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Ugandan Army Jail Soldiers for Assaulting Journalists

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A court-martial in Uganda on Thursday has convicted seven soldiers for assaulting journalists who had gathered to cover an event by National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate in the January 14 election, Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a Bobi Wine, near the offices of the UN Human Rights in Kololo.

The Military Police Unit Disciplinary Committee (UDC), which is the lower court of the Court Martial, chaired by Lt Col Gai Mpandwa convicted Capt Jessy Odwenyi; Cpl Nimusiima Justine; Pte Wasswa Peter; Pte Tsame Imran; Pte Kisakye Victoria; Pte Opiyo Isaac; and cpl Zirimenya Kassim and sentenced them to varying custodian punishments at the Makindye military barracks.

Cpl Kassim and Pte Isaac were sentenced to 60 days each in the military prison; Pte Victoria to 62 days while Cpl Justine was sentenced to severe reprimand and caution.

Meanwhile, Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi, has apologised for the Wednesday inicident. Aside promising to take action, Muhoozi also promised to foot the medical bills of those affected and have a symposium to brain storm with media on how to work together.

He added that the assault on soldiers was neither sanctioned nor justified.

The incident occurred outside the UN Human Rights office where the opposition MP and musician Bobi Wine was delivering a petition over human rights abuses.

Six journalists were injured after being assaulted with sticks.

The UN condemned the attack and called for action to be taken against those responsible.

Last week the European Union called on the Ugandan government to stop police and military attacks on journalists, human rights defenders and opposition politicians.

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Conservation News

Three Endangered Rothschild’s Giraffes Die of Electrocution in Kenya

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The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has confirmed that three Rothschild’s giraffes have died after being electrocuted by low-hanging power powerlines at a Soysambu conservancy in Nakuru.

News Central reports that Rothschild’s giraffe are one of the most endangered species of the animal with estimate putting their population at less than 1,600 in the wild.

Kenya has about 600 Rothschild’s.

KWS said officials from the state-owned power distributing company, Kenya Power, would replace the poles.

“Preliminary reports indicate that the height of the electricity poles crossing Soysambu Conservancy are low, below giraffe’s height,” a statement read in part.

Dr Paula Kahumbu, the Producer and Host of Wildlife Warriors CEO WildlifeDirect, alleged in a tweet that the deaths could have been prevented if experts’ advise was heeded.

In another tweet, Kahumbu added that these deaths were not the first, and that they could have been prevented if expert advice had been followed.

“These power lines have been killing giraffes, vultures and flamingos. Advice from experts was ignored. RIAs [Risk Impact Assessments] are notoriously poor on many development projects. Sad that it takes these kinds of deaths to wake some people up!” she tweeted.

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East Africa News

Teachers Strike in Malawi

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The Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) on Monday began an indefinite strike action that coincided with school resumption and the new academic year.

The teachers, who are demanding an increase in wages as well as COVID-19 risk allowance, on Monday boycotted classrooms saying they feel unsafe in school environments.

TUM is also demanding that teachers be given personal protective equipment (PPE), training on how to deal with Covid-19 cases within their schools and a plan for social distancing in classrooms.

President Lazarus Chakwera ordered schools to be closed five weeks ago following a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections and deaths.

Schools were to reopen on Monday after a drop in the number of cases of coronavirus.

Local media is reporting that most students returned home after reporting to school in the morning.

In the town of Mponela, 65km north of the Capital, Lilongwe, learners closed roads with huge stones and tree branches to express solidarity with their teachers.

Police have since dispersed the protest.

Ministry of education spokesman, Chikondi Chimala, said the government was holding meetings with teachers’ representatives to resolve the issue.

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East Africa News

Ethiopia: Six Students Feared Dead in Tigray’s Bus Attack

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No fewer than six students are feared dead after gunmen attacked a bus in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

According to reports, there was a shootout between the attackers and soldiers escorting the bus, which was carrying students returning from a graduation ceremony in the Tigray’s capital, Mekelle.

The bus was reportedly stopped many times at road blocks as it made its way from Mekelle.

It is not clear who carried out the attack but this shows Tigray is still volatile months after the federal government said the conflict with the regional authorities was over.

Meanwhile, the United Nations says civilians in Tigray are facing “extremely alarming” hunger as fighting between federal government forces and the regional Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TFPL) remained an obstacle to reaching millions of people with aid.

The Ethiopia/Tigray conflict, now in its fourth month, has killed thousands of people. But little is known about the situation for most of Tigray’s six million people, as journalists are blocked from entering, communications are patchy and many aid workers struggle to obtain permission to enter.

Civilians have suffered and reports from aid workers on the ground indicate a rising in acute malnutrition across the region. According to the UN, starvation has become a major concern.

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