By IEA Correspondent

Zanzibar’s First Vice President has died while undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at  Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salam Tanzania. The President of Zanzibar Hussein Mwinyi has announced seven days of mourning at the semi-autonomous island of Tanzania. Mourning will involve flags flying half-mast.

The Vice President was hospitalized after testing positive for Covid-19. Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli has sent his condolences. Seif Sharif Hamad was a leading opposition figure and Chairman of the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo). Tanzania and Zanzibar have downplayed the threat of covid-19 saying that prayer would stop it.

Late Hamad was born on the Island of Pemba in Zanzibar. Prior to becoming the Vice President, he was a member of CCM, the governing party. He served as Zanzibar’s Chief Minister until he was expelled and imprisoned in 1989.

He formed CUF (Civic United Party) in 1992, the main opposition party in Zanzibar. While in CUF, he ran against CCM party six times and claimed all the elections were stolen. He ended up abandoning CUF and running under ACT-Wazalendo.

Photo Yahoo News

 

Three rare giraffes have died after being electrocuted by low-hanging power lines in Soysambu conservancy in Nakuru, Kenya.

The Rothschild's giraffe is one of the most endangered types of giraffe, with conservationists estimating there are fewer than 1,600 in the wild.

Kenya has about 600 Rothschild's.

Kenya Power has confirmed that it will replace electricity poles in the area so that they are tall enough for giraffes to safely pass under.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said it had sent representatives to investigate the area and found the height of the poles was insufficient.

The KWS was reacting to a tweet posted by conservationist Paula Kahumbu.

In another tweet, Ms Kahumbu added that these deaths were not the first, and that they could have been prevented if expert advice had been followed.

"These power lines have been killing giraffes, vultures and flamingos. Advice from experts was ignored. RIAs [Risk Impact Assessments] are notoriously poor on many development projects. Sad that it takes these kinds of deaths to wake some people up!" she tweeted.

She also tweeted at Kenya Power to ask them to "please address the problem with [the KWS] in totality not piecemeal".

In a statement, Kenya Power CEO Bernard Ngugi said that the company "takes any electricity-related accidents seriously".

"We regret this incident because we recognise that wildlife forms an integral part of our natural and cultural psyche, and we appreciate the feedback shared by various stakeholders on this matter," he added. - BBC/Yahoo News

Some 800 people were reportedly killed during a massacre at a Christian church in Axum, Ethiopia, where worshippers believe the Ark of the Covenant is housed.

The church of St Mary of Zion became a place of refuge for Ethiopians in the Tigray region fleeing the country’s civil war.

It came under siege last year amid clashes between government forces and rebel militia, resulting in hundreds of deaths, which have only become public knowledge now. Due to Tigray’s phone lines being cut and a ban on journalists, death toll estimates varied.

As the region begins to reconnect with the outside world, a deacon who says he witnessed the atrocity and its aftermath has given an account of what happened over the final weekend in November 2020.

He says he collected victims' identity cards and assisted with mass burials. The deacon, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because remains in Axum, says 800 people were murdered.

"If we go to the rural areas, the situation is much worse," he added.

Among the dead were local worshippers who had rushed to the church to defend its covenant, a wooden chest which is said to have been built to hold the Ten Commandments of Moses.

The atrocities of the Tigray conflict have largely occurred in the shadows due to its isolation from the rest of Africa and the world.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for making peace with neighbouring Eritrea, announced the fighting as the world focused on the US election.

He accused Tigray's regional forces, whose leaders dominated Ethiopia for nearly three decades before he took office, of attacking the Ethiopian military.

Tigray's leaders called it self-defence after months of tensions.

While the world clamours for access to Tigray to investigate suspected atrocities on all sides and deliver aid to millions of hungry people, the prime minister has rejected outside "interference."

He declared victory in late November and said no civilians had been killed. His government denies the presence of thousands of soldiers from Eritrea, long an enemy of the Tigray leaders.

The killing continues, according to the deacon. He said he helped bury three people last week. Yahoo News/Independent

Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio killed in Ambush

Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, was killed on Monday while travelling with a UN convoy in the east of the country, the foreign ministry said.

"It is with deep sadness that the Foreign Ministry confirms the death, today in Goma, of the Italian ambassador," the ministry said, adding that an Italian policeman also died.

In a separate statement, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio expressed his "great dismay and immense sorrow" and broke off from a meeting in Brussels with EU counterparts to make an early return to Rome.

 "The circumstances of this brutal attack are not yet known and no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened," Di Maio said, paying tribute to the victims as "two servants of the state".

Attanasio was 43 and had been representing Italy in Kinshasa since 2017. He joined the diplomatic service in 2003 and served previously in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria.

According to the foreign ministry, the ambassador and the policemen were part of a convoy of MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo.

A diplomat in Kinshasa told AFP that Attanasio was with a convoy of the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) when it came under fire near Goma.

A spokesman for the Rome-based WFP could not confirm this, but told AFP the organization was looking into the reports. Africa News

The posters of two most popular candidates for Uganda's Presidential election, incumbent President Yoweri Museveni (R) and Robert Kyagulanyi (L), aka Bobi Wine, the pop star-turned-opposition leader in Kampala, Uganda, on January 4, 2021./Photo Courtesy

 

What you need to know:

  • The move comes a day after President Museveni, the electoral commission and the Attorney-General filed their 185 affidavits in response to the 53 grounds that the National Unity Platform (NUP) legal team had raised to prove that the election was rigged, and wasn't free and fair.

Ugandan politician Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine has instructed his lawyers to withdraw the presidential poll petition he filed at the Supreme Court, challenging President Yoweri  Museveni's victory in the January 14 General Election.

“We are withdrawing from the courts but we are not opting for violence. We are withdrawing the case from Mr Owiny Dollo's court,” Wine, who has accused some judges of the court of being biased, said as he announced the withdrawal of his petition. 

The move comes a day after President Museveni, the electoral commission and the Attorney-General filed their 185 affidavits in response to the 53 grounds that the National Unity Platform (NUP) legal team had raised to prove that the election was rigged, and wasn't free and fair.

Financial consequences

On Sunday, lawyers of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) said Wine will face heavy financial implications if he withdraws the petition. 

Mr Oscar Kihika, director of the NRM legal department, told journalists at the weekend that the party will ask Wine to pay all the expenses the party incurred in responding to the  petition.

“I hope his lawyers are advising him about this action of his because there are specific provisions to be considered. They should realise it is not a simple thing,” Mr Kihika said at the NRM party secretariat's offices in Kampala.

“This decision cannot be taken lightly. Obviously if he withdraws, he can rest assured that as lawyers for the respondents, we shall go after Hon Kyagulanyi for the costs. That is sure,” he said, terming Wine's remarks "casual".

Wine willing to pay

The Daily Monitor revealed that Wine was mulling withdrawing or carrying on with the petition. 

Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and two justices of the Supreme Court last week refused to recuse themselves from hearing the petition as Wine had requested.

In a telephone interview, Mr Anthony Wameli, one of Wine's lawyers, revealed that his client will be willing and ready to cover the said costs.

“That is a given; [that] once a matter is withdrawn, there are costs one is expected to pay. I don’t think my client has a problem paying. My client is aware of it,” Mr Wameli said.

Mr Joel Ssenyonyi, the NUP spokesman, said, "We are not worried about the costs because ultimately, we have been paying the price ever since we decided to challenge President Museveni. Look at how many lives we have lost. What is more expensive than life?"  By Sumy Sadurni | AFP/Daily Monitor

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