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Africa in brief: 25 September – 2 October

Rwanda genocide achitect dies

A former Rwandan army colonel, widely regarded as the architect of the 1994 genocide, died in a hospital in Mali last weekend. Theoneste Bagosora was head of military and political affairs and took a leadership role when Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana died in a plane crash. A million people were killed in the genocide. Bagosora was serving a prison sentence after being found guilty of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Bagosora had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008, but on appeal his sentence was reduced to 35 years in prison. 

Military Guinean barred from elections

Members of the Guinean military will not be permitted to stand as candidates in the next local or national elections, the leaders of the recent coup said this week. The length of the transition to elections will be determined in conjunction with an 81-member transitional national council. The junta, led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, deposed the president, Alpha Condé, early last month. Doumbouya will be president during the transition period, with a government composed of a civilian prime minister and cabinet, none of whom may be a candidate in the elections. It is unclear if the electoral ban applies to Doumbouya himself. 

Italy jails mayor for helping refugees

An Italian court has sentenced the former mayor of Riace to 13 years in jail. Domenico Lucano’s crime was aiding “illegal immigration”, by allowing people from 20 countries, including Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Gambia, to move into abandoned homes and ensuring they could remain. In addition to providing refuge to refugees, the move is credited with saving Riace from collapse, after its population had fallen from 2 000 to 400. 

Nigerian government kills citizens

In the name of the “war on terror”, Nigeria keeps killing its own people. On Sunday the air force killed at least 20 fishermen in Kwatar Daban Masara in Lake Chad, which straddles Nigeria and Niger, Chad and Cameroon. A military spokesman denied they were civilians, insisting those killed were terrorists masquerading as fishermen. The botched strike comes just two weeks after another military strike killed at least 12 people in Yobe state. The air force initially denied any involvement before offering a mea culpa just hours later. Not that there is any accountability. 

Out of the fire, into flying Pan-African

SAA and Kenya Airways have signed a memorandum of understanding with the long-term goal of creating a pan-African carrier. Both airlines have been bedevilled by financial and administrative woes in recent years. SAA only took to the skies last week after being grounded for over a year due to bankruptcy proceedings. 

Chinese mining deal investigated

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is reviewing a $6.2-billion minerals-for-infrastructure deal with China that has been the subject of growing criticism since President Felix Tshikedi came into office three years ago. The contract, signed in 2008, promised a $3.2-billion investment by China in a copper-cobalt mine and another $3-billion worth of infrastructure projects, all paid for by mining revenue. More than a decade later, less than a third of the infrastructure funding has been disbursed, and the mining project has only received about three-quarters of the promised investment, according to the DRC government. 

Tunisian president names new prime minister

Tunisian President Kais Saied has chosen Najla Bouden Romdhane, a little-known professor of geophysics with little government experience, to be the country’s new prime minister. He has tasked her with forming a new government amid a mounting crisis set off by his seizure of powers deemed a coup by his critics. Bouden is Tunisia’s first woman prime minister. Saied is facing domestic and international pressure following his decision in July to dismiss the former prime minister, suspend parliament and assume executive authority. Last week he suspended most of the Constitution and began ruling by decree for an indeterminate period. 

Nigeria’s Twitter ban lifted (except not really)

In a speech marking independence day, President Muhammadu Buhari said the country’s ban on Twitter would be lifted. In early June, his government banned Nigerians from using the platform after it censured his account for tweeting hate speech. Buhari said people could use it for “business and positive engagements”. Because telling people how to use social media has worked so well in the past. Not that access was actually restored: Buhari said Twitter still has to meet certain conditions. 

Wole or won’t he? Soyinka just did.

Acclaimed Nigerian playwright, novelist, poet, and essayist Wole Soyinka this week released his third novel – and his first in nearly 50 years – to glowing reviews from critics. Chronicles From the Land of the Happiest People on Earth is a story about corruption in a country that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Nobel laureate’s own. 
This article first appeared on The Continent, the pan-African weekly newspaper designed to be read and shared on WhatsApp. Download your free copy here

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The Continent is a free weekly newspaper published by the Adamela Trust in partnership with the Mail & Guardian.

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