Thousands of demonstrators rally in Zimbabwe in support of MDC
Zimbabwe’s main opposition group the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has showed its disdain for President Emmerson Mnangagwa with a rally in the streets of the capital Harare denouncing the government.
Several thousand anti-government demonstrators marched through the streets on Thursday, singing and waving placards, closely watched by armed police, who gave the event their approval, in the first rally since a deadly crackdown on an election protest in August, the East African reported.
The MDC claims its leader Nelson Chamisa was the real winner of the July elections.
“Mnangagwa must go”, read one banner alongside others reading “You stole my vote, please give it back”.
Shun violence, move on: UK
Zimbabwe’S political leaders should reject violence, observe the rule of law and focus on moving the country forward, a top British government official has said.
Britain is also ready to play a role in support of Zimbabwe’s recovery in line with Harare’s reform agenda.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said this on Monday in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords in response to a written question by The Marquess of Lothian.
The Marquess wanted to know Her Majesty’s government’s assessment of the current political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.
Democratic Republic of Congo
DR Congo Ebola outbreak second largest in history: WHO
The UN health body confirms 426 cases, with 198 deaths reported since August, as DRC struggles to contain the disease.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s deadly Ebola outbreak is now the second largest in history, behind the devastating West Africa outbreak that killed thousands a few years ago, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr Peter Salama, WHO’s emergencies chief, called it a “sad toll” as DR Congo’s health ministry announced the number of cases has reached 426.
That includes 379 confirmed cases and 47 probable ones.
So far this outbreak, declared on August 1, has caused 198 confirmed deaths, DR Congo’s health ministry said.
‘Possible terrorist threat’ closes US embassy in DRC for fourth day
The US embassy in Kinshasa will on Thursday be closed to the public for a fourth day following “credible and precise information” about a possible terrorist threat, a month ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election.
In a statement on its website, the embassy urged “US citizens in Kinshasa and throughout DR Congo to maintain a high level of vigilance”.
“The US embassy in Kinshasa will remain closed to the public on Thursday, November 29” due to “credible and precise information on a possible terrorist threat” targeting “US facilities in Kinshasa”, it added.
On Monday, after the embassy first closed and warned US nationals to keep a low profile, Congolese authorities described its reaction as “useless psychosis”.
UN mission head condemns deadly terrorist attacks in Mogadishu, Galkayo
The top United Nations official in Somalia has “strongly condemned” terrorist attacks in the north-central city of Galkayo and in the Somali capital on Monday, which left a prominent cleric and a number of other civilians dead.
Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and the head of the UN mission there (UNSOM), said no legitimate political agenda can be advanced through the indiscriminate killing of innocent children, women and men.
“Today’s attacks on civilians in Mogadishu and Galkayo demonstrate the disregard of violent extremists for the sanctity of human life”, he said, adding that the UN “stands with the people and government of Somalia in their rejection of terrorism.”
The Al-Shabaab terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the early morning assault on a compound belonging to Sufi Muslim cleric Abdiweli Ali Elmi, in the southern portion of Galkayo, according to UNSOM. In early afternoon, a car bomb was detonated at a busy market in Wadajir district of Mogadishu. A suspect has been arrested by Somali security forces.
AFRICOM boss travels to Somalia for high-level talks
America’s top commander for Africa made a rare visit to war-torn Somalia, meeting with local leaders to discuss security in a country where U.S. forces quietly serve in a fight against militants.
U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser also met Tuesday with the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Somalia, Donald Yamamoto, who is in the process of establishing a permanent American diplomatic mission.
A decade ago, such high-level talks inside Somalia involving top American officials were virtually unthinkable. U.S. military operations in the country were still a closely guarded secret and diplomatic efforts were minimal, given the widespread chaos in the country and the lack of a central government.
However, Somalia has emerged as AFRICOM’s main effort during the past three years as the military carries out regular airstrikes against Islamic militants in the country. U.S. special operations troops also serve on the front lines as advisers to government forces.
Central African Republic
Children suffering in Central African Republic 5 years on
Children are bearing the brunt of five years of fighting in Central African Republic as thousands are trapped in armed groups, many suffer sexual violence, tens of thousands go hungry and one in four have fled their homes, the United Nations children’s agency said Friday.
The new report pleads for millions in funding for one of the world’s most “neglected” crises.
Deeply impoverished Central African Republic has faced interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital, Bangui. Mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back, resulting in thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Violence has intensified and spread in the past year after a period of relative peace as armed groups battle over lands rich in gold, diamonds and uranium.
Central African Republic Militia Leader Appears at ICC
A Central African Republic militia leader and lawmaker who goes by the nickname Rambo told the International Criminal Court on Friday he was beaten and tortured after his arrest late last month in parliament.
Prosecutors at the global court allege that 43-year-old Alfred Yekatom is responsible for crimes including murder, torture and using child soldiers during his country’s bitter conflict. He allegedly commanded some 3,000 fighters in a predominantly Christian militia that killed Muslims in attacks between December 2013 and August 2014 in and around the capital, Bangui.
At his first appearance before ICC judges since his transfer to the Netherlands over the weekend, Yekatom confirmed his name, age and that he had read the charges in his arrest warrant. He wasn’t required to enter a plea at the 35-minute hearing.
Voice of America
Sudan, Darfur armed groups to meet in Berlin next week: chief negotiator
The Sudanese government said it would meet with the Darfur rebel movements next week in Berlin to agree on the general framework of the upcoming round of talks.
Sudan’s Presidential Envoy for Diplomatic Contact and Negotiation for Darfur Amin Hassan Omer told the semi-official Sudan Media Center that the government would meet with an African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) envoy in Khartoum next week to discuss the resumption of Darfur talks.
He pointed out that the Berlin meeting would determine the date of the upcoming talks as well as the requirements set forth by the AUHIP.
Omer said the parties agreed to hold the next round of talks in Doha, adding a date to resume the talks could be set after consulting with the AUHIP envoy.
Sudan’s East Darfur embracing shared natural resource management to curb conflict
Abdulrahman Ismail is passionate about education. The retired primary school teacher, turned cleric, is also concerned about changes to the environment he has witnessed in Bakhiet village of Sudan’s East Darfur State where he has lived since his early childhood in the 1970s.
“This village has experienced dramatic changes both in population and in the social fabric. When I was growing up, there were less than 50 households here. Now, it has risen to more than 5,000. Trees, once abundant, have been decimated due to cooking energy demands, “says the turbaned and bearded grandfather who dons a jalabiya, a long loose-fitting robe with a collar-less rounded neckline.
The environmental changes in Bakhiet are not unique to the village. They are also highly visible in other parts of the semi-arid state, which covers an area slightly larger than Greece—about 52,867square kilometres—and home to about 1.5 million residents.
Tense 1st meeting of South Sudan armed leaders since peace
Stepping out of a helicopter last week, South Sudan armed opposition commander Ashab Khamis came face-to-face with his rival in a crushing five-year civil war, army Gen. Keer Kiir Keer.
The meeting, witnessed by The Associated Press, was their first attempt at reconciliation since the conflict began and a crucial test of a new peace agreement ending a war that has killed nearly 400,000 people.
The governor of Wau state where the meeting occurred called it a “historic event,” while the atmosphere around the table was tense. Surrounded by bodyguards, the regional commanders glared at each other as words of encouragement were laced with accusations.
While they eventually pledged to work together, deep-seated distrust lay behind the handshakes as South Sudan’s warring sides, blamed for vicious abuses against civilians and each other, are now under international pressure to get along — and eventually merge.
The Washington Post
Despite Sanctions South Sudan Stays Armed for War – Report
Despite long-standing restrictions, new weapons have continued to reach South Sudan’s battlefields, often via neighbouring countries, a detailed report by an arms monitoring group said Thursday.
A four-year investigation, by London-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR), into the supply of weapons that have helped keep South Sudan’s civil war alive since December 2013, has revealed the important role played by neighbouring countries, particularly Uganda, in circumventing arms embargoes.
While the UN Security Council did not impose an arms embargo on South Sudan until July 2018, more than four years into a war that has killed an estimated 380,000 people, the EU has banned direct sales of weapons by member states to Sudan since 1994, amending the embargo to include newly-independent South Sudan in 2011.
Nevertheless, the government army – known as the SPLA, or Sudan People’s Liberation Army – has been kept well supplied with weaponry, often funnelled through Uganda and sometimes originating from Europe or the US.
A new push to resolve the conflict over Western Sahara
In the Sahara, rain is said to bring good luck. So, negotiators from the United Nations should be encouraged by a recent downpour in Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara. On December 5th they will gather in Geneva to try, yet again, to resolve the differences between Morocco, which rules two-thirds of the territory, and the Polisario Front, a nationalist movement that controls the other (mostly inhospitable) third. Since Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975, upon Spain’s withdrawal, Polisario has fought for its independence.
Expectations for the talks, the first between Morocco and Polisario in six years, are low. The main goal is an agreement that more talking is needed. But even that may be a tough sell. Polisario insists that Morocco must at last hold a referendum on independence in Western Sahara, which it promised to do as part of a UN-backed ceasefire in 1991. Morocco says a vague autonomy plan that it produced in 2008 should be the basis for negotiations.
Pressure from Donald Trump’s administration helped to restart the talks. In March America made the renewal of minurso, the un peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, conditional on political progress. Neither side in the conflict wants to see the peacekeepers go, lest the result be more war. The Trump administration has also been more willing than its predecessors to press Morocco. When John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, was involved in past un efforts to find a solution in Western Sahara, he thought the kingdom negotiated in bad faith.
Moroccan king left waiting as Algeria remains silent on talks offer
Morocco has urged Algeria to respond to an offer for talks on mending diplomatic relations after King Mohammed VI’s olive branch was met with silence, but analysts say the entire initiative may be more about image than substance.
The Moroccan Foreign Ministry said it regrets that Algeria hasn’t responded to the king’s overture, adding that Rabat “remains open and optimistic” on the future of relations between the two states.
“Morocco can only regret that this initiative did not [see] the desired response, especially that it has always been requested by Algeria itself,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.
Animosity between the two states is longstanding, with ill will over the shared borders established by Algeria’s French colonial government in 1957 and on the future of the Western Sahara region, where Algiers backs the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi liberation movement, against Rabat.
Swaziland Has No Cash to Pay Elderly Pensions, Prime Minister Says He Will Fly Business Class to Save Money
Swaziland/Eswatini is so broke that pensions for the elderly are not being paid. State-controlled radio has been broadcasting the news over the past few days.
It is another example of how the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III has been mismanaged. The pensions for people aged 60 and over, known locally as elderly grants, are for E400 (US$30) per month.
About 70,000 people receive the grants which often are the only income a family has.
A year ago, it was reported more than 80 percent of women aged 60 and over and 70 percent of men in Swaziland lived in poverty. The figures were contained in the National Strategy and Action Plan to End Violence in Swaziland: 2017 to 2022.
About seven in ten of Swaziland’s 1.1 million population live in abject poverty defined as having incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The report said poverty among people aged 60 or over was highest compared to other age groups.
Swaziland: Private Sector Corrupt, but Public Sector Worse
The Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, lost US$2.09 million due to fraud and corruption in various sectors of the government, the national police deputy commissioner said Monday at an event celebrating International Fraud Awareness week, the Swazi Observer reported.
“This is a substantial monetary loss comparative to the economic size of the country,” Mumcy Dlamini told an audience assembled at the Mountain Inn in the capital of Mbabane.
While an estimated 63 percent of Swazis live below the poverty line, making less than two dollars per day, the government agreed in March to buy Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini – who died in September at age 76 – a $380,000 retirement house.
In her speech, Dlamini attributed much of the losses to fraud in the “banking sector business,” such as illicit electronic fund transfers and false banking instructions. She cited examples of cloned or skimmed bank cards used to make ATM cash withdrawals.
Africa in General
Uganda diverted weapons to South Sudan despite arms embargo
A key broker of the latest deal to end South Sudan’s civil war diverted European weapons to South Sudan’s military despite an EU arms embargo, a new report says. It also asks how a US military jet ended up deployed in South Sudan in possible violation of arms export controls.
The London-based Conflict Armament Research report, released on Thursday, raises questions about Uganda’s support for neighbouring South Sudan’s government even as it promotes itself as a neutral negotiator in one of Africa’s deadliest conflicts.
South Sudan’s warring sides signed the peace agreement in September to end a five-year civil war that has killed nearly 400 000 people. Previous deals have collapsed in gunfire. The new report is a “forensic picture of how prohibitions on arms transfers to the warring parties have failed,” said Conflict Armament Research’s executive director, James Bevan.
Female equity bill collapses in Kenyan parliament
A gender equity bill, which would have ensured that not more than two-thirds of parliament can be of the same gender, has failed to pass in the Kenyan National Assembly.
The house failed to raise the necessary numbers to pass the two-thirds gender equity bill so it deferred the vote to next year.
The suspension of the vote followed a request by Majority Leader Aden Duale during the debate attended by opposition chiefs Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, the East African reported.
Duale informed speaker Justin Muturi that the house did not have 233 members required to support the proposed law to address Kenya’s gender inequality in political representation.
Zim inquiry into post-vote violence presents findings summary to Mnangagwa
The commission of inquiry into the August 1 post-election deadly shootings in Harare by the military has on Thursday presented a summary of its findings to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“Today, the commission presented to the President what we call an executive summary, while the complete report will be presented this Saturday,” commission spokesperson John Masuku said.
“In short, what I am saying is that, yes, the report is complete, but we have sent it to government printers for printing and binding and it shall be presented to the President and public this Saturday.”
The commission, chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, made the presentation two days after wrapping up public hearings. The completed report is expected to be completed on November 31.
Protests over Zim government’s ‘cocktail of lies’ as economy collapses
Zimbabweans are gathering for a nationwide protest over the country’s economic collapse and what the opposition calls the new government’s “cocktail of lies.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is under growing pressure one year after taking office following the removal of long-time leader Robert Mugabe. Tensions remain high after July’s disputed election that Mnangagwa narrowly won.
Zimbabwe’s government is struggling to even arrange a reliable currency as many citizens in the southern African nation say they’ve seen no progress on promises of “jobs, job, jobs.”
There is heavy security in the capital, Harare, as opposition supporters sing anti-government songs.