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S. Sudan rebels, gov’t accuse each other of breaking truce

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South Sudan’s government and main rebel group on Sunday accused each other of breaking a ceasefire that went into effect shortly after midnight.

The ceasefire is the latest bid to end a devastating four-year war which broke out after a falling out between former vice president Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir in 2013.

In a statement on Sunday, Machar’s rebel group the SPLA-IO accused government forces of launching an ‘aggressive attack’ on their positions in the town of Bieh Payam in the north of the country, as well as positions in southwestern Yei county.

‘These are all acts against the peace process as the government in Juba wants the SPLA-IO to respond so that war continues and they continue to loot the resources of the country,’ said the statement from SPLA-IO spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel.

Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang denied the incidents, instead accusing the rebels of ‘serious violations’ of the ceasefire deal elsewhere in the country.

He said that the rebels ambushed an ‘administrative convoy that was trying to deliver food and salaries for Christmas’ in the southern Amadi state.

‘We broke through the ambush and we were able to kill five rebel fighters,’ he said.

He also accused the rebels of attacking military police in Aweil East, in the northwest of the country.

‘We have not been engaging the rebels, we have been fighting all in our defensive positions and we also have been fighting whenever we are attacked on the roads,’ the army spokesman said.

The clashes have marred the latest in a series of ceasefire deals, signed between the government and several armed groups on Thursday and went into effect December 24.

The agreement said all forces should ‘immediately freeze in their locations’, halt actions that could lead to confrontation and release political detainees as well as abducted women and children.

South Sudan’s leaders fought for decades for independence, but once they achieved it in 2011, a power struggle between Kiir and Machar led to all out civil war.

A peace deal was signed two years later but it collapsed in July 2016 when fresh fighting in Juba forced then first vice president Machar into exile.

The violence has killed tens of thousands and forced more than a million South Sudanese to flock to neighbouring Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in what has become the biggest refugee crisis on the continent.

A permanent ceasefire is seen as the first step in negotiations to include a ‘revised and realistic’ timeline to holding elections.

Crime

Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe

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Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.

The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).

The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.

According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.

It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.

“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.

“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”

The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.

Source: BBC

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24 Hours Across Africa

Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival

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Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.

Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.

But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.

“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.

The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.

Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.

The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.

That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.

Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.

“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.

He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.

“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”

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