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GLOBAL INFORMATION NETWORK, an independent nonprofit media organization, distributes news and feature articles on Africa and the developing world to mainstream, alternative, ethnic and minority-owned outlets in the U.S. and Canada. For more than 20 years, Global has been supplying wide ranging and unique news, analysis, features, on essential newsmaking events with a progressive, social justice focus. Using all available media and a monthly series on African issues with experts from the continent, Global offers the New York community a platform for activists, scholars and writers, from countries which are under-represented or overlooked in other media venues.

Operating as usual

Another authoritarian leader in the making...
05/04/2021

Another authoritarian leader in the making...

SON OF UGANDA PRESIDENT LED ELITE FORCE LINKED TO RIGHTS ABUSES BEFORE JANUARY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, LAWYERS SAY

May 2, 2012 (GIN) – Senior military commanders, including the son of President Yoweri Museveni, have been named in a case before the International Criminal Court for a wave of abductions and torture – adding new charges to claims leveled by opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, the former reggae singer known as Bobi Wine.

Prosecutors at the ICC are already reviewing an early submission from Wine that described widespread human rights abuses before presidential polls held in January.

Wine’s National Unity Platform party has said that more than 600 members and activists were detained by masked men in vehicles making them difficult to identify. But according to lawyers and victims of the detentions, the Special Forces Command is to blame for many of the abuses.

The SFC, commanded by Lt. Gen Muhoozi Kainerubaga, Museveni’s son, is named in the complaint along with several senior officers.

“In Uganda today, the civil function is subverted in favor of the military that patrols all towns and cities,” the complaint alleges.
“The military maintains power of arrest over civilians who are held on vague and indeterminate charges.”

Some detainees have had their joints or ge****ls beaten with wires, have been burned with ci******es or had fingernails torn out, as described in the complaint. At least one detainee died in custody and many of those abducted have suffered significant and potentially lasting physical and psychological harm.

While the President has denied most of the charges, he acknowledged the killing of a few terrorists. “Because of misbehavior and plans to stop the elections, the security forces deployed heavily. In the case of Kampala, we brought in a commando unit that had been exemplary in Somalia. They killed a few terrorists who were here,” he said.

A U.S. attorney, Bruce Afran, drew up the new complaint on behalf of Bobi Wine.

The US provides almost $1 billion annually in development and security aid to Uganda. This month the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, announced that visa restrictions would be imposed on those responsible for recent human rights abuses. W/pix of Lt. Gen M. Kainerubaga

work.... speak.... write
05/04/2021

work.... speak.... write

TACKLING MISINFORMATION AND HARMFUL CONTENT ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY

May 3, 2021 (GIN) - News of working journalists in Africa is often a tale of threats, abduction, forced disappearance and arrest.

Most recently, two Spanish journalists and an Irish national were abducted near a nature reserve in Burkina Faso. Government officials confirmed their deaths on Tuesday. It remains unclear who carried out the attack.

In Somalia, security forces detained and assaulted journalists and raided a private news outlet. Journalist Watipaso Mzungu was harassed in Malawi for calling the president “a joker.” A Nigerian governor threatened to “deal with” journalists who covered a corruption case. Similarly, two radio journalists in Guinea-Bissau were threatened with criminal defamation

Muthoki Mumo, sub-Saharan representative of the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists is often the lone voice defending the lives of journalists in the Congo, in Cameroon, and in Guinea.

But the days of impunity for those who openly attack the free press may be numbered. A movement of committed and courageous journalists has been growing in Africa – like a tree with many branches.

One organization, the Global Investigative Journalism Network, aims to enhance the capacity of journalists from countries in sub-Saharan Africa to carry out world class investigations. Currently there are 19 members organization on the continent sponsoring and/or conducting original investigative reporting,

This year, the AmaBhungane Center for Investigative Journalism scored a victory in a ruling on the surveillance of journalists. The judgement found that existing law failed to provide adequate safeguards to protect the right to privacy, freedom of expression, the rights of access to the courts and legal privilege.

In Nigeria, Damilola Banjo set out to investigate corruption in the justice system. A writer for Sahara Reporters, her report “Justice for Sale” exposed how court clerks, prison wardens and other officials extort hapless victims, many of whom are wrongly accused of a crime.

“Doing investigative journalism in sub-Saharan Africa is fraught with challenges,” wrote Benon Herbert Oluka, a Ugandan multimedia journalist and co-founder of The Watchdog – a portal for solution journalism, trending news plus cutting edge commentaries.

“With the outbreak of COVID-19, the environment for undertaking investigative reporting in the region became even more difficult. Still, journalists across the continent continue to find innovative ways to serve their audiences, consistently churning out a host of remarkable stories.”

“When African newspaper journalists signed the Windhoek Declaration on May 3, 1991, it was hoped this would pave the way for the press freedom ideals journalists aspired for,” Oluka wrote.

The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, according to the U.N. body UNESCO, is “Information as a Public Good”. It calls attention to the essential role of free and professional journalists in producing and disseminating this information, by tackling misinformation and other harmful content."

Another round of Presidents-for-Life...
04/14/2021

Another round of Presidents-for-Life...

KEY OPPOSITION LEADERS DISQUALIFIED, EXILED OR UNDER INVESTIGATION IN BENIN’S PRESIDENTIAL POLL

Apr. 12, 2021 (GIN) – “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore…and then run?”

Those were the prophetic words of poet Langston Hughes but they could also explain the rising frustration in an African election season where hopes for a democratic change are deferred and the incumbent holds on to power year after year after year.

Votes are now being counted in the West African nation of Benin, long praised as a thriving multi-party democracy but critics say President Patrice Talon has steered the country into authoritarianism with a steady crackdown on his opponents.

In January, 17 opposition candidates hoping to run in this month’s election were rejected by the national election commission. Among them was well-known law professor Joel Aivo and Reckya Madougou of the opposition, and former minister Boni Yayi. Avio, under arrest since the beginning of March, is accused of financing terrorist activities.

This past week, one protestor was killed and six were wounded by gunfire after troops cleared the protestors before the polls. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc condemned “peaceful protests that gradually turned violent in several cities across the country.” The US State Department on Friday also urged Benin to remain peaceful.

In north-central Chad, votes are being counted following a presidential poll in which incumbent Idriss Deby is widely expected to extend his 30-year rule amid growing signs of popular discontent and criticism over his handling of oil wealth.

A key ally in the West’s anti-jihadist campaign in the Sahel, Deby, 68, has no major rivals after a campaign in which demonstrations were banned or dispersed.

After the incumbent and his wife cast their votes in the capital N’Djamena, Deby spoke to the press: “I am calling upon all men and women of Chad wherever they are to come out in force and vote to exercise their right and duty to choose the candidate they think is best for them,” he said, brushing aside some opposition parties’ calls to boycott the polls.

A former rebel and career soldier who seized power in a coup in 1990, Deby has twice thwarted attempts to oust him with French help.

Chad has struggled with poverty and instability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Last but not least, Djibouti veteran ruler Ismail Guelleh is now confirmed as president for another term, with final results showing he won over 97% of votes.

But only 215,000 Djiboutians registered to vote out of a total population of 990,000 people.

"We are entering a period of five years of problems, more than ever,” said Mahamoud Youssouf Ali, a taxi driver in an interview with AFP news. “Five years of problems, five years of unemployment, five years of fraud, five years where we will be put down." w/pix of Benin protest

... Reflection on the Genocide Against the Tutsi and some Hutu and others who opposed the massacre....
04/14/2021

... Reflection on the Genocide Against the Tutsi and some Hutu and others who opposed the massacre....

U.N. CHIEF LINKS RISE OF EXTREMIST GROUPS AND ‘VILE MESSAGES’ OF RWANDA GENOCIDE

Apr. 12, 2012 (GIN) – In a message marking the grim anniversary of the 1994 genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the rise of extremist groups and the inflammatory rhetoric that produced horrific consequences.

“Everyone must take a hard look at today’s world and ensure that we heed the lessons of 27 years ago,” the U.N. chief declared. “While the technology used by extremists is evolving, their vile messages and rhetoric remain the same.”

More than one million were systematically killed in Rwanda over the course of just 100 days including Hutu and others who opposed the massacre. This year, the “Day of Reflection” took place in the shadow of disturbing revelations uncovered by French historians that tied France - blinded by their fears of losing influence in Africa and by a colonial view of the continent’s people – to the massive slaughter.

The report was intended to answer charges that France did not do enough to halt the massacres orchestrated by Rwanda's Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana, with whom Paris had cultivated close ties. The document was commissioned in 2019 by President Emmanuel Macron.

Fifteen historians with unprecedented access to French government archives produced the 992 page report. While the authors cleared France of complicity in the deaths of the ethnic Tutsis, they faulted former President Francois Mitterand under whose regime the "murderers but also the masterminds of the genocide" were protected in a safe zone established by French forces and who the French authorities refused to arrest.

Mitterrand and his inner circle were also fearful of the encroachment of English-speaking influence into francophone Africa by Uganda and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of Kagame.

Meanwhile, U.N. chief Guterres stressed the urgency of addressing deepening social and cultural divides, especially given the COVID-19 crisis, which have profoundly affected the entire spectrum of human rights everywhere, fueling discrimination, social polarization and inequalities “all of which can lead to violence and conflict”.

“We saw what happened in Rwanda in 1994, and we know the horrific consequences when hate is allowed to prevail”, he said, calling on everyone to defend human rights and ensure full respect all members of the society.

“On this solemn day, let us all commit to building a world guided by human rights and dignity for all”, Mr. Guterres added.

Very rarely do you hear the side of the Mozambican rebels in Cabo Delgado. Here, three experts discuss the formative yea...
04/06/2021

Very rarely do you hear the side of the Mozambican rebels in Cabo Delgado. Here, three experts discuss the formative years of the insurgents.

U.S. URGED TO END MILITARY SOLUTIONS FOR AFRICAN PROBLEMS

Apr. 5, 2021 (GIN) - Three noted Africa experts, at a Roundtable with the BBC, are warning of endless “forever wars” if Africa continues to rely on military solutions with weapons and training from the U.S. and the international community instead of addressing local grievances.

The group spotlighted the case of Mozambique where a small ragtag movement demanding religious freedom and a share in the region’s economic wealth morphed into a deadly armed movement of Islamist militants controlling the area called Cabo Delgado.

“They were harassed by the religious establishment and subjected to military operations by the government,” commented Judd Devermont, Africa program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington DC thinktank.

“Then in October 2017 we saw the first violent attack by this group and since then they’ve gained a momentum and sophistication taking towns last year and now seizing a very important town in Cabo Delgado known as Palma – one of the key hubs for the emerging LNG (liquid natural gas) industry and one of the biggest gas reserves.”

“What’s astounding,” added Jennifer Cook, director, Institute for African Studies, George Washington University in Washington DC, “is how similar the pattern is to other groups across Africa.”

Devermont summarized Washington’s next steps. “The US is going to send a couple dozen marines to work with the Mozambique armed forces. I think this is a band-aid. The problem right now is that the Mozambican military is using the same tactics they used against Renamo during the Civil War.

Further, the U.S. recently designated this group as a foreign terrorist organization. It prohibits money transfers for the U.S. and enables the U.S. to block any individuals associated with this group. This will make it harder for humanitarian workers to get into this area because they fear what they’re doing can be interpreted as material support. It provides a narrative that the only approach to this group will be military.

Devermont continued: “None of these problems are going to be solved by the U.S. or by international partners. They’re going to be solved by Nigerians and one of the problems I’ve seen is that the politicians there are not raising the issues. In Nigeria, that gives President Muhammadu Buhari and his military free hand to do as little as they want.

"We need to see politicians push for real solutions and then the U.S. should be offering a helping hand but only at that point." w/pix of Cabo Delgado rebels

She's tough! Is there any doubt?
04/06/2021

She's tough! Is there any doubt?

INTERNATIONAL PROSECUTOR FREED TO INVESTIGATE POSSIBLE U.S. WAR CRIMES IN AFGHANISTAN

Apr. 5, 2021 (GIN) – Sanctions that tied the hands of Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, were lifted this past Friday in a move announced by the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The sanctions were imposed by the administration of former President Donald Trump to block her investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

In a statement, Blinken said “these decisions reflect our assessment that the measures adopted were inappropriate and ineffective."

Blinken said Washington was taking the steps even though it continued "to disagree strongly with the ICC's actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations" and to object to ICC "efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel."

"We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process rather than through the imposition of sanctions," his statement said.

The Trump administration last year accused the Hague-based ICC of infringing on U.S. national sovereignty when it authorized an investigation into war crimes committed by Afghan forces, the Taliban or U.S. troops.

In September, it targeted court staff, including Bensouda, with asset freezes and travel bans for investigating American citizens without U.S. consent. The United States is not a member of the court.

The ICC said the sanctions were an attack on international justice and the rule of law.

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also opposed an investigation launched in 2019 into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian Territories, including by Israeli forces.

Blinken said Washington was encouraged that a broad range of reforms were being considered to help the ICC "prioritize its resources and to achieve its core mission of serving as a court of last resort in punishing and deterring atrocity crimes."

Madame Bensouda is a Gambian lawyer. She has been the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor since June 2012, after having served as a Deputy Prosecutor since 2004. Before that she was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of The Gambia from 1998 to 2000. She has held positions of Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. w/pix of F.Bensouda

Can't wait to read this book! Go Ngugi!!!
04/06/2021

Can't wait to read this book! Go Ngugi!!!

NOTED KENYAN WRITER USING GIKUYU LANGUAGE LISTED FOR LITERARY PRIZE

Apr. 5, 2021 (GIN) – Some two decades ago, Ngugi wa Thiong’o challenged African writers to break their colonial chains and write in African languages.

He then shocked the literary world and took on the challenge himself. Although he continued to write nonfiction in English, Ngugi wrote his novels and plays in Gikuyu and translated some of his works into other African languages.

Today, the Kenyan author of “Decolonizing the Mind” - The Politics of Language in African Literature” is on the longlist for the International Booker Prize 2021. The Perfect Nine is the first novel written in the regional language of Gikuyu to win a Booker nomination.

“The question is this,” he wrote in 1998. “We as African writers have always complained about the neocolonial economic and political relationship to Euro-America. But by our continuing to write in foreign languages, paying homage to them, are we not on the cultural level continuing that neocolonial slavish and cringing spirit?

“What is the difference between a politician who says Africa cannot do without imperialism and the writer who says Africa cannot do without European languages?”

Ngugi points out that the Christian bible is available in unlimited quantities in even the tiniest African language. Meanwhile, “comprador ruling cliques are quite happy to have the peasantry and the working class all to themselves: distortions, dictatorial directives, decrees, museum-type fossils paraded as African culture, feudalistic ideologies, superstitions, lies – all these backward elements and more are communicated to the African masses in their own languages without any challenges from those with alternative visions of tomorrow who have cocooned themselves in English, French and Portuguese.”

His latest book in his own translation – The Perfect Nine: The Epic Gikuyu and Mumbi” - was called “dazzling” by reviewers. The award celebrates the best translated fiction from around the world.

Blending folklore, mythology and allegory, The Perfect Nine chronicles the adventures of Gikuyu and Mumbi, and how their daughters became matriarchs of the Gikuyu clans.

“Ngũgĩ masterfully sings us through an origin story written in verse. This book is a magisterial and poetic tale about women’s place in a society of Gods. It is also about disability and how expectations shape and determine characters’ spiritual anchoring.”

The award has previously been shared between an author and their English-language translator – but Thiong’o is the first listed writer to translate his own novel. w/pix of Ngugi wa Thiong'o

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Global Information Network began as a Third World news distributor about 4 decades ago. Gradually our focus turned to Africa, a sorely-under-reported region of the world. Our news clients asked for more Africa news as well. Over the years we have developed a network of colleagues in African media. Our goal is to introduce new voices from the continent, to increase insights, analyses and perspectives for a wide audience and to bring into their view information about African issues that are overlooked or under-reported by mainstream media or our capacity as a non-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.

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Would Congolese people prefer a former ExxonMobil executive after the destruction that company left behind in Nigeria and has yet to clean up? Some reports say Fayulu was barely known outside of Kinshasa. We'll find out. After years of the political process being stolen from the Congolese people - from Mobutu to the Kabilas - it's a shame the CENI has created a new mess that may delay the restoration of any kind of democracy to the country.
Solidarity with the people of Togo...