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Human Rights Watch accuses Russian troops of killing civilians in Central African Republic

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International rights group, the Human Rights Watch (HRW), on Tuesday, accused Russian troops of committing rights abuses, torture and killing of civilians in the Central African Republic, (CAR).

In a statement released by HRW, the organisation said it had compelling evidence in its possession which indicts the Russian paramilitary troops in the African country of committing serious crimes against humanity.

“Forces in the Central African Republic, whom witnesses identified as Russian, appear to have summarily executed, tortured, and beaten civilians since 2019,” the statement which was issued by one of HRW’s spokesperson, Ida Sawyer said.

Continuing, it said:

“Several Western governments, United Nations experts and special rapporteurs have found evidence that the forces linked to Russia operating in the Central African Republic include a significant number of members of the Wagner Group, a Russian private military security contractor with apparent links to the Russian government.”

The New York-based human rights group also said it was aware of arbitrary detentions, tortures and summary killings of men randomly arrested in the street in the central town of Alindao since June last year, but did not say if those atrocities were also committed by the Russian soldiers.

It also called on the Central African government to exercise it’s right to request international security assistance and to stamp its feet down to stop foreign forces from killing and abusing civilians with impunity.

“To demonstrate its respect for the rule of law, and to put an end to these abuses, the government should immediately investigate and prosecute all forces, including Russia-linked forces, responsible for murder, unlawful detention, and torture,” Sawyer said.

The CAR has been in the throes of war since 2013, with government forces fighting against numerous militia groups from all fronts with the threats of a state on the verge of collapse.

In 2020, after a few months of respite, fighting resumed abruptly when rebels launched an offensive to overthrow President Faustin Archange Touadera and he had to call on Moscow for help, with hundreds of Russian paramilitary forces brought in to push back the rebels who still hold sway over swathes of the country.

Last month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, denounced “serious human rights violations” in the Central African Republic, including killings and sexual violence against civilians, committed by rebel groups but also by the military and their Russian allies.

Metro

Zambia signs creditor agreement deal with China, India to resolve debt crisis

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President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia has announced the signing of an official creditor agreement with China and India that will help resolve the country’s debt crisis.

Hichilema, who made the announcement on Saturday, said the agreement would also help pave the way for the country to negotiate with private creditors.

Before signing the agreement, Zambia had struggled to revive its debt restructuring process after a deal to rework $3 billion Eurobonds was rejected by its official creditors, with international media reporting that China and other creditors did not believe that it offered comparable debt relief to that of bondholders.

Earlier on Friday, Minister of Finance, Situmbeko Musokotwane, had assured that the government was trying to clarify the meaning of a “comparable treatment” with bondholders.

However, while addressing a gathering during the Nc’wala ceremony of the Ngoni speaking people of Eastern Province, President Hichilema confirmed the signing of the agreement with the two Asian nations.

“On the official creditors’ side, the last two countries that had not signed, China and India, have now signed,” Hichilema said.

The President added that Zambia was now turning to the private creditors in a bid to address the debt issue because the had defaulted on its foreign debts in November 2020 and that its restructuring had been beset by delays.

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Metro

Four of 10 Nigerians indebted to loan sharks— Report

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A report from a research carried out by Nigerian fintech platform, Piggy Vest, has revealed that four out of 10 Nigerians are indebted to online loan sharks and are finding it difficult to come out of such debts.

The report noted that 26 per cent of average Nigerians were indebted to different loan apps spread across the country which is as a result of the harsh economic challenges brought about by different unfavourable government policies.

The report which was discussed at a Finance Roundtable in Lagos on Saturday by co-founder and COO of PiggyVest, Odun Eweniyi, lamented the widening wealth divide among Nigerians, saying it was inimical to economic growth as a vast majority of Nigerians live below the poverty line.

According to Eweniyi, the report ‘captures the attitude of different demographics in the country viz- a-viz their savings and spending habits, debt management, and future financial plans.’

As a panacea to solving the problems of indebtedness, Eweniyi advocated ‘savings before spending in order to avoid running into debt,’ adding that the option of savings was still elusive to Nigerians who live below the poverty line of $2 per day dollars per day.

“We must also know that while innovation is key, it cannot go far without social interventions for the people.”

She urged the government to focus on Nigerians at the bottom of the pyramid in its conversation as well as simplify access to public credit facilities to improve income status of average Nigerians.

“This is why government must as much as possible explore collaboration with private sector to improve the living conditions of Nigerians and also drive financial literacy and inclusion,” Eweniyi emphasized.

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