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Tunisian President Saied sets up committee to write ‘New Republic’ constitution

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Tunisian President Kais Saied has set in motion a process to form a committee that will write a ‘New Republic’ constitution for the country currently going through political turmoil, adding that the committee will conclude its work within a few days.

President Saied, in a televised speech on Monday night, said he is rewriting the North African country’s democratic constitution which was introduced after the 2011 revolution, stressing that he will put the rewritten constitution to a referendum in July.

Saied added that a national dialogue on reforms will include four major organisations in the country comprising the UGTT Labour Union, the Lawyers Union, the Federation of Industry and Trade and the Tunisian League of Human Rights.

Saied said his actions were legal and what is needed to save Tunisia from a crisis, and by rewriting the constitution, he was taking steps to focus on restructuring Tunisian political structure.

Saied’s seizure of powers in 2021 had initially been welcome by many Tunisian citizens and was very popular before he angered most of Tunisia’s political establishment by dismissing the parliament and taking control of the judiciary.

Last month, Saied also seized control of the country’s election commission after he sacked the body and named his loyalists as members with himself as the head of the commission.

The move has been seen as a blow to the democratic gains of the country’s 2011 revolution and meant to stifle dissenting voices by opposition groups

Meanwhile, the country is going through an economic crisis which has caused economic stagnation and governmental paralysis as the government has been struggling to finance its 2022 deficit and repay foreign debts.

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Sierra Leone imprisons 11 military, police officers over coup attempt

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Sierra Leone’s high court has sentenced 11 soldiers and police officers to hefty prison terms for their alleged roles in an attempted military coup last year.

On November 26, gunmen in Sierra Leone freed 2,200 detainees and killed over 20 in military barracks, a jail, and other locations.

After the coup attempt failed, 12 individuals were charged with treason in January. On Monday night, a unanimous jury found 11 guilty of 20 counts, including treason, murder, and military uniform use.

Due to health difficulties, the APC’s Bai Mahmoud Bangura, the twelfth accused, is being tried separately.

Amadu Koita Makalo, a retired army major and former bodyguard of ex-president Ernest Bai Koroma, received consecutive 40-70-year sentences for multiple counts.

Two female police officers were sentenced. Ramatu Kamanda Conteh received 30 years of harbouring Koita.

The government attributed the coup attempt to Koroma’s bodyguards, who were ultimately charged with four offences. However, the government let him leave the country on medical grounds.

Ex-president, Ernest Bai Koroma was accused of participating in a botched military coup attempt in November, and on January 3, was charged with four offences. However, a high court decided on Wednesday that Koroma was free to leave the nation.

His lawyers labelled the coup attempt “trumped up” and a “political vendetta” while Koroma condemned it.

Two decades after a 1991-2002 civil conflict that killed over 50,000 Sierra Leoneans, tensions have risen again.

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Tanzania’s president fires foreign, information ministers

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Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has announced the sack of two top officials, including the foreign minister, in a mini-cabinet reshuffle.

Hassan took steps to rebuild international trust in his economic and political reforms, including relaxing restrictions on opposition parties and media, which had been criticized for failing.

The presidency stated late Sunday that Hassan fired January Makamba, minister of foreign affairs and East Africa cooperation, and Nape Nnauye, minister of information, communication, and IT.

They are influential in Chama cha Mapinduzi, the ruling party.

No explanation was offered for their removal. Makamba and Nnauye responded slowly to calls for comment.

Nnauye was fired a week after a video showed him suggesting election results depended on who counts ballots and announces them.

Nnauye later apologized, saying it was a joke, but activists and social media users argued it harmed Hassan’s democracy efforts.

Muhammad Thabit Kombo became the foreign affairs minister and Jerry Silaa information, communication, and IT minister under Hassan.

While Silaa was minister of lands, housing, and human settlements development, Kombo was Tanzania’s ambassador to Italy. Two more ministers and deputy ministers were appointed, the presidency stated.

Since 2021, Hassan’s government has been lauded for rolling back her predecessor’s opposition and civil rights crackdowns. The arrests of a lawyer and an opposition leader last year have cast doubt on her government’s human rights record.

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