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EU parliament condemns rights crackdown in Burundi ahead of 2020 election

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REUTERS

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The European parliament has passed a resolution condemning Burundi for restricting freedom of expression and violating human rights ahead of elections due in May this year.

The resolution passed on Thursday states that EU lawmakers are concerned about the government’s “intimidation, harassment, and arbitrary arrest of journalists, human rights activists and members of the opposition”.

It says the media in the country work in a “climate of fear”, creating conditions that are not conducive for credible elections.

Burundi government officials were not immediately reachable for comment on the resolution.

The government has previously consistently denied violating human rights or restricting freedom of expression.

President Pierre Nkurunziza, who won a referendum last year that could allow him to stay in power until 2034, has said repeatedly that he will not seek a fourth term in office, but his ruling party has not named a candidate for the vote.

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Hundreds of Burundians have been killed in clashes with security forces since 2015, when Nkurunziza won his third term in office.

The opposition said his candidacy violated the terms of a peace deal that ended the nation’s civil war – but Nkurunziza disputed this.

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The EU parliamentary resolution is non-binding, but it adds to a steady stream of international criticism.

UN investigators warned in a September report that Burundi was at risk of a new wave of atrocities as the election neared and that there was a climate of intimidation against anyone who did not show support for the ruling party.

Burundi’s Human Rights Minister Martin Nivyabandi told Reuters at the time that the government denied the allegations.

“The content of the report doesn’t match the reality known within the country,” he said.

The EU resolution condemned the government’s decision to charge four Burundian journalists with undermining state security after their arrest in October while covering clashes between rebels and government forces in the north-west of the country.

In December, the public prosecutor asked for a 15-year sentence for the journalists. 

“The journalists’ detention and trial comes amidst a suffocating atmosphere for Burundian journalists,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “These are not conditions for free and fair elections.”

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Regional experts draft confederation constitution

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MOSES HAVYARIMANA

By MOSES HAVYARIMANA
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At least two constitutional experts and a legislative draftsperson nominated by each of the East African Community member states were expected at the consultation meeting on drafting the EAC political confederation constitution that kicked off in Ngozi province in Burundi last week.

After the committee of experts drafts the regional constitution, a Bill will be submitted to the Heads of State Summit for approval.

According to the chairperson of the committee, Benjamin Odoki, a draft constitution is expected in two years, in time for the proposed implementation of the confederation model by 2023.

The Political Federation—the pinnacle of the EAC Regional Integration—is the fourth step after the Customs Union, Common Market and Monetary Union.

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If the constitution is adopted, partner states will begin ceding power to the confederation. Each partner state’s constitution will then be subordinate to the federation’s constitution

Even as Burundi is hosting the five-day meeting, its sour relations with Rwanda came to the fore as Kigali did not send a representative, prompting President Pierre Nkurunziza’s deputy spokesman Alain Diomede Nzeyimana to tweet “President Pierre Nkurunziza believes that the idea of a “Political Federation” will not be easy to realise given the absence of Rwanda in the consultations.”

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Commenting on Kigali’s absence, Rwanda’s EAC Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe said it would not hinder the process “since the absence of Burundi in EAC meeting hosted by Rwanda never impacted the EAC integration.”

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Labour court kicks out Mary Wambui : The Standard

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The Labour Court has nullified the appointment of former Othaya MP Mary Wambui (pictured) as chairperson of the National Employment Authority (NEA) board.
Justice Onesmus Makau yesterday said Wambui was unqualified and dismissed her appointment as irregular and unconstitutional as she does not meet the qualifications for the position.
The court quashed the Gazette notice on the appointment, with Justice Makau saying the authority needs a person with academic expertise.
SEE ALSO :Kenyans mock ex-MP Mary Wambui’s appointment”Her appointment to the board does not meet the constitutional requirements; it is therefore null and void. The Gazette notice is quashed. It is unlawful. A permanent injunction is issued barring her from being appointed to the post,” ruled the judge.
The case was filed by Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association, a lobby headed by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja.
According to the lobby, the former MP had severally admitted that she had limited education background.
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Section 10(2) of the National Employment Authority Act provides that a person shall be qualified to serve as the chairperson of the board if they have at least seven years’ experience in Human Resource Management or its equivalent.
However, there is no age limit.
SEE ALSO :A country of old peopleThe court heard that she did not have academic and professional qualifications to allow her run the office.
In a Gazette notice dated October 14, 2019, then Labour CS Ukur Yatani picked Wambui for the job, triggering an outcry from Kenyans.
Following the appointment, Wambui was expected to lead a team that will create job centres in all constituencies where youths would register, detailing their skills.
The authority is also expected to be a link between employers and potential employees by posting available vacancies on social media. 

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Mary WambuiNational Employment Authority

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Rwanda sets aside $10m for CHOGM sprucing of Kigali

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MOSES K. GAHIGI

By MOSES K. GAHIGI
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Rwanda is pulling all stops in its preparations to host the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) slated for June 22 to 27. The biennial summit was last held in East Africa in 2007 in Kampala.

The government has set aside up to Rwf10billion ($10.5 million) to improve and build infrastructure needed for the event.

“We have various committees working on the different aspects of CHOGM preparations, from infrastructure, hotels, to protocol, we are moving well and we have put up various mechanisms to ensure that we are ready by that time,” said Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign affairs Vincent Biruta.

Kigali will be the biggest beneficiary as authorities construct inter-city and connecting road network roads that will see the free flow of traffic.

There is new Mulindi Road, Kabeza-Alpha Palace Road, Rwandex Network Road, Nyabisindu-Nyarutarama Road and Migina Network Road connecting Gasabo district headquarters to Sports View Hotel.

All the roads under construction are situated in areas surrounding the airport, and are aimed at decongesting the main Kigali International Airport Road, which will be mostly used during the event.

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“We have different on-going construction projects around the city, many of which are infrastructure, we are also working on recreational sites and green parks such that guests have a great experience. Preparations are at 55 per cent,’’ said Ernest Nsabimana, City of Kigali vice mayor.

Up to 10,000 delegates from all the 53 Commonwealth countries are expected to attend the event. It is expected that the event will stretch the limit of city’s roads, conference venues as well as accommodation.

The Rwanda Convention Bureau did not respond to our questions on the progress on ensuring that the country has adequate accommodation for the CHOGM delegates at the time of going to press.

But it is expected that the existing high-end conference facilities like the Kigali Convention, the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village, Intare Arena will all be put to good use.

The airport is key in the CHOGM preparation process, and currently the construction and modifications are ongoing to increase the number of parking space for aircraft and passengers lounge at the terminal.

“The event is expected to raise Rwanda’s profile as a tourism and MICE destination, and the country already has up to 25 events lined up for 2020.

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