoms operator Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform, which had 23.6 million users as of last September.

Absa’s virtual banking app’s competitors include those run by KCB Group’s, NCBA Group and Equity Group.

Pressure to use mobile banking services increased further when the government imposed a cap on commercial lending rates in 2016 that ate into bank profit margins forcing banks to search for new ways to grow their businesses. The cap was scrapped at the end of last year.

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