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In Congo, Nguesso sits tight after 38 years, as opposition demands ‘real dialogue’

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The Congolese opposition has again announced plans to boycott a dialogue organized by the government ahead of local and legislative elections in the oil rich central African country.

Opposition leader and President of the African Congress for Progress, Jean Itadi dismissed the meeting on Thursday in Owando in the country’s north while giving terms for what he called “real dialogue”

“We must not think about what Owando should be between. Rather, we need a real dialogue that brings together all the sons and daughters of the Congo,” Jean Itadi said.

Last March, President Denis Sassou Nguesso and his Congo Labour Party controversially won re-election.

The president joined the Congolese Labour Party which was designated the country’s sole ruling party in 1970. He has been in power since February 1979 when his predecessor – Yhombi-Opango was forced to resign.

In his 38 years’ reign, President Nguesso on several occasions announced plans for dialogue in attempts that looked like push to include opposition in the government set up, but the moves have not yielded much as opposition in Congo have been consistent with snubbing the government over constitutional changes amidst fears that moves are only designed to prolong President Nguesso’s stay in power and control over institutions of government.                 

The government has defended the dialogue as necessary to achieve consensus ahead of the legislative vote to be held in five months. The ruling party is keen to maintain an overwhelming majority.

But the opposition has demanded a structured dialogue which includes power-sharing, constitutional reforms, and the release of political prisoners, key among them General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, a former commander who challenged Sassou for the presidency in 2016.

He was charged with treason and convicted.

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Guinean Prime Minister, Mohamed Béavogui meets political parties to mitigate tension

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In the bid to address tension that has bedeviled its political space, Guinean Prime Minister, Mohamed Béavogui has met with political parties.

The meeting comes after the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) suspended its call for a demonstration which would have been the first major protest rally under the now ruling junta.

In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister stressed that “it is essential that each of us here understand once and for all that the only agenda that counts is that of the people.”

Guinea’s pressure group, The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) had called for a nationwide demonstration against the West African country’s military junta earlier this month. The group also led protests against former President Alpha Conde, calling against the ban imposed by the junta on public protest.

Mohamed Béavogui, told the political parties, civil society organizations and trade unions that “only an inclusive approach, adapted to the Guinean reality, will enable us to lay the foundations for the good life together that we all aspire.

“We have already set up an inter-ministerial council, a group of colleagues. We are going to refine the group as we go along… You also have to get organised. The government is counting on the good faith of all the participants in this consultation.”

Mr. Béavogui concluded by asking participants to “send their contributions” by July 1. He did not set any new meeting dates.

Guinea is one of the West African countries that have recently experienced a military takeover of government. Mali and Burkina Faso are part of the negative trend. There has been pressure on the countries from the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for transition into civil government.

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Nigeria gets new Chief Justice, Olukayode Ariwoola. Will he suffer fate of his predecessors?

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Following the resignation of Justice Tanko Muhamed as Nigeria’s Chief Justice on Monday morning, President Muhammadu Buhari has sworn-in Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Justice Ariwoola who was born on Aug. 22, 1958 and appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2011 and expected to retire by 2028.

He was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court in 2011. He was a Justice of the Court of Appeal between 2005 and 2011 after having been elevated from the State High Court of Oyo State.

Justice Ariwoola was first appointed a Judge of the Supereme Court of record in Oyo State in 1992 from private legal practice.

Before his elevation to the Supreme Court, he served as Justice of the Court of Appeal in Kaduna, Enugu and Lagos Divisions.

Nigeria’s judiciary has been in the spotlight in some ways since the administration of Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari. Recall that shortly after his swearing, the Department of State Service notoriously raided homes of judges in 2016.

Also, Nigeria’s last two Chief Justices left in circumstances that raised eyebrows on what is expected of the judicial arm of government.

In 2019President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Justice Tanko’s predecessor Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, 15 days after allegations of impropriety were lodged against the most senior judge in the country. It was the first time that Nigeria’s head of state had sacked a chief justice since 1975, when the country was under military rule.

Barely a week before his resignation, fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court wrote to the immediate former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, lamenting the parlous state of affairs in the court, amidst other corrupt allegation.

With the somewhat shadiness that surrounded the last two predecessors, it is hoped that Nigeria’s new Chief justice, Olukayode Ariwoola will offer a breath of freshness in Nigeria’s judiciary.  Time will tell.

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