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UN, US pressure South Sudan over elections

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The United Nations on Wednesday warned South Sudan’s leaders that the nation’s fragile peace process was under serious threat due to slow progress, calling for “fresh urgency” to revive negotiations.

The United Nations and United States urged the leaders of South Sudan to do more to prepare for elections due to be held in less than a year or risk “catastrophe.”

“As I have stated before, elections have the potential to be a nation-building moment, or a catastrophe,” the UN envoy for South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, told the Security Council.

“Much depends on the political will and leadership of the South Sudanese working together,” he said.

The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, according to France24 said that in order to “work toward a true democracy,” the South Sudanese government needed to move swiftly to implement the provisions set out in an agreement on revitalizing the peace process.

“That means an inclusive constitution drafting process, public financial management reform, transitional security arrangements, and transitional justice mechanisms” she said.

“Unfortunately, the government of South Sudan is behind in meeting key electoral benchmarks” set out in the agreement, she added.

With a Security Council decision expected on March 15 on renewing the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan for a year — one of the most expensive on the UN’s books, with an annual budget exceeding $1 billion — Haysom pleaded for the deployment to remain at current levels of 17,000 troops and 2,100 police.

“We anticipate a mandate flexible enough to support the conduct of free and fair elections, upon the request of the government,” he said.

With less than a year until elections, South Sudan, which has been independent since only 2011, risks plunging back into war, the UN warned in February.

The youngest country in the world, it has experienced chronic instability since its independence from Sudan.

Between 2013 and 2018, it descended into a bloody civil war between sworn enemies Riek Machar and Salva Kiir, which left nearly 400,000 dead and millions displaced.

A peace deal signed in 2018 led to power-sharing in a national unity government sworn in February 2020, with Kiir as president and Machar as vice-president.

But the provisions of the peace agreement remain largely unimplemented, due mainly to persistent disputes between the two rivals.

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Court summons Tunisian opposition leader, Rached Ghannouchi, over money laundering

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Tunisian opposition party, Ennahda has revealed that its leader, Rached Ghannouchi has been summoned by a judge over money laundering allegations.

The party revealed news of his summon on Wednesday and accused the authorities of targeting him for political reasons.

The summon is said to answer questions about the allegations, which Ennahda say are untrue and a result of “distortion and fabrication”.

Recall that a court in Tunisia in May, slammed a travel ban on Ghannouchi, alongside 33 other party faithful under the suspicion of involvement in an alleged parallel security service put into place after the 2011 Tunisian revolution.

Ghannouchi has been one of the loudest critics of president Kais Saied since the president seized broad powers last year, moved to rule by decree and ousted the elected parliament in which the Ennahda leader is speaker.

President Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament, and seized a string of powers in July 2021. In December of the same year, he announced in a speech on national television a three-month “popular consultation” with the Tunisian people after which “draft constitutional and other reforms will be put forward to a referendum on July 25”.

Ghannouchi’s summon is not the first time the Judiciary since Saied came to power will take decision that is perceive by many to be targeted at the president’s rival.

In June, a Tunisian military court sentenced a prominent political opponent and rival of President Kais Saied, Seifeddine Makhlouf, to one year in prison and also banned him from practising law for five years.

President Saied’s seat-tight disposition has continued with controversial reforms despite criticisms and wild protests.

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Exiled former Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Compaore, to return home

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Burkinabe authorities has revealed that former president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore will return from exile for the first time since being ousted in a 2014 uprising.

The junta led by Colonel Damiba made the revelation on Wednesday. Compaore will return home despite his conviction earlier this year for complicity in his predecessor’s murder.

Blaise Compaore was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military tribunal in April for the murder of his predecessor and ‘best friend’, Thomas Sankara, in a 1987 coup.

The statement from the presidency said the meeting of former heads of state “does not hinder judicial prosecutions engaged against some of them”, but did not elaborate.

An association of lawyers representing the families of Sankara and others killed during the 1987 coup demanded that Compaore be arrested once in Burkina Faso.

Local media have speculated in recent days that Compaore could be granted a pardon over the Sankara murder as part of the junta’s reconciliation process.

The coup that brought the current junta into power in Burkina Faso was launched on 23 January 2022 when gunfire erupted in front of the presidential residence in the Burkinabé capital Ouagadougou and several military barracks around the city.

The military Junta of Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba ceased power afterward and Christian Kabore has been on house arrest since then. Although fighting insurgency was one of the reasons for the last coup, Burkina Faso however remains in the eye of the storm with continuous terrorist attacks.

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