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Real life ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero, Paul Rusesabagina’s 25-year jail sentence stands despite appeals

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Renowned Rwandan government critic and real-life hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ the 2005 award winning movie on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Paul Rusesabagina, has had his 25-year jail sentence on terror charges upheld by an appeals court.

Rusesabagina, 67, was a worldwide acclaimed hero in the movie where he was portrayed sheltering hundreds of people during the genocide that killed more than one million people, mostly of the Tutsi ethnic group.

However, the Rwandan government accused him of promoting the genocide and in September 2021, Rusesabagina was convicted on eight terrorism charges “related to the activities of an organisation opposed to President Paul Kagame’s rule,” and has been in a Rwandan prison.

Though Rusesabagina has continued to deny all the charges and refused to take part in the trial which he and his supporters have denounced as a politically motivated sham, his 25-year sentence was confirmed by a court in Kigali on Tuesday by Judge Emmanuel Kamere.

“The 25-year sentence is equal to the severity of the crime he committed,” Kamere said, while delivering judgement.

On different occasions, Rusesabagina has acknowledged having a leadership role in the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), which has been accused of the 1994 genocide, but denied responsibility for attacks carried out by its armed wing, the National Liberation Front (FLN).

Who is Paul Rusesabagina?

For those who do not know him, Paul Rusesabagina is a celebrated Rwandan hotelier, politician and staunch critic of President Kagame.

He shot into the limelight with his portrayal in the Hollywood movie, Hotel Rwanda, and has been hailed for his role in providing shelter to 1,200 people in his hotel, Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali, during the 1994 Hutu extremists attack.

Rusesabagina is also an inspiration behind the Oscar-nominated Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda where his part was played by Don Cheadle and was awarded a US Presidential medal and is a green cardholder for his role during the genocide.

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Politics

Kenya’s Ruto sacks cabinet amidst protests in major win for protesters

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In response to pressure from widespread protests that have produced the greatest crisis of his two-year government, Kenyan President William Ruto dismissed his entire cabinet on Thursday, with the exception of the foreign minister.

After beginning peacefully, the youth-led demonstrations against the proposed tax increases descended into violence, resulting in at least 39 deaths during altercations with the police last month. A few protestors briefly invaded the parliament before Ruto decided against the new levies.

“I will immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations and other Kenyans, both in public and private, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government,” Ruto said in a televised address to the nation, adding that he would announce additional measures later.

In addition, he fired the attorney general but claimed that this had no bearing on the deputy president’s position.

Kenyans had been requesting significant cabinet changes, seasoned anti-corruption activist John Githongo told Reuters.

“Let us see what happens now if the new ministers deal with big issues around corruption and just the arrogance and excess of his administration and the fact that a lot of Kenyans died during the demonstrations,” he said.

“Hopefully this should temporarily calm things.”

Ruto finds himself torn between a beleaguered populace reeling from the rising expense of living and lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressuring him to reduce deficits. He suggested borrowing more money and cutting spending in approximately equal proportions last week to close the nearly $2.7 billion budget deficit left by the removal of the tax rises.

Although the government has no outstanding debt, many claim that Kenya is likely to miss its IMF targets as a result of the tax rollback. For the fiscal year that began on July 1, the estimated budget deficit is currently 4.6% of GDP.

Dismissing so many cabinet members, according to Ojango Omondi, a community organizer from the Social Justice Centers Working Group in Nairobi, was a “move towards justice,” but activists would want to see who Ruto chooses to replace them.

“It’s one thing to dismiss, the second is to ensure that the people that will be chosen in the cabinet are accountable to the constitution and the rule of law,” Omondi said.

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South Sudan’s president dismisses 6th finance minister since 2020

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Four months into the position, South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, has fired the finance minister, the sixth person to hold the position since 2020, according to state-run television.

The report stated late on Wednesday that Kiir did not explain the dismissal of Awow Daniel Chuong, who was appointed in mid-March of this year. Economist Marial Deng has been selected to take over as finance minister in Kiir’s place.

Due to intercommunal violence, South Sudan’s economy has been under strain recently. Since the civil war that lasted from 2013 to 2018, revenue from crude oil exports has decreased, and more recently, export disruptions have occurred because of the conflict in neighbouring Sudan.

The governor of the central bank, James Alic Garang, declared in May that the foreign exchange reserves of South Sudan had reached all-time lows.

This year, the International Monetary Fund predicts that consumer price inflation will soar to 54.8%.

After South Sudan separated from Sudan in 2011, Kiir was elected as the country’s first president.

In December, the nation is scheduled to elect a president, members of the legislature, and regional delegates.

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