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Venezuelan crisis: Security forces fires tear gas at opposition leader Guaido in a bid to stop his coup plan.

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Source: Reuters

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Tuesday he had begun the “final phase” of his plan to oust President Nicolas Maduro, calling on Venezuelans and the military to back him to end Maduro’s “usurpation.”

A Reuters journalist later saw security forces firing tear gas at Guaido and around 70 armed men in military uniform near the La Carlota air force base in Caracas.

The government promptly dismissed any suggestion of a military insurrection.

“We reject this coup movement, which aims to fill the country with violence,” said Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.

He said the armed forces remained “firmly in defense of the national constitution and legitimate authorities,” and that all military units across Venezuela “report normality” in their barracks and bases.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez tweeted that the government was confronting a small group of “military traitors” seeking to promote a coup.

Diosdado Cabello, head of the pro-Maduro Constituent Assembly, said the opposition had not been able to take over the air base and urged Maduro’s supporters to march at the presidential palace in Caracas.

Guaido, in a video posted on his Twitter account, was accompanied by men in military uniform and opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez, who has been placed under house arrest.

“The national armed forces have taken the correct decision, and they are counting on the support of the Venezuelan people,” Guaido said.

Guaido, the leader of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, in January invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing that Maduro’s re-election in 2018 was illegitimate.

He has been traveling outside the capital Caracas more and more in recent weeks to try to put pressure on Maduro to step down.

Protests are planned for Wednesday, May 1, including what Guaido has said will be “the largest march in Venezuela’s history”, part of what he calls the “definitive phase” of his effort to take office in order to call fresh elections.

Around 50 countries including the United States have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, and Washington has imposed sanctions to try to dislodge Maduro.

Maduro for his part has appeared to retain control of state institutions and the loyalty of senior military officers.

He calls Guaido a U.S-backed puppet who seeks to oust him in a coup. The government has arrested his top aide, stripped Guaido of his parliamentary immunity and opened multiple probes. It has also barred him from leaving the country, a ban Guaido openly violated earlier this year.

Last week, Guaido said his congressional ally – opposition lawmaker Gilber Caro – had been detained, and that 11 members of his team had been summoned to appear before the Sebin intelligence agency.

Lopez, seen with Guaido, appeared to have left his home for the first time since he was placed under house arrest in 2017, after three years in jail.


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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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24 Hours Across Africa

Zimbawe’s doctor goes missing after masterminding strike

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Fearless Zimbabwe’s minister of health has called on the government to address insecurity lapses that has lead to the disappearance Peter Magombeyi, the head of a doctor’s union, who disappeared on Saturday.

Fears are rising over the fate of Zimbabwe medical doctor Dr Peter Magombeyi after he sent a message to say he had been abducted in that country by unknown persons – apparently for demanding a “living wage”.

An AFP report earlier on Sunday quoted the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctor’s Association (ZHDA) as saying Magombeyi had not been heard from since he sent a WhatsApp message on Saturday night saying he had been “kidnapped by three men”.

Zimbabwe doctors, who earn a miserly equivalent of about R3 000 are on strike to press for better wages, equipment and medicines in state hospitals.

The ZHDA has reportedly accused state security forces of abducting the doctor because of his role in organising work stoppages.

This week some doctors said the death of deposed Robert Mugabe, 95, in a Singapore hospital on 6 September was an indication of how bad health services in Zimbabwe

“Dr Magombeyi’s crime is only to ask for a living wage for his profession. This is a reflection of the troubles born out of refusal to implement Political Reforms.”

The Zimbabwe government led by Emmerson Mnangagwa has not publicly commented on the doctor’s disappearance

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