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The group sieged the Hayat Hotel on Friday [source: Getty]
 
At least 12 people have been killed in an attack by Al-Shabaab, an Islamist insurgent group linked with al Qaeda, in the Somalia capital Mogadishu.
 

At least 12 people have been killed in Somalia's capital Mogadishu after Al-Qaeda-linked militants attacked a hotel, seizing control in a siege that authorities are still battling to end, an intelligence officer told Reuters on Saturday.

The attackers blasted their way into the Hayat Hotel on Friday evening with two car bombs before opening fire. Somalia's Al-Shabaab insurgents have claimed responsibility.

"So far we have confirmed 12 people, mostly civilians, died," Mohammed, an intelligence officer who only gave one name, told Reuters. "The operation is about to be concluded but it is still going on." 

The detonations sent huge plumes of smoke over the busy junction on Friday night, and the sound of gunfire still crackled across the capital by 0700 GMT on Saturday.

Sounds of explosions punctuated the night as government forces tried to wrest control of the hotel back from the militants, witnesses said.

Large sections of the hotel were destroyed by the fighting, they said.

Friday's attack was the first major attack since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May.

The al Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist group statements.

Al-Shabaab has been fighting to topple the Somali government for more than 10 years. It wants to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The Hayat Hotel is a popular venue with lawmakers and other government officials. There was no immediate information on whether any of them had been caught up in the siege. By New Arab Staff & Agencies, New Arab

A Kenyan lady drowned while broadcasting a Facebook live. In the video, she reads the comments in between taking plunges into the pool before she ventures into a far end of the pool, never to return. 

A Kenyan woman living in Canada is feared to have drowned while enjoying a swim that she was broadcasting live on Facebook. 

In a video that went live on Thursday at 9.21pm Kenyan time, the woman — who uses the Facebook name Hellen Wendy — dives into the pool for some time then came back to her phone, which was positioned by the poolside and capturing her swim, to acknowledge the greetings of friends who were typing their responses.

She spoke mostly in Swahili during the livestream session.

“It’s two o’clock here. Nimetoka job, niko poa (just left work, I’m good); just having fun,” she says in the second minute of the clip.

A typical live Facebook live video allows one to broadcast whatever they are doing and also provides a platform for friends to type written comments.

In the video, Hellen — who has done such streams before — is reading the comments in between taking plunges into the pool. She repeatedly says she is having fun.

Her last appearance is at minute 9:59, after which she ventures into a far end of the pool, never to return. At minute 10:36, she is seen battling the water while screaming.

By minute 12.16, the struggle becomes more intense and by minute 14:08, all goes silent. The silence dominates the livestream for well over two hours.

Her phone keeps filming the lifelessness of the pool and its wavy waters.

It isn’t until the final stages of the livestream – which goes on for three hours and 14 minutes – that some men come to the scene. They can be heard talking about a body on the floor of the pool.

From their conversation, they are not sure whether it is a human being because one opines that if it was a person who’d drowned, perhaps the body would have floated. 

“Is that real?” asks one man at the pool who is using the very swimming pool rails that Hellen was using as the station for her phone. Shirtless, it is clear that the man is not aware that he is being streamed live.

Hellen’s Facebook account indicates that she lives in Toronto in the Canadian province of Ontario.

The Saturday Nation contacted Toronto police regarding the incident and Cindy Chung, the media relations officer with the Toronto Police Service, said they had not received such a report.

“I don’t have any reports for the woman named on the Facebook account,” Ms Chung said in an email.

“I cannot confirm that this person lives in Toronto or any other details of the post.”

A call to the Kenyan High Commission to Canada did not get us anyone to respond and an email to them was not immediately replied to.

On the Facebook video, many of Hellen’s friends posted their condolences and registered shock at the unexpected turn of events.

“I don’t believe I watched live as you died,” one user says.

According to her public profile, Hellen, who hails from Kisii County, sat her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in 2017 and left for Canada some months afterwards. A former classmate described her as kind and social. By Elvis Ondieki, Daily Nation

  • IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati releasing the presidential election results at Bomas of Kenya on August 15, 2022
    KENYANS.CO.KE 
  • Angaza Movement, a human rights lobby group, has published a report on instances that violated human rights during the August 9 elections. 

    In the report, Angaza criticized the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)  for failing to deliver a simple, accurate, and verifiable election.

    Among the concerns raised is the failure of KIEMS kits in some polling stations on election day. According to the report, the failure of KIEMS kit could have disenfranchised voters and subsequently suppressed those seeking to cast their ballots.

    File photo of Kenyans in a queue waiting to cast their vote in a past election.
    File photo of Kenyans in a queue waiting to cast their vote in the 2017 General Election. FILE 

    “Over 200 KIEMS kits failed to identify voters, this translates to a lot of voters who may have been disenfranchised,” reads the statement in part. 

    “In many cases, it took IEBC many hours to allow the use of the manual register to identify voters, which often resulted in suppression, as disappointed aspiring voters were turned away or left in frustration," the group stated. 

    The lobby group also questioned the inconsistent measures adapted to respond to the failed kits in different stations. As per the report, the Commission failed to avail systematic procedures to identify voters through the alphanumerical or manual register hence depriving some voters of their right to vote.  

    The inconsistency, the report states, is a hindrance to the transparency required by the law. 

    Rejected Votes

    The movement also found fault in the Commission’s failure to conduct adequate civic education, a factor linked to the high number of rejected votes. 

    According to the final declaration of results contained in Form 34C, there were over 113,000 rejected votes across the nation in the concluded polls. 

    Loss of lives  

    In addition, the lobby group listed the deaths of three people during the election process among the deprivations of human rights.  

    Leading on the list of election-linked deaths is that of Daniel Musyoka, the Returning Officer assigned to  Embakasi East constituency who disappeared on August 11. Musyoka’s body was discovered days later at the Amboseli National Park in Oloitoktok.

    The report also recorded the death of Brian Olunga, the aide to an aspirant in Kimili constituency, who is alleged to have been fatally shot by the area MP-elect, Didmus Barasa. 

    Also on the list of deaths linked to the election is Eunice Nyambane who was attacked and killed by rowdy youths on Juja Road while riding in her family’s car.

    Further, Angaza movement has questioned IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati’s decision to postpone elections in Mombasa, Kakamega, and other places without a valid explanation.

    According to the report, Chebukati’s unilateral announcement about the fresh postponement of the elections on Wednesday, August 17, without seeking a plenary consensus with other commissioners is a violation of the electoral laws.  

    “The statement on August 18, 2022, by Chebukati, without a plenary meeting or consultation with other commissioners that these elections be postponed, is a violation of the electoral laws,” the report stated. 

    This report comes amid threats by Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition to challenge the outcome of the presidential election at the Supreme Court.

    Lobby group lists human rights violated during elections.
    Police officers intervene after a fracas at the Bomas of Kenya during the announcement of the elections results on Monday, August 15. KENYANS.CO.KE
     

IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera (centre) addresses members of the press at Serena Hotel in Nairobi. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Four commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) have now accused its chair Wafula Chebukati of misconstruing his legal mandate and throwing the commission into disarray.

In a statement dated Friday, August 19, the four, namely Vice Chair Juliana Cherera and commissioners Francis Wanderi, Irene Masit, and Justus Nyang’aya dismissed Chebukati's statement earlier this week that they had attempted to force a run-off of the presidential election. 

They now term the chairperson’s actions as ‘unlawful.’

“We wish to categorically state that from his statement, the chairman Mr Chebukati appears to have misconstrued his role and that of the commissioners and further misunderstood his Constitutional and legal mandate to verify results by the Commission to mean what he vaguely characterized as ‘moderation’ of those results,” they stated. 

The IEBC commissioners further claimed they only requested a proper verification of the results be carried out and not to “moderate” the results as had been reported.

“The chairman went ahead to unilaterally declare the results without any plenary verification whatsoever by all the commissioners and/or their participation as mandated by the Constitution and electoral laws. His actions and conduct were unorthodox and turned the commission into a one-man show circus, in an attempt to subvert the Constitution, electoral laws, and the will of the people,” the four commissioners said. 

They also accused Chebukati of ignoring their roles at the electoral agency.

On Wednesday, Chebukati broke his silence and shot back at the four for rejecting the presidential results, saying they wanted to force an election re-run.

The IEBC chair said after briefing the four on the results he was to announce, they asked him to moderate them so that the country could have a re-run of the presidential election.

He added that contrary to the four commissioners’ allegations of operating an opaque tallying and verification exercise, he had involved them in the process to a point that they were announcing the results of various constituencies as they were verified. Betty Njeru, The Standard

Jaffer kapasi was just a teenager when he stepped off a charter plane at London’s Stansted airport in October 1972. It was very cold, he remembers, the more so perhaps since he and his family had boarded the plane in the sunshine of Uganda. His parents were disorientated and depressed.

They spoke little English and were leaving behind a comfortable life in east Africa, complete with servants and chauffeurs. From the airport the family was taken by bus to a former army barracks in Essex, and then on to a similarly spartan camp in rural Wales.

The Kapasis were victims of Idi Amin, the thuggish dictator of Uganda. On August 4th 1972 he had announced that all 76,000-odd people of Asian descent in the country had to leave within 90 days. Amin’s decree was an act of economic suicide.

Ugandan Asians accounted for about 90% of the country’s tax revenues; with their expulsion, the economy all but collapsed. The consequences for Britain, one of the principal destinations for newly minted refugees, were far better. The Economist

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