NEWS IN BRIEF: SEPTEMBER 2018

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Dead at 80: Annan, McCain exit world stage

Two giants, a consummate diplomat and a brave political maverick, have left the world stage.

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and Arizona senator John McCain have had illustrious careers in diplomacy and politics. Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, died on August 18 in Switzerland. The 80-year-old global diplomat who brokered the 2008 Kenyan peace deal had retired to Geneva and later lived in a Swiss village.

Senator McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who ran unsuccessfully for president as a self-styled maverick Republican in 2008 and became a prominent critic of President Donald Trump, died on August of brain cancer. He was 81.

In a memoir published in May, The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations, he wrote he did not want to die but had few complaints about his life:

“It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make peace,” Mr McCain wrote. “I’ve lived very well and I’ve been deprived of all comforts. I’ve been as lonely as a person can be and I’ve enjoyed the company of heroes. I’ve suffered the deepest despair and experienced the highest exultation. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”

Uganda’s turbulent affair with social media

The arrest and detention of Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, sparked widespread protests in Uganda and elsewhere in the East African region, a great deal of which can be attributed to social media. In less than one week, more than 60 twitter accounts were created or renamed to promote the hashtag #FreeBobiWine, with over 100,000 tweets.

Uganda’s government has a turbulent relationship with social media, which it’s trying to control – but seemingly can’t. Earlier this year a social media tax was introduced which means that Ugandans pay $0.05 a day to use popular platforms like Twitter or WhatsApp.

Its (government) reaction was to be defensive, resorting to justifying its actions and accusing Wine of leading a group of protesters to attack the president and his military and police convoy with stones and illegal firearms with a view to politically destabilise Uganda. It also tried to discredit the information being shared online about the legislator’s health, with President Museveni dismissing images of a sickly, injured Bobi Wine as “fake news”. (

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