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Election candidate fees hiked in Benin raises dust.

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Benin’s former leader on Tuesday accused President Patrice Talon of “declaring war” on the nation through the adoption of a new law demanding exorbitant fees from anyone running for election.

Adopted by parliament earlier this month, the legislation demands an eye-watering fee of 250 million CFA francs – around $450 000 – for candidates hoping to contest the 2020 presidential election.



The figure constitutes a whopping 1 500% increase from the 15 million CFA francs in the 2016 election in a move denounced by the opposition as favouring the rich and well-connected.

There is an even bigger hike for fielding a candidate list in the legislative elections, with the fee rising from 8.3 million CFA francs to 249 million.

“By brutally and clumsily excluding anyone who is young, poor or disadvantaged, the government and its allies in parliament have this time gone too far,” said Nicephore Soglo, who served as president between 1991-1996.

“It is nothing less than a declaration of war,” the 83-year-old told reporters at a press conference at his home in Cotonou, Benin’s economic capital.

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“We are playing with fire,” said Soglo, who was Benin’s first democratically-elected president after nearly two decades of a Marxist-Leninist regime led by Mathieu Kerekou, a revolutionary who seized power during a military coup.

As honorary president of the opposition party Renaissance Benin, Soglo has never minced his words about Talon’s leadership, denouncing it over its authoritarian drift.

Since his election in March 2016, Talon has adopted a series of increasingly controversial reforms, triggering strikes and protests in this tiny West African country.

Earlier this month, protesters hit the streets after parliament adopted a law limiting the right to go on strike to a maximum of 10 days per year, for both public and private sector workers.

And last week, the authorities banned a gathering in Cotonou to protest against a new law imposing a sharp hike in internet costs, which has driven up the price of using social networks from 2 CFA francs to 10 CFA francs per megabyte.

A former French colony with 10.8 million people, Benin is classed as a low-income country by the World Bank, with poor social and economic indicators in areas such as health and education.

With scarce natural resources, it relies on its port business to survive, with Cotonou acting as a key West African distribution hub for imported cars, fabrics, and food from all over the world.

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PM Abiy reiterates Ethiopia’s decision over latest clampdown.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has finally spoken on ongoing anti-corruption and rights abuse clampdown stating that there was not going to be any backing down let alone retreat.

A statement from the Abiy’s office issued in Amharic tasked citizens to rally behind the development as a means of ridding the country of lawlessness and criminal elements.

State-affiliated FBC reported that the statement titled, ‘Let’s Fight (the) Cancer,’ said the government was bent on bringing people behind injustices to book.



The statement said the underlying objective of recent arrests was to get rid of Ethiopia criminals. “… criminals do not care about ethnicity, country, or morality; they only care for themselves.

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“The key to justice is to create a system for innocent citizens to live in freedom and dignity while criminals are held accountable and punished in accordance with the law,” the statement read in part.

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Since early this week, authorities have announced the arrest of over sixty former military and intelligence officials arrested in connection with rights abuse in prisons and gross corruption in the military run business conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation, MetEC.

A former head of MetEC, Kinfe Dagnew; and a former intelligence chiefs, Tekleberhan Woldearegay and Yared Zerihun have all been detained and put before courts in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Head of security at the state monopoly, Ethio Telecom, Gudeta Olana, has also been arrested as has head of the entity and brother of ex-MetEC boss, Essayas Dagnew.

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New Zealand denies refusing refugees with holiday visas entry.

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New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Friday, rejected allegations that the country’s government was blocking refugees who wished to travel into the country from Nauru on visitor visas.

Nauru’s president, Baron Waqa, also claimed in an interview with Australian media that he had also personally brokered a deal for New Zealand to accept 80 refugees currently located on the island.



“It’s incorrect to say that there is some kind of agreement for 80 specific individuals to take residence or visit,’’ Ardern told media at the East Asia Summit in Singapore.

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“The request did not ask about whether refugees could visit New Zealand on holiday visas,’’ he added.

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The country assessed all applications for visitor visas on a case-by-case basis. This applies regardless of a person’s country of origin or nationality.

The country is under pressure to transfer the remaining 30 children from the island.

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