News Briefs 31 August 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

World Bank Project Aims to Tackle Gender-Based Violence in DRC by Focusing on Prevention

The World Bank is committing US$100 million in International Development Association (IDA)* financing to help prevent Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The project will provide help to survivors but also aim to shift social norms by promoting gender equality and behavioral change through strong partnerships with civil society organizations. In DRC—where 75 percent of women and 60 percent of men believe that wife beating is justified—involving men and boys in the process will demonstrate that violence is an issue that must be tackled at the community level and not just a “private matter.”

“In a country like DRC with a vibrant civil society, empowering community-based organizations and mobilizing them in the fight against gender-based violence is of crucial importance,” said Jean-Christophe Carret, the World Bank Country Director for the Democratic Republic of Congo. “As the lack of economic autonomy can be a driver of gender-based violence, the project will also build livelihoods and provide economic opportunities through savings and income-generating activities at the community level.”

Relief Web

DRC opposition leader barred from return

The Democratic Republic of Congo has barred Moise Katumbi from returning home on Friday to file a bid to run in the volatile country’s presidential elections.

Katumbi, a wealthy businessman and former governor of the province of Katanga, was forbidden to enter the DRC and charged with offences against state security, officials said.

The opposition leader who is 53, has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since May 2016 after falling out with President Joseph Kabila.

He had planned to fly by private jet from Johannesburg, South AFrica to Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga province, to lodge his application to stand in long-delayed elections in December — a move that would heap pressure on Kabila.

But the city’s mayor said on Thursday that Katumbi was refused entry, while the public prosecutor’s office said Katumbi had been charged with “harming the state’s domestic and external security” and would be immediately arrested if he returned.



New UK support to boost long-term stability in Somalia

The international community must do more to help the African Union lead the fight against al-Shabaab as Somalia takes on greater responsibility for its own security, Theresa May will say today.

The UK has a strong track record both in supporting the African Union and helping Somalia rebuild its police and military forces after decades of insecurity.

On a visit to a UK-backed Counter-IED training centre in Nairobi the Prime Minister will see British troops helping prepare soldiers from Kenya and the region to deploy as part of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).

British instructors and their Kenyan counterparts are training troops in the tactics and techniques needed to identify and destroy the home-made bombs which are increasingly the weapon of choice for terrorists in the region.

Government of UK

China pledges to support the government of SOMALIA

China has always supported Somalia in preserving its national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday, pledging China’s support for Somalia’s development.

President Xi made the remarks when meeting with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, who is in Beijing to attend the upcoming 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

China and Somalia enjoy a long history of friendship, Xi said, adding that Somalia was the first country in East Africa to establish diplomatic relations with China and was also one of the countries supporting the People’s Republic of China in restoring its lawful seat in the United Nations.

Horseed Media

Central African Republic

Human rights campaigners oppose general amnesty for Central African Republic armed groups

The armed groups have presented dozens of demands, including a general amnesty, to an African Union expert panel seeking to broker peace in the country, a dialogue that is scheduled to resume on August 27 in the western town of Bouar, when the armed groups will seek to “harmonize” their demands in meetings with the A.U. panel, before submitting a final list to the government.

RJDH reported that the general amnesty is one of 12 demands which are “non-negotiable.” According to RJDH, other demands include provision for a national dialogue to be held in a neutral negotiating country that eventually leads to constitutional change, that the groups be consulted on the choice of prime minister, and a process for the transformation of armed groups into political organizations.

In a joint statement published on Thursday, August 24, the Central African Human Rights League (LCDH), Central African Human Rights Observatory (OCDH), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said a general amnesty “would be incompatible with the government’s duty to bring those responsible for grave international crimes to justice and with victims’ rights to accountability.”

The Defense Post

UN condemns attack that leaves one ‘blue helmet’ dead in Central African Republic

In a statement issued by his Spokesman, Mr. Guterres offered his deepest condolences to the family of the deceased peacekeeper, as well as to the Government of Burundi.

The UN chief also recalled that intentionally directing attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and that sanctions can be applied against the perpetrators.

“He urges the Central African Republic (CAR) authorities to investigate them and swiftly bring those responsible to justice,” said the statement.

Fighting between the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia and the mainly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition has plunged the CAR into civil conflict since 2012. A peace agreement was reached in January 2013, but rebels seized the capital, Bangui, in March of that year, forcing President François Bozizé to flee.

Concerned with the security, humanitarian, human rights and political crisis in the CAR and its regional implications, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of MINUSCA in 2014 with the protection of civilians as its utmost priority.

UN News


Sudan ruling party chooses Bashir as candidate for third term in 2020 poll

Sudan’s ruling party said on Friday it has chosen President Omar al-Bashir to run for a third elected term in 2020, despite the constitution only allowing two five-year terms.

The National Congress Party’s (NCP) advisory council said it had chosen Bashir, 74, as its candidate after an overnight meeting in Khartoum, the official SUNA news agency reported.

Council chief Kabashor Koko said the decision to opt for Bashir – who has been in power since a 1989 military coup – was taken by the party at all levels.

“We have decided to adopt all necessary procedures for him to run in the 2020 election,” he told reporters after the meeting.

The veteran leader faced his first multi-party election in 2010 – after a new constitution came into effect – and won comfortably that year.


Defiant Sudan activist faces mounting legal woes

Prominent Sudanese activist Wini Omer is determined to keep campaigning for women’s rights, despite mounting legal woes she says are aimed at silencing her.

Omer, 30, was with another woman and two men in February when police raided the suburban Khartoum apartment where they were meeting.

She was later charged with prostitution under a controversial public order law.

“We tried to tell them that it was a house and it was a normal meeting,” she said.

“We told them there is no reason for policemen to break through a window suddenly and accuse us of things like this.”

Despite her protests, officers confiscated Omer’s laptop and detained her for five days.


South Sudan

After Delay, Rebel Leader Inks South Sudan Peace Deal

Rebel leader Riek Machar and leaders of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance have signed a final, revitalized peace deal aimed at ending the country’s nearly five-year civil war.

Machar signed the deal Thursday night in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, after refusing to sign two days earlier.

The deal leaves the contentious issue of South Sudan’s number of states and their boundaries to be worked out later by the heads of state in the East African regional bloc IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development).

Regional leaders, the international community, and the people of South Sudan are hoping the agreement will finally end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 4 million South Sudanese from their homes, with at least 2 million fleeing the country.

Voice of America

Oil-rich South Sudan to resume production in war-hit region

Emboldened by a new peace deal, civil war-torn South Sudan says it will resume oil production in a key region next month to make up for more than $4bn of revenue lost during years of fighting.

South Sudan, with Africa’s third-largest oil reserves, will renew drilling in northern Unity State for the first time since the fields were destroyed when the conflict began in late 2013, oil ministry officials told The Associated Press.

The goal is to have all five locations there operational by the end of the year and working alongside the oil fields in Upper Nile State, which operated throughout the civil war.

South Sudan’s economy is almost entirely dependent on exports of oil from its 3.5 billion barrels of reserves. Most of the oil rigs were shut down or destroyed by the civil war. The fighting that killed tens of thousands of people has also devastated the economy and sent prices for everyday items soaring.


Western Sahara

How the latest AU decision on Western Sahara could affect other crises

At its 31st summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania the African Union (AU) decided to limit its own peace efforts in the Western Sahara in order to support the process led by the United Nations (UN). This support will be through a troika of heads of state, together with the AU Commission (AUC) chairperson. The move is a big win for Morocco, which believes the AU-led efforts are biased. However, it could set a precedent for other AU member states that disapprove of AU interventions.

Morocco’s return to the AU and subsequent election to the Peace and Security Council (PSC) in January 2018 has brought a new dimension to the AU’s approach to the crisis in Western Sahara. In the past, the AU usually described this as a ‘decolonisation’ issue and accepted the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a member. This membership is still seen by Morocco as proof that the organisation is not impartial.

Morocco has often objected to the way the PSC – at the level of ambassadors in Addis Ababa – continues to call for the territory’s independence.

The AU’s decision in July 2018 to fully support the UN process in order to resolve tensions between member states could therefore be seen as a victory for Morocco. The assembly appealed to the parties in the conflict ‘to urgently resume negotiations without pre-conditions and in good faith under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the UN, whose Security Council is seized of the matter’.

Relief Web

SA and Algeria ink 33 agreements, reaffirm support for Western Sahara

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says South Africa and Algeria remain firm in their support for the independence of Western Sahara.

The Minister said this during a media briefing after bilateral talks with Abdelkader Messahel, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, who is on a working visit to South Africa.

Sisulu and her Algerian counterpart exchanged views on the political, security and development on the African continent.

“In this regard, we noted with concern the continued instability in some of our sister countries and regions. We have thus agreed to continue working together to advance peace, security, stability, unity and economic development of the continent.

“On Western Sahara, we have reaffirmed our position which is the attainment of the right for self-determination and decolonization of the Saharawi people and the rapid resolution of the conflict within the framework of international legality.

Dev Discourse


Swaziland’s Teachers Wage Struggle Against Police Brutality

A teachers’ union leader, Maxwell Musa Myeni, who resisted a gun-wielding police officer from firing at a meeting of teachers in Swaziland’s Manzini city has been arrested by the branch of the royal police called ‘Lukhozi’ on Sunday. The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), which is currently in exile as political parties are banned in the kingdom, said Maxwell had been picked up by six heavily armed members of the royal Lukhozi branch, who came in two white vans and bulldozed their way into his house at Lavumisa.

On August 24, under the banner of The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the teacher’s meeting was demanding a pay rise to keep up with the increasing cost of living over the last two years.

Police stopped the teachers from entering their union office and fired on them using live ammunition.“Teachers started by singing freedom songs within the confines of teachers’ centre, which is situated in Manzini where the meeting was happening,” said Njabulo Dlamini, a branch leader of SNAT and International Organiser of CPS told Peoples Dispatch.

News Click

Report Says Swaziland Police Spying on Legal Protests

Police in Swaziland / Eswatini are video recording and keeping data of protest marches by political parties and labour federations. They then use the information to deprive people of college scholarships, jobs in the army, police, and correctional services or promotions in government departments, an online newspaper reported.

The protestors who are usually seeking democratic reforms or workers’ rights are seen as ‘a major threat to the state’. Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as one of the world’s last absolute monarchs. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and people campaigning for democracy are prosecuted under the Suppression of terrorism Act.

The Swaziland News reported (25 July 2018) the Police Intelligence Unit had been captured filming a protest march organised by the Trade Congress Union of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) in June 2018. It said this was a common practice.



Mnangagwa ‘faces tough time’ as Zimbabwe awaits new cabinet

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is reportedly under pressure to appoint his new cabinet after being sworn-in last weekend.

According to NewsDay, Mnangagwa was now racing against time, as reports suggested that government was virtually at a standstill.

The report said that Mnangagwa had met outgoing speaker of parliament Jacob Mudenda to discuss the processes and procedures to take place, as the country awaited the appointment of cabinet ministers.

A Daily News report said that some ruling Zanu-PF officials were already scrambling for positions while Mnangagwa was under tremendous pressure to appoint a young, dynamic and small cabinet which could be capable of bringing a new lease of life to the country.


Kgalema Motlanthe to lead probe into Zimbabwe post-election violence

Former president of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe will lead a seven-member delegation to investigate post-election violence in Zimbabwe that resulted in at least six deaths on August 1 when the army opened fire on protesting MDC Alliance supporters.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a statement that as per his earlier promise the commission would “inquire into the circumstances leading to the August 1 post-election violence” as well as “investigate circumstances which necessitated the involvement of the military”.

After the August 1 disturbances‚ the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) initially said the law enforcement agency had asked the army to help with policing duties since it was constrained with police officers occupied with election business countrywide. However, Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo‚ a retired general‚ later told journalists that it was not soldiers but rogue elements that took to the streets.


Africa in General

UK’s May ready to step up trade with Africa as Euro exit looms

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday agreed to strengthen economic partnerships as the UK prepares to leave the European Union next year.

May kicked off her three-country tour of Africa in Cape Town on Tuesday, where she held a bilateral meeting with Ramaphosa.

“The UK is one of South Africa’s largest trading partners with trade of over 9 billion pounds last year and we’ve agreed that as the UK prepares to leave the EU we must then think about how to grow that trade for the future,” said May, as she and Ramaphosa addressed the media following the bilateral.

May reiterated her ambition that the UK becomes Africa’s biggest G7 investor by 2022, starting with negotiations to conclude an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the Southern African Customs Union, its member states and Mozambique once the EU-SADC EPA no longer applies to the UK.


Merkel to meet Ghana’s president on second leg of Africa trip focused on migration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra on Thursday, the second leg of a three-day Africa trip focusing on strengthening economic development and containing illegal migration.

The chancellor is also scheduled to take part in a German business-organized roundtable that will focus on private investment linked to the Group of 20 industrialized “Compact with Africa” initiative.

Strengthening Africa’s economic development is high on Germany’s foreign policy agenda, with Merkel saying in a recent video podcast that it is “crucial for most African countries because there are so many young people who need jobs and training.”

The diplomatic offensive on the continent, which has included trips to Mali, Niger, Ethiopia and Egypt for the German chancellor in 2016, may be pivotal for Merkel’s political future as it forms the basis of her strategy to “combat the causes for migration and flight.”


Russia, Sudan foster deal among Central African Republic militia

Russia and Sudan have hosted talks in Khartoum among some of the Central African Republic’s rival militias, CAR officials said on Wednesday, while documents showed the groups had signed a preliminary agreement.

The meeting in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday unfolded in parallel to an official mediation effort in the troubled CAR led by the African Union (AU).

Russia and Sudan “took the step of holding a meeting in Khartoum with the heads of armed groups,” Communications Minister Ange-Maxime Kazagui said in a statement read on national radio.

The CAR exploded into violence following the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize, a Christian, by majority-Muslim militias in a coalition called the Seleka.

Daily Nation

UN extends sanctions regime in Mali

The UN Security Council extended for a year on Thursday a general sanctions regime against Mali, but stopped short of imposing individual sanctions against leaders of armed groups accused of violating a 2015 peace accord.

The extension was approved unanimously by the council’s 15 members.

“The progress made remains insufficient,” France’s deputy UN ambassador Anne Gueguen said. Her British counterpart, Jonathan Allen, stressed, “We need to see progress from all parties.”

Gueguen said France is proposing that mid-level leaders of armed groups who undermine the peace accord through criminal or terrorist activities also be sanctioned.



Eswatini: Forced evictions expose flawed land laws as hundreds face homelessness – 30 Aug 2018

Eswatini: Forced evictions expose flawed land laws as hundreds face homelessness

The Eswatini government must halt forced evictions which have left hundreds of people homeless and pushed them deeper into poverty, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

These forced evictions expose the harsh reality of land tenure for ordinary Swazi people

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa

They don’t see us as people: security of tenure and forced evictions in Eswatini details forced evictions in two areas of the country that resulted in more than 200 people, most of them subsistence farmers, being made homeless and without access to land where they could continue farming.

Although the evictions involved a long legal process, they were carried out in the absence of adequate notice, genuine consultation and without adequate compensation, in violation of international law. Amnesty International is also aware of at least 300 more people facing imminent eviction from land they depend on for farming, food and their livelihoods.

The report also reveals the devastating impact of the country’s land governance system. Since most of the land is held by the King in “trust” for the Swazi nation, and others living on title-deed land without formal recognition, Swazi people do not enjoy any degree of security of tenure – making them vulnerable to forced evictions.

Eswatini’s land governance system is deeply flawed as it denies ordinary Swazis the most basic commodity and dignity

“These forced evictions expose the harsh reality of land tenure for ordinary Swazi people. The country’s land governance system is deeply flawed as it denies ordinary Swazis the most basic commodity and dignity,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

“The country’s laws are meant to offer people protection but, in truth, they are creating increasing misery for ordinary Swazis. Forced evictions are driving people into more poverty. Those living under constant threat of imminent eviction experience anxiety and fear. The kingdom’s land laws have failed the people.”

As part of its research, Amnesty International interviewed a diverse range of people, including politicians, human rights activists, lawyers and 80 people affected by forced evictions or under threat of eviction.

Land governance system

Most of the country’s land is Swazi Nation Land, held in “trust” by the king who has the power to allocate it to individuals or families through his chiefs. The remainder of the land is Title-Deed Land, owned by private entities or the government.

Recipients of Swazi Nation Land must pay allegiance to their chief, usually in the form of labour, in exchange for their land. However, there is no formal legal security of tenure and no uniform official written records of these allocations. Chiefs have the power to dispossess people of the land allocated to them.

A Member of Parliament admitted to Amnesty International that laws governing land in Eswatini are failing the people. He said: “There’s never a year without evictions… The law on land is weak against the victim, they are at the mercy of the land owner.”

Forced evictions have disastrous consequences for families in predominantly rural Eswatini who have, for generations, depended on the land to grow crops to feed their children or raise some extra income to pay for healthcare, school fees and other basics.

Forced evictions

Eswatini has a long history of forced evictions which have rendered many homeless over the years. In one of the two latest incidents which the organization documents, 61 people, including more than 30 children, were left homeless after their homes were demolished by armed police and bulldozers in the farming area of Embetseni in Malkerns town on 9 April 2018.

People have also been evicted from Swazi Nation Land in Nokwane, some 15km east of Manzini.

Once known for its pineapple plantations, Nokwane is today home to the recently inaugurated Royal Science and Technology Park, a project led by the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (MICT) and spanning 159 hectares.

Between September and October 2014, residents from at least 20 homesteads consisting of over 100 people were forcibly evicted to make way for the Taiwanese-funded MICT project, which is part of King Mswati’s economic growth strategy Vision 2022.

Both cases documented by Amnesty International involve disputes about the tenure status of those evicted. However, according to international human rights standards, everyone has a right to be protected from forced evictions regardless of whether they own or occupy the land or house. The government of Eswatini is also required to ensure that no one is rendered homeless as a result of an eviction.

The government and elites cannot continue to keep thousands of hectares of land while the vast majority of Swazi people remain in limbo with no guaranteed security of tenure in their own motherland

“The government and elites cannot continue to keep thousands of hectares of land while the vast majority of Swazi people remain in limbo with no guaranteed security of tenure in their own motherland,” said Deprose Muchena.

Amnesty International is now calling for the Swazi government to declare a nationwide moratorium on mass evictions until adequate legal and procedural safeguards are in place to ensure that all evictions comply with international and regional human rights standards.


The report is based on forced evictions that have been carried out in Nokwane and Malkerns in the Manzini region. Amnesty International visited the country three times, starting in March 2017, during its investigation, with the last mission in April 2018.

A forced eviction is the removal of people against their will from their homes or land they occupy without legal protections and other safeguards. Forced evictions have direct implications on people’s human rights, including the right to housing, water, sanitation and food, as well as their access to livelihoods and necessities of daily life.

Under international human rights law, evictions may only be carried out as a last resort, once all other feasible alternatives to eviction have been explored and appropriate procedural protections, including consultations with the affected people, are in place.

News Briefs 24 August 2018


Democratic Republic of Congo

Kabila slams foreign ‘blackmail’ ahead of DRC vote

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, who last week ended speculation by signalling he would not seek re-election, on Friday warned outsiders against using “blackmail’ in DRC’s politics.

He had faced mounting Western pressure not to seek a third term after clinging to power when his second and supposedly final stint in office ended in 2016.

“What we have rejected over these past two years is any kind of imposition, or any kind of blackmail as far as the electoral process is concerned,” Kabila said in a speech to the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

“We will continue to be steadfast and be very much alert on this particular issue as we prepare for the upcoming elections by the end of this year,” Kabila said. He gave no further details.


Kabila Rejects Appointment of Thabo Mbeki As Special Envoy to DRC

President Joseph Kabila’s rejected the appointment of Thabo Mbeki as South Africa’s special envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Congolese leader has closed that door having had a bad experience with other special envoys deployed to his country.

The refusal came as a shock after DRC spokesperson Lambert Mende appeared to welcome the appointment by President Cyril Ramaphosa of former South African President Mbeki as special envoy to Kampala.

Kabila, who says he’s stepping down ahead of elections in the DRC scheduled for December, isn’t accrediting any more special envoys.



Somalia Hires US Lobbyists to Help Get More Aid

The government of Somalia is paying a US lobbying firm Sh40 million ($400,000) through the end of this year to help it gain renewed funding for the country’s army and to lift the Trump administration’s ban on Somalis’ travel to the US.

The agreement with the Sonoran Policy Group (SPG) was signed earlier this month by Somalia’s United Nations Ambassador Abukar Osman and by Christian Bourge, executive director of the lobbying firm based in the state of Arizona.

SPG, which previously lobbied in Washington on behalf of the Kenyan government, includes principals who have held posts in the Trump administration.

In a disclosure form recently filed with the US Justice Department, SPG says it is “delighted to have the opportunity to leverage our disruptive global diplomacy, marketing, branding and communications as well as public affairs subject matter expertise on behalf of the Federal Government of Somalia.”


2 car bomb blasts kill 6 in Somalia

Two car bombs hit Somalia on Sunday, killing six people.

Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels claimed responsibility for the first suicide car bomb blast that that killed four people when it exploded near the gate of a military base in Afgoye town, 30km northwest of Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab has claimed the responsibility for the attack, according to the group’s radio arm, Andalus.

Two of the dead were soldiers and fatalities could increase from the 10 injured in the blast which was close to the former national water agency’s offices, said Somali police officer Col. Ahmed Ali.


Central African Republic

Bar Amnesty for Atrocity Crimes

A general amnesty as part of the political dialogue in the Central African Republic would be incompatible with the government’s duty to bring those responsible for grave international crimes to justice and with victims’ rights to accountability, five Central African and international human rights organizations said today. The groups are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Central African Human Rights League (LCDH), and Central African Human Rights Observatory (OCDH).

A political dialogue between the African Union and armed groups is scheduled to resume on August 27, 2018. The dialogue aims to reach a political agreement to end ongoing violence. None of the agreements signed since 2012 have taken hold, as evidenced by recent violence in the Nana-Gribizi province near Mbres.

Several of the proposals formulated by various armed groups for the dialogue foresee the possibility of a general amnesty. A working paper of the African Union and the Central African authorities, however, provides as a guiding principle “the recognition that impunity has never constituted a durable solution to the recurrent crises.”

Human Rights Watch

CAR Armed Groups Present Peace Demands to AU Panel

Armed groups in the Central African Republic have presented nearly 100 demands, including a general amnesty, to an African Union expert panel seeking to broker peace in the country.

An AU document, seen by AFP, lists 97 demands by the armed groups in return for peace, with a government of national unity required along with the amnesty and a restructuring of the army.

The African Union has been leading a peace process in the Central African Republic but there has been little progress.

One of Africa’s poorest countries, the CAR descended into violence in 2013 following the ouster of the majority-Christian country’s president, Francois Bozize, by a coalition of Muslim-majority rebel groups called the Seleka.



Sudan’s child refugees stuck in Palabek camp

Figures from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) indicate a reduction in the daily entry of refugees from South Sudan to Uganda. But officials are not certain whether this is a result of the recently signed peace agreement.

However, unaccompanied children still populate Palabek refugee settlement. One of the children, Dominic Lokara, tearfully recounted to Arthur Matsiko the bloody episodes that forced him out of the world’s youngest republic.

At least 12 signposts for various non-government organisations, NGOs, welcome you to Palabek refugee settlement in the northern Uganda district of Lamwo. Various huge tents branded with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) logo are erected to accommodate the asylum seekers.

Established in April 2017, Palabek is home to at least 39,000 refugees, most of whom are children and women.

The Observer

Sudan teen who killed rapist husband faces new calls for death penalty

State prosecutors in Sudan are calling for the death penalty to be reinstated for a young woman who was sentenced to five years in jail for killing her abusive husband.

Noura Hussein, 19, was found guilty of premeditated murder in May and had faced execution. But a month later, after a high-profile campaign, the verdict was quashed and she was given a jail sentence and fined for manslaughter.

However, it has emerged that prosecutors are seeking to overturn the latest ruling and reinstate the death penalty.

Hussein was forced to marry at 16. She fled the marriage, but was tricked into returning to her husband by family members. She stabbed him as he tried to rape her.

Judy Gitau, a human rights lawyer at Equality Now, which is campaigning on Hussein’s behalf, said the development was extremely concerning. “We reiterate our calls to the Sudanese authorities to ensure that the rule of law is observed,” said Gitau. “The Sudanese government took a positive step forward for women’s and girls’ rights by overturning Noura’s death sentence. There should be no regression on this.”

The Guardian

South Sudan

South Sudan conflicting parties to sign final peace deal in Khartoum next week

South Sudan’s conflicting parties have reached consensus on a final peace deal draft expected to be signed in Khartoum on August 27

“We are expected to sign with initial letters on a comprehensive peace agreement next Monday,” South Sudan’s Information Minister and government spokesman Michael Makuei told Xinhua news agency on Wednesday.

“The parties have overcome most of the issues of differences which we discussed during the third round of South Sudan’s peace talks starting in Khartoum on August 13,” he noted.

He said the current round of talks discussed issues that were not resolved in the framework and the power-sharing and security arrangements agreements.

“We have discussed issues relating to powers of the vice presidents, formation of the committees responsible for formulating the constitution, the judiciary committee and the number of the states and their borders,” said Makuei.

CGTN Africa

Mogae quits as head of South Sudan peace monitoring commission

Former Botswana President Festus Mogae has resigned as the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) in South Sudan effective end of September 2018.

Mogae was appointed on 19 October 2015 to head a commission tasked with monitoring the implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement.

In a statement released by his office, Mogae said he is satisfied with the process of peace building in so far and wanted to leave it in new hands, although he did promise to explain his decision in detail later. Sudan

“As the process to revitalise the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan draws to a close, I have adjudged it appropriate to allow for the new phase of the transition period for South Sudan to be in fresh hands,” he said in a statement.

Reports indicate that JMEC was formed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the regional bloc that had been ‘midwifing’ peace in South Sudan since December 2013.

The Southern Times

Western Sahara

UN plans Western Sahara talks after decade-long deadlock

he UN envoy for Western Sahara is planning to convene talks before the end of the year between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front on ending their decades-old conflict, the Security Council president said on Wednesday.

Horst Koehler, a former German president and ex-director of the International Monetary Fund, briefed the council behind closed doors on his efforts to restart talks after a 10-year break.

“There is a lot of support from the council for his approach and for his proposal to see if he can try to bring the parties together by the end of the year,” said British Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen, whose country holds the council presidency this month.

Koehler will be holding consultations with “all the parties involved” on “modalities, format and everything else,” Allen told reporters after the meeting.

The New Arab

King Mohammed VI Thanks AU for Leaving Western Sahara to UN

King Mohammed VI has thanked the UN and the AU for their resolve to find a political settlement in Western Sahara.

Speaking last night in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People, King Mohammed VI highlighted his resolve to invest more efforts and resources to solve Morocco’s youth issues, especially the quality of education and job opportunities.

Despite the speech’s focus on a domestic agenda, the King also made a special mention of the recent international developments in the territorial dispute in Western Sahara.

The King pointed out Morocco’s readiness to “confidently and responsibly” engage with the UN Security Council and the international community in the search of an agreed upon and mutually acceptable solution to the territorial dispute between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

Morocco World News


Taiwan’s last Africa ally tells China ‘no desire’ to switch ties

Taiwan’s last diplomatically in Africa, the Kingdom of eSwatini, said on Wednesday it had no intention of switching ties to China, after a Chinese diplomat said he expected it to ditch Taipei soon amid a bitter diplomatic dispute.

Taiwan, which China claims as a wayward province with no right to state-to-state relations, now has formal ties with only 17 countries, almost all small, less developed nations in Central America and the Pacific, like Belize and Nauru.

It lost its latest ally, El Salvador, on Tuesday, the third country to fall to China this year. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has vowed to fight China’s “increasingly out of control” behaviour after the move.

Ahead of a summit next month between China and African leaders in Beijing, China has been upping the pressure on Taiwan’s last remaining ally on the continent, eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, to come over to China’s side, diplomatic sources say.


Swaziland People Not Allowed to Elect Government

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) in Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini) is deliberately misleading voters into believing they are voting for a government when they are not.

It is spreading false messages on social media platforms urging people to go to the polls so they can determine their own future and that of their families. The first round of voting takes place on 25 August 2018.

It is spreading false messages on social media platforms urging people to go to the polls so they can determine their own future and that of their families. The first round of voting takes place on 25 August 2018.



Regional leaders call for calm ahead of Zimbabwe poll ruling

Southern African leaders on Saturday called for calm in Zimbabwe as the country awaits a Constitutional Court hearing on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s disputed election victory.

The main opposition the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused the ruling Zanu-PF party and the election commission of fraud in the July 30 vote, the first in Zimbabwe since Robert Mugabe’s ouster in November.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) in a statement at the close of its two-day summit in Namibia, urged Zimbabweans to “remain calm while the legal processes regarding the outcome of the elections are being considered by the courts and to respect the will of the people”.

The Constitutional Court hearing is set to open on Wednesday and the court has 14 days from August 10 to rule on the case.


Zimbabwe drops charges against Mnangagwa Facebook critic

Zimbabwe police on Thursday dropped charges against a man who allegedly insulted President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Robert Mugabe’s successor, in a Facebook post, lawyers said.

Munyaradzi Shoko, a well-known critic of Mnangagwa, was held after he posted statements on Facebook saying the president’s name was “generally associated with evil and devilish deeds.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda said Shoko was detained at Harare central police station on Wednesday and charged with criminal nuisance.

Shoko, who heads the pressure group Children of Zimbabwe War Veterans Association, was also charged with public violence for allegedly taking part in protests by opposition supporters after July 30 elections.




Africa in General

Rebel soldiers rejoin South Sudanese army

A group of rebel soldiers is rejoining the South Sudanese army in the wake of last month’s peace deal between rebel factions and the government.

Brigadier General Chan Garang told reporters in South Sudan’s capital Juba that he and more than 300 officers and soldiers are coming back to the government. Army spokesman Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang confirmed the development.

This weekend will see a follow up to the revitalised 2015 peace deal with the government and rebel faction representatives expected to sign a follow-up agreement in Sudan’s capital Khartoum.


Ugandan security forces attack and detain journalists covering protests

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned Uganda security forces who beat and detained at least four journalists covering protests in the capital, Kampala.

The journalists were arrested while covering protests demanding the release of lawmakers, including opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine. They were arrested last week in connection to unrest in the northern town of Arua during which President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy was stoned.

“President Museveni’s public disdain for the news media is especially alarming given the ongoing crackdown by police and military personnel on journalists working to keep Uganda’s public informed,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative.


Security tight as Zimbabwe ConCourt hears MDC’s election challenge

Zimbabwe’s capital was under tight security Wednesday as the Constitutional Court began to hear the main opposition party’s challenge to the results of last month’s historic presidential election.

Police barricaded the streets around the court in central Harare amid high tensions over the crucial case which will decide if the election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is valid.

The opposition claims the vote had “gross mathematical errors” and it seeks a fresh election or a declaration that its candidate Nelson Chamisa is the winner of the July 30 vote.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared Mnangagwa narrowly won with 50.8 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff. Chamisa received 44.3 percent, the commission said.


Sudan, South Sudan committee to meet after al-Eid holiday: Ambassador

The Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) between Sudan and South Sudan will meet after Eid al-Adha holiday, said South Sudan’s Ambassador to Khartoum Mayan Dut Waal.

Waal, who congratulated President Omer al-Bashir on Eid al-Adha at the Republican Palace Wednesday, praised Sudan’s efforts that led to reaching a peace agreement among South Sudan’s warring parties.

He added relations between the two countries have witnessed significant development during the previous period, pointing to Khartoum hosting of South Sudan peace talks.

The South Sudanese envoy further said border crossing points between the two countries would be re-opened soon.

Sudan Tribune



Burundian experience offers insights for the Zimbabwe Opposition By Patrick Hajayandi• 19 August 2018


 File Photo: A Burundian protester runs through smoke raising from a burning barricade during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Bujumbura, Burundi, 22 May 2015. The Burundi crisis started after an announcement from the President Pierre Nkurunziza that he intended to run for a third term mandated in the upcoming elections. Photo: EPA/DAI KUROKAWA  Less

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The important lesson for Zimbabwe’s opposition from what happened in Burundi in 2010 is that participation is key. Despite what may look like injustice, it is good for the Zimbabwean opposition to stay within decision-making institutions such as the national assembly in order to counter any move that would otherwise lead to devastating consequences such as an untimely change of the constitution.

The optimism raised by the relatively peaceful elections held in Zimbabwe on the 30 July 2018 was quickly dashed by the sudden eruption of post-electoral violence.

Following the announcement of the victory of Zanu-PF in parliamentary elections, supporters of the MDC Alliance took to the streets in Harare protesting what they viewed as a rigged vote. They blamed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for delaying results of the presidential vote – a move that was perceived as a tactic for electoral fraud. The delay by the ZEC stirred anxiety among voters who seemed to have lost trust in the possibility of a fair election – one of the reasons behind the street demonstrations. To restore order, armed forces were sent in and around the capital Harare. Their subsequent deployment on the streets to counter the demonstrations have been criticised for using excessive force in a crackdown that left six people dead.

Amid the rising contesting voices, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is faced with difficult choices to ensure that the country remains stable while proving that the real objective of the elections was not only to legitimise his regime but to effectively start a new era for Zimbabwe. The establishment of a genuine Government of National Unity is one of approaches that could facilitate the emergence of an important platform upon which to rebuild the social trust across the country in the post-Mugabe era. However, this approach cannot succeed without the effective involvement of the opposition, especially the MDC Alliance and its leadership. Therefore, the attitude and decisions made by Nelson Chamisa and other leaders of the opposition will equally determine how stable will Zimbabwe be. Based on electoral results, it is obvious that the MDC Alliance remains a force to reckon with. But this position entails certain responsibilities.

The contested results show that the MDC Alliance opposition leader, Mr. Nelson Chamisa, managed to obtain a significant number of the votes despite the claims on rigging. Chamisa polled 44.3% against the 50.8% for President Mnangagwa from the ruling Zanu-PF. These electoral results espouse the voting intentions observed during the pre-election survey conducted by the Afrobarometer in collaboration with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and the Zimbabwe based Mass Public Opinion Institute. According to this report, as of early July 2018 the voting intentions in the presidential election showed that President Mnangagwa was assigned 40% while Chamisa was in second position with 37% of the votes. The report also showed that that there were around 20% of potential voters who were not yet sure, whether they were going to vote for one of the main candidates of the other or not to vote at all. The voting intentions in the parliament elections showed a similar trend with the Zanu-PF getting 41% and the MDC Alliance gathering 36% of the total votes. These voting intentions and the actual electoral results indicate that the Zimbabwean electorate may well be divided. This is a delicate situation in which the decisions of the political leadership generally play a crucial role in preserving peace or in triggering violence.

Chamisa’s decision to declare himself winner ahead of the electoral commission announcement is a strategy used by many opposition leaders in Africa but in many cases, it is counter-productive, and it can be a serious catalyst of violence and heated tensions.

So far, the attitude of the MDC Alliance leadership has reflected the trending reaction from many opposition leaders in Africa. A similar scenario was observed in Kenya in 2017’s elections with Raila Odinga declaring himself a people’s president, in Gabon with Jean Ping saying he won, as well as the opposition leadership stance in Burundi, especially in the 2010 elections and the subsequent boycott.

The example of what happened in the 2010 elections in Burundi stands as a warning against mistakes that are so often committed by the opposition leadership who encourage the boycott of electoral processes or who refuse to participate in governing institutions.

After the announcement of the results of Burundian communal elections (the district level) on 24 May 2010, 12 opposition parties contested the large victory of the ruling party, the Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and decided to boycott the presidential, parliamentary and local elections which were still to come. The boycott was followed by requests for talks or negotiations on the need to hold fresh elections. The ruling party refused categorically to adhere to this idea.

The 12 opposition parties were encouraged to use the legal means, specifically the Constitutional Court, to solve their grievances, which they refused to pursue. They were asked to show evidence of rigging which they also could not substantiate. Subsequently, the boycotting parties decided to create a new coalition group which they called the Alliance for the Democratic Change (ADC-Ikibiri). The mission of this new coalition was to ensure that the international community does not recognise the legitimacy of the May 2010 elections. Unfortunately, the report released by the Observer Mission of the European Union (UE-MOE) – which was then the major sponsor of the electoral process by the way – recognised that, despite some flaws, the election had been fair and democratic although tainted by some sporadic violence. Despite this clear position, the ADC coalition insisted on a continued boycott.

It is important to note that the main opposition party had garnered 15% of the national vote while the total votes of all opposition parties taken together was around 35%. Such a score was enough to give the opposition a stake in the government, in the parliament and senate and in the local administration. At the end of the election, the coalition refused to be part of the government and opted to stay out of the institutions.

The consequences of this decision were dramatic. Once the electoral process was validated by the Constitutional Court, the ADC-Ikibiri members found themselves outside of all of the formal institutions and without any leverage to influence any political process. Slowly, they gradually diminished in popularity and disappeared from the political scene. The absence of a counter-weight to the ruling party allowed the voting of some controversial law such as the law on media or civil society organisations.

More importantly, the non-participation in the governing bodies allowed the ruling party to consolidate and reinforce its grip on power even in parts which used to be strongholds of the opposition. The national assembly was in effect controlled almost entirely by one party. The absence of contradictory debates at the national assembly was one serious blow to the young democracy in Burundi. The domination of one party and the progressive entrenchment of an autocratic power led to the erosion of democratic foundations. This is not what the ruling party was necessarily looking for, but the absence of a counter-force and the new political context created a legislative imbalance in which there was no room for a counter-point to government agendas.

In the end, some civil society organisations gradually begun to occupy the vacuum left by the opposition parties. The coming of these unusual actors into the political realm complicated the matter as the civil society and political parties in general do not use the same methods when mobilising for civic action. In 2015, when the following elections took place the opposition leadership was extremely weakened that it had no real initiative on the ground. The street demonstrations that characterised the 2015 elections were led, not by political parties, but by civil society organisations. The opposition leadership had lost its influence on the electorate.

The important lesson to Zimbabwe’s opposition from what happened in Burundi, is that participation is key. Despite what may look like injustice, it is good for the Zimbabwean opposition to stay within decision-making institutions such as the national assembly in order to counter any move that would otherwise lead to devastating consequences such as an untimely change of the constitution. If there is a chance for Chamisa and the MDC Alliance to remain integrated into the governance processes within the country’s institutions, this would be an important opportunity to demonstrate the willingness to pursue dialogue and legal processes in order to introduce a different political culture within Zimbabwe.

The presence of the Zimbabwean opposition in the institutions of governance especially at the local government would surely play a determining role in preparing for the next elections and in convincing the electorate that the MDC Alliance can also govern effectively. Chamisa and his fellow opposition leaders should continue to pursue judicial redress and accountability through legal means and at the same time to strategise wisely for the next elections while remaining a relevant and ever-present actor in the current political dispensation. The opposition leadership can still play an important role especially as members of the national assembly by testing the proposition whether in fact Zimbabwe is on the cusp of a new dawn of democratic consolidation. DM

Patrick Hajayandi is a Senior Project Leader for the Great Lakes Region at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation based in Cape Town, South Africa

News Briefs 17 August 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC’s Kabila backs ex-interior minister for election

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, ending months of speculation, has chosen former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary to be his successor in upcoming elections, the government said on Wednesday.

The announcement came just hours before the deadline for lodging applications for the December 23 election – a vote analysts say is crucial for the country’s future.

Ramazani Shadary, a Kabila loyalist, is permanent secretary of the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD).

He “will represent our political family in the presidential election,” spokesperson Lambert Mende told a press conference. “We will all rally behind him.”


DRC issues global arrest warrant for opposition leader Katumbi

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has issued an international arrest warrant for opposition leader Moise Katumbi, who has been in self-imposed exile since 2016.

Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba said on Thursday that the warrant by the DRC’s attorney general was issued to several African and European countries.

“He must be arrested where he is found,” he said.

Katumbi tried to enter DRC from Zambia before the August 8 deadline to register as a candidate for December’s presidential election, but he was denied entry.



Somalia’s army asked to comply with International Humanitarian Law during military operations

The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) of the Somali National Army (SNA), Maj. Gen. Abdiweli Jama Hussein ‘Gorod’, has instructed his troops to ensure compliance with the International Humanitarian Law, when conducting military operations in the country.

The CDF warned that soldiers who disregard the law will be prosecuted. He also distributed the “Code of Conduct for Combatants’ to the local army to familiarize them with combat rules, which guides on how to protect civilians and their property, limit destruction and respect civilian property during combat, among other rules.

The Humanitarian Law regulates the conduct of forces in armed conflict and seeks to protect the rights of civilians who are not participating in hostilities.

“When you want to maintain security and you are fighting insurgents (Al-Shabaab), there are international laws to be observed which must to be safeguarded,” Gen. Abdiweli cautioned the soldiers. “The religion of Islam ordains that. The people you are protecting, those you are fighting with and those you are fighting for should be very clear to you.”

Relief Web

Somalia security reshuffle amid terror uptick

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has reshuffled key security officials in a move to counter an ongoing threat from Al-Qaeda’s affiliate Al-Shabaab.

Farmajo appointed Dahi Adnan Ilmi as the new commander of the Somali National Army (SNA), and Fahad Yasin as deputy director of the National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA). Adding to the reshuffle, Farmajo appointed Amina Saiid Ali as the director of presidential security, marking the first woman to head up security in the country – a major precedent.

In early July, 14 Somali security officers were arrested over alleged collusion after a deadly Al-Shabaab attack on the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior in the capital Mogadishu.

The security officers were responsible for guarding the checkpoints, but Al-Shabaab managed to enter the site, detonating two bombs and killing at least 20 people, injuring a dozen. The arrests came after Al-Shabaab fighters were found with security guard uniforms and identity cards, insinuating some cooperation and collusion.

Middle East Monitor

Central African Republic

Arms influx fuels Central African Republic violence – U.N. experts

Deliveries of Russian weapons to Central African Republic’s security forces this year have pushed rebel groups to bolster their own stockpiles as they consolidate control over large parts of the country, a U.N. panel of experts said on Friday.

Central African Republic has been battered by violence since 2013 when mainly Muslim Selaka rebels ousted then president Francois Bozize, prompting reprisals from mostly Christian militias.

Despite Faustin-Archange Touadera’s election as president in 2016 and the deployment of thousands of U.N. peacekeepers, most of the country remains beyond the control of the Bangui government.

The U.N. Security Council granted Russia an exemption to Central African Republic’s arms embargo in December to allow it to provide light arms to government forces and send military and civilian instructors to train them.

“The recent acquisition of weaponry by the Government has created an incentive for the active rearmament of ex-Selaka factions,” a report by U.N. sanctions monitors said.

Euro News

UN Security Council concerned by situation in Central Africa

The UN Security Council expressed “grave concern” over the security situation and human rights abuses in central Africa and has tasked the world body’s Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) to develop a strategy to address these issues.

Additionally, it has to come up with ways to support regional antipiracy efforts in the Gulf of Guinea.


In a statement released last week, the Security Council acknowledged UNOCAs role, in co-operation with partners in the region, in promoting dialogue, its work with the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWAS) to develop a strategy addressing the root causes of the security and humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad basin and piracy.

The statement highlights concern over the security situation and human rights abuses. Terrorist attacks by Boko Haram, ISIL (also known as Da’esh), the Lord’s Resistance Army and other armed groups, are ongoing. There is continued maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea and a pervasive threat of transnational organised crime, including that of mercenary activities.

Defence Web


22 children dead in Nile boat accident: Sudan media

At least 22 Sudanese children drowned on Wednesday when their boat sank in the Nile while they were on their way to school, official media said.

A woman also died when the vessel went down around 750km north of the capital Khartoum with more than 40 children on board, the SUNA news agency reported.

“The accident was caused by engine failure halfway across because of a strong current,” it said.

The victims’ bodies have not yet been found, SUNA added.

Villagers in the region rely on wooden boats to cross the Nile.


Sudanese and Ethiopian armies to deploy joint border forces

The Sudanese and Ethiopian armies Thursday signed an agreement to withdraw troops from both sides of the border and to deploy joint forces to combat “terrorism”, human trafficking and to eliminate any potential security tensions.

Although Khartoum and Addis Ababa have close ties, the border area between the two countries remains a source of tension and violence between the two sides due to the human trafficking and smuggling to reach Egypt and Libya.

Also, Ethiopian farmers are accused by the Sudanese farmers of occupying vast agricultural land in the Al-Fashqa area of Gedaref State.

The third issue until recently was Ethiopian rebels who sneak over the border coming from Eritrea. Many have been detained and handed over to the Ethiopian authorities.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

South Sudan says hopeful of reaching a final peace deal with opposition

Talks between South Sudan’s government and opposition factions on pending issues in the recently signed power sharing and ceasefire agreements are making progress amid hope of a final peace deal, a senior government official at the talks said on Thursday.

Michael Makuei Lueth, Government spokesman said the final peace talks on the unresolved issues of local governance, number of states and creation of five additional ministries are moving well in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

“We have made a very good progress and there is likelihood of us concluding the peace agreement,” Makuei told state-owned radio, South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) Thursday morning.

South Sudanese president Salva Kiir, his rival Riek Machar and several opposition parties on Aug. 5 inked a new power sharing formula and ceasefire deal.


US, Britain, Norway Express Concern Over South Sudan Agreement

The United States, Britain, and Norway jointly expressed concern on Friday over an agreement between South Sudan’s feuding sides to establish a power-sharing government, saying the arrangements were not realistic or sustainable.

“Given their past leadership failures, South Sudanese leaders will need to behave differently and demonstrate commitment to peace and good governance,” the three countries said in a joint statement.

The countries questioned how security would be provided during the transition period in the capital Juba and “how meaningful checks will be placed on executive power.”


Western Sahara

Russia backs the relaunching of direct negotiations

Russia expressed its position on the Western Sahara conflict on Wednesday, backing the relaunching of direct negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario. Moscow, however, wants Algeria and Mauritania to be part of the talks.

Russia notes with satisfaction that Horst Kohler, Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara and former President of Germany, is stepping up efforts to get the peace process going by resuming direct talks without preconditions between the two protagonists», says the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakhrova in a press briefing held on Wednesday, 15th of August.

The Russian Foreign ministry believes that Algeria and Mauritania should take part in the talks as observers. It also insists that «the efforts to develop an acceptable conflict resolution approach for the parties to the conflict – Morocco and the POLISARIO Front – undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations have been repeatedly disrupted for various reasons

US Allegedly Seeking ‘Quick Political Settlement’ in Western Sahara

The Trump administration is allegedly “pressuring” Horst Kohler to find a quick settlement to the decades-long conflict in Western Sahara.

Assabah reported on Saturday, August 12, that members in President Trump’s inner circles have been pushing Host Kohler, the UN secretary-general’s personal envoy for Western Sahara, to devise a plan that will not only convince all stakeholders to resume peace negotiations to end the long-standing political deadlock, but also to ensure a “quick political settlement.”

According to Assabah’s “diplomatic sources,” Washington’s intensions are mainly military-based, because the Trump administration envisions erecting a stronghold in the MENA region. And in some conservative quarters in Washington, the Sahara dispute allegedly constitutes a major impediment to the realization of Trump’s security plan for North Africa.

Morocco World News


Zimbabwe court to hear opposition election challenge August 22

Zimbabwe’s ruling party and opposition say the Constitutional Court will hear the opposition’s challenge to the presidential election results on August 22.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa narrowly lost to President Emmerson Mnangagwa but Chamisa’s party alleges “gross mathematical errors”. It seeks a fresh election or a declaration of Chamisa as the winner of the July 30 vote.

Mnangagwa’s lawyers and the electoral commission have filed papers saying the case should be thrown out, claiming the opposition filed its challenge too late.


Zanu-PF files opposing papers to MDC Alliance election challenge

Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF on Wednesday filed its opposing papers to the court challenge to the presidential election results brought by the opposition MDC Alliance last week.

The MDC Alliance’s court challenge has resulted in the cancellation of the inauguration ceremony for President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Paul Mangwana‚ the Zanu-PF secretary for legal affairs and head of the party’s legal team‚ on Wednesday said the petition filed by the MDC Alliance “lacked merit”.

“It is based on some theoretical calculations by some statistician whose qualification we doubt a lot. The elections are not won in court but in the ballot. They have not even asked for the ballot boxes to be re-opened and recounted‚” said Mangwana.





Africa in General

Somalia president in Djibouti for talks amid diplomatic tension

Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo is in Djibouti on an official visit. The visit comes amid recent tensions of Somalia’s position on Eritrean sanctions.

The presidency, Villa Somalia, tweeted photos of president Farmaajo’s arrival in Djibouti together with his delegation.

They were met at the airport by the Djiboutian Prime Minister Abdoukader Kamil and some high-ranking members of cabinet.

Villa Somalia said partnership was key to stability, progress and prosperity of the two brotherly nations. Farmaajo is set to hold talks with his counterpart, Ismail Omar Guelleh on a number of bilateral issues.

Africa News

Ethiopia PM’s reform agenda threatened by rising insecurity – HRW

International rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) have called on the Ethiopian government to arrest a rising spate of insecurity in the country.

Maria Burnett, HRW’s director for East Africa and the Horn, said ethnically and religiously-charged killings particularly in the Oromia and Somali regional states were a huge cause for worry.

In a statementtitled: ‘Ethiopia Violence A Concern Despite Reform Promises,’ she stressed that the only way Ethiopians could genuinely benefit from Prime Minister Abiy’s bold agenda for change was for the killings to be curtailed, investigated and perpetrators brought to book.

Africa News

UN chief urges Mali’s leaders ‘not to go backwards’ in election row

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has spoken by phone with Mali’s leaders to urge them “not to go backwards” following contentious elections in the strife-torn West African country, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

Official results showed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was re-elected in the runoff held Sunday, but opposition challenger Soumaila Cisse rejected the outcome and vowed to appeal to the constitutional court.

During separate phone calls with Keita and Cisse on Wednesday, Guterres “underlined the need to always keep the Malian people first, and not to go backwards on the reconciliation effort at a crucial moment,” said UN spokesperson Farhan Haq.

“He underlined that the elections happened and that it is of utmost importance for disputes to be resolved by legal means and political dialogue.”

Guterres said his envoy for Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif of Chad, was ready to mediate in the election dispute.


Men must be active participants in the fight to end gender-based violence By Cormac Smith – 7 August 2018

 Government and Civil Society join together in inaugural 100 Men march for no Violence against Women and Children beginning from Kgosi Mmampuru Str to Union Buildings, Pretoria [Photo: GCIS] 

We have a responsibility in identifying and treating the underlying causes of gender-based violence not just in South Africa but around the world. Recent figures from StatsSA show the murder rate of women increased by 117% between 2015 and 2016/17, a stark reminder of the persistent violence in this country. Then deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa spoke eloquently in 2017, showing us that he understands the core issues, but the above harrowing figures and recent #TotalShutDown march mean now, more than ever, comprehensive action is needed.

In July 2017 then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke at a Rhema Bible Church sermon devoted to ending violence against women and children. He stated how gender-based violence (GBV) is not caused by a virus but rather societal and cultural influences. The man who is now President understood that we live in a patriarchal society that is perpetuated by gender norms and an unwillingness to speak out against negative or toxic masculine behaviour. He said: “Each one of us, regardless of our upbringing or social circumstances, has been given the power of free will. We can make a decision, each of us, not to engage in violence, not to perpetrate abuse. We are responsible for our actions.”

We have a responsibility in identifying and treating the underlying causes of gender-based violence not just in South Africa but around the world. Recent figures from StatsSA show the murder rate of women increased by 117% between 2015 and 2016/17, a stark reminder of the persistent violence in this country. President Ramaphosa spoke eloquently in 2017, showing us that he understands the core issues, but the above harrowing figures and recent #TotalShutDown march mean now, more than ever, comprehensive action is needed.

The incidence of rape and sexual violence is staggeringly high in South Africa with a 2016 Rape Adjudication and Prosecution Study (RAPSSA) report found that between 2008 and 2015, 432,834 sexual offences were reported across the country. This figure is seen to vastly underestimate the true population-level incidence of sexual violence and rape due to under-reporting by survivors.

Population-based research found that between 28-37% of adult South African men disclosed having committed rape. Over half of them did so while they were teenagers, and half the men who admitted having raped, did so more than once. Further research shows that approximately one in 10 men have been involved in gang rape where perpetrators can sometimes be children and take part to prove their masculinity to one another. 2011 census data shows that 94.1% of rape survivors were female, 46% of whom were children (under 18). Perpetrators of rape accounted to be 99% male while female perpetrators mostly did so in groups of other men. If there is disagreement on the presence of hegemonic patriarchal systems, surely these figures show that the high prevalence of sexual violence is inherently a male trait.

Chillingly, men who identify strongly with having toxic masculine characteristics or gender-inequitable beliefs are more likely to reveal or report having perpetrated some form of GBV. Certain men essentially brag about having perpetrated acts of sexual violence. This shows disturbing and contrasting attitudes which only reinforce rape stigma where some men feel entitled to talk freely about the crime while women survivors suffer debilitating fear and shame. The situation worsens where some women do not report the crime fearing that the police will not address the claim effectively or simply turn them away. Family and community pressure are also known predicators to under-reporting, a cruel outcome that merely adds to the shame and guilt of the survivor.

Organisations that focus on GBV such as rape crisis centres are sadly underfunded. Despite this, they provide critical protection and support to survivors of sexual abuse while calling out for comprehensive reform that will tackle the root cause of the violence. Short-term interventions are not working as they ignore the core drivers of the issue, something rape crisis centres consistently and painstakingly highlight.

In 2009, at least half of women murdered was done so by an intimate partner (where perpetrators had been identified as a partner) in South Africa. In Ireland between 1996 and 2017, of the 216 women killed, 56% of the killers were current or former intimate partners. In the United Kingdom, 113 women were murdered in 2016, 78 of who done so by current or former partners. Globally, approximately 38% of all murders of women are committed by current or former intimate partners. Femicide and GBV perpetrated by intimate partners is a global issue that bridges all socio-economic, racial, age, religious and ethnic divides.

While there are influential factors associated with GBV, research shows that the predominant cause of the violence points to men’s prescribed gender roles, patriarchal systems and toxic/hyper-masculinity. The latter can be defined as complete disregard or contempt for what are perceived to be “feminine” qualities and/or use of aggression and violence to adhere to pre-conceived male gender normative behaviour. Many men set themselves expectations to be successful, strong and powerful, inhibiting any emotional behaviour they perceive to be weak. A lack of emotional intelligence, combined with toxic masculine and gender normative behaviour, can have debilitating effects on men’s mental health and regularly result in emotional outbursts of aggression and violence. These acts can help men exhibit power in the hope of re-affirming their manhood.

The concept of power and its intrinsic relationship with toxic masculinity is a common output where certain men enable their sense of superiority over women and, in some cases, other men. Focusing on the effects on women, masculine power can be exhibited in many ways and are certain to solicit a response that many women experience: powerlessness. These actions regularly unfold in daily life that many of us have witnessed: unwanted advances in public, being groped at a club, cat-calling, being followed and shouted at while walking home. While not being physically violent, these actions can have negative psychological consequences for women, sparking an immediate sense of fear and unease.

We cannot deny that the above behaviours exist. Advice such as telling women to be more careful or avoid certain streets, while seen as protective, are not solutions as they ignore the fundamental drivers of GBV. Women should feel safe when they walk anywhere and not be shackled by fear. The root causes of GBV must be addressed if we are to make any satisfying progress in combatting the violence.

The values set in the South African constitution assert that no one should be discriminated against based on their gender or sex. Education reform must enshrine these values and consider adopting Unesco’s international technical guidance on sex education. It shows that comprehensive sex education (CSE) has positive effects on young people and their attitudes towards sex, gender, consent, STIs, unintended pregnancies, GBV and gender equality. It also provides a safe space for young people to talk about their feelings and attitudes which will be critical in the emotional development of a child. According to Unesco, children between the ages of five and 13 spend most of their time in a school which provides an opportunity to reach them in their formative years. Teachers and schools must be supported by providing additional resources and training, so they can feel comfortable and confident in teaching robust and accessible CSE.

New focus must be put on crime prevention over crime fighting. Simply increasing the numbers of police officers does not directly result in improved policing outcomesLeading up to 2012, increasing the number of police officers did not seem to have had an impact on reducing serious violent crimes. With quality sacrificed over quantity, the South African government must focus on improving policing standards through community policing and outreach. Punishment for crimes committed must run parallel with rehabilitative measures to prevent recidivism. Male targeted programmes, such as One Man Can show some benefit of masculinity-focused interventions and how they affect male attitudes towards gender-norms and sexual violence. The South African government must embrace new ways of thinking and show a willingness to invest in evidence-based measures that target the source of the problem.

Furthermore, in line with the resolution adopted at the ANC’s December 2017 conference, the government should consider de-criminalising sex work so that sex workers can have more legal protections as well as be able to access essential health care. The continuing criminalisation and subsequent violent intimidation of sex-workers pushes them further underground therefore increasing the likelihood of dangerous practices. De-criminalisation, while providing structural support, has shown to decrease STI prevalence, particularly HIV, and an overall decrease in the risks faced by sex workers.

While incidents of sexual violence can occur within any socio-economic division, rape is “more common in a social context of poverty where unemployment is high”. In this context, interpersonal violence is rife, and men organise into social gangs that can lead to incidents of group rape. In high unemployment areas, chances of marginalisation increase with poorer access to services and care for survivors. In a country where income inequality is at a very high rate, more must be done to mitigate the effects of poverty. Gender-focused labour initiatives must support women by providing sustainable employment and help tackle gender unequal households where women are expected to act in a subordinate role. With the assistance of community policing and outreach, we can reduce gang related incidents of sexual violence by providing more opportunity to young men and women who feel society has left them behind. Alleviating poverty will not solve GBV or domestic violence, but it will certainly help in reducing cases.

With the rise of women’s movements, particularly in the advent of #MeToo, there is a growing perception that men are being attacked and demonised. Not only is this a fallacy, it shows a complete contempt for the abundance of evidence on sexual violence. The women who participated at the #TotalShutDown march, and men who supported it, know the evidence is clear: women disproportionately suffer sexual and domestic violence at the hands of men. It doesn’t happen because of what she wore or how drunk she was. It happens because men make a conscious choice to do so.

As men, we must acknowledge that certain male culture is at the heart of the problem. We can no longer stand by when we see toxic or violent behaviour towards women and must challenge it at every step whether it be an acquaintance, stranger or family member. Toxic masculinity has no place in South Africa or anywhere else. Men must be active participants in shaping the future of masculinity, one that is based on equality and respect. The passion and willingness for positive change will always resonate and enable those who feel they have no power, to be at the forefront. In President Ramaphosa’s own words:

“It’s time for all of us to change our ways. The campaign to end violence against women and children begins with you and me. Let us all take responsibility.” DM

Cormac Smith is a Research and Advocacy Officer at the Southern African Liaison Office (SALO)