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Uganda, Ethiopia & The Rest of Africa’s Key Elections in 2021

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Robert Kyagulanyi, a beret-donning, popular, youthful musician in Uganda is attempting the rare. While racing against Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni seems a herculean task, the nature of his challenge has drawn up Africa’s most interesting election in 2021- on paper.

Museveni, 76, has been Uganda’s President for 34 years. When he emerged President of the East African nation, Bobi Wine was just a 4-year old kid. Many things have since gone south, with Uganda’s involvements in a genocide in Rwanda and war in the Democratic Republic of Congo still fresh in the minds of many.

Previously tagged as one of the new generations of leaders in the 90s, a young, growing crop of Ugandans seem to see the future in the more youthful Bobi Wine.

Disruptive, challenging, Bobi Wine of the National Unity Platform and his team of young campaigners have been arrested multiple times by the nation’s Police, as he takes the campaign to the social media- a forte of the youths.

Experience is however a big advantage for Museveni, and the power of incumbency right at his beck. Through his sweeping influence in the nation’s political sphere, he was about to spearhead a constitutional change that saw an age limit removed and term limit remodeled, to his advantage.

January 14, 2021 is the day of reckoning for Ugandans, with a section of the populace in Bobi Wine’s favour while Museveni’s staunchest supporters remain standing with him.

Read: I Survived Two Assassination Attempts – Bobi Wine

The incumbent President is using every instrument in his possession to reemerge as President, with the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemning the violence that trailed Bobi Wine’s campaign in November.

The opposition has also challenged Museveni of the National Renaissance Movement, for using the Police and military to his advantage.

In the first two weeks of the new year, it will be fireworks from Uganda, hopefully with no bloodshed.

EthiopiaTipping The Horn of Africa

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, one of its most culturally diverse and the giant of the Horn of Africa will hope the coming year will be better.

Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali’s early spark is facing threats of being eroded, with doubts now being cast over his ability to rule the big nation. In the first few months after his emergence, he rose on to settle the agelong rift between Ethiopia and neighbours Eritrea, helping him bag the coveted Nobel Prize for Peace.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride of endless security challenges since then for Ahmed, with the flashpoint being a month-long battle against the northernmost part of the country’s political party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Ahmed leads a coalition of parties, from different regions in the country and his party, the Prosperity Party currently holds 512 seats in the Ethiopian Parliament. He’s still favoured to re-emerge as Prime Minister but with security situations lurking around his government, he has more than enough to chew.

The conflict with the Tigrayan forces led to the death of thousands and the displacement of thousands who fled to Sudan and Eritrea. Ahmed, and some other members of his government are being accused of committing human right offences; claims he has since denied.

Right after the conflict at Tigray was settled and normalcy was restored, ethnicity-mediated attacks were recorded in Benishangul-Gumuz in the Western part of the country. At least 222 people were recorded dead and houses were razed.

Ahmed’s good leadership pales in comparison with the security problems in the country, with the TPLF, who ruled the country for 27 years before his emergence, and are staking a claim ahead of mid-2021 election.

The tension at Tigray was partly caused by the refusal of the TPLF to accept a postponement of the polls. The party said Ahmed’s government is illegal, after he failed to hold the election in August 2020, citing COVID-19 challenges.

Ethiopia’s economic significance in the Horn of Africa cannot be overemphasized and the African Union has called for lasting solutions to the insecurity challenges in the country, ahead of its June 5 2021 election.

Other elections expected to cause some stir, yet evoke some hope are The Gambia’s election in December 2021. President Adama Barrow is expected to rerun after defeating former President Yahya Jammeh, who ruled for 22 years. The Gambia’s economy has improved under Barrow and more is being expected despite the challenges of COVID-19.

Edgar Lungu-backed new constitutional amendments have been criticised as Zambia prepares to hold its General Elections in August 2021. Lungu won in 2016 with 50.3% of total votes and his main opposition Hakainde Hichilema has gained some grounds ever since, still banking on his issues-driven campaign.

Lungu may form a coalition government with any candidate of his choice, in the situation of a loss and critics have said it’s a strategy to stay in government despite his struggles.

It will be Hichilema’s sixth attempt at Presidency.

Another possibly feisty election expected in 2021 is the Libyan Presidential and Parliamentary election slated for December.

The country, struggling ten years after Muammar Gadaffi’s ouster, has the internationally recognised Government of National Accord led by Fayez al-Sarraj and the eastern-based Libyan National Army led by military commander Khalifa Haftar. The election may however throw in new names as the country has a whole year to develop from its ruins.

Other elections are in Congo where Dennis Sassou-Nguesso’s over 30 decades of ruling will be tested, while Omar Guelleh will also be under the radar in Djibouti. Chad’s Idris Deby will vie again for Presidency after 29 years in power, making the elections even more significant than ever.

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Rabbis Condemn Tunisia’s President Saied over ‘Thieving Jews’ Comments

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The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) on Wednesday warned that Tunisian Jews may become targets after President Kais Saied blamed them for rising social tensions in the country.

President Saied had in a recent meeting with residents of the low-income Al-Tadamon neighborhood – also known as Ettadhamen-Mnihla – in Greater Tunis blamed Tunisia’s woes on “thieving Jews”.

A recording of the visit to Al-Tadamon, including the president’s comments, were uploaded to his Facebook account on Tuesday.

CER’s Chief Rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt, condemned the president’s verbal attacks on the Jews.

“The Conference of European Rabbis wishes to express its deep concern following the serious and public remarks made by Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed this morning, accusing Jews of being responsible for the instability in the country”

“The CER urges the Tunisian President to withdraw these remarks, which constitute an immediate threat to the physical and moral integrity of Tunisian Jewish citizens.

“We consider that the Tunisian government is the guarantor of the security of Tunisian Jews. Such allegations threaten the integrity of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world,” he said.

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Tropical Storm Eloise: Weather Service Publishes Updates

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Tropical storm Eloise made a landfall on Tuesday across the North-East of Madagascar bringing gusty winds & heavy rain. Eloise has weakened but is forecast to escalate as it exits the west coast and heads into the Mozambique Channel towards Southern Mozambique later this week.

At the moment, Eloise is currently considered as a Moderate Tropical Storm, with a central pressure less than 1000 hPa (hectopascal). It is however set to intensify in the coming days into a cyclone.

In December, Cyclone Chalane hit parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Weather experts say South Africa may experience heavy rains over the next few days.  The storm is expected to reach the Kingdom of Eswatini this weekend, with strong winds and heavy rainfall making its way from Mozambique.

South African Meteorologist Francois Engelbrecht forecasts severe winds and flooding. 

“Right now, for South Africa, if the storm is going to follow this track into Southern Mozambique and then towards our eastern escarpment in the North East, some parts of our Limpopo province and then southwards along the escarpment in Mpumalanga all the way to Swaziland, these areas [are] getting 100mm of rainfall on Sunday and Monday.”

Engelbrecht said rains of up to 200mm in certain areas indicate a high chance of flooding.

After making a landfall, Eloise is expected to push further south-westwards towards South Africa and Mozambique. Extreme rain is expected over southern Mozambique, eastern Lowveld, escarpment of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces as well as Northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa up until Monday 25th January.

Against this backdrop, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) warns that possible impacts of these rains may include general flooding, damage to road infrastructure, bridges and possible displacements of affected communities.

SAWS relying on modern satellite remote sensing as well as advanced ensemble numeric modelling techniques will continue to closely monitor and make further timely updates to the public.

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Militant Attacks in Mozambique Continue to Fuel Aid Crisis – UN

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) group, no fewer than 2,500 people have died, over half of them civilians.

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The United Nations on Wednesday, disclosed militant attacks in northern Mozambique have created a “worsening humanitarian crisis,” estimating that over half a million people had now fled their homes.

A shadowy militant group that calls itself Ahlu Sunnah Wal-Jama has terrorized residents in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since 2017, ransacking villages in a campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate.

The group, after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2019, intensified its attacks, sometimes carrying out executions and beheadings and abducting women and children.

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) group, no fewer than 2,500 people have died, over half of them civilians.

Thousands have had to flee their homes, mainly seeking refuge with friends and relatives in the regional capital Pemba, due to the militant attacks.

“The United Nations is deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian crisis and escalating violence forcing thousands to flee in Cabo Delgado province,” the UN’s southern and eastern Africa directors said in a joint statement.

“According to the government, militant attacks by non-state groups have forced more than 565,000 people to flee … abandoning their crops and livelihoods.”

They added that the upcoming rainy season and the coronavirus pandemic have only aggravated existing issues like the shortage of food, sanitation and schooling among the displaced.

The UN has called for more aid and resources to help uprooted families start from scratch, as they were “completely reliant on humanitarian assistance”.

“We reckon that 1.6 million people are in need of help,” UN resident Mozambique coordinator Mytra Kaulard said in an online press briefing.

“There is a cholera epidemic in Cabo Delgado that we are struggling to contain,” she added.

The UN’s statement coincided with a three-day visit by Portugal’s foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, on behalf of the European Union, to discuss security situation in its former colony, which is constantly getting worse.

Mozambican forces have struggled to regain control of Cabo Delgado, which also houses Africa’s three largest liquid natural gas (LNG) projects.

Militants have so far seized large swathes of territory, including the key port town of Mocimboa da Praia — about 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of a $20 billion gas exploration project led by Total, the French energy giant.

In late December, insurgency forced the company to suspend construction on its LNG site.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne had a meeting this week and the president vowed to “establish a security plan” to safeguard the project.

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