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Hiked Power Tariffs Effective Next Week, Rwanda Traders Stranded

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Kenya Military Regrets Execution Photo Scandal

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Military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir has apologised for posting old photographs depicting a Kenyan Al-Shabaab convert being stoned to death by the militants on Tuesday.

Major Chirchir took responsibility for posting pictures taken in 2009 on social media but maintained that Al-Shabaab had executed a Kenyan in Kismayu for allegedly spying for the Kenya Defence Forces. (READ: Al-Shabaab executes ‘Kenyan spy’)

“We take responsibility for the pictures which were taken by AP in the past. But it is true that a Kenyan was stoned to death in Kismayu on Tuesday, that is a fact,” he stated.

“I hear you, I take responsibility,” the military spokesman wrote on Twitter after an American journalist pointed out that the photographs he had posted had been taken in 2009.

The pictures showed a man buried to his chest in the ground being stoned to death by masked men after which they removed his body from the ground, Daily Nation reports.

The military spokesman had claimed that the man was from Nairobi’s Majengo slums.

But Mukhtar Ibrahim, a Somali-American journalist based in Minnesota, revealed that the pictures had been taken by Associated press in 2009.

He added that the group responsible for the stoning was Hizbul Islam and not Al-Shabaab, way before the two militant groups merged in December 2010.

Minister Kamuntu Refuses To Step Down

Tourism minister Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu has said he will not resign over accusations that he had a role in the alleged misuse of over sh90b which was meant for the improvement of national parks and wildlife protected areas.

A probe into the alleged mismanagement of the World Bank-funded project recommended that Kamuntu and other officials at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) be prosecuted for causing financial loss to the government.

The minister said he received the report containing the probe findings this week from the probe chairman, Prof. George Kanyeihamba.

The report accuses Kamuntu of having committed economic crimes and breached the leadership code and misconduct during the execution of the Protected Areas Management and Sustainable Use project.

‘False report’

Addressing journalists at the Media Centre in Kampala on Thursday, the minister in charge of Uganda’s tourism sector said he could not resign on the basis of a report whose findings were false.

He also said it was constitutionally wrong for the Kanyeihamba-led commission to implicate him without giving him a chance to defend himself.

“My name is not on the list of witnesses in the report. This means I was implicated because I did not defend myself,” Kamuntu explained.

The report, however, states that Kamuntu turned hostile to the probe team during investigations when preliminary proceedings of gross mismanagement of the project were presented to him.

The report also notes that he attempted to obstruct the work of the probe team.

Kamuntu, the former minister of economic planning, said implicating him for economic crimes meant that he was involved in organized crimes against the economy.

“How could I destroy the economy that I planned for as a minister? Economic crime is organized crime in classical economics.”

Ugandan Traders’ Protests Leave Rwandans Stranded

Several Rwandan traders were by Wednesday still stuck in Kampala as their counterparts in Uganda started a boycott to protest what they termed as commercial banks’ refusal to lower interest rates.

Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) announced a three-day closure of shops requesting that the Ugandan government prevails upon commercial banks to lower the interest rates.

Many of the business people who buy merchandise from various Kampala wholesale shops, retreated to Jaguar and Onatracom bus terminals, as they pondered returning to Kigali today if the strike continues.

“Up to now, no shops have opened, and this leaves me with no alternative but to spend more money for another night here,” Celestine Nzaramba, a clothes trader in Nyabugogo told The New Times in Kampala.

Olivier Nshimyiryayo, a businessman in Giporoso, Remera was yesterday stuck at the Jaguar Executive Coaches terminal, after learning that he could not procure the goods he wanted.

“I arrived in Kampala today (yesterday) and I should return to Kigali tonight because I have failed getting items from my supplier in Kikuubo,” he told The New Times.

Jean Bosco Ngenzi, a trader in Nyabugogo who arrived in Kampala town yesterday said he would wait and return to Kigali tomorrow (Saturday) when the traders reopen their shops.

Hiked Power Tariffs In Effect Next Week

Implementation of new power tariffs takes effect this month and not February as earlier stated, the government yesterday announced. The Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) chairman, Mr Richard S. Apire, said the new tariffs start on Sunday (January 15).

Daily Monitor yesterday reported that domestic power consumers will pay 36 per cent increase for every unit. According to the schedule, domestic consumers will pay Shs524.5 from Shs385.6 per unit of energy consumed whereas commercial consumers shall pay Shs487.6 up from Shs358.6 per unit; medium industries Shs458.9 from Shs333.2 per unit while large industries will pay Shs312.8 from Shs184.8.

Speaking to journalists in Kampala yesterday, Mr Apire said: “The tariffs were inevitable given that government could not afford to continue dishing out Shs396 billion in subsidies to the power generators and distributors.”

The government pronouncement came contrary to earlier media reports that the new tariffs ranging from 36 to 69 per cent in hikes depending on the type of consumer were slated to start on February 1, Daily Monitor reports .

The increment in power tariffs come at a time when consumers are enduring 12-hour load-shedding because less power is generated, and thus complaints that they pay the same bills they used to, although they now use less power.

However, government has since allayed people’s fears, saying the commissioning of Bujagali Hydropower Project would increase power supply at reduced tariffs. However, Mr Godfrey Ssali, an official of the Uganda Manufacturers Association, warned that the development could translate into civil strife that would further taint the government’s image.

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