By Elias Meseret | AP ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s government illegally blocked social media and news websites during the months of turmoil that led to the country’s ongoing state of emergency, a new report says.
The report by Amnesty International and the Open Observatory of Network Interference also found “systematic interference” with access to political opposition sites and ones supporting freedom of expression and gay rights.
“This raises serious concerns that overly broad censorship will become institutionalized under the state of emergency,” said Michelle Kagari, an Amnesty International deputy regional director.
The report says access to WhatsApp and at least 16 news sites was blocked. Human rights groups and opposition activists have said hundreds have been killed in waves of anti-government protests that began in November 2015, demanding wider freedoms in one of Africa’s best-performing economies and a close U.S. security ally.
Ethiopia’s government declared a state of emergency in October after dozens were killed in a stampede when police tried to disperse protesters at a religious festival. It set to end in April.
The government dismissed the new report as “one-sided, not credible and baseless.” “There is no internet blackout in Ethiopia,” deputy spokesman Mohammed Seid told The Associated Press, though internet services have been widely affected since early October.
“What we have is a certain obstruction on mobile data services. It will be resolved very soon.” However, a former government spokesman, Getachew Reda, acknowledged the existence of a blackout and said it will be restored “as soon as it no more threatens the proper implementation of the state of emergency.”
Many in Ethiopia are using virtual private networks, or VPNs, to access social media after mobile data was partially restored 10 days ago.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.
Kenya – Reducing Cancer Risk, Solar-Powered Cookers To The Rescue
Poor Africans resort to Solar-Powered Cookers to reduce the Risk of Cancer.
As the number of cancer cases continue to rise globally, developing nations are exploring alternative solutions to combat cancer-causing fuel sources. One such solution that has been introduced in Kenya is the use of solar-powered cookers.
Benefits of Solar-Powered Cooking
The solar cooker harnesses the Sun’s rays by using mirrors to focus sunlight onto a central point, making it an affordable and efficient form of solar power. The cooker can be built easily and cheaply with the use of cement and a metal mesh covered with a mosaic of shiny mirrors.
Cancer survivor, Eunice Wanjiku, who uses the solar cooker, says, “Since it was brought here I have stopped using firewood. Firewood emits smoke, but when I am using the solar cooker, I do not encounter smoke and I breathe fresh air. The smoke from the firewood is dangerous to breathe. This cooker is good because we stopped cutting trees to get firewood.”
The Dangers of Traditional Firewood Cooking
Smoke from traditional firewood cooking contains a complex mixture of gases and fine particles that have been linked to cancer. Robert Motengo, a radiation oncologist at HCG Hospitals in Nairobi, says, “In relation to cancer, this has been linked to some of the respiratory diseases and cancer of the lung. A study that was done in the U.S. in 2021 has shown an association between these gases, the greenhouse gases, with lung cancer and also worsening the prognosis of cancer in those with breast cancer and even in pediatric cases.”
Inventor’s Take on Solar Cooking
The inventor of the solar cooker, environmentalist Keziah Ngugi, says, “So, if you look at the sky, like now it is blue, that is potential for cooking with the sun. And because we live around the tropics, the potential is immense, it is really huge.”
When the sun is not strong enough, conventional cooking fuels are needed, but the solar stove could go a long way in reducing pollution and saving lives.
The introduction of solar-powered cookers in Kenya offers a promising solution to reduce the risk of cancer caused by traditional firewood cooking methods. This technology has the potential to improve the health of communities and combat the increasing global cancer epidemic.
President Guelleh, Etal hail Somalia’s Anti-Terrorism Efforts
The President of Djibouti, Mr. Ismail Omar Guelleh, traveled to Mogadishu this week to participate in a summit with his counterparts from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. The summit focused on ratifying measures aimed at eradicating terrorism in Somalia and bringing peace to the country.
Welcomed by Somali Diplomacy Head
Upon arrival at Aden Abdille airport in Mogadishu, President Guelleh was greeted by the head of Somali diplomacy, Mr. Abshir Omar Djama. The summit brought together the leaders of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, who are at the forefront of the fight against terrorism in Somalia.
Regional Leaders Unite to Combat Al-Shabab
During the summit, President Guelleh and the leaders of Ethiopia and Kenya discussed the continuation of efforts to eradicate terrorism in Somalia. They also hailed the tireless efforts of the Somali authorities to overcome the terrorist movement Al-Shabab and bring peace to the country.
Minister of Defense Precedes Presidential Visit
The visit of President Guelleh was preceded by that of the Minister of Defense, Mr. Hassan Omar Mohamed, who was leading a large delegation including the Chief of General Staff of the Djiboutian armed forces, General Zakaria Cheick Ibrahim.
High Stakes for Stabilizing Somalia
This summit meeting was an opportunity for regional leaders to come together to address the critical issue of terrorism in Somalia and work towards stabilizing the country. The international community will be closely watching the outcome of the summit and the progress made in the fight against terrorism.
Five Kigali hotels designated for relocated UK asylum seekers
The United Kingdom’s High Court has validated the controversial deal with Rwanda to resettle migrants in Kigali. The court ruled that the deal does not violate any refugee conventions or human rights laws. The government is preparing for the arrival of the asylum seekers, who will be considered for permission to stay in Rwanda or return to their country of origin.
Designated Hotels for Resettled Migrants in Kigali
The UK government has designated five hotels in Kigali with the capacity to accommodate 350 people. The three known hotels are Hope Hostel, Desire Resort Hotel, and Hallmark Residence. The cost of staying at these hotels ranges from $150 to $200 per night. The hotels are equipped with basic facilities, including kitchens, gym equipment, swimming pools, and TV sets.
Hope Hostel: The “One Dollar Campaign” Complex
Hope Hostel, also known as the “One Dollar Campaign” complex, is one of the designated hotels for resettled migrants in Kigali. It has the capacity to accommodate a significant number of people and is equipped with basic facilities, including kitchens, gym equipment, swimming pools, and TV sets.
Desire Resort Hotel: A 3-Star Hotel in Gasabo District
Desire Resort Hotel is a 3-star hotel in the Gasabo district of Kigali. Currently, there are some construction works still ongoing in preparation for the arrival of the asylum seekers. However, details on when or how many asylum seekers the hotel will receive have not been disclosed.
Hallmark Residence: 30 Houses for Accommodation
Hallmark Residence has 30 houses that can accommodate 3-4 people each. Each house comes with a kitchen, basic household appliances, a gym, and swimming pool services. The cost of staying at Hallmark Residence ranges from $150 to $200 per night.
Priority for Resettlement: Asylum Seekers Arrived by Boat on May 9, 2022
The actual number of migrants to be relocated has not been announced yet, but asylum seekers who arrived in the UK by boat on May 9, 2022, will be given priority for resettlement.
NationalDjibouti – Assembly Concludes 5th Session of 2nd Ordinary Session
The National Assembly of [Country], hosted the 5th public session of the 2nd ordinary session this Monday, marking the end of the 8th legislature. The session was chaired by the Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Mohamed Ali Houmed and was attended by the Prime Minister, Mr. Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed, along with ministers and members of Parliament.
Key Texts Examined
During this session, several texts were examined and submitted for approval by the parliamentarians. One of the key texts was a bill ratifying the alliance with Smart Africa, aimed at promoting digital innovation across the continent. Additionally, a bill ratifying the financial accounts of the National Agency for the State Information System for the 2022 financial year was also submitted for approval.
Speech by the President of the National Assembly
In a speech delivered at the end of the session, the President of the National Assembly expressed his gratitude towards the elected representatives of the people and the members of the executive for their contributions over the past five years. He further encouraged the parliamentarians to mobilize the citizens around the program of the coalition of the Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP).
Looking Ahead to the Legislative Elections
The conclusion of the 5th public session marks the end of the 8th legislature and the upcoming legislative elections, scheduled for February 24th. The National Assembly will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the future of the country and addressing the concerns of its citizens.
Historic Drought in Horn of Africa, Millions at Risk
A historic drought in the Horn of Africa, which includes southern Ethiopia to northern Kenya and Somalia, has put 22 million people at risk of hunger. The number has nearly doubled since the beginning of 2022 when only 13 million were facing hunger. In this region, which relies mostly on livestock and agriculture, nearly 5.6 million people are now considered “acutely food insecure” in Somalia, 12 million in Ethiopia, and 4.3 million in Kenya according to the United Nations.
The Horn of Africa is one of the regions hardest hit by climate change and the current drought is caused by a sequence of five failed rainy seasons since late 2020. The situation has been exacerbated by the impact of the war in Ukraine, which has increased the price of grain and fuel and diverted many humanitarian aid funds. The coming months are expected to worsen as a sixth rainy season from March to May is also forecast to be below average.
Somalia is the most affected country, with over 7.85 million people affected by the drought. Without an increased humanitarian response, a famine is expected to occur between April and June 2023 in southern Somalia, warns OCHA. Nearly two million children across the Horn of Africa are in need of urgent treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
According to UNICEF, 730 children have died in feeding centers in Somalia between January and July 2022, a figure that is likely an underestimate. The lack of water, milk, and food has weakened the youngest children, making them vulnerable to diseases such as measles and cholera, and altering their growth over the long term.
Only 55.8% of the $5.9 billion requested by the UN to alleviate this crisis in 2023 has been funded, making additional funds desperately needed. A call for funding has been made, with Xavier Joubert, Director of Save The Children Ethiopia stating that “there is no end in sight for the hunger crisis” and the needs have become enormous.
Devastation and destruction in Shewa Robit
The Mayor’s office of the Shewa Robit City Administration, in the North Shewa Zone of the Amhara Regional state, has released several pictures revealing the level of devastation and destruction caused by the ongoing violence in areas bordering the Jille Dhummuga district of Oromo Special Zone and North Shewa Zone. The city mayor’s office reported that many lives were lost and properties have been destroyed in the violence.
According to the statement, residents of 05 kebele reported that the neglect of the government and hesitation of the law enforcement is the reason for the loss of life and property destruction every year. The residents have urged the government to fulfill its responsibility to clean up the war and organized groups or forces operating in the area.
In addition to the loss of many lives, public schools, mills, health clinics, shops, Kebele administration offices, residences of Islamic religious leaders and individual homes were completely destroyed and looted, the mayor’s office further said.
The images shared by the administration are the first images from the government office showing the level of the destruction in parts of the city. This week, Addis Standard reported that dozens of civilians have already been killed in the ongoing violence. Several houses have been burnt and properties looted and vandalized.
The violence which started on Saturday 21 September has since spread to towns and villages of the neighboring North Shewa Zone including Shewa Robit, as well as Ataye and Jawa towns in Efiratana Gidim district.
The Amhara regional state government said that federal police and defense forces were already deployed to the area alongside Amhara special forces to “restore peace and order.” The regional state government said the violence flared up following an attack perpetrated against members of Amhara special forces and federal police forces stationed in Jawa kebele of Efiratana Gidim district of North Shewa zone on Saturday at around 3PM by “anti-peace forces” operating in the area.
The administration has called on the security forces of the federal and regional state governments to make more efforts to stop the ongoing attacks and destruction of property before they morph into “religious” violence in nature. The attacks are being carried out in an organized manner and with a mission to destroy the country, the administration has cautioned.
The administration has raised concerns that the on-going violence has already caused significant loss of life, public schools, mills, health clinics, shops, Kebele administration offices, residences of Islamic religious leaders and individual homes have been completely destroyed and looted. This tragic event has raised concerns among the community and the local authorities are working to increase safety measures on the areas affected and surrounding areas. The public is urged to be cautious and to always be aware of their surroundings. The police have also urged anyone who may have information about the incident to come forward and speak with them.
Nairobi – Venezuelan diplomat convicted of murder
Nairaobi – A Kenyan court convicted a Venezuelan diplomat for the murder of the Latin American nation’s acting ambassador, Olga Fonseca, who was killed at her official residence in the capital, Nairobi, 10 years ago. The embassy’s first secretary, who had been serving as the head of the mission prior to Fonseca’s arrival, was found guilty of the crime. Three Kenyan nationals who had been charged alongside the diplomat were also convicted.
The Venezuelan diplomat had been tried for murder after his diplomatic immunity was waived by the Venezuelan government. The court found that the diplomat was angered by Fonseca’s presence at the embassy, as he had wanted to continue overseeing the mission himself. Fonseca, who was 57 years old, was killed less than two weeks after she had started her new role in Nairobi on July 15th.
The conviction marks a significant development in the case, which has been ongoing for over a decade. The murder of a diplomatic official is a serious crime that undermines the principles of diplomacy and the safety of diplomats around the world. The conviction serves as a reminder of the importance of holding those who commit such crimes accountable for their actions.
However, the case also highlights the challenges that can arise when a diplomatic official is accused of a crime. Diplomatic immunity is a principle that is intended to protect diplomats from prosecution in the host country, in order to ensure that diplomatic relations can be conducted in a safe and secure manner. However, in cases such as this, where a serious crime has been committed, it is important for the host country to have the ability to waive immunity and hold the perpetrator accountable.
In this case, the Venezuelan government cooperated with the Kenyan authorities by waiving the diplomat’s immunity, which allowed for a fair trial to take place and justice to be served. This cooperation between nations is crucial for ensuring the safety and security of diplomatic officials and upholding the principles of diplomacy.
The conviction of the Venezuelan diplomat and the Kenyan nationals involved in the murder of Olga Fonseca sends a strong message that such heinous crimes will not be tolerated. The families of the victims, as well as the international community, will expect that the convicted will be brought to justice and serve the punishment for their heinous crime.
The conviction of a Venezuelan diplomat for the murder of an ambassador highlights the importance of holding those who commit serious crimes accountable, even when they have diplomatic immunity. It also emphasizes the importance of cooperation between nations in order to ensure that diplomatic relations can be conducted in a safe and secure manner. The conviction serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding the principles of diplomacy and the safety of diplomatic officials around the world.
Rwanda President’s son joins Presidential Guard, sparking succession speculation
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame’s son, Ian Kagame, has recently been enlisted in the Presidential Guard of the Rwanda Defense Forces. This comes just months after graduating from the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, UK, and joining the Rwandese army.
Ian made his public debut in his new role during the Annual National Prayer Breakfast that took place on Sunday. Photos of him alongside other members of the Rwanda Defense Forces have been circulating on social media.
Last August, Ian was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant during a graduation ceremony at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. His parents, President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Nyiramongi Kagame, were in attendance at the ceremony. Upon his graduation, Jeannette tweeted, “Such a proud moment. Congratulations Ian, thank you for the joy you brought us, this ceremony was one for the books.”
President Paul Kagame's son, 2nd Lieutenant Ian Kagame has been enrolled into the Rwandan Defense Force Presidential Guard.
He guarded his father at a National Prayer Breakfast in Kigali.
He is an officer at Rwanda Defence Force.
He graduated from Royal Military Academy, UK. pic.twitter.com/oQ1yMS7ZK0
— Africa Facts Zone (@AfricaFactsZone) January 17, 2023
As a highly trained officer, Ian’s role in the Presidential Guard is to ensure the safety of the country’s top leaders. His new position has led many to speculate that he may be following in the footsteps of Ugandan President Museveni’s son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Gen Muhoozi previously served as the Commander of the Special Forces Command (SFC), an elite unit similar to the Presidential Guard in the RDF. He held this position from 2008 to 2017, and then again from December 2020 to 2021, before being promoted to the position of Commander of Land Forces.
The decision of Ian Kagame to join the Presidential Guard of Rwanda Defense Forces is seen as a strategic move for his future political and military career in the country.
Ian’s enrollment in the Presidential Guard is seen as a sign of his rising political career, as it is a highly prestigious and elite unit within the Rwanda Defense Forces. The Presidential Guard is responsible for the security and protection of the President and other top government officials.
Many speculate that Ian will eventually rise to a high-ranking position within the military, possibly even becoming the commander of the Presidential Guard. Some have even suggested that he could be groomed for a future leadership role within the country.
Such a proud moment!
Congratulations Ian, thank you for the joy you brought us! This ceremony was one for the books! pic.twitter.com/qYtk5KwWXm
— First Lady of Rwanda (@FirstLadyRwanda) November 4, 2022
Ian’s enrollment in the Presidential Guard also adds to the growing trend of sons and daughters of African leaders following in their parents’ footsteps. Many have criticized this trend, arguing that it perpetuates dynastic rule and undermines democracy.
It is worth noting that Ian Kagame is not the only child of a head of state to have recently joined the military. In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has also served in the Special Forces Command and is now the commander of the country’s land forces.
The move has raised questions about the potential for a political succession in Rwanda, as President Kagame is nearing the end of his current term and the constitution limits the number of terms a president can serve. Many are wondering if Ian’s military career is a sign of things to come in the country’s political landscape.
Al-Shabab kills 7 soldiers in central Somalia attack
Al-Shabab fighters attacked a military base in central Somalia, killing 7 soldiers and injuring several others. The government had recaptured the base from al-Shabab in October. The group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement and said it had killed “many apostate soldiers and their commander.” The base is located about 60km north of the capital, Mogadishu and was part of a broader government offensive which began in August and has made significant gains.
The attack on the military base is just one in a series of recent strikes by al-Shabab. As pressure on the group has grown, its fighters have increased gun and bomb attacks on the military and civilians, including in areas where they have retreated. The group has been fighting since 2007 to topple Somalia’s central government and impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law.
In some regions, residents have reported that al-Shabab’s tactics, such as torching houses, destroying wells, and killing civilians, combined with demands for taxes during the worst drought in 40 years, have pushed locals to form paramilitary groups to fight alongside the government. However, in other towns and villages, al-Shabab’s courts are gaining widespread acceptance as constitutional courts struggle with backlogs and a perception of being corrupt.
The conflict has also contributed to a food crisis in Somalia. More than 200,000 Somalis are suffering from catastrophic food shortages, and some parts of central Somalia are on the brink of famine. The government, along with international aid organizations, is working to address the crisis, but the ongoing violence makes it difficult to provide aid and assistance to affected areas. The attack on the military base is a reminder of the ongoing threat posed by al-Shabab and the need for a sustained effort to defeat the group.
#Somalia 🇸🇴: state-tv footage of Somalian soldiers on the move in the #Galmudug region of northern Somalia where a government blitz offensive against #AlShabaab has resulted in the capture of three towns in under 48 hours. pic.twitter.com/fy0WDvQkZI
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) January 17, 2023
— Mohamed Juujuule (@mohamedjuujuule) September 23, 2022
President Uhuru Kenyatta To Kongowea Traders – Only Pay For Services Offered To You
President Uhuru Kenyatta has told traders at Mombasa’s Kongowea market to only pay for services offered to them. The President said the new market was built by the national government at a cost of Shs 500million and that the National Youth Service will from next week embark on cleaning of the market.
Addressing traders at Kongowea on Monday, the Head of State said there was no need for the county government to continue taxing the traders and yet it doesn’t provide services to them.
“There is no need for the county government to continue taxing the traders and yet they do not provide the services they have paid for,” said Mr Kenyatta.
He said the Government has launched investigations to establish claims that traders at the Kongowea market were not being served despite paying taxes.
He said the national government would not hesitate to take action against those who failed to deliver.
“We cannot allow the people to suffer in the hands of some few individuals. Wananchi should only pay for services offered to them,” said President Kenyatta.
He warned police against harassing wananchi if they don’t pay for the services not offered. The President and Deputy President William Ruto, at the same time, told opposition candidate Raila Odinga that Kenyans will go to the polls on October 26 whether he participates or not.
The leaders said the Opposition leaders were scared of the elections because they have sensed defeat, saying they were scheming to have the elections delayed in another three months for their selfish gains.
They said the Opposition was bent on inciting Kenyans through demonstrations to cause confusion with the hope of getting into power through the backdoor.
“We know their games and we have said enough is enough. There will be no postponement. Mr Odinga should retire and honourably go home,” said the Deputy President.
President Kenyatta and DP Ruto told Mr Odinga to retire from politics if he was not ready to participate in the October 26 polls.
Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala (Tourism), Governor Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Nyali MP Mohammed Ali, among others, also spoke at the meeting.
The Deputy President said Opposition leader was now opposed to the elections because he knows that he will win.
President Kenyatta said Jubilee was ready and prepared to face the Opposition at the ballot and will not allow any attempts to have the elections postponed.
“The Opposition should stop sideshows and prepare for the next elections. Kenyans want to move away from elections to concentrate on development activities,” said President Kenyatta.
DP Ruto said the mass exodus of Kenyans who supported Nasa during the August 8 elections has shaken the Opposition and that’s why they want to interfere with the elections.
“We are tired of their rhetoric and stories and the country wants to move on. We must conclude elections on October 26. If those in Opposition are not ready, they should retire from politics,” said DP Ruto.
He added: “There is exodus of Kenyans from Nasa because they are tired of their empty rhetoric and want to support Jubilee which is committed to improving their lives.”
Mr Balala and Mr Sonko urged residents in coastal region to turn out in large numbers and support the reelection of President Kenyatta.
“It is time for us to move away from politics of propaganda and support Jubilee that is committed to improving our lives,” said Mr Sonko.
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