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Kenya Protest: Ruto Makes Sweeping Changes, Reduces Aides, Scraps Agencies, Others

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Kenyan President, William Ruto, has scrapped budgets for the offices of first and second ladies.

The embattled Kenyan leader also dissolved 47 State agencies in a move to cut down government expenditure and pacify dissatisfied youths who have been on the streets for the past three weeks.

Ruto made this announcement during a broadcast on Friday while apologising to protesters clashing with security agents on the streets.

Budget lines providing for the operations of the offices of the First Lady, the spouses of the Deputy President, and the Prime Cabinet Secretary shall be removed,” said Ruto.

The president, who had earlier withdrawn the Finance Bill, which triggered the nationwide protest, has also suspended non-essential travels for government officials and workers. He also stopped the purchase of new vehicles and cut down his advisers by half.

The protests erupted in the capital Nairobi three weeks ago in response to a bill seeking to increase tax.

The protests have morphed into broader discontent with Ruto’s leadership and accusations of police brutality.

Human rights groups claimed 39 protesters have been killed by security forces, with the most brutal crackdown happening last week Tuesday after the parliament passed the bill.

Ruto has since dropped the bill, but the protesters are now demanding his resignation.

Unrest has spread beyond Nairobi, with demonstrations erupting in major cities such as Mombasa and Kisumu.

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Africa

Cyril Ramaphosa Re-elected As South Africa’s President

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The South African Parliament has, during its first sitting of the 7th Parliament on Friday, re-elected Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa as the President of the Republic of South Africa. He has been re-elected to serve a second term as the President.

Thia was hours after his African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance (DA) agreed to form a coalition, setting aside their rivalry in a historic governance pact.

In terms of the Constitution, the National Assembly must, at its first sitting after its election, elect a woman or a man from among its members to be the President.

Mr. Ramaphosa was elected with 283 votes against Mr Julius Malema with 44 votes. The Constitution states that when elected President, a person ceases to be a member of the National Assembly and, within five days, must assume office by swearing or affirming faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution.

The President-elect will be inaugurated during a ceremony in Pretoria which, according to the Constitution, should take place within five days after the President’s election.

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Senegal’s New Govt Cuts Prices of Essential Commodities

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The President Bassirou Diomaye Faye-led government of Senegal has reduced the prices of some essential commodities in the country.

The reductions, which also cover cement and fertiliser, will take effect in the next few days, government secretary general Ahmadou Al Aminou Lo told reporters.

President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who was swept to power in a March election, vowed during the campaign to address high living costs in the West African nation that heavily relies on imports.

The issue has featured widely in the media and on social media in recent weeks, with many saying it is a priority.

Under the measures, the price of a kilo (2.2 pounds) of the most widely consumed type of rice will be reduced by 40 CFA ($0.065, 0.061 euros), while a baguette will cost 15 CFA (0.023 euros) less, the government announced at a media conference.

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Malawi’s Vice President, Nine Others Confirmed Dead in Plane Crash

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Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine other people died when the small military plane they were traveling in crashed in bad weather in a mountainous region in the north of the country, the president said Tuesday. Chilima was 51.

President Lazarus Chakwera announced that the wreckage of the plane that went missing Monday morning had been located after a search of more than 24 hours in thick forests and hilly terrain near the city of Mzuzu. He said the wreckage was found near a hill and the plane had been “completely destroyed,” with everyone killed on impact.

It was a “terrible tragedy,” Chakwera said. “Words cannot describe how heartbreaking this is, and I can only imagine how much pain and anguish you all must be feeling.” He called Chilima “a good man, a devoted father and husband, a patriotic citizen who served his country with distinction and a formidable vice president.”

Chakwera said the victims’ remains were being brought to the southern African nation’s capital, Lilongwe. The seven passengers included members of Chilima’s staff and security detail along with former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, the ex-wife of former President Bakili Muluzi. There were three crew members.

Hundreds of soldiers, police officers and forest rangers had searched for the plane since it went missing Monday at around 10 a.m. while making the 45-minute flight from Lilongwe to Mzuzu, around 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north.

The group was traveling to attend the funeral of a former government minister. Air traffic controllers told the plane not to attempt a landing at Mzuzu’s airport because of bad weather and poor visibility and asked it to turn back to Lilongwe. Air traffic control then lost contact with the aircraft and it disappeared from radar.

Chakwera said the wreckage was found in the Chikangawa Forest south of Mzuzu. Images from the site showed thick fog over the hills and remnants of the plane in an open area near the tree line. The president described the aircraft as a small, propeller-driven plane operated by the Malawian armed forces.

Officials with Chilima’s United Transformation Movement political party — a party different from the president’s — criticized the government response as slow and said there was no transponder on the plane, concerning for an aircraft carrying a high-level delegation.

Chilima and Chakwera had led Malawi under unusual circumstances. They both ran for president in 2019 as opposition candidates but teamed up to challenge election results in court over irregularities, and won. They then won the rerun of the election – the first time in Africa that a court-overturned election result resulted in a defeat for the incumbent president.

Chilima had said Chakwera had agreed to step down after his first term and allow him to run for president in next year’s election as part of their alliance. However, Chakwera announced he would run for reelection, and there were signs of friction between the two.

Chilima also had recently faced corruption charges over allegations that he received money in return for influencing the awarding of government procurement contracts for the armed forces and the police. Prosecutors dropped the charges last month. He had denied the allegations.

Chilima had just returned from an official visit to South Korea on Sunday. He was in his second term as vice president after serving from 2014-2019 under former President Peter Mutharika.

The search for the plane prompted an international response. Chakwera said the U.S., the U.K., Norway and Israel had offered assistance and provided “specialized technologies.” The U.S. Embassy in Malawi said it had assisted and offered the use of a Department of Defense small C-12 plane. Malawi also asked neighbors Zambia and Tanzania if they could help.

Malawi, a country of around 21 million people, was ranked as the fourth poorest nation in the world by the World Bank in 2019.

AP

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