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Zimbabwe: President Mnangagwa, ‘the crocodile’ escapes assassination

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the president of Zimbabwe, has escaped an apparent assassination attempt during an election campaign rally in the southern city of Bulawayo

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Emmerson Mnangagwa, the president of Zimbabwe, has escaped an apparent assassination attempt during an election campaign rally in the southern city of Bulawayo.

Local media reported that security personnel, several ministers and possibly the vice-president were hurt in the blast in the White City stadium on Saturday.

George Charamba, the president’s spokesman, told the Herald, a local newspaper, that Mnangagwa had not been injured in the attack, which occurred as the 75-year-old head of state had just finished addressing the crowd and was leaving the podium.

“Investigations are under way and more details will be given to the public. There have been multiple attempts on the president’s life over the past five years.”

Footage posted online showed Mnangagwa waving to the crowd, turning to step off the podium and walking into the open-sided VIP tent, where seconds later the explosion occurred. People ducked and screamed and smoke billowed. State television immediately cut its broadcast.

The incident came hours after a blast struck a large rally by supporters of Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, in the capital, Addis Ababa, wounding dozens of people. The coming election in Zimbabwe is the latest turning point in the most tumultuous few months in almost four decades of Zimbabwe’s political history.

In November, Robert Mugabe was forced out of power after 37 years, following a peaceful military takeover supported by the vast majority of the 17 million population.

The poll on 30 July pits Zanu-PF, the ruling party, against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the longstanding opposition.

Zanu-PF is led by Mnangagwa, a former vice-president known as “the Crocodile” who took power when Mugabe was ousted. Polls indicate a potentially close race, but one that Zanu-PF should win. Though hard fought, the campaign so far has seen little of the violence associated with previous elections in Zimbabwe.

Past votes have been marked by systematic intimidation of the opposition and fraud, and the US and others have said a credible vote is key to lifting international sanctions.

The EU has deployed election observers in Zimbabwe for the first time in 16 years.

Few experts and analysts, or politicians, have raised the possibility that Mnangagwa might be targeted for assassination. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, is traditionally an opposition stronghold but there was no indication of who might be responsible for Saturday’s attack.

Politics

Like Mali, Burkina Faso junta suspends France’s RFI radio over broadcast of militant speech

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West African country, Burkina Faso, has gone the way of its neighbour, Mali, as its ruling junta has suspended the broadcast of France’s RFI radio.

The suspension comes after what the junta said were false reports and giving voice to Islamist militants, a statement from the government said on Saturday.

According to a statement by the radio station, “RFI strongly deplores this decision and protests against the totally unfounded accusations calling into question its professionalism,” State-owned Radio France Internationale, usually referred to as RFI.

The statement added that the decision to suspend its broadcasting was made without prior notice and without the implementation of the procedures put in place by Burkina Faso’s communications regulator.

The ruling junta which came into power in a recent coup in September accused the RFI also repeated a press report – which it denied – that Burkina Faso’s President Captain Ibrahim Traore, who seized power in a coup in September, had said there had been an attempted coup trying to unseat him.

Burkina Faso’s neighbour, Mali, under military reign, suspended broadcasts by French state-funded international news outlets RFI and France 24 amid accusations of reporting “false allegations”.

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Politics

Tunisian labour union, UGTT threatens political disruption as elections draws near

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As the North African country, Tunisia braces up for elections, labour union, UGTT has threatened not to disrupt proceedings under the current political arrangement.

UGTT attacked president Saied political and economic agenda on Saturday, including the elections scheduled for this month. The union said that it will no longer accept what it called a threat to democracy in its clearest challenge to him yet.

UGTT’s leader Noureddine Taboubi said in a speech to thousands of supporters, the union will ” no longer accept the current path because of its ambiguity and individual rule, and the unpleasant surprises it hides for the fate of the country and democracy.”

“We will not hesitate to defend rights and freedoms whatever the cost,” he added, in his strongest criticism yet of the president.

“We will not abide by secret agreements the government has with the International Monetary Fund and the workers will stand up to it,” Taboubi said.

Taboubi said the December election would “have no colour and taste” as a result of Saied’s constitution and that the vote lacked national unanimity.

President Kais Saied hinted that the country will not accept foreign observers for the planned elections for later this year.

There have been protests for and against president Saied’s approach to governance of the Tunisian public.

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