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Cote d’Ivoire’s Gbagbo set for talks with ex-president Bedie

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The meeting between the two men — former rivals who are now allies — will take place on Saturday in Daoukro, a Bedie stronghold in central Cote d’Ivoire.

Cote d’Ivoire’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, who returned home last month a decade after falling from power, will meet ex-president Henri Konan Bedie this weekend, Bedie’s office said on Monday, in the latest step in the country’s long-running political crisis.

“The visit will be the chance for a fraternal reunion between the two presidents following president Laurent Gbagbo’s return to his homeland as free man,” it said in a statement.

The meeting between the two men — former rivals who are now allies — will take place on Saturday in Daoukro, a Bedie stronghold in central Cote d’Ivoire.

The 76-year-old Gbagbo, 87-year-old Bedie, and 79-year-old current president, Alassane Ouattara, have dominated Cote d’Ivoire’s political scene for decades, often plunging into rivalries or forging alliances.

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During Gbagbo’s decade-long stay in office, the country was wracked by revolt and turmoil, culminating in a conflict that erupted after he refused to cede electoral defeat to Ouattara.

Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 and hauled before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crime against humanity resulting from the violence, which claimed some 3,000 lives.

He was acquitted in January 2019, a decision that was upheld in March this year and enabled him to return home on June 17.

Ouattara, his erstwhile rival, has officially welcomed his return, seeing in it a possibility of easing the country’s entrenched problems.

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Last year, scores of people were killed in pre-electoral clashes with the police after Ouattara controversially unveiled his bid for a third presidential term.

The elections, on October 31, resulted in a landslide win for him but were gutted of credibility after most of the opposition boycotted the poll.

Bedie teamed up with Ouattara in the 2010 elections, but in 2018 his Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast (PDCI) joined the opposition.

In March, it forged an electoral alliance with Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (PFI) party.

Gbagbo’s former prime minister, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, has called on Ouattara, Bedie and Gbagbo to meet so that Cote d’Ivoire “emerges definitively from the crisis and seals reconciliation.”

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Gbagbo is currently in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he has been on a private visit since Friday to see former DRC warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba, with whom he became friends when the pair were both in detention at the ICC.

He is scheduled to return to Cote d’Ivoire on Thursday.

Africa

African cinema could create 20 million jobs: UN

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Nigeria’s film industry is the continent’s biggest, churning out 2,500 movies per year.

Africa’s film industry is thriving and could create many millions of extra jobs if its potential was fully exploited, the United Nations said Tuesday.

In a report, the UN cultural organization UNESCO said that an estimated five million people currently work in Africa’s film industry, which contributes 5 billion U.S. dollars to the continent’s GDP.

Nigeria’s film industry is the continent’s biggest, churning out 2,500 movies per year.

Despite the numbers, UNESCO said the industry has much potential that remains largely untapped.

Affordable digital film equipment and new online distribution platforms have given new opportunities to content creators, but the report said that Africa has fewer screens per capita than any other continent.

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Piracy is another big issue, with the report estimating “that piracy waylays 50 percent to over 75 percent of the film and audiovisual industries’ revenue”.

Only 19 African countries out of 54 offer any financial support to filmmakers, the report also found.

If all these challenges were fully addressed, the sector could create over 20 million jobs and contribute 20 billion U.S. dollars to the continent’s combined GDP, UNESCO said.

The report also identified a lack of freedom of expression as hindering the film industry’s progress, with professionals in 47 countries reporting limitations on the issues that they are able to handle in their creative work.

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In a statement, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay called for a strengthening of international cooperation “to enable all countries, in particular developing countries, to develop cultural and creative industries that are viable and competitive both nationally and internationally”.

Films are public goods “that require public support and investment”, Azoulay said.

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Rwandan YouTuber jailed for 15 years after anti-Kagame posts

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Idamange had accused the court of bias and boycotted proceedings in June after her request for the trial to be broadcast online was rejected by the court.

A Rwandan court on Thursday sentenced a prominent YouTube commentator and genocide survivor to 15 years in prison for “inciting violence” after she hit out at President Paul Kagame on her channel.

Yvonne Idamange is one of a number of people who have fallen foul of the authorities after turning to the video-sharing platform to publish content critical of the Kagame government, raising concern among international rights groups.

The 42-year-old mother of four, who was not in court for the verdict, was convicted of six charges, sentenced to 15 years behind bars and fined the equivalent of $2,000 — less than the 30 years and $6,000 sought by the prosecution.

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Idamange, who survived the 1994 genocide, was arrested in February for “exhibiting behaviour that mixes politics, criminality, and madness”, police said at the time.

The Kigali High Court found her guilty of inciting violence and public uprising, denigrating genocide artefacts, spreading rumours and violent assault, among other charges.

The accusations were based on comments on her popular YouTube channel “Idamange” in which she accused Kagame and his government of dictatorship, and of exploiting the genocide without giving enough welfare to the survivors.

Her YouTube channel boasts 18,900 subscribers and an average of 100,000 views per video.

Idamange had accused the court of bias and boycotted proceedings in June after her request for the trial to be broadcast online was rejected by the court.

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Rwanda, ruled by Kagame since the end of a genocide which left some 800,000 mainly ethnic Tutsi dead, has often come under fire for rights abuses and a crackdown on freedom of speech, critics and the opposition.

In March, Human Rights Watch voiced alarm over Kigali’s crackdown on people using YouTube or blogs to speak out about sometimes controversial issues in Rwanda.

HRW said then that at least eight people reporting or commenting on current affairs — notably the impact of strict anti-Covid measures which have hit the poor hard — have been threatened, arrested, or prosecuted in the past year.

It pointed to a 2019 statement by Kagame to highlight the dangers faced by those using online platforms: “Those that you hear speak on the internet, whether they are in America, in South Africa, or in France, they think they are far.

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“They are far, but they are close to the fire. The day they get closer, the fire will burn them.”

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Separatists threaten to shutdown Nigeria’s eastern region for a month

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“If by October 21, Kanu is not brought to court, Nigeria will know that Kanu commands the unflinching loyalty of over 60 million Biafrans home and in Diaspora.”

The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, have threatened to shut down Nigeria’s eastern region for a month if the government fails to produce in court, its detained leader Nnamdi Kanu.

Kanu, still in prison, was seized in Kenya in July 2021 and illegally repatriated to Nigeria.

He faces charges of treason and other baseless crimes for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

“If the Federal Government refuses to bring Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to court in his next court appearance on October 21, 2021, the entire Biafra land will be on total lock down for one month. Nigeria cannot incarcerate our leader illegally and expect things to be normal again,” said Emma Powerful, spokesperson for the separatist group.

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“If by October 21, Kanu is not brought to court, Nigeria will know that Kanu commands the unflinching loyalty of over 60 million Biafrans home and in Diaspora.”

The previous round of shutdowns of economic activities and movements in the south-eastern region of Nigeria affected the country’s economy.

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