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Ban on Uganda’s critical State of the Nation play has no legal basis, says co-director

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Poster for State of the Nation play. Afri-Talent.

Poster for State of the Nation play. Afri-Talent.

The co-director of a play banned in Uganda has told RFI he’s concerned about the repercussions of continuing to stage his production. But he believes Uganda’s Media Council is on shaky legal ground. John Ssegawa, co-author of State of the Nation, says the Ugandan authorities are limiting freedom of expression.

Radio France Internationale

Interview: John Ssegawa, Co-Director, State of the Nation

Could you describe the play? What is it about?

The play is all about the history of Uganda from 1962, from independence, up to today. We talk about the political journey and what we thought would be, and what is not today.

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Written by Daniel Finnan

1 November 2012 at 23:50

Muslim Brotherhood to face Mubarak-era prime minister in Egypt’s presidential run-off

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The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Moursi will face off against Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq in the second round of Egypt’s presidential election, according to unofficial results Friday. A statement issued by the Muslim Brotherhood mid-morning on Friday said the party’s candidate had won, according to their estimates.

Radio France Internationale

Moderate Islamist Moursi is thought to have garnered around 27 per cent, with Shafiq, who was premier for a time under deposed president Hosni Mubarak, securing 23 per cent, according to unofficial independent results.

Liberal Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Foutouh and Nasserist/leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi tie for third place with about 18 per cent. While former foreign minister Amr Moussa comes in fifth, in counting done by Iyad El-Baghdadi.

Figures show a turnout of around 50 per cent, ranging from 29 per cent in the Upper Egypt governorate of Aswan, to as high as 54 per cent in Suez, according to Al-Ahram newspaper.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s performance in the polls is unlikely to surprise many but Shafiq’s support will be seen as more of a shock.

In Minoufiya, a governorate with a majority population of low-income farmers, Shafiq is thought to have taken more then half the vote, maybe an indication of his campaign’s appeal to stability and security.

Amr Moussa did not win the support he was expected to get in Upper Egypt. Instead the Muslim Brotherhood seems to have won over voters, taking just over a third of ballots, with Shafiq securing 27 per cent.

In the city of Alexandria, experienced politician Sabahi, who claims to defend the legacy of nationalist former president Gamal Abdel Nasser, seems to have topped the polls. While in Suez the picture is more mixed, with Mousri just edging his rivals, and Shafiq coming fifth.

Cairo results are yet to be finalised.

Following early results Shafiq thanked his supporters on Facebook, according to Al-Ahram. He also saluted Sabahi and said he would not be “upset” if the third-placed candidate won, because he is a “patriotic” man.

In an interview on Thursday, Shafiq’s campaign spokesperson Ahmad Sarhan told RFI that he thinks it is unlikely that Egypt’s revolutionary youth will take to the streets.

“Many of the revolutionary youth comes here to the headquarters and talks to him [Shafiq] about the future,” Sarhan said, from the relatively elegant campaign office in the Dokki district of the capital.

“He opened his heart to them [the youth] and tried to listen to them. He told them clearly, the Muslim Brotherhood, they took it [the revolution] away from you,” Sarhan added.

The sentiment amongst youth is likely to be the most significant measure of possible challenges to the results and potential protests. Many see Shafiq as the chosen candidate of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and representative of the remnants of the Mubarak regime.

Sabahi’s surprise late increase in popularity can be attributed in some part to support from the revolutionary youth. On Thursday his campaign gave RFI the most accurate assessment of the outcome, given Friday’s early results. Putting Sabahi in the top three, the most modest prediction we have received from any of the contenders’ camps.

“He’s been changing position with Amr Moussa and Mohamed Moursi, in some areas. While in others it is between him and Ahmed Shafiq and Moursi,” said Sayed El-Toukhy a member of Sabahi’s campaign committee.

If necessary a second round runoff poll will take place on 16/17 June.

Written by Daniel Finnan

25 May 2012 at 13:31

Cairo’s street artists defy authorities with graffiti protest

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Whitewashing their own work, but with a difference. Mohamed Mahmoud Street, Cairo.

Cairo’s graffiti artists offered a sarcastic rebuttal to city authorities on Thursday during the last day of voting in Egypt’s presidential elections. Following plans to whitewash street art on Mohamed Mahmoud St, artists instead began the whitewashing themselves spelling out a cynical phrase in Arabic – “forget about the past, focus on the elections”.

Radio France Internationale

“We decided to do it, but our way,” independent artist Mahmoud Hany tells RFI, his hands covered in paint after descending down a ladder.

The wall just off Tahrir Square is particularly iconic. It features the faces of several martyrs, anti-military council slogans and reminders of last year’s uprising.

Hany says the city authorities had threatened to cover the wall a few days ago. But they wanted to beat them to it. “We have to be with the events,” he explains.

Some of the graffiti is particularly critical of the elections. With some of the so-called revolutionary youth seeing the polls as an exercise in consolidation of power for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Slideshow: Mohamed Mahmoud St, in downtown Cairo, Egypt

Especially evident, they say, in the candidacy of figures such as former Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shariq and former foreign minister Amr Moussa.

One evocative mural directs its criticism of the old regime by morphing the faces of various figures together.

“Half of it is [Field Marshall] Tantawi, and the other half is Hosni Mubarak,” says Hany. “Behind them, Amr Moussa and Shafiq,” he adds.

The young artist explained that the authorities removed the original piece featuring just Tantawi and Mubarak. So they repainted it. Adding Moussa and Shafiq, placed in the background.

Cairo’s downtown area is awash with graffiti over a year after the ousting of Mubarak. Further down Mohamed Mahmoud St each side street is blocked off by a wall constructed by the security services to protect the interior ministry. Each one serving as a canvas for Cairo’s street artists.

It is not clear how long the authorities will tolerate it for. Hany, however, is unperturbed. “Graffiti is not an art that lasts forever,” he says. “Anyone can add anything at anytime,” he adds, smiling.

Written by Daniel Finnan

25 May 2012 at 10:33

Mitt, the Mormons, and a controversial temple in France

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An architectural rendering of what the Mormon temple will look like in Le Chesnay. Photo: Intellectual Reserve Inc

An architectural rendering of what the Mormon temple will look like in Le Chesnay. Photo: Intellectual Reserve Inc

As Mitt Romney continues to work toward his goal of replacing Barack Obama, one aspect of his past is achieving success after a long struggle — in France, not the US. French Mormons are preparing to break ground in construction of the country’s first temple, to be built in the leafy Paris suburb of Le Chesnay, right near the Palace of Versailles, one of the country’s major international tourism draws. The plan, though, is not without controversy.

Latitude News

Written by Daniel Finnan

5 May 2012 at 18:02

Overview: London conference on Somalia

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"Kenya stop violating our sea coast" - protesters at the London conference on Somalia

“Kenya stop violating our sea coast” – protesters at the London conference on Somalia

Interview: Adjoa Anyimadu, Somalia researcher, Chatham House

“Scepticism understandable”

Interview: Benedicte Goderiaux, Somalia researcher, Amnesty International

“Foreign armies and proxy militias in Somalia must be held accountable”

Interview: Ali Rooble, protester

“London conference on Somalia aims to conquer the country”

Ambience: Protest at London conference

“Hands off Somalia!”

London conference on Somalia attracts international attention

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The London conference on Somalia opens to fanfare on Thursday hoping to improve the situation in a country described as the “world’s worst failed state”. Ahead of the conference the UN Security Council has approved a new resolution bolstering the African Union’s peacekeeping force in Somalia to 17,000 troops, in its fight against the Al-Shabaab rebels.

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Written by Daniel Finnan

23 February 2012 at 02:21

Madagascar must agree amnesty for Ravalomanana, says Sadc

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Marc Ravalomanana. Photo: US State Dept

Marc Ravalomanana. Photo: US State Dept

Madagascar must agree new amnesty laws by the end of February to pave the way for the return of exiled former leader Marc Ravalomanana, the South African foreign affairs ministry said on Sunday. After a meeting of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) in Cape Town, the regional bloc insists the country must adopt its road map to end its political stand-off.

Radio France Internationale

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Written by Daniel Finnan

12 February 2012 at 17:13

Kagame cleared of involvement in plane crash by French report

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Tharcisse Karugarama

Tharcisse Karugarama. Photo: Rwandan government.

A French judicial report on Tuesday cleared Rwandan President Paul Kagame of involvement in the shooting down of a plane that sparked the 1994 genocide. The report was welcomed by Rwanda as a vindication of Kagame.

Interview: Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama

Radio France Internationale

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Written by Daniel Finnan

12 January 2012 at 17:11

Police admit killing four in DRC post-election violence

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The chief of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s police has confirmed that his forces killed four people in post-election violence but declared the situation under control Sunday. It’s “hard to predict” whether the situation will deteriorate further, according to rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Q&A: Anneke Van Woudenberg, DRC specialist, Human Rights Watch

Radio France Internationale

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Kabila declared DRC election victor, Tshisekedi says he won

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The Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission has declared incumbent president Joseph Kabila reelected after securing 49 per cent of the vote in the presidential election. But Kabila’s closest rival,  Etienne Tshisekedi, says he won and says the announcement is a “provocation”.

Q&A: David Pottie, Carter Center

Radio France Internationale

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Written by Daniel Finnan

10 December 2011 at 18:00