Burundi says President Pierre Nkurunziza has died of heart attack

Burundi’s government says outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza, 55, has died of a heart attack.

In a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday, the government announced “with great sorrow to Burundians and the international community” the passing of the president.

According to the statement, Nkurunziza had attended a volleyball match on Saturday afternoon and was taken to hospital that evening after falling ill.

Although he appeared to recover on Sunday and spoke to those around him, his condition suddenly deteriorated on Monday morning. He then suffered a heart attack and despite an immediate resuscitation attempt, doctors were unable to revive him.

Nkurunziza died at a hospital in Karuzi, eastern Burundi.

The government said there would be a period of national mourning for seven days from Tuesday and that flags would be flown at half-mast.

Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, said the government’s stated cause of death had been met with scepticism among some Burundians on social media and elsewhere.

“About 10 days ago, Denise Nkurunziza, the first lady of Burundi, flew to Nairobi seeking medical treatment for a reason that officially was undisclosed but a lot of the local press here reported that she was suffering from COVID-19,” he said.

“So now there’s going to be of course a lot of speculation and guessing from Burundians, from the diaspora about this claim that the president had a heart attack.”

Last month, Burundi expelled the representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) amid criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. It has carried out very few coronavirus tests and held large rallies in the lead-up to the country’s May 20 election.

In power since 2005, Nkurunziza was due to be replaced in August by political ally Evariste Ndayishimiye, who was declared earlier this month the winner of the vote.

“He leaves us a legacy that we will never forget and we will continue his high-quality work that he has done for our country, Burundi,” Ndayishimiye said in a Twitter post.

Nkurunziza was chosen to lead the country following a 1993-2005 civil war that killed about 300,000 people. He and Ndayishimiye fought alongside each other as rebels in the conflict.

The peace process, known as the Arusha Accords, specified that a president’s term can be renewed only once. But Nkurunziza, who won a second term in 2010, announced he was eligible for a third term in 2015 because he had not been chosen the first time by universal suffrage.

The deadly turmoil that followed badly damaged ties with the international community, and Burundi became the first country to leave the International Criminal Court after it started investigating allegations of state-sponsored crimes including murder, rape and torture.

The United Nations human rights office reported more than 300 extrajudicial killings and was later kicked out of the country after outgoing UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called Burundi one of the “most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times”.

Burundi’s government has denied allegations it targets its people, calling them malicious propaganda by dissidents.

“As I learn of the passing of Pierre Nkurunziza, I think of the thousands of lives that his regime cut short. The families that won’t see justice,” Thierry Uwamahoro, a democracy activist and prominent government critic who lives in exile, wrote on Twitter.

Lead-up to Burundi election marred by unrest (2:38)

Nkurunziza survived a coup attempt shortly after the 2015 vote. International donors cut support, leaving the government struggling. Hundreds of thousands of people fled the country.

Many Burundians were surprised when the president announced in 2018 that he was serving his last term. Many thought he would continue to wield power behind the scenes. The opposition leader who lost the May election, Agathon Rwasa, said his supporters were harassed ahead of the vote and arrested by the scores on election day. His court challenge to the vote alleging fraud was rejected.

The government had approved legislation meant to bestow upon Nkurunziza the title of “paramount leader” once he stepped down.

Nkurunziza “leaves behind a legacy of ruthless repression,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “He ruled through fear to erect a system synonymous with the worst human rights abuses: extrajudicial killings, torture, disappearances and the systematic crushing of dissent.”

Burundi must investigate the crimes, Mudge said. “As long as these abuses go unpunished, this dark legacy will hang over Burundi for many years to come.”


Mother of 13 gives birth to quadruplets in Kaduna

A 34-year-old mother of 13, Hauwa’u Sulaiman, has given birth to a set of quadruplets at the Gambo Sawaba General Hospital, Zaria, Kaduna State.

Sulaiman told the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday that she is now blessed with 17 children.

Upon delivery, the mother and the babies were transferred to the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital for better care.

She, however, said the only male among the quadruplets died before they arrived ABUTH.

Sulaiman said the three remaining infants were placed under observation at the pediatrics care unit of the hospital while she has been receiving medical care at the maternity ward.

“I am very healthy and strong but the medical experts advised that I need to be monitored very well before they can discharge me,’’ she said.

Her husband, Sulaiman Mohammed, also said his wife had in the past given birth to two sets of triplets; two sets of twins and three single babies at different times before the quadruplets.

India-China border dispute ‘killing thousands of pashmina goats’

The world is heading for a shortage of the highly prized and super-soft cashmere wool as pashmina goats that live on the “roof of the world” are caught up in the fractious border dispute between nuclear neighbours India and China.

Wool from pashmina goats reared by nomads in the inhospitable high-altitude cold desert region of Ladakh – a federal territory in India – is the most expensive and coveted cashmere in the world.

But the shaggy creatures that provide the wool are being pushed out of their grazing lands in the confrontation between the world’s two most populous nations, causing the death of tens of thousands of kids this season, locals and officials said.

“In about three years, when the newborn goats would have started yielding pashmina, we’ll see a significant drop in production,” Sonam Tsering of the All Changtang Pashmina Growers Cooperative Marketing Society told the AFP news agency.

cashmere production
A Changpa child sits near pashmina goats in a nomadic camp near Korzok village in Ladakh’s Leh district [File: Noemi Cassanelli/AFP]

There have been numerous face-offs and skirmishes between Chinese and Indian soldiers over their 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) frontier, which has never been properly demarcated.

The latest is concentrated in the Ladakh region, just opposite Tibet, with Indian officials claiming Chinese troops overstepped the boundary in recent weeks.

The alleged movements came after military face-offs at the eastern part of the border near Sikkim in May.

‘Newborns dead’

Some traditional grazing land is lost to China each year, Tsering said.

But this year, even the main winter grazing areas near KakJung, Tum Tselay, Chumar, Damchok and Korzok are out of bounds amid the heightened tensions, he added.

“It’s devastating. The PLA [China’s People’s Liberation Army] used to encroach into our side by the metres, but this time they have come inside several kilometres,” said Jurmet, a former elected official with only one name.

“It was breeding season for the goats. Around 85 percent of their newborns died this year because large herds were pushed out into the cold from the grazing lands [in February],” he told AFP over the phone from Leh, the region’s capital city.

Tsering said Indian soldiers were blocking the animals from entering areas deemed as sensitive, while herders told him the Chinese army was pushing Tibetan nomads into their grazing areas.

Half a dozen residents involved with goat herding who spoke to AFP said until a few years ago, they would cross the frozen Indus river for grazing during the winter, areas now being encroached by China.

Meanwhile, communicating with the herders – whose satellite phones provided by Indian officials have been withdrawn in recent years – has become difficult, said Jurmet.

Vital handicrafts industry

The huge number of deaths – in the tens of thousands according to a local Indian official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity – could devastate the sector in the coming years.

cashmere production
A pashmina goat out to pasture near Durbuk village between Chang La mountain pass and Tangste in Ladakh [File: Noemi Cassanelli/AFP]

The goats yield some 50 tonnes of the finest – and most expensive – feather-light cashmere wool each year, supporting a vital handicrafts industry in the Himalayan region of Kashmir that employs thousands of people.

Most of the wool is woven into exquisite shawls sold the world over from luxury store Harrods in London to the Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates; one shawl can cost up to $800.

More than 1,000 families of nomadic Changpa herders roam the vast Changtang Plateau at an altitude of more than 5,000 metres (16,400 feet), grazing some 300,000 pashmina goats, black yaks and horses through the summer months.

They move to the slightly lower-altitude grazing lands straddling Tibet and along the mighty Indus river during the harsh winter months of December to February when temperatures drop up to minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit).

The military tensions are the latest blow for the herders, who are already reeling from the impact of climate change, which has made winters harsher and summers drier.

Some have even abandoned their generations-long way of life to migrate to towns in Ladakh in search of other sources of income.


Joe Biden meets Floyd’s family in Houston

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden showed compassion that “meant the world” to George Floyd’s family on Monday, according to a lawyer for the family.

Biden met with Floyd’s relatives in Houston for more than an hour, said lawyer Benjamin Crump, who posted a picture on Twitter of himself with Biden, Floyd’s uncle Roger, civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton and Representative Cedric Richmond.

Trump has also spoken with Floyd’s family in a call that Floyd’s brother Philonise said in interviews was brief and did not provide him with an opportunity to say much.

Self-described KKK leader charged for driving into US protesters

An “admitted” Ku Klux Klan leader who drove a vehicle into a crowd of peaceful George Floyd protestors in the US state of Virginia is being investigated for possible hate crimes, a county attorney said.

The man has been charged with several offences after he “recklessly” drove into a crowd on Sunday, Henrico County’s Commonwealth Attorney Shannon Taylor said in a statement posted on Twitter.

US media reported one protester was injured in the incident near Richmond. The person was checked at the scene by emergency responders and refused further treatment.

Family of black Frenchman who died in police custody call national protest

The family of a black Frenchman who died in police custody in circumstances similar to the killing of George Floyd said they had spurned an offer of talks with the justice minister and called for a nationwide protest instead.

Adama Traore was celebrating his 24 birthday on July 19, 2016, when three police officers used their weight to restrain him. By the time he arrived at the police station, he was unconscious and could not be revived.

Medical experts differ on whether Traore died because of the restraint or because of an underlying medical condition. His family and their supporters have demanded that the officers involved be held to account. No one has been charged.

New Zealanders hug, shop and party after restrictions lifted

New Zealanders are enjoying their return to normal life after the last of the country’s coronavirus restrictions were removed at midnight.

“It’s really helped generate that absolute buzz and that feeling of more normality really,” cafe owner Katy Ellis told Reuters of the removal of social distancing guidelines. 

Cities came back to life as people returned to their offices and browsed the shops with public transport crowded once again.

“People are shopping, dining and just hanging about holding hands,” Steve Price told the news agency from Wellington. “It’s so lovely to see.” 

Tanzania president declares country ‘coronavirus-free’

Tanzanian President John Magufuli declared the East African country “coronavirus-free,” local media reported. 

President John Magufuli attributed the claimed success over the worldwide pandemic to prayers and fasting that the people of Tanzania have offered to God.

“It gives me joy to be the leader of a country that puts God first, God loves Tanzania,” Jamvi TV in Tanzania reported.

“The works of the devil will always be defeated in Tanzania because Tanzanians love God and that is why even the corona has been defeated by God,” Magufuli told a Catholic congregation in the capital Dodoma.

Courage to Resist Assisting National Guard Who Resisted Trump Orders to Violently Attack Protestors

The Most Revolutionary Act

National Guard Troops Refuse Trump’s Race War

Courage to Resist

Donate today to the National Guard and Military Objectors Defense Fund hosted by Courage to Resist

Courage to Resist is currently assisting members of the National Guard who resisted Trump’s orders to violently attack people on the streets of Washington DC peacefully and lawfully protesting racial injustice. Now that Trump is threatening to use the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops in cities across the US, it’s time for every member of the military to search their conscience. We want to make sure we’re there to support the brave men and women who continue to refuse these illegal orders.

One Guardsmen who is resisting Trump’s orders originally hoped to join medical missions assisting in natural disasters. Addressing the current situation he says, “I can’t do it. Even looking at my uniform is making me feel sick that I’m associated with this, especially after [the National Guard…

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As Trump Threatens to Send Military into Cities Some GIs Refuse to Comply

The Most Revolutionary Act

Some National Guard and active-duty GIs are refusing to deploy to U.S. cities rising up against police-perpetrated killings, saying no to complicity in the repression of the American populace and that they have not been properly trained in riot response or de-escalation tactics on domestic soil.

Veterans and GI rights organizations told Truthout that dozens of GIs are reaching out to assess their options as President Trump orders military and federal police onto the streets of Washington, D.C., and threatens to use the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty military into cities across the U.S. if governors cannot repress dissent in their states.

The National Guard has already mobilized 20,000 members in at least 29 states

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10 Action Ideas for Building a Police-Free Future

The Most Revolutionary Act

Imagine that you were asked to help create stability in a newly-founded city. How would you try to solve the problems that your friends and neighbors encountered? How would you respond to crisis and violence? Would your *first* choice be an unaccountable army with a history of oppression and violence patrolling your neighborhood around the clock?

— from Enough is Enough: A 150-Year Performance Review of the Minneapolis Police Department

What makes a community healthy and safe? This document doesn’t have all the answers, but it acknowledges that for many of us, police are not part of the solution. Patterns of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and bullying are too common. When someone is having a mental health crisis, or when neighbors are concerned about a fellow neighbor, or when we feel unsafe– are the police our only option? Of course, different communities have different needs. Vibrant, dynamic, and police-free communities…

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