Sudan crisis: Opposition rejects offer of talks amid bloody crackdown

A Sudanese protester holds a national flag as he stands on a barricade along a street, demanding that the country"s Transitional Military Council hand over power to civilians, in Khartoum, Sudan June 5, 2019.Image copyright
Reuters

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A Sudanese protester stands on a barricade in Khartoum on Wednesday

Sudanese opposition activists have rejected an offer of talks from the country’s military council, saying it cannot be trusted amid a violent crackdown on protesters.

Doctors linked to the opposition on Wednesday said at least 100 people had been killed by a paramilitary unit in the capital, Khartoum.

They said 40 bodies were pulled from the River Nile in Khartoum on Tuesday.

Residents told the BBC they were living in fear in the capital.

The deputy head of the military council defended the violent suppression, claiming that the protesters had been infiltrated by rogue elements and drug dealers.

“We will not allow chaos and we will not go back on our convictions. There is no way back. We must impose the respect of the country by law,” said Mohammed Hamadan – also known as Hemedti – on Wednesday.

Numerous reports from Khartoum said the paramilitary unit, the feared Rapid Support Forces (RSF), was roaming the city’s nearly deserted streets, targeting civilians.

Formerly known as the Janjaweed militia, the RSF gained notoriety for brutal atrocities in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan in 2003.

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AFP

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Security forces, seen here on Monday, moved against protesters after a long stand-off

What was the lead-up to the latest violence?

Sudan has been controlled by a military council since pro-democracy protests led to the ousting of veteran President Omar al-Bashir in April, after 30 years of authoritarian rule.

Demonstrators had been occupying the square in front of the military headquarters, while their representatives had negotiated with the military council and agreed a three-year transition that would culminate in elections.

But on Monday, security forces swept in and opened fire on unarmed protesters in the square. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the military council, announced that the agreement was cancelled and an election would take place within nine months.

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Media captionSudan military attacks protesters

On Wednesday, however, after Saudi Arabia publicly called for a resumption of talks, Gen Burhan reversed course and said the military council would “open our arms to negotiate with no restriction”.

The offer was rejected by the opposition. “The Sudanese people are not open for talks,” said Amjad Farid, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) which spearheaded the protests against Mr Bashir.

“The Sudanese people are not open to this TMC (Transitional Military Council) that kills people and we need justice and accountability before talks about any political process,” Mr Farid told the AFP news agency.

What have residents been saying?

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors – an opposition linked group – said on Wednesday that 40 bodies had been recovered from the River Nile.

An official from the group told the BBC that they had witnessed and verified the bodies in hospitals and that the death toll now stood at at least 100.

A former security officer quoted by Yousra Elbagir, a journalist with the UK’s Channel 4, said that some of those thrown into the Nile had been beaten or shot to death and others hacked to death with machetes.

“It was a massacre,” the unnamed source said.

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Getty Images

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A deserted street in Khartoum on Tuesday

Much of Khartoum was under lockdown in the wake of the killings. Witnesses told the BBC that protesters had retreated to residential areas, where they were building barricades and burning tyres.

“We have reached the point where we can’t even step out of our homes because we are scared to be beaten or to be shot by the security forces,” one Khartoum resident said, asking not to be named.

Another resident said he was pulled from his car by members of the RSF and beaten on his head and back.

A pharmacist who spoke to the BBC from Khartoum said RSF troops were shutting down hospitals to prevent civilians receiving treatment.

“They kicked us out from two hospitals that were giving aid to the injured and the victims of the gunshots,” he said. “It’s an order from the military council to shut down those hospitals because we were giving aid for the citizens.”

A woman, identified only as Sulaima, told the BBC that troops from the Rapid Support Forces were “all over Khartoum”.

“They’re surrounding neighbourhoods, they’re threatening people. They’re also using live ammunition. They’re everywhere. We’re not feeling safe and we don’t have trust in the security forces. It’s complete chaos.”

Large numbers of heavily armed troops were also reported on the streets of Omdurman, Sudan’s second-largest city, just across the River Nile from Khartoum.


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Actor Jussie Smollett not returning to ‘Empire,’ TV creator says

FILE PHOTO: Actor Jussie Smollett leaves court after charges against him were dropped by state prosecutors in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Jussie Smollett will not be returning to U.S. television series “Empire”, the show’s creator says, marking the first public confirmation that the actor has been dropped after a furor over claims that he was the victim of a hate crime.

Responding to a Variety report that writers were discussing scenarios in which Smollett’s character would return towards the end of the sixth and final season, “Empire” creator Lee Daniels wrote on Twitter on Tuesday; “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”

Smollett, 36, who is black and gay, ignited a firestorm by telling police in January that two apparent supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump struck him, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach over him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs on a Chicago street.

Chicago police later accused Smollett of making up the attack but the actor maintained his innocence and prosecutors in March dismissed criminal charges against him.

Smollett, who played gay singer-songwriter Jamal Lyon on the show about a family in the hip-hop entertainment business, was dropped from the final episodes of season 5 earlier this year.

The Fox network, now owned by Walt Disney Co, said in April that there were no plans to bring his character back for Season 6, which is expected to air this fall, but left open a contractual option for Smollett to return.

Fox has said “Empire” will end after Season 6.

Representatives for Smollett did not return a request for comment on him being dropped from the show.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Susan Thomas

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Caster Semenya: IAAF wants ‘swift reversal’ of Swiss court’s suspension of testosterone rules

Caster Semenya has won the Olympic 800m title twice and the world title three times

The IAAF says it will seek a “swift reversal” of the decision that allows Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya to temporarily compete without taking testosterone-reducing medication.

On Monday, Switzerland’s federal supreme court temporarily suspended a new IAAF ruling that would restrict testosterone levels in female runners.

However, the IAAF said the suspension only applied to Semenya, 28.

The court’s “superprovisional order” will also only apply until 25 June.

That is the date by which the IAAF must respond to the court on Semenya’s case. Last month, South African Semenya filed an appeal to the court after failing to have new IAAF rules restricting testosterone levels in female runners overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

Semenya said afterwards: “I hope following my appeal I will once again be able to run free.

“I am thankful to the Swiss judges for this decision.”

The IAAF – the governing body of world athletics – said the federal supreme court’s decision was made without its knowledge, and that it was only told of the order on Tuesday.

It therefore “did not have the chance” to explain why the ruling “should remain in force and applicable to all affected athletes while the appeal is pending”.

The IAAF defended its new rules, saying:

  • It is “convinced there are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump identity”.
  • It “believes the right to participate in sport does not translate to a right to self-identify into a competition category or an event”.
  • “To define the category based on something other than biology would be category-defeating and would deter many girls around the world from choosing competitive and elite sport after puberty.”
  • “Regulations [on athletes with differences of sexual development] are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics, and Cas agreed.”

It wants the supreme court’s suspension of the rules to be reversed to avoid “serious confusion” among athletes and event organisers and “to protect the integrity of the sport”.

The IAAF also said it had received a letter from Raswyn Lovett, co-chair of the International Working Group on Women in Sport, Diane Huffman, president of WomenSport International, and Professor Rosa Lopez de D’Amico, president of the International Association of Physical Education for Girls and Women last week which said the regulations “imply wrongdoing and come with a penalty” and “force an athlete to take medication that alters their natural state”.

It rejected the accusation in the letter that its regulations “enforce gender inequality”, saying in response that the rule was introduced “precisely because the IAAF is committed to protecting the rights and opportunities of female athletes”.

In reply, it wrote: “The challenge that the IAAF faces is how to accommodate individuals who identify as female (and are legally recognised as female) but who – because of a difference of sex development – have XY chromosomes that lead to testes that produce high levels of testosterone, and therefore have all the same physical advantages over women for the purposes of athletics as men have over women.”

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Hemeti: The warlord who may control Sudan’s future

Hemeti in military clothes being sworn in as deputy of Sudan's transitional military council in KhartoumImage copyright
Reuters

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Hemeti (in military clothes) is sworn in as deputy of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council

Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagolo is the vice-president of Sudan’s ruling military junta and, at present, probably the most powerful man in Sudan.

He has the potential to shape the future of a broken country, but as the commander of one of Sudan’s most prominent paramilitary forces, he leaves a trail of human rights abuse allegations from Darfur in his wake and has recently been accused of allowing those same forces to kill demonstrators in Khartoum.

Hemeti has said that the use of force was necessary in Darfur in order to protect its civilians and an “independent investigation” will be launched into the military’s use of violence in Khartoum. Any person who had “crossed boundaries” would be punished, he said.

Hemeti and the Sudan uprising

Hemeti was a close political ally of Sudan’s former President Omar al-Bashir, but as protests against the former leader escalated in December, his loyalty soon wavered.

When demonstrations in Khartoum began, Hemeti was the first high-ranking official to express his support, telling the government to “provide services and decent living to the people”.

He said “the corrupt, whoever they are, should be referred to justice,” the state-owned Sudanese News Agency reported on 25 December.

Hemeti switched sides to force the president out of power on 11 April and was named vice-president of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) two days later.

Why is he so powerful?

Although the TMC’s president is Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Hemeti is the one at the forefront of negotiations with western diplomats.

He is reportedly supported by the politicians who created the Janjaweed, the militia comprising of Arab tribes who sowed fear into residents of the Darfur region of western Sudan during the conflict there.

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Getty Images

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Hemeti visited patients at a hospital in Khartoum on 4 May

BBC Africa editor Fergal Keane calls Hemeti “the most likely leader of a counter-revolution” and an “outsider” in the military elite.

Another factor behind Hemeti’s power is his support from regional allies: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Stability in Sudan is in their interest and they are very unlikely to impose sanctions on the TMC. However, Saudi Arabia has said it is concerned with developments in the region and urged the two sides to engage in dialogue.

According to Al Jazeera, Hemeti went to meet Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohamed Bin Salman earlier in May, promising to support the country against “all threats and attacks from Iran and Houthi militias” and to continue sending Sudanese troops to help the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

It would be in the Saudi prince’s interest to return the favour and maintain a strong relationship with Hemeti.

Camel trader to warlord

Hemeti grew up in a Chadian Arab clan, fleeing war to live in Darfur in the 1980s.

War in Darfur broke out in 2003, when marginalised black African clansmen in the region formed a rebel movement against the government. The army fought back, joined by paramilitary forces including the infamous Janjaweed, who were accused of riding their camels and horses into villages, killing the men, raping the women and stealing whatever they could find.

Since 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been investigating allegations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The case involves a range of Sudanese government officials, and both Janjaweed and rebel leaders.

Hemeti’s uncle is Juma Dongolo, a chief of one of the Arab tribes who span the Chad-Sudan border.

Hemeti himself dropped out of primary school to trade camels and also offered security to commercial convoys in Darfur during the conflict. He was a savvy businessman and soon became rich, reports BBC Monitoring.

In 2003, as the Darfur rebellion began to gather momentum, Hemeti helped mobilise clansmen to fight alongside government forces. This earned him the support of President Bashir.

He became leader of the Border Guards, a group of Darfur militias supporting the government.

In 2013, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) was formed to help regular forces fight rebels in Darfur. A year later, the group was recognised by the government as a “regular force”, but critics say it is merely a reincarnation of the Janjaweed.

Human rights abuses

Former President Bashir is wanted by the ICC for the alleged war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

Although he has not been named by the ICC, Human Rights Watch accuses Hemeti of overseeing civilian abuses including “torture, extrajudicial killings and mass rapes” in Darfur as well as in separate conflicts in the southern Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states.

Human Rights Watch said that during two counterinsurgency campaigns in Darfur in 2014 and 2015, the RSF “burned and looted homes, beat, raped and executed villagers,” supported by the Sudanese army and Janjaweed militia.

On 19 May 2014, Hemeti said that the RSF was protecting the people of Darfur. He warned that the RSF would “take a firm stance against anyone who tried to undermine the security and stability of citizens”.

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Media captionSudan military attacks protesters

Chants about Darfur have played an active role in the latest protests in Khartoum, with demonstrators shouting: “We are all Darfur!” and “Darfur is our home! Revolution! Revolution!”

Despite witnessing Hemeti’s alleged brutality in both Darfur and Khartoum, the unarmed protesters say they will not give up their fight.

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Smart lockers for Aids patients’ drugs wins inventors’ award

Neo HutiriImage copyright
James Oatway

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Inventor Neo Hutiri says he came up with the idea after he had to go to the clinic when he was diagnosed with TB

An invention by a South African engineer that dispenses pills has won a major African engineering prize.

Neo Hutiri invented the Pelebox, a locker patients can unlock with a one-time pin sent to their phone.

These lockers cut queues down “from three-and-a-half hours to under 36 seconds”, he told BBC Focus on Africa.

South Africa runs the world’s largest HIV/Aids treatment programme which has led to high numbers of patients with repeat prescriptions.

Mr Hutiri won the $32,000 (£25,000) 2019 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

He told the BBC that he came up with the idea after he was diagnosed with TB in 2014 and he went to his clinic to collect medicine.

Long queues at pharmacies can be caused by staff shortages and high volumes of patients with chronic illnesses – such as HIV and Aids.

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Media captionThe inventions transforming Africa

By cutting down the queues, “this gives them the opportunity to not take too much time away from work, to focus on their business, to effectively live a more productive life without having lost time due to managing a disease” he told the BBC.

He added that it helped with illnesses which may have a stigma associated to them, like HIV.

“If you collect your ARV medication for HIV from a locker, you don’t have to deal with the fear that somebody’s watching me.”

Currently six smart locker units are in operation in South Africa and the company is building eight more.

He says he will use prize money to help build an assembly section for manufacturing and improve the technology so they can scale up their business better.

The other inventions to be short-listed for the prize were:

  • a high-tech glove that translates sign language to text and speech
  • a currency-exchange platform that moves money between users to reduce the need for foreign exchange
  • and a business giving women in low-income families access to sustainable, off-grid housing

Winners from previous years include a magnetic malaria test and a jacket for testing pneumonia.

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Egypt police killed in Sinai checkpoint attack

File photo showing Egyptian police officers guard a street in the city of El-Arish, in the northern Sinai peninsula (26 July 2018)Image copyright
AFP

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Egyptian security forces have been targeted repeatedly by jihadist militants in northern Sinai

At least eight Egyptian police officers have been killed in a militant attack on a checkpoint in the restive northern Sinai peninsula, officials say.

Five militants were also killed in the ensuing exchange of fire, the interior ministry said in a statement.

No group immediately said it was behind the attack, which took place west of the city of El-Arish as local people celebrated the festival of Eid al-Fitr.

Egypt has for years been battling a jihadist insurgency in northern Sinai.

An affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) group has killed hundreds of security personnel in attacks since the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

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Ethiopia religious anger over US gay tour plan

Rock-hewn churches at LalibelaImage copyright
Getty Images

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The Toto Tours itinerary includes the ancient churches of Lalibela

Ethiopian church groups have called on the government to block a planned visit to the country by a US-based company that organises tours for gay people.

The groups were particularly angry that the itinerary published by the Toto Tours company includes religious sites.

Many Ethiopians are deeply religious and disapprove of homosexuality, which is also prohibited under the law.

The owner of Toto Tours told the BBC the company had received threats and hate messages on social media.

“We are humble and loving people, we come with no harm in mind, nothing we do is going to harm anybody, and yet we are being threatened with harm,” Dan Ware told the BBC Amharic service.

Mr Ware said he was afraid, and urged the Ethiopian tourism ministry “to be careful”.

“The eyes of the world will be on us when we come and whatever is done to us will reflect tremendously on the Ethiopian culture and its tourism industry.”

The Toto Tours website says it is planning a trip to Ethiopia in October this year. The itinerary includes Bahir Dar, a centre of Christian mysticism, as well as Lalibela, famed for its ancient churches carved out of rock.

Both destinations are in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia.

Not designed ‘to spread out beliefs’

The president of Selestu Me’et, a coalition of Ethiopian Orthodox church associations, told BBC Amharic that the government “should ban this group from entering the country and visiting the sacred sites”.

“They should not be allowed to leave their mark,” Dereje Negash said. “Our religion condemns this act, and it’s disgraceful.”

He emphasised that homosexuality was illegal in Ethiopia, and said the tour company should not be allowed to “violate the law of the land”.

Mr Negash is also a deacon of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, and has been lobbying against homosexuality in the country.

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BBC/GEORGE WAFULA

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Many Africa countries outlaw homosexual activity

The call for the government to ban the tour was reportedly echoed by the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, which includes Christian and Islamic denominations.

“Tour programmes and dating programmes that try to use our historical sites and heritage should be immediately stopped by the Ethiopian government,” Tagay Tadele, a Council official, told AFP news agency.

Consensual homosexual acts can be punished by up to 15 years in jail under Article 629 of the Ethiopian Criminal Code. It is unclear if Toto Tours would be violating Ethiopian law by merely visiting the country.

Bahiru Sheway, the co-founder of House of Guramayle, a London-based organisation that advocates for the recognition of LGBT rights in Ethiopia, told the BBC that homophobia had deep roots in the country.

Most gay Ethiopians did not reveal their sexuality, he said, for fear of physical harm and ostracism.

He added that the row over Toto Tours had triggered a social-media storm, with many Ethiopians expressing outrage at the prospect of gay tourists visiting the country – and even calling for attacks against them and their straight allies.

Mr Ware told the BBC that Toto Tours was not designed to spread “our beliefs or our way of life”.

“We are designed simply to allow people with similar affinities to travel together and to enjoy the wonders of the world and to appreciate them.”

He said the outcry over the planned Ethiopia trip was unprecedented in the company’s history. Toto Tours describes itself on its website as having served the LGBT community since 1990.

According to the website, the company has also organised tours to Uganda and Tanzania – both African countries that criminalise homosexual activity.

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Row over Chinese coal plant near Kenya World Heritage site of Lamu

Lamu town pictured from the sea in 2019.Image copyright
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Lamu is the planned site of Kenya’s first coal-fired power plant

Campaigners in Kenya who fear their country is turning its back on its green goals are hoping to stop construction of a coal plant that would increase greenhouse gas emissions by 700%.

Activists in Kenya are marking World Environment Day with a protest against plans to build the country’s first coal-fired power station.

At least two-thirds of Kenya’s electricity is currently generated by renewable resources and it has pledged to reduce its small carbon footprint by nearly a third over the next decade.

But the planned power station to be built by Chinese contractors with borrowed money would increase emissions by a factor of seven – and Kenya would have to import the coal.

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Media captionCampaigner Raya Famau Ahmed is hoping to stop construction of the coal plant

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The town is renowned for its distinctive architecture.

The new plant will sit alongside an ambitious new $25.5bn (£20bn) development on the Kenyan coast at Lamu – an historic 700-year-old fishing and trading town, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project includes a vast 32-berth container port, an oil terminal, road and railway links, and a “resort city”.

The first phase of the port building project is almost complete.

Chinese dredging vessels are cutting a deep channel in the bay and are using the sand and rocks to reclaim land and build the first three container ship berths, which stretch for almost a mile (1.6km).

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Part of the seabed is already being dredged to build a container port

The work is yet to start on the road and rail links, leaving the prospect of a state-of-the-art container port for some of the world’s largest ships isolated on a remote stretch of coast near the Somali border.

‘The fish are gone’

Fishermen in Lamu say the construction has already had an impact on their livelihoods.

“Before we would put out one net and catch maybe 500kg of fish, but now we can put 10 nets and get only 50kg so we’ve lost a lot,” said Somo Somo, who has fished here since he was a child.

“The construction makes a lot of noise, they cut the mangroves – the fish breeding area – and destroy the coral reef where the fish go to put their eggs, so the fish have gone to another place.”

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AFP

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Local fishermen say building work is destroying fish breeding areas

Row over Kenya World Heritage site coal plant

Court cases have led to promises of compensation for the fishermen and the farmers whose land will be used for the coal plant – but activists want it stopped.

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Surveyors have staked out a vast area for the power station which the locals call “the box”. Most of the smallholder farmers who worked the land have already been evicted.

“We were told we would be paid and that raised our hopes but we were not paid at all,” said Ali Abdallah, who is still tending to a maize field in “the box”.

“We don’t have food and our only option is to rely on this land and farm so that we can feed and educate our children – we have no other support.”

‘Disastrous project’

Most of Kenya’s electricity is currently generated by renewable sources and the country has committed to reducing its already small carbon footprint by a further 30% by 2030.

But the Lamu coal plant alone will represent a seven-fold increase in Kenya’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

The country is currently producing a large surplus of electricity and the new power station is predicted to increase its capacity by 44%.

What are Kenya’s main energy sources?

  • Hydroelectric: 36%
  • Geothermal: 29.1%
  • Diesel: 31.2%
  • Gasoil: 2.4%
  • Wind: 1.1%
  • Cogeneration: 0.1%
  • Coal: 0%
  • Solar: 0%
  • Import: 0%
  • Generic Backup Capacity: 0%

Source: Kenya Energy Regulatory Commission, 2018

Yet in May 2017, while on a state visit to meet President Xi Jinping in China, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government signed a deal with a Chinese construction company to build the power plant.

A complex financial arrangement has to be approved before construction can begin, and a court also has to rule on a challenge against the project.

“We are wondering why they want to implement this project because we have signed a green agreement at Paris – our president signed that,” said Raya Famau Ahmed, who is campaigning against the plant.

“But down here they want to implement this disastrous project and we are really worried.”

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Getty Images

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Fishermen and farmers have been promised compensation

It’s not just Kenya that intends to add coal power – hundreds of plants are planned around the world, many of them with Chinese financial backing.

The UN’s top diplomat Antonio Guterres was recently very clear about his view on coal-fired power stations.

“Stop the construction of new coal plant by 2020 – we want a green economy, not a grey economy in the world,” he said.

The Kenyan government did not respond to a request for comment ahead of the court ruling which is expected in late June 2019.

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South African ‘good Samaritan’ dismisses anger over crowd fund

Nkosikho Mbele at the petrol stationImage copyright
Buyile Kwenyela

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Nkosikho Mbele said he was overwhelmed by the kindness of those donating funds to his family

A petrol attendant who came to the aid of a forgetful motorist in South Africa has told the BBC he does have access to the crowd-funding cash raised for him.

Nkosikho Mbele paid $6.90 (£5.40) last week for a woman to fill her tank after she had left her wallet at home, saying she could pay him back another time.

Monet van Deventer was so grateful she set up the campaign to thank him.

But donors were angered to hear he would not receive the money directly into his account for the kind deed.

In four days, $32,000 (£25,000) has been raised for Mr Mbele and his family on the fundraising platform BackaBuddy, which faced a backlash for saying it would be administering the funds.

Mr Mbele, who lives in the township of Khayelitsha near Cape Town, dismissed suggestions on social media that he was being taken advantage of and said it had been his idea.

“Imagine what happens when everybody knows I have money – they know me, they know where I stay. So it’s for my safety,” he told the BBC.

He added that he understood why people were concerned but said they should not worry about him.

There are high levels of crime in South Africa, especially in some of the townships around Cape Town.

‘This is too much for my head’

Mr Mbele, who said he was overwhelmed by the response of those who had paid into the fund set by Ms Van Deventer, said he would use the money to pay for the education of his two children and for his accommodation.

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He said that people had also been driving out to the petrol station on a motorway outside Cape Town to personally thank him.

“This is too much for my head. People show me love, they come to see me. Everything is going great.”

The 28-year-old also brushed aside criticism of his employer, Shell, which said it would match the public’s donation to be given to a charity of his choosing and would send to him to the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar in July for the company’s regional awards ceremony where he would be honoured.

Some critics suggested the oil firm should have provided him with further training and a promotion instead.

“I wasn’t expecting any of this, I didn’t ask any of this to happen. Everything is a bonus, I appreciate it all,” Mr Mbele said, adding that he had not yet made a decision about his choice of charity.

“People have helped open my eyes to the goodness around us. Everything is going great.”

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