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Tanzania: Diplomats query suspension of The Citizen Newspaper1 minute read

Embassies question this week’s decision to suspend The Citizen.

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A man reads The Citizen Newspaper in northern Tanzania. - AFP

Diplomats in Tanzania questioned the decision to impose a week-long closure on a key newspaper after officials accused it of falsely reporting currency exchange rates.

The action against The Citizen newspaper follows growing complaints by opposition supporters and civil society groups at what they say are moves to stifle dissent and create obstacles for journalists and rights activists.

British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Sarah Cooke took to Twitter to express her displeasure, questioning the magnitude of the punishment in respect to the problem.

Similar messages were posted by ambassadors from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden, in a rare joint public challenge to the authorities.

The Irish embassy expressed concerns about “this week’s decision to suspend The Citizen.”

However, the Statistics Act of 2017 bans any publication of statistical information contrary to the official figures, with possible jail terms for those who do.

The Citizen was accused of relaying false information in a recent article on the devaluation of Tanzanian shilling.

It reported the US dollar was selling at 2,415 Tanzanian shillings, compared to 2,300 at the central bank’s rate.

President John Magufuli is facing growing criticism from the opposition as well as from civil society groups and international donors at what they say are crackdowns on human rights.

The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), a key Tanzanian human rights organisation, said the suspension was a “continuation of the crackdown on the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press in Tanzania.”

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East Africa News

Six-storey residential building collapses in Embakasi, Nairobi

Access to the scene by emergency responders was hampered by the poor state of the roads in Tassia

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Collapsed residential building in Tassia
Collapsed residential building in Tassia.

A six-storey building in Tassia, Embakasi, a suburb in Nairobi, has collapsed with scores of people inside it. According to the residents of the building, the structure began sinking at around 5:00 am this morning and eventually collapsed. Eyewitnesses at the scene say that three bodies had been retrieved as of 1:00 pm EAT.

Access to the scene by emergency responders was hampered by the poor state of the roads in Tassia estate and made even worse by the ongoing heavy rains being experienced in the city and across the country.

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The Kenya Red Cross, St. John’s Ambulance, Emergency Plus Medical Services (EMS Kenya) and the Kenya Police are at the scene and are being aided by the area residents.

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East Africa News

Landslides claim 38 lives in Burundi after heavy rains

Police said 22 died in Nyempundu, three in Gikomero, 13 in Rukombe, though those were provisional figures

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Landslides claim 38 lives in Burundi after heavy rains
(File photo)

At least 38 people died in Burundi after heavy rains triggered landslides that swept through hillside communities in the northwest of the country, according to a provisional police toll on Thursday.

Police said on social media that heavy rains fell on Nyempundu hills in Mugina, Cibitoke province, around 120 kilometres north of the country’s main port Bujumbura, “causing landslides.”

“It happened at night, when everyone was at home, and landslides hit three very steep hills and buried everything in their path,” a witness said.

“Whole families were buried alive in their homes or in the fields. It was terrifying.”

Police said 22 died in Nyempundu, three in Gikomero, 13 in Rukombe, though those were provisional figures.

Landslides are frequent in Burundi, a mountainous country in the Great Lakes region.

The Nyempundu hills are in a difficult region to access, about five kilometres from the Rwandan border. Local authorities including the Cibitoke Governor were at the scene, witnesses said.

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What’s in it for Africa at the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Spain?

The highpoint of the COP25 for Africa is the “Africa Day”, which is slated for December 10

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What's in it for Africa at the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Spain?
Participants pose for a family photo within the 2019 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25), held in Madrid, Spain on December 02, 2019. Burak Akbulut / AFP

African delegates will seek to push for changes at the 2019 annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25, which officially kicked off on Monday, December 3, in Madrid, Spain.

About 29,000 visitors are expected at the conference that holds from 2 to 13 December 2019, including 50 heads of state. The U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres underscored the meeting’s urgency, saying that the climate crisis could soon reach the “point of no return.”

READ: Ugandan children boycott school to march for climate change action

At COP25, delegates from 197 countries are expected to nail down some details left open by the 2015 Paris climate accord, including how carbon-trading systems and compensation for poor countries with rising sea levels will work.

Being signatories to the Paris Agreement, nearly all African countries have shown commitments to enhance climate actions by putting practical measures and building resilience in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

READ: How climate change is draining Lake Malawi and local fishing economy

Like the previous COP summits, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is present in Madrid to support regional member countries through its support to the African group of negotiators and through advocacy to make Africa’s voice heard in the global stage.

The highpoint of the COP25 for Africa is the “Africa Day”, which is slated for December 10, and will focus on concerted global action on climate change to attain a new Africa.

The conference was originally scheduled to be held in Brazil and then Chile, but the election of President Jair Bolsonaro and the protests in Santiago changed those plans. Spain agreed to host last month.

READ: Uganda’s teenage environmental activist calls for urgent climate change action

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