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USAfrica: Rwanda’s presidential elections point to another Kagame victory

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Special to USAfrica, Houston. AFP

Rwandans go the polls Friday in a presidential election in which strongman Paul Kagame is widely expected to cruise to a third term in office.

The 59-year-old leader faces two little-known candidates who were given only three weeks to campaign against the incumbent, who has kept a tight hold on power since his rebel army ended the 1994 genocide.

Observers say Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party — the only permitted critical opposition party — and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana face an unwinnable battle. Kagame has said the result is a foregone conclusion.

While the nation has been colourfully covered with the red, white and blue of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and posters of Kagame, there has been barely a trace of the opposition.

“They told us we cannot put our banners or flags where the RPF’s things are, but unfortunately the RPF put theirs almost everywhere,” Habineza told AFP during a recent rally in the south of the country.

He was standing in front of a small stage, surrounded by about 100 people, including many children drawn by the booming music.

“I came out of curiosity, but he has no chance. Kagame has delivered everything he promised, there is no one but him,” said Sabin Nkundukozera, 66.

Farmer Sylvain Mutaimukunda, 38, was similarly dismissive.

“It is the first time I have heard of this man, I couldn’t even tell you his name,” he said of Habineza.

In contrast, thousands flock to Kagame’s rallies, where the president has repeated that “the election is over”.

His confidence comes after 98 percent of Rwandans approved a constitutional amendment in a 2015 referendum that granted him the right to run for a third term in office.

Observers condemned the reform, which could potentially see Kagame retain office twice more if re-elected this time and allow him to stay president until 2034.
Kagame, a lanky former guerilla fighter, was just 36 when his rebel army routed extremist Hutu forces who slaughtered an estimated 800,000 people — mainly minority Tutsis — and seized Kigali.

He served first as vice-president and defence minister, although he was widely considered the de facto leader of the country and was appointed as president by lawmakers in 2000.

He was first elected to the post in 2003 and again in 2010 with more than 90 percent of votes.

He is credited with a remarkable turnaround in the shattered nation, bringing order, stability, infrastructure and annual economic growth of about seven percent.

However rights groups accuse him of ruling through fear, relying on a systematic repression of the opposition, free speech and the media.

Critics have been assassinated, jailed or forced into exile, and some observers believe the only reason Habineza and Mpayimana have been allowed to run is that they pose no threat.

“There is no election in Rwanda, there is a coronation declaring Kagame the king,” said outspoken local journalist Robert Mugabe.

“The real opposition, the people with the real voices, cannot be around,” he said.

However political analyst Christopher Kayumba said Kagame remains popular, with Rwandans seeing him as a guarantor of stability after his military victory brought an end to the genocide.

“There is no way you can compare the stature of President Kagame, the resources of the RPF, with the Green Party. The opposition will be beaten hands down. There is no question about that.”

There are 6.9 million registered voters across the tiny east African nation, known as the Land of a Thousand Hills. Polling stations open at 0500 GMT and close at 1300 GMT.

USAfrica is an international multimedia company, founded since 1992 by Dr. Chido Nwangwu [author of Mandela & Achebe: Leadership, Identity and Footprints of Greatness], with its headquarters in Houston, Texas. Also, he established the 1st African-owned, U.S.-based professional newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com, both assessed by the CNN and The New York Times as the largest and arguably the most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks. USAfrica’s first print edition of USAfrica magazine published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; The Black Business Journal in 1998; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; PhotoWorks.TV in 2005, and several platforms and products. USAfricaonline.com is powered by the global resources of USAfrica, CLASSmagazine, CLASSmagazine.TV, PhotoWorks.Tv, USAfrica.TV, MandelaAchebeChido.com, AchebeBooks.com and ChidoNwangwu.com

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Buhari to debate Atiku, Moghalu on January 19; rising Sowore not listed

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atiku-n-buhari - USAfricaonline.com

@Chido247

As the countdown to the February 2019 presidential elections in Africa’s most populated country continues, Nigerian Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) have announced the “names of political parties” that they have pre-qualified to participate in the 2019 vice presidential and presidential debates.

The Executive Secretary of the NEDG, Eddie Emesiri, listed the parties as the following: Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP).

The Presidential debate will hold on Saturday, January 19, 2019 while the VP debate will be in Abuja on Friday, December 14, 2018.

President Buhari, a retired army general who does not warm up to contrary even if helpful views, USAfrica notes, will have the opportunity of counterpoint exchanges with his 2015 former ally Atiku Abubakar, and especially from the  former deputy Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank Prof. Kingsley Moghalu. 

Significantly, the debate excludes Omoyele Sowore, the activist-journalist and young candidate who is among the top canvassers and most travelled candidates (inside and outside Nigeria) in search of votes. By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica [Houston] and USAfricaonline.com

https://usafricaonline.com/2018/05/19/usafrica-why-saharareporters-sowores-disrupt-the-nigerian-system-message-is-gaining-momentum-by-chido-nwangwu/

 

 

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AFRICA

Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria, Somalia and Egypt among the worst hit.

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The Global Terrorism Index for 2018 has been released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, which recorded 3 African countries of Nigeria, Somalia  and Egypt among the worst hit. Iraq’s almost daily blasts placed it at the top, followed by Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, and Pakistan. 

The GTI found that “the global impact from terrorism is on the decline, it also shows that terrorism is still widespread, and even getting worse in some regions.”

The United States is at number 20. 

The Index ranked 138 countries based on the severity of terror attacks throughout 2017, and found that “The total number of deaths fell by 27 percent between 2016 and 2017, with the largest falls occurring in Iraq and Syria. The overall trend of a decline in the number of deaths caused by acts of terror reflects the increased emphasis placed on countering terrorism around the world since the surge in violence in 2013.”

“In the Maghreb and Sahel regions of Northern Africa, there has been a resurgence of terrorist activity in the past two years, most notably of al-Qa’ida. As of March 2018 there were more than 9,000 members of terrorist groups active in the region, mostly concentrated in Libya and Algeria,” it noted.

The GTI assessed the total global economic impact of terrorism at almost $52 billion.

USAfricaonline.com notes that the attacks by Nigeria’s Boko Haram and its affiliates mainly in the north east and exponential rise in the violence unleashed by the Fulani herdsmen negatively affected the country. By Chido Nwangwu @Chido247

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AFRICA

Nigerian army posts Trump video to justify shooting muslim Shiites

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Nigeria’s army (has) posted a video of US President Donald Trump saying soldiers would shoot migrants throwing stones to justify opening fire on a Shiite group (last) week.

In the video, Trump warns that soldiers deployed to the Mexican border could shoot Central American migrants who throw stones at them while attempting to cross illegally.

“We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,” said Trump in remarks made on Thursday.

“I told them (troops) consider it (a rock) a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexican military and police, I say consider it a rifle.”

Nigeria’s defence spokesman John Agim told AFP that the army posted the video in response to criticism that its security forces had acted unlawfully.

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) said 49 of its members were killed after the army and police fired live bullets at crowds who marched near and in the capital Abuja. The army’s official death toll was six.

Amnesty International said Wednesday it had “strong evidence” that police and soldiers used automatic weapons against IMN members and killed about 45 people in an “unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police”.

The United States embassy in Nigeria said Thursday it was “concerned” and called for an investigation.

“The video was posted in reaction to the Amnesty International report accusing the army of using weapons against pacifist Shiite protesters…. Not only did they use stones but they were carrying petrol bombs, machetes and knives, so yes, we consider them as being armed,” said Agim.

“We intervened only because the IMN members are trying to harm our people, they are always meeting us…at security check points and trying to provoke us, they even burned a police vehicle.”

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is almost evenly split between a mostly Muslim north — which is predominantly Sunni — and a largely Christian south.

Experts have warned the government that a heavy-handed response to the group risks sparking conflict in a volatile region where poverty is widespread.

IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in custody since 2015, when an army crackdown killed 300 of his supporters who were buried in mass graves, according to rights groups.

Zakzaky is facing a culpable homicide charge in connection with the 2015 violence. He remains in jail despite a court order granting him bail.

On Thursday, 120 of 400 IMN members arrested by police on Monday were  charged with “rioting, disturbance of public peace and causing hurt,” said a court official in Abuja on Friday.

According to court documents seen by AFP, the IMN members had been ordered to disperse but they “refused and started throwing stones at the police officers and other members of the public and thereby caused them bodily harm”.

All the suspects pleaded not guilty and were granted bail with the court hearing to resume on December 5.

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