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Lumumba’s tooth receives prestigious burial in DRC, 60 years after he was killed

Patrice Lumumba, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) independence hero’s gold-crown tooth has been buried more than 60 years after he was assassinated.

Lumumba’s remains were dissolved in acid with the tooth being the only part of his body that still exists after it was preserved as a trophy by the Belgian policeman who oversaw the disposal.

The tooth which was returned to the family last week has toured several parts of DRC in a coffin which enabled the people of DRC to pay their respects before the funeral took place in the capital, Kinshasa.

President Félix Tshisekedi, together with Lumumba’s family and other dignitaries were at the private service which took place just before the coffin was transferred to a specially built mausoleum on a road named in his honour.

“May the land of our ancestors be sweet and mild to you,” said the president adding that “Finally, we are ending… mourning we started 61 years ago. The Congolese people can have the honour of offering a burial to their illustrious prime minister,” said President Tshisekedi.

Guards of honour carry a coffin containing the remains (tooth) of Patrice Lumumba. (Courtesy Photo)

Lumumba was DRC’s first prime minister and one of the pioneers of the struggle towards the country’s independence.

On 30th June, DRC marked 62 years since Belgium, the country’s colonial power gave control of the vast country back to its natives.

Belgium viewed Lumumba as a barrier to its efforts to maintain influence as well as hold on to important economic interests and as such, he is regarded as one of the most prominent voices in Africa’s anti-colonial movement.

In a famous speech on independence day in 1960, delivered before dignitaries from Belgian including King Baudouin, Lumumba, aged 34, castigated Belgium saying that the Congolese had been held in “humiliating slavery.”

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The statement stunned Belgians who believed that no a black African would ever speak like this in front of Europeans. The speech also made other Western powers suspicious of him, including the USA, and they plotted to assassinate him.

Two months after he took over power, Lumumba was overthrown as prime minister and in January 1961, he was shot by a firing squad of Belgium, along with his two allies.

A Belgian policeman, Gerard Soete, was assigned to get rid of the evidence, however, during the same process, he pocketed the victim’s tooth and took it back with him to Belgium.

Decades later, Soete revealed that he still had the tooth and two years ago, a Belgian court ruled that it should be returned to the family. The Covid-19 pandemic delayed the process but last week, it was handed over in Brussels.

On Thursday, hundreds gathered in a vast square for the occasion, waving flags and looking upon a large photo of Lumumba as his remains were laid down his final resting place.

Malawi President Chakwera Suspends Vice President Chilima over corruption

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has fired his head of police and announced that he has stopped delegating duties to Vice President Saulos Chilima on allegations of receiving money from business man Zuneth Sattar.

Chakwera announced his decision after receiving a report from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on investigations into businesman Zuneth Sattar who is accused of  giving bribes worth $150m (£123m) to public officers in exchange for securing government contracts.

Chakwera said a total of 53 current and former public officers received money from Sattar between March 2021 and October 2021. There are also 31 individuals from the private sector, media and civil society who allegedly received money from Sattar.

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Chakwera said the officers include those from Office of the President and Cabinet, Malawi Police Service, Office of the Vice President, State House, Reserve Bank of Malawi, ACB, Malawi Broadcasting Station and various ministries.

The president added that the bureau has found that among the 84 individuals accused of receiving money from Sattar, there are 13 who have been extensively investigated such that the bureau has concluded that they “conducted themselves corruptly.”

Speaking on the action that he is taking, Chakwera noted that the constitution does not provide for the suspension of the Vice President or his removal from office by the president.

“As such, the best I can do for now, which is what I have decided to do, is to withhold from his office any delegated duties while waiting for the Bureau to substantiate its allegations against him and to make known its course of action in relation to such,” said Chakwera.

Story by Tinyefuza Naboth

Mali military promises return to civilian rule in March 2024

Mali’s military rulers have proposed the restoration of civilian rule in two years, following an August 2020 coup and a failure to meet an earlier deadline for elections that led to crippling sanctions.

Military leader Colonel Assimi Goita signed a decree read out on state television on Monday saying that the duration of the transition is fixed at 24 months (from) March 26, 2022.

The military seized power in an initial coup in August 2020 and failed to deliver on a promise to hold elections in February, prompting sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). 

Goita forced out an interim civilian government in May last year, taking over the presidency.

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ECOWAS did not immediately comment on the 24-month decree adopted on Monday.

The length of the transition has also caused a rift with Mali’s partners, including the United States and former colonial power France.

West African heads of state met in Ghana’s capital Accra over the weekend to discuss the situation and agreed not to lift sanctions, which include border closures and restrictions on financial transactions, unless interim leaders proposed a shorter transition.

The leaders are expected to convene for another summit before July 3, 2022.

Story by Tinyefuza Naboth.

No doubt Rwanda is backing M23 – President Felix Tshisekedi

By Racheal Nuwahereza

H.E Felix Tshisekedi, the President of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has said  that there’s no doubt Rwanda supported M23 rebels in clashes in the east of his country that have displaced tens of thousands.

Speaking on Sunday after visiting neighboring Congo-Brazzaville where he met his counterpart Denis Sassou Nguesso, Tshisekedi’s claims on Rwanda’s meddling come as his first in recent times as tensions between the two eastern Africa neighbors continue to rise.

“Rwanda should not mistake our desire for peace with weakness. I hope that Rwanda has learned this lesson because today, it’s clear. There is no doubt Rwanda has supported the M23 to come and attack the DRC,” he said.

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The Government of Rwanda has consistently denied the accusations of backing the rebels adding that it is an internal crisis.

Last Monday, M23 rebels retreated from areas it had captured in the Congolese province of North Kivu. But on Friday it warned that the army was planning renewed attacks against its positions.

This Monday, renewed fighting was registered between the Congolese army and the rebels in Rutshuru area.

Major Willy Ngoma, the M23 spokesperson said the army started bombarding their positions in Jomba area early in the morning.

It is reported that in May, nearly 100,000 people fled their homes as the army clashed with the rebels near Goma town, the provincial capital.

Meanwhile, Angola’s President João Lourenço is organizing a summit between President Tshisekedi and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame to ease the tensions, his office said last week.

Story by Tinyefuza Naboth

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