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Ethiopian soldiers of Tigrayan descent refuse to return home, seek asylum in Sudan

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At least 550 Ethiopian soldiers who are part of the United Nations peacekeeping team in Sudan have refused to return home and are seeking asylum for fear they will be persecuted due to their Tigrayan ethnicity, a military official with knowledge of the plan said on Tuesday.

According to the officer, the soldiers who are part of a UN peacekeeping force working in Abyei, a contested oil-rich area on Sudan’s border with South Sudan, are afraid of persecution back home by the Ethiopian authorities.

The official said that the soldiers were at the peacekeeping mission’s rear base in Kadugli in South Kordofan and that UNHCR was “planning to move them to one fenced camp near a refugee camp for Eritreans in Sudan’s Gadaref state.”

The war in Ethiopia which is going into its third year, pits the Ethiopian government and its allies against the Tigrayan forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a political party that once dominated national politics and now controls the Tigray region in the Northern region of the country.

Since the fighting started, ethnic Tigrayans have been repeatedly detained without trial according to international human rights watchdogs.

Last year, a rights commission said in a report that thousands of ethnic Tigrayans have been detained in inhumane conditions, including very elderly people, nursing mothers and babies.

The United Nations has said at least 15,000 Tigrayan civilians were arrested or imprisoned across Ethiopia under the state of emergency declared in November and lifted in February.

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South Africa: Parliament reelects Cyril Ramaphosa as president

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President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has been re-elected for a second term. He was nominated for re-election on Friday by a member of his African National Congress (ANC) party during the first sitting of parliament following last month’s election.

Julius Malema, the opposition Economic Freedom Fighter, was also put forward for the nation’s presidency, necessitating a vote in parliament to determine the winner.

With a majority of votes in the National Assembly, Chief Justice Ramaphosa was proclaimed president. Julius Malema, the leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party, received 44 votes, while Ramaphosa received 283.

The Democratic Alliance party said earlier in the day that it would support Ramaphosa in the election as part of a deal to establish a unity government with the African National Congress.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has been re-elected for a second term. He was nominated for re-election on Friday by a member of his African National Congress (ANC) party during the first sitting of parliament following last month’s election.

Out of the 400 seats in the recently elected National Assembly, 246 are held by the ANC and DA.

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Niamey court revokes immunity of overthrown Nigerien president

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The State Court of Niamey has revoked the immunity of Niger’s deposed President, Mohamed Bazoum, signalling the start of criminal proceedings against him by the junta, according to a statement from his attorneys on Friday.

In July of last year, a military coup overthrew Bazoum. Since then, he and his spouse have remained in custody despite numerous requests for his release from Western nations and the ECOWAS regional political and economic grouping.

 

Colonel Amadou Abdramane, the junta’s spokesperson, stated on state television in August that the military government had “gathered the necessary evidence to prosecute the ousted president and his local and foreign accomplices for high treason and for undermining the internal and external security of Niger before competent national and international authorities.”

In a statement, one of his attorneys, Moussa Coulibaly, claimed that the court’s ruling cleared the path for Bazoum to face charges of treason and conspiracy to compromise state security.

The court proceedings “violated (ed) the absolute rights of the defence: we were not authorised to meet our client and the court refused to hear our arguments,” he added.

It was not immediately able to get in contact with the Niger government for a response. Because of Bazoum’s interactions with foreign heads of state and international organizations, the junta declared last year that it would bring high treason charges against him.

Following 2020, there have been eight coups in West and Central Africa that have brought the military government to power. Calls for Bazoum’s reinstatement have gone unanswered, including by the ECOWAS Court of Justice, which declared last year that his arrest was unjustified.

According to Bazoum’s attorneys, he and his spouse had never appeared before a magistrate. Lawyers said that since October, when their phone line at the White House was taken away, they have been cut off from the outside world and are only permitted to have visitors from their doctor.

Mohamed Bazoum Salem, the 23-year-old son of the deposed president, was given provisional parole from house imprisonment by the Niger military tribunal in January.

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