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45 mourners of deceased Tanzanian president killed in stampede

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Volunteers assist a civilian as she mourns late Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli at Uhuru stadium in Dar es Salaam, March 20, 2021. © Emmanuel Herman, Reuters (illustration)

Police said on Tuesday 45 people lost their lives in a stampede as mourners gathered at the Tanzania Stadium to pay their final respects to President John Magufuli, refuting initial reports that reduced the number of reported deaths after March 21, when the incident occurred.

“It is true that 45 people died because of stampedes and failing to get enough air,” Lazaro Mambosasa, Dar es Salaam’s zonal police commander, told Reuters, adding that 37 mourners who had been injured were treated and discharged from hospital.

Magufuli, was buried last Friday after succumbing to what the government called heart disease.

The coffin of late Tanzanian President John Magufuli being carried during the farewell mass at Magufuli Stadium in Chato, Tanzania, on March 26, 2021. (AFP Photo)

He was replaced by Samia Suluhu Hassan who had been his vice-president.

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Tidings

Massacres, war fuel ethnic fervour in Ethiopia’s Amhara

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A member of the Amhara Special Forces watches on at the border crossing with Eritrea while where an Imperial Ethiopian flag waves, in Humera, Ethiopia, on November 22, 2020. [Eduardo Soteras/AFP]

As he set off to vote in Ethiopia’s national election, Tesfahun Sisay chose his outfit with purpose, pulling on a T-shirt emblazoned with a man’s face and a Kalashnikov rifle.

That man was Asaminew Tsige: revered by many in Amhara, Asaminew commanded the region’s muscular security forces until two years ago, when he was accused of spearheading a local coup and shot dead by police.

“I knew he was doing a good job. I felt this when I bought it, and I decided to wear it today.”

His image with a superimposed Kalashnikov — the standard-issue weapon slung over the shoulders of many in the region — symbolises the willingness of ethnic Amharas to defend their homeland and identity at whatever cost.

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As recently as April, around 100 people were slaughtered in Ataye, a town in Amhara surrounded by ethnic Oromo settlements.

“I feel for my people, for the harassment they face. I feel their grievances. That worries me. I do not have peace of mind,” said Asnakew Melkie, a 46-year-old farmer wrapped in a heavy blanket in the hillside village of Yohannes.

Ethiopia is divided into regions along ethnic and linguistic lines, and Amhara is one of the proudest and most powerful states in the diverse Horn of Africa nation of 110 million people.

Tewodros II, one of Ethiopia’s great emperors, and an ethnic Amhara, unified a swathe of provinces into a single centralised state in the 1800s, and his people dominated politics well into the 20th century.

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“Ethiopia is our region. What is now deemed the Amhara region, we don’t accept that,” said Belete Molla, chairman of the National Movement for Amhara (NAMA), the region’s main opposition party.

“The Amhara people were the last to join political parties based on ethnic characteristics, to define themselves as Amhara,” Belete said.

Besides warning darkly of an “Amhara genocide”, they are determined to reintegrate long-contested parts of western and southern Tigray into Amhara.

They got their chance in November, siding with federal troops as they chased Tigrayan forces into the mountains, and occupying western and southern parts of the region.

The contest over these areas has been a central flashpoint in the eight-month-old war, with Tigrayan rebels shifting their focus to retaking these lands in a fresh offensive launched in July.

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– ‘Survival struggle’ –

The region is ruled by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party (PP), and its president has been an outspoken voice for ethnic Amhara sentiment.

Analysts say the PP had little choice but to adopt the Amhara cause championed by its opponents in the crucial region.

Abiy’s party thumped NAMA in the federal and regional election in Amhara on June 21, contributing to a landslide majority in the national parliament that is set to give the prime minister a new five-year term.

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Biafra: Kanu’s trial will still take place on July 26, says lawyer

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Nnamdi Kanu, rights activist and leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB)

Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lawyer for Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Biafran pro-independence group — Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), said the activist’s trial before a Nigerian high court in Abuja will still take place on July 26, 2021.

The lawyer made this known on Friday amid speculation the trial would not take place as the Nigerian judiciary announced it would embark on vacation.

“We have just received a confirmation from Federal Federal High Court Abuja, that Hearing on Our Client’s case above referred will still go on as earlier schedulde on Monday next week being the 26th Day of July 2021,” said Ejiofor in a statement received by Gazette Africa.

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Kanu, is being held in the Nigeria’s Department of State Services detention center in Abuja after since he was seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to the country.

The separatist leader who had fled to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed many civilians in an attempt to assassinate him, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes, for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

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Biafra: Kanu ‘will soon regain his freedom’ says his lawyer

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Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor

UMUAHIA — Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lawyer for Nnamdi Kanu, leader of Biafran pro-independence group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), said his client would soon be freed from prison in Nigeria.

Ejiofor, who previously disclosed that the separatist leader was being tortured and dehumanized in detention, called for calm on Thursday, saying the situation was receiving the attention it desired.

The “present situation is receiving desired attention from every quaters.We are not leaving any space for anything untoward to happen to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

“He will soon regain his freedom, despite all the shenanigans playing out now. Chukwuokike is with us, and can never fail us.We are keeping on within our proffessional capacity.

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“We Shall keep you updated regularly. But be calm , focused and prayerful, that this period too will come to pass, and it shall all end in praises. Forward ever,” said the legal practitioner.

Kanu is being held in Nigeria for calling for an independent state known as Biafra in the east of the country.

The separatist leader who fled Nigeria to Israel in 2017 when he escaped an assassination attempt by government forces who raided his home in Umuahia, killing dozens of civilians, has resurfaced in Nigeria blindfolded and handcuffed in court where he faces charges of “treason” and other unfounded crimes.

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The Nigerian government declined to give details of the acclaimed “re-arrest” in Kenya, but it was confirmed that Mr. Kanu had been kidnapped in Kenya and illegally repatriated to Nigeria.

His case to resume in court on July 26 and 27.

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