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Russia tests nuclear-capable missile that Putin calls world’s best

By Racheal Nuwahereza

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia has successfully tested the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, saying the weapon capable of carrying nuclear charges will make Kremlin’s enemies “think twice.”

The Sarmat dubbed Satan 2 by Western analysts is among Russia’s next-generation missiles that Putin has called “invincible”, and which also include the Kinzhal and Avangard hypersonic missiles.

The Russian Kh-47M2 Kinzhal nuclear-capable hypersonic aero-ballistic air-to-surface missile.
The Russian Avangard hypersonic missile.

Last month, Russia revealed that it used Kinzhal for the first time in warfare to strike a target in Ukraine, where Russian troops have been engaged in a special military operation since February 24.

In televised remarks on Wednesday, Putin congratulated the army upon the successful launch of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.

“This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure the security of Russia from external threats and make those who, in the heat of aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think twice,” said Putin.

Russia’s defence ministry also said in a statement that the test which took place at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia was successful.

According to the ministry, the missile delivered training warheads to the Kura test range of the Kamchatka peninsula, in Russia’s Far East.

From Tinyefuza Naboth

Diplomats decline Ukraine request to address Kenyan Parliament

By Racheal Nuwahereza

Officials in Nairobi, Kenya have declined a request from Ukraine to address Parliament for fear being dragged into a conflict with the potential to hurt its bilateral ties with both Kyiv and Moscow.

In February, Ukraine, which has been defending its territory against Russia’s invasion, made the request to address the Kenyan bicameral House when Moscow launched what it called a military operation in that country.

A well-placed source indicated the request was not honoured, with Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs remaining quiet despite repeated follow-ups and reminders.

Nairobi denies refusing an audience to the Ukrainian diplomat, saying all his requests had been addressed, except the speech to Parliament.

Earlier this week, Kenyan diplomats in Nairobi argued that they have been doing enough already through the UN Security Council.

On Tuesday, a senior ministry official told journalists that there was no need to allow the speech, adding that Kyiv should make use of the available diplomatic channels.

“Why would they want to address the Kenyan Parliament, for instance? Is there a precedent?” the official asked.

Kenya holds one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council and both Ukraine and Russia see it as critical in deciding issues related to the conflict at the horse-shoe-shaped table in New York.

On Friday, Nairobi abstained from a UN General Assembly vote that proposed suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.

The vote eventually passed, but Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria were some of the African countries that abstained.

Kenya has been cautiously avoiding departing from the African Union’s position, which condemns the invasion but opposes the massive economic sanctions imposed on Russia.

While Nairobi has used its non-permanent seat on the Security Council to either condemn the invasion or abstain from decisions of both the General Assembly and the Council, it is yet to grant two wishes critical to Kyiv: a top-level meeting involving foreign ministers, and the speech to Parliament.

From Tinyefuza Naboth

Burkina Faso’s ex-president Compaore handed life sentence over Sankara murder

By Racheal Nuwahereza

Military tribunal in Burkina Faso has sentenced former President Blaise Compaoré to life imprisonment in absentia for his role in the assassination of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara.

The pair had been close friends and had jointly seized power in 1983.

After seizing power at the age of just 33, the Marxist revolutionalist came to be known by some as “Africa’s Che Guevara”.

Sankara set an ambitious social and economic program that sought to fight corruption, improve health-care and education, promoting women’s rights through reforms like ending polygamy and female genital mutilation, and inspiring leaders across the continent.

Sankara remains a hero for many across Africa and beyond because of his ardent support for independence from colonial rule in Africa, coupled with anti-imperialist attitude and simple lifestyle.

Military officer, Marxist revolutionary, and pan-Africanist President of Burkina Faso Thomas Sankara before his murder in 1987. (File Photo)

In 1987, four years after he took power in a coup, Sankara, (37) was gunned down along with 12 colleagues in the west African nation’s capital, Ouagadougou, during the coup d’état that brought Compaoré to power.

The prosecution said Sankara was lured to his death at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.

He was shot in the chest at least seven times, according to ballistics experts who testified during the trial.

Fourteen people were in total charged for Sankara’s killing in the trial, which began in October, 2021.

Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara, who attended the trial throughout, said the verdict represented “justice and truth”.

“The judges have done their jobs and I am satisfied. Of course, I wished the main suspects would be here before the judges,” she told the Associated Press. “It is not good that people kill other people and stop the process of development of a country without being punished,” she added.

“Today, I am very proud to see the culmination of a legal battle of almost 30 years, proud to have a country where justice works, This verdict will give many people cause for thought,” said Guy Herve Kam, a lawyer for Sankara’s family.

Compaoré ruled for 27 years before being ousted in a coup in 2014 and fleeing to Ivory Coast, where he still resides. He previously denounced the trial by a military court as a political sham.

Whether Compaoré will serve his sentence any time soon is still a question of debate as he has lived in exile in Ivory Coast since he was removed from office following mass protests in 2014, and has taken up Ivorian nationality.

Ten of the charged were found guilty, including Compaoré’s security chief, Haycinthe Kafando who has been on the run for several years and was also tried in absentia. He too received a life sentence as he was accused of leading the hit squad that killed Sankara.

Gilbert Diendéré, one of the commanders of the army during the 1987 coup and the main defendant who was actually present at the trial, was also sentenced to life. He has been serving a 20-year sentence for a coup attempt in 2015.

Eight other defendants received sentences ranging from three to 20 years, while three defendants were acquitted.

From Tinyefuza Naboth

Israeli forces on high alert after Palestinian shooting attack that left five dead

By Racheal Nuwahereza

Five people have been shot dead by a Palestinian gunman in a suburb of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, in the third deadly attack of its kind in a week.

The attack happened in Bnei Brak, one of the country’s most populous ultra-Orthodox Jewish areas.

One of the victims is a police officer identified as Amir Khoury, 32, who was trying to stop the attacker; the rest were civilians. According to a paramedic at the scene, the gunman was shot dead by the police officer moments before he also died.

The attacker has been identified as a 26-year-old Palestinian identified as Diaa Hamarsheh from Ya’bad, a village near Jenin, in the north of the occupied West Bank, who had previously been jailed in Israel.

Footage from the scene in Bnei Brak showed Hamarsheh (the attacker) dressed in black shooting at people with a rifle on a street and killing the driver of a passing car.

Israel Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett held an emergency security meeting and his security cabinet will convene on Wednesday.

“Israel is facing a wave of murderous Arab terrorism. The security forces are operating. We will fight terror with perseverance, stubbornness and an iron fist,” he said.

Former prime minister and current opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was “in the midst of a dangerous wave of terrorism that had not been seen for many years… Determined action must be taken to restore peace and security to the citizens of Israel.”

According to the AP News agency, Israel’s government, with support from the Biden administration, has tried to do what leaders describe as “shrinking” the conflict. Instead of seeking a partition deal with the Palestinians, it aims to keep things quiet by taking steps to improve the Palestinian economy and reduce frictions.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken also condemned the attack.

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killings of the Israelis and warned that the attack might lead to escalation at a time when “we are striving for stability.”

However, the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, praised the attack, saying: “We express our blessing to the Tel Aviv operation.”

Despite the fact that the Tuesday and Sunday attacks were also carried out by Palestinian citizens of Israel and all the attackers killed by police or passersby, Israel security forces stay on high alert.

From Tinyefuza Naboth

Helicopter crash in DR Congo claims lives of Eight UN peacekeepers.

By Racheal Nuwahereza

UN and Pakistani officials have revealed that eight UN peacekeepers were killed after 1 PUMA Helicopter crashed while undertaking a reconnaissance mission in the troubled eastern Democratic republic of Congo (DRC).

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General in New York confirmed the crash which occurred on Tuesday and claimed lives of six Pakistani troops, a Russian and a Serb.

The UN spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric says no one survived after the said helicopter crashed in North Kivu province where the eight U.N. peacekeepers on board had gone to monitor the situation where there has been fighting.

The UN Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) said earlier in a tweet that it had “lost contact” with one of its helicopters which was on a reconnaissance mission in the Rutshuru region of North Kivu province where Congolese forces have been battling M23 rebels.

UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) peacekeepers patrol areas affected by the recent attacks by M23 rebels fighters. (Courtesy Photo)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his “deep sense of shock and grief”, his office said, paying tribute to the global peace effort by the country’s armed forces.

The UN mission said the cause of the crash is yet to be established as an investigation is underway.

Congolese military authorities in North Kivu said M23 rebels had “shot down” the aircraft. But the group denied this, instead claiming the Congolese military was responsible for the crash.

Meanwhile, the Congolese army continues to accuse Rwanda of supporting an armed rebellion in the east of the vast country alleging that M23 emerged from an ethnic Tutsi of Rwandan origin.

M23 spokesman, Willy Ngoma, in a video message, said the movement was strictly Congolese and did not receive “any assistance… from any neighbouring country.”

Nigerians banned from joining fight in Ukraine

Following alleged recruitment of volunteers in Nigeria to fight for Ukraine, Nigeria says it will not allow its nationals to join the fight in Ukraine where Russian forces have been bombing cities and rattling neighbourhoods with gunfire for over a week now.

Whereas Nigeria’s foreign ministry says the Ukrainian embassy had denied any role in the alleged exercise, the embassy confirmed that a number of Nigerians had approached it indicating willingness to join the war, according to a statement on March 07, signed by Francisca Omayuli, spokesperson for the ministry.

Francisca Omayuli, the spokesperson for Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nigeria.

The embassy also distanced itself from claims that it was requesting $1,000 (£800) from each Nigerian volunteer for an air ticket and visa.

“Nigeria discourages the use of mercenaries anywhere in the world and will not tolerate the recruitment, in Nigeria, of Nigerians as mercenaries to fight in Ukraine or anywhere else in the world,” said Omayuli.

This comes days after Senegal warned against volunteers enlisting to fight against Russians in Ukraine.

It also ordered the Ukrainian ambassador to take down a Facebook post that had called on Senegalese volunteers to enlist in the war.

17 African countries abstain from UN vote to condemn Russia invasion

Seventeen African countries on Wednesday abstained from voting as the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, signaling further international pressure on Moscow.

Following Russia’s February 24th invasion of its neighbor, the UN General Assembly held an emergency session this week, and voted to a motion termed as “aggression against Ukraine” in a rare sitting occasioned only by a serious threat to international security.

The vote became only the first in 40 years when the General Assembly sat and passed a resolution to reprimand a member’s aggression.

141 of the 193 member states of the UN including; Kenya, Ghana, Gabon, Rwanda, Djibouti, Congo, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo voted YES.

Some 35 countries abstained from the vote, including Russia and China, and African states – Burundi, Senegal, South Sudan, South Africa, Uganda, Mali and Mozambique.

Adonia Ayebare, Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the UN, claimed neutrality was behind the country’s refusal to vote.

Ethiopia did not take part in the voting, but Eritrea, North Korea and Syria voted against the resolution.

The vote, which is mostly politically symbolic but lacks legal strength, means the UN has declared Moscow’s decision a violation of the UN Charter, especially on issues of territorial integrity.

By Racheal Nuwahereza from Tinyefuza Naboth

Putin’s thirst for more blood leaves at least 10 dead in Kharkiv.

Rocket strikes in Kharkiv; Ukraine’s second largest city have killed at least 10 people and wounded 35 after a Russian armoured column descended on Kharkiv firing rocket barrages, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said. An opera house, concert hall and government offices were hit in Freedom Square, in the centre of the north-eastern city Kharkiv.

Upon invasion into Ukraine’s capital Kyiv the previous day, similar strikes killed and wounded dozens in the city.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy; the Ukrainian President said the artillery barrages on Kharkiv amount to state terrorism. “The rubble is being cleared and there will be even more victims and wounded,” he said.

Nearly a week since Russian troops poured over the border, they have failed to capture a single major Ukrainian city after running into fierce resistance. The civilian deaths of the last 48 hours are an unfavourable sign that frustrated Russian commanders could be resorting to more devastating tactics.

Pictures released by U.S. satellite company Maxar showed Russian tanks, artillery and fuel trucks stretching for 40 miles (60 km) along a highway to the north which affirms that Russia still has more forces to throw into the fight.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu says the Kremlin will place its military operation in Ukraine until it achieves its goals. This is aimed at protecting the city from threats created by the West and is currently not occupying Ukraine’s territory.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told a Geneva disarmament meeting via video link on Tuesday that Ukraine had been seeking nuclear weapons. Dozens of diplomats walked out as he began his speech.

Zelenskiy’s government remains in control of Kyiv with soldiers and civilians ready to fight invaders street by street.

Biden, Putin to hold summit, Russia begins invasion.

The White House revealed that US President Joe Biden agreed in principle to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the crisis over Ukraine. The summit proposed by France talks will only take place if Russia does not invade its neighbor.

The proposed summit was announced by the French presidency after two three-hour long phone calls between President Emmanuel Macron and Putin.

The second exchange happened in the early hours of Monday Moscow time, and followed a 15-minute conversation Macron had with Biden.

President Macron’s office said details of the possible summit would be discussed during a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday.

In a statement that confirmed the proposal, the White House also said Russia appeared to be “continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon”, and that the US was ready to impose “swift and severe consequences” should it happen.

A US company Maxar also revealed that new satellite imagery showed multiple deployments of armoured equipment and more than 150,000 troops from Russian garrisons near the border with Ukraine, indicating increased military readiness.

Russian troops pictured portraying readiness.(Courtesy Photo)

US officials say intelligence suggests Russia is ready to launch a military operation, which Moscow denies. 

It is hoped that such talks could offer a possible diplomatic solution to one of the worst security crises in Europe in decades.

Tunisian President Kais Saied dissolves the Supreme Judicial Council

The Supreme Judicial Council is an independent and constitutional institution, formed in 2016. Its powers include ensuring the independence of the judiciary, disciplining judges and granting them professional promotions.

Saied who has repeatedly criticized the judiciary’s delay in issuing rulings in cases of corruption and terrorism says he would not allow judges to act as if they are a state, instead of being a function of the state. Last month, Saied revoked all financial privileges for the council members.

Saied called the council a thing of the past, adding he will issue a temporary decree whose details he did not reveal to the council.

Last month, a plan to redraw the constitution was disclosed when the president initiated an online public consultation and he says drafting a new constitution will be put to a referendum.

In July last year, Saied dismissed the government and suspended parliament, a move his opponents described as a coup. He has been broadly criticized after seizing power and rejecting dialogue with all political parties.

Dissolving the body that deals with judicial independence is a move that has raised fears about the independence of the judiciary and cast doubt on Tunisia’s decade-old democratic system.


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