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African press review 8 December 2016

4 min

The International Criminal Court hears that Dominic Ongwen, accused of crimes against humanity, deliberately chose to remain in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Uganda's president has approved the military action which caused 116 deaths in an assault on the royal palace in the western Rwenzori kingdom last weekend. And patients continue to suffer as the doctors strike in Kenya drags on.

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Dominic Ongwen deliberately chose to stay in the Lord's Resistance Army, the International Criminal Court was told yesterday.

This is the top story in this morning's Ugandan Daily Monitor.

Ongwen could have escaped the clutches of Uganda's notorious LRA rebels, but instead chose to stay because the "work was too nice", his war crimes trial heard on Wednesday.

On the second day of the trial at the International Criminal Court, a lawyer representing thousands of victims said Ongwen -- a former child-soldier-turned warlord -- scorned chances to leave the brutal rebel army led by Joseph Kony.

At the opening of his trial on Tuesday, Ongwen denied 70 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the LRA's terror campaign mainly directed against unarmed civilians living in refugee camps.

The case has now been adjourned until mid-January. The trial, during which 74 witnesses including former child soldiers will be called, is likely to last several years.

Museveni defends military following Rwenzori palace assault

Also in the Monitor, a report that President Yoweri Museveni has defended the military assault on the Rwenzori Kingdom’s Buhikira Palace that left 116 people dead.

Speaking at a high level military meeting, the country’s commander-in-chief maintained that Rwenzururu King Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere rejected repeated calls to disband his royal guards.

The manner in which the army and police are believed to have carried out the attack continues to inspire demands for an inquiry into what is now being labelled a massacre.

Kasese District representatives in parliament, regime opponents, local and international human rights agencies and civil society are also pushing for legal action against the officers who commanded the onslaught in which the traditional king's palace was set on fire.

Charles Wesley Mumbere remains in police custody.

More patients die as Kenya doctors' strike continues

The doctors' strike continues in Kenya, with the Nairobi-based Daily Nation alleging further deaths of patients the paper claims were abandoned by health workers.

Sister paper the Standard says Kenyans will continue suffering following the collapse of talks between the government and doctors yesterday.

It emerged that after six hours of closed-door talks an offer of the shilling equivalent of only 450 euros was made by the government to cover two professional categories. The finer details meant that only interns and medical officers would get a salary raise.

In effect, the offer would raise the salaries of the lowest paid doctor to 1,580 euros, a far cry from the 3,000 euros that the doctors expect and which was contained in the collective bargaining agreement.

Sources within the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union told the Standard that the offer was too little.

Egypt's controversial protest law amended

In the Egypt Independent news that Justice Minister Hossam Abdel Rahim yesterday announced that the cabinet has approved the amendment to Article 10 of the Protest Law.

The amendment places the fate of any protests in the hands of the judiciary, rather than the earlier provision which gave full authority to the interior ministry to ban any protests if they deemed them a threat to peace and security.

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court struck down Article 10 of the protest law that allowed authorities to ban all protests, except those officially sanctioned.

The 2013 law, which has been used to jail activists for up to two years, required demonstrators to inform the interior ministry that they were planning a protest.

The Supreme Constitutional Court has ruled that the article was unconstitutional.

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