News in the Humanosphere: Burundi government shuts down social media before vote

Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi (Photo copyright Eric Miller / World Economic Forum)

You know when a government resorts to shutting down Twitter its hold on power is going to be tenuous. “Protest-hit Burundi cut mobile access to several social networks and messaging applications, a telecoms official said Wednesday, following days of demonstrations against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term…The authorities cut mobile access to several social networks and messaging applications including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, which have been used to coordinate protests. “All the roads are blocked by police… but the protests will not stop until he gives up the third term,” said Thierry, a demonstrator.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Insg6r)

Burundi’s government told diplomats to stay neutral and not side with protesters who accuse President Pierre Nkurunziza of violating the constitution by announcing he will seek a third term in office. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Ag3eiL)

A top U.S. diplomat, Assistant Secy State Tom Malinowski,  was heading to Burundi to Wednesday, seeking to halt escalating unrest triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office, a move protesters say is unconstitutional. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Ins3jN)

Humanity Affirming Stat of the Day
Thanks to an exhaustive door-to-door effort, nearly 100,000 children between the ages of six months and 10 years in Guinea are now protected against measles. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1QLv4hb)

Africa

Togo’s main opposition party on Wednesday rejected official presidential election results declaring victory for incumbent Faure Gnassingbe with 58.75 percent of the vote, and instead claimed a win for its candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1beAnF7)

China’s biggest lender by assets, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, said on Wednesday it had signed an infrastructure pact worth $2 billion with the oil-rich west African nation of Equatorial Guinea. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1InsfiN)

The United Nations Security Council renewed for another year the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the disputed North African territory of Western Sahara but failed to accept African Union recommendations for changes to the force’s mandate. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1JAxIEH)

Zimbabwe on Wednesday shut down the country’s second largest mobile phone service provider, Telecel Zimbabwe, partly for breaching black empowerment laws, officials said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Insomz)

A leader of the Ugandan rebels accused of slaughtering over 300 people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been killed in a clash with government forces, authorities said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1ERvgIH)

In an effort to reverse tree losses in Kenya’s Nyeri Forest, an environmental initiative has turned to an unusual barter system, offering chickens, goats or solar panels in exchange for tree planting. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1beAhgA)

The “guerrilla growers” in Bamako, Mali, do not own the land they’re cultivating but property rules aren’t stopping them from trying to feed themselves in one of the world’s poorest countries. (TRF http://bit.ly/1Ag3i1W)

A French prosecutor is carrying out a preliminary investigation into allegations of child abuse by French soldiers stationed in Central African Republic, a Justice Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1DWARXE)

MENA

Yemen’s Shiite rebels and their allies advanced in the southern city of Aden on Wednesday, capturing parts of an upscale neighborhood and seizing men they accuse of fighting them from their homes. (AP http://yhoo.it/1beAiRF)

Yemen’s Houthi rulers have launched an investigation against dozens of public figures, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakul Karman, state news agency Saba said late on Tuesday, following a complaint that could amount to treason. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1beA9O2)

Sixty-nine suspected Muslim Brotherhood supporters were each sentenced to 25 years in prison in Egypt on Wednesday for attacking and burning a church in a village near Cairo in 2013, judicial sources said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Ag3iiu)

The World Bank is seeking to finance development projects in areas in Iraq that the government has recaptured from Islamic State militants, its regional vice president said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1beAhx8)

Nepal

More than 200 Nepalis protested outside parliament in the capital Kathmandu, demanding the government increase the number of buses going to the interior hills and improve distribution of aid. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JAP6Jf)

The United Nations says it is beginning to distribute food and medicine Wednesday in the area near the epicenter of Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal, where the death toll continues to rise. (VOA http://bit.ly/1JAP5Fg)

Government agencies, and local and international aid organizations in Nepal appear initially overwhelmed by the scale of displacement as they mobilize a coordinated response effort. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1begMot)

Asia

Sri Lanka’s parliament overwhelmingly passed reforms on Tuesday reducing some of the president’s powers, in a move that did not go as far as President Maithripala Sirisena had promised but is nevertheless seen as a victory for the leader. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Ins8no)

An Indian state minister who heads the farmers’ wing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has drawn flak from the opposition for branding as “cowards” some farmers who committed suicide after unseasonal rains destroyed their crops. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Ins8E7)

In the tobacco-producing heartland of China – the world’s largest cigarette market – smoking is commonplace at work, in taxis and even in hospitals. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Ins6ft)

The U.N. human rights office has criticized Indonesia’s decision to execute eight people convicted of drug smuggling. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Ins9aV)

The Americas

Venezuela says it will cut the working day for public sector workers to five-and-a-half hours to conserve energy, down from eight to nine hours. The initiative is part of a nationwide electricity rationing plan. (BBC http://bbc.in/1Ag46nB)

About 1 percent of all the tree species in the Amazon account for half of the carbon locked in the vast South American rainforest, a study has estimated. Although the region is home to an estimated 16,000 tree species, researchers found that just 182 species dominated the carbon storage process. (BBC http://bbc.in/1Ag4dj6)

The government’s surprise revocation of export licenses this winter for some of Venezuela’s biggest cacao exporters adds to a string of problems plaguing an industry that the socialist government once saw as a way to help wean the nation off its dependence on petroleum, which accounts for 96 percent of the country’s export revenue. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Insn21)

There have been fresh evacuations in the area surrounding the Calbuco volcano in southern Chile after it started spewing ash again on Tuesday. (BBC http://bbc.in/1Ag44fy)

Top executives from several big Brazilian construction and engineering firms have been released from prison but will remain under house arrest for their alleged role in a massive kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras. (AP http://yhoo.it/1OEKvcB)

...and the rest

The European Union has a duty to confront the flood of migrants reaching its shores, the EU’s foreign policy chief said Wednesday as she met top US officials seeking ways to deal with the exodus. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1OEKDJ5)

EU member states reached provisional agreement that carbon market reforms should begin on Jan. 1, 2019, at closed-door talks on Wednesday, paving the way for a further round of negotiations next month, diplomats said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1InsnyV)

Attorneys for Royal Dutch Shell PLC presented testimony to a federal court judge Tuesday that the company needs safety zones around its Arctic drill fleet to prevent Greenpeace USA activists from endangering company workers and themselves. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Ins0V1)

Opinion/Blogs

Who are the Imbonerakure and is Burundi unravelling? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Ag4cLY)

Political (and some other) priorities in Nepal as of 28 April 2015 (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1OEMq0K)

Open Letter from President Jacob Zuma to Mia Couto, Mozambican writer and poet (Daily Maverick http://bit.ly/1begspD)

Countries that lead the switch to clean energy will reap the financial rewards (Guardian http://bit.ly/1EDi8VA)

The overlooked humanitarian crisis in Iraq: The need to address disparities (Brookings http://bit.ly/1DWB2C2)

Anti-Foreigner Discrimination ‘Fostered in South African Schools’ (IPS http://bit.ly/1ERvCPF)

Migrant crisis in the Mediterranean: What can be done? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1ERvJuz)

That moment when Senegalese writer Fatou Diome kicked European Union butt (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1DWD1GB)

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About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]humanosphere.org.