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Egypt announces probe into torture claims

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Egypt’s judiciary said Thursday it had launched an inquiry after Human Rights Watch accused security services of widespread torture of detainees in a probable “crime against humanity”.

The New York-based rights group said in a September report that security services in the North African country used torture as a “systematic practice” against suspected opponents of the government.

The prosecutor’s office said Thursday that counsellor Nabil Sadik had ordered the appointment of a senior judicial official “to investigate the allegations mentioned” in the HRW report.

In a statement in English, it said the investigation, which began in late October, aimed to “rightfully stand on the truth and take the necessary legal measures”.

Since the army toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, rights groups have regularly denounced the regime of his successor President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over alleged abuses.

They have been particularly critical of a contentious law to regulate non-governmental organisations, which HRW and other groups in June said would “crush civil society”.

The head of the state information service, Diaa Rashwan, said Thursday the HRW report on torture was one of several “unprofessional reports based on impressions”.

Rashwan spoke at a conference on human rights where the government also launched a commission to create a “national strategy for human rights”.

Ahmed Ehab, assistant foreign minister for human rights, said Egypt needed to reach “the point of balance between the campaign against terrorism and human rights”.

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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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