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Uganda opposition figure detained after his driver is slain

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A prominent opposition figure in Uganda has been detained following violent clashes Monday night that allegedly started when President Yoweri Museveni’s motorcade was pelted with stones, a military official said Tuesday.

Lawmaker Kyagulanyi Ssentamu was held overnight in the northwestern town of Arua, where he and other politicians, including Museveni, had been campaigning for a lawmaker, said Capt. Jimmy Omara, a spokesman for the Special Forces Command.

Ssentamu, a popular pop singer in his 30s who was elected to the National Assembly last year, has emerged as a powerful voice with his calls for young people to “stand up” and take over this East African country from what he says is the current government’s failed leadership. Many of his followers are urging him to run in the next presidential election in 2021.

Lawmaker Allan Ssewanyana, a close ally, said he was concerned for his colleague after being unable to reach him by phone. Some journalists, including two reporters for local broadcaster NTV, have also been detained.

Ssentamu said on Twitter on Monday night that his driver was shot dead by the police “thinking they’ve shot at me.” He posted a photo of a bloodied man slumped in his car seat.

Read Also: How a failed plot by Nigeria’s secret police vigorously shook the Buhari Presidency

Police spokesman Emilian Kayima said an unidentified man had been killed as security forces tried to “calm down the situation” after Museveni’s convoy came under attack from opposition supporters throwing stones.

Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch urged authorities to investigate and “arrest those responsible, no matter who they are.”

The election in Arua is being held because the area’s member of parliament was shot dead near the capital, Kampala, earlier this year.

That killing, and many others of prominent people in recent times, remains unsolved. Uganda is experiencing a spike in gun attacks often blamed on unidentified assailants.
Museveni, a key U.S. security ally, took power by force in 1986 and has since won election four times. The last vote in 2016 was marred by allegations of fraud.

Uganda has not witnessed a peaceful transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1962.

Credit: Associated Press

Politics

African leaders seek change in fight against terrorism at Nigerian summit   

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At a security summit in Nigeria, African leaders have called for a revamp of institutions that fight violent extremism on the continent.

The leaders also began to push to set up a standing military force and give the government more power over efforts to keep the peace.

Attacks on citizens and the military have been happening all the time in Africa, including in the Sahel, Somalia, and Mozambique, by groups with ties to Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo said that coastal states like Togo were facing more threats, even though people were being attacked the most in the Sahel.

“I say this with prudence and regret, but I think the institutions that have been in place for several decades are no longer able to respond to the security situation that we face,” said Gnassingbe.

Moussa Faki, chairman of the African Union Commission, reported that between 2017 and 2021, there were four attacks and 18 deaths a day in Africa. Last year, there were eight attacks and 44 deaths a day.

The AU chief added that last year 7,000 citizens and 4,000 military members were killed stressing that the situation was being used in some countries as a reason for military coups. The Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Amina Mohammed, said that half of all terrorist deaths happened in the Sahel.

Until a military coup in July that called for France to leave, Niger was the West’s last major ally in the central Sahel area south of the Sahara Desert. In July, France pulled out 1,500 troops from Niger.

Faki said that Africa needed more money to help stop the spread of terrorism. Bola Tinubu, the president of Nigeria, said that more needed to be done to stop the spread of small guns and weapons. He also called for the creation of a regional standby force whose job it would be to fight terrorism.

“I am mindful of the funding, legal and logistical complexities that face the proper establishment of such a force. Such a force can stand as a strong deterrent to large scale and protracted terrorist operations and the capture, occupation or disruption of strategic land and resources,” Tinubu said.

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Togo’s civil society, opposition plan mass protests following constitutional review

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Some of Togo’s opposition parties and civil society groups have called for mass protests again on Saturday following lawmakers’ approved changes to the country’s constitution a week ago.

The legislation is widely believed to enhance the continued stay of President Faure Gnassingbe in power after 19-year rule. The opposition group Dynamique Pour la Majorité du Peuple (DMP) and other signatories said in a statement that the changes to presidential term limits and how presidents are chosen were just a political move to let Gnassingbe stay in office forever.

“What happened at the National Assembly yesterday is a coup d’etat,” they said in the statement that reiterated calls for the population to mobilise against the changes.

“Large-scale action will be organised over the next few days to say ‘no’ to this constitution,” they said. In Friday’s vote, lawmakers unanimously approved an amended charter under which the president will no longer be elected by universal suffrage, but by members of parliament.

The amendments also set up a parliamentary system of government and cut presidential terms from five years to four years, with a maximum of two terms. Since the changes don’t consider time already spent in office, Gnassingbe could stay in power until 2033 if he is re-elected in 2025. This is very likely because his party controls the parliament in Togo, where his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, took power in a coup in 1967.

The most valuable company in Abu Dhabi has made an offer of more than $1 billion to buy a 51% stake in Vedanta Resources’ copper assets in Zambia, according to two people who know about the situation.

In the past few years, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, the Congo Republic, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea are just a few of the African countries that have changed their constitutions and other laws to allow leaders to serve longer terms.

In the last three years, there have been eight military coups in West and Central Africa as well. As they were during his father’s long rule, violent police crackdowns on political protests have been common in Togo under Gnassingbe, who was returned in a landslide in 2020 that the opposition says was rigged.

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