- Four journalists of Somaliland's independent 'Haatuf' newspaper today were freed at last, after spending 86 days in jail for offending the family of President Dahir Riyale Kahin. Massive pressure from local media and Somalilanders in the Diaspora secured their release.
"Free at last with people's power," the Somalilander media 'Awdalnews' celebrated the news today. The independent online media, along with many other Somalilanders, had been pressurising heavily for the journalists' release, counting the days of their detention on its website.
The publisher of the privately-owned daily 'Haatuf', Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, on 4 March was sentenced to two years in prison for "reporting false information about the government, discrediting the President and his family and creating inter-communal tension." Mr Gabobe and a colleague were arrested during a police raid on the newspaper on 2 January.
The newspaper's editor-in-chief, Ali Abdi Dini, and its correspondent in Somaliland's western Awdal region, Mohamed Omar Sheik, were also sentenced to two years and five months in prison, as was a fourth journalist, Ibrahim Mohamed Rashid Fara, who was tried in absentia.
The court also suspended the licence of 'Haatuf' and gave the Haatuf Media Network a fine of about US$ 800.
After meeting with the Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA), Somaliland President Riyale said on 21 February that he was ready to pardon the 'Haatuf' journalists if they were convicted. The government has however waited until today to release the four.
Somaliland, a breakaway region in north-western Somalia that unilaterally went back to its independence status of 1960 after civil war broke out in Somalia in 1991, had a good human rights record until the arrest of the 'Haatuf' journalists. President Riyale used the country's stability and democracy as a means of lobbying for international recognition, thus shocking supporters by the January attack on the free press.
Few details are so far known on the release of the 'Haatuf' journalists and how it was accomplished. Several Somaliland media however confirm their release this evening.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.