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Election official ‘tortured and murdered’ before vote

Chris Msando’s body was found in a forest outside Nairobi just over a week before election he was supposed to oversee.




An official charged with overseeing Kenya’s electronic voting system has been found dead just days before the August 8 presidential election, according to the commission’s chairman.

The body of Chris Msando, a top information technology manager at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), has been identified at the city morgue, Wafula Chebukati, IEBC chairperson, said on Monday.

“There was no doubt he was tortured and murdered. The only question in our mind is who [killed him] and why he was killed a few days to elections,” Chebukati told reporters.

Msando was declared missing over the weekend.

In an earlier statement, Chebukati said Msando was last seen on Friday night and sent a text message to a colleague early on Saturday morning suggesting “that he was conscious and fully aware of his itinerary for that day”.

A mortuary employee said Msando’s body was brought in by police on Saturday alongside that of a woman.

Both were naked and appeared to have been tortured before their bodies were dumped in a forest in Kiambu outside Nairobi.

It was unclear why it took 48 hours for the body to be identified.

Msando was in charge of a system of electronic voter identification and vote counting seen as crucial to avoid rigging, and was the second in command in the commission’s IT department.

A source close to the IEBC told AFP news agency that Msando had helped seal loopholes that could be used to manipulate vote tallies.

Msando’s death should be “urgently” investigated, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

“Msando’s killing comes as the electoral management body was due to audit its systems, a week away from the election day,” said the group’s Africa researcher Otsieno Namwaya.

Chebukati announced the cancellation of that audit after Msando’s killing.

“This is just adding more doubt and more tension to the situation in the country ahead of the election. People want to know why he was killed, who would benefit most from his death and they want a very speedy investigation,” she said.

“And whatever happens, they want a credible and fair election.”

Mysterious attack

Msando’s death follows a mysterious attack at the home of deputy president William Ruto on Saturday in Eldoret northwest of Nairobi.

Police say a lone assailant killed one police officer, wounded another, then held off security forces for nearly 24 hours before being killed.

The race for the presidential polls between President Uhuru Kenyatta and longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga has been bad-tempered and tight.

Both sides have accused the other of underhanded tactics in the run-up to the polls, with the president saying Odinga is trying to divide the nation and provoke violence, and the opposition leader claiming Kenyatta plans to rig the poll.

Odinga’s opposition alliance NASA condemned the “heinous murder” of Msando, saying in a statement they were “gravely concerned” about its implications.

“That no effort was made to camouflage this killing as an accident shows the determination of the killers to send a chilling message that they will stop at nothing to ensure the outcome they desire,” read the statement.



South Africa’s chief prosecutor set to announce decision on Zuma corruption charges



Jacob Zuma

South Africa’s chief prosecutor will announce on Friday whether he is reinstating corruption charges against former president Jacob Zuma, who was forced to resign by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) last month.

Zuma faces 783 counts of corruption relating to a 30 billion rand ($2.5 billion) government arms deal in the late 1990s. They were filed but then dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) shortly before Zuma ran for president in 2009.

The deal to buy European military kit has cast a shadow over politics in Africa’s most industrialized economy for years.

Zuma – then deputy president – was linked to the deal through Schabir Shaikh, his former financial adviser who was jailed for corruption.

Shaikh’s conviction almost torpedoed Zuma’s bid for president but the charges against him were dropped on a technicality in 2009.

He became president shortly afterwards, but his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have them reinstated. Zuma countered with his own legal challenges.

Chief Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams will make his announcement at 1330 GMT, according to NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku.

Zuma has already been informed of what Abrahams has decided, the spokesman said.

South Africa’s High Court reinstated the charges in 2016 and the Supreme Court upheld that decision last year, rejecting an appeal by Zuma and describing the NPA’s initial decision to set aside the charges as “irrational”.

It then fell to Abrahams to decide whether or not the NPA would pursue a case against Zuma, who resigned as head of state on Feb. 14 on the orders of the ANC.

Zuma said in 2016 that an investigation into the arms deal he ordered five years earlier had found no evidence of corruption in the selection process of arms suppliers. Nor had it found evidence that officials were bribed in an attempt to influence the deal, he said.

Zuma has also been implicated by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog in a 2016 report that alleges the Gupta family, billionaire friends of Zuma, used links with him to win state contracts. The Guptas and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.

Source : Reuters

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Nigerian admits more than 100 missing schoolgirls have been ‘abducted’

Buhari, a former military ruler, was elected in 2015 on a promise to end the Boko Haram insurgency, which since it started nine years ago has claimed at least 20,000 lives.



Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

More than 100 girls missing for a week after a Boko Haram attack on their school in northeast Nigeria were kidnapped, the government said for the first time on Monday.

The authorities in Abuja had previously stopped short of saying the 110 girls were seized during the raid on the Government Girls Science and Technology College in Dapchi last Monday.

The attack has revived painful memories in Nigeria of the mass abduction of 276 girls from another boarding school in Chibok in April 2014. Nearly four years on, 112 are still being held.

President Muhammadu Buhari said his government was determined to ensure the release of everyone taken by the Islamist militants and to bring “the abducted girls to their families”.

“This is especially against the backdrop of the recent incident where another group of girls were abducted on January 19 from the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe state,” Buhari told a reception in Abuja for former captives of jihadists.

Buhari added that he had ordered the country’s security agencies to ensure the safety of schools and students.

Nigeria’s reluctance to admit the kidnapping comes in part due to Chibok, whose shadow hung over the previous administration and many believe contributed to its election loss.

Buhari, a former military ruler, was elected in 2015 on a promise to end the Boko Haram insurgency, which since it started nine years ago has claimed at least 20,000 lives.

The abduction in Dapchi comes after repeated claims from the military and government that Boko Haram was on the verge of defeat.

It has led to questions about the extent of the government’s grip on security and why promises to improve security of schools appears not to have been implemented, despite Chibok.

Boko Haram, whose name translates roughly from Hausa as “Western education is forbidden”, has repeatedly targeted schools teaching a so-called secular curriculum.

The jihadists want to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.

It has used kidnapping as a weapon of war, seizing thousands of women and young girls as well as men and boys of fighting age.

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South African President Jacob Zuma resigns

Zuma, who has been in power since 2009, faces numerous allegations of corruption.



Jacob Zuma

Johannesburg, Feb 15 : South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday resigned from his office with immediate effect making the announcement in a televised address to the nation.

The 75-year-old has been under increasing pressure to give way to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC’s new leader.

Zuma, who has been in power since 2009, faces numerous allegations of corruption.

His resignation came at the end of a long speech in which he said he disagreed with the way the ANC had acted towards him.

According to BBC, he said he did not fear a motion of no-confidence, adding: “I have served the people of South Africa to the best of my ability.”

Zuma also said that violence and division within the ANC had influenced his decision to step down.

“No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect,” he was quoted as saying.

“Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC.

“As I leave I will continue to serve the people of South Africa as well as the ANC, the organisation I have served… all of my life.”

Meanwhile, the ANC said Zuma’s resignation provided “certainty to the people of South Africa”.

Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte told reporters: “President Zuma remains a principled member of the ANC. The ANC wants to salute the outstanding contribution he has made.”

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