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Thousands petition Rwandan govt to release Paul Kagame’s critic and her family

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Presidential hopeful and critic of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has been in prison together with her sister and mother since September 22 over charges they describe as politically motivated.

35-year-old Diane Rwigara who was disqualified from running against Kagame in the August presidential election is charged with forgery and inciting insurrection during her bid to run for president.

She is also charged with evading taxes of nearly Rwf5 billion ($6 million) together with her sister Anne Rwigara and mother Adeline Rwigara who are also accused of inciting insurrection and promoting sectarianism.

They pleaded not guilty and said their arrest and detention are politically motivated. The three were refused bail pending trial on the tax evasion allegations related to the family’s tobacco company.

Demand that Paul Kagame and the Rwandan regime produce Ms. Rwigara and immediately release her, her mother and the other family members.

Nearly 3,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that the Rwandan government releases the three who are influential in the country. The petition was started by the civil rights group African Great Lakes Action Network (AGLAN).

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“Demand that Paul Kagame and the Rwandan regime produce Ms. Rwigara and immediately release her, her mother and the other family members,” they stated.

The tax evasion accusations did not appear on the charge sheet and prosecutors did not give details of the insurrection charge.

Rwigara’s sister Anne said they had not had enough access to their lawyer. Adeline Rwigara had told the court that they had been tortured and deprived of food.

The country’s revenue authority has threatened to auction their properties including mansions, lands and cars if they don’t settle the outstanding bill.

“If they have not paid the tax by the end of November, we shall begin to put their properties on the market,” the Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority Richard Tusabe threatened.

The authority has closed down their company and proposed a payment plan of 12 months to renege on the decision to auction their properties.

Anne Rwigara who is the head of the family business told the court that she is being forced to sign the payment plan which they do not agree with.

Diane Rwigara’s father was a wealthy businessman who died in a car crash in 2015. He had fallen out with the ruling party prior to his death which the family alleges it was an assassination.

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Malawi to Consider a New Typhoid Vaccine

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Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) Aziza Mwisongo has advised the Ministry of health to speedily consider adopting for the new typhoid vaccine.

Mwisongo said Typhoid is an epidemic in Malawi, with research showing that more than 16,000 cases are reported every year.

Mwisongo was speaking in Mponela on Wednesday during a workshop organized by Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) to brief health practitioners on the importance of the new typhoid vaccine called Typbar-TCV.

She said drug resistance has caused typhoid incidence in Malawi to increase over the past years and an estimated 64 percent of typhoid cases and 67 percent of typhoid deaths occur in children under 15 years of age.

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“While typhoid is rarely fatal, the recovery is long and difficult, the disease takes time, money, and productivity from those infected and their families it is associated with numerous, long-term complications,” she said

She said the Typbar-TCV is a typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) and is effective in the sense that it has a longer lasting protection, require fewer doses, and reduces the need for antibiotics, slow further emergence of drug-resistant typhoid strains and save lives.

Mwisongo said the vaccine is suitable for children 6 months of age and older, and offers protection for at least 3 years to adults and infants over 6 months of age.

“In Malawi, TyVAC and project partners are studying how well TCVs prevent typhoid in children between 9 months and 12 years of age as well as the safety, impact, and cost of the vaccine,” she said

She added, “While the WHO already recommends TCV introduction in all typhoid epidemic countries, this additional evidence will help inform ongoing decisions about TCV vaccination in low and middle income countries.”

Deputy Director in the Ministry of Health and population responsible for immunology Matthew Kagoli acknowledged the importance of the typhoid vaccine saying the disease was serious in the country because it affected people in communities as outbreaks.

Kagoli said with the available data it is undoubtedly true that the country needs the vaccine, but further consultations have to be done before adopting the vaccine in the country.

“The vaccine is important and the country will benefit from it but further and thorough consultations need to be done before we take a stand as a country regarding the vaccine,” he said

Typhoid is an enteric fever caused by Salmonella Typhi, it is spread through contaminated food and water and is a substantial public health issue in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Nigeria: BOD Okays Hijab for Muslim barred from call to bar

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A female law student barred from the country’s call to bar last year for wearing the Muslim head covering has been asked to attend the ceremony billed for later this year.

Firdaus Amasa was denied access to the call to bar ceremony in the capital Abuja for insisting on wearing her religious head covering in the hall, triggering a backlash from the country’s Muslim community which accused the law school of religious discrimination.

The controversy has led to lawsuits, especially after the parliament called a public hearing on the issue.

But president of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN), Kamal Dawud, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that Amasa has now been granted approval to attend the legal ritual later this year.

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“The Body of Benchers (BOD) met today to discuss the report of a committee established to look at the call to bar of Amasa,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, the report was not considered for one reason or the other. But they resolved that the girl should be called to bar with her head covered at the next call to bar event,” according to the law professor.

“It’s a victory because what we are saying is that she has her rights and should not be denied such rights under whatever guise. This is a right donated by the Constitution. The only institution that has the say over interpretation of the constitution and the only institution empowered to make pronouncements on whether any law or act is consistent with the Constitution or not is the court and so far the decisions of the court of appeal are in favor of the hijaab.”

The BOD, an ultra-conservative body of current and retired senior judges and lawyers, has the final say on the codes applicable for the legal profession in Nigeria.

The MULAN, along with the country’s Muslim community, championed the #JusticeForFridaus campaign to have Amasa called to the bar as well as scrap whatever laws that proscribe the use of the head covering at such events.

An appeals court in 2016 held that the head covering is a fundamental human rights of every female Muslim and may be worn anywhere of her choice, striking down a government circular that had restricted its use in the public school.

The government has appealed the ruling at the Supreme Court.

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Opposition leader Bemba expected ahead of DR Congo presidential elections.

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Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, whose war crimes convictions were quashed last month, is expected to return to Congo next month for a party congress to select a candidate for December’s presidential vote, a party spokesman said on Friday.

Bemba, a former rebel leader and vice president, left Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2007 and spent the last 10 years in prison in The Hague. He is currently free in Belgium pending a hearing on a separate conviction for witness tampering.



Last week, the Congolese Foreign Affairs Minister Leonard She Okitundu said the former Vice President ‘may return’ to the country if he wishes. Okitundu who did not specify whether Bemba will be prosecuted by the Congolese justice system, said Bemba ‘left on his own will, and that he can return if he wants to’.

Bemba’s return would introduce yet another factor to consider in DRC’s complex political crisis that has seen Kabila stay on as president despite the fact that his second an final term of office ended in 2016.

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While elections have been scheduled for Decemeber this year, the opposition have repeatedly protested Kabila’s refusal to outrightly rule himself out of the contest.

Bemba has since Friday been on bail in Belgium pending a final decision on his punishment, according to the International Criminal Court( ICC).

The ICC acquitted Bemba of crimes against humanity and war crimes but not in the case of bribery of witnesses.

The court issued “specific conditions” for his provisional release after ten years of detention, including “not changing address without notice”.

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