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Uganda, Zambia, now Egypt! Social media use comes under intense scrutiny

On Sunday, Egypt joined Uganda and Zambia to enact new orders regulating social media usage in their respective countries. This has raised fears about citizens rights to free speech and dissent

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On Sunday, Egypt joined Uganda and Zambia to enact new orders regulating social media usage in their respective countries. This has raised fears about citizens rights to free speech and dissent.

Egypt already wears the tag of “one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists”.

The BBC reports that Egypt’s parliament on Sunday passed a controversial law that will allow the state to regulate social media users.

Under the law, a personal social media account, blog or website with more than 5,000 followers could be considered a media outlet and subject to media law.

Critics say the legislation will increase the authorities’ ability to crack down on free speech and dissent.

A number of opposition activists have been arrested in recent months on charges of spreading false news online.

Tens of thousands of people have been detained in Egypt since 2013, when the military overthrew Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, following mass protests against his rule.

The new law – passed by two-thirds of MPs – placed popular accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms under the supervision of Egypt’s media regulator, the Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media.

Read Also: Tanzanian’s President Magufuli will accept no ‘insults’

The council was also given the power to block websites and file criminal complaints against platforms and individuals accused of offences such as “inciting people to violate laws” and “defamation against individuals and religions”.

Laws passed in 2015 make it a crime to publish or promote any news about terrorist incidents that contradicts official statements.

The government has also blocked hundreds of websites since last summer, including those of news outlets, NGOs and human rights groups.

Reporters Without Borders ranks Egypt 161 out of 180 countries worldwide for press freedom, describing it as “one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists”.

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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Politics

South Africa: President Ramaphosa’s party, ANC meets as impeachment heat intensifies over ‘Farmgate’

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As the heat keeps piling on the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, leaders of his party, the African National Congress (ANC) met on Friday to take a position on the current crisis bedeviling the country’s top man.

The ANC leaders are meeting after an inquiry found evidence President Cyril Ramaphosa may have committed misconduct, but they delayed a decision over whether he should stay in his post.

The party’s Treasurer General, Paul Mashatile after the meeting said the group would reconvene before Dec. 6 to discuss the report, which will be debated in parliament on that day.

“We want to deal with it properly, we don’t want to miss any step,” Mashatile told reporters, adding that party officials needed to scrutinise the report further.

“The mood was that there is a sense of urgency, that we should resolve these issues so that we can go on with the responsibilities of running the country.”

In reaction to the panel’s report, President Ramaphosa through a statement asked for space to “carefully consider the contents of the report and the next course of action to be taken”, and the National Council of Provinces chairperson acceded to the request for a delay.

The ANC is the dominant party in the country’s parliament, with 230 seats, or nearly 60% of the total, which makes the possibility of an impeachment low as most votes would be towards votes along party lines.

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