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Uganda Leader Defends Social Media Shut Down

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Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has defended social media shut down ahead of the elections.  He accused social media giant Facebook of arrogance and bias as he confirmed ordering the shut down of social media and messaging apps ahead of Thursday’s poll.

Ugandan authorities ordered telecoms on Tuesday to shut down social media and messaging services, two days before the presidential and parliamentary elections.  Some have described the situation as tense.

French news agency AFP, reports that the executive director of Uganda communications commission, Irene Sewankambo, had ordered telecommunications companies, in a letter, to ‘immediately suspend any access and use’ of social media and online messaging platforms.

The order was allegedly in retaliation for Facebook’s deletion of pro-government accounts for allegedly seeking to manipulate public debate before Thursday’s key polls.

Some users were turning to Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to bypass the blockade.

76-year-old president Yoweri Museveni is running against 37-year-old singer Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, who became a member of parliament three years ago.  Museveni has been in power for more than three decades.

The list of banned social media sites includes Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Signal and Viber. Some of these were already offline on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Uganda is stepping up election security in hotspots. Security forces in Uganda say they will beef up deployments in 39 districts across the country, considered hotspots for violence.

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Emirates Airlines Temporarily Suspends Flights To South Africa

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Emirates Airlines says it will suspend all flights to and from south Africa from this weekend till January the 28th for operational reasons.

The Dubai-based airline says customers holding tickets with final destinations in South Africa during that period will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin. It did not elaborate further.

Emirates is popular to and from the country. South Africa has seen a surge in cases since a new variant was identified in the country in November.

Emirates is popular with travellers to and from South Africa, but there has been a sharp drop in travel because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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‘Unique’ COVID-19 Variant Detected In Kenya

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Kenya says it has detected a unique coronavirus variant in the south-east of the country, following a study by state-linked Kenya Medical Research Institute between June and October.

Scientists at the institute say more research needs to be done to assess the impact of the variant.

Kenya has so far confirmed nearly 100,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,700 deaths.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says the faster-spreading South African variant has been detected in three African states – Botswana, Zambia and the Gambia in west Africa.

WHO says Africa has now surpassed three million COVID-19 cases, and daily case numbers were exceeding the first wave peak.

WHO an average of 25,223 cases were reported each day between 28 December 2020 and 10 January 2021 in Africa, which is nearly 39% higher than the July 2020 two-week peak of 18,104 daily average cases.

“Revamped public health measures are ever more critical to avert a runaway surge in infections that could stretch health facilities to the breaking point,” it added.

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Dozens Killed In Suspected Rebel Attack In Eastern DR Congo

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A senior provincial official in the Democratic Republic of Congo has on Thursday said at least 46 civilians are reported to have been killed in an attack by suspected rebel fighters on a village in the eastern part of the country.

Adjio Gidi, a provincial Interior Minister said as of this afternoon 46 persons are reported to have died and local security forces have been dispatched to the village in Irumu territory to investigate.

He added that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) were behind the raid.

According to UN figures The Ugandan armed group is believed to have carried out a string of massacres in the eastern DRC, killing more than 1,000 civilians since the start of 2019.

Local army spokesman Jules Ngongo said after being alerted to the latest violence, troops went to the village and are in the process of recovering bodies. He did not say how many had been killed.

Some few days ago, unidentified attackers killed at least six rangers in an ambush in eastern DRC’s Virunga National Park, a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas.

DRC’s eastern borderlands with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are home to a constellation of more than 100 different rebel groups, many remnants of its brutal civil wars that officially ended in 2003.

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