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Another Rwandan opposition party leader ‘disappears’. Why it matters

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The jailed vice president of Rwanda’s opposition FDU-Inkingi party escaped from prison on Sunday, according to the country’s correctional service.

Boniface Twagirimana was missing from a routine headcount at the prison Monday, local media reported, quoting a Rwanda Correctional Service spokesperson. The spokesperson said that Twagirimana and another prisoner had managed to escape by jumping over the complex’s fence and said that an investigation had been launched.

But members of the FDU — an unregistered political party — are calling “foul play” and fear that Twagirimana’s life could be in danger.

In a statement released Monday, the FDU party questioned how Twagirimana could have escaped out of a high security prison he had been transferred to only five days prior and called on the Rwandan government for answers.
“This information…leaves us to believe that there could be foul play by Rwandan security services,” the statement said.

“We call on the Rwandan government to inform the family, the party FDU-Inkingi and the general prison about the circumstances of the disappearance of Twagirimana. Mr Twagirimana was in the custody of the state which is accountable for his safety,” it added.

In September 2017, Twagirimana and eight other FDU party members were arrested on charges of forming an armed group and seeking to overthrow the government, charges Twagirimana denies.

The FDU members were placed in a Kigali jail where their party leader, Victoire Ingabire, was serving out a sentence for charges related to comments she made about the country’s 1994 genocide and collaborating with a “terrorist organization.”

Ingabire has long said her sentence was a result of her work as a prominent government critic and that the charges effectively criminalized her freedom of expression. International organizations such as Amnesty International and a 2017 African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights ruling have supported those views.

Read also: Rwanda frees jailed opposition leader Ingabire

Last month, Ingabire was granted a presidential pardon by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and was released from jail after serving eight years of her 15-year sentence.

Immediately after she was freed, she called on the Rwandan government to open the country’s political landscape to the opposition and asked them to free all other political prisoners, including Twagirimana and other members of her political party.

On October 3, Twagirimana was moved from Kigali’s Mageragere prison to Mpanga prison, in the country’s southern Nyanza District. The authorities did not inform Twagirimana’s family that he was being transferred or give any explanation for the move, according to Twagirimana’s wife.

Rwanda’s National Police and Rwanda’s Correctional Service have not immediately responded to CNN’s request for comment.

Twagirimana is not the first FDU member to go missing.

In May 2017, party member Jean Damascene Habarugira disappeared after he was called to meet an official responsible for the security of his locality. A few days later, Habarugira’s family were called to collect his body from a local hospital.

Twagirimana denounced Habarugira’s murder as an assassination. In a statement, the FDU said that Habarugira was “assassinated in cold blood” because of his opposition to the local authority’s agricultural policies and concerns over police brutality.

Politics

Somaliland electoral body, SLNEC, postpones presidential election. Here’s why

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Somaliland has postponed its presidential elections to next year from its initial scheduled date in November.

The region’s electoral body, Somaliland National Electoral Commission (SLNEC) made the revelation on Saturday.

The poll will now be held in nine months from October – or next July – because the currently scheduled date of Nov. 13 “is not viable due to time, technical and financial constraints,” SLNEC tweeted on Saturday.

 

There were deadly protests in the region in August with demonstrators demanding elections be held in November when President Abdi’s term will end.

The protest came out amid suspicions President Muse Bihi Abdi wanted to delay the poll and extend his term.

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Chad pushes for Africa’s permanent seat at UN’s Security Council

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Chad, a country in Central Africa is pushing for a representation of the continent in the United Nations Security Council as a permanent member.

Chad’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Awatif El Tidjani Ahmed Koiboro, on Friday said Africa’s inclusion into the Security Council would “correct a historic injustice” and help countries in the G5 Sahel.

“On the reform of the Security Council, the body responsible for peace and international security, Chad once again urges member states to move from rhetoric to action in order to achieve the said reform and correct the historic injustice towards the African continent, which excludes it from full and equal participation in this body.” She said.

“Regarding the internal situation of the G5 Sahel, which recorded the departure of the sister Republic of Mali, we regret this withdrawal,” said Mss Koiboro.

“Because Mali is a founding member of this organization. It has its place by our side.

“We will not be able to defeat terrorism, stabilize and develop the Sahel, without a common fight and pooling of resources.

“We hope that our Malian brothers will reconsider their decision and rejoin our common organization. The door of the G5 Sahel is always wide open to welcome them.

The push for a permanent seat at the UNSC has lasted for some time, countries like South Africa and specifically Nigeria have already demanded two permanent seats be allocated on the UN Security Council to Africa. How soon will the seat come?

The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

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