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Haiti President Jovenel Moise assassinated

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"The president was assassinated at his home by foreigners who spoke English and Spanish"

Haiti President Jovenel Moise was assassinated at his home early Wednesday morning by a group of armed individuals, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph announced.

Joseph said he was now in charge of the country.

Moise’s injured wife was in the hospital, according to Joseph, who urged the public to remain calm, and insisted the police and army would ensure the population’s safety.

“The president was assassinated at his home by foreigners who spoke English and Spanish,” Joseph said.

Moise had been ruling Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, by decree, after legislative elections due in 2018 were delayed in the wake of disputes, including on when his own term ends.

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In addition to the political crisis, kidnappings for ransom have surged in recent months, further reflecting the growing influence of armed gangs in the Caribbean nation.

Haiti also faces chronic poverty and recurrent natural disasters.

The president faced steep opposition from swathes of the population that deemed his mandate illegitimate, and he churned through a series of seven prime ministers in four year. Most recently, Joseph was supposed to be replaced this week after only three months in the post.

In addition to presidential, legislative and local elections, Haiti was due to have a constitutional referendum in September after it was twice postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Supported by Moise, the text of the constitutional reform, aimed at strengthening the executive branch, has been overwhelmingly rejected by the opposition and many civil society organizations.

The constitution currently in force was written in 1987 after the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship and declares that “any popular consultation aimed at modifying the Constitution by referendum is formally prohibited.”

Critics had also claimed it was impossible to organise a poll, given the general insecurity in the country.

AFP

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Nigerian Lawmakers Want Dangote-led Cement Dominance Broken

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Nigerian lawmakers have urged the government to break the dominance of the country’s three biggest cement makers to encourage more competition and reduce prices.

Dangote Cement Plc, which has a 61% share of the market, Lafarge Africa Plc and BUA Group effectively control production in Africa’s most populous country, the Nigerian Senate said in an emailed statement late Tuesday. That makes the market “susceptible to price-fixing practices,” they said.

Dangote Cement is owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, who operates plants across 10 countries and is building the continent’s largest oil refinery in the West African nation.

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More government incentives such as concessionary loans and larger tax rebates for new entrants could make the market more competitive, the lawmakers said. That may in turn bring down a cost of cement that’s 240% higher in Nigeria than the global average.

More locally produced cement is also needed to reduce a housing deficit of 30 million units, the lawmakers said. Cement producers didn’t respond immediately to calls for comments.

New Nigerian cement manufacturers will have a hard time competing because the cost of production is one of the highest in the world, Onyeka Ijeoma, analyst at Vetiva Capital Management, said by phone. “If there is anything the senate can do to help open up the space, it will come through improving the ease of doing business,” he said.

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