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Thousands protest in Tunis over President Saied’s raid on government institutions

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Opposition protesters have hit the streets in Tunis, capital city of Tunisia on Sunday in demonstration against President Kais Saied’s power grab and the economic crisis in the North African country.

Report says at least 2,000 people gathered in the city centre chanting – Poverty has increased”, and “Famine is at our doorsteps”

Protesters held up signs in English and French, reading “Tunisia wake up” and “Tunisian state is on the verge of collapse”.

Recall that slamreportafrica.com reported last Tuesday that “President Kais Saied has continued his “revolution” of government institutions in the North African country as he inaugurated a “temporary” council of judges to replace an independent watchdog that he abolished in early February.

Saied last July sacked the government, suspended parliament and moved to rule by decree, sparking fears for democracy in the birthplace of the 2011 Arab uprisings.

The latest demonstration was called by the Free Destourian Party which is led by staunchly anti-Islamist lawyer Abir Moussi.

“The government today is incapable of finding solutions for the Tunisian people… If we continue in silence, we will lose the country,” Moussi said in a speech during the demonstration.

She branded Tunisia’s current executive as “illegitimate” and called for legislative elections to be brought forward from their scheduled date of December.

Bearing a portrait of Moussi, protester Youssef Jabali told newsmen “Saied, the dictator, is shut off in his palace and the people can’t find semolina, flour, oil or sugar.”

Already plunged in an economic crisis, Tunisia has in recent weeks seen a shortage of staple foods, as the war in Ukraine threatens to interrupt key supplies to various Arab countries.

The authorities have attributed the shortages to panic buying ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, starting this year in April, when Muslims traditionally break a dawn-to-dusk fast with lavish family meals.

Saied on Wednesday declared a “relentless war” on food speculators and profiteers, accusing them of seeking to “strike at social peace and security”.

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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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