Ajay Gupta (L) – pictured here with his brother Atul and Duduzane Zuma – has denied any wrongdoing
South African authorities have said that controversial businessman Ajay Gupta is no longer wanted by police.
An arrest warrant for Mr Gupta, issued in February 2018 for corruption charges, was cancelled on Thursday.
The authorities had sought to question Mr Gupta on allegations that he attempted to bribe former deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas.
Mr Gupta, who is a close friend of ex-President Jacob Zuma, maintains his innocence and denies knowing Mr Jonas.
Mr Jonas told the commission investigating state corruption that Mr Gupta had offered him a $42m (£32m) to take up the post of finance minister.
He said this happened during a meeting set up by Duduzane Zuma – Mr Zuma’s son.
Corruption charges against Duduzane Zuma were provisionally withdrawn last month, while evidence continues to be heard by the corruption commission.
As a consequence, police say, they had to withdraw the arrest warrant against Mr Gupta.
It was exactly a year ago on Thursday that the elite Hawks police unit shocked South Africa by raiding the Guptas’ lavish compound in Johannesburg, only to find that the brothers had disappeared abroad.
According to the BBC’s Vauldi Carelse in Johannesburg, Mr Gupta is believed to be living in Dubai.
Local media have reported that arrest warrants have also been issued for the two other Gupta brothers, but this has not been confirmed by the Hawks.
Minister of State in charge of National security, Mr. Bryan Acheampong, has given strong indications that the armed masked men who assaulted civilians at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election will be made to face the full rigours of the law.
Mr. Acheampong said he has also instructed the Director of Operations for the National security to identify and fish out the man who assaulted the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Mr. Sam George during the recently held Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, and remove him from operations of the National Security Council.
Speaking at the public hearing of the Justice Emile Short Commission of Inquiry on Thursday, Mr. Bryan Acheampong was, however, unable to state exactly what other punishment will be meted out the said individual who assaulted the legislator as well as his other fully masked armed colleagues who were caught on camera brutalizing civilians.
The Abetifi MP also disclosed that all of such masked and armed men, who assaulted individuals will be made available for questioning into circumstances leading to their misconduct.
The Minister of State in charge of National Security, also explained to the commission of inquiry that, the presence of masked armed men at the by-election was “not a failed operation” despite all the condemnation from civil society organizations, opposition political parties, and the general public.
According to him, the armed and masked men numbering about 60 of them deployed did not fire gunshots indiscriminately as reported by the media.
Appearing before the Justice Emile Short commission of Inquiry Mr. Acheampong explained that the armed security operatives seen in khaki and masks did not misconduct themselves in their handling of the volatile security situation during the by-election.
was used in their arrest after they initially resisted arrest.
Mr. Bryan Acheampong who is also a Member of Parliament of the Abetifi Constituency in his defence for the national security operatives said the gunshots they fired were warning shots and not directed at any person.
He alleged that all the gunshots wounds took place inside the house of the NDC parliamentary candidate for the by-election, Mr. Delali Kwesi Brempong.
“They tell me, that in the arrest of the nine people, six were injured I asked if it was from gunshots, they said no. They were resisting arrest and they applied minimal force in their language and sustained some injuries, they sent to the police station and they were given medical forms, so yes, some Ghanaians sustained injuries.”
Masked armed men were not part of Police operation – Ambrose Dery
The Interior Minister, Mr, Ambrose Dery in an interesting twist to the violence witnessed during the recently held Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, has earlier said the Police Service did not play any role in the disturbances.
Mr. Ambrose Dery who was first of to be invited to the public hearing of the commission of inquiry said, the Police service, which is under his ministry had no hand in the operations of the masked men who have been widely described in the media as party vigilantes aligned to the governing New Patriotic Party
He also disclosed that the vehicles used in transporting these masked and fully armed men to the La Bawaleshie polling centre, where most of the violence occurred, did not belong to the Police Service despite having the inscription “Police SWAT” on it and being driven by a uniformed police officer.
Mr. Ambrose Dery also noted he had no idea of the deployment of the masked men to the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency and only saw them on national television.
He also explained that the official report sent to him, by the IGP revealed that the masked men in Khaki uniforms were not personnel of the Ghana Police service.
“As reported to me, by the IGP, who was in charge of the operations, I will say that there were police deployed and there were also officers of the Ghana Immigration Service, also deployed in the 137 polling stations. That is what I know…”
“…I first saw on TV, some persons dressed in Khaki and some of them wearing masks and armed… and when I got the video, I forwarded it to the Police and he said these are not part of my men. I later got information that an officer of National security had said that they were national security operatives,” he said.
The NDC withdrew from the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election following the shooting incident and ordered its polling agents and observers out of the area.
The masked men were caught on camera beating up civilians who did not resist arrest. The men, fully armed were also seen in the company of some police officers.
Some of these men believed to party vigilantes of the ruling NPP were seen in T-shirts with the inscription ‘NSC’ which translates as the National Security Council of which the President of the Republic heads.
The Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Samuel Nartey George, was seen being struck in the face by two security personnel in a viral video.
Mr. Bryan Acheampong, Minister of State in charge of National Security in an interview on the Citi Breakfast show, said his outfit deployed the masked men.
A statue of Ethiopia’s last emperor has been unveiled outside the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The likeness of Haile Selassie is being given pride of place outside the $200m (£154m) building in recognition for his role in establishing its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
But that might not be the first thing that springs to mind on hearing the name Haile Selassie. The name is perhaps more easily connected with Jamaican singer Bob Marley and Rastafarians.
So who exactly is Haile Selassie, and how did he come to be worshipped as a god by people living thousands of miles away?
First things first: why is he getting a statue?
Haile Selassie was more than 30 years into his reign when he helped establish the OAU. Its first meeting, in May 1963, was held in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia – which has never been colonised although it was subjected to a five-year military occupation by Mussolini’s Italy – had served as a symbol of African independence throughout the colonial period.
Now other countries were finally gaining independence, and this was a chance to bring nations together to fight against colonisation and white minority rule while also co-ordinating efforts to raise living standards and defend their sovereignty.
“May this convention of union last 1,000 years,” Selassie, who spent a year preparing the city for the meeting, told the gathered delegates.
As it happened, the OAU ceased to exist in its original form in 2002, replaced by the African Union (AU).
But his role in establishing the union has not been forgotten, and the statue is a way for the AU to recognise Selassie’s contribution.
So, how exactly did he come to be seen as a god?
It all comes down to his coronation in 1930, and a “prophecy” made by a Jamaican black rights campaigner, Marcus Garvey, a decade earlier.
Garvey had told his followers in 1920 they should “look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand”.
So, when a black man called Ras Tafari was crowned in Ethiopia, many saw that as a sign the prophecy had come true.
In East Africa, Ras Tafari (“chief” Tafari) became Haile Selassie (“power of the trinity”). Almost 8,000 miles away in the West Indies, Haile Selassie became God (or Jah) incarnate – the redeeming messiah – and Ethiopia, the promised land.
In short, the Rastafari movement was born.
Did Selassie believe it himself? Well, he certainly didn’t try to dispel the belief when he visited Jamaica in 1966. The emperor was greeted by thousands, desperate to get a glimpse of their god. Among the devotees was the wife of a young Reggae musician, Bob Marley, who was away in the US.
Rita Marley would later describe how she saw nail marks on Selassie’s palm as he waved at her. It was a moment of religious awakening, and when her husband returned, they embraced the belief.
Three years earlier, Rastafarians had begun to move to Ethiopia and a piece of land Selassie had put aside for black people from the West in 1948. After the visit, the numbers grew larger. Today, the community numbers about 300 people.
But followers were presented with a conundrum after Selassie died in 1975, a year after he was deposed in a Marxist revolution. After all, gods cannot die.
This was resolved after it was argued Selassie’s body was just his earthly body.
Also, it should be noted, Garvey was never a believer. In fact, he was a critic of Selassie.
What was he really like?
Opinion is still split over whether Selassie was good for Ethiopia or not.
A Human Rights Watch report accuses him of acting with “official indifference” to famines in various regions of the country and attempting to conceal the famine of 1972-72, in which an estimated 200,000 people died.
He is also known to have violently cracked down on people who opposed him during his reign.
Marcus Garvey was unimpressed after he fled Ethiopia in 1936 following the invasion of Benito Mussolini’s troops a year earlier, describing Selassie as a “coward” and calling him out for “the terrors of slavery”. The practice was not outlawed in Ethiopia until 1942.
But his supporters argue he was a great leader and moderniser, who was one of the first African leaders to become a figure on the global stage.
His appeal to the League of Nations after his country was invaded is still remembered today – not least because it forms the basis of Bob Marley’s 1976 song, War.
What’s more, he was not made emperor through a chance of birth. Although born into a noble family in 1892, he was only named leader after impressing Menelik III with his intelligence.
And – as the AU’s statue to him reminds people – he was a great advocate for pan-African cooperation, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to have an effect on millions of people across the continent today.
Seven jihadists have been sentenced to life in prison in Tunisia over gun and grenade attacks at a museum and a beach resort in 2015.
Sixty people, mostly tourists, died in the attacks and many were wounded.
Other defendants received lesser prison terms, but 27 were acquitted.
The first attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March 2015 killed 22 people. Three months later, 38 tourists, most of them British, were shot dead at Port El Kantaoui near Sousse.
Among the dead in the beach attack were a 24-year-old beauty blogger; a 49-year-old man, his father and his nephew; and several couples on holiday together.
The man believed to have masterminded both attacks, Chamseddine al-Sandi, remains on the run, but there are reports that he was killed in a US air strike in Libya.
Two separate trials were held over the attacks, which Islamic State militants said they had carried out.
Three gunmen – two in the Bardo attack and one in Sousse – were shot dead at the scene.
In the Sousse trial, four militants were given life sentences, while five others were sentenced to between six months and 16 years. A further 17 were acquitted.
Three Bardo defendants also got life terms and a number of others were jailed for shorter periods. At least 10 were acquitted.
A state of emergency has been in place since the attacks.
Tunisia’s already faltering tourism industry was badly hit, but it has shown signs of recovery in the past year with travel bans lifted by several countries, including the UK – as tour operators return.
There has been considerable progress in combating jihadists in Tunisia thanks to concerted international help, BBC Middle East analyst Sebastian Usher says.
But they still pose a potent threat, he says, while the endemic problems of chronic unemployment and lack of economic opportunity persist.
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Sierra Leone has declared a national emergency over sexual and gender-based violence after recorded cases of rape and assault doubled over the last year.
President Julius Maada Bio announced the emergency on Thursday amid a public outcry over the issue, triggered by a series of high-profile attacks.
Mr Bio said attacks on minors – which account for a third of all cases – would be punished with a life sentence.
Activists say many assaults are not punished under current laws.
More than 8,500 cases were recorded last year – a rise of nearly 4,000 on the figure from the previous year – in a country of 7.5 million people.
The factors behind the spike are not yet clear.
What did the president say?
Mr Bio declared the emergency at State House in Freetown after hearing the testimony of an Ebola survivor who had repeatedly been raped.
“With immediate effect, sexual penetration of minors is punishable by life imprisonment,” he said, visibly moved by the survivor’s account.
He also announced the formation of a dedicated police division to investigate reports of sexual violence, as well as a special magistrates’ court that would fast-track cases.
The BBC’s Umaru Fofana in Freetown says the declaration of an emergency will mean state resources are more readily diverted to tackling sexual violence.
He added that the move allows the president to bypass parliament, which would normally be required to approve changes to the law.
What are people saying in Sierra Leone?
Anger has been mounting over sexual violence against women following a series of high-profile cases, including that of a five-year-old girl left partially paralysed after an alleged assault by her uncle.
Activists say few cases are reported and successfully prosecuted. The recommended sentence for rape – of between five and 15 years’ imprisonment – is often not imposed.
Last year, a 56-year-old man who raped a six-year-old girl was sentenced to a year in prison.
Fatmata Sorie, the president of an all-female lawyers group that works with victims of sexual violence, told the BBC that the president’s declaration shines “a very bright light on the issue”.
However, she cautioned that the data on sexual violence was incomplete as it had only been gathered from a handful of centres across the country.
“We want the numbers to come down, [and] we want a situation where the data is nationwide data, chiefdom-based data,” she said.
Rape and other forms of sexual violence were widespread during Sierra Leone’s civil war between 1991 and 2002.
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Sylvia Yeko decided to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) three weeks ago at the age of 26 – even though the practice, which used to be performed on teenage girls, was outlawed in Uganda in 2010.
Her circumcision ceremony took place in public – she showed us a video taken on the day. It shows an excited, cheering crowd surrounding Ms Yeko and another woman, whose faces are smeared with a whitish-brown flour.
They lie on bare grass with their legs open as an older woman approaches each in turn and swiftly cuts off their clitoris.
Neither of them screams because to do so would be a sign of weakness and would nullify what this community in eastern Uganda regard as a rite of passage before a woman can get married.
“During this day I felt so proud, I just felt so excited,” Ms Yeko tells the BBC as she watches the footage.
“Before I was circumcised I was taken as any other child, but now I’m someone respected.”
She knows she could face up to five years in prison for being circumcised, but she insists that she wants to be identified.
Those who cut her genitals could be imprisoned for 10 years.
Since December, several of these public circumcision ceremonies have happened in the Sebei region of eastern Uganda – most of them in Kween district, which borders Kenya.
Three people have recently been convicted for practising FGM, including a 15-year-old girl and a woman. Nineteen others are in jail awaiting trial.
FGM is life-threatening. The immediate danger comes from bleeding to death after the genitals have been cut.
Then infections can set in. The women in the video also had their private parts covered with flour, and it’s not clear if the same blade was used for all the initiates.
Later in life, the scars could form keloids, which are growths. Childbirth is also likely to be more difficult.
Nevertheless Ms Yeko has become a sort of celebrity in Sebei – and when I ask if she is concerned that girls and women who follow her example are putting their lives in danger, she says she does not believe FGM is harmful.
Female genital mutilation
Includes “the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”
Practised in 30 countries in Africa, and some in Asia and the Middle East
An estimated three million girls and women worldwide are at risk each year
It is commonly carried out on young girls, often between infancy and the age of 15
Often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behaviour, to prepare a girl or woman for adulthood and marriage, and to ensure “pure femininity”
Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths
For her the act was not only a cultural rite but also a form of protest against the government’s failure to keep its promises to help educate and advance prospects for women once circumcision was banned.
People in these underdeveloped and poor areas expected to have greater access to social services and infrastructure by giving up FGM.
To make her point, Ms Yeko takes me to Kwosir Girl’s Boarding Secondary School, where a plaque on the wall reads: “Presidential pledge to stop FGM”.
But she says that even though the school was built in the wake of the circumcision ban and was meant to be free for all girls, costs can run up to $90 (£69) a term and are unaffordable for many in her community.
“They better take back their school because we’re not benefiting from the school and we’re not enjoying anything from this school,” she says.
Kween is one of the worst-performing areas when it comes to education. According to government statistics, on average about 6,000 students enrol at primary school level, but by the end of secondary school only 200 students remain in class.
Ms Yeko says she did manage to get an education, but like many young people in the East African nation she remains unemployed.
A university graduate and now the mother of a four-year-old boy, her decision to get circumcised was to make the point that she feels let down by Uganda’s leaders. She even wrote a letter to the police before her cutting ceremony to make sure the authorities knew about it.
‘We are treated like children’
For another woman, who spoke to the BBC about her recent circumcision, the motive was more personal.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, she said she felt ostracised because as a married woman within the ethnic Sabiny community she was prevented from doing certain things because she had not been cut.
“In Sebei, a woman who has not been cut cannot go to the [communal] granary or pick cow dung from the kraal.”
Cow dung is often used to plaster houses, a task often left to women.
“A husband can marry another wife. She might be circumcised and then starts insulting the uncircumcised woman. You are just equated to your children,” she explained.
Yet the mother of three daughters does not intend to circumcise any of them as her hope is that they will be educated and less easily intimidated by the community.
‘She broke the doors’
Uganda’s first female Speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has been a key campaigner against FGM over the last 20 years. She visits the region every year and commissioned the Kwosir Girl’s Boarding Secondary School.
Ms Kadaga maintains the decision to ban FGM came from the Sebei leaders themselves, who first passed a local by-law in 2009.
“I know that they are unhappy about a number of issues. But I think injuring yourself because there’s no road… it’s also not right. But I think it’s our duty to ensure that they have services,” she says.
The ban has seen the cases of circumcision fall in Uganda. In 2011 1.4% of women were circumcised and by 2016 that had fallen to 0.3%.
But Ms Yeko’s father, Arapkwures Chemegich, who does not support FGM, says being heavy handed about the ban will not work and has created pockets of resistance.
He should know as he tried to stop his daughter from going ahead with her circumcision.
“When we tried to stop her, she actually fought and broke the door,” he says, showing me two doors inside the family hut that were hanging off their hinges.
“I think FGM should be stopped, but the method? They should not have come by force.