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This Week in Africa | Tuesday 18 May 2010

Kenya Inches Closer to New Constitution

A round up of the week’s news, compiled by Newsfromafrica staff writers.

Kenya’s interim electoral commission has released the official symbols that will guide voters in an August 4 referendum on a proposed new constitution for the country.

The colour green will stand for the “Yes” vote while ‘Red’ will represent a “No” vote.

The East African nation voted in a similar referendum in 2005, and 57 per cent of voters returned a “No” vote. The current draft constitution has faced strong opposition from Christian churches, which argue that it leaves loopholes for abortion by choice. [ER]

13 Killed as Somali Islamists Attempt Parliament Blow-Up

At least 13 people were killed and dozens injured in Mogadishu last Sunday as Somalia’s main Islamist group, Al Shabaab, attempted to blow up the country’s parliament.

The Islamists had fired mortars from the Somali capital’s main Bakara market, targeting parliament buildings where legislators were discussing a vote of no confidence on the country’s interim government. The attack missed its target, and African Union troops battled the fighters to derail them and prevent further loss of life.

Somalia has remained unstable and lawless since its last functioning government was overthrown by clan warlords in 1991.[ER]

 Sudan Opposition leader Arrested over Poll Comment

Sudanese authorities have arrested the country’s fiercest opposition leader, Hassan Al-Turabi, over his recent allegations in a newspaper interview that last month’s landmark elections were fraudulent.

Arrested alongside Turabi was the chief editor of his Popular Congress Party’s daily newspaper, Rai Al-Shaab. All copies of the newspaper were confiscated in a dawn raid and journalists ordered to scrum.

The authorities also accuse Turabi, once close ally to President Omar al-Bashir before they fell out in a power struggle, of having ties with Darfur’s rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). President Bashir is wanted by International Criminal Court for atrocities in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

Bashir won last month’s election with 68 per cent in a vote that was boycotted by credible opposition challengers. [ER]

Zimbabwe Court Acquits Tsvangirai Ally

Zimbabwe’s high court on Monday dropped terrorism charges against a senior official of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The court ruled that the state had failed to prove its case against MDC treasurer Roy Bennett, citing lack of adequate evidence.

Bennett was arrested last year and charged will illegal possession of arms with terrorist and insurgent intentions. The MDC claimed the accusations were a political ploy by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF to prevent Bennett, a White Zimbabwean and key Mugabe critic, from taking up his designated post as a deputy minister in a unity government formed between the two parties after a post election deadlock. [ER]

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