The leader of opposition in parliament (LoP) Mathias Mpuuga has called on a section of Ugandans questioning why his National Unity Platform (NUP) leadership has not joined the commodity prices protests, saying they have a duty themselves to rise up and not wait for NUP president Robert Kyagulanyi.
Rtd former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president Kizza Besigye who has since been remanded to Luzira prison recently kicked off protests to pressurise the government to arrest the fast-flying inflation.
This week, FDC women leaders including Kampala deputy mayor Doreen Nyanjura and Soroti Woman MP Anna Adeke Ebaju and others staged another protest at Mulago roundabout demanding government intervention against the rising cost of living.
The FDC women were further remanded until next week when the court will determine their bail application. Amidst all these, some Ugandans have wondered why NUP, the largest opposition party in parliament, is silent over the issue.
“We issued the statement in parliament on behalf of our party relating to the running away of prices on essential goods. But the regime hasn’t considered anything. We asked them to cut on high taxes and to turn down their appetite for expenditure, but nothing has been considered,” Mpuuga told journalists at the NUP offices in Kamwokya Tuesday.
He said the government has left Ugandans to suffer, which should have compelled all Ugandans to rise up against the bad governance and stop questioning what opposition leaders are doing.
"Stop questioning why we have not joined. Don't wait for Kyagulanyi to do anything, do it yourself. Kyagulanyi is a leader, equally, you're a leader in your own capacity because you head a family that is constrained. We want to invite fellow citizens to be alive. It is a matter of time. If you want change tomorrow, you will have it tomorrow. I want to invite you to participate in every activity that will quicken the new Uganda. Citizens we want to invite you to participate. All of us have a duty and that duty must be played by everyone who feels affected, who feels offended by the going ons in the country," said Mpuuga.
Interestingly, a section of NUP supporters has called Besigye's protests an orchestrated 'diversion' by the state. Jolly Mugisha, the NUP vice president for western Uganda appealed to some Ugandans to stop saying that things are okay in western Uganda since the president comes from that part of the country.
“You know what is ironic in Uganda, most people think that everything is okay in western Uganda because the dictator comes from that side. I want to categorically say this, things are worse even in western Uganda. We’re dying alive,” Mugisha said.
She said people in western Uganda are not happy with the government's decision to construct roads in Congo and build schools in Tanzania, yet schools and roads in western Uganda are in a sorry state.
Speaking about the just concluded Omoro parliamentary by-elections, Mpuuga said the exercise was marred by violence, vote bribery, and the highest levels of criminality, orchestrated by the NRM regime.
“Omoro is a crime scene for the criminality that took place there. The young man who purportedly claims to have won is also a witness to that crime. Bribery, torture, brutalization of citizens, arrests, and results that were declared by a militia group was a sign of how bad we have gone as a country,” Mpuuga stated.
The Electoral Commission declared the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party candidate, Andrew Ojok Oulanyah the winner of the Omoro County parliamentary by-election with 14,224 votes defeating his closest NUP rival Simon Toolit Akecha. The seat fell vacant following the death of Ojok's father Jacob Oulanyah in March 2022. - URN/The Observer
President Paul Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi have held phone conversations aimed at resolving the current impasse.
The encouraging development was revealed by the Chairperson of the Africa Union, Senegal President MackySall, on Monday, May 30, when he tweeted thanking both leaders for "our telephone conversations yesterday and today in the quest for a peaceful solution to the dispute" between the DR Congo and Rwanda.
Sall noted that he is encouraging Angolan President João Lourenço, who is the current Chairperson of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) "to continue his mediation efforts in this direction."
A day earlier, on May 29, Sall called for dialogue betweenKigali and Kinshasa as tensions escalated between the two neighbours following the resurgence of the M23 rebellion in the DR Congo’s restive east.
Increasing tension between the DR Congo army (FARDC) and M23 rebels near the common border is threatening to drag Rwanda into the conflict.
While in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, attending an extraordinary Summit on countering terrorism and unconstitutional change of government in Africa, Dr Vincent Biruta, Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Saturday, May 28, appealed to the DR Congo to observe good neighborliness, own up to her problems, and avoid apportioning blame where none exists.
While responding to the “baseless accusations” made by Kinshasa against Rwanda, Dr Biruta said there are several initiatives in place to address the existing problems, but without political will, “we will remain in a vicious cycle of undesirable and destructive conflicts.”
In Malabo, Dr Biruta stressed that for close to 30 years now, there has been consistent collaboration between the FARDC and the Rwandan FDLR armed group based in eastern DRCongo.
It is deplorable that the FDLR, “which harbors a long-term sinister plan to destabilize Rwanda,” has been tolerated and preserved by the DR Congo, he said.
“Over the years, they have sanitized this genocidal armed group, to the extent that the FDLR are currently co-located, and fighting alongside the FARDC,” Dr Biruta said.
“Rwanda wishes to reiterate that the FDLR and its various splinter groups pose a serious security threat, not only to Rwanda, but to the entire region.”
The FDLR comprises remnants of the perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. After killing more than one million people 28 years ago, they fled into eastern DR Congo.
ICGLR awaits verification mission report
On May 27, the ICGLR Secretariat expressed great concern about the attacks of the the ex-M23 rebels against the positions of the FARDC supported by MONUSCO in the territory of Rutshuru, North Kivu since the beginning of the week.
The bloc’s Secretariat strongly condemned the attacks and called on the ex-M23 rebels to comply with the Nairobi Declaration signed in December 2013 and to participate unconditionally in the political process initiated by the regional Conclave of Heads of State on the DR Congo in Nairobi, Kenya on April 21.
While condemning the existence of all armed groups operating in the eastern DR Congo, the Conference Secretariat “awaits the conclusions of the report of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) which deployed a Joint Verification Team (JVT) on the ground” since May 24, in order to refer the matter to the decision-making bodies of ICGLR.
Over the past weekend, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Vincent Biruta, reiterated Rwanda’s commitment to the established regional initiatives, including the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism of the ICGLR and the Nairobi process under the EAC. The Nairobi Summit gave clear guidelines on how the issue of armed groups in eastern DRCongo can be resolved.
The first Summit, or conclave, was held on April 8, after Tshisekedi signed the Treaty of accession by his country to the EAC. During the second conclave, Presidents Tshisekedi, Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, Kenyatta and YoweriMuseveni of Uganda, and Dr Biruta, agreed to the deployment of a regional force to contain armed groups in DR Congo.
Mid-way through the inter-Congolese dialogue, there were signs of optimism that the more than 30 Congolese armed groups participating were dedicated to finding a long-lasting solution.
But Kinshasa on Saturday said it considered the M23 as a terrorist movement that must be treated as such and is therefore excluded from the Nairobi peace process.
Biruta said the Kinshasa has shown lack of political will to abide by the Nairobi Summit resolutions holistically. Instead, he said, they have been engaging with these armed groups selectively and, have been quick to blame Rwanda, in order to ignore their obligations. By James Karuhanga, New Times
The Kenyatta International Convention Centre, a leading MICE facility in Nairobi/Image:FILE/Photo Courtesy Star
•Kenya will be exhibiting at the exclusive event for the first time under the ‘Meet in Kenya’ banner.
•The Kenya National Convention Bureau is targeting to propel Kenya to the top 50 MICE destination globally.
Kenya is banking on the tourism trade show in Frankfurt, Germany to market its meeting and conference facilities, as countries strategise on post-Covid recovery.
Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala is leading a delegation of business meetings and events companies from the public and private sector to the three days event, which runs from May 31 to June 2.
Kenya will be exhibit at the exclusive Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Events (MICE) event for the first time under the ‘Meet in Kenya’ banner, as the IMEX Frankfurt makes a come back after two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This comes at a time when country and global meetings industry is slowly recovering from the effects of the pandemic that saw a sharp decline in tourism due to travel restrictions.
The annual Tourism Sector Performance Report 2021, by the Tourism Research Institute (TRI), shows that last year, international arrivals for business events and meetings was 229,804, accounting for 26.40 per cent of the total arrivals.
Total visitor arrivals to Kenya grew 53 per cent compared to the previous year, closing at 870,465 , from 567,848.
The business and MICE numbers were close to the 299,802 visitors who came into the country for holiday, which has traditionally been the main reason of visit.
It was the third purpose of visit after the 257,357 who came into the country to visit family and friends, TRI data shows.
“The forum aims to build consensus on critical advocacy issues for both destinations and policy makers and align conversations and actions towards increasing sustainable economic benefits of business events. Kenya has put in place strategies to grow this important sector,” Balala said yesterday.
Kenya was ranked fifth in the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Africa country ranking for association meetings, with Nairobi ranked number five on the city rankings, and Mombasa at 13th in Africa.
It was ranked 73 in the continent, in 2018.
The gap in proactive MICE marketing and bidding and general information about the market readiness and available facilities to host meetings has been an inhibitor to growth of the sector, according to the Kenya National Convention Bureau(KNCB).
The bureau, led by National Coordinator Jacinta Nzioka, is targeting to propel Kenya to the top 50 MICE destination globally and at least top two in Africa in the short-medium-term.
Kenya Tourism Board, PrideInn Hotels, Twiga Tours, Enashipai Hotels and Resorts, African Quest Safaris, Accor-Fairmont Kenya and Glory safaris are among the 3,500 exhibitors in Frankfurt.
It is estimated that every international delegate spends at least Sh370,000 per conference trip of about three to six days, reflecting the huge potential MICE holds for the economy. By Martin Mwita, The Star
A file photo of the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti. Image:EZEKIEL AMING'A
The man wants DCI boss George Kinoti to order the immediate restructuring of its social media platforms.
•The DCI story suggested the woman was a member of the 'basmati babes' gang and the man was just another victim.
•"I enquired about how I ended up in the hospital and the nurses told me the police officers from Kenol police station brought me in," he added.
A senior policeman in Murang'a County wants the office of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to apologise for allegedly misinforming the public.
The officer said the DCI, through social media, called his wife names after they falsely accused her of spiking his drink.
On Monday, DCI wrote on its social media platforms that a man had been admitted to the hospital after a woman he was drinking with stupefied his drink. The woman was accused of unsuccessfully trying to empty the man's bank accounts before the bar waiter came to his rescue.
But it now turns out the woman and the man were married, and he just felt sick when they were out having some drinks.
"I take alcohol. My wife does not take alcohol. I was feeling unwell, but I was determined to take my wife out. But after taking several bottles, I felt weak and told my wife to drive me to hospital," he said.
According to the policeman, after regaining consciousness, his wife was nowhere to be found.
"I enquired about how I ended up in the hospital, and the nurses told me that police officers from Kenol police station brought me in," he added.
He was then shown the DCI Twitter timeline where the story had been published.
The tweet thread narrated how a man was fighting for his life at a hospital in Murang’a County after a drink he was taking was laced with an unknown substance by his lover, rendering him unconscious.
The DCI story suggested the woman was a member of the 'basmati babes' gang and the man was just another victim.
His wife, who was being detained, was later released after explaining that she was his wife. The police who arrested her also apologized for the incident.
The senior police officer now wants DCI boss George Kinoti to order the immediate restructuring of DCI's social media platforms.
Jane Nayituriki, a farmer from Burera district in northern Rwanda, had been waking up early every morning to catch the migratory grey-crowned cranes flying along the neighboring Rugezi wetland in order to raise their chicks as domestic pets.
Nayituriki, a mother of four, was a member of a group of poachers who used to set up their camps in different parts of marshland zones in Rwanda to catch the grey-crowned cranes flying in her village.
“In the past, people here were engaged in unsustainable practices of poaching cranes, but thanks to latest conservation efforts, most of the villagers have now stopped hunting,” she said in an interview.
These illegal activities by local villagers were conducted before an initiative to address this threat to cranes was developed. Nayituriki is now among a group of crane poachers who recently refrained from the illegal acts and found other means of earning a living. Along with farming, Nayituriki now benefits financially from some activities such as the regular cranes’ census, when conservation groups hire local communities to help.
The plumage of the adult crane is gray with white wings that contain feathers with a range of colors, with a distinctive black patch at the very top. The head has a crown of stiff golden feathers, which makes it considered as a symbol of wealth in Rwanda.
The Rugezi swamp has long been among famous sites in Rwanda where thousands of grey-crowned cranes congregate.
While grey-crowned cranes are part of Rwanda’s wildlife species, the illegal domestication of these endangered birds for both commercial purposes and consumption has gained ground in recent years.
In response, the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA) has made a concerted effort since 2015 to address the threats posed to grey-crowned cranes: confiscating all cranes being kept illegally in domestication, returning those that are in good health to the wild in the Akagera National Park, and working towards establishing a good captive facility for those that cannot be released – serving ultimately as an education centre for crane conservation.
A sanctuary for disabled birds
Several hundred grey-crowned cranes that fell victim to poaching and wildlife trade in the past few years are now safe in a newly established facility known as “Umusambi Village” (Cranes Village) located in Nyandungu, a suburb of Kigali city.
During the rescuing operation, conservationists retrieved many cranes that were disabled and injured as a result of living in captivity.
“Umusambi Village” is currently a sanctuary for about 70 of these birds, which can no longer fly.
The 21-square-hectare captive village is the first of its kind in the country after the Cabinet of Rwanda approved in September 2020 the draft law giving green light to private companies or associations seeking to venture into wildlife conservation for commercial purpose in the country.
Before the new law, associations like the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association were only authorized to take cranes from captivity into the wild, but the new measures allow the association to run reserves like Umusambi Village privately.
Some of the people who used to capture cranes are now employed in the conservation reserve, which is also generating revenue from tourists who come to see the cranes.
“Thanks to these efforts, local communities living around the site are benefiting from ecotourism opportunities in their area,” said Olvier Nsengimana, a Rwandan veterinarian who designed the project aimed at saving the country’s endangered grey-crowned crane.
Habitat loss and poaching
Nsengimana is the Executive Director of Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association, a local non-government organization seeking to abolish the illegal trade of the grey-crowned crane in Rwanda.
Estimates show that these birds are the only species of crane found in Rwanda. However, they continue to be threatened by several human factors, including habitat loss and poaching of adults, chicks and eggs.
A draft of new legislation was approved by the Rwanda Government Cabinet in 2020 that prohibits the domestication and illegal trade of wild grey-crowned cranes. However, the practice is still common in rural areas and urban settings.
Increased pressure on land, mainly for agriculture and human settlement, has made it difficult to effectively conserve grey-crowned cranes, according to Nsengimana and Ruhagazi of RWCA.
This is because land pressures affect the species’ breeding cycle as the bird’s main habitat is wetlands and marshlands, said Telesphore Ngoga, who is the head of the conservation division at the government’s Rwanda Development Board (RBD).
While Rwanda is home to an incredible variety of biodiversity, the country is challenged by high population density and poverty. Rwanda currently has a population of more than 12.6 million people living on 26,338 square kilometers of land. Land and resources are often overstretched due to high competition between people and wildlife.
Despite the challenges, conservation experts say the threats against this endangered bird species have greatly improved in Rwanda due to the recent initiatives.
According to Nsengimana, the number of grey-crowned cranes in Rwanda has reached impressive levels, driven by measures such as providing support and engaging communities in initiatives to reduce poaching.
Some wetland zones in Akagera National Park, located about 100 kilometers from Kigali, have become a vital transfer station for the formerly domesticated species. Of the 319 cranes that have been removed from captivity, 242 have been reintroduced to the wild in the national park.
Dr. Deo Ruhagazi, Crane Project Programme Manager and Field Veterinarian at RWCA, said that while selling rare birds was a major economic activity for rural households, “community awareness has been important to those engaged in poaching, selling and keeping cranes at home.”
One of the successful measures includes the development of bird-themed tourism including an awareness campaign focusing on the environmental consequences to those reluctant to hand back any crane they might have.
“Local residents have transformed from poachers to bird protectors as they have realized that protecting cranes is protecting themselves," said Ruhagazi.
Since 2014, the RWCA in collaboration with the International Crane Foundation’s Conservation Medicine Department has undertaken public awareness campaigns and helped to officially register 319 cranes held in captivity to supplement a remnant population in eastern Rwanda. By Aimable Twahirwa, InfoNile
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