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Sierra Leone: Parliament passes law to protect locals from land grabs

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The parliament in Sierra Leone has passed two laws that is widely believed will boost the rights of rural landowners and women.

The Customary Land Rights Act and the Land Commission Act, both enacted on Monday, will protect against land grabs by big mining and agribusiness firms.

The new laws empower local landowners to negotiate the value of their land with investors and prevent it being leased out without their express consent.

An official of international legal advocacy group, Namati, Eleanor Thompson, said “to our knowledge there is not a legal regime anywhere, in either hemisphere that grants such robust rights to communities facing harm.”

The move is also praised by Gerben Haringsma who is the director of SOCFIN, the biggest agribusiness company in Sierra Leone, called it a “dream of NGOs”.

“Certainly, it will block any investment… It makes things very expensive and we are all prone to enormous blackmail by various communities.” Haringsma remarked.

Sierra Leone has a history of sometimes deadly conflict between local communities and foreign companies that have cleared huge tracts of land for palm oil and sugarcane plantations in recent years.

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Despite denials, new satellite images reveal Eritrea Army build-up near Tigray

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Despite Eritrea denying that its army is not involved in launching assaults on Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, new satellite images have shown its military building up near the troubled region in preparation for what many say will be a large-scale offensive.

Last week, the Tigray forces had accused Eritrea of launching a full-scale offensive along its border after a break down of a five-month truce between its forces and the Ethiopian government which saw an escalation of fighting that renewed in August.

But while the Eritrean government denied that its military was building up offensive against Tigray, satellite imagery provided by Maxar Technologies on Thursday shows battle tanks, self-propelled howitzers, and an M-46 field gun battery in the Eritrean town of Serha, near the border.

Other satellite imagery captured and shared by Maxar shows military mobilization in the Tigray town of Sheraro.

Since conflicts broke out between Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Eritrea has secretly fought alongside Ethiopia against the Tigrayan forces while rejecting allegations that its soldiers committed some of the worst atrocities in the conflict that began in late 2020.

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Finally, trial of Rwanda Genocide alleged mastermind, Félicien Kabuga, resumes at UN tribunal

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The trial of one of the alleged masterminds and financiers of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Félicien Kabuga has gone has begun at a United Nations Tribunal in the Hague.

Judges at the tribunal revealed on Thursday morning that the hearing will proceed although Kabuga was not attending the opening of the three counts of genocide in Rwanda.

Mr. Félicien Kabuga is accused of aiding and abetting hit squads in the slaughter of about 800,000 persons from the Tutsis ethnic in just 100 days, and of using a radio station to incite hatred against them.

Prosecutors argue that Kabuga is behind the most powerful weapon in the genocide’s execution – a radio station used to mobilize one ethnic group, Hutus, to take up arms against another, Tutsis.

The radio station is alleged to have broadcast hateful messages, describing Tutsis as “cockroaches”.

There has been the prosecution of some of the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in the East African country. In 2011, two key organizers of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 were sentenced to life in prison by the United Nations tribunal dealing with war crimes in the country.

Africa’s rich ethnic diversity is not void of clashes such as the Rwanda genocide. An ethnicity is a group of people who share an identity marked by a characteristic such as a language, culture, leadership, or inhabited territory.

Other African countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have all had and still share ethnic conflict.

Observers have argued that the administrative and structural divisions that came with colonialism account for part of the remote cause for inter-ethnic clashes in the continent as the post-colonial structures which many African societies continued after independence pitch the ethnics against each other, thus creating a rife atmosphere for conflict.

Beyond colonialism, however, the lack of the political will to maintain previous peace agreements, and to a large extent ineffective conflict management also contribute to the disturbing cases of ethnic clashes in Africa.

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