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Rwanda-Burundi tension hampers regional trade

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By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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Increasing political tension between Rwanda and Burundi, which started in 2015 when political unease in Bujumbura saw its citizens cross over to Kigali, has disrupted cross-border trade between the two countries leaving traders counting their losses.

This past week, 25 Burundians crossed the border to Rwanda seeking asylum. Rwanda hosts 69,089 Burundian refugees according to UNHCR figures as of November 30, 2018.

Experts say that the East African Community stands to suffer as a result of escalating tensions between the two neighbours.

“The EAC bloc has to act fast in order to prevent this escalation between two neighbours delaying implementation of regional projects that are meant for the good of all member states,” Ismael Buchanan, a professor of International Relations at the University of Rwanda told The EastAfrican.

With no hope in sight that the political tensions between the two countries will ease, most traders have rerouted their business to other neighbouring countries while a few are exploiting porous borders to smuggle goods into Burundi. Most recently, Rwanda’s top RnB artiste Ngabo Medard Jobert, known by the stage name Meddy, cancelled his show in Burundi at the last minute citing security concerns.

Joseph Habimana, a seasoned cross-border trader, had been transporting fruit from Rwanda to markets in Bujumbura and to border communities in Burundi. In August 2016, he and other traders were informed that they were no longer welcome to enter Burundi.

Mr Habimana has since struggled to make as much money as he did when trade between the two neighbours flourished.

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“It has become a daily struggle for traders, especially those of us who sell agricultural products. Taking care of my family means I now have to work double to provide for my wife and children,” the father of four said.

“My hope is to see both countries making amends and reopening business and trade. The effects are not felt by just traders but also by the communities at the border, which heavily relied on each other for products.”

Another trader, who preferred anonymity, said he and several others resorted to using porous borders to smuggle goods into Burundi.

Early last year, Burundi stopped food exports to Rwanda and closed down bus companies operating between the two countries, accusing them of being infiltrated by armed groups who wanted to destabilise the country.

Volcano Express, a bus service that operated between the two countries, had to close its Burundi operations.

Some of its employees were arrested early last year on suspicion of being spies.

Rwanda says that Burundi’s actions to block movement of goods and passenger buses across the border are in violation of the EAC Common Market Protocol.

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza said recently that the Rwandan government was considered an enemy of his country.

President Nkurunziza won a controversial third term in office in 2015.

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80 people quarantined after driver tests positive for Covid-19 in Bomet: The Standard

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At least 80 people suspected to have come in contact with a driver who tested positive for Covid-19 have been quarantined in Bomet County.

Among those who have been quarantined at Kaptien Village in Konoin are extended family members and neighbours of the 40-year-old driver.
Bomet Medical Services and Public Health CEC Dr Joseph Sitonik said the group was rounded up and asked to stay indoor after the driver returned positive results for Covid.
He said a team of public health and security personnel have been deployed to the village to ensure the contacts observe self-quarantine.
SEE ALSO: Lack of Covid-19 data raises fears of a ‘silent epidemic’ ravaging Africa
Sitonik said the driver who doubles up as a messenger in one of the tea estates in Kericho County fell sick and came home before being referred to hospital by relatives.
Sitonik said it is at Central Hospital where health personal found him to exhibit coronairus symptoms where they took his samples for test.
“After being admitted, doctors opted to test him for Covid and he returned positive results and we are now out to search for all his contacts,” he said
“At the moment we have put 80 people into quarantine and numbers are going to rise since the driver interacted with many people both at his work place and home,” he said.
Sitonik said samples will be taken from all the contacts currently in quarantine.
SEE ALSO: Covid-19: Why teachers’ salaries won’t be affected
“At the moment all the contacts we have identified are under self-quarantine and if they are going to ignore the directives we are going to force them into supervised quarantine at their cost,” said Sitonik.
Sitonik said health officials in Kericho County have mounted a man hunt for staff of the tea estates where the driver works.
“Since the driver moves around distributing letters within the estate a number of his colleagues who came in contact with him will be taken in for quarantine and tested,” he added.
Sitonik at the same time said the county was ready for any outcome from the incident saying the county has put in place all the required measures to tackle Covid
He said at the moment the county has 95 isolation beds distributed across the county with another 224 beds being prepared at Koiwa Health Centre to deal with Covid cases in case of a surge.
SEE ALSO: Please give us any job, teachers plead
Sitonik also revealed that the county has 15 ICU beds and two mobile ventilators which will come in handy to tackle the virus.
So far, Bomet had earlier recorded one positive case of the virus.

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Gikuyu Supreme Council of Elders say no to abortion bill: The Standard

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Gikuyu Elders from Kimani Wa Kabui (left), Boro wa Ngera, Warorua wa Kimani and Njathi wa Mbatia say a traditional prayer before they addressed the media to affirm their unwavering support for President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposed the family abortion bill before Senate at the Bowling Green. [ Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

The Gikuyu Council of Elders has opposed a bill that seeks to ease access to abortion, urging the legislators from the community and others of goodwill to champion the shooting down of the proposed law currently before the Senate.

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The Supreme Council of the Gikuyu Cultural Association, referred as Athamaki said the Bill was not only against the religious teachings but was also in contravention of the cultural teachings that rebuke abortion.
The elders said Kenya’s legislators must guard the society against introduction of alien practices, especially those that go against both the religious and cultural beliefs, as they said was the case with the Reproductive Healthcare Bill, sponsored by nominated Senator Agnes Zani.
“The Gikuyu traditions never allowed such practices like abortion, never. This to the Gikuyu community is an outcast as it is killing, and we do not advocate for killing. Religious teachings across the board also are against this, so we are asking, especially legislators from our community, and those supporting our position, to reject this Bill and ensure it does not pass,” said elder Waruru wa Kimani.
SEE ALSO: Clarification: Murathe did not warn Jubilee MPs over skipping Jubilee PG
The Athamaki said allowing the Bill to pass will facilitate easy access to abortion, which has remained a contentious issue, and which was also rejected through the enacting of Constitution 2010.
“We do not want to have a society where we allow immoral practices to thrive, just because it would be easy to procure an abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. The Gikuyu customs have never allowed this, we will not allow it now.”
The Bill has come under heavy criticism, especially part five of the proposed law entitled Termination of Pregnancy, which states “A pregnancy may be terminated by a trained health professional wherein the person’s opinion there is need for emergency treatment, the pregnancy would endanger the life or health of the mother or there is a substantial risk that the foetus would suffer from a severe physical or mental abnormality that is incompatible with the life outside the womb”.
Religious organisations have also voiced their opposition to the proposed law, led by Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and the Supreme Council of Muslims leaders (Supkem). 
Catholic bishops have equally rallied their MPs to reject the Bill saying it goes against the doctrines of the church The Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, Philip Anyolo, has written to all Catholic MPs urging them to shoot down the proposed law.
SEE ALSO: MPs plot law to save staff from governors
The Gikuyu elders also said they would be meeting with the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to be furnished with regulations that they would require to undertake while taking young boys through circumcision during the current Corona pandemic.
“Normally, whenever we have a pandemic in the country we have always discouraged offering the rites of passage, but on consultations we have agreed that we be granted regulations that we may require to have the circumcision for our boys. We have secured an appointment with Kagwe and we hope we will be given the right regulations for this important cultural exercise,” said Muthamaki Kariuki wa Kabui.

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Man, 20, arrested for cohabiting with 16-year old minor: The Standard

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A 20-year-old man is being held at Kopolo Police Post in Bondo Sub-County after he was arrested for cohabiting with a 16-year-old girl at Gul-Koyando Village in East Migwena Sub-Location.

According to the area village elder George Otieno, the suspect who has been identified as Abraham Oluoch was arrested after he was found staying with the minor as his wife.
He stated that they got the information yesterday evening and went to execute the arrest after the suspect is alleged to have senselessly beaten the minor who is a class seven pupil at Rapogi Primary School in West Yimbo Location
He told The Standard that he arrested both the suspect and the minor and handed them over to the area Assistant chief Alfred Otieno Oyola who took them to Kopolo Police post.
“These cases are on the rise in this area and we will ensure that the perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted,” he said.
The area Assistant chief confirmed the arrest of the suspect and the minor.
“Police have already investigations to establish the exact age of the girl before they can be processed for prosecution,” said Oyola.

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