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    S.Africa confronts apartheid-era custody deaths
    24.06.17
    AFP

    The brutal death of anti-apartheid campaigner Ahmed Timol was allowed to go quietly unsolved in the interests of South Africa's democratic reconciliation. But now more than 45 years after he fell from a 10th-floor window at a notorious regime security building and died, Timol's case is being re-examined following a campaign to expose the truth led by his family. Timol, a 30-year-old activist with the then-banned South African Communist Party (SACP), was arrested in Johannesburg on the night of October 22, 1971. After being held in detention for five days, he was declared dead following his plunge from the blue-and-grey police...

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    Togo plans religious purge of violent past
    23.06.17
    AFP

    Togo's government on Friday announced a series of Christian, Islamic and voodoo "purification ceremonies" aimed at purging the country of its violent past and promoting reconciliation. The West African nation was rocked by political unrest during presidential elections in 2005, which were won by Faure Gnassingbe, who remains in power. An official death toll from the clashes has never been given. A group close to the government has said 105 while the opposition said 811 died. The United Nations has said there were between 400 and 500 deaths. The government on Friday said the "purification ceremonies" would take place...

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    S.Sudan to lift ban on foreign journalists: media official
    22.06.17
    AFP

    South Sudan's media authority will lift a ban on around 20 foreign journalists who had been refused access to the country, a top media official said Thursday. Earlier this month the government's media regulatory authority said it had banned the journalists over "unsubstantiated and unrealistic stories". The National Dialogue Steering Committee -- tasked with leading consultations to restore peace in the country -- put pressure on the Media Authority to lift the ban. "They are going to allow any journalists to come. They were preventing some journalists because they said some journalists are fond of criticism of what is happening in...

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    Macron unveils France's new realpolitik for Syria
    22.06.17
    AFP

    Recalibrating France's long-held policy of insisting that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad must step down, President Emmanuel Macron has opted for realpolitik by making the fight against terror the top priority. In an interview with eight European newspapers Thursday, he unveiled a revamped policy to address a conflict that has claimed more than 320,000 lives and created millions of refugees. Warning of the potential for a "failed state" if Assad were forcibly removed, 39-year-old Macron said the cooperation of the Syrian leader's key ally Russia was needed to "eradicate" the Islamic extremists fighting Damascus. "The real change I've...

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    UAE runs 'informal prisons' in Yemen: HRW
    22.06.17
    AFP

    The United Arab Emirates runs at least two "informal detention facilities" in Yemen and has reportedly transferred detainees to a base in Eritrea, Human Rights Watch said Thursday. The UAE is a key member of a Saudi-led military coalition that entered Yemen's conflict in 2015 to battle on the government's side against Iran-backed Huthi rebels. HRW said UAE officials appeared to have "moved high-profile detainees outside the country" including to a base in Eritrea. The rights group said it had documented 49 cases, including those of four children, who had been "arbitrarily detained or forcibly disappeared" -- at least 38 of them by...

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    Myanmar forces kill 3 in raid on 'terrorist training camps': state media
    22.06.17
    AFP

    Myanmar security forces have killed three people in raids on "terrorist" training camps run by Rohingya Muslim militants in the north of Rakhine state, state media reported on Thursday. Guns, ammunition and gunpowder were found at the camps in the Mayu Mountains, part of a remote strip of land on the northwest border that is mainly home to the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority. More than 70,000 Rohingya have fled the area to nearby Bangladesh since October, when Myanmar security forces launched a brutal crackdown in response to militant attacks on police posts. Rohingya escapees have told harrowing accounts of security officers...

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    Three things to watch as Saudi names new heir to throne
    21.06.17
    AFP

    Mohammed bin Salman, named Saudi crown prince on Wednesday, becomes first in line to the throne as the historically conservative nation faces challenges at home and turmoil abroad. Here are three key areas to watch. - Yemen - Prince Mohammed, 31, retains his position as defence minister, a post he held when Riyadh joined the war in neighbouring Yemen in 2015. Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia heads a regional military alliance fighting Shiite Huthi rebels, accused of ties to Iran, for control of the impoverished country. In May 2017, faced with international criticism over the Saudi-led alliance's role in Yemen's...

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    Protester killed in street clashes near Kabul bombing site
    20.06.17
    AFP

    Kabul authorities Tuesday demolished a sit-in camp erected to protest spiralling insecurity, triggering street clashes that left at least one demonstrator dead in the latest bout of violence to shake the city. Tensions have been high in Kabul since a truck bomb on May 31 killed more than 150 people and wounded hundreds in the fortified diplomatic quarter, the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since 2001. People enraged by rising insecurity had established a protest tent near the bombing site, demanding the resignation of President Ashraf Ghani's government. Authorities moved in unannounced after midnight Tuesday to mow down the tent,...

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    US envoy to Sudan pushes for aid in ex-rebel bastion
    19.06.17
    AFP

    The top US envoy in Sudan pushed Monday for more access to deliver humanitarian aid to Golo as he visited the former rebel stronghold in war-torn Darfur under tight security. US charge d'affaires Steven Koutsis was in Golo as part of a tour to assess the security situation in Darfur as the United Nations prepares to downsize its 17,000-strong peacekeeping force. Koutsis's visit to the town surrounded by the thickly forested mountains of Jebel Marra comes weeks before President Donald Trump's administration decides whether to permanently lift a two-decades old US trade embargo on Sudan. "Golo is a strategic area for providing...

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    ICC to rule on South Africa's failure to arrest Bashir
    16.06.17
    AFP

    War crimes judges will rule next month on whether South Africa flouted international law when it failed to arrest visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2015, wanted on charges of genocide in Darfur. The International Criminal Court "convenes a public hearing on 6 July... for the delivery of its decision," the court said in a statement Friday. The tribunal based in The Hague "invites representatives of South Africa and the prosecutor to attend," it added. Pretoria, at an unprecedented hearing in April, disputed accusations by ICC prosecutors that it had broken its obligations to the very tribunal it helped found in...

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    Philippines fires top ad firm in 'plagiarism' row
    16.06.17
    AFP

    The Philippines has fired one of the world's top advertising firms in a row over alleged plagiarism, adding more misery to its tourism industry already reeling from a war with Islamist militants and a deadly crackdown on drugs. The tourism department on Thursday cancelled its contract with McCann Worldgroup Philippines and demanded an apology, after deeming its just-launched promotion for the Southeast Asian nation was too similar to a 2014 South African campaign. "It is not right that we will be paying for something delivered to us which is fraught with accusations of being a copycat version," assistant tourism secretary Reynaldo Ching told...

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    Reggae star Alpha Blondy calls for general amnesty in Ivory Coast
    16.06.17
    AFP

    Reggae elder statesman Alpha Blondy called in an interview for a general amnesty and release of all prisoners held in his home country Ivory Coast since the political violence of 2010 and 2011. "Reconciliation in Ivory Coast can only be done through a general amnesty," the multi-million album selling star said. "An amnesty would be a courageous political act." Split from 2002 to 2011 between the rebel held north and government controlled south, Ivory Coast has recovered to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but the legacy of the conflict still divides the country. "People are traumatised in Ivory Coast, even...

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