Daily News Brief on ICGLR Member States compiled by LMRC (21st February 2020)

1.    ANGOLA

a)    Angola Press Agency: Head of State plays down election model criticism

Luanda - The President of the Republic, João Lourenço,Thursday considered the criticism of the opposition to the model for the election of the Head of State to be a false problem.

The Angolan Head of State reacted to the opposition's calls for the revision of the country's Constitution, to introduce the model of direct election of the President of the Republic, instead of the current one, in which the head of list of the most voted party is elected president.

Before traveling to Gatuna / Katuna, near the border between Rwanda and Uganda, to participate in the summit on these two countries, João Lourenço recalled that the MPs were also elected through party lists submitted to the Constitutional Court.

President Joao Lourenço emphasized that "there is no MP who brags about running an electoral campaign, alone, without integrating any party list, and that, by his own merit, he has won the right to be a MP".

The Angolan statesman added that he does not remember seeing any ballot papers with individual names of MPs, giving voters the opportunity to choose.

"Voters choose political parties and do not choose people," he argued, recalling that the Constitution of the Republic was approved in 2010 by the National Assembly.

b)    Angola Press Agency: President Lourenço arrives in Kigali for quadripartite summit

Kigali - The Angolan President, João Lourenço, arrived in the early afternoon of Thursday in Kigali city, for a two-day mission in the framework of the peace efforts between neighbors Rwanda and Uganda.

João Lourenço will participate, Friday, in a Summit with the counterparts of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi.

One of the objectives of the meeting, to be held in the town of Gatuna / Katuna, near the border between Rwanda and Uganda, is to debate the reopening of the common border, closed since March 2019, due to reciprocal accusations of espionage and political meddling.

The Gatuna / Katuna summit, which is 80 kilometers from the Rwandan capital, is also devoted to analyzing ways to ease the tension between Rwanda and Uganda.

The exchange of prisoners between the two countries is also planned, with 13 Rwandans (including three women) and 17 Ugandans.

On the pretext of a border incident that resulted in the death of one person on each side, President Paul Kagame ordered the closure of the border between the two countries, blocking the essential trade route for the movement of people and goods.

At the time, the President of Rwanda accused the Ugandan counterpart of collaborating with the Rwandan opposition and with Hutu forces, to destabilize his country.

In his turn, Museveni accused Kagame of murdering political opponents in Ugandan territory.

Rwanda and Uganda, two landlocked East African countries, are part of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL), together with Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya and Zambia.

2.    BURUNDI

a)    UNHR: UN experts denounce jail terms given to journalists before elections

GENEVA (20 February 2020) - UN experts* have strongly criticised the two-and-a-half-year jail sentences handed down against four Burundian journalists who sought to cover violent clashes between the Burundi Defence Forces and members of the rebel group Red-Tabara in the north of the country.

“After a trial marred by irregularities, the sentencing of four journalists to jail for simply carrying out their jobs is not acceptable. Journalists must be able to conduct their work independently and must have unhindered access to sources of information,” the experts said. 

Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Térence Mpozenzi and Egide Harerimana, human rights defenders and journalists for the independent media outlet Iwacu, were arrested on 22 October 2019 on their way to Bubanza province to cover clashes in the region. On 30 January 2020, the Bubanza High Court sentenced them each to two and a half years in prison and fined them one million Burundian francs (about US$ 530) for "an ‘impossible attempt’ to undermine the internal security of the state" - an offence under article 16 of the Burundian criminal code.

The four journalists were arrested before they could begin their reporting and were held without charge for several days. They were then charged with “complicity in undermining the internal security of the state,” mainly on the basis of a private message sent by one of them to a colleague. Their trial lasted only two hours. According to the information received, the offence was reclassified as an "impossible attempt to undermine State security" without the accused being informed. They were reportedly not given the opportunity to defend themselves against this new charge.

“We are deeply concerned that the prison sentences of Ms. Kamikazi, Ms. Ndirubusa, Mr. Mpozenzi and Mr. Harerimana were handed down following proceedings that do not appear to have respected the right to a fair trial. The convictions appear to be directly related to their activities as journalists. If the right to a fair trial has not been respected, the journalists should be released,” the experts said.

Noting that this case takes place in a context where freedom of information is increasingly under threat, especially in the run-up to the presidential, parliamentary, municipal and colline (hill) elections scheduled between May and August 2020, the Special Rapporteurs called for the rights of journalists and the media to be respected.

“We are deeply concerned by the information we have received that this case is taking place against a backdrop of a shrinking democratic space, particularly with regards to freedom of information, in the run-up to the elections,” they added.

A new press law, enacted on 14 September 2018, requires journalists to present only information that is deemed "balanced,” or face sanctions. The National Communication Council has also imposed a “Code of Good Conduct for Media and Journalists in the Election Period for 2020,” which prohibits journalists from publishing certain information of public interest, such as polls or information about possible challenges to election results. In 2019, the Burundian authorities withdrew the licence of one international radio station and suspended the licence of another for an indefinite period.

“The fact that the journalists were convicted in the run-up to the elections and while working for Iwacu, one of the country's last independent media outlets, raises questions about the motives of the verdict,” concluded the UN experts, who are in contact with the Burundian authorities on this case.

ENDS

3.    CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

a)    UN News: Security Council reflects on peace deal anniversary

Ambassadors were briefed by Mankeur Ndiaye, UN Special Representative for the country, who presented the latest report of the Secretary-General focusing on progress and challenges since the authorities and 14 armed groups signed the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation last February in the capital, Bangui. 

It was negotiated under the auspices of the African Union (AU), which had brought the sides together for 10 days of talks in Khartoum. 

“Progress has also been made in establishing special joint security units, as provided for by the peace agreement,” said Mr. Ndiaye, before listing further achievements including in demobilization, fighting impunity and promoting transitional justice.

The peace deal is the latest attempt to stem a crisis which began in 2012 after fighting between the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia and a mainly Muslim rebel coalition known as Séléka killed thousands. 

But as Mr. Ndiaye told the Council, a peace agreement is not yet peace. “It is a step forward, a long process, which is sometimes fraught with pitfalls.” 

Although signatories have reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement, violations continue, including illegal tax collections and attempts to expand territorial influence. 

Despite improved overall security, pockets of instability remain, with clashes between armed groups in the north-east threatening civilians and humanitarian workers. 

Mr. Ndiaye informed the Council of mediation efforts currently underway by the UN integrated mission in the country, MINUSCA, following attempts by one group, known as the ‘Rebirth’ or the FPRC, to invade the village of Birao, capital of Vakaga province. 

The FPRC had also issued a call for violence against the UN mission in Ndele, another northeastern town, rallying local people to invade its camp. 

“This is particularly unacceptable because it is using women and children as human shields to besiege the MINUSCA camp and to obstruct its operations,” he said.  

AU Special Representative Matias Bertino Matondo was also concerned about the security situation. 

“The majority of the armed groups have not yet laid down their arms and continue to exploit natural resources to the detriment of the state,” he said, speaking via video conference from Khartoum. 

The peace deal anniversary aside, Mr. Ndiaye said 2020 represents “an important turning point” as the CAR will hold presidential and legislative elections starting in December. 

The return from exile of former Presidents François Bozizé and Michel Djotodia has been among the “new political dynamics” emerging in the run-up. 

“Both of them…want to contribute, and this is something we can welcome,” said Mr.  Ndiaye, who also commended the “spirit of openness” expressed by current President Faustin-Archange Touadéra. 

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) estimates the election will cost nearly $42 million, according to Ambassador Omar Hilale from the UN Peacebuilding Commission. 

Reiterating a point made by Mr. Ndiaye, he said the process must be inclusive, with women, youth, displaced people and refugees taking part. 

Ambassador Olaf Skoog, European Union representative, underlined support to the CAR. The regional bloc will foot nearly half the cost of the vote and also plans to deploy electoral experts. 

“Elections are essential to consolidate democracy and democratic institutions in the CAR,” he said.  “Postponement is not an option.  They must take place.” 

4.    KENYA

a)    Digital Standard: EAC to build Sh345 million headquarters in Kenya

The East African Community (EAC) member states will each contribute Sh57 million toward the construction of Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) headquarters in Kisumu.

EAC Chief Administrative Secretary Ken Obura and LVBC Executive Secretary Ali Matano confirmed that the project would cost Sh345 million.

"This will be one of the milestones EAC partner States projects and achievements by LVBC, as it positions to serve the Great Lakes region," Mr Obura said.

The national government donated 2.8ha to the institution in 2006 but plans to begin the construction stalled due to lack of funds.

But now it is set to kick off after the EAC member States mutually agreed to contribute Sh57.5 million each toward the proposed LVBC's project.

The EAC member states are Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Republic of South Sudan.

So far the countries have only contributed Sh22.5 million each, totaling to Sh135 million. This will be used to kick-start the project.

This is the only project that is 100 per cent funded by the EAC partner states since its launch 24 years ago, with a majority of other projects it has done being funded by donors.

LVBC advertised tenders last week and are now reviewing and processing bids for work to start.

"We now expect to review the tender bids and qualify the best firms to carry out the exercise, which is likely to take a month or two to review," said Dr Matano.

Yesterday Matano said they would review the tender bids between now and April. The construction will be done in two phases.

"Our first phase will include the construction of part of the administrative block to accommodate staff and the second staff quarters and another office block," Matano said.

He commended EAC member States for their fresh commitment to building the regional offices in Kisumu. Currently, LVBC is hosted at Prosperity House – a government premise where Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o's office is.

According to Prof Nyong’o, the LVBC headquarters will be a boon to the county, as it will also place it in a strategic position as the regional business hub.

5.    RWANDA

a)    The New Times: Kagame, Museveni meet at Gatuna border

The fourth Quadripartite Heads of State Summit in a bid to normalize ties between Rwanda and Uganda is scheduled for today, February 21 at Gatuna border.

Presidents Paul Kagame, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda will be joined by Angolan President João Lourenço and his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi.

The agenda of today’s meeting includes review and discussion of feedback from Uganda following a Note Verbale from Kigali dispatched on February 15.

The Note Verbale was sent after the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission on the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding between Uganda and Rwanda held in Kigali on February 14.

Uganda was meant to respond to the Note Verbale on February 20, which Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and EAC affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe acknowledged that it was done.

The reply will be subject to discussion at the border meet.

Among the concerns, Rwanda expected reactions to the verification of operations and fundraising activities of; Prossy Bonabaana, Sula Nuwamanya, Dr. Rukundo Rugali, Emerithe Gahongayire and Emmanuel Mutarambirwa.

The individuals are said to be part of the RNC leadership through an NGO called Self-Worth Initiative.

Uganda was also expected to file a response verifying Charlotte Mukankusi’s travel history to Uganda, especially during the month of January 2020 and the progress towards the withdrawal of her Ugandan passport. The passport bears the number A000199979.

Kigali was also anticipating the verification by Uganda of the presence of RUD-Urunana terrorist suspects who were involved in the October 2019 Kinigi attacks.

So far, Uganda has deported two suspects Kabayija Seleman and Nzabonimpa Fidel who are accused of being part of the deadly attack by RUD-Urunana militia on Kinigi, Musanze District on the night of October 3-4, 2019.

The duo – along with two others, Muganeza Eric and ‘Captain’ Nshimiye a.k.a Gavana, who led the attack on Kinigi – withdrew to Uganda after Rwanda’s security forces neutralised the assailants, killing 19 of them and capturing five others.

Rwanda has also demanded the arrest and deportation of both Nshimiye and Mugiraneza so they can stand trial for their actions.

Friday’s summit agenda will include a review of resolutions from the previous summit which included the release of nationals of each country held whereby lists were submitted to facilitate the objective.

Whereas no Ugandan is known to be in the custody of Rwanda illegally, hundreds of Rwandans have been held in Uganda without consular access or legal representation.

This week, Uganda released 13 nationals and deported two terror suspects.

Three such high-level summits have been held since the signing of the Luanda MoU in August, the latest of which took place earlier this month.

This week’s summit will be the first under the Luanda framework to be held outside of Angola.

b)    The New Times: Rwanda welcomes release of citizens, urges Uganda to honour commitments

The Government of Rwanda has welcomed the release of 13 nationals and deportation of two terrorist suspects by Uganda, it said in a statement released Wednesday.

Kigali has confirmed that Kabayija Seleman and Nzabonimpa Fidel were part of the deadly attack by RUD-Urunana militia on Kinigi, Musanze District on the night of October 3-4, 2019.

The duo – along with two others, Muganeza Eric and ‘Captain’ Nshimiye a.k.a Gavana, who led the attack on Kinigi – withdrew to Uganda after Rwanda’s security forces neutralised the assailants, killing 19 of them and capturing five others.

The attackers belonged to RUD-Urunana, a breakaway faction of FDLR terrorist organisation founded by extremists who fled Rwanda in 1994 after executing the Genocide against the Tutsi. At least a million people lost their lives during the Genocide.

Rwanda has also demanded the arrest and deportation of both Nshimiye and Mugiraneza so they can stand trial for their actions. At least 14 civilians lost their lives in the Kinigi attack.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation recalls in the statement that “a senior official of the Government of Uganda” had a direct hand in the attack on Kinigi.

Rwanda has previously said it had material evidence proving that Uganda’s state minister for regional cooperation Philemon Mateke was in contact with the assailants around the time of the attack. It cited call history of one of the phones recovered from the crime scene.

Uganda has been linked to several negative armed groups seeking to destabilise Rwanda (including RNC, RUD-Urunana, FDLR and FLN) – one of the factors behind Rwanda’s decision to issue a travel advisory to Uganda in March last year.

The Government of Rwanda noted in the statement that it has already terminated the prosecution of 17 Ugandan citizens and released three who have completed their sentences.

These developments are part of a broader effort to normalise ties between Rwanda and Uganda under a deal signed in August 2019 in Luanda under the facilitation of Angola and DR Congo.

Uganda’s handover of the Rwandan nationals on Tuesday was in line with commitments made when the Ad Hoc Commission between the two countries on the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding held its third meeting, in Kigali, last Friday.

It also came ahead of Friday’s talks between Presidents Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda due to be held at the Gatuna border crossing.

The fourth Quadripartite Heads of State Summit will also be attended by Angolan President João Lourenço and his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi. Three such high-level summits have been held since the signing of the Luanda MoU in August, the latest of which took place earlier this month. This week’s summit will be the first under the Luanda framework to be held outside of Angola.

But Rwanda said there are pending “urgent issues” that Kampala needs to do ahead of Friday’s summit.

“The Government of Rwanda reiterates that there are urgent issues that were agreed with Uganda during the last Ad Hoc Commission meeting held in Kigali, and officially transmitted on 15 February 2020 through Note Verbale No. 0692, that were to be responded to by 20 February 2020,” the statement reads in part.

Pending commitments include “verification of operations and fundraising activities of the following individuals; Prossy Bonabaana, Sula Nuwamanya, Dr Rukundo Rugali, Emerithe Gahongayire and Emmanuel Mutarambirwa, all part of the RNC leadership through an NGO called the Self-Worth Initiative.”

The meeting also agreed on the “verification of Charlotte Mukankusi’s travel history to Uganda, especially during the month of January 2020 and the withdrawal of her Ugandan passport number A000199979.”

During last week’s talks, Uganda also committed to verify the “presence of RUD-Urunana terrorist suspects who were involved in the October 2019 Kinigi attacks. Of the three issues communicated, only this one has been partially fulfilled as only two have been handed over to Rwanda,” the statement reads in parts.

“The Government of Rwanda hopes that these actions by the Government of Uganda will contribute to eliminating all forms of support by Uganda to anti-Rwanda destabilisation elements and terrorist groups and hold accountable officials of all groups operating from Uganda and their (supporters among) Ugandan officials,” Kigali says in the statement.

“The Government of Rwanda remains fully committed to meet its obligations in the implementation of the Luanda MoU,” it adds.

6.    SOUTH SUDAN

a)    Sudan Tribune: Sudanese Misseriya rejects Kiir’s decision establishing as South Sudanese area

February 21, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Misseriya tribe voiced their rejection of a recent decision by President Salva Kiir to declare Abyei as South Sudanese area.

Kiir established three administrative areas including Abyei, which is a disputed territory on the border between the two countries, raising interrogations in Khartoum.

Sudanese officials, however, did not comment on the decision.

But a Misseriya tribal leader Mukhtar Babo Nimir handed over a letter to the commissioner of Muglad locality of West Kordofan State pressing the Sudanese government to reject the move and called for peace negotiations between them and the Ngok Dinka.

According to the official news agency SUNA, Nimir affirmed their total rejection of Kiir’s decision. The tribal leader stressed that "Abyei is a Sudanese and a Misseriya (territory), declaring their readiness to protect it if necessary".

He further warned that they would resist this decision by all means including the closure of all the crossing points that pass through their land.

Sudanese and South Sudanese senior military officials signed a protocol on the deployment of checkpoints for weapons on the two sides of the border between.

The agreement is signed after a bloody attack by the Misseriya on 21 January killing 35 Ngok Dinka. While the Ethiopian peacekeeping force under the UN flag.

The tribal leader demanded to organize talks to end Abyei conflict in a neutral country and stop the delivery of Identity cards to Ngok Dinka, the UNISFA forces.

b)    Xinhua Net: South Sudan president to reappoint rebel leader Machar in unity gov't

JUBA, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan President Salva Kiir said on Thursday he will reappoint opposition leader Riek Machar on Friday as First Vice President.

Machar, leader of Sudan People's Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), will assume his position of First Vice President as stipulated in the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

Kiir disclosed that he had agreed with Machar to form the unity government on Saturday and continue with the implementation of the outstanding issues.

He said that the security of Juba will be his responsibility and will provide protection to all opposition leaders including Machar.

"My forces will be in charge of security of Juba until the training of all unified forces is completed," he told journalists in Juba.

Kiir also reiterated that he compromised on the former 32 states which were cut to 10 states for the sake of peace because people are tired of war.

He added that he will dissolve the government and form the transitional unity government on Feb. 22.

He called upon the refugees and internally displaced persons to return home as peace is already prevailing in the country.

"We met today and discussed the outstanding issues after reverting to 10 states. We agreed to form the government on time which is Feb. 22, and the rest of the outstanding issues will be solved after the formation of the unity government," said Machar.

The government and SPLM-IO had been in disagreement over the number of states and boundaries which eventually forced President Kiir to reduce the former 32 states he decreed in 2015 to the current 10 states favored by the opposition.

Machar's group, despite welcoming president Kiir's gesture on the current 10 states, protested the creation of additional three administrative units which include Abyei, Ruweng and Pibor areas.

The parties failed to form the unity government in May 2019, prompting an extension until Nov. 12, which also passed without progress, and they later on agreed to the Feb. 22 deadline.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar, leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to the respective leader.

A peace agreement signed in 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in July 2016, which forced Machar to flee the capital.

7.    SUDAN

a)    Sudan Tribune: Why a national court may be good option for Sudan’s al-Bashir

My friend on the Hill forwarded me a request to attend an event with Prime Minister of Sudan, Abdallah Hamdok. It was one of his several visits to DC and the purpose was clear: to get Sudan removed from the U.S. terrorism list. For the first time in more than three decades, Sudan’s leader was visiting Washington, D.C. and it was a big deal. Within months of the visit, the world welcomed with the announcement of Sudan’s transitional government agreed to hand over al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in the western Darfur province. However, I was not too convinced. The current situation in Sudan is far too complex and Sudan faces severe challenges.

When the revolution happened last year, many of us who have been following Sudan closely were surprised that Bashir was removed from power so quickly. During the revolution, the African Union quickly stepped in to address the crisis. And AU’s effort must be commended on the United Nations Security Council in order to get the UNSC to move on Sudan. However, when the UNSC failed to agree on a statement condemning the killing of civilians by Sudanese security forces, the African Union suspended Sudan’s membership. The AU went beyond and AU demanded that “the immediate resumption of negotiations, without preconditions, between all Sudanese stakeholders” required the military to hand in power otherwise, the AU would, “automatically impose punitive measures on individuals and entities obstructing the establishment” of a transitional authority. A few scholars have speculated that the reason the AU reacted so fast regarding Sudan because it could destabilize the region, especially, Chad. For those of us who follow or work on Africa, this was not surprising. Others have speculated that the AU did not want another Libya in hand. Even after the important role the AU played in Sudan, there was no announcement from the African Union on the matter related to the ICC. Some of the sceptics rose that there is also a possibility that the charges at the ICC may not stick.

Given the circumstances, one of the best things for Sudan would be carried out a hybrid or an independent court in Sudan. Both of these options will require assistance from the international community. An example could be drawn is the Special Court for Sierra Leone which was established by an agreement between the UN and the Sierra Leonean government on 16 January 2002 and the Court was located in Freetown and the US and the UK were the main backers of the court. The Court was limited to the Sierra Leonean context and International tribunals are extremely expensive. The international community may be reluctant to create a new standalone justice system to address the gross international human rights violations that took place in Sudan. The best option for Sudan would be to develop a court within the national system and ask the US and the UK to assist in setting the process to minimize the cost of the court and draw up an agreement to fund the court. While international courts are essential, establish domestic legal systems that can prosecute, and enforce international criminal law will be pivotal for Sudan’s success and Bashir gives the perfect reason as to why Sudan should move forward with this.

Ideally, international criminal law cases should be in the domestic courts in the impacted country itself and here, Sudan sits on the fertile land where it can demonstrate to the world that Sudan is well capable taking care of its business. On a practical level, these trials would allow easy access to evidence and victims. Given the current circumstances and Sudanese people’s desire for justice, the government of Sudan should think about is implementing universal jurisdiction, which relates to the ability and obligation of national courts to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and genocide.

Canada provides an excellent example of a State that provides domestic exercise of universal jurisdiction, in its Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act of 2000. While the concept of universal jurisdiction is different from the jurisdiction of the ICC, it could, theoretically, allow bypassing ratification of Rome Treaty should the Military Council and the Civilian government cannot come to an agreement while satisfying IIC’s requirement. The US War Crimes Act of 1996 is another great example of where national courts are empowered to prosecute “grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949 or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party.”

Sudan should also think about fund a victims trust fund for the victims and ask the international community to provide funding for the victims as soon as possible and start a commission of inquiry for Sudan. African Union can play a fundamental role in setting these two things for Sudan similar to the role it had taken on Chad where it allocated $5 million to the Trust Fund for reparations for victims. The trust fund should be voluntary and major economic powers and regional powers should be requested to contribute in order to make sure victims get reparations. There are wonderful options available to Sudan and Sudan should take full advantage of these options and lead the way in seeking justice for the victims while strengthening its legal system.

Iffat Rahman is a Representative of the African Bar Association, specialized in anti-terrorism with a focus on Libya and Cameroon. She was previously based at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

b)    Sudan Tribune: Sudanese police use force to disperse protesters gov’t pledges probe

February 20, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - For the first time during the transitional period, Sudanese police violently charged protesters in Khartoum on Thursday triggering calls to remove interior minister and to investigate the crackdown.

For its part, the government late pledged to probe the use of violence against the protesters and called for calm and restraint.

Thousands of Sudanese youth took the street on Thursday to protest peacefully against the sack of a military officer who was the first to join the popular uprising that led to the collapse of al-Bashir’s regime.

The police however fired tear gas and used batons to disperse the protesters who planned to hand over a petition calling to reintegrate him and his colleagues to the army.

While the protesters approaching the presidency, the police used tear gas against them and used batons to disperse them.

Over 19 people have been injured by the police and a journalist was beaten and his camera seized by the police officers who assaulted protesters for the first time after the ouster of the former regime.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) said that a protester was hit by a live bullet in his abdomen and another by a rubber bullet in his leg, while the others suffered injuries by tear gas grenades.

There were strong rumours about the death of protesters but the CCSD late during the night issued a statement to deny the fake report.

The Sudanese police for its part, released photos showing four police officers injured by the protesters, in a way to suggest that they acted in self-defence.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the spearhead of the pro-democracy protests, was the first to condemn the brutal crackdown on the peaceful protesters and called to remove the interior minister.

Also, the ruling coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) condemned the violence and called on the prime minister to investigate the issue.

"We also demand the Prime Ministers to urgently hold accountable the Minister of Interior and the Director of Police for the events that occurred today. Everyone should know that the people have the real authority and that the freedom of expression and assembly is one of the sanctities for which they sacrificed their soles," reads the FFC statement.

The FFC also called for self-restraint of the protesters and urged the vigilance of the transitional sovereign council and government for the threats facing the country.

The government spokesman Faisal Mohamed Saleh in a written statement reiterated the government attachment to the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

"We strongly condemn the use of excessive violence and will investigate what occurred and the wrongdoers will be held accountable," he further added.

The interior minister who is appointed by the military component did not issue a statement on the events that took place in the Sudanese capital.

8.    UGANDA

a)    Daily Monitor: Parliament rejects proposal to move all public holidays to weekdays

Parliament on Thursday voted against a proposal to have all Public holidays that fall on weekdays moved to weekends to give Ugandans enough time to feel the true meaning of public holiday.

Ms Juliet Kyinyamatama Suubi, the woman MP Rakai District had sought permission of the house to introduce a bill titled “The public holidays (amendment) bill, 2020” but this was out rightly rejected by the House when the Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga put the question to the MPs during plenary.

In her justification, Ms Kyinyamatama who had 10 minutes allocated to her to defend her Bill said Public holidays do not have meaning if they fall on weekends, as many people stay away from celebrating it and also prefer to rest on that day in preparation for work for the new week.

She cited the forth coming Women's Day of March 8 which falls on Sunday. She said it will not get the required attention it deserves as many people will be preparing for work on Sunday.

Ms Kyinyamata also said the proposal would give Ugandans actual rest days as weekends with no additional obligations.

"Given the fact that weekends are already designated days of rest Public holidays may not be given the deserved recognition, honour and visibility and some may even pass unnoticed. Convinced that in order to ensure a continued recognition, honour and visibility of public days, it's necessary to have public holidays observed on working days to avoid them interfere with the rest of the days coinciding with weekend activities like prayers, marriage celebrations and many others. This will not only improve the visibility but also enable participation of all and as a result build a strong sense of nationalism togetherness," the MP said.

However, before she could proceed, members interrupted her with many hesitant on the move.

When the Speaker Kadaga asked for seconders of the proposal, it took a minute before two members seconded Kyinyamatama’s motion.

When Ms Kadaga put the question forward, the MPs who responded “nay” in objection of the proposal were more than those who responded “aye” in support of the move.

The proposal stalled at that stage.

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