Escalating election crisis in Honduras

Honduran police fired tear gas at rock-hurling protesters after a widely criticized presidential election that saw the opposition cry foul as the incumbent slowly pulled ahead four days after the vote.

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The rule of Robert Mugabe

Robert Gabriel Mugabe is a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who led his country as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987 and as President from 1987 to 2017. He chaired the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) group from 1975 to 1980 and led its successor political party, the ZANU – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF), from 1980 to 2017. Ideologically an African nationalist, during the 1970s and 1980s he identified as a Marxist–Leninist, although after the 1990s self-identified only as a socialist. His policies have been described as Mugabeism.
Mugabe was born to a poor Shona family in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia. Following an education at Kutama College and the University of Fort Hare, he worked as a school teacher in Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Ghana. Angered that Southern Rhodesia was a British colony governed by a white minority, Mugabe embraced Marxism and joined African nationalist protests calling for an independent black-led state. After making anti-government comments, he was convicted of sedition and imprisoned between 1964 and 1974. On release, he fled to Mozambique, established his leadership of ZANU, and oversaw ZANU’s role in the Rhodesian Bush War, fighting Ian Smith’s predominantly white government. He reluctantly took part in the peace negotiations brokered by the United Kingdom that resulted in the Lancaster House Agreement. The agreement dismantled white minority rule and resulted in the 1980 general election, at which Mugabe led ZANU-PF to victory and became Prime Minister of the newly renamed Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s administration expanded healthcare and education and—despite his Marxist rhetoric and professed desire for a socialist society—adhered largely to conservative economic policies.
Mugabe’s initial calls for racial reconciliation failed to stem deteriorating race relations and growing white flight. Relations with Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) also declined, with Mugabe crushing ZAPU-linked opposition in Matabeleland during the Gukurahundi between 1982 and 1985; at least 10,000 people, mostly Ndebele civilians, were killed by Mugabe’s Fifth Brigade. Internationally, he sent troops into the Second Congo War and chaired the Non-Aligned Movement (1986–89), the Organisation of African Unity (1997–98), and the African Union (2015–16). Pursuing decolonisation, Mugabe’s government emphasised the redistribution of land controlled by white farmers to landless blacks, initially on a “willing seller-willing buyer” basis. Frustrated at the slow rate of redistribution, from 2000 Mugabe encouraged the violent seizure of white-owned land. Food production was severely impacted, leading to famine, drastic economic decline, and international sanctions. Opposition to Mugabe grew, although he was re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2013 through campaigns dominated by violence, electoral fraud, and nationalistic appeals to his rural Shona voter base. Following a 2017 coup, Mugabe resigned the presidency.
Having dominated Zimbabwe’s politics for nearly four decades, Mugabe has been a controversial and divisive figure. He has been praised as a revolutionary hero of the African liberation struggle who helped to free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism, and white minority rule. Conversely, he has been accused of being a dictator responsible for economic mismanagement, widespread corruption, racial discrimination, human rights abuses, suppression of political critics, and crimes against humanity.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born on 21 February 1924 at the Kutama Mission village in Southern Rhodesia’s Zvimba District. His father, Gabriel Matibiri, was a carpenter while his mother Bona taught Christian catechism to the village children. They had been trained in their professions by the Jesuits, the Roman Catholic apostolic order which had established the mission. Bona and Gabriel had six children: Miteri (Michael), Raphael, Robert, Dhonandhe (Donald), Sabina, and Bridgette. They belonged to the Zezuru clan, one of the smallest branches of the Shona tribe. Mugabe’s paternal grandfather was Constantine Karigamombe, alias “Matibiri”, a strong powerful figure, who served King Lobengula in the 19th century. The Jesuits were strict disciplinarians and under their influence Mugabe developed an intense self-discipline, while also becoming a devout Catholic. Mugabe excelled at school, where he was a secretive and solitary child, preferring to read alone rather than playing sport or socialising with other children. He was taunted by many of the other children, who regarded him as a coward and a mother’s boy.

Clashes in Kenya’s election re-run

Kenya was hurtling towards a deepening political crisis after violent clashes and a record-low turnout in its contentious presidential rerun, suggesting that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s anticipated victory would be a hollow one. Mr Kenyatta’s return to power seemed assured after Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, withdrew from the fresh race, calling for a boycott of an election that he has condemned as a “sham”. With Kenyans at their most polarised in a decade, voting in parts of the country got off to a chaotic start, with some polling stations unable to open at all and others forced to delay by several hours.

Drought-hit Somalia : People are dying. The world must act

The UN chief has urged international support to alleviate Somalia’s worsening hunger crisis during an emergency visit to the country. Antonio Guterres issued the appeal on Tuesday after witnessing the suffering of malnourished Somalis and cholera victims during his first field trip since becoming the UN chief. He said the hunger crisis requires a massive response as six million people, or almost half of the population of the Horn of Africa country, need assistance. “Every single person we have seen is a personal story of tremendous suffering. There is no way to describe it,” Guterres said after seeing skeletal men, women and children in a cholera ward in Baidoa, 243km northwest of the capital, Mogadishu.

Fighting to survive hunger in Somalia

 A week after his inauguration, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared a state of disaster in his drought-stricken country of Somalia, where the lives of 6.2 million people are now at risk. Even as the ongoing war against al-Shabab continues and African Union forces (AMISOM) fight to assist the fragile government, the looming famine has become a priority. The drought will be a trial for all those involved in Somalia’s struggles. It will test the international community’s response, the government’s ability to assist, and the strength of security provided by the African Union forces.
In the far north of Somalia, three years with little rain has had increasingly disastrous effects for a population reliant on the land. The parched earth has failed to produce food for the camels and goats that the people depend on for their income, meat, and milk for their children. Local leaders in Puntland estimate the pastoralists have already lost 65 percent of their animals. While the men accompany the remaining livestock in the hunt for grazing land, the women and children are migrating towards towns on main roads in search of alternative sources of food. Displaced people have been setting up tents along the roads in hope of receiving aid from passing vehicles. It’s there the women, children, and elderly wait for assistance in the heat and dust. In the coming months, if the word famine is used to describe the crisis in Somalia, it will mean that help never came. 

Mobs in South Africa, attack immigrants

More than 300 suspects have been arrested in South Africa in connection with deadly attacks on foreigners that have forced thousands to flee, the government said Sunday. “We once again unequivocally condemn the maiming and killing of our brothers and sisters from other parts of the continent,” the government said. “No amount of frustration or anger can justify these attacks and looting of shops.” Thousands sought refuge in temporary shelters after mobs with machetes attacked immigrants in Durban. The attacks in Durban killed two immigrants and three South Africans, including a 14-year-old boy, authorities said. Heavily armed police have scrambled to stop clashes after local residents accused immigrants from other African nations of taking their jobs. The government praised law enforcement agencies for stopping further bloodshed in Durban. “We believe that their commitment to duty has prevented injuries and even deaths that could have happened if they security forces had not acted,” it said.

Drought in Somalia : Time is Running Out

Four-year-old Safia Adan lies in Baidoa Regional Hospital in southern Somalia with a tube through her nose. She is suffering from severe malnutrition and dehydration. At her side her worried grandmother looks up to explain that Safia first became sick after drinking water from the local well. “The water had changed colour but we still drank it,” says her grandmother. “We stopped after Safia became sick. We brought her to the city because we knew you get could get good treatment here.” They were lucky – seven people from their village are now confirmed dead and the hospital has seen a surge in children suffering from water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea. They are the latest victims of the on-going drought ravaging Somalia that has left more than six million people, half the country’s population, facing food shortages and has seen water supplies become infected with bacteria rendering them undrinkable. 
Last week the United Nations warned that a severe famine in Somalia was a distinct possibility and noted that if the rains failed again and urgent international action was not taken the country could see a repeat of the famine of 2011, which killed more than a quarter of a million people. “In the worst affected areas inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock,” the UN said in a statement released last week. “Communities are being forced to sell their assets and borrow food and money to survive.” Aid agencies are particularly concerned that the drought is exacerbating the country’s on-going humanitarian crisis – 365,000 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished and 71,000 of those children are in need of urgent life-saving assistance. “This time last year we had far fewer cases but due to the drought people will use any kind of water,” says Dr Abdullah Yusuf, medical coordinator for the Baidoa Regional Hospital.

 Karel Prinsloo

Drought stokes rivalry between Kenyan cattle herders

Cattle rustling and competition for grazing have long troubled northern Kenya, but severe drought and political rivalries ahead of the elections have exacerbated the situation between ethnic tribes.  

Student protests in South Africa

Hundreds of students demanding free education have clashed with police in renewed violence at South Africa’s top university in Johannesburg after it attempted to reopen following recent unrest. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades and water cannon to disperse stone-throwing protesters at Witwatersrand University, also known as Wits. Blade Nzimande, the country’s education minister, appealed for dialogue and condemned the violence, saying the university’s efforts to run its academic programme were being “held to ransom by irresponsible and disrespectful striking students”. Two arrests were made and minor injuries reported, according to a statement by the university. “The students started throwing sizeable rocks that could have maimed or killed people,” Wits said in a statement after trying to reopen on Monday.

Chaos started with protesters moving through science and mathematics buildings, seeking to disrupt classes. Libraries and a large laboratory were empty. Later, there were tense exchanges. As police helicopters circled, some protesters spilled into city streets. A bus was set on fire, and thick smoke billowed into the air. Thato Mokoena, one of the student leaders, called on the university management to stop “militarisation” of the campus. “The university needs to start realising that every day we have security and police, every day we have violence. Every other day when they are not here, everything is OK. So I think there should be a de-militarisation of our campuses,” he said. Police and student protesters also fought on a campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, the African News Agency reported. Unrest was reported at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein as well.  

South Sudan : A never-ending cycle of violence

On the fifth anniversary of its independence from Khartoum, South Sudan finds itself plunged into an ever-deepening cycle of violence. Despite a peace agreement in August and the formation of a transitional government of national unity in Juba in April, fighting has escalated across the country in recent weeks. On June 24, more than 100,000 civilians were forced from their homes in the town of Wau in the northwest when a force of government soldiers and irregular Dinka militia entered the town.
The men, armed with guns, pangas and spears, went from house to house in the south and west of the town, attacking civilians and looting their property, sources in Wau told Al Jazeera. Those targeted were mainly from a group of tribes collectively known as Fertit. Dozens were killed and many more injured. According to figures from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, almost 50,000 were displaced in Wau within the first week, and the numbers have since continued to grow. The International Committee of the Red Cross told that by June 30 it had given aid to 73,000 people displaced outside the town.