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Equatorial Guinea compensates victims of 2021 Bata blast but will it bring solace?

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The government of  Equatorial Guinea said it has compensated 84 families of victims of explosions in a military camp in Bata that had killed 107 people and injured 615.

A series of powerful explosions at a military base in Equatorial Guinea’s largest city of Bata in March 7, 2021 literally devastated the Nkoa-Ntoma camp in Bata, the economic capital, and many neighboring residential areas after a fire caused by a poorly controlled burning had set fire to the arsenal and the armory of the military hold.

An official statement from the presidency in Equatorial Guinea said the blasts were caused by negligence of a military unit “in charge of storing explosives, dynamite and ammunition at the Nkoa Ntoma military camp”.

The compensation ceremony was presided over by vice president of the Central African country and son of the head of state, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue.

Each family received eight million CFA francs, about 12,000 euros. People who were amputated as a result of the disaster received 4 million CFA francs, about 6,000 euros.

“The government of Equatorial Guinea has released 700 million CFA francs (about 1.1 million euros) to compensate the victims,” said state television station TVGE.

Equatorial Guinea, like most other African countries, has had its fair share of misrule, with corruption an endemic challenge. Poverty remains rife and many watchers of the country’s political space doubt if the handouts made by government would have the desired  soothing effects.

Bata is a port city on the mainland of Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa. A long, palm-fringed esplanade stretches along its waterfront. The colossal, futuristic Freedom Tower overlooks the Gulf of Guinea. The colonial-style Bata Cathedral dates from the 1950s. The city’s busy markets sell clothing, crafts, fresh fish and produce. Just outside the center, Bomé is a popular beach lined with restaurants and bars.

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Sudan recalls Ambassador from Addis Ababa after accusing Ethiopia of executing soldiers

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Sudan has recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia after accusing the Ethiopian army of executing seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian who had been held in captivity.

The Sudanese military had said on Sunday that the Ethiopian soldiers had executed the captives and displayed their bodies in public while negotiations were ongoing for their release, promising that there would be “an appropriate response” to the execution.

“It is an act that contravenes all laws and customs of war and international humanitarian law, the Ethiopian army executed seven Sudanese soldiers and a citizen who were their captives.

“This treacherous act will not pass without a response,” the Sudanese military said.

The Ethiopian government however, denied complicity by its military in the killing of the Sudanese soldiers, blaming the Sudanese forces for crossing into its territory and provoking a clash.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Addis Ababa, issued a statement expressing regret over the incident but said Ethiopia has been misrepresented.

“The Government of Ethiopia categorically rejects the misrepresentation of these facts by the Sudanese defense forces that unjustly put the blame on Ethiopia, while it was the Sudanese army unit that crossed (over) the Ethiopian border, provoking the incident.”

But in an announcement late Monday, Sudan said it would recall its envoy from Addis Ababa as well as summon the Ethiopian ambassador from Khartoum.

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Uganda’s Government changes position, invites striking art teachers for negotiations

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The Ugandan government has made a turn on its decision to sack all arts teachers involved in the industrial action.

The change in position comes barely days after the government threatened to dismiss the teachers. Minister Raphael Magyezi had revealed that the government had reached a final position to have Arts striking teachers sacked if they do not get back to class.

The government backed down and invited the leaders of the tutors’ union for negotiations to end the ongoing strike that has paralysed learning in public schools for two weeks now.

Art teachers across Uganda downed tools last week, threatening to throw the country’s education sector into yet another crisis, a few months after schools came out of two years of a shutdown that kept thousands of learners at home.

The general secretary of the Uganda Professional Science Teachers Union, Mr Aron Mugaiga, had advised the leadership of the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) to encourage their art counterparts to return to class.

“I urge members to go back and teach because if they continue with the industrial action, the lost time will never be recovered when the government affects their pay enhancement. I believe the doors for negotiations are still open,” Mr Mugaiga said.

The ongoing strike is just five months after Uganda reopened schools following a two-year closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has already caused outrage as more than eight million children in public schools miss out on learning.

Over 300 percent pay increment was allocated for science teachers in Uganda’s budget for the 2022/23 financial year, which starts in July but the allocation does not include arts and humanities teachers.

It is not uncommon to see prolonged industrial actions in Africa. Elsewhere in the continent, Nigeria, University teachers have been on strike since February over salary related agreement the academic union had with the government in 2009.

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