Saturday, 18 November 2017
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (725)

There was drama at the Edo State House of Assembly on Monday when the Speaker of the House, Dr. Justin Okonoboh, was impeached, following an impeachment notice signed by 16 out of the 24 members of the assembly.

Okonoboh was replaced with Mr. Kabiru Adjoto, while Mr. Victor Edoror emerged as his deputy.

The new leadership of the House said Okonoboh; his deputy, Mrs. Elizabeth Ativie; and the House Major Leader, Mr. Foly Ogedengbe, were suspended for three months.

Since its inauguration in June 2015, the Edo State House of Assembly has been led by no fewer than four speakers.

But Ogedengbe rejected the impeachment, describing it as illegal, contending that the House did not form a quorum.

“An illegal impeachment was moved today by a group of 11 people parading themselves to be 16. But they did not have that number.

“The Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly has made a pronouncement on those persons and they stand suspended; so, shall it be,” he added.

When asked if the development was related to an impeachment scare in May, Ogedengbe said, “Yes. Yes, it is.”

The House had only reconvened after 26 days of break for oversight functions when the incident occurred.

It was gathered that at the resumption of plenary on Monday, a member, Emmanuel Agbaje, read a letter on the floor of the House, passing a vote of no confidence in Okonoboh as the Speaker.

The member representing Etsako West II, Mr. Sylvanus Eruaga, was said to have, thereafter, asked Okonoboh to vacate the exalted seat of the Speaker, a development that was said to have led to a free-for-all among some of the lawmakers in the chambers.

Okonoboh was, however, said to have left the seat after much pressure, paving the way for Eruaga to sit as the Speaker pro tempore.

 Efforts by another member of the House, Magnus Igbas, to prevent the removal of Okonoboh was vehemently resisted by some of his colleagues, who descended on him.

It was also learnt that Adjoto was later elected as the new Speaker, after he was nominated by Eruaga.

Staff members of the Assembly were locked out while the impeachment proceedings lasted.

There was also a heavy presence of security operatives with several police Hilux vans around the premises, so as to prevent further breakdown of law and order.

Addressing journalists, Adjoto said that the decision to effect a change in the leadership of the House became necessary following the alleged incompetence of Okonoboh.

The new Speaker accused his predecessor of desecrating the state parliament by running the House as a private affair.

But Okonoboh declined comments on the matter as he was led by his aides and security details into a waiting vehicle that sped off immediately at about 11.56am.

However, Adjoto explained, “But we discovered that for selfish reasons, the ex-Speaker would adjourn proceedings in the House, either because his wife was marking her birthday or his son was graduating from the Covenant University or the son is going to the NYSC camp and he wants to throw a party for his son. Between June and July, we have worked for just three weeks; he adjourned the House for more than six weeks.

“Today (Monday) is August 14, and we are just resuming. Then, the House is expected to adjourn again next week for another four weeks for the normal holiday. Is that a normal parliament? All of us came together and said, ‘Enough is enough.’

“The institution deserves to be protected above the interest of an individual. The ex-Speaker’s wife, like I said earlier, has turned herself into the 25th member of the House of Assembly to the extent that anything we discussed at the executive session, the wife would hear and start calling our wives to tell them what was discussed.

“The wife uses the Speaker’s convoy as if she is Mr. Speaker and at random. The other day, the wife and the son took the convoy to the NYSC camp. When the soldiers and policemen there saw that it was coming, they all stood, hoping that they would see Mr. Speaker, only to see the wife and the son coming out of the vehicle. That is desecration of the parliament.”

Adjoto, who also accused Okonoboh of flouting due process by allegedly awarding contracts to himself, noted that the three-month suspension of the affected members would subsist to enable a committee chaired by Edoror to investigate their conduct.

He added, “Mr. Speaker is not supposed to be a contractor at all. But we discovered that he awards contracts to himself without due process. We have cautioned him several times but he refused to listen to our advice.

 “He just came back from the United States of America where he claimed he visited eight states. He was telling us, joyfully, how he toured America, whereas, he shut down the House. We are not supposed to go on holidays, but because you were going to America to have a party for your son that graduated, you shut down the House, stopping us from working for Edo people.”

Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has held a peace meeting with warring members of the state House of Assembly over Okonoboh’s impeachment.

Present at the closed-door meeting, which was held at the state secretariat of the All Progressives Congress on Airport Road in Benin, were the Deputy Governor, Mr. Philip Shaibu; the state Chairman of the APC, Mr. Anselm Ojezua; and other chieftains of the party.

Although Obaseki did not grant any interview after the meeting which lasted for about two hours and ended at about 5.35pm, the state chairman of the APC told journalists that consultations were still ongoing.

Ojezua said that deliberations on what transpired at the House of Assembly were still on, adding that the resolution would be made public at the appropriate time.

“Let me just say that we have started talking and hope that we can resolve the issue very soon,” he stated.

 When asked if the change of leadership in the House of Assembly would remain, the APC Chairman said, “I said we are discussing. When we resolve, we will make a statement. When we finish, we will address the press.”

Posted On Tuesday, 15 August 2017 01:37 Written by

Kenya's opposition has accused the government of "state terror" and vowed to overturn a "sham" result.

Senior opposition official James Orengo said they would not go to court to achieve this. He urged people to stay calm and out of harm's way.

Mr Orengo alleged that about 100 people had been killed by the Kenyan security forces but did not offer evidence.

Official results gave President Uhuru Kenyatta 54.3%. His challenger Raila Odinga called the election a "charade".

"They knew they were going to steal an election. They knew the people would be unhappy. Therefore all the instruments of violence were put in place," Mr Orengo said.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) meanwhile said 24 people had been shot dead by police during protests.


Hope for return to normality - BBC's Alastair Leithead in Nairobi

Protester in KiberaImage copyrightEPA

What Kenya needs right now is strong leadership. From the government side, that means ensuring security forces don't use excessive force while containing protest.

The opposition National Super Alliance needs to send a clear message to their supporters not to use violence. But in a media conference, lacking the most senior alliance leaders, they said only that people should "stay out of harms way".

They seem lacking in direction and united only by the statement: "We will not be cowed. We will not relent".

They still do not accept the results of the election, but have not yet provided strong evidence for why they believe the elections was rigged, or for the large number of people they claim have been killed.

The clashes are intense but isolated. There is nothing like the level of anger or violence that sparked the killings ten years ago and many Kenyans hope they can return to normal life as soon as possible.


The victims included a nine-year-old girl hit by a stray bullet in a Nairobi's Mathere slum.

A man was also killed in Kisumu county, an opposition stronghold and the centre of post-election ethnic violence in 2007, when 1,200 people died and 600,000 were displaced.

 
The BBC's Emmanuel Igunza says there is an "uneasy calm" in Kisumu

Earlier the Elections Observation Group (Elog), which had 8,300 observers, said its projected outcome put Mr Kenyatta on 54%, just short of the official figure of 54.3%

But Mr Orengo questioned Elog's independence.

Kenya's acting interior minister Fred Matiang'i has urged people to return to their normal lives and called for Kenyans to use social media responsibly.

Mr Matiang'i said most areas were calm but there had been some violence which he blamed on criminals.

Odinga supporters in mathareImage copyrightEPA
Image captionOpposition supporters have been confronting police in Nairobi's Mathare slum
Woman shelters behind police during clashes in Kibera slumImage copyrightREUTERS
Violence also broke out in Kibera slum

Mr Kenyatta has urged peace. "We have seen the results of political violence. And I am certain that there is no single Kenyan who would wish for us to go back to this," he said.

Ahead of the results, Mr Odinga had called on his supporters to remain calm, but added that he did not control anyone, and that "people want to see justice".

Rights group Amnesty International has called for the Kenyan authorities to investigate the killings.


Kenyan media reacts - BBC Monitoring

Kenya newspapersImage copyrightEPA

All major newspapers in Kenya agreed that the president's first duty should be to heal the divisions that were exposed during the election.

The Star newspaper said the extent of Mr Kenyatta's victory "was surprising, even shocking, but we should accept it and move on. Kenya deserves peace and development".

On local radio, pro-ruling party stations hosted jubilant callers. On Radio Nam Lolwe, which broadcasts to opposition areas, a caller spoke of "heartbreaking" scenes where protests had turned violent, saying: "Let us desist from violence and preach peace".

Ramogi FM radio, which broadcasts in the Luo language of defeated candidate Raila Odinga, played gospel music - a break from the usual Saturday discussion programmes.

Posted On Saturday, 12 August 2017 20:54 Written by

 

A woman carrying her baby walks through the temporary shelters provided by the Mission for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in one of the hosting communities in Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria on December 7, 2016.Image copyrightAFP
The UN has been providing aid to those affected by the Boko Haram insurgency

Nigeria's security forces have raided a UN camp in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri and carried out an unauthorised search, a UN official has told the BBC.

Samantha Newport, of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), says the search lasted nearly three hours.

The UN is urgently seeking answers from the authorities.

The base provides aid to those affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

The BBC's Martin Patience in Lagos says one possible reason for the search could be the camp's name - Red Roof.

Rumours have been swirling in Maiduguri that the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has been hiding out in a compound with the same name.

map

Edward Kallon, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria has expressed grave concern following the search.

Mr Kallon says that he is extremely concerned that the actions by the security forces could be "detrimental to the critical work that is being carried out every day to support the most vulnerable in the region".

The UN ordered local staff to work from home today following the incident.

It also said it grounded helicopters - which provide humanitarian assistance to far - flung camps - as a precautionary measure.

Posted On Friday, 11 August 2017 23:39 Written by
 

South Africa's main opposition party submitted a motion to dissolve the nation's parliament on Thursday, which, if passed, would require fresh national elections.

“The ANC is willing to do anything to protect President Jacob Zuma,” said John Steenhuisen, chief whip of the Democratic Alliance party. “South Africans need to be given the opportunity to make their voices heard at the polls.”

The dissolution motion comes hot on the heels of a no confidence vote which Zuma narrowly survived earlier this week.

The dissolution attempt, which requires 201 out of 400 parliamentary votes to pass, is seen as unlikely to succeed as the ANC holds a majority of 249 of the house's seats.

The motion says the some ANC lawmakers “no longer represent the earnest hopes and aspirations of the electorate” and “exhibit unquestioning fealty to President Jacob Zuma and to the organization he leads.”

The ANC blasted the DA's move as an attempt to subvert the will of South African voters by trying to dissolve a government that received 62 percent of the national vote in the 2014 polls.

Zuma has survived multiple attempts by the opposition to remove him from power, as he has faced growing anger over multiple allegations of corruption while the economy has slid into recession.

Tuesday's no-confidence motion was the first to be held by secret ballot, and more than 25 members of his ruling party revolted and supported the motion or abstained, the ANC said.

“We are deeply disappointed that some of our ANC members allowed themselves to be used by the opposition to fracture and weaken the ANC and destabilize our country,” the party said in a statement. It did not say how and if it would discipline members who did not tow the party line.

The ANC is expected to replace Zuma as party president at a meeting in December, but his term as head of state is set to continue until elections in 2019.

Posted On Friday, 11 August 2017 04:10 Written by

*N234m, $5m in bank accounts
*Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt houses listed

SOME OF THE ASSETS:
A block of six units serviced apartments at 135, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos
21 mixed housing units of eight four-bedroom apartments, two penthouse apartments of three-bedrooms each and six three-bedroom (all en-suite) terrace apartments in Yaba
A twin four-bedroom duplex at Lekki Phase one, Lagos
A large expanse of land at Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos
A duplex at 10, Frederick Chiluba Close in Asokoro, Abuja
A six-bedroom en-suite apartment on Aso Drive, Maitama, Abuja
16 four-bedroom terrace duplexes at No. Heritage Court Estate, Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt.

 

A massive investigation has revealed former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke’s love for property.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) has so far traced N47.2 billion and $487.5million to the ex-minister.

The agency also claimed that Mrs. Alison Madueke has N23,446,300,000 and $5milion (about N1.5billion) cash in various banks.

But only the about $37.5million Banana Island property has been forfeited to the Federal Government by the ex-minister.

On Monday , Justice Chuka Obiozor, a vacation judge sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered the final forfeiture of the property.

These revelations were contained in a fact-sheet released by the Public Affairs Directorate of the EFCC.

The fact-sheet is signed by two officers of the directorate, Mr. Tony Orilade and Aishah Gambari.

The document reads: “Apart from the jewellery, the EFCC, Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption agency, has traced N47.2billion and $487.5million in cash and properties to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources in ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

“This followed painstaking investigations by operatives of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).”

In the fact-sheet, the EFCC gave the details of the properties linked with the ex-minister.

It accused Mrs. Alison Madueke of acquiring a block of six units serviced apartments a few metres away from the EFCC zonal operations hub in Ikoyi.

The document added: “Also in Lagos, Alison-Madueke allegedly bought a block of six units serviced apartments at number 135, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, just a few hundred metres away from the EFCC zonal operations hub.

“The apartment has a standby power generating set, sporting facilities, play ground and a water treatment plant. The property was bought at the rate of N800 million (Eight hundred million naira) on January 6, 2012.

“Other properties in Yaba, Lagos, also discovered by the eagle eyes of the Commission’s operatives, are located at number 7, Thurnburn Street and 5, Raymond Street. The Thurnburn Street property consists of 21 mixed housing units of eight four-bedroom apartments, two penthouse apartments of three bedrooms each and six three-bedroom (all en-suite) terrace apartments.

“The Raymond Street property is made up of two en-suite 2-bedroom apartments and one four bedroom apartment.

“The Yaba, Lagos properties, which dug a deep hole of an eye-popping N1billion (One billion naira), were paid for on May 30, 2012. The same day Alison-Madueke splashed N900 million for the Port Harcourt estate.

“In Lekki Phase one, an upscale neighbourhood of Lagos, operatives found a twin four-bedroom duplex. The duplex is located on Plot 33, Block 112, Lekki Peninsula Residential Scheme Phase 1, Lekki, Lagos, with an estimated value of over N200million (Two hundred million naira).

“Also in Lagos, a large expanse of land at Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos has also been traced to the former Petroleum Resources Minister. The land, which is located in Oniru Chieftaincy Family Private Estate, Lekki peninsular, Lagos and currently being utilised as a dumping site, was bought on February 16, 2012 for N135million (One hundred and thirty- five million naira).

“Plot 8, Gerard Road Ikoyi, Lagos, another property traced to Alison-Madueke, is a penthouse on the 11th floor in the Block B Wing of the building. It was bought for N12million (Twelve million naira) on December 20, 2011.”

Besides the properties in Lagos, the commission claimed that Mrs. Alison Madueke allegedly bought choice mansions in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Yenagoa in Bayelsa State.

It said: “On Plot 10, Frederick Chiluba Close, in the serene, upscale Asokoro District of Abuja, lies a tastefully built and finished duplex. In the compound, there are also a guest chalet, boy’s quarters, an elegant swimming pool, fully equipped sports gym and a host of other amenities.

“ Investigators have discovered that the property acquired by the ex-minister in December, 2009, at the cost of N400 million (Four hundred million naira) was never declared in any of the asset declaration forms filed by Alison-Madueke.

“Also linked to the former Minister in Abuja is a mini-estate at Mabushi, Abuja. The estate, located on Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi Gardens Estate, houses 13 three-bedroom terrace houses, each with one bedroom en-suite maid’s quarters. It was purchased on April 2, 2012 at the princely sum of N650million (Six Hundred and Fifty Million Naira).

“In Aso Drive, Maitama, Abuja, Alison-Madueke reportedly acquired a six bedroom en-suite apartment made up of three large living rooms, two bedroom guest chalets, two-bedroom boys quarters, two lock up garages and a car park. It was bought on July 20, 2011 for N80million (Eighty million naira).

“Down South in Nigeria’s oil city of Port Harcourt, the former minister’s acquisitive appetite took her to Heritage Court Estate, located on Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu Government Residential Area, Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt.

“The Estate, which is made up of 16 four-bedroom terrace duplexes, is equipped with, among other facilities, a massive standby power generating set. Alison-Madueke did not blink as she shelled out N900million (Nine hundred million naira) for it on May 30, 2012.

“In neighbouring Bayelsa State, an apartment with two blocks of flats, all en-suite, and with a maid’s quarters was also traced to her. The house located on Goodluck Jonathan Road, Yenagoa is sitting on a large expanse of land.

“Realtors spoken to by EFCC investigators have placed estimated values running into hundreds of millions of Naira on the property. The apartments have four living rooms, eight bedrooms and gold-plated furniture.”

Besides jewelry and property, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, EFCC operatives claim, has N23,446,300,000 and $5milion (about N1.5billion) in various Nigerian banks.

Posted On Wednesday, 09 August 2017 00:30 Written by

Senegal's ruling party has won a large parliamentary majority, according to official provisional results, following an election last Sunday that opposition leaders say was tainted by fraud.

President Macky Sall's ruling coalition took 125 seats in the 165-seat National Assembly after winning nearly 50 percent of the vote, according to the results announced on national television late on Friday.

The coalition of 91-year-old former president Abdoulaye Wade, whom Sall defeated in a 2012 presidential election that cemented Senegal's reputation as one of West Africa's most stable democracies, won 19 seats. A coalition led by jailed Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall won seven seats.

Last Sunday's vote was marred by delays in issuing biometric identity cards that prevented hundreds of voters from casting their ballots, part of what opposition leaders said was an intensifying clampdown on political opposition.

Posted On Saturday, 05 August 2017 13:17 Written by

The Gambia has revoked the diplomatic passports of ex-leader Yahya Jammeh and his associates, the foreign ministry said Thursday, as the new government pursues former regime figures it believes embezzled state funds.

Jammeh plundered an estimated $50 million before leaving for exile in Equatorial Guinea in January after 22 years in power, the country’s justice minister announced in May, promising a commission would trace the money.

The Gambian government revoked “the diplomatic passports of members of the former regime and this includes President Yahya Jammeh, his wife Zeinab Jammeh and cabinet ministers,” ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Saikou Ceesay told AFP.

“The list consists of 271 people who no longer enjoy diplomatic immunities. They should have returned their passports when they ceased to be Gambian diplomats,” Ceesay added.

The government already froze Jammeh and his associates’ assets in May and said it had begun tracking down bank accounts and businesses linked to the former strongman.

Jammeh ran everything from bakeries to farms during his long tenure and was regularly accused of taking over successful businesses for his own gain, as well as overseeing widespread rights abuses by his security forces, according to the new government.

He only left the country under threat of a west African military intervention after losing to President Adama Barrow in a December election and refusing for weeks to acknowledge the result.

Barrow said in an interview with AFP last month that although Jammeh was now in Equatorial Guinea, which is not a member state of the International Criminal Court, he believed the former leader would one day find himself in court.

“There are people who committed atrocities and faced justice. They were extradited to face justice. It can also happen with Jammeh,” he said.

Posted On Friday, 04 August 2017 02:51 Written by

South African Airways (SAA) has run out of money and is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, according to information given to the country's parliament.

It is thought the national carrier may soon be unable to pay salaries.

The cash-flow statement shown to MPs and seen by the BBC paints a picture of an airline haemorrhaging cash.

It says that matters may improve by October, but only if it gets a 792m-rand (£45m) bailout from the government.

Even then, the situation is expected to deteriorate again by December with a forecast cash outflow in that month of £38m.

The airline has lost money in each of the past seven years. Acting chief executive Musa Zwane, who has led the company for the last 18 months, has been trying to put together a recovery plan since January.

"Essentially insolvent"

Last month, the Treasury paid out £125m to settle a loan from Standard Chartered Bank‚ which the bank had refused to extend.

South Africa's Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, has disclosed that SAA asked the Treasury in March for a £560m recapitalisation. He is expected to give an answer by October.

Alf Lees, the deputy finance spokesman of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said: "Essentially they are insolvent and should have filed for liquidation.

"We believe that the directors are in breach of the South Africa companies act by continuing to trade recklessly knowing that SAA will not be able to meet its financial commitments and without any guarantee that the shareholder (the South African government) will be prepared to continue to bail them out."

Unions marching

In 2015, consultants Ernst & Young presented a report to the government into 48 of the largest contracts awarded by SAA. The report showed that 28 of them, or 60%, were improperly negotiated, poorly contracted or weakly managed.

The airline is also facing pressure from its unions. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) are planning a march on Friday to SAA's Johannesburg headquarters.

An NUMSA spokesperson said: "Corruption at SAA is rife, it's clear that the state owned entity is being looted.

"The report by Ernst & Young paints a picture of rampant mismanagement, fraud and corruption. SAA has lost billions because of tender irregularities."

The unions are also threatening strike action over pay, claiming that pilots have been getting generous pay awards while cabin crew, ground staff, cargo staff and technical staff have been refused wage rises.

Posted On Thursday, 03 August 2017 15:10 Written by
 

In the eyes of some voters, Philippe Mpayimana, a fresh-faced former journalist running for president of Rwanda, is just a clown. Otherwise, they ask, why would he be running against longtime President Paul Kagame?

Some of Mpayimana's campaign venues are nearly empty of people, underscoring a widespread belief among Rwandans that Friday's election is just another coronation for Kagame, who won 93 percent of the votes in the last election.

In the tidy capital, Kigali, there is little hint of the coming vote.

Presidential candidates are barred from putting campaign posters in most public places, including schools and hospitals. The electoral commission vets candidates' campaign messages, warning that their social media accounts could be blocked otherwise.

FILE - Presidential candidate Philippe Mpayimana speaks to a crowd in Rwanda.
FILE - Presidential candidate Philippe Mpayimana speaks to a crowd in Rwanda.

"Some people here even don't know names of candidates running against Kagame," said Chris Munyaneza, a university lecturer who lives in Kigali. "People are not bothered."

"There is no excitement because people knew the winner a long time ago," said another Kigali resident who insisted on anonymity for his safety.

Kagame has been de facto leader or president of the East African nation of 12 million people since his rebels ended its 1994 genocide. While he remains popular for presiding over impressive economic growth, he inspires fear among some Rwandans who say he uses the powers of the state to remove perceived opponents.

Three potential candidates for Friday's election were disqualified by the electoral commission for allegedly failing to fulfil certain requirements, including collecting enough signatures. Two others — Mpayimana and Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda — were cleared to run.

The 59-year-old Kagame has already claimed victory, telling a rally in July that the winner of the election is already known: "The day of the presidential elections will just be a formality." He pointed to a constitutional amendment after a referendum in 2015 that allows him to stay in power until 2034.

'Climate of fear'

Ahead of the polls, tension has been growing following the mass retirement of over 800 army officers — rare before an election — and the reported arrest of at least four senior officers. The arrests include a man related to the late Col. Patrick Karegeya, a former intelligence chief who became a prominent dissident but was found dead in January 2014, apparently strangled, in South Africa.

FILE - Incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame gives a speech during a campaign rally, July 31, 2017 in Gakenke, Rwanda, ahead of August 4 presidential election.
FILE - Incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame gives a speech during a campaign rally, July 31, 2017 in Gakenke, Rwanda, ahead of August 4 presidential election.

Karegeya's widow, who now lives in the United States, said of Kagame: "I think he is a man with an endless hatred, even to those he has put in the grave like my husband." Leah Karegeya said six family members, including her sister Goretti Kabuto, are in detention in Rwanda because of their ties to her late husband.

Two decades of often deadly attacks on political opponents, journalists and rights activists have created a "climate of fear" ahead of Rwanda's election, Amnesty International said in a report last month.

"There are many unknown prisons in this country, and many people have vanished and died there," said one supporter of opposition candidate Habineza, Charlotte Umutesi. "My brother disappeared for a long time and we didn't find him until much later. We need a change before it is too late."

'Visionary' leader

Rwandan authorities, including Kagame, deny critics' claims that the government targets dissidents for assassination or disappearances.

Others insist the president has widespread support. Eric Ndushabandi, a professor of political science at the National University of Rwanda, said many admire Kagame as a "visionary" leader who united a country scarred by the 1994 genocide, in which over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by Hutu extremists.

"People are influenced by the traumatic situation of the genocide and conflictual politics in the past and no one is ready to go back," Ndushabandi said.

Meanwhile, opposition rallies often flop, apparently because some people are afraid to be seen associating with the president's opponents.

FILE - Presidential candidate Frank Habineza of the opposition Democratic Green Party gestures to supporters at an election campaign rally in Musanze District, Rwanda, July 28, 2017.
FILE - Presidential candidate Frank Habineza of the opposition Democratic Green Party gestures to supporters at an election campaign rally in Musanze District, Rwanda, July 28, 2017.

In the southeastern town of Nyamata, where independent candidate Mpayimana held his first campaign rally, only about 15 people — most of them children — attended. Police last week arrested the mayor of the western district of Rubavu, Jeremie Sinamenye, over allegations that he and some of his staff prevented voters from attending Mpayimana's rallies.

The other candidate running against Kagame, Habineza, called his campaign an act of "hope" despite the obvious risks. The organizing secretary of Habineza's party went missing two years ago and remains unaccounted for. The body of his deputy, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, was discovered in 2010 with a severed head in the southern town of Butare.

That killing followed the shooting death of newspaper journalist Jean-Leonard Rugambage, whose tabloid had been suspended by Rwandan authorities.

"Running against President Kagame comes with courage," Habineza said.

Posted On Wednesday, 02 August 2017 14:51 Written by
 

A gunman and a police officer were killed in an attack on the home of Kenya’s deputy president in the western town of Eldoret, a senior administrator said Sunday, just more than a week before a national election.

Deputy President William Ruto and his family were not at home at the time of the Saturday attack, police said. Ruto is the running mate of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is seeking a second and final term in office in the Aug. 8 elections.

“From the exchange of fire we thought it was more than one attacker, because he used different firearms, but after we subdued him, we found only one man dead, plus our officer who he had killed,” Wanyama Musiambo, Rift Valley Regional Coordinator, told reporters at the scene Sunday.

FILE- The home of Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto in Sugoi village near Eldoret, Kenya, Aug. 4, 2010.
FILE- The home of Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto in Sugoi village near Eldoret, Kenya, Aug. 4, 2010.

Musiambo declined to comment when asked about the motive of the attack, or the attacker’s identity. The deputy president’s residence is guarded by an elite paramilitary police unit.

Musiambo said the attacker initially had no gun but managed to break into the police armory once inside the compound.

“I want to say that after the operation we discovered that it was one gunman, but because he was inside there, he could change position and firearms because he had access to the guns. And the guns he was using were ours,” he said. “We have however launched investigations into the issue, to find out if he conducted the attack alone or he was with others who may have escaped.”

Late Saturday, police initially said the attacker was armed with a machete and had injured one police officer before holing himself up in an outbuilding.

Ruto and Kenyatta spent Saturday campaigning in the counties of Kitale, Kericho and Narok, the president’s office said in a statement. Neither commented on the incident.

A Reuters reporter near Ruto’s compound said he saw several police vehicles going in and out of the compound, as well as one armored vehicle in the compound.
The reporter said he also saw one armored vehicle in the compound.

Posted On Monday, 31 July 2017 21:01 Written by
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