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African business, politics and lifestyle

Talk is not cheap for Kenya activists

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In Kenya, it may be dangerous to speak your mind.

In a country that once prided itself on its freedom of speech and lively public debate,
political activists now say their lives are being threatened, and a U.N. special investigator has said that Kenyan police systematically intimidate human rights defenders.

“Dozens of prominent and respected human rights defenders have been targeted in a blatant campaign designed to silence individual monitors and instill fear in civil society organizations at large”, said U.N. Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings Phillip Alston, in a report he released on April 7.

Alston was appointed in February to investigate allegations that at least 500 people have been victims of extra-judicial executions at the hands of Kenyan security forces since 2007.

Weeks after his appointment, two activists who had spoken out against police brutality were murdered in broad daylight when their car was blocked on a central Nairobi street and unknown gunmen opened fire on them.

New hope for Zimbabwe?

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Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change has agreed to join a unity government with President Robert Mugabe, breaking a crippling deadlock four months after the political rivals reached a power-sharing deal.

The decision could improve Zimbabwe’s prospects of recovering from economic collapse and easing a humanitarian crisis in which more than 60,000 people have been infected by cholera and more than half the population needs food aid.

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