AI Poses New Threat to Integrity of Kenyan University Students’ Work

Artificial Intelligence tools like ChatGPT are presenting problems in Kenya’s education system, as in so many others. Some writers who offer academic assistance to students say AI tools are cutting into their business, while professors worry students have new ways to cheat. Mohammed Yusuf reports.

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Al-Shabab Attacks Ethiopia Military Base in Somalia   

Ethiopia says its forces in Somalia thwarted an al-Shabab attack on a base Wednesday in the Somali town of Doolow.

“The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) stopped the attackers in their tracks before they could wreak havoc,” Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted.

It added: “The ENDF neutralised suicide bombers and destroyed weapons to be used by the terrorist group.”

Earlier, residents in Doolow reported that two explosions targeted an Ethiopian military base outside the town on Wednesday, just after 10 a.m. local time.

A resident who did not want to be identified for security reasons said the first explosion occurred at a checkpoint for the entrance of the base, while the second explosion took place away from the location of the first one.

A purported video clip recorded by a second resident shows a white plume of smoke rising from the site of the first explosion. As the witness recorded, the sound of the second explosion could be heard.

Ethiopia keeps thousands of troops in Somalia to fight al-Shabab and protect its border. The troops serve as part of the Africa Union (AU) mission to support the Somali government. Ethiopia also has non-AU forces based on a bilateral agreement with the Somali government, to fight al-Shabab and protect its border.

In a statement, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they sent two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices driven by suicide bombers.

The government-owned Somali National News Agency (SONNA) reported that the first vehicle exploded at the entrance of the base, causing “significant damage” and injuring four soldiers.

Osman Nuh Haji, a Somali regional security official, denied the report, telling VOA Somali that there were no casualties among soldiers or civilians, and that troops destroyed a vehicle before it reached the base.

He said a car with explosives approached the base manned by Somali and Ethiopian forces.

“The checkpoint is far from the base. When the car failed to stop, the soldiers fired shots in order to stop it,” Haji said. “When that did not succeed and they realized that it’s carrying explosives they destroyed it with a missile.”

The base is located at the town’s airport. Haji said the vehicle’s intention was to enter the base and the airport and to cause maximum damage to the troops and planes.

Tigist Geme contributed to this report.

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New Nigerian President Says He Will Remove Fuel Subsidy

After his May 29 inauguration, Nigerian president Bola Tinubu announced he would soon end a decades-old fuel subsidy, saying the country can no longer afford the cost. His comments sparked panic buying of gas and raised concerns about inflation in one of Africa’s top oil-producing countries. Gibson Emeka has this report from Abuja.

Camera: Gibson Emeka

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Sudan Military Factions Battle Over Weapons, Fuel Depots 

Sudan’s army has been battling to defend a military industrial complex believed to contain large stocks of weapons and ammunition in southern Khartoum, close to fuel and gas depots that are at risk of exploding, residents said on Wednesday.

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), in the eighth week of a power struggle with the army, had attacked the area containing the Yarmouk complex late on Tuesday before retreating after heavy fighting, witnesses said. Clashes could still be heard on Wednesday morning.

The RSF quickly seized swathes of the capital after war erupted in Khartoum on April 15. Army air strikes and artillery fire have shown little sign of dislodging them, but as the fighting drags on the RSF may face a challenge restocking with ammunition and fuel.

Fighting across the three cities that make up Sudan’s greater capital region – Khartoum, Bahri and Omdurman – has picked up since a 12-day ceasefire formally expired on June 3 after repeated violations.

“Since yesterday there has been a violent battle with the use of planes and artillery and clashes on the ground and columns of smoke rising,” Nader Youssef, a resident living near Yarmouk, told Reuters by phone.

Due to the proximity of fuel and gas depots, “any explosion could destroy residents and the whole area,” he said.

The fighting derailed the launch a transition towards civilian rule four years after a popular uprising ousted strongman president Omar al-Bashir. The army and RSF, which together staged a coup in 2021, fell out over the chain of command and military restructuring plans under the transition.

Water shortages

The conflict has wreaked havoc on the capital, triggered new outbursts of deadly violence in the long volatile western region of Darfur, and displaced more than 1.9 million people.

Most health services have collapsed, power and water is often cut, and looting has been spreading.

In Bahri, north of the Blue Nile from Khartoum, local activists said that more than 50 days of water cuts had driven many people from their homes and that they were caught between having nothing to drink and being trapped in the crossfire as they searched for water.

More than 1,428,000 people have been driven from their homes within Sudan and a further 476,800 have fled into neighbouring countries, most of which are already struggling with poverty and internal conflict, according to estimates published on Tuesday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Sudan’s health ministry has recorded at least 780 civilian deaths as a direct result of the fighting. Hundreds more have been killed in the city of El Geneina in West Darfur. Medical officials say many bodies remain uncollected or unrecorded.

The deal for the ceasefire that ended on Saturday was brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States at talks in Jeddah, where a mediator said negotiations were continuing in an effort to provide safe passage for humanitarian assistance.

Consultations for a new truce deal, which had been reported by Saudi TV station Al Arabiya on Tuesday, were at an early stage and complicated by the continued fighting, the source said.

The United Nations says aid that could reach about 2.2 million people had been delivered since late May but that some 25 million – more than half the population – are in need of assistance.

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Rwanda’s Kagame Orders Major Military Purge 

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has embarked on a major shakeup of the country’s military, with a round of dismissals announced Wednesday after the appointment of a new defense minister, army chief and head of internal security.

Army spokesman Ronald Rvivanga told local media that two long-serving generals, Major General Aloys Muganga and Brigadier General Francis Mutiganda, had been sacked for “indiscipline.”

“According to the law, this means that they have to hand over military equipment and leave the army without any benefits, because of what they did,” he said, without elaborating.

Another 14 officers were also dismissed along with more than 200 others, the Rwanda Defense Force said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Kagame had announced a reshuffle in several top security posts, without giving any reasons for the move.

He said Juvenal Marizamunda had been appointed defense minister, replacing Albert Murasira who had served in the post since 2018.

The 58-year-old Marizamunda was previously the head of Rwanda’s correctional services, and also a former deputy inspector general of police.

Kagame also appointed Mubarak Muganga as the new chief of defense staff, and Vincent Nyakarundi as army chief of staff, a statement from his office said.

Jean Bosco Ntibitura was named director general in charge of internal security in the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

Other changes were also made to command roles in the Rwandan force which has been deployed in Mozambique since 2021 to counter a jihadist insurgency.

Of the sacked generals, Muganga had been appointed commander of mechanized forces in 2019, while Mutiganda had been in charge of external security at the NISS until October 2018 when he was called back to RDF headquarters in an unspecified role, local media reports said.

“He [Kagame] has also authorized the dismissal of 116 other ranks and approved the rescission of 112 other ranks,” the RDF statement said, adding that the moves were effective immediately.

Last week, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s army accused the Rwandan military and the M23 rebel group of planning to attack the eastern Congolese city of Goma.

The Tutsi-led M23 has captured swathes of territory in North Kivu province since taking up arms in late 2021 after years of dormancy, with over one million people displaced by the fighting.

The DRC has repeatedly accused neighboring Rwanda and its Tutsi-led government of backing the M23, a charge backed by several Western countries and independent UN experts, but one that Kigali denies.

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Malawi Revokes Dubious Citizenship of Refugees Wanted Abroad

Malawi’s government has started revoking citizenship of refugees and asylum-seekers who they say obtained their status fraudulently.

Officials say the campaign is aimed at flushing out criminals from other countries, including Rwandan genocide suspects. But critics say the program is too broad and will ensnare legitimate refugees. 

Minister of Homeland Security Zikhale Ng’oma told a televised news conference Monday that Malawi received a request from Rwanda to help track down about 55 criminals wanted for various charges who are staying in Malawi.

Ng’oma said the fugitives could not be found easily because they might have changed their identities and started using Malawian names.

As part of the manhunt, he said, the government is revoking passports and citizenships that were fraudulently obtained.

“We want to tighten our security and ensure that whosoever obtained a passport in a manner that is not normal, we have to confiscate that passport. And whoever got citizenship without right procedures, we will also revoke [that] citizenship,” Ng’oma said.

In 2020, Malawi’s High Court sentenced the former minister of homeland security, Uladi Mussa, to six years in jail for issuing fraudulent citizenships and passports to Burundians and Rwandans.

Ng’oma said some of the 55 suspects sought by Rwanda are wanted in connection with the deaths of over 2,000 people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Last month, the government of South Africa arrested a Rwandese genocide suspect, Fulgence Kayishema. Investigations revealed that Kayishema was using a Malawian passport and names.

“Having managed to get one sample of what is happening in South Africa in regard to our passports, we believe that some people are using false identities in Malawi,” Ng’oma said. “As such, as I am talking, Malawi government, we are in talks with Burundi and Rwanda in regard to those people we want to repatriate.” 

Ng’oma said the government is also searching for other criminals the U.N. refugee agency says may have gained official papers in Malawi. 

“And the department of the UNHCR of late wrote us a letter that we need to repatriate 522 asylum-seekers who are associated with criminalities from their countries. And those people are hiding in our villages,” he said.

Ng’oma said the presence of fugitives in Malawi poses a security threat, and he believes many of them are keeping guns and ammunition.

As an example, he cited a grenade explosion at the Dzaleka refugee camp last December which killed a leader for refugees from Burundi and injured five others at a market.

Ng’oma said Malawi has revoked papers for 396 foreigners in all. 

However, rights groups have warned that a program aimed at criminals may victimize legitimate refugees.

“The way the government is implementing this exercise, it’s targeting everyone, indiscriminately,” said Michael Kayiyatsa, executive director for the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation in Malawi. “And our concern is that children are being victimized, women, people with disabilities, you know, vulnerable groups who have nothing to do with what the government is alleging.”

Kayiyatsa said although there could be criminal elements among some refugees and asylum-seekers, the Malawi government should find better ways of targeting the criminals.

“If the idea was to target those warlords, there was a better way to do it,” he said. “If you look at countries like South Africa, they are hunting for genocide suspects, but in the process, they are not victimizing everyone. It’s targeted, it’s based on intelligence.”

In the meantime, the Malawi government has asked those illegally keeping guns and ammunition to surrender them to police or risk being arrested. 

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Cameroon Journalists Say Suspensions Are Sign of Government Crackdown

Journalists in Cameroon say the government’s indefinite shutdown of a radio station and suspension of four reporters is a sign of a growing crackdown on the country’s news media. The government says it is trying to stop the spread of hate speech, while journalists say officials want to retaliate against criticism of President Paul Biya.

Bruno Bidjang, host of the popular program on Vision 4 TV called “Club d’Elite” has said on his program that he will continue exercising his profession to the best of his ability without fear.

However, Cameroon’s National Communication Council, an organ created by the government to regulate the media, imposed a one-month suspension on Bidjang for hosting guests who the government says used hateful language on his program.

The NCC said Bidjang was warned several times, but he continued inviting such guests on the program.

The council this week also imposed suspensions on a radio station and three other media practitioners for broadcasting offensive or hateful content.

NCC President Joe Chebongkeng Kalabubse said these journalists and media outlets propagated hate speech and xenophobic language.

“We have noticed that we can nip the problem in the bud by encouraging journalists to be more professional,” Kalabubse said. “We want to encourage journalists to be as professional as possible. We will not hesitate to sanction them if they falter.”

Kalabubse said he has informed Cameroon’s minister of territorial administration, Paul Atanga Nji, to make sure that journalists who do not respect the order are punished, and media organizations that continue to broadcast are permanently closed.

Nji said he has instructed police and local government officials to force the journalists to respect the sanctions.

“The media men should know that they have the moral obligation to comply by respecting these decisions taken for the common good,” Nji said. “Because if we are in a state of law and we don’t respect the laws of the republic, then we are walking towards a jungle, and Cameroon is not a jungle. We should use liberty of expression to construct and not to destroy. So, I want to tell the media men that they have the obligation to comply. If they don’t comply, we will accompany them to comply by force.”

But journalists in Cameroon say they are victims of increasing oppression. They say the government clamps down on media that hold contrary opinions to state actions.

The Cameroon Journalists Trade Union said the NCC was set up by Biya to defend his interests and crack down on journalists who oppose his rule.

The trade union said senior state functionaries and military officials who are accused of corrupt practices ask the NCC to suspend reporters — a charge the NCC denies.

The government said hate speech propagated through the media has become rampant since the disputed 2018 presidential election.

In addition, some French-speaking host communities accuse English speakers displaced by the separatist conflict in the west of being separatist fighters or sympathizers.

Cameroon’s minister of territorial administration said local media that do not stop guests in debate programs from asking communities to rise against one another will be punished. Journalists who anchor such programs will also be punished, the government said, though it has not outlined any punishment.

Cameroon has more than 600 newspapers, about 200 radio stations and 60 TV networks, yet producing independent and critical reporting is still challenging, according to Reporters Without Borders.

In its 2023 World Press Freedom Index, the organization said Cameroon is one of Africa’s most dangerous countries for journalists, since they operate in a hostile and precarious environment.

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Tanzania Urges Drivers to Shift to Compressed Natural Gas

Tanzania’s government is encouraging drivers to switch from putting gasoline in their tanks to compressed natural gas (CNG). This initiative aims to lower carbon emissions that cause global warming. As Charles Kombe reports from Dar es Salaam, some drivers are also hoping the switch will save them money in the long run. Camera: Rajabu Hassan

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