The government of Chad on Wednesday suspended 10 opposition parties for “disturbing public order” and “inciting violence” after they backed trade union calls for a mass protest over austerity measures.
The parties’ activities “have been suspended for a duration of two months,” Security Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said in a statement.
Citing security reasons, the authorities also announced on the radio that a march scheduled for Thursday by civil groups, trade unions and opposition politicians had been banned.
Chad is imposing cuts in public spending that the finance ministry says are vital to stave off bankruptcy.
The government is under pressure to cut costs to meet performance targets under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid programme.
The IMF opened up a $312 million (254 million euro) credit line last June. To gain a second tranche of credit, Chad has to improve its state finances and conclude negotiations with commodities trader Glencore over a debt of $1.45 billion, according to an informed source.
The government is lowering the wages of civil servants and increasing income tax, citing 800 billion CFA francs (1.2 billion euros/$1.5 billion) of debt to commercial banks and a sevenfold increase in the number of public servants over the past decade.
Civil service salaries in 2017 totalled 376 billion CFA francs, roughly the equivalent of the combined revenue from income tax and customs duties, according to official figures given to AFP.
Chad has endured two years of severe recession worsened by a slump in oil prices. That, along with the spending cuts have increased social tension and anger at President Idriss Deby, who has been in power since 1990.
Almost half the population of 14 million lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.
Trade unions initiated an indefinite general strike in the state sector on January 29, and followed this with strikes in the private sector on Monday and Tuesday.
Thursday’s planned rallies were preceded by a similar “Day of Anger” on January 25, which was also banned.
The 10 suspended parties include the Democratic Party of the Chadian People (PDPT), led by lawmaker Djimet Clement Bagao, which took part in a march on Tuesday called by unions.
The demonstration was dispersed by police, causing injuries, according to the opposition.
Mozambique: Government set to impose license fees for local journalists.
Mozambican government has announced plans to introduce license fees for local and foreign journalists.
Local correspondents will pay $2,500 per trip for media accreditation while foreign correspondents living in Mozambique will be charged $8,300 per year.
Mozambican journalists reporting for foreign news outlets will be required to pay $3,500 for an annual accreditation.
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This is 50 times more than the country’s statutory minimum wage, estimated at around $70 per month.
The plan fees have attracted serious criticism as the move has been viewed as an apparent attempt to discourage reporting from the country.
Mozambique’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has warned that the imposition of licensing fees on the country’s mass media must not compromise the fundamental right of the public to information.
In a statement, the CNDH, added its voice to the chorus of criticism of the proposed fees.
It conceded that the government has the right to update licensing and accreditation fees, but said such a measure should not undermine the right to information.
The CNDH points out that the current legal framework on access to information “takes as its guidelines the greatest divulging of information and free access to information… In other words, access to information is a matter of public interest and this access should be promoted and facilitated”.
It added: “The legal framework meant that the relevant state bodies must take measures to promote the broadest possible access to information”.
CNDS also warns that the enormous fees imposed by the July decree are not in line with the guidelines contained in the legal instruments on the right to information that are in force in the country.
The justification given for the fees is that they are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the sector – but none of the money raised by the fees will go to the media.
The decree states that 60 percent of the money from the fees will go to the state budget, and the remaining 40 per cent will go to the government’s press office (Gabinfo).
Meanwhile, the government is showing signs of backing down.
On Tuesday, its spokesperson, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ana Comoana, said the decree will be discussed with interested parties before its implementation.
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BREAKING: Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan dies
Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan died in the early hours of Saturday in Switzerland after a short illness, according to a statement issued by his family.
The Nobel Peace Laureate was the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from January 1997 to December 2006, and became the first black African man to take on the top job as the world’s top diplomat.
He had been a member of The Elders, a group of global leaders working for human rights, since it was founded in 2007. In 2013, he became its chairman.
He was founder and Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, which issued a statement on social media, saying: “It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness…”