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Social media restriction in Chad lifted after one year

Access to social media was cut in March 2018, as public opposition mounted over Deby’s plans to push through changes to the constitution

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High costs and slow speed mar Equatorial Guinea's dreams for internet access

Chad President Idriss Deby said Saturday he was lifting social media restrictions which were imposed more than a year ago for “security reasons.”

“For some months, security requirements led the government to toughen access conditions and control measures for electronic communications,” Deby said in a closing address to a digital forum in the capital N’Djamena. 

“These measures were imposed in a context of terrorist threats (but)” the current situation ” leads me … to instruct the firms concerned to lift immediately the restriction on electronic communications,” said Deby.

On Saturday afternoon, it was possible to access social media applications including Whatsapp and Twitter, an AFP journalist reported.

Access to social media was cut in March last year as public opposition mounted over Deby’s plans to push through changes to the constitution shoring up his power after almost three decades in office.

Access remained possible using VPN networks but the use of those is costly in one of the world’s poorest nations.

Barely five per cent of the population enjoys internet access.

Chad is a Western ally in the fight against jihadist groups in Africa and notably faces threats from Boko Haram, which has made several deadly incursions into its territory in recent months.

The largely desert north, bordering Sudan, Libya and Niger, is highly volatile while several rebel groups have set up base just over the border with Libya.

In late January, Chad rebels seeking to destabilise Deby entered the northeast of the country from Libya but were pushed back after French air strikes.

In the east, farmers and nomadic groups have also clashed while the south on the border with the Central African Republic is still tense after the 2013 overthrow of former CAR president sparked unrest which spilt over the border.

Legislative elections in Chad are scheduled to take place by the end of the year having been postponed several times since 2015 as Deby, who grabbed power in 1990, looks to maintain his grip on the country.

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Central Africa News

Central African Republic Declares State of Emergency

Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, the spokesperson for the presidency, made the announcement on national radio.

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The Central African Republic has declared a 15-day state of emergency all over the country, as violent attacks continue, following attempts of a coalition of armed groups seeking to overthrow the newly re-elected President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, spokesperson for the presidency, made this announcement, Thursday, on national radio.

He disclosed that the state of emergency will last until Feb. 4.

The rebels staged an attack last week just outside the nation’s capital, Bangui, but were repelled by UN peacekeeping forces. Recently, the U.N. mission has asked the UN Security Council for more troops and more equipment.

The rebels have been carrying out sporadic attacks in towns far from the capital Bangui and on the RN3 highway, which is the crucial supply line that links the capital with neighbouring Cameroon.

The coalition of armed groups is calling for the resignation of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra who was re-elected in a contentious election on December 27.

Militias who claim to represent ethnic or other groups control two-thirds of the country’s territory and this has been raising questions about government’s control of the vast, mineral-rich central African nation.

Just last week a call was made by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), for the immediate end to all armed violence and clashes in the Central African Republic. Reports from the agency state that about 60,000 people have been forced to flee their home since December, most of whom have fled to neighbouring Cameroon.

Meanwhile health workers in the land-locked central African country, have complained that the continued violence has made it more challenging to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health workers say they are unable to penetrate places where fightings have escalated.

So far, the country has recorded a total of 4,963 positive COVID-19 cases, out of which 1,924 has since recovered. 63 people have died of COVID-19 related issues so far.

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UN Seeks More Peacekeepers for Central African Republic

The situation in the landlocked Central African country has been tense since after Bozize’s candidacy for the Dec. 27, 2020 elections was turned down.

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The United Nations peace mission in the Central African Republic has sought more equipment and peacekeepers amid the violence that has been escalating in the country since last month. 

While speaking to the UN Security Council at a virtual meeting late Thursday, Mankeur Ndiaye, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MINUSCA) said “We need an increase in our capacity in order to respond to this new threat which is destabilizing the country even further.”

“If our requests are not heard, the response of the mission, and most particularly that of the forces, is going to be to do whatever it can. But troops are currently deployed over extremely large areas and as a result, the force only has limited response ability, and we cannot cover the entire territory because of the size of the country,” Ndiaye added.

He noted that assaults and ambushes have continued, and that some UN peacekeepers have also fallen victim, seven of whom have been killed in recent weeks.

Most of the attacks witnessed in the country are blamed on the so-called Coalition of Patriots for Change armed group, which is backed by former President Francois Bozize.

The situation in the landlocked Central African country has been tense since after Bozize’s candidacy for the Dec. 27, 2020 elections was turned down.

Former President Francois Bozize who is a retired general, seized power in a 2003 coup but was overthrown in a 2013 rebellion. Several militia groups, some close to Bozize, have since attacked armed forces, civilians, and UN peacekeeping forces.

The incumbent president Faustin-Archange Touadera, who won a second term in last month’s polls, has reiterated his commitment to peace in the country.

Last week, The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called for an immediate end to all armed violence in the Central African Republic, stating that some 60,000 people have been forced to flee the country since December. ​​​​​​​

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COVID-19: Egypt’s Health Ministry Records 890 New Cases, 56 Deaths

The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in Egypt has now risen to 156,397, recovered cases are at 122,993, and 8,583 deaths.

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The Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population confirmed on Sunday, 890 new coronavirus cases, up from 887 on Saturday and 879 on Friday.

The ministry also confirmed that 56 more people had died of virus-related issues while 701people had recovered so far.

The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in Egypt has now risen to 156,397, recovered cases are at 122,993, and 8,583 deaths.

The North African country has officially entered the second wave of the pandemic, after a steady rise of reported cases in November and December.

Government officials have continuously urged the public to adhere to COVID-19 precautionary measures, and authorities have been instructed to strictly enforce the country’s mask mandate, which applies to public transportation and all indoor public spaces and.

Anyone who violates the mask wearing policies in these places, is subject to an instant LE50 fine, and restaurants and cafes breaking capacity rules are subject to an instant LE4,000 fine.

In late December, The Ministry of Education decided to again shift classroom learning back online and postpone exams ahead of the mid-year vacation that starts on January 16 and goes until February 20.

Students first-term exams will be taken once they return from vacation.

According to the country’s Health Minister Hala Zayed, Egypt has received doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine, and is expecting more shipments.

The country will receive 20 percent of its vaccines needs via the AstraZeneca vaccine from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance by the end of January, the minister said.

The Egyptian Ministry of Health is also expecting a shipment of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine. The ministry signed for 25 million doses of the vaccine in September last year, and will begin clinical trials of the vaccine as soon as it arrives.

Egypt plans to roll out its vaccination campaign in early February, beginning with the elderly, healthcare workers, and those with underlying health conditions.

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