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UN’s Bachelet Condemns Tanzanian Election Violence

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The people of Tanzania should be allowed to express grievances “without fear of reprisals” after nationwide elections, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that she had been disturbed by reports of continued intimidation and harassment against leaders and members of the opposition.

She also called for the immediate release of those detained for exercising their human rights, a UN statement said.

“The tense situation in the country will not be defused by silencing those who challenge the outcome of the elections, but rather through a participatory dialogue,” Ms. Bachelet said, before urging the Tanzanian authorities “to respect and facilitate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly”.

Ms. Bachelet highlighted reports that following vote-casting in the east African nation last month, at least 150 opposition leaders and members had been arrested in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.

While most have been subsequently released, at least 18 reportedly remain in custody, the UN rights chief said.

Her comments come after the country’s main opposition parties called for peaceful demonstrations and fresh elections, after President John Magufuli was returned to office last month with more than 80 per cent of ballots cast.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the authorities said that those arrested had been planning violent protests.

Ms. Bachelet also noted that ahead of the arrests, police officials announced that they would not allow protests to go ahead. They cited allegation of “plans to cause chaos”, the High Commissioner said, adding that they threatened to use force and detain anyone taking part in demonstrations.

Under international law, there is a presumption in favour of considering assemblies to be peaceful, the High Commissioner stressed.

She called on the Government of Tanzania to ensure that security forces and law enforcement officials act according to the rule of law and human rights norms and standards.

The developments follow reported pre-election intimidation and harassment of civil society organisations and journalists, as well as allegations of police brutality against opposition members and their supporters on the day of the election.

Ms. Bachelet also called for prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations before, during and after the polls.

In particular, she urged action to investigate the killing of at least 10 people and the injuries sustained by more than 50 others in Zanzibar on 26 October – two days before the vote.

The High Commissioner also expressed concern at internet restrictions – including the blocking of social media and messaging platforms – and the censoring of election-related content.

“Free flow of information is critical to any democratic society, and especially so in an electoral context,” the High Commissioner said, adding that any restrictions on information and communication technology must be in line with international human rights laws and standards.

East Africa Politics News

World Bank Project On Climate Resilience Bearing Fruits – Zambia’s President Lungu

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Zambia to face tougher austerity as economic woes worsen

Zambian President, Edgar Lungu on Monday expressed satisfaction that a World Bank supported project on climate resilience has started bearing fruits.

The Zambian leader said the innovation brought by the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project will go a long way in improving food security, livelihoods and enable the country to attain its climate change mitigation objectives in line with international climate change commitments.

The Zambian leader was speaking when he inspected a cashew nut farm in eastern Zambia’s Petauke district, one of the initiatives of the project, according to a release from the Ministry of National Development Planning.

The farm is practicing climate-smart agriculture techniques taught by the project.

He said the innovation will improve food security and livelihoods in rural communities while achieving climate change mitigation objectives.

The Zambian leader hoped that more farmers would adopt climate-smart agriculture techniques in order to promote the production of high value crops.

National Project Coordinator, Tasila Banda commended the Zambian government for its commitment to combat climate change through interventions being implemented by the project.

“As an integrated project, the only way to keep these interventions sustainable is to engage the private sector who are helping communities to generate bankable project proposals for enterprises around agriculture value chain, non-timber forest value and eco-tourism,’’ she said.

The Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project is an initiative of the government through a loan facility from the World Bank at a total cost of 32.8 million U.S. dollars.

It is meant to support rural communities in the eastern part of the country to allow them to better manage the resources of their landscape to reduce deforestation, improved landscape management, increase environmental and economic benefits.

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East Africa Politics News

Uganda: Death Toll in Protest over Bobi Wine Arrest Hits 45

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The death toll from last week’s violent protests in Uganda over the arrest of opposition presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi better known as Bobi Wine, has risen to 45, police said on Monday.

Bobi Wine was arrested last week at a campaign rally for allegedly breaching COVID-19 protocols. After two days in detention, he was charged with flouting Coronavirus prevention restrictions and granted bail.

The Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, on Monday said that 39 men and six women had died, adding that the toll includes 17 people who succumbed to the injuries they sustained in the Wednesday and Thursday protests.

“It is very unfortunate that the riots have so far claimed 45 lives, which included 39 male adults and six women who fall in the age bracket of 25-40.

“A total of 42 bodies have been claimed while three remain unclaimed at the mortuary,” Enanga said.

The police spokesperson said the joint security forces continue to hunt for ring leaders who actively coordinated the protests in various parts in the east African country.

“As part of the ongoing investigations into the violent political and criminal protests, our task teams continue to track down perpetrators after the riots,” Enanga said.

“All our territorial commanders intensified efforts to identify protesters and looters mid-last week, across all flashpoint areas, using the widespread CCTV technology (both public and private), licence plate readers and facial recognition,” he said.

A local media house has quoted security sources as saying that most of the shooting was carried out by plain-clothed operatives, who were recorded by members of the public brandishing guns in the streets.

Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwiine on Friday told the media that police and other security forces have a right to shoot and kill if protesters “reach a certain level of violence”.

Police said that 11 officers had been attacked and injured by protesters.

So far, more than 550 suspects have been arrested across the country, according to the police.

Uganda’s Electoral Commission earlier this month cleared 11 presidential candidates, including incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, to run in the 2021 general elections.

The electoral body urged candidates to follow the strict COVID-19 guidelines, such as keeping the size of campaign rallies to not more than 200 people, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Aiby Ahmed Gives Tigray 72 Hours Ultimatum

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Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Aiby Ahmed, has given the Tigrayan regional forces a 72 hours ultimatum to surrender or face massive onslaught on its capital, Mekelle.

In a message shared on microblogging platform Twitter, the prime minister said: “We urge you to surrender peacefully within 72 hours, recognising that you are at the point of no return.”

Already, reports say advancing Ethiopian troops plan to surround Mekelle with tanks and may shell the city to force surrender.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is refusing to surrender its rule of the northern region, said its forces were digging trenches and standing firm.

Claims by all sides are hard to verify because phone and internet communication has been down.

Abiy’s federal troops have taken a string of towns during aerial bombardments and ground fighting, and are now aiming for Mekelle, a highland city of about 500,000 people where the rebels are based.

The conflict erupted on Nov. 4 and has killed hundreds, possibly thousands, and has sent more than 30,000 refugees into neighbouring Sudan. Rockets have been fired by rebels into neighbouring Amhara region and across the border into the nation of Eritrea.

Foreign nations have urged talks, but Abiy has pressed on with the offensive.

In his statement on Sunday evening, Abiy said that during what he terms a law enforcement operation “all the necessary precautionary measures have been taken to ensure that civilians are not harmed”.

Referring to the TPLF, he said that “all that the clique is left with is the fort that they have set up in Mekelle and empty pride”.

He said the people of Tigray had had enough of what he said was TPLF violence against them, and appealed to the people of Mekelle to stand with the federal troops in “bringing this treasonous group” to justice.

Abiy accuses the Tigrayan leaders of revolting against central authority and starting the conflict by attacking federal troops in the town of Dansha on Nov. 4.

The rebels say his government has marginalised Tigrayans since taking office two years ago, removing them from senior roles in government and the military and detaining many on rights abuse and corruption charges.

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