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In Myanmar, Easter eggs become symbol of defiance for anti-coup protesters

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Opponents of military rule in Myanmar inscribed messages of protest on Easter eggs on Sunday, while others were back on the streets, facing off with security forces after a night of candle-lit vigils for hundreds killed since a Feb. 1 coup.

In the latest in a series of impromptu shows of defiance, messages including “We must win”, “Spring Revolution” and “Get out MAH” were seen on eggs in photographs on social media, the latter referring to junta leader Min Aung Hlaing. Easter is not widely observed in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an activist group monitoring casualties and arrests since the military overthrew the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, said the toll of dead had risen to 557, as of late Saturday.

“People across Burma continued striking for the end of dictatorship, for democracy and human rights,” the group said, using another name for the Southeast Asian country.

Despite the killings, protesters continue to turn out every day in towns big and small to reject the return of military rule after a decade of tentative steps towards democracy. Numerous candle-lit vigils took place on Saturday night.

Early on Sunday, hundreds of people protested in the country’s second city of Mandalay, some on foot, others on motor-bikes, according to images on social media, before police and soldiers moved in to disperse them.

Protesters also gathered in several other towns.

There were no immediate reports of violence.

Police and a spokesman for the junta did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.

BROADBAND CUT

Opponents of military rule have also mounted a civil disobedience campaign of strikes and they arrange often creative shows of defiance, which on Easter Sunday extended to eggs.

The AAPP said 2,658 people were in detention, including four women and a man who spoke to a visiting CNN news crew in interviews on the streets of the main city of Yangon last week.

A spokesman for CNN said it was aware of reports of detentions following the team’s visit.

“We are pressing the authorities for information on this, and for the safe release of any detainees,” the spokesman said.

The military is waging its own campaign to control information and stifle dissent.

It ordered internet providers to cut wireless broadband from Friday, depriving most customers of access, though some messages and pictures were still being posted and shared.

Authorities have also issued arrest warrants for nearly 40 celebrities known for opposing military rule, including social media influencers, singers and models, under a law against inciting dissent in the armed forces.

The charge, announced on the main evening news bulletins broadcast by state media on Friday and Saturday, can carry a prison term of three years.

‘CONSCIENCE CLEAR’

One of those charged, blogger Thurein Hlaing Win, told Reuters he was shocked to see himself branded a criminal on television and had gone into hiding.

“I didn’t do anything bad or evil. I stood on the side of truth. I followed the path I believe in. Between good and evil, I chose good,” he said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

“If I get punished for that, my conscience is clear. My beliefs will not change. Everyone knows the truth.”

The military ruled the former British colony with an iron fist after seizing power in a 1962 coup until it began withdrawing from civilian politics a decade ago, releasing Suu Kyi from years of house arrest and allowing an election that her party swept in 2015.

It says it had to oust Suu Kyi’s government because a November election, again won easily by her party, was rigged. The election commission has dismissed the assertion.

Many in Myanmar, particularly younger people who have come of age during the past decade of social and economic opening up, cannot accept the return of rule by the generals.

Suu Kyi is in detention facing charges that could bring 14 years in prison. Her lawyer says the charges are trumped up.

The coup has also triggered clashes with autonomy-seeking ethnic minority forces that have announced support for the pro-democracy movement.

The Karen National Union, which signed a ceasefire in 2012, has seen the first military air strikes on its forces in more than 20 years and says it must fight to defend itself from a government offensive.

The group said more than 12,000 villagers had fled their homes because of the air strikes.

Fighting has also flared in the north between the army and ethnic Kachin insurgents. The turmoil has sent several thousand refugees fleeing into Thailand and India.

Suu Kyi’s party has vowed to set up a federal democracy, the main demand for the minority groups.

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Updated: Chadian President Idriss Deby dies, son takes over

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Chadian President Idris Derby has died at the age of 68.

He was said to have died while visiting troops on the frontline of a fight against northern rebels, the army said on Tuesday, the day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.

Reuters reported that Deby’s son, Mahamat Kaka, was named interim president by a transitional council of military officers, spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna, said in a broadcast on state television.

The late Chadian leader came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders.

According to the report, Deby and his army have been seen as a reliable Western ally in a turbulent region afflicted by jihadists. His campaign said on Monday he was joining troops on the frontline after rebels based across the northern frontier in Libya advanced hundreds of km (miles) south toward the capital N’Djamena. L1N2MC20E

The exact cause of death was not yet clear but a European diplomatic source said he had been killed.

“A call to dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and abroad in order to continue to build Chad together,” Bermendao said, surrounded by several officers.

“The National Council of Transition reassures the Chadian people that all measures have been taken to guarantee peace, security and the republican order,” he said.

Deby, whose opponents accused him of repressive rule, pushed through a new constitution in 2018 that would have allowed him to stay in power until 2033 – even as it re-instated term limits.

He took the title of “Marshal” last year and said before last week’s election: “I know in advance that I will win, as I have done for the last 30 years.”

He was dealing with mounting public discontent over his management of Chad’s oil wealth and crackdowns on opponents.

But in the election results announced on Monday, Deby was credited with 79 per cent of the vote, handing him a sixth term in office. Several leading opposition figures boycotted the poll.

Western countries have seen Deby as an ally in the fight against Islamist extremist groups, including Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel.

His death is a blow to France, which had based its Sahel counter-terrorism operations in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena.

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Senate probes CCT Chairman, Umar, over alleged assault

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The Senate on Tuesday commenced investigation into alleged assault by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar on a guard, Clement Sagwak, at Banex Plaza, Wuse 2, Abuja.

The incident occurred on March 29, 2021.

Sagwak had also forwarded his petition to the National Human Rights Commission to probe the incident.

Senator Istifanus Gyang (Plateau North) submitted a petition on the incident to the Senate on behalf of his constituent, Sagwak.

Sagwak, had in his petition dated April 9 2021 and signed by his lawyer, Samuel Ihensekhien, accused the CCT chairman of abuse of power, assault, torture, and ‘xenophobia’.

A five-minute video that went viral captured Umar and the guard having an altercation at the plaza.

Sagwak, 22, and an employee of Jul Reliable Guards Services Limited, told the Senate he was attacked by Umar last month.

He said he was assaulted by Umar and a policeman attached to him after he informed him (Umar) that his car was not properly parked.

 

He said the CCT boss slapped him several times and forced him to kneel down in the presence of everybody while undergoing his lawful activities.

He asked the Senate to investigate the incident and ensure justice.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the petition to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to report back to plenary in four weeks.

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Governors agree to implement autonomy for assemblies, judiciary in May

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State governors under the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have agreed to implement autonomy for legislature and judiciary, with effect from May.

This coincides with the Senate through its Chairman for the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele saying autonomy for judiciary is non-negotiable.

Chairman of the NGF, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who is also Ekiti State governor, said the decision to implement the autonomy next month was reached in a meeting attended by federal lawmakers, representatives of the judiciary and legislative workers, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari.

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) is on strike to protest the government’s failure to implement autonomy for the judiciary.

President Muhammadu Buhari had signed an order to that effect in May 2020, but the gazetting of the order was suspended after the President met with governors — triggering reports that the governors were frustrating the move.

Fayemi said the governors never objected to full autonomy for the state assemblies and judiciary, adding that “the issue is about implementation.”

“There has been no objection from governors on judicial and legislative autonomies. As a matter of fact, it would not have passed if governors were not in support in the first instance, in the state assemblies,” he said.

“But we don’t just want to agree to something on paper without working out the modalities for implementation. Thankfully, the meeting we have just emerged from, with the chief of staff to the president chairing, has worked out the modalities to the satisfaction of all parties.

“As soon as the final document that is being cleaned up emerges, that is preparatory to implementation. We’re not going to put a timeframe in the air, but it will be implemented as soon as possible, definitely no later than the end of May 2021.”

He urged the striking judiciary and legislative workers should return to work.

Fayemi said, “I think we are basically at a position where, whether you speak to the conference of speakers’ chairperson or you speak to me or you speak to the representative of the judiciary or you speak to the solicitor-general of the federation, you will hear that we’re speaking with one voice on the implementation.

”And no later than May, you will start seeing the implementation of the agreement that we’ve reached.”

Also speaking to journalists on the issue on Monday, Bamidele said it was laughable to be grappling with judicial autonomy at this stage of the nation’s development.

He said, “We cannot continue to call on the judiciary to give peace a chance when we know the conditions under which they work cannot guarantee a passionate and enhanced delivery of justice. We are talking about judicial reforms; we are talking about the need for justice sector reforms.

“This is central and crucial to the independence of the judiciary in this country. We must not be left behind by the rest of the civilized world. Nobody stands to lose anything by granting independence to judiciary at the state level since it has been done at the national level.

“The fact that workers and staff of federal judiciary are joining the protest is only in solidarity with their colleagues at the state levels. It is a union matter and we do not have a control over it. We are hereby calling on the State Governors to do the needful because the independence of the judiciary is non- negotiable.

“No democracy can survive without being founded on the rule of law and independent judiciary.”

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