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Chad: Supreme court approves ‘yes’ referendum vote

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Chad’s Supreme Court definitively validated the results of the referendum for a new constitution organized by the military junta that has been in power for the past two and a half years, a key step intended to pave the way for elections in the country at the end of 2024.

According to the final results, the « yes » side won with 85.90% of the vote, while the « no » side won 14.10%, with a turnout of 62.8%, the president of the Supreme Court told a press conference.

For some members of the opposition and civil society, the result of this ballots a plebiscite resembles designed to pave the way for the election of the transitional president, General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Bloc Fédéral, an opposition coalition which had called for the results to be annulled on the grounds of several irregularities in the voting process.

The opposition, which had widely called for a boycott, denounced, in the words of Max Kemkoye, president of the Groupe de concertation des actors politiques (GCAP), « a second coup d’état by Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno », in the face of results which, in his view, were not credible.

The new constitutional text is not very different from the one already in force, and still gives great power to the Head of State.

Mahamat Déby, 37, was proclaimed transitional president by the army on April 20, 2021, at the head of a junta of 15 generals, following the death of his father Idriss Déby Itno, who was killed by rebels on his way to the front. Idriss Déby Itno had ruled the country with an iron fist for over 30 years.

The young general immediately promised elections after an 18-month transition period, and made a commitment to the African Union not to run. Eighteen months later, his regime extended the transition by two years and authorized him to stand in the presidential elections scheduled for late 2024.

On the anniversary of the 18-month transition, October 20, 2022, between 100 and more than 300 young men and teenagers were shot dead in N’Djamena by police and military, according to the opposition and national and international NGOs.

They were demonstrating against the two-year extension of the presidential term.

More than a thousand were imprisoned before being pardoned, but dozens were tortured or disappeared, according to NGOs and the opposition.

 

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3 million children at risk in Sudan as civil war engulfs – U.N

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The war between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces has killed 12,190 people, according to conservative estimates by the Armed Conflict Locations and Events Data project. It has displaced 5.4 million people inside the country, according to the UN, and sent over 1.3 million fleeing abroad.

Sudan’s raging civil war threatens the lives of almost 3 million children, the United Nations Children’s Fund said Thursday, as fighting imperils what had become a haven for hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Fighting in the huge northeastern African nation has now reached Jazeera state, the country’s breadbasket with a population of 5.9 million people — half of whom are children, UNICEF said.

« This new wave of violence could leave children and families trapped between fighting lines or caught in the crossfire, with fatal consequences, » the organization’s executive director, Catherine Russell, said in a statement Thursday.

The latest about of violence broke out on April 15, as Sudan’s military and a powerful paramilitary force vied for power. Since then, heavy fighting has left hundreds of thousands of people facing the agonizing decision of whether to flee their homes or stay and risk injury or death in the violence. Cease-fires have failed to halt the power struggle and fueled the growing humanitarian crisis.

Civilians are often caught up in the crossfire as neighborhoods are divided between the armed forces, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

Some 9,000 people have been killed in the violence, according to the U.N., but local doctors groups and activists say the death toll is likely far higher.

Almost 300,000 people have fled Jazeera state, moving to the nearby Sennar state, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Wednesday.

 

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‘Nothing for me in Cameroon’: Waiting in Tunisia, one eye on Europe

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Having lost everything and everyone precious to him, Joseph tries to hold things together, waiting to leave Africa.

Joseph Afumbom is a big man who has faced unimaginable tragedy.

The conflict in Cameroon between Anglophone separatists and the government killed the 27-year-old’s mother, father and siblings. It also took his home in Bamenda in the country’s northwest.

“I was there when the war started. The war took everyone,” he said, “It was three years ago. My brothers and sisters are all gone.”

With his home and family destroyed and no jobs available, Joseph felt he had no option but to gather his fiancee, Esther, and their three-year-old daughter and travel the 5,000km (more than 3,000 miles) overland to the Mediterranean coast. They arrived in Algeria, where they considered crossing into Tunisia and from there to Europe.

However, both Joseph’s fiancee and daughter died in El Menia. “They are all gone because of the cold,” he says. “That was last month.”

“I’m just trying to act normal, you know,” he tells Al Jazeera. “See, I’m smoking. I’m whiling away my thinking, trying to act like a normal person, but I’m not.”

He paused, allowing his thoughts to drift back. “We had been together for years. My daughter was three. I called her ‘Little Joy’.”

Eventually, Joseph crossed into Tunisia, making his way to the coastal city of Sfax before travelling by shared taxis to the capital, Tunis. He didn’t eat for two days.

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“There is nothing left for me in Cameroon,” he says. “I will continue to Europe if I have the opportunity.”

This article is the third of a five-part series of portraits of refugees from different countries, with diverse backgrounds, bound by shared fears and hopes as they enter 2024. Read the first and second parts here.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Nigeria: FG vows justice, IG sends squad after killers in Plateau massacre

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Vice President Kashim Shettima, on Wednesday, assured that President Bola Tinubu’s administration would not rest on its oars until victims of the gruesome attacks in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State get justice.

The Vice President gave the assurance when he paid a condolence visit to the affected communities in the state.

The PAPERS reports that in the attacks, which began on Saturday and lasted about 48 hours, gunmen killed over 150 villagers and razed many houses, with over 10,000 people reportedly displaced.

Shettima, who was accompanied by the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, said President Tinubu was heartbroken about the killings, vowing that the perpetrators would not go scot-free.

He said, “President Tinubu is deeply shaken by this tragedy and shares in this unspeakable sorrow that has shattered the joy of Christmas across the country.

“When one community bleeds, the entire nation feels the pain. The pain we feel now transcends ethnicity or religion, geography or politics. The grief that binds us is a testament to our shared humanity, not differences.

“We cannot fathom the depth of this grief beyond the experience of the bereaved. We can only offer to assuage your pain. What has happened to you is a funeral for the entire nation. Our hearts bleed alongside yours, our dear brothers and sisters in Bokkos, Barkin-Ladi, and all over Plateau State.”

He assured the communities that “we won’t rest until you access justice and until you are safe.”

During the visit, the Chairman of Bokkos Local Government Area, Monday Kassam, told Shettima how 148 persons were killed in his local government.

“It is with deep feelings in my heart that I stand now to recount a little of the ordeal,” Kassam said.

“In Mangur village, 53 (were) killed; Mbar, 26; Tangur, four; Bokkos Central, 31; Butura, 33; Mushere, one. In all, 148 innocent Bokkos villagers were massacred unprovoked in cold blood. Twenty-five communities were affected, and 1,290 homes were burnt down. Eighty-one vehicles, 187 motorcycles, 267 water pumps were also burnt while 88 persons are receiving treatments of serious injuries,” he added.

IG deploys policemen

Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, has ordered the deployment of officers and equipment to Plateau State to apprehend the hoodlums responsible for the Christmas Eve massacre.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, made the development known in a statement on Wednesday while noting that the IG had also ordered an immediate investigation into the incident.

Adejobi said, “In the wake of the appalling attacks on numerous villages in Plateau State, resulting in the tragic loss of lives in Bokkos and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas, the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, vehemently condemns these heinous acts as not only barbaric but also reprehensible and inhumane.

“In response to this grave situation, the IG has taken decisive action by ordering the immediate deployment of additional manpower and resources to Plateau State. This strategic move aims to assist the local police authority and other security apparatus in effectively managing the crisis and ensuring the safety of the residents in the affected LGAs and the entire state.”

He added that in recognition of the need for a thorough investigation, “the IG has directed the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Department and his counterpart in the Department of Force Intelligence to constitute a high-powered investigative team. This team is tasked with unravelling the circumstances surrounding the incident and bringing those responsible to justice.

“The police and other security agencies are deploying both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches to tackle the lingering crises that look recurrent in the state. The IG further admonishes warring groups, residents and the entire state to embrace peace and shun violence and unwarranted killings of innocent souls.”

‘Poor terrain delayed troops’ response’

The Defence Headquarters, on Wednesday, said troops received over 30 distress calls from the villagers during the attacks, but troops’ response was delayed because the terrain was poor.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television on Tuesday, the governor of the state, Caleb Mutfwang, had said the response of security agencies to the attacks could have been better.

Muftwang said, “I wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Certainly, the response time can be better. There were distress calls sent out. Some of the responses would have been delayed for various reasons, including the nature of our terrain.”

 

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