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UN hits back at Burkina Faso over expulsion of official, Barbara Manzi

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The United Nations has hit back at Burkina Faso for ordering its senior official Barbara Manzi to leave the country.

The UN on Saturday said Burkina Faso had no grounds and that the doctrine of “persona non grata” could not be applied to Miss Manzi.

The military junta in Burkina Faso declared the United Nations coordinator in the country, Italian Barbara Manzi, “persona non grata” and “asked to leave the country” on Friday.

Although the reason for the expulsion was not stated initially, Foreign Minister Olivia Rouamba later accused Manzi of painting a negative picture of the security situation in Burkina Faso, which has been grappling with a violent Islamist insurgency since 2015.

Rouamba on national television said Manzi “predicted chaos in Burkina Faso in the next few months.” He also alleged that she had unilaterally recommended the evacuation of some U.N. staff and their families from the capital Ouagadougou.

“She discredited the country and discouraged potential investors,” Rouamba said, noting the government’s “big efforts” towards improving security.

The spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Saturday that it learned “learned with regret” about Burkina Faso’s decision and expressed “full confidence… in Ms. Manzi’s commitment and professionalism”,

“The doctrine of persona non grata does not apply to United Nations officials,” he added.

“Only the Secretary-General… has the authority to decide, after careful investigation, with respect to the withdrawal of any United Nations official.”

The expulsion of expatriates is becoming characteristic of military administration in West Africa. In July, Burkina’s neighbour Mali also caught up in a serious security crisis, expelled Olivier Salgado, the spokesman for the United Nations Mission in Mali (Minusma).

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South African judge, Piet Koen, to ‘rescue’ self from ex-president Jacob Zuma case

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The trial judge in the corruption case of former South African President Jacob Zuma has announced at a hearing that he would recuse himself from the case.

Judge Piet Koen, in the Pietermaritzburg court (southeast) during a televised hearing said “I have come to the conclusion that I must recuse myself from the trial. This is what the proper administration of justice, the Constitution, and my conscience dictates.”

In July 2021, the former President was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment after repeatedly ignoring a court order to testify at a government inquiry into large-scale corruption during his tenure as president.

Mr. Zuma has been lobbying for the recusal of the chief prosecutor in the trial, Billy Downer, whom he accuses of bias. Last year, Judge Koen rejected this request.

“If Justice Koen does not continue the trial, a new judge will have to sit,” Cathy Powell, a constitutional scholar at the University of Cape Town, told AFP. The trial would then have to “start from the beginning”, the lawyer fears.

Zuma’s corruption trial began in May 2021, with numerous with the 80-year-old politician accused of taking bribes from the French defense group Thales in a case that dates back more than 20 years ago.

He has been charged with 16 counts of fraud, corruption, and racketeering. Thales is also charged with corruption and money laundering.

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Tunisian opposition coalition wants united front to challenge President Saied sit-tight reign

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The opposition coalition in North African country, Tunisia is calling for a united front to challenge President Kais Saied’s sit-tight reign in the country.

Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, head of the National Salvation Front, said “I call on all those who are part of the political movement and those who are in the civil movement to rise to this new challenge (ahead of us). Let’s join hands to work for change, in the form of Kais Saied’s departure.”

“Almost 90 percent, or rather 89 percent, of Tunisian voters, ignored this farce and refused to be involved in this coup d’état scenario that does not represent them at all,” he exclaimed.

Again voter turnout was low at the second round of the just concluded parliamentary in Tunisia with just 11.3 percent of voters have taken part in the poll. Official initial results after voting ended in Tunisia, Sunday (Jan. 29).

The electoral board chief Farouk Bouasker said 887,638 out of more than 7.8 million registered voters had taken part in the poll, which followed December’s widely boycotted first round.

According to the electoral board’s initial figures, just five percent of those who voted were aged under 26, and more than two-thirds were men.

Voter turnout for the first round of the parliamentary elections in December was only 11%, prompting widespread ridicule among Saied’s opponents and new demands by the powerful labour union that he changes tack.

President Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament, and seized a string of powers in July 2021.

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