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Brice Nguema, Gabon coup leader and Bongo’s cousin, sworn in as interim president

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Brice Oligui Nguema, leader of Gabon’s military junta, has been sworn in as the country’s interim president.

Nguema, who was the head of the country’s presidential guard, led a group of soldiers to seize power from President Ali Bongo last Wednesday after a controversial election.

The military officers had cited institutional, political, economic, and social crises as reasons for the coup.

After announcing that Bongo had been ousted, the soldiers, who identified themselves as members of the Committee of Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), said they were dissolving “all the institutions of the republic” and closing the country’s borders.

However, on Saturday, the coup leaders reopened the borders, saying they were “concerned with preserving respect for the rule of law, good relations with our neighbours and all states of the world” — and wanted to keep “international commitments”.

WHO IS NGUEMA?

While Nguema seems to enjoy some popular support, evident from the crowds of cheering civilians turning up at his inauguration, there have been concerns that the general’s rule will be a continuation of the Bongo family’s 53-year hold on power.

Bongo became president when Omar, his father, died after ruling from 1967 to 2009.

The coup was believed to have punctuated the family’s dynasty but Nguema has been reported to be Bongo’s cousin.

Albert Ossa, leader of the country’s opposition, had described the coup as a “family affair” and a “palace revolution” aimed at keeping them in power.

“Oligui Nguema is Ali Bongo’s cousin. The campaign was 60 years of Bongo is too much. The Bongos have decided to put Ali Bongo aside and continue their system by putting in place a Bongo CEO system,” he said.

“And they have put forward Oligui Nguema. In this way the Bongo system continues.”

Nguema has also been accused of corruption.

According to a 2020 investigation by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on the Bongo family’s assets in the United States, Nguema invested in real estate.

He was said to have bought three properties in middle and working class neighbourhoods in the Maryland suburbs of Hyattsville and Silver Spring, just outside the capital, in 2015 and 2018.

The homes were purchased with a total of over $1 million in cash.

The general was said to have been a strong ally of Omar before his death but was later dismissed from the inner circle of the Bongo family, after Ali assumed power.

While the opposition had thanked the army for standing up against what it described as “an electoral coup”, it is now urging the junta to complete the counting of ballots and install Ossa as the “rightful winner”.

There has been no mention of a return to civilian rule by the junta.

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EU court fines Hungary €200m for flouting asylum law

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The European Union’s (EU) top court has fined Hungary €200 million over the country’s failure to comply with the union’s asylum policies.

According to the EU law, everyone fleeing persecution in their home countries has the right to ask for international protection, and cannot be evicted if there is a serious risk of death or torture.

In a statement on Thursday, the court said Hungary “deliberately” avoided applying EU policy and its failure “constitutes a serious infringement of EU law”.

The court added that the country violated EU laws by forcing asylum seekers to travel to Belgrade or Kyiv to apply for a travel permit to enter Hungary.

The court also issued a penalty of €1 million daily until Hungary changes its policy.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, on Thursday, in a post on X, described the decision as “outrageous and unacceptable”.

“The EU Court of Justice’ decision to fine Hungary with 200M euros plus 1M euros daily for defending the borders of the European Union is outrageous and unacceptable,” the prime minister said.

“It seems that illegal migrants are more important to the Brussels bureaucrats than their own European citizens.”

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Missing plane carrying Malawi’s VP found with no survivors

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The wreck of a plane carrying Saulos Chilima, Malawi’s vice-president, has been found with no survivors.

President Lazarus Chakwera made the grim announcement in a press briefing on Tuesday.

The aircraft which had the 51-year-old vice-president and nine others aboard went missing after it failed to land at the Mzuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, the capital.

Chilima was on his way to represent the government at the burial of Ralph Kasambara, former minister, who died four days ago.

Shanil Dzimbiri, former first lady, was also on the flight.

The plane, which flew in bad weather, was turned back from landing at the airport because of poor visibility.

After receiving the news of the missing plane on Monday, Chakwera cancelled a trip to the Bahamas and ordered national and local authorities to “conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft”.

“The search and rescue operation I ordered to find the missing plane that carried our vice president and nine others has been completed,” the president said while providing an update.

“The plane has been found. I am deeply saddened and sorry to inform you that it has turned out to be a terrible tragedy.”

The president said the rescue team found the aircraft completely destroyed.

Chilima had been vice-president of Malawi since 2014.

Despite coming from two different political parties, the vice-president and president teamed up to form an alliance during the 2020 elections.

The vice-president left behind a wife and two children.

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Woman killed and swallowed whole by 16-foot python in Indonesia

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A woman has been found dead inside the belly of a snake after it swallowed her whole in central Indonesia, a local official said Saturday.

The husband of 45-year-old Farida and residents of Kalempang village in South Sulawesi province discovered her on Friday inside the reticulated python, which measured around five metres (16 feet).

The mother-of-four had gone missing Thursday night and failed to return home, forcing a search effort, village head Suardi Rosi told AFP.

Her husband “found her belongings… which made him suspicious. The villagers then searched the area. They soon spotted a python with a large belly,” said Suardi.

“They agreed to cut open the python’s stomach. As soon as they did, Farida’s head was immediately visible.”

Farida was found fully clothed inside the snake.

Such incidents are considered extremely rare but several people have died in Indonesia in recent years after being swallowed whole by pythons.

Last year, residents in Southeast Sulawesi’s Tinanggea district killed an eight-metre python, which was found strangling and eating one of the farmers in a village.

In 2018, a 54-year-old woman was found dead inside a seven-metre python in Southeast Sulawesi’s Muna town.

And the year before, a farmer in West Sulawesi went missing before being found eaten alive by a four-metre python at a palm oil plantation.

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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