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Chad votes in favour of new constitution backed by military rulers

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Chadians have voted in favour of a new constitution that critics say could help consolidate the power of military leader Mahamat Idriss Deby.

The referendum held earlier this month was approved by 86 percent of voters, the government commission that organised it said on Sunday.

Chad’s military authorities have called the vote a vital stepping-stone to elections next year – a long-promised return to democratic rule after they seized power in 2021 when former President Idriss Deby was killed on the battlefield during a conflict with rebels.

The new constitution will maintain a unitary state, which Chad has had since independence, while establishing autonomous communities with local assemblies and councils of traditional chiefdoms among other changes.

But some of its opponents had called for the creation of a federal state, saying it would help spur development in the oil-producing, yet impoverished country.

Several opposition groups called for a boycott of the vote, saying the military had too much control over the referendum process, and calling it “a farce” for the military leadership to hold on to power.

Supporters argued the new constitution does offer more independence as it allows Chadians to choose their local representatives and collect local taxes for the first time.

“These people talking about a federation simply want to divide Chadians into micro-states and fuel hatred between communities,” said Haroun Kabadi, coordinator of groups voting “Yes”.

The army had suspended the constitution after Deby’s death and dissolved the parliament.

Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, was then installed by the military as interim president at the helm of a Transitional Military Council.

Decades of instability since Chad’s independence in 1960 have hampered development in the central African country, where nearly 40 percent of its 16 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid.

 

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14-year-old boy arrested in parents’ deaths, tried to kill sister, sheriff says

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A 14-year-old boy was in custody Friday after allegedly killing his parents and trying to kill his 11-year-old sister in their Fresno County, California home, authorities said.

Deputies were dispatched to the residence in the community of Miramonte on Wednesday night on a 911 call reporting a break-in and attack, Sheriff John Zanoni said at a news conference Friday.

Deputies found the parents dead and the sister injured. A 7-year-old sibling was uninjured, and was in the care of relatives, Zanoni said.

The teenage boy told deputies someone broke in attacked family members before fleeing in a pickup, but detectives discovered inconsistencies in his story, and he was ultimately taken into custody, the sheriff said.

Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni during the news conference.
Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni at a news conference Friday.Fresno County Sheriff’s Office / via Facebook
“He fabricated the story of the break-in,” Zanoni said.

The teen sustained a few scratches, he said, but there was no indication he had self-inflicted injuries.

The parents were identified as father Lue Yang and mother Se Vang, both 37. The cause and manor of death were still pending, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.

The sister had severe injuries and was expected to survive after receiving trauma care, Zanoni said.

Authorities were still cataloging weapons and were not prepared to say exactly what was used in the attacks, the sheriff said, adding that some of the multiple weapons used in the violence were not uncommon in rural areas.

Miramonte is in the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 40 miles west of Mount Whitney.

Miramonte sign by a road at night.
Deputies were dispatched to the residence in the community of Miramonte. Fresno County Sheriff’s Office / via Facebook
The motive has not been determined, Zanoni said. Deputies had not made previous visits to the household.

It wasn’t clear if charges had been formally filed or if the suspect has retained counsel in the case. The Fresno County public defender’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The teen was being held in a juvenile facility on allegations of murder and attempted murder, the sheriff said.

“It is extremely tragic,” he said.

 

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Burundi’s President Calls for Stoning of Gay Couples 

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Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye recently launched a virulent tirade against same-sex marriage, denouncing it as an « abominable practice » and advocating for the stoning of gay couples, citing religious reasons.

The President, known for his conservative Christian views, previously called for homosexuals to be « banished » and treated as outcasts. He criticized Western countries opposing LGBTQ+ rights and defiantly rejected aid from those advocating such practices, urging individuals embracing those beliefs to stay abroad.

This strong stance is in line with the conservative Christian values prevalent in the Great Lakes country, where same-sex relations are punishable by imprisonment.

This statement comes in reaction as the global discourse on LGBTQ+ rights has seen some notable developments, such as Pope Francis’ declaration on December 18th regarding the blessing of homosexual couples.

While this marks a symbolic shift in the Catholic Church’s stance, it’s essential to note that the Church maintains a clear distinction between homosexual and heterosexual marriages.

The Vatican’s doctrine of the « one true marriage » underscores its position that while marriage for all is tolerated, it is not yet fully accepted within the Catholic religion.

However, implementing such changes globally is a complex endeavour. Despite the Vatican’s guidance, the ability to enforce a shift in mentality and impose measures across all Catholic communities proves challenging.

Several African churches have already signalled their resistance to these advances. For instance, the bishops of Cameroon explicitly rejected any change, stating, « We formally prohibit all blessings of homosexual couples. » Similarly, Togo has expressed openness to individuals in same-sex relationships but encourages priests to refrain from blessing such couples.

This dynamic reflects the ongoing struggle within the Catholic Church to reconcile differing perspectives on LGBTQ+ issues, illustrating the tension between global doctrinal shifts and the autonomy of individual religious communities, particularly in conservative regions like Africa.

 

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Ivory Coast will deliver 50 million liters of gasoline monthly to Guinea

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Ivory Coast will deliver 50 million liters of gasoline per month to Guinea, following the explosion and fire at the country’s main fuel depot, Ivorian national television announced Wednesday evening.

“Côte d’Ivoire is committed to delivering 50 million liters of gasoline per month to Guinea,” said a journalist from Radiotélévision Ivoirienne (RTI), without specifying the duration of this aid.

“The practical terms of the contract and the security of the convoys will be signed this Thursday,” said another journalist from the channel, specifying that Guinea had a monthly need of 70 million liters of gasoline.

The Guinean Minister of the Economy, Moussa Cissé, met on Wednesday in Abidjan with the Ivorian Minister of Mines, Oil and Energy, Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly.

Saturday, five days after the explosion and fire in Conakry of the country’s main fuel depot which left 24 dead and 454 injured, according to a new report, the Guinean government announced the resumption of gasoline distribution, in rationing it.

Twenty-five liters per vehicle and five liters per motorcycle and tricycle were authorized, with the use of cans prohibited.

The population was deprived of gasoline throughout the territory since the explosion and fire, leading to the paralysis of a large part of the economy.

Demonstrations in several localities last week sometimes turned into clashes between groups of young people demanding the return of gasoline to service stations and the security forces.

Furthermore, the Guinean government announced Wednesday that the fire at the fuel depot was « completely extinguished », in a press release sent to AFP.

In total, more than 11,000 people were directly affected by the fire.

 

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