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New protests in Togo as efforts to start talks stall

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Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Lome on Saturday for the third time this week to demand the exit of President Faure Gnassingbe, with little sign of progress on promised talks.

Gnassingbe, who has ruled Togo for more than 15 years, pledged in November that his government would hold talks with opposition groups “within several weeks”, but has kept silent since then.

Regional mediators including Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo and Guinea’s President Alpha Conde have been working to open up negotiations between the two sides.

“For now the Guinea and Ghana presidents are trying to have ‘appeasement measures’ taken so that the talks can start,” Jean-Pierre Fabre, leader of the National Alliance for Change, told reporters during the protests Saturday.

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“The protests are going to continue until our demands our met,” he said.

The protests which have gripped Togo since late August have been organised by a coalition of 14 opposition parties, who say they will talk only if the government releases detainees, lifts the ban on demonstrations in several northern cities and sends troops back to their barracks.

Gnassingbe has been president of the West African nation since 2005, taking over after the death of his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo for 38 years.

The opposition parties want two-term limits for presidents, applied retroactively to prevent Gnassingbe from contesting the 2020 and 2025 elections.

“These coming talks need to be frank and sincere,” and focus on “the terms of Faure’s departure, either now or in 2020,” when new elections are scheduled, said Adjoa, a market vendor who was attending the Lome protests.

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EFF demands the sacking of South Africa’s finance minister Nene.

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South Africa’s political players are headed for a collision course over the fate of the finance minister, who the Treasury on Tuesday said is traveling to Indonesia for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting.



Pressure has been piling on finance minister Nhlanhla Nene to resign, following his disclosure to the state-capture inquiry commission, that he had met the Gupta brothers between 2010 and 2013.

The Business Day on Monday reported that Nene had asked president Cyril Ramaphosa to relieve him of his duties as finance minister.

Ramaphosa’s office responded and said they were not aware of Nene’s request.

And on Tuesday, Treasury spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane said the finance minister was expected to arrive in Indonesia on Wednesday.

Nene is also expected to read the mid-term budget later this month.

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The news that Nene is continuing with his duties is likely to anger opposition supporters including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), whose leader, Julius Malema on Monday asked Ramaphosa to sack Nene.

In a written letter to Ramaphosa, Malema argued that the country, whose economy is in recession, had very serious challenges that needed a credible finance minister to address them.

‘‘Public servants at all spheres and levels of government will have no obligation to responsibly manage state fiscal resources under a compromised minister of finance,’‘ Malema said.

He then added that that Nene can no longer inspire much needed confidence to revive the economy.

‘‘The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS)‚ which is supposed to be a statement to build confidence amongst all important economic role players‚ cannot‚ and should not‚ be delivered by a minister who was part of the Gupta criminal syndicate.”

For the EFF, Nene’s position as finance minister is no longer tenable and they are determined to win what they are now calling a battle.

Malema had threatened on Sunday that streets protests might be organised to demand for the removal of Nene as finance minister.

The Gupta brothers are accused of using their friendship with former president Jacob Zuma to influence government decisions including unfairly winning state contrcats.

Both Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.

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South Africa: Ex-minister reveals Zuma’s Gupta deals.

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South Africa’s Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said on Wednesday he was fired by former president Jacob Zuma for refusing to approve contracts that would financially benefit the Gupta family, friends of Zuma accused of corruption.



Nene, who was giving testimony at a judicial inquiry into influence-peddling, said the main reason he was he was sacked was for rejecting a proposed plan to build a fleet of nuclear power plants. The project could have cost up to $100 billion.

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Zuma and the Gupta family deny allegations they colluded to inappropriately divert state funds.

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