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Malawian nurse arrested for insulting President Chakwera online

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A 39-year-old Malawian nurse, Chidawawa Mainje, has been arrested and charged with cyber harassment for allegedly insulting President Lazarus Chakwera online during a WhatsApp debate on governance.

According to free speech advocates in the southern African country, Mainje who was arrested in line with the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act 2016 which prohibits insulting someone online, faces up to
five years in prison and a fine of $2,500 if found guilty.

Mainje was arrested on Tuesday after reportedly used an expletive on the instant messaging service about how the Chakwera has done nothing to change the lives of people who voted for him.

According to Michael Kayiyatsa, the Executive Director for rights group, Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, the arrest of Mainje was a violation of freedom of expression.

“The guy who was arrested was expressing an opinion which was not favorable to the president. But it’s within his right to express such views, and he is protected by Section 35 of our constitution.

“So, the best that police should have done is simply to provide advice, but this is somebody expressing their views,” Kayiyatsa said in a statement.

Another human rights activist, Billy Banda, the founder of Malawi Watch, said the police are now being used to help shield the current administration from public criticism.

“The police are not entitled in any way to sound like they are protecting one particular individual.

“Are the police able to look back? We had the former president, Professor Peter Mutharika. He was insulted. He never in any way arrested or directed anybody to be arrested.”

But Harry Namwaza, the deputy spokesperson for the Malawi Police Service, while defending the arrest of Mainje, said there was no way he could enjoy freedom of his rights while infringing on the rights of others.

“You can’t enjoy your freedom or your rights while at the same time you are infringing the rights of others. It doesn’t work like that. There should be a responsibility. So, it’s a criminal offense. That’s why we have arrested him,” Namwaza said.

“Of course, people may have different opinions, but we are bound to ensure that laws are being respected, laws are being enforced. So, we are just doing our job,” Namwaza added.

Mainje’s arrest comes a week after police arrested a 51-year-old man for allegedly insulting the Minister of Labour, Vera Kamtukule, in his WhatsApp group post.

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Sudan recalls Ambassador from Addis Ababa after accusing Ethiopia of executing soldiers

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Sudan has recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia after accusing the Ethiopian army of executing seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian who had been held in captivity.

The Sudanese military had said on Sunday that the Ethiopian soldiers had executed the captives and displayed their bodies in public while negotiations were ongoing for their release, promising that there would be “an appropriate response” to the execution.

“It is an act that contravenes all laws and customs of war and international humanitarian law, the Ethiopian army executed seven Sudanese soldiers and a citizen who were their captives.

“This treacherous act will not pass without a response,” the Sudanese military said.

The Ethiopian government however, denied complicity by its military in the killing of the Sudanese soldiers, blaming the Sudanese forces for crossing into its territory and provoking a clash.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Addis Ababa, issued a statement expressing regret over the incident but said Ethiopia has been misrepresented.

“The Government of Ethiopia categorically rejects the misrepresentation of these facts by the Sudanese defense forces that unjustly put the blame on Ethiopia, while it was the Sudanese army unit that crossed (over) the Ethiopian border, provoking the incident.”

But in an announcement late Monday, Sudan said it would recall its envoy from Addis Ababa as well as summon the Ethiopian ambassador from Khartoum.

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Uganda’s Government changes position, invites striking art teachers for negotiations

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The Ugandan government has made a turn on its decision to sack all arts teachers involved in the industrial action.

The change in position comes barely days after the government threatened to dismiss the teachers. Minister Raphael Magyezi had revealed that the government had reached a final position to have Arts striking teachers sacked if they do not get back to class.

The government backed down and invited the leaders of the tutors’ union for negotiations to end the ongoing strike that has paralysed learning in public schools for two weeks now.

Art teachers across Uganda downed tools last week, threatening to throw the country’s education sector into yet another crisis, a few months after schools came out of two years of a shutdown that kept thousands of learners at home.

The general secretary of the Uganda Professional Science Teachers Union, Mr Aron Mugaiga, had advised the leadership of the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) to encourage their art counterparts to return to class.

“I urge members to go back and teach because if they continue with the industrial action, the lost time will never be recovered when the government affects their pay enhancement. I believe the doors for negotiations are still open,” Mr Mugaiga said.

The ongoing strike is just five months after Uganda reopened schools following a two-year closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has already caused outrage as more than eight million children in public schools miss out on learning.

Over 300 percent pay increment was allocated for science teachers in Uganda’s budget for the 2022/23 financial year, which starts in July but the allocation does not include arts and humanities teachers.

It is not uncommon to see prolonged industrial actions in Africa. Elsewhere in the continent, Nigeria, University teachers have been on strike since February over salary related agreement the academic union had with the government in 2009.

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