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Zambia backs off threat to shut down Internet providers

by Staff Writers
Lusaka (AFP) Oct 6, 2010
Zambia's communications authority on Wednesday reversed its decision to shut down five main Internet service providers, saying they would be allowed another chance to renew their licences.

The Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority has "withdrawn its earlier statement indicating that five Internet service providers should cease operations effective October 8," spokesman Lotty Kakubo said in a statement.

The firms were ordered Tuesday to shut down by the end of the week, after regulators said they had not renewed their operating licences.

But the order raised fears that Zambia could be cut off from the Internet, and Kakubo said the regulators would now allow the firms five days to renew their licences.

The affected companies are Realtime Zambia, Coppernet Solutions Limited, Microlink Technologies Limited, Pronet Zambia Limited and Zamnet Communications Systems Limited.

The companies are Zambia's main Internet providers. Their closure would have left only three firms providing Internet access is the southern African country.

earlier related report
Canadian lawyer linked to Kabila stoning freed in DR Congo
Kinshasa (AFP) Oct 6, 2010 - Congolese authorities have released a Canadian lawyer detained last week for photographing an incident in which President Joseph Kabila's official convoy was stoned.

Nicole Bondo Muaka, a Canadian of Congolese origin, was released along with two people detained with her following the incident on September 29, government spokesman Lambert Mende said.

"Everyone has been freed," Mende told AFP.

"This lawyer has Canadian nationality," Mende said of Muaka, adding that police had detained her on suspicion of collusion in the attack by Armand Tungulu, who the authorities said killed himself in his cell three days after his arrest.

"She had taken photos of the scene but she explained herself. However, her papers are not in order as she has been irregularly registered with the Kinshasa bar. She is no longer being held and has been given 15 days to regularise her situation," Mende said.

The lawyer is a member of a human rights organisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo called the Toges Noires (Black Gowns). She was arrested on September 29 with another woman who was accompanying her and a Belgian national of Congolese origin.

Mende said an autopsy was being held to determine the cause of Tungulu's death in custody. The state prosecutor's office said Tuesday that an inquiry has been opened after an initial statement saying he had "committed suicide".

Non-governmental organisations on Monday denounced "all the ignoble acts committed" against Tungulu and demanded an "objective and impartial commission of inquiry" to determine the exact circumstances of his death.

An African human rights group, Asado, said Tungulu, who normally lived in Belgium and had been in Kinshasa for a short while, had been beaten up by the president's bodyguards following his arrest last Wednesday.

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UN envoys put spotlight on Sudan conflict fears
Juba, Sudan (AFP) Oct 6, 2010
Chanting crowds greeted UN Security Council envoys on Wednesday in south Sudan which wants to become the world's newest nation while international leaders highlighted the risk of renewed conflict. Even Hollywood star George Clooney is in south Sudan raising his fears of "war" ahead of the January 9 referendum on whether it should break away from the Khartoum-controlled north. A UN Securi ... read more

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