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Congo Opposition Candidate Dies Of COVID-19

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Congo Opposition Candidate Dies Of COVID-19

Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, the Republic of Congo opposition candidate has died of Covid-19.

He died while being transferred to France for treatment, his campaign director said Monday, the day after presidential elections in which he was the main challenger.

Kolelas was seen as the main rival to veteran leader Denis Sassou Nguesso, who was expected to win Sunday’s vote.

The election was boycotted by the main opposition amid an internet blackout, with critics voicing concerns over the transparency of the polls seen as tilted towards Sassou Nguesso.

Kolelas “died in the medical aircraft which came to get him from Brazzaville on Sunday afternoon,” his campaign director Christian Cyr Rodrigue Mayanda told AFP.

The sixty-year-old tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday afternoon, and was unable to host his last campaign meeting in Brazzaville.

On Saturday, he posted a video from his sickbed, declaring he was “battling against death”.

“Rise up as one person… I’m fighting on my deathbed, you too fight for your change,” he urged his supporters, saying the election was “about the future of your children”.

Mayanda called on supporters of Kolelas to rally at 11 am local time (1000 GMT).

“We’ll continue to count the ballots. He was ahead in a number of areas,” he said.

Kolelas came second in the presidential election of 2016, picking up 15 per cent of the vote according to official results.

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He had pledged to release the two candidates from that vote sentenced in 2018 to 20 years in prison for “undermining state security”, former army general Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko and ex-minister Andre Okombi Salissa.

He was the only serious contender left facing the president on Sunday after a string of boycotts, withdrawn candidacies and exclusions. Provisional election results are not expected for days.

There were no reports of major incidents before polling stations closed, but AFP correspondents said access to the internet and social media, as well as text messages, was cut.

In some areas voters complained that their names weren’t on the electoral list.

“The only uncertainty is what score Mr Sassou will tell the electoral commission to give him,” said Congolese novelist Emmanuel Dongala, contacted by AFP at his US home.

Sassou Nguesso, 77, a former paratrooper, first rose to power in 1979 and has since accumulated 36 years in office, making him one of the world’s longest-serving leaders.

Speaking after he cast his ballot, Sassou Nguesso said that the “atmosphere of peace” during the election campaign — marked by police crackdowns on the opposition — was “a good sign for our democracy”.

But when asked about security when election results are announced, a moment that triggered a wave of violence at the last vote in 2016, he responded: “I’m not God”.

Shops were closed and only security vehicles were seen in Brazzaville city centre during voting.

The largest opposition group, the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy or UPADS, is boycotting the poll in which some 2.5 million people are eligible to vote. UPADS — the group of former president Pascal Lissouba, who died in France last August — is the only opposition party to have a parliamentary group in the current national assembly.

“Overall, the Congolese shunned the ballot box,” said rights activist Brice Makosso.

“The polling stations were empty.” Flanked by its giant neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Gabon, the former French colony has abundant oil reserves and most of its budget comes from petroleum revenue.

But its economy is in a slump, hurt by a collapse in world crude prices, long-standing debt, and the pandemic, as well as a reputation for corruption.

Sassou Nguesso campaigned on agricultural development and portrayed himself as a defender of Congo’s youth — the average age of the population of five million is just 19, according to UN figures.

After first coming to power in 1979, Sassou Nguesso was forced to introduce multi-party elections in 1991 and was defeated at the ballot box a year later.

But he returned to power in 1997 following a prolonged civil war. He has won every election since, which the oppositions have mostly slammed as fraudulent.

A constitutional amendment in 2015, which ended a ban on presidential candidates aged over 70 and scrapped a two-term limit, allowed him to run again in 2016. [AFP]

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Police Fine British Prime Minister For Not Wearing Seatbelt In Car

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Police Fine British Prime Minister For Not Wearing Seat Belt In Car

The British Police have fined Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for not wearing a seatbelt in the back of a moving car while on a trip to northern England.

Sunak, who recorded an Instagram video on Thursday, was seen turning in his seat to talk to the camera without a seatbelt on, a video that has now been deleted from the social media site.

The PM’s office at Downing Street said the incident was a “brief error of judgment”, but Lancashire constabulary announced they were fining Sunak for the infraction, The Guardian UK says.

The force said: “You will be aware that a video has been circulating on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seatbelt while a passenger in a moving car in Lancashire.

“After looking into this matter, we have today issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty.”

Reacting, a spokesperson for Sunak said: “The prime minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised. He will of course comply with the fixed penalty.”

A fixed penalty means Sunak can pay a fine to avoid a court hearing.

The police did not disclose how much they had fined the prime minister, but according to the government’s safety campaign, any driver or passenger not wearing a seatbelt is breaking the law and is liable to be fined up to £500 if the case goes to court, according to The Guardian UK.

Sunak’s transportation habits were already a talking point in the United Kingdom before the incident, a report by AFP says.

 READ  ALSO: Rishi Sunak Becomes UK’s New Prime Minister

His political rivals have taken aim at his use of a private jet to make multiple short flights in recent days.

This is not the first time Sunak has been slapped with a police fine.

He was fined while serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer for attending a Downing Street party in June 2020 that violated the government’s rules on social distancing, according to an AFP report.

The latest fine makes Sunak the second Conservative prime minister to receive a police fine in less than 12 months. The Metropolitan police, in 2020, issued a fixed-penalty notice to Boris Johnson for attending a party during lockdown. Sunak was fined for attending the same event as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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World’s Oldest Nun Dies At 118

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World's Oldest Nun Does At 118

French nun Sister André who was the world’s oldest known person died at age 118 in the southern French city of Toulon, the city’s mayor Hubert Falco said on Wednesday.

Born in the southern French town of Ales on Feb. 11, 1904, as Lucile Randon, Sister André was listed as the oldest person alive by the Gerontology Research Group in April 2022.

The Frenchwoman worked as a home teacher in her youth and did not enter a religious community until she was in her early 40s.
Most recently, Sister André was confined to a wheelchair, and for several years she could no longer see properly.

READ ALSO: Eight Shot At Crowded Martin Luther King Day Block Party

She was an honorary citizen of Toulon, where she lived in a retirement home for several years.
Falco praised her as incredibly modern and a nun with a big heart.

Guinness World Records said Lucile, who took the name of Sister André in 1944, was the second-oldest French person and the second-oldest European person ever recorded.
More recently, Sister André received the record for the oldest COVID-19 survivor after an infection in 2021.

“It’s difficult to fathom that someone born before the patenting of plastic, zips or even bras were alive well into the 21st century, and robust enough to beat COVID-19’’, the Guinness World Records editor, Craig Glenday said in a statement.

“It’s been an honour to record her story in the pages of the Guinness World Records book, and she will live on in history as the fourth oldest person ever authenticated.’’

With her death, Maria Branyas Morera, who lived in Spain, assumed the title of the world’s oldest person at age 115.

 

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Eight Shot At Crowded Martin Luther King Day Block Party

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Eight Shot At Crowded Martin Luther King Day Block Party

Eight people were shot at a block party packed with more than 1,000 people celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Fort Pierce, Florida, Monday, police said.

All eight of those shot were adults and they were ferried to the hospital for treatment, including one person in critical condition, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Hester said during a news conference.

Six people, including a baby, were killed in a ‘massacre’ that is likely gang-related, California sheriff’s office says.

At least four others were injured as people ran for safety, the sheriff’s office said. One of those injured was a juvenile who was hurt as people rushed to flee the park where the event was being held, Hester said.

“As the shots rang out, people were just running in all directions,” Hester said. “There were people laying behind cars, laying behind anything they could lay behind. It was kind of hard to tell who was a victim and who was just hiding at that point.”

The shooting began at around 5:20 p.m. in Ilous Ellis Park, he said, where the community had gathered for an afternoon car show, dance performances, live DJ and kids activities to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an event flyer shows.

In a video taken by a witness, attendees are seen dancing by their cars and enjoying the music when what sounds like gunfire begins to resonate over the song. People in the crowd start to rush away from the noise, some ducking behind cars or grabbing children’s hands and running across the street.

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The incident marks the 30th mass shooting in the country this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

So far this year, the US is averaging about two mass shootings per day.

Two sheriff’s deputies who were stationed in the park ran toward the scene and provided aid to those injured, Hester said. Several witnesses also helped to render aid and drive people to the hospital, he added.

The sheriff’s office has not named any suspects in the shooting, but investigators were following up on several leads from witnesses and community members Monday night.

Investigators preliminarily believe the gunfire involved multiple shooters and resulted from “a disagreement of some sort between two parties,” Hester said.

“So many innocent people that were injured or hurt were not part of the disagreement,” he added.

Survivors of mass shootings are left with lifelong wounds — and mounting bills

“It’s really unfortunate and it’s sad that during a celebration of someone who represented peace and equality, a disagreement results in a use of guns and violence,” Hester said.

He estimated as many as 40 sheriff’s office personnel were working the case Monday night as they processed the scene, spoke to victims at the hospital and followed up on leads.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact authorities or submit anonymous tips through CrimeStoppers. The sheriff’s department is handling the case because the Ilous Ellis Park is a St. Lucie County park.

Fort Pierce is a coastal city about an hour’s drive north of West Palm Beach.

. CNN

 

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