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Gabon Seeks More Equality Between Men And Women

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Gabon is working to foster more equality between men and women. Three bills are being presented to the parliament to strengthen gender equality.  Prime minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda says the bills will fight against “violence” and “discrimination.”

One of the texts introduces divorce by mutual consent. And adultery, committed by the man or the woman, will be a reason for separation for both spouses.  Before now, that could only be invoked by the man before a judge.

Today, a Gabonese woman is also obliged by law to “obey” her husband. The planned changes will put an end to this, the trailblazing female head of government assured AFP in an interview.

“it was time to strengthen this protection for women by progressively eliminating the discrimination and violence against them,” Ms Ossouka Raponda said.

Three bills were adopted on Tuesday by the council of ministers, one on “the elimination of violence against women”, the other two aiming to amend the criminal code and the civil code, which still enshrines the pre-eminence of the man in the couple by making the husband the sole head of the family.

The bills have yet to be voted on by the national assembly and senate, but the party of president Ali Bongo Ondimba, who has ruled Gabon since his first election in 2009 when he took over from his late father Omar bongo’s long reign, largely dominates both houses.

“today, the husband is the head of the family, the wife must obey the husband and it is the husband who has the choice of residence” for the family, explains Ms Ossouka Raponda. Thanks to the new bills, the woman will share with the man the role of head of the family, she promises.

Any act of domestic violence against a spouse could also lead to divorce. “we want to protect the family as a whole,” the prime minister said.

The draft amendment to the penal code extends the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy to some extent, although it remains highly conditional. “it is not yet the right time” to liberalize it, Ms Ossouka Raponda said.

For an abortion, the state of distress of the woman will no longer need to be “serious” and the requirement of a doctor’s opinion to establish this will be removed.

These reforms are already triggering heated debates on social networks. In 2020, the decriminalization of homosexuality had led to a strong protest movement in a large part of public opinion.

In a recent report published by the world bank “women, business and law 2021”, Gabon, a small central African country, was ranked 41st out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries in terms of promoting women’s rights.

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Ghana: NCA To Shut Down 49 TV Stations For Operating Without License

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Ghana has shut down what it called 49 illegal television stations. The National Communications Authority says broadcasting by too many stations would affect signals. Authorities say the TV stations were being shut down because they were unlicensed. They say the action will ensure efficient use of the country’s broadcasting spectrum.

At least 146 TV channels are currently authorized to operate.

The process of shutting down unlicensed stations is being done in collaboration with the police and intelligence agents.

The NCA says it continuously monitors satellite free-to-air television platforms.

More than 50 radio stations were shut down in a similar exercise in 2017.

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WHO, Africa CDC Urge African Nations To Keep Expired COVID Vaccines

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Africa CDC

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) have urged African countries not to destroy COVID-19 vaccines that have expired.  Many countries on the continent got AstraZeneca vaccines through the U.N. facilitated Covax scheme for their campaigns.

Now, the W.H.O. says countries whose stocks might have expired should hold on to the stock and wait for further guidance. The Africa CDC says it has spoken to the manufacturer and has been reassured that the vaccines are still safe.

Reports say many vaccines can be used up to 36 months after manufacture, but because COVID-19 jabs are new, there is not enough data to prove their effectiveness over longer periods.

The call came after Malawi and South Sudan said they would discard more than 70,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jabs that were out of date.

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa has been slow, partly because of supply issues and skepticism about the jab.

Out of 55 African countries, 41 have benefitted from the delivery of vaccines via the global-sharing scheme Covax. Seven are yet to receive their first batch.

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Angola: Luanda Flood Death Toll Rises To 24, Thousands Homeless

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Heavy rains in Angola’s capital, Luanda, have killed at least 24 persons and left 8,000 families homeless.

A spokesman for the national civil security agency, Faustino Minguês, said most of the victims were killed by collapsing walls or were electrocuted.

Torrential rains and flooding ripped through the city on Monday. The intensity of the downpour, which lasted for about seven hours, collapsed bridges, uprooted trees and submerged vehicles.

In a statement late on Wednesday by Luanda’s provincial government said “The number of deaths has risen from 14 to 24” adding that at least 2,344 homes were flooded and 60 collapsed.

According to AFP news agency a total of 11,745 persons have been affected.

The rain also prevented the operation of public transport in several areas of Luanda, causing many people not to make it to their places of work.

The municipal civil protection commission said it will continue to survey the damage caused by the rains.

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