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Mozambique Local Polls Test Peace Process

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Mozambique Local Polls Test Peace Process

Mozambique holds local elections Wednesday that could reveal cracks in the country’s peace process after the ruling Frelimo party was accused of violence and intimidation during the campaign.

The main opposition Renamo party, which has maintained an armed wing since the end of the country’s civil war, is running in the municipal vote for the first time in 10 years.

Renamo fought a brutal 16-year civil war against the Marxist-inspired Frelimo government that left one million people dead before fighting ended in 1992.

In 2013, fresh violence erupted between Renamo rebels and government troops, raising fears of a return to civil war. But three years later, the party declared a truce and opened fresh peace talks.

Renamo is hoping for a breakthrough ahead of next year’s general election.

“These landmark local elections will test the success of decentralisation measures agreed with the armed opposition and will act as an important political bellwether,” the London-based EXX risk consultancy said in a note.

Several clashes

“The rewards at hand have rendered the political climate in Mozambique both tense and volatile, as highlighted by a series of violent incidents in the pre-election period.”

The 13-day election campaign ended on Sunday after several clashes between rival party supporters.

Renamo supporters say they have faced intimidation and assaults during the campaign.

“Our members and sympathisers are asking for the party’s leadership (to) intervene in their defence since the police do nothing,” Renamo’s acting leader Ossufo Momade last week.

The vote will be held in Mozambique’s 53 municipalities, 49 of which are currently governed by Frelimo.

The four other municipalities – among them the cities of Beira, Nampula and Quelimane – were won by the second opposition MDM party in the last elections.

New electoral laws

President Filipe Nyusi and Momade have recently made progress on the disarmament and integration of former Renamo rebels into the police and army — a key sticking point in the peace talks.

Parliament approved new electoral laws in July that means that a simple or relative majority is sufficient for a candidate to win election.

Previously, an absolute majority of over 50% of votes was needed.

The new laws could split the opposition vote.

As well as the internal political tensions, Mozambique has been rocked over the last year by the emergence of an Islamist insurgency in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, which has rich offshore gas deposits.

Scores of civilians and police have been killed in militant assaults despite a security crackdown.

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African News

New Law To Criminalize Activities Of Opposition Political Parties in Tanzania

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New Law To Criminalize Activities Of Opposition Political Parties in Tanzania

At least ten opposition parties in Tanzania have said proposed amendments to a law governing political parties in the country would criminalise their activities.

Critics have accused President John Magufuli, of increasingly cracking down on dissent with restrictions on the political opposition, the media, bloggers and non-governmental organisations. His government denies the accusations.

Chairman of one of the 10 parties Hashim Rungwe, said at a news conference in the capital Dar es salaam, the proposed amendments would curtail constitutional freedoms.

He says the proposed bill is against the constitution and political parties were not involved from initial stages and their views were not considered.

Rungwe, says, the bill is full of criminal punishments for minor infringements which make political activities crimes.”

Among its provisions, the new law would ban parties from functioning as “activist” groups. It would give sweeping powers to a government official to suspend or fire a party member for a range of reasons, and also gives the official influence over internal party elections.

The government says the law, is needed to force parties to adhere to the country’s constitution.

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African News

Kenya Unveils New Currency Coins

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Kenya Unveils New Currency Coins

In Kenya, new currency coins that replace the images of presidents with animals has been unveiled.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said while presiding over the roll out in the capital Nairobi, the features on the new 1, 5,10 and 20 shillings coins embrace Kenya’s historical and cultural heritage.

Central Bank officials, say the new-look coins, featuring a lion, elephant, hippo and giraffe, will serve as a means of passing knowledge, conserving culture, and promoting Kenya’s global uniqueness. Authorities also say the coins have features that are more appealing to visually impaired people.

Kenyan constitution, that came into effect eight years ago, prohibits the use of a person’s portrait on the country’s currencies.

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Somali Lawmakers Drop Impeachment Motion Against President Mohamed

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Somali Lawmakers Drop Impeachment Motion Against President Mohamed

Somali legislators have dropped an impeachment motion against President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. Close to a hundred members of parliament had submitted on Sunday a vote of no confidence on the president. They said he secretly signed agreements that touched on the use of Somali ports and economic and security cooperation with other countries including Ethiopia and Eritrea.

He was also accused of violating Somalia’s federalism law, and the rules and regulations of parliament. The impeachment process could not be initiated because of a lack of support and required number of signatures.

A parliamentary clerk issued a statement saying 14 legislators had withdrawn their names from the 92 who supported the move. They said their names were wrongly used, and they did not support the motion.

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