“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tunisia scraps ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslims

Yahoo – AFP, September 14, 2017

Tunisia is viewed as being ahead of most Arab countries on women's rights
(AFP Photo/FETHI BELAID)

Tunis (AFP) - Tunisia has abolished a decades-old ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslims, the presidency said Thursday.

"Congratulations to the women of Tunisia for the enshrinement of the right to the freedom to choose one's spouse," presidency spokeswoman Saida Garrach wrote on Facebook.

The announcement comes a month after President Beji Caid Essebsi called for the government to scrap the ban dating back to 1973.

Until now a non-Muslim man who wished to marry a Tunisian woman had to convert to Islam and submit a certificate of his conversion as proof.

Human rights groups in the North African country had campaigned for the ban's abolition, saying it undermined the fundamental human right to choose a spouse.

Tunisia is viewed as being ahead of most Arab countries on women's rights, but there is still discrimination particularly in matters of inheritance.

Related Articles:




“… With free choice, the percentage of DNA efficiently started to go down as humanity grew. As soon as the DNA started to lose percentage, the gender balance was dysfunctional. If you want to have a test of any society, anywhere on the planet, and you want to know the DNA percentage number [consciousness quota] as a society, there's an easy test: How do they perceive and treat their women? The higher the DNA functionality, the more the feminine divine is honored. This is the test! Different cultures create different DNA consciousness, even at the same time on the planet. So you can have a culture on Earth at 25 percent and one at 37 - and if you did, they would indeed clash. …”

“… You're at 35. There's an equality here, you're starting to see the dark and light, and it's changing everything. You take a look at history and you've come a long way, but it took a long time to get here. Dear ones, we've seen this process before and the snowball is rolling. There isn't anything in the way that's going to stop it. In the path of this snowball of higher consciousness are all kinds of things that will be run over and perish. Part of this is what you call "the establishment". Watch for some very big established things to fall over! The snowball will simply knock them down. …”

Friday, September 8, 2017

PR firm Bell Pottinger seeks rescue after South Africa scandal

Yahoo – AFP, Kenza BRYAN, September 8, 2017

British public relations firm Bell Pottinger was accused of orchestrating a
racially-charged campaign on behalf of the controversial Gupta family in South
Africa (AFP Photo/Rodger BOSCH)

London (AFP) - British public relations firm Bell Pottinger, accused of stirring racial tension in South Africa, faces administration to save it from collapse, a company source said Friday.

"We may well be in administration by Monday," the source told AFP, in reference to the process whereby a troubled firm calls upon independent expert financial help in a bid to remain operational.

In a chaotic week, major clients including banking giant HSBC and telecommunications group TalkTalk have axed ties with Bell Pottinger after it was accused of orchestrating a racially-charged campaign on behalf of the controversial Gupta family in South Africa.

Other fleeing customers include construction company Carillion, financial services firm Investec and luxury goods maker Richemont, according to media reports.

Britain's Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) trade body expelled Bell Pottinger on Tuesday over a campaign deemed "likely to inflame racial discord".

'White monopoly capital'

"White monopoly capital" was one of the slogans Bell Pottinger used on behalf of Oakbay Capital, an investment holding company run by the Indian Gupta family.

The Twitter hashtag #whitemonopolycapital is used by supporters of South Africa's ruling Zuma family, which has controversial ties to the Guptas, to discredit opponents.

The British PR giant deliberately created a narrative of "economic apartheid" to defend the Guptas, according to an independent report, which was conducted by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and published on Monday.

By Thursday, Bell Pottinger chairman Mark Smith told a staff meeting at the PR firm's headquarters in Holborn, central London, that it was likely to go into administration.

Accountancy firm BDO has been hired to look at options including a possible sale.

Various media reported that Bell Pottinger's Asian division will separate from its parent group and rebrand under the name Klareco Communications.

The group's second biggest shareholder, advertising firm Chime, has meanwhile written off its investment and handed back its 27-percent stake.

Nevertheless, Bell Pottinger is still "considering all the options", according to an official spokesman.

The group has pledged to introduce a more formal review of client work to help "identify high-risk clients and high-risk mandates", as well as redeveloping its corporate policies, including for social media, and establishing a new ethics committee.

'Fall from grace'

Bell Pottinger was created in 1987 by Tim Bell, one of Margaret Thatcher's foremost PR advisers, and is well known in the UK for its links to the world of politics and business.

British peers were informed on Thursday that the government has no power to remove the firm from its register of lobbyists.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Conservative Party frontbencher Lord Young said that while the company had acted "unprofessionally and unethically" in South Africa, the only way it could be struck off was if it ceased its public relations business.

He also said that the scandal has had "a very damaging impact" on the Britain's reputation in South Africa.

AFP's source said Friday that they were still "hopeful" about the company's situation, adding that the international response to the scandal in their view had been "out of proportion".

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Huge protests in Togo for constitutional reform

Yahoo – AFP, Sophie BOUILLON, September 6, 2017

Protesters carry flags and placards while they march shouting slogans as they
call for reforms during an anti-government rally in Lome on September 6,
2017 (AFP Photo/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI)

Lome (AFP) - Hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters protested across Togo on Wednesday calling for constitutional reform, despite an apparent government concession to their demands.

Amnesty International country head Aime Adi told AFP "at least 100,000" were in the capital, Lome, with similar demonstrations taking place in some 10 other cities.

Opposition party leader Jean-Pierre Fabre for his part called the demonstration "unprecedented" and estimated that "more than one million people" were on the streets of Lome.

Neither figure was independently verified but AFP journalists on the ground said a tide of people had converged on the coastal capital, dwarfing previous protests.

Many brandished placards denouncing the regime of President Faure Gnassingbe, whose family has been in power for the last 50 years.

"The reforms are lies, we don't believe them. If the people's minds are made up, nothing can stop them, not even the army," said one protester, Armand Jarre, 26.

Gnassingbe chaired a cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening, which saw ministers approve plans for a bill about restrictions on terms in office and changes to the voting system.

The opposition has been calling for both since 2005, when Gnassingbe succeeded his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled for nearly 40 years.

Civil service minister Gilbert Bawara told AFP the government had taken note of the public's "strong expectation" and that a committee was looking into the proposals.

He invited opposition figures to enter into "dialogue and debate" on the issue.

But he said calls to limit the presidential mandate to a maximum two, five-year terms would not be implemented retroactively.

"There is no legislative reason to do so. But we need a consensus so the reform is accepted," he added.

A consensus would mean the approval of four-fifths of parliament, said Bawara.

Parliament only returns from its summer break in October and exact details of the proposals are vague.

Previous protests

Most of Togo's opposition parties decided to come together Lome and some 10 provincial cities on Wednesday, despite the government's apparent olive branch.

They are calling for an acceleration of constitutional reforms, including the limit on how many terms a president can serve and the introduction of a two-round voting system.

"Unir (Unite, the president's ruling party) calls for talks as soon as it is cornered," said Tikpi Atchadam, the head of the Panafrican National Party.

"I think the people have made up their mind because they're fed up," he added, calling on Gnassingbe to "leave by the front door".

"I don't believe in dialogue with the regime anymore," he said.

One man taking part in the protests said on condition of anonymity that after 50 years ruled by the same family, Togo's problems were "too deep".

Hundreds of people were killed in 2005 during violent protests following the death of Gnassingbe Eyadema and the succession of his 38-year-old son.

The president was re-elected in 2010 and 2015, although the opposition rejected the results.

Last month, at least two people were killed in anti-Gnassingbe protests in the city of Sokode, some 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of the capital.

On Tuesday, he appealed for "calm and restraint", adding that the deaths were regrettable.

 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Shock as Kenya court cancels vote result, demands re-run

Yahoo – AFP, Fran BLANDY, September 1, 2017

Stunned supporters of Kenya's opposition rushed onto the streets of Kibera slum
and elsewhere across the capital Nairobi to celebrate the court's decision
(AFP Photo/YASUYOSHI CHIBA)

Nairobi (AFP) - Kenya's Supreme Court on Friday ordered a new presidential election within 60 days, in a shock ruling cancelling the results of last month's poll over widespread irregularities.

Chief Justice David Maraga said a majority decision by the panel of six judges, with two dissenting, found that President Uhuru Kenyatta "was not validly elected", rendering the result "invalid, null and void".

Supporters of veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga's wept and cheered, utterly stunned at what they saw as a historic ruling, after losses in successive polls they believe were rigged, from a judiciary long seen as compromised in favour of the ruling elite.

Odinga, 72, hailed the "historic" ruling which is a first in Africa.

"It is now clear that no one in Kenya is above the law," he said.

Maraga said the election commission (IEBC) had "failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution".

Kenyatta, the first African president to have his re-election overturned by a court ruling, cheerfully took to the streets to address supporters saying he was ready to campaign again.

He slammed Maraga and his fellow judges as "crooks" as he spoke off the cuff, after earlier saying that while he disagreed with the ruling, he respected it.

Beaming broadly, Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga waved at supporters as
 he left Nairobi's Supreme Court following the unprecedented decision to annul the
election result (AFP Photo/SIMON MAINA)

'Kudos to the judges!'

Kenya has a long history of disputed votes, election violence and a lack of faith in the judiciary's independence.

"It was a surprise because the trend in justice in Kenya is not good, but this time justice has been done," said 39-year-old accountancy student Donna Abongo.

"Kudos to the judges!"

"For the first time we have got justice. They have stolen elections for so long," said fishmonger Lynette Akello in western Kisumu.

The run-up to the August 8 election was marred by the murder of top IEBC IT official Chris Msando and opposition allegations that rigging was certain.

Indeed Odinga and his National Super Alliance (NASA) cried foul shortly after counting began, claiming the system transmitting votes had been hacked, and that forms from polling stations that were meant to back up the electronic results were not being uploaded.

The August 11 declaration of Kenyatta's victory with 54.27 percent of the vote -- with not all the tallying forms in -- sparked two days of protests in the slums of Nairobi and Kisumu, traditional opposition strongholds.

At least 21 people, including a baby and a nine-year-old girl, were killed, mostly by police, according to an AFP tally.

'Irregularities and illegalities'

It was the third time in a row that Odinga claimed he had been cheated out of victory at the polls, after his losses in 2007 and 2013.

However, the protests remained isolated and did not reach the levels of the disputed 2007 election which saw politically-motivated ethnic violence in which over 1,100 people were killed.

In 2013, Odinga took his grievances to court and lost.

This time he initially refused to take the case to court but changed his mind, saying NASA wanted the truth to come out even if they believed they had no hope of winning.

However, in a dramatic and unexpected turn of events, the Supreme Court agreed with the opposition coalition.

Maraga said there had been "irregularities and illegalities", notably in the transmission of election results.

He said this had compromised the "integrity of the entire presidential election".

The court's full ruling must be made available within 21 days.

Ahead of the ruling, Kenyan police set up barricades near the Supreme Court
 in Nairobi over fears the outcome could lead to a fresh wave of unrest (AFP 
Photo/SIMON MAINA)

Election commission vows change

Odinga said he no longer had faith in the current election commission and called for them to step down.

But IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati refused to resign, saying he had not been implicated in any wrongdoing personally, but vowed "internal changes to our personnel".

He called for those guilty of wrongdoing to be prosecuted.

NASA official and lawyer, James Orengo, had argued that irregularities -- including unsigned and fake tally forms, hacked servers and deliberate miscounting -- had affected around one-third of the 15.5 million votes cast.

But lawyers for the election commission and Kenyatta countered that errors were simply "clerical" mistakes and technicalities that did not affect the outcome of the vote.

A report filed by the court registrar found a number of errors in the 41,451 polling station tally sheets -- known as form 34A -- as well as in 291 of the form 34B constituency tally sheets, some of which were unsigned, not stamped, illegible or lacking serial numbers or watermarks.

In addition, the registrar's report found that the electoral commission failed to provide full court-ordered access to its servers, which NASA had demanded in order to back up its allegations of hacking.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

'Tsunami-sunk' Roman ruins discovered in Tunisia

Yahoo – AFP, August 31, 2017

A handout picture released by the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and the
 University of Sassari on August 31, 2017 shows archaeologists diving off the coast 
of Nabeul in northeastern Tunisia at the site of the ancient Roman city of Neapolis
(AFP Photo/Handout)

Nabeul (Tunisia) (AFP) - Vast underwater Roman ruins have been discovered off northeast Tunisia, apparently confirming a theory that the city of Neapolis was partly submerged by a tsunami in the 4th century AD.

"It's a major discovery," Mounir Fantar, the head of a Tunisian-Italian archaeological mission which made the find off the coast of Nabeul, told AFP.

He said an underwater expedition had found streets, monuments and around 100 tanks used to produce garum, a fermented fish-based condiment that was a favourite of ancient Rome.

"This discovery has allowed us to establish with certainty that Neapolis was a major centre for the manufacture of garum and salt fish, probably the largest centre in the Roman world," said Fantar.

"Probably the notables of Neapolis owed their fortune to garum."

Fantar's team started work in 2010 in search of the port of Neapolis but only made the breakthrough find of the ruins stretching out over 20 hectares (almost 50 acres) this summer thanks to favourable weather conditions.

The discovery also proved that Neapolis had been partly submerged by a tsunami on July 21 in 365 AD that badly damaged Alexandria in Egypt and the Greek island of Crete, as recorded by historian Ammien Marcellin.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Israel freezes controversial settlement law

Yahoo – AFP, Stephen Weizman, August 18, 2017

International law considers all settlements to be illegal, but Israel distinguishes
between those it sanctions and those it does not (AFP Photo/Jack GUEZ)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel's Supreme Court has frozen implementation of a law legalising dozens of Jewish settlements built on private Palestinian land, which the UN labelled a "thick red line".

The decision was condemned by rightwing Israeli politicians who accused the judiciary of overruling the will of Israel's parliament.

Court documents seen by AFP Friday show that Judge Neal Hendel issued Thursday an open-ended restraining order suspending a bill passed by parliament that would retroactively legalise a number of outposts across the occupied West Bank.

The decision was in response to a petition brought by 17 Palestinian local councils on whose land the settlements are built.

Israeli and Palestinian rights groups were also parties to the petition.

Hendel wrote in his decision that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit had asked him to grant the order.

It did not specify a time limit but demanded that Israel's parliament, the Knesset, deliver its response by September 10 and that Mandelblit submit an opinion by October 16.

The act, known as the "legalisation law", was passed in February and brought immediate condemnation from around the world.

International law considers all settlements to be illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not -- so-called outposts.

Mandelblit himself warned the government the law could be unconstitutional and risked exposing Israel to international prosecution for war crimes.

UN envoy for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov said following the February Knesset vote the bill set a "very dangerous precedent."

"This is the first time the Israeli Knesset legislates in the occupied Palestinian lands and particularly on property issues," he told AFP at the time.

"That crosses a very thick red line."

Rightwing condemnation

Rightwing parliamentarians criticised the court decision, saying it undermined the sovereignty of Israel's parliament.

"This is a dangerous intervention by the court against Knesset legislation," MP Bezalel Smotrich of the far right Jewish Home party, which is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government, told The Jerusalem Post newspaper.

"Time after time the judiciary tramples on the decisions of one governmental authority or another. This story must stop."

Mandelblit had suggested the bill would be likely to be struck down by the courts from when it was first proposed.

The act allows Israel to appropriate Palestinian private land on which settlers built without knowing it was private property or because the state allowed them to do so.

Palestinian landowners whose property was taken for settlers would be compensated with cash or given alternative plots.

Palestinians said the law was a means to "legalise theft" and France called it a "new attack on the two-state solution."

Some members of Netanyahu's right-wing government advocate the annexation of much of the West Bank, a move that would end any hope of an independent Palestinian state.

Mladenov said that the "legalisation law" could be a prelude to that.

"It opens the potential for the full annexation of the West Bank and therefore undermines substantially the two-state solution," he said after its passing.

Monday, August 14, 2017

312 dead as mudslides, flooding sweep through Sierra Leone capital

Yahoo – AFP, Saidu Bah, August 14, 2017

Residents struggled to traverse roads that were turned into churning rivers of mud
after Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown was struck by heavy rains (AFP Photo/STR)

Freetown (AFP) - At least 312 people were killed and more than 2,000 left homeless on Monday when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown, leaving excavators to pull bodies from rubble and overwhelming the city's morgues.

An AFP journalist saw several homes submerged in Regent village, a hilltop community, and corpses floating in the water in the Lumley West area of the city, as the government held an emergency meeting to plan its response to one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the city.

Red Cross spokesman Patrick Massaquoi told AFP the death toll was 312 but could rise further as his team continued to survey disaster areas in Freetown and tally the number of dead.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, according to UN indicators.

"I counted over 300 bodies and more are coming," Mohamed Sinneh, a morgue technician at Freetown's Connaught Hospital, told AFP, having earlier described an "overwhelming number of dead" at the facility leaving no space to lay out every body.

Many more of the dead were taken to private morgues, Sinneh said.

Sierra Leone's military, police and Red Cross volunteers were meanwhile deployed in an all out effort to locate and rescue citizens trapped in their homes or under rubble.

Images obtained by AFP showed ferocious, churning dark-orange mud coursing down a steep street in the capital, while videos posted by local residents showed people waist- or chest-deep in water trying to cross the road.

The Sierra Leone meteorological department did not issue any warning ahead of the torrential rains to hasten evacuation from the disaster zones, AFP's correspondent based in Freetown said.

'Lost everything'

Fatmata Sesay, who lives on the hilltop area of Juba, said she, her three children and husband were awoken at 4:30 am by rain pounding on the mud house they occupy, which was by then submerged by water.

"I only managed to escape by climbing to the roof of the house when neighbours came in to rescue me," she said.

Sierra Leone's capital is hit each year by flooding that destroys makeshift settlements throughout
 the city, raising the risk of waterborne diseases like cholera This handout picture released
 on August 14, 2017, by Society 4 Climate Chnage Communication Sierra Leone, shows flooded
 streets in Regent near Freetown.The death toll from massive flooding in the Sierra Leone 
capital of Freetown climbed to 312 on August 14, 2017, the local Red Cross told AFP. Red 
Cross spokesman Patrick Massaquoi told AFP the toll could rise further as his team continued 
to survey disaster areas in Freetown, where heavy rains have caused homes to disappear 
under water and triggered a mudslide. (AFP Photo/STR)

"We have lost everything and we do not have a place to sleep," she told AFP in tears.

Deputy Information Minister Cornelius Deveaux confirmed President Ernest Bai Koroma had called a national emergency, and said his own boss, Information Minister Mohamed Bangura, was in hospital after being injured in the flooding.

Deveaux said "hundreds" of people had lost their lives and had properties damaged, and promised food and other assistance for the victims.

He called on the public to remain calm with rescue efforts underway.

Piles of corpses

The scale of the human cost of the floods was only becoming clear on Monday afternoon, as images of battered corpses piled on top of each other circulated and residents spoke of their struggles to cope with the destruction and find their loved ones.

Meanwhile disaster management official Vandy Rogers said that "over 2,000 people are homeless," hinting at the huge humanitarian effort that will be required to deal with the fallout of the flooding in one of Africa's poorest nations.

Freetown, an overcrowded coastal city of 1.2 million, is hit each year by flooding during several months of rain that destroys makeshift settlements and raises the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera.

Sasha Ekanayake, Save the Children's Sierra Leone Country Director, said the immediate priority was to provide shelter and protect residents, especially children, from the spread of deadly waterborne diseases.

"We are still in the rainy season and must be prepared to respond in the event of further emergencies to come," she said in a statement.

Flooding in the capital in 2015 killed 10 people and left thousands homeless.

Sierra Leone was one of the west African nations hit by an outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014 that left more than 4,000 people dead in the country, and it has struggled to revive its economy since the crisis.

About 60 percent of people in Sierra Leone live below the national poverty line, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The country ranked 179th out of 188 countries on the UNDP's 2016 Human Development Index, a basket of data combining life expectancy, education and income and other factors.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Rwanda's Paul Kagame: visionary, despot, or both?

Yahoo – AFP, Fran BLANDY, August 1, 2017

Incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame (L) has become one of Africa's
most powerful and admired leaders (AFP Photo/MARCO LONGARI)

Kigali (AFP) - Paul Kagame is revered for stopping Rwanda's genocide and engineering what admirers call an economic miracle, but his critics see a despot who crushes all opposition and rules through fear.

The 59-year-old former guerrilla fighter is seeking a third term in office in August 4 polls after voters massively approved a constitutional amendment allowing him to run again and potentially stay in office for another two decades.

Kagame frames his run as a duty to his country, however the move angered international allies whose patience has worn thin with a man once held up as a shining example of successful post-colonial leadership in Africa.

Yet the president of the tiny central African nation has become one of Africa's most powerful and admired leaders. His counterparts, inspired by Rwanda's turnaround, have tasked him with reforming the African Union.

Shattered by the 1994 genocide and with not a franc left in the national treasury when Kagame took over, Rwanda is now growing at an average seven percent a year while Kigali has transformed into a capital with a gleaming skyline, spotless, safe streets and zero tolerance for corruption.

"Kagame is known as a doer and an implementer, not somebody who says things just like everyone else," said Desire Assogbavi, Oxfam's liason to the AU who also blogs regularly about the body.

His close friend Tony Blair hails him as a "visionary leader" for the remarkable development he has brought about.

'Unapologetically authoritarian'

The president's personality -- described as "unapologetically authoritarian" by author Philip Gourevitch, who wrote a powerful account of the genocide -- was forged by growing up in exile.

In 1960, when he was three, his aristocratic Tutsi family fled to neighbouring Uganda to escape pogroms.

While out of danger, they suffered years of discrimination and persecution that nourished the dream of going back to the homeland they idealised.

Serving in Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's rebel force before and after it seized power in 1986, he rose to become its intelligence chief.

Kagame -- the only president known to have had military training both in the US and Cuba -- later took over command of a small rebel force of Rwandan exiles that sneaked back home hoping to overthrow the regime of Juvenal Habyarimana in 1990, sparking civil war.

Habyarimana's death in an aeroplane crash in 1994 triggered three months of genocide, mostly of minority Tutsis by youths in the Hutu majority whipped into a frenzy of hate.

Kagame, a father of four, was just 36 when his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebel army routed the forces who had slaughtered an estimated 800,000 people and seized Kigali, becoming the de facto leader of the nation.

'New breed of dictator'

Kagame soon became the darling of an international community deeply ashamed at having stood by during the genocide, even as his RPF was accused of killing tens of thousands of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo while pursuing genocide perpetrators.

It was accusations Kagame was backing rebel groups in the DRC -- which he staunchly denies -- that finally pushed his allies to take a tougher line, with several suspending aid to Rwanda in 2012.

And criticism has grown louder over his rights record.

Kagame's critics have ended up jailed, forced into exile or assassinated. Rights groups slam the repression of the media and opposition.

Kagame won elections in 2003 and 2010 with 95 and 93 percent respectively. Observers say real opponents are silenced while those allowed to run in elections serve as a democratic facade.

One of Rwanda's rare critical journalists, Robert Mugabe, describes Kagame as the quintessential modern dictator.

"We have a new breed of dictators... they hire PR agencies they form a narrative and these dictators are smart enough to know what the western world wants to see and wants to hear."

Kagame, his aloof gaze piercing through black-rimmed glasses, coolly brushes off criticism over his governance and slams the "arrogant" West for dictating to Rwandans what freedom is.

"A strong leader is not necessarily a bad leader. I don't know where we would be today if a weak leader had taken over this country (after the genocide)," Kagame told Jeune Afrique magazine in 2016.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tunisia: Women celebrate their rights

Decades of protest have paid off: Tunisia's parliament has passed a historic law on violence against women. It punishes all forms of violence and sets the country up for a potential cultural revolution.

Deutsche Welle, 27 July 2017


Tunisia's parliament approved legislation on Wednesday that protects women from all forms of violence. The country's Family Minister Naziha Laabidi called it a "historic project."

"It's a very important law," said Abir Alhaj Mawas, a sociologist who works for Terre des Femmes, a women's rights nongovernmental organization. The law addresses women who are isolated, she said, so that they can enjoy rights already common for women elsewhere, such as in Europe.

The centerpiece of the law is, for Mawas, the paragraph dealing with punishing domestic violence. "Rape within the family has long been handled as a private matter easy to cover up, rather than a crime," she said. "This has now changed."

No safety in marriage

The new law changes how violence against women is prosecuted. Authorities must investigate a matter even if the woman herself rescinds her claim, regardless of cause for the claim's withdrawal. The law sees to the legal and psychological support for women who have been victims of violence in a way that aims to "support human rights and gender equality," Minister Laabidi said. Shelters and information centers are to be established where women can receive immediate assistance.

Sociologist Mawas has welcomed
the new law
Tunisia's parliament also addressed a long-time demand of women's rights activists by striking down the paragraph protecting adult men from prosecution for having sex with a minor if he married her.

Violence by the numbers

Many women in Tunisia suffer from violence and harassment. A recently published study found that 64 percent of the 4,000 women surveyed would seek the permission of a male family member before leaving home. Nearly 70 percent reported being insulted on public transport, and 76 percent of married women reported physical and psychological violence at home.

Such violence has a number of sources, Mawas said, including ideology and false interpretations of the Quran. The 2011 wave of uprisings across the Arab world, dubbed the Arab Spring, made matters for women worse, Mawas said. Protests often took an authoritarian turn, and women received the brunt of the violence, she said.

Social conditions are also cause for violence against women. Poorly educated women have limited employment opportunities and can easily become victims of violence. "These women lack the means to make good on their rights," Mawas said.

In Tunisia, the protests in favor of expanding women's rights paid off

Conservative criticism

There was broad support across Tunisian society for the new law, with calls for a cultural reform that compels men to accept women as equals. But by conservatives' religious standards, a person is a consenting adult from the age of 13, Islamic politician Noureddine Bhiri told the newspaper Jeune Afrique. Lawmaker Salem Labiadh told Tunisia's Business News newspaper that the new law "can lead to a radical feminism, destroy the foundation of the family and legalize homosexuality."

Some readers reacted with disdain and mockery in the newspaper's letters to the editor section.

Backward thinking

There are also men who deny their wives rights without religious cause, due to external pressure, Mawas said. "They would be heavily criticized for giving their wives their freedom," she said, adding "even secular men are influenced by a religious climate."

Women in the Arab world continue to suffer under conservative dogma, wrote the Tunisian newspaper, Le Temps. "This must change if we really want equality and dignity to become a reality."

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“… With free choice, the percentage of DNA efficiently started to go down as humanity grew. As soon as the DNA started to lose percentage, the gender balance was dysfunctional. If you want to have a test of any society, anywhere on the planet, and you want to know the DNA percentage number [consciousness quota] as a society, there's an easy test: How do they perceive and treat their women? The higher the DNA functionality, the more the feminine divine is honored. This is the test! Different cultures create different DNA consciousness, even at the same time on the planet. So you can have a culture on Earth at 25 percent and one at 37 - and if you did, they would indeed clash. …”

“… You're at 35. There's an equality here, you're starting to see the dark and light, and it's changing everything. You take a look at history and you've come a long way, but it took a long time to get here. Dear ones, we've seen this process before and the snowball is rolling. There isn't anything in the way that's going to stop it. In the path of this snowball of higher consciousness are all kinds of things that will be run over and perish. Part of this is what you call "the establishment". Watch for some very big established things to fall over! The snowball will simply knock them down. …”