News Briefs 13 April 2018

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN Calls on DRC to Not Shun Pledging Conference

The United Nations says it hopes the Democratic Republic of Congo will attend a donors’ conference in Geneva later this week aimed at raising $1.7 billion for life-saving aid. DRC authorities say they will boycott the conference because the UN’s description of Congo’s humanitarian crisis as “catastrophic” is false and gives the country “a bad image.”

The United Nations reports more than 13 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are in need of humanitarian assistance. Seven-point-seven million are going hungry, more than two million acutely malnourished children are at risk of dying, and four-point-five million people are displaced by conflict.

Because of worsening conditions in DRC, the United Nations declared three regions in the country — the Kasai, Tanganyika and South Kivu–as a Level 3 emergency late last year. This is the world body’s highest-level emergency.

A spokesman for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jens Laerke, tells VOA the DRC government’s displeasure with this designation is based on a misunderstanding.

Relief Web

DR Congo opposition takes swing at election organizers

Congolese opposition groups rounded Wednesday on the country’s electoral commission and its insistence that a long-awaited presidential vote in the vast African nation must be conducted using electronic voting machines.

“Democratic Republic of Congo’s political opposition expresses its profound concern over the casual attitude of the national electoral commission (CENI) in managing the election process,” representatives of five parties said in a rare joint statement from Kinshasa.

DR Congo’s long-delayed elections are slated for December 23 but there are fears of mounting unrest and organisers have already encountered a slew of logistical problems — including “millions” of duplicate names on voting registers — organising the vote in the vast, mineral-rich nation.

Daily Monitor

Somalia

Somalia disbands UAE programme to pay and train soldiers

Somalia has disbanded a United Arab Emirates programme to train some of its troops in a new sign of rising tensions in bilateral relations.

 

The Somali government announced on Wednesday that it will take over paying and training the soldiers in the programme, Defence Minister Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman told Somalia’s state news agency Sonna.

“Somalia will fully take over [its troops] trained by the UAE… Those forces will be added to the various battalions of the Somalia National Army,” Abdirahman said, adding the soldiers would be integrated into other units on Thursday.

The UAE has trained hundreds of troops since 2014 as part of an effort boosted by an African Union military mission to defeat an al-Shabab uprising and secure the country for the government, which is backed by Western nations, Turkey and the United Nations.

Aljazeera

Somalia parliament speaker quits as Gulf rivalries boil

The speaker of Somalia’s parliament resigned on Monday after a dispute with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed that analysts said was fuelled in part by a crisis in the Gulf spilling into the politics of the volatile Horn of Africa nation.

The resignation of Mohamed Osman Jawari came the day after the seizure of $9.6 million in cash at Mogadishu airport from a plane that had landed from the United Arab Emirates, according to police and government sources.

The Mogadishu government confirmed the seizure but did not say what the money was for.

The mystery cash has fuelled a widespread view among Somalis that the political problems in their country are the work of foreign powers, said Rashid Abdi of the think-tank International Crisis Group.

The Star

Central African Republic

Protesters deliver the dead to UN mission in Central African Republic

Hundreds of angry demonstrators laid the bodies of at least 16 people killed in clashes in the Central African Republic capital in front of the UN mission headquarters on Wednesday, witnesses said.

Since Sunday, UN peacekeepers and local security forces have battled armed groups in Bangui’s PK5 area, a Muslim enclave of the majority Christian city, in a bid to dismantle their bases there.

One peacekeeper was killed and eight others were wounded in fighting on Tuesday.

The surge in violence coincides with a visit to the country by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN’s head of peacekeeping operations.

The demonstrators, who blame UN soldiers for firing on residents protesting against the operation in PK5, carried the bodies wrapped in cloth to the gates of the mission.

Business Day

Exchanges of gunfire near president’s residence in Central African Republic

UN troops and an armed group exchanged gunfire during the night near the president’s residence in the Central African Republic, a security source said on Monday.

The incident in the capital Bangui came hours after United Nations and Central African forces launched an operation targeting armed groups in a mainly Muslim district of the city. At least two people were killed and dozens wounded during the joint operation, according to UN and medical sources.

The security source said the exchanges late on Sunday took place after an armed group arrived “by the Ndeke Luka radio station by the road that leads to the residence” of President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

“The group was repulsed by UN peacekeepers from Egypt,” the source said.

Times Live

Sudan

Sudan’s president Bashir issues decision to release all political prisoners

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has ordered the release of all political prisoners held in the country, state news agency SUNA said on Tuesday.

The decision came in response to calls from political parties and groups that have participated in the country’s ongoing national dialogue to grant detainees the opportunity to engage in the political process, SUNA reported.

Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989 when he came to power in an Islamist and military-backed coup, has said he will not stand in elections expected in 2020 and appointed a vice president last year for the first time.

“The release of political prisoners comes to strengthen the spirit of reconciliation, national harmony and peace created by the national dialogue” and as part of “steps to prepare a permanent constitution for the country,” SUNA said.

Africa News

Sudan to continue mission within Saudi coalition in Yemen

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said his country’s forces will continue their role within the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen to support efforts to restore stability to the country.

The Sudanese minister made the remarks during a meeting with the ambassadors of Egypt, Osama Shaltout, Saudi Arabia, Ali Bin Hassan Jafar, and the UAE, Hamad Bin Hussein Al-Junaibi, in Khartoum.

 

“The meeting dealt with bilateral relations between Sudan and the three countries and the fraternal and historical ties that bind the peoples of these countries,” a statement from the Sudanese foreign ministry said.

“The meeting also dealt with Sudan’s participation in the Arab summit, on April 15 in Saudi Arabia.”

Middle East Monitor

South Sudan

South Sudan Wants IGAD To Deny Malong Role In Peace Talks

South Sudan has said the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and international community should deny former army chief, General Paul Malong Awan a role in the opposition following his declaration of a rebellion movement.

There are currently nine opposition groups which in February this year formed the Opposition Alliance alongside the main opposition group the SPLM IO to negotiate with the government in the IGAD-led High Level Revitalization Forum in Addis Ababa.

Malong has expressed his intention to join the Opposition Alliance participating in the peace talks.

“We wish to further state our intention to participate in the Revitalization Forum scheduled to commence on 26th April 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We will equally be appending our signature to the addendum to the Cessation of Hostilities already signed by the other parties,” Malong said in the statement.

Gurtong

Western Sahara

Settlement of conflict in Western Sahara: There is no alternative to negotiations

Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelkader Messahel underlined Tuesday, in an interview with France 24, that there is no alternative to negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front for the settlement of the conflict of Western Sahara.

“There was first the report of the United Nations Secretary General on Western Sahara. We are on the verge of examining by the Security Council of this report. Recommendations were made by the Secretary General on the basis of the report of the mission that he entrusted to former German President Horst Kohler. On this basis, everyone agrees on the fact that there is no alternative to the negotiations between the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco. These are the recommendations and everyone agrees that these negotiations restart,” underlined Messahel.

Now when you say that Algeria supports the Sahrawi people, we answered to say: We recognize that Algeria supports the principle of self-determination, it supports the Sahrawi people’s legitimate rights. This is not a secret, it is a principle,” added the head of the Algerian diplomacy.

Sahara Press Service

 

Morocco Could Improve Human Rights in Western Sahara

Morocco’s minister for human rights admitted his country could do better in the way it deals with civil rights in the disputed Western Sahara, as the North African kingdom warned it could act against the Polisario Front independence movement in the region.

Mustapha Ramid told The Associated Press on Monday that Morocco is “working to enhance the institutional framing of human rights. Morocco is not hell for human rights, but it is not a heaven.”

Ramid spoke days after Morocco’s foreign minister warned that all options, including military action, are on the table if the United Nations doesn’t act against alleged plans by the Polisario Front to build military posts in U.N.-monitored buffer zones in Western Sahara.

Voice of America

Swaziland

Swaziland denies purchasing luxury cars for King’s birthday

Swaziland’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport Principal Secretary Makhosini Mndawe has denied that the government bought a fleet of cars worth $7.5-million (R90.6-million) ahead of King Mswati III’s 50th birthday, Swazimedia.blogspot reported.

However, Mndawe’s denial contradicts a report from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

Swaziland marks the King’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain on April 19, 2018, in the so-called 50/50 Celebration.

According to Swaziland’s Sunday Observer, a newspaper owned by the king, Mndawe said dignitaries at the party would be chauffeured in top-of-the-range BMW 740i sedans that were purchased for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit held in 2016.

eNCA

Housing demolitions leave dozens homeless

Dozens of people, including more than 30 children, were left homeless after their homes were demolished by 20 armed police and bulldozers in the farming area of Embetseni in Malkerns town, Amnesty International said today.

The demolition, which saw 61 people forcibly evicted from their homes, took place on 9 April. Some of those rendered homeless were forced to spend the night in a chicken shed.

“This latest demolition of homes exposes the grim reality facing many people in Swaziland today. Hundreds have been forced from their homes in recent years to make way for development,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

“Despite supposed protection by the country’s laws, ordinary Swazis appear to be helpless in the face of forced evictions for development purposes.”

Relief Web

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe to allow Western poll observers for first time since 2002

Zimbabwe will invite Western powers to monitor its national elections for the first time in more than 15 years, official papers showed on Tuesday, ending a ban imposed by veteran former leader Robert Mugabe.

The vote, scheduled for July, is seen is a major test for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s democratic credentials since he came to power in November after a de facto army coup ousted 94-year-old Mugabe.

Zimbabwe will invite the United States, the European Union’s Commission and parliament, Australia and the Commonwealth among 46 countries and 15 organisations, a list released by the foreign affairs ministry showed.

The countries and groups on the list were all previously banned from watching elections in 2002 after Mugabe accused them of favouring his opponents.

Africa News

Zimbabwe Parliament to Summon Mugabe Over Diamond Mining

A committee of lawmakers in Zimbabwe is to summon former president Robert Mugabe to testify at a probe into lost revenue from diamond mining, a legislator said Tuesday.

The lawmakers plan to question Mugabe over his 2016 claim that the country had lost $15 billion (12.13 billion euros) in income from diamonds due to corruption and foreign exploitation.

Mugabe – whose own regime was accused of siphoning off diamond profits – was ousted last November after a military takeover that ushered his former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to power.

“The committee resolved to call the former president to testify,” Temba Mliswa, an independent lawmaker who chairs parliament’s committee on mines and energy, told AFP.

Voice of America

 

 

 

African in General

Zambian opposition accuses UN of helping to rig 2016 elections

Zambia’s opposition United Party for National Development’s (UPND) deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka, has accused United Nations resident coordinator Janet Rogan of working with the Electoral Commission of Zambia (EZC) and the ruling party Patriotic Front leaders to rig the 2016 elections.

The Zambian Observer reported that while appearing on a Diamond Television show on Sunday night, Mucheleka not only accused Rogan of having participated in the rigging of elections in 2016 but also of avoiding interaction with opposition political parties in the country.

Muchuleka said that Rogan and the UN’s support for the printing of 2016’s ballot papers in Dubai, against the wishes and advice of the UPND, had caused all sorts of problems because of disputes arising from disputed ballot papers.

He further questioned why a report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the issue had not been released

IOL

AU chairman sends condolences to Algeria following military plane crash

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has sent the condolences of the AU to the Algerian government and families of the victims of Wednesday’s military plane crash in Algeria which killed at least 257 people, stating that the tragedy affected not only Algeria but the whole continent.

At least 26 members of the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria and seeking independence from Morocco for Western Sahara, are said to be among the dead.

Mohammed Achour, the chief spokesman for the civil protection agency, said the Russian-designed Il-76 military transport plane had been carrying soldiers.

The flight had just taken off from Boufarik, about 30km south-west of Algiers, when it crashed. It was bound for a military base in Béchar in the south-west of the country, Achour said.

IOL

Joseph Kabila opponents meet in SA to build coalition ahead of polls

Democratic Republic of Congo’s top opposition leader and other figures opposed to longtime President Joseph Kabila are meeting in South Africa to build a coalition ahead of long-delayed elections in the turbulent, resource-rich country.

Delegates gathering at a resort hotel near Johannesburg said on Monday that they would work together to elect Moise Katumbi, who fled DRC in 2016 amid legal troubles that he said were fabricated to stop him from challenging Kabila.

Opposition activist Germain Kabemba said the aim of the meeting is to “fight against those who want to maintain power” and to “accelerate the process of democracy” in DRC.

News24

 

News Briefs 06 April 2018

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN deactivates maximum emergency level for Congo crisis

The United Nations is downgrading Congo from its highest level of humanitarian emergency after the arrival of aid – and an outcry from government officials who say the focus on such woes is deterring investment.

It activated a so-called Level 3 emergency for Democratic Republic of Congo in October, putting on the country on the same footing as Syria and Yemen.

But that is due to be deactivated this month, a senior UN official said in a statement on Thursday.

Over 13 million Congolese need humanitarian aid, twice as many as last year, and 7.7 million face severe food insecurity, according to a UN report last month, as militia violence spikes across much of the country’s eastern borderlands.

eNCA

DRC opposition leader may be barred from elections over Italian citizenship

Moïse Katumbi, the most popular opposition leader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, may not be eligible to stand in presidential elections scheduled later this year after it was revealed that he had held Italian citizenship from October 2000 until January 2017.

The DRC’s attorney general said last week he had opened an investigation into allegations about Katumbi’s Italian nationality, first reported by Paris-based magazine Jeune Afrique.

Under Congo’s constitution, its nationals cannot hold dual citizenship and have to petition the government to regain their citizenship if they take up a foreign nationality.

The provision, however, is laxly enforced and many prominent politicians are believed to have second citizenships.

The Guardian

Somalia

UN security council condemns attack on AU mission in Somalia

The UN Security Council has condemned the attack perpetrated by the Al-Shabaab terrorist group against the Ugandan contingent of the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on April 1.

“The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security,” a statement said on Thursday.

The Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice.

The attack reportedly killed and injured a number of soldiers belonging to the AMISOM.

Today NG

Crisis Averted in Somalia’s Parliament, but Tensions Simmer

A dispute between the speaker of the Somali Parliament and the country’s president briefly threatened on Wednesday to turn violent, the latest development in a complex controversy over the proposed leasing of a major port to a company controlled by the United Arab Emirates.

Conflict was avoided, partly because of the efforts of an African Union soldier, but the dispute also highlighted the fragility of the federal government under the leadership of its new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known by the nickname Farmajo, who was elected last year in a process marred by corruption.

Mr. Mohamed leads a weak federal government that is trying to wield power and influence over six states, while the Shabab, an offshoot of Al Qaeda, regularly challenges its rule with acts of terrorism.

New York Times

Central African Republic

Central African Republic

Militias Kill Un Peacekeeper in Central African Republic; 21 Others Dead

Christian militias stormed a UN base in southern Central African Republic early on Monday, killing one peacekeeper and wounding 11, the United Nations said.

At around 5am, armed anti-balaka militants attacked the base in Tagbara, about 300km northeast of the capital Bangui, a UN statement said.

The ensuing gunfight lasted hours, and 22 anti-balaka were also killed, the statement said.

Later in the morning, peacekeepers discovered 21 dead civilians, including four children, near a church in Tagbara. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for those deaths.

EWN

Five Years On, Central African Republic Crisis Deepens

A UN official has called for a new approach to end the still-deepening crisis in the Central African Republic.

The situation in CAR has been deteriorating for five years now, and in the next six months may grow even worse, according to the head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in CAR, Joseph Inganji.

Speaking to World Watch Monitor last week, Mr Inganji called on “all actors to sit around the table to have a shared analysis and joint planning, in order to cut the vicious cycle of violence, and respond according to each other and everyone’s mandate”.

Sight Magazine

Sudan

Sudan prosecutor charges ex-PM of plotting ‘regime overthrow’: media

Sudan’s state security prosecutor has charged the country’s main opposition leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi, with collaborating with rebel groups to overthrow the regime of President Omar al-Bashir, a media network reported on Tuesday.

Bashir, backed by Islamists, toppled Mahdi’s civilian government in a 1989 coup after which the former prime minister’s Umma Party, Sudan’s main opposition group, has regularly campaigned against the policies of Bashir’s government.

“Sudan state security prosecutor has filed a criminal case against Sadiq al-Mahdi for collaborating with rebel groups for overthrowing the regime” of Bashir, said a report published by Sudan Media Centre, a network close to Sudan’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

News24

Bashir vows ‘war on corruption’ to revive Sudan economy

President Omar al-Bashir vowed on Monday to launch a “war on corruption” in a bid to revive Sudan’s ailing economy and curb food price rises.

In a strongly worded address to parliament, Bashir said a nexus between foreign currency traders, bankers and smugglers had damaged the economy, already weakened by US sanctions, conflicts and loss of oil revenues since a north-south split in 2011.

“It is clear to us that there is no shortage of foreign currency, but it is the illegal activities of currency dealers and gold and food smugglers that have impacted the economy,” Bashir told lawmakers.

News24

South Sudan

Continuing hostilities greatest challenge for South Sudan, says UN relief official

Speaking to UN News, Alain Noudehou, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, underscored that continuing hostilities remain the greatest challenge.

“People don’t feel secure […] they are not able to go back to their lands and they are not able to produce. They need to feel secure, not only in sense of physical protection but actually in the sense that they can go back to their lives,” he explained.

The world’s youngest country, South Sudan, gained independence in 2011.

 

However, it spent much of its short life mired in conflict, as what began as a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar erupted into full-blown war late in 2013.

In December last year, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country trade bloc in Africa, facilitated an agreement between the Government and opposing groups. The first phase of talks, formally called the High-Level Revitalisation Forum, was held in February this year.

UN News

‘Clear discrimination’: South Sudanese react to exclusion from migration program

South Sudanese-Australians say they are being discriminated against after being told they will no longer be able to privately sponsor refugees to come to Australia.

The Guardian revealed on Thursday morning that the Community Support Program (CSP), a minor element of Australia’s humanitarian migration program, was being essentially restricted to eight “priority resettlement” countries. Nationals of several other specific countries that were previously considered for supported resettlement, such as South Sudan, Somalia and Iran, are now excluded and will not be able to access the program.

The Guardian understands the priority countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Syria and Iraq.

The Guardian

Western Sahara

Morocco mulls ‘all options’ over its Western Sahara truce threat claim: minister

Morocco was considering “all options” if the United Nations does not address its accusations that the Polisario independence movement is threatening a 1991 ceasefire in the Western Sahara conflict, the foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Morocco claimed Western Sahara after colonial Spain left, but Polisario fought a guerrilla war for independence for the Sahrawi people until a U.N.-backed ceasefire, monitored by U.N. peacekeepers. The U.N. Security Council is due to renew the annual mandate for the peacekeeping mission later this month.

The region has effectively been split by an earthen wall separating an area controlled by Morocco that it claims as its southern provinces, and territory controlled by the Polisario with a U.N.-mandated buffer zone between them.

Reuters

UN chief urges restraint in dispute over Western Sahara

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement to refrain from actions that could affect the cease-fire in their 42-year conflict over the Western Sahara, pointing to an escalating dispute over a buffer zone.

 

In a report to the Security Council obtained on Monday by The Associated Press, Guterres calls on the Polisario Front to withdraw from Guerguerat in the buffer zone on the Morocco-Mauritanian border. He urges Morocco to reconsider its refusal to send an expert mission as part of the UN effort to address questions raised by the Guerguerat situation.

News24

Swaziland

The LGBT Heroes Fighting to Hold the First Ever Pride in Swaziland

In the last week of June, LGBT activists in Swaziland hope to make history by holding the African country’s first ever Pride march and festival.

Advocacy group The Rock of Hope told The Daily Beast it is in the process of submitting an application to march and then hold a picnic or gathering in a park in the city of Mbabne.

If it goes ahead, the history-making event will take place around the same time as many other Prides around the world, marking the anniversary of New York City’s Stonewall riots of 1969.

Male homosexuality is outlawed in the southern African country. An anti-sodomy law is still on the statute books, a British-rule hangover. LGBT couples cannot marry or adopt children.

The Daily Beast

King Wants Land Back from S. Africa

One of the newspapers of autocratic Swaziland King Mswati III is pressing for action for the kingdom to claim large parts of South Africa, including the capital Pretoria, for the Swazi people.

The Sunday Observer said (4 March 2018) ‘some Swazis’ believed now was the right time to reclaim land ‘lost’ to South Africa during the Colonial era.

The newspaper reported the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in South Africa, ‘successfully moved a motion of land expropriation without compensation, which has since sparked wide spread debate over Swaziland’s pursuit of reclaiming its lost land from South Africa.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s leader thanks China’s Xi, pledges to boost ties

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday for Beijing’s political support and pledged to strengthen ties with the Asian giant on his first visit since his dramatic rise to power last year.

Xi welcomed Mnangagwa to Beijing when they met following a formal welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People.

“You are an old friend of China and I appreciate your efforts to develop relations in all areas,” Xi said in opening remarks. Xi praised Mnangagwa’s efforts to “improve people’s lives” in Zimbabwe, though he did not go into specifics.

“As Zimbabwe’s good friend and partner, we are very happy about this,” Xi said.

Arab News

Zimbabwe to compel mining firms to list on local exchange

Zimbabwe wants mining companies operating in the country to list the majority of their shares on the local exchange, stirring uncertainty among investors as the nation with the world’s biggest platinum reserves after South Africa tries to bring in money to fix the economy.

“No mining right or title shall be granted or issued to a public company unless the majority of its shares are listed on a securities exchange in Zimbabwe,” the government said in the Mines and Minerals Bill before parliament, received by email on Thursday.

Companies that are seeking mining rights and already listed on a foreign bourse must notify the mines minister, and 85% of the funds from the local listing must be used exclusively to develop the local right, according to the bill.

News24

 

 

Africa in General

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia FMs meet over Nile dam impasse

Egyptian Foreign Minister has arrived in Sudan for a two-day visit to discuss a massive dam that Egypt fears will cut into its share of the Nile.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said Sameh Shoukry arrived on Wednesday at the meeting being attended by chiefs of intelligence and ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Zeid says the meeting will attempt to settle contentious issues over the so-called Renaissance Dam that Ethiopia is building over the Blue Nile River.

The meeting was scheduled in February but delayed amid anti-government protests in Ethiopia.

News24

Zambian ruling party members to vote against their president

Members of Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) have resolved to vote against President Edgar Lungu in the forthcoming impeachment motion in an effort to “teach” him a “life lesson”, the Zambian Observer reported on Monday.

Sixteen parliamentary members mostly from Luapula, Northern, Muchinga and Copperbelt complained of Lungu’s unreasonable behaviour and how they were being sidelined, during a meeting Sunday night.

However, the PF members also asserted that some members of the opposition were working in cahoots with State House to prevent the impeachment motion proceeding and that Haikende Haichilema, the leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), needed to know that not all of his parliamentary members could be trusted.

IOL

China’s Xi tells Zim’s Mnangagwa they should write ‘new chapter’ in ties

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday told President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe that they should work towards a new chapter in ties, during the African leader’s first state visit to China since he seized power last year.

Mnangagwa, who was sworn in as president in November after a de facto military coup ended Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule, has vowed to rebuild his country’s ravaged economy and re-engage with the international community.

China had considered Mugabe a “good friend” in a relationship dating back to its support for Zimbabwe’s independence war, but pointedly failed to support him when he was ousted.

“I’m willing to work with Mr President to jointly map out our future cooperation and write a new chapter in China-Zimbabwe relations for the benefit of our two peoples,” Xi said, during a meeting in Beijing.

IOL

Ghana will not offer military base to US: president

Ghana will not sign an agreement with Washington to set up a military base, President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Thursday.

The president confirmed in a television address that the two countries would ink a defence cooperation agreement but was emphatic that “Ghana has not offered a military base and will not offer a military base to the United States of America”.

His comments come after hundreds of people took to the streets of Accra, Ghana’s capital, last Wednesday to protest against a controversial military deal with Washington which was passed by parliament last week.

News24

 

 

News Briefs 30 March 2018

Civilians die as DRC troops and rebels fight

Ten civilians and a Ugandan militant died when Congolese troops clashed with rebels in the flashpoint town of Beni in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) troubled east, an army spokesman said on Wednesday.

The incident took place on Tuesday evening when rebels attacked military positions around Beni in North Kivu, Capt Mak Hazukay told AFP.

“We listed 10 dead civilians so far,” he said. A rebel from Uganda’s Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia was also killed, he said, adding that fighting was ongoing. Michel Kakule, the lead physician at Beni hospital, told AFP that some of the victims “had gunshot wounds while others had been attacked with machetes”.

Business Day

UN strengthens role of DR Congo mission in elections

The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously backed a resolution that tasks the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo with helping to prepare elections and avoid deadly violence.

France presented the measure that renews the mandate for MONUSCO, the UN’s biggest peacekeeping mission, until March 2019 and emphasizes the need to protect civilians as the DR Congo heads toward historic elections in December.

The resolution “underscores the need to do everything possible to ensure that the elections on 23 December 2018 are organized with the requisite conditions of transparency, credibility and inclusivity and security.”

The council requested that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres make plans for beefing up the peacekeeping mission if needed, “looking at all options” such as sending reinforcements from other missions.

Guterres will report to the council in 90 days on the contingency planning.

Times Live

Somalia

At least 3 hurt as bomb explodes near aid office in Somalia

Somali police say at least three people are wounded after a bomb attached to their vehicle exploded near the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the capital, Mogadishu.

Officer Abdifitah Ahmed confirms that the bomb went off shortly after the three left in the vehicle from a parking lot next to the ICRC office on Wednesday.

The ICRC says it is “shocked and deeply troubled” that one of its staffers was hurt.

The police officer says one victim is in critical condition while the other two are lightly wounded.

News24

Somalia calls for UN action against UAE base in Berbera

Somalia has urged the United Nations Security Council to take action against the construction of a United Arab Emirates (UAE) military base in Somaliland.

Speaking at the Security Council on Tuesday, Abukar Osman, Somalia’s ambassador to the UN, said the agreement between Somaliland and the UAE to establish the base in the port city of Berbera is a “clear violation of international law”.

Osman also called on the Security Council to “take the necessary steps” to “put an end to these actions”.

“The Federal Government of Somalia strongly condemns these blatant violations and reaffirms that it will take the necessary measures deriving from its primary responsibility to defend the inviolability of the sovereignty and the unity of Somalia,” he added.

Aljazeera

Central African Republic

Scores Killed in Renewed CAR Rebellion

AN unspecified number of people, including a Catholic priest and children, have been killed after a clash between rival rebel groups in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The deadly confrontation between the Christian extremist Anti-Balaka and elements of the Movement for Unity and Peace in CAR (UPC) has occurred in the village of Tagbara, located 70km from Bambari in the centre of the troubled country.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) said the fighting also resulted in several injuries and a significant displacement of the civilian population. Houses were burned and property ransacked.

AllAfrica

Six Aid Workers Killed in Central African Republic Attack

A Unicef employee and five other education workers were killed this week in an attack in the Central African Republic, the United Nations children’s fund said in a statement on Wednesday.

The attack took place on 25 February as the group was travelling to the northeastern town of Markounda, located in a remote region near the Chadian border. Unicef declined to immediately give the nationalities of those killed.

“We strongly condemn this senseless act against aid workers who were there to improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations,” Unicef’s West and Central Africa Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier said in the statement.

The agency said it was not yet in a position to release more details on the incident.

EWN

Sudan

Sudan extends ceasefire for another three months

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday announced a three-month extension of an ongoing ceasefire in conflict-prone parts of the country, according to the Sudan News Agency (SUNA).

It is the sixth such extension since mid-2016, when the ceasefire first came into effect between the Sudanese government and a handful of rebel groups.

According to a presidential decree issued on Wednesday, the ceasefire will remain in force until June 30.

The truce applies to Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, along with the western Darfur region.

AA

US sanctions lift paves way for Sudan’s e-commerce entrepreneurs

Sudan is opening up to the internet economy, thanks to the easing of US sanctions.

The country has experienced a growth in e-commerce businesses, such as online shopping platforms and an Uber-style taxi app Mishwar.

According to the most recent data from Internet World Stats, internet users made up 29% of the population in 2016 — a notable rise from the 9.3% in 2009.

This number is expected to boom even further as Sudan’s young e-commerce entrepreneurs drive customers out of the shops and into the online marketplace.

“The reason why e-trade at large is a new phenomenon is that we’ve been allowed to get in touch with the world once again,” said Yousif Ahmed El Tinay, CEO of Sudan’s United Capital Bank.

CNN

South Sudan

South Sudan peace not around the corner: first vice president

South Sudan’s First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai Wednesday has expressed doubt that peace was around the corner, saying differences between the armed and non-armed opposition were huge and wide

“Some people say peace is around the corner. I would say it is not. The gap between what the government proposes as the way to resolving the current situation and what the opposition is proposing is huge and wide. It is difficult to close,” said Taban Deng Gai in a statement broadcast by the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation.

Gai was speaking at a political function organized by his faction under the theme ‘give peace a chance’ attended by high-level delegates including Minister of Public Service and Dhieu Mathok, head of the Youth league, who underlined the importance of peace and security in governance.

The South Sudanese former rebel chief negotiator who turned an ally of the incumbent president made his remarks after a decision by the IGAD countries to end the confinement of the former First Vice President Riek Machar in South Africa and to bring to a country that has no direct border with South Sudan.

Sudan Tribune

IGAD to end house arrest of South Sudan’s Riek Machar

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg. He is isolated from his friends and family and has been frozen out of South Sudan’s peace process.

The IGAD’s communique issued following its 61st Extra-Ordinary Session held on Monday in Addis Ababa, said it would release Dr. Machar as soon as possible if he would agree to renounce violence, not obstruct the peace process and relocate to any country “outside the region not neighbouring South Sudan.”

Dr. Machar’s wife described the conditional “lifting of house arrest” as unfair.

“If you read it carefully, actually, there is no lifting of any house arrest. Because what they said is very clear that they will transfer him from where he is now, which is South Africa, to another location that is not in the region, and that would not be in any proximity with South Sudan, ’Angelina Teny, Machar’s wife said, who is also a senior opposition member.

Africa News

Western Sahara

AU Ready to Settle Western Sahara Dispute

The African Union is ready to propose a settlement to the decades-long Western Sahara dispute.

This is unsettling Morocco, the newest member of the continental organisation. Morocco has been illegally occupying its neighbour since 1975.

Morocco has expressed its displeasure at AU commissioner Moussa Faki leading a delegation to the region to prepare a Western Sahara solution.

When Morocco joined the AU last year, it was expected it would be pressed to keep its 30-year promise to hold a referendum, which will allow the people of Western Sahara to decide on their future.

EWN

UN presses on with bid to restart Western Sahara talks

The UN Security Council on Wednesday told the peace envoy for Western Sahara to press on with talks on relaunching negotiations to settle the dispute over the North African territory.

Horst Koehler met with the council behind closed doors to report on his meetings with representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania as well as the Polisario Front seeking independence for Western Sahara.

Council members expressed “their full support” for Koehler’s diplomatic efforts to “relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit,” said the council president, Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom.

News24

Swaziland

Workers Sacked for Joining Union

Trade unionists in Swaziland are reporting that a textile factory has sacked workers for wanting to join a union.

The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) said Taiwanese-owned company Far East Textiles in Matsapha also threatened to stop workers’ pay and closed down a factory.

In a statement circulated on social media on Thursday (22 March 2018) ATUSWA said, ‘Just for joining our organization and for showing interest to join ATUSWA the company unleashed terror to the workers by threatening not to pay their wages, closing down the factory and dismissing those suspected to have joined the union.’

It added the company tried to coerce workers to beat up union officials and organisers and when they would not it sent management to take photographs of all those seen interacting with the union.

AllAfrica

King in Total Control of His Kingdom

The Swaziland Attorney-General’s announcement that the conflict within the three arms of government in the kingdom is ‘normal’ and there cannot be a separation of powers between them is irrelevant because all power rests with the absolute monarch, King Mswati III.

The political structure in Swaziland exists only to deliver on the King’s wishes. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections, the prime minister and government ministers are appointed by the King and the monarch is above the Constitution.

Attorney-General Sifiso Khumalo made his comments because for many years there has been conflict in Swaziland between the three branches of government: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. In simple terms, the executive is responsible for the day-to-day running of government and is headed by the prime minister. The legislature is parliament made up of the House of Assembly and the Senate and is responsible for enacting and amending the law and controlling the money necessary to operate the government. The judiciary interprets and makes judgements about the law.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe minister vows upcoming elections will be free and fair

The highly-anticipated Zimbabwe’s first presidential elections in the post-Robert Mugabe era will be credible, free and fair, the country’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo said on Monday.

“Zimbabwe is preparing for harmonised elections around July or August, and we believe that the election is going to be free and fair … a credible election. We have allowed anybody who wants to observe our elections to come in so that they can really see for themselves,” Moyo said speaking to journalists in Pretoria on the sidelines of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers.

“The winner is going to be the winner — without any limitations. We are saying everybody (should) come and observe. We are saying, the benchmark we are going to be using is the SADC guidelines for elections. That’s what everybody must use. SADC is where we belong, that is why we are here.”

IOL

Credibility of Zimbabwe’s first post-Mugabe vote is on the line

As Zimbabwe prepares to hold its first election since Robert Mugabe was toppled after almost four decades in power, a key question is whether the government can accomplish something he failed to do: oversee a free vote.

Whether the election due before September 1 is regarded as fair may determine the success of efforts by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe as president in November, to attract investment to revive an economy that has halved in size since 2000. The government is keen to kick-start the nation’s stagnant mining and agriculture industries.

The main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, is threatening to disrupt the vote unless the government institutes procedural and legal reforms. It wants access to the voters’ roll, equal air time in the media and guarantees the security forces will allow it to campaign freely. Mnangagwa has pledged to hold a legitimate election and says international observers are welcome.

Moneyweb

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africa in General

UN Security Council makes ‘historic’ warning on climate threat to Somalia

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has formally recognised climate change as a destabilising factor in Somalia.

In a resolution adopted on Tuesday as part of a renewed mandate for assistance and peacekeeping in the country, the council noted “the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural disasters among other factors on the stability of Somalia, including through drought, desertification, land degradation, and food insecurity”.

The council emphasised the need for peacekeepers and governments working in Somalia to be better prepared to cope with complications arising from climate impacts.

The links between climate change and insecurity have been emerging on the ground and in the halls of diplomacy.

Climate Change News

SADC prepares for Zimbabwe, DRC elections

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Tuesday said it was gearing up to support the holding of highly anticipated presidential elections in its member states — Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At the conclusion of a SADC Council of Ministers summit in Pretoria on Tuesday evening, Executive Secretary of the regional block Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the much needed support will be afforded to the two nations, and advance observer missions had already visited Harare and Kinshasa.

“How we support our sister countries is that we observe elections. In both cases we have sent and undertaken our advance missions. Those missions assess the preparedness of the country, and that was done in the DRC and also in Zimbabwe,” said Tax.

“The next phase will be to observe elections. We have already been invited for Zimbabwe. We are waiting to be invited for the DRC. The invitation will come depending on the electoral calendar. As you are aware, elections in DRC take place on the 23rd of December so we still have time to get the invitation.”

IOL

Ethiopia’s Ruling Coalition Approves Abiye Ahmed As Prime Minister

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition voted in Abiye Ahmed as new prime minister on Tuesday following the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn last month, the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said.

The state-run channel said the 180-member council of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) chose Abiye to succeed Hailemariam as the chairperson of the coalition, meaning he automatically became premier.

“In today’s session, the council held a vote and elected Abiye Ahmed as chairperson,” said the EBC presenter, without giving further details.

State-affiliated outlets said Abiye won over 60% of all votes in the council.

EWN

Zambian parliament delays debate on motion to impeach president

Zambia’s parliament has delayed a debate due on Wednesday on a motion seeking to impeach President Edgar Lungu over accusations of breaching the constitution, according to a letter from the parliamentary clerk seen by Reuters.

Zambia’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND), filed a motion last week. The notice set Wednesday as the date for the lawmakers’ debate and vote on the motion.

“In view of the gravity of the motion, the same is being studied and we shall revert to you in due course,” said the letter sent on Monday from the Clerk of the National Assembly to Garry Nkombo, UPND parliamentary Chief Whip who filed the motion.

UPND spokesman Charles Kakoma said the motion would now not be debated until parliament’s next session begins in June. Signed by a third of the 166-member house, the motion needs the backing of two thirds to succeed.

IOL

 

News Briefs 23 March 2018

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN warns of ‘catastrophic’ aid crisis in DRC

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/un-warns-of-catastrophic-aid-crisis-in-drc-20180323

A humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is worsening and has reached catastrophic levels in some parts of the country, with millions facing severe hunger, the UN Security Council warned on Thursday.

At least 13.1 million Congolese are in need of humanitarian aid including 7.7 million who are severely food insecure, said a unanimous statement from the top UN body.

The humanitarian crisis has been compounded by a doubling over the past year of the number of Congolese fleeing violence in the country who now total close to 4.4 million.

Council members “expressed great concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, which has reached catastrophic levels in some parts of the country”, said the statement.

News24

Uncertainty Surrounds the Upcoming Election in the Democratic Republic of Congo

https://globalvoices.org/2018/03/22/uncertainty-surrounds-the-upcoming-election-in-the-democratic-republic-of-congo/

For nearly two years, President Joseph Kabila’s regime has managed to cling to power in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) despite pressure from the country’s opposition and the international community. Now, to prevent a crisis, these groups are pushing the president to accept the holding of presidential elections. Under the 2006 constitution, the President is directly elected to a five-year term – renewable only once. The first President to have been elected under these provisions is incumbent president Joseph Kabila in the 2006 elections. Elections should have been held since 2016 but Kabila has pushed back on organizing them.

Kabila’s refusal to step down has numerous analysts concerned that the situation in the DRC could degenerate. The mounting opposition has denounced the state of political stagnation and continued its mobilization efforts. On February 25, a march in the streets of the capital Kinshasa was organized by the Lay Coordination Committee (“Comité laïc de coordination”, or CLC in French). Leading opposition politician Moîse Katumbi, currently in exile in Brussels, called on Congolese “lovers of justice and peace” to join the movement.

Authorities cracked down hard on the peaceful, multi-religious march; three people were shot and killed by the forces of order. An infant is on the brink of death after inhaling tear gas. For Women’s Day on March 8, women dressed in black to “honor the martyrs of democracy, fallen under the bullets of Kabila’s police.”

Global Voices

Somalia

Deadly car bomb blast rocks Somalia’s capital Mogadishu

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/car-bomb-blast-rocks-somalia-capital-mogahishu-180322142101528.html

At least 14 people have been killed in a car bomb blast outside a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, according to a government official.

The explosion on Thursday happened near Weheliye hotel on the busy Maka Al-Mukarrama Road.

A spokesman for the Somali interior ministry confirmed the death toll to Al Jazeera, adding that 10 others were wounded in the blast.

Witnesses at the scene said the powerful blast struck a street filled with civilians.

“Most of the casualties are … people who were spending time to take tea, there was devastation and buildings were damaged,” Mohamednur Abdirahman told AFP News Agency.

Aljazeera

UN office seeks proposals for solar energy enterprises

https://www.esi-africa.com/somalia-un-office-seeks-proposals-for-solar-energy-enterprises/

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Somalia office solicits proposals for solar energy enterprise development in Mogadishu, Kismayo and Baidoa.

Any proposal submitted will be regarded as an offer by the bidder and does not constitute or imply the acceptance of any proposal by UNDP.

In responding to this request for proposal (RFP), UNDP requires all interested bidders to conduct themselves in a professional, objective and impartial manner, and they must at all times hold UNDP’s interest’s paramount.

Eligible bidders must strictly avoid conflicts with other assignments or their own interests, and act without consideration for future work.

ESI-Africa

Central African Republic

Half the population needs aid

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/central-african-republic-population-aid-180223142253981.html

The United Nations is appealing to the international community to help with humanitarian efforts in the Central African Republic.

The agency says half the population requires urgent assistance.

Fighting between various armed groups plunged the country into civil conflict in 2013, and the violence is spreading fast with many groups involved in the fighting.

Aljazeera

1 Unicef worker, 5 others killed in Central African Republic

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/1-unicef-worker-5-others-killed-in-central-african-republic-20180228

A United Nations children’s agency staffer and five other education workers have been killed in an attack in Central African Republic, the UN agency said on Wednesday.

The team came under attack Sunday while traveling near Markounda, a remote northwestern area near the border with Chad.

“We strongly condemn this senseless act against aid workers who were there to improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations,” said Unicef’s West and Central Africa regional director, Marie-Pierre Poirier.

The Unicef said it has no further details.

News24

Sudan

Egypt, Sudan presidents agree to patch up differences

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/egypt-sudan-presidents-agree-to-patch-up-differences-20180319

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hosted his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir for talks in Cairo on Monday, with the pair pledging to boost cooperation after tensions between their neighbouring countries.

Bashir’s visit comes two weeks after the reinstatement of Sudan’s ambassador to Cairo following his recall to Khartoum in January.

Ties deteriorated between Egypt and Sudan last year when Bashir accused Egypt’s intelligence services of supporting opposition forces fighting his troops in the country’s conflict zones like Darfur.

One bone of contention is Egypt’s administration of the Halayeb triangle, in a mineral-rich border area near the Red Sea, which Sudan claims as its own.

“We reiterate the eternal brotherly relations and common links that unite the two peoples of the Nile valley,” Sisi said in a televised news conference following a meeting with Bashir.

News24

Russia’s Putin accepts Bashir invitation to Sudan

https://www.enca.com/africa/russias-putin-accepts-bashir-invitation-to-sudan

Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted an invitation from his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir to visit the North African country, Sudan’s state news agency said on Thursday.

Putin, fresh from an election victory granting him his fourth term and extending his leadership of Russia by six years, called Bashir on Thursday to discuss bilateral relations, SUNA said.

Bashir congratulated Putin who affirmed his country’s commitment to investing in Sudan’s energy, oil, gas, and gold mining sectors.

“The president extended an invitation to the Russian president to visit Sudan and discuss developing relations and building a strategic partnership and Putin accepted the invitation,” SUNA said. It provided no date for the visit.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region, and is mostly shunned by Western leaders.

eNCA

South Sudan

US targets South Sudan oil firms with sanctions

https://www.enca.com/africa/us-targets-south-sudan-oil-firms-with-sanctions

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on 15 South Sudanese oil operators that it said were important sources of cash for the government, an action aimed at increasing pressure on President Salva Kiir to end the country’s conflict and humanitarian crisis.

The companies and government bodies would in future require special licenses to do business in the United States, the State Department said.

“The South Sudanese Government, and corrupt official actors, use this revenue to purchase weapons and fund irregular militias that undermine the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan,” the department said in a statement.

The groups on the list “are involved in activities that are contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States,” according to a related Department of Commerce document published on Wednesday.

The South Sudanese government was not immediately available to comment.

eNCA

South Sudan’s economy is among the victims of the conflict

http://www.dw.com/en/south-sudans-economy-is-among-the-victims-of-the-conflict/a-43062383

As the armed conflict rages on, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir is looking for ways to revive the economy. The solution he came up with was to replace the finance minister. But will that help?

Economists say the reason South Sudan’s economy is in disarray is instability. The only way to revive the economy, they argue, is to restore peace and stability, thereby giving production a chance and encouraging investors to come back to the country.

Last week, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir sacked and immediately replaced his long serving Finance Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau with Salvatore Garang, himself a formerly sacked undersecretary at the finance ministry. Kiir said at the time that a change in the leadership of the finance ministry will help the economy along.  At the swearing-in ceremony of his new minister he said: “We have lost the value of our currency and there is nothing that we can do soon to gain the value of our currency unless we produce. This is a challenge that is ahead of you and you must think very hard on how to get out of this.”

Deutsche Welle

Western Sahara

UN presses on with bid to restart Western Sahara talks

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/un-presses-on-with-bid-to-restart-western-sahara-talks-20180322

The UN Security Council on Wednesday told the peace envoy for Western Sahara to press on with talks on relaunching negotiations to settle the dispute over the North African territory.

Horst Koehler met with the council behind closed doors to report on his meetings with representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania as well as the Polisario Front seeking independence for Western Sahara.

Council members expressed “their full support” for Koehler’s diplomatic efforts to “relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit,” said the council president, Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom.

News24

AU READY TO SETTLE WESTERN SAHARA DISPUTE

http://ewn.co.za/2018/03/22/au-ready-to-settle-western-sahara-dispute

The African Union is ready to propose a settlement to the decades-long Western Sahara dispute.

This is unsettling Morocco, the newest member of the continental organisation. Morocco has been illegally occupying its neighbour since 1975.

Morocco has expressed its displeasure at AU commissioner Moussa Faki leading a delegation to the region to prepare a Western Sahara solution.

When Morocco joined the AU last year, it was expected it would be pressed to keep its 30-year promise to hold a referendum, which will allow the people of Western Sahara to decide on their future.

EWN

Swaziland

Fraud At Swazi Deputy PM’s Office

http://allafrica.com/stories/201803210290.html

The Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in Swaziland is in a financial mess; money is given to those who do not deserve it and withheld from those who do, overtime payments have been made fraudulently and rents not collected.

This is contained in the annual report of the Auditor General.

The DPM Office oversees the kingdom’s national policy that supports effect delivery of Government services, ‘through a well-coordinated decentralized system with a special emphasis on a comprehensive social welfare system, gender mainstreaming, children issues as well as proactive disaster preparedness’, according to the report.

Disability grants

The report which covers the year ending March 2017 stated there are no working guidelines on how to award disability grants yet the DPM’s Office gave out of E12.46 million (about US$1 million) to the three years ending March 2016.

AllAfrica

MPs Say Anti-Corruption Body ‘Corrupt’

http://allafrica.com/stories/201803220198.html

Members of Parliament in Swaziland have suspended the budget of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) because they say the organisation is itself corrupt.

They want a select committee to investigate alleged wrongdoings. They blocked a budget of E13.1 million (US$109,000) until a report is delivered. The ACC comes under the Ministry for Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

It happened at the Swazi House of Assembly on Friday (16 March 2018). The Observer on Saturday reported MPs were concerned that the contract for ACC Commissioner Thanda Mngwengwe expired at the end of January 2018 but he still seemed to be at work and using a Mercedes Benz ML worth E1.2 million supplied by the ACC, plus a rented car.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

UN throws its support behind Zimbabwe elections

https://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/un-throws-its-support-behind-zimbabwe-elections-20180318

The United Nations on Saturday threw its support behind new elections in Zimbabwe set for July and urged the government to kickstart the African nation’s economy as an “urgent priority”.

Achim Steiner, administrator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was in Harare as part of a three-day trip that saw him meet Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“UNDP is committed to continue supporting the preparatory process for the elections and economic recovery efforts,” Steiner told reporters.

Presidential polls are due by the end of August, when Mnangagwa will face his first major test after taking over from long-time strongman Robert Mugabe, who resigned in November after four decades in office.

News24

Zimbabwe signs $4,2-billion platinum deal to transform mining sector

https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/business/2018-03-22-zimbabwe-signs-42-billion-platinum-deal-to-transform-mining-sector/

A Cypriot investor signed a $4.2 billion deal on Thursday to develop a platinum mine and refinery in Zimbabwe, an investment that President Emmerson Mnangagwa said showed the country was “open for business”.

Signing the agreement with Cyprus-based Karo Resources, Mines Minister Winston Chitando said work would start in July, with the first output of platinum group metals expected in 2020, aiming to reach 1,4-million ounces annually within three years.

Located in the Mhondoro-Ngezi platinum belt, west of Harare, where Impala Platinum Holdings has operations, the project will include a coal mine and power station to produce electricity for the smelter, and should employ 15,000 people when fully implemented, according to Karo head Loucas Pourolis.

TimesLive

 

 

Africa in General

Russia provides free military aid to Central African Republic — Foreign Ministry

http://tass.com/defense/995674

Moscow has provided free military aid to the Central African Republic at the country’s government’s request, Russian Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Artyom Kozhin said on Thursday.

“At the request of the Central African Republic’s president, Russia decided to provide the country with free military aid,” he said. According to him, with the consent of the United Nations Security Council committee, the Russian Defense Ministry handed a batch of small arms and ammunition to the armed forces of the Central African Republic and sent five military and 170 civilian instructors to train the country’s military servicemen.

Kozhin stressed that the aid “is provided in strict compliance with the UN Security Council’s sanctions” imposed on Central African Republic. “Russia has been providing aid in line with the global community’s efforts aimed at strengthening the Central African Republic’s security forces, handing full security responsibility over to them and finding a sustainable solution to the prolonged internal armed conflict,” he added.

Tass

South African peacekeepers in DR Congo face paternity claims – UN

https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/south-african-peacekeepers-in-dr-congo-face-paternity-claims-un-20180320

Five peacekeepers from South Africa face allegations of sexually exploiting women in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are now seeking child support, a United Nations spokesperson said on Tuesday.

One of the cases involves a minor who was allegedly sexually abused when the incidents took place between 2014 and 2016 in North and South Kivu.

“All five incidents involve paternity and child support claims,” said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

The latest allegations surfaced a month after South African troops were accused of beating a 17-year-old boy in the Kasai region and sexually exploiting women in North Kivu.

News24

‘Disband compromised Zim electoral body and allow UN to supervise vote,’ govt told

https://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/disband-compromised-zim-electoral-body-and-allow-un-to-supervise-vote-govt-told-20180323

Zimbabwe’s trade union umbrella body has reportedly called on government to “disband” the country’s electoral body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), and “allow the United Nations to supervise” the upcoming general elections.

According to New Zimbabwe.com, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), said this following the recent trip to Russia by ZEC’s chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumbu in the company of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s special advisor Chris Mtsvangwa.

The trip was meant to “observe” the eastern European country’s just ended presidential election.

But, the ZCTU’s secretary general Japhet Moyo expressed concern, saying that the trip had since compromised the credibility of the forthcoming elections.

News24

Ramaphosa signs declaration on African free trade region

https://www.fin24.com/Economy/sa-signs-african-free-trade-agreement-20180321

South Africa is one of 44 African countries to sign a declaration on establishing a free trade region in Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Kigali Declaration on the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the Assembly of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda on Wednesday.

The Presidency tweeted that the signing of the declaration by Ramaphosa is subject to the conclusion of all outstanding issues that form an integral part of the agreement.

AFP reported that the signing of the agreement establishing a free trade area is seen as vital to the continent’s economic development, according to the head of the African Union.

“The agreement establishing the CfTA was signed by 44 countries,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU commission.

News24

 

News Briefs 16 March 2018

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Dozens killed in DR Congo’s Ituri province

Ethnic strife in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed dozens of lives in recent days, according to officials.

Local civil society leader Jean Bosco Lalu told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that at least 40 people had been killed in ethnic violence between Hema herders and Lendu farmers in Ituri province in the last 48 hours.

A government official said they had recorded 30 deaths, AFP news agency said.

“There are certainly other bodies out in the bush. A search is under way,” a government official told AFP.

Aljazeera

Exiled DR Congo opposition leader launches presidency bid

Exiled Congolese opposition leader Moise Katumbi launched a campaign Monday to be elected president in polls scheduled for December, unveiling his new “Together for Change” party in South Africa.

“We will fight the battle to take power – and we will win,” said Katumbi at a meeting of several hundred supporters at a hotel outside Johannesburg.

“This fight and the successful transfer of power are national issues… so we have decided to establish a political movement known as ‘Together for Change’.”

Democratic Republic of Congo’s election was originally scheduled for late 2016, but has been twice delayed, leading to unrest in the vast mineral-rich country.

eNCA

Somalia

Gambia, Somalia human rights strides praised by U.N.

The Gambia and Somalia were up for praise during a recent address to the Human Rights Council delivered by the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zei Ra’ad Al Hussein.

In his March 7, 2018 address, Hussein bemoaned how over a dozen Africa countries were flagrantly violating rights of citizens – be it the media, opposition groups, activists etc.

He however reserved praise for The Gambia in the wake of a freeze on death penalty and Somalia for government’s efforts to protect rights of citizens.

 

“I commend The Gambia for its announcement of a moratorium on the death penalty last month.

Africa News

Somalia parliament rejects Somaliland’s Berbera port deal with DP World, Ethiopia

Somalia’s lower house of parliament on Monday backed the federal government’s rejection of the Berbera port deal entered into by semi-autonomous Somaliland, Ethiopia and DP World.

A Voice of America journalist, Harun Maruf, reported that the lower house had voted to reject the deal through a landslide with 168 of the 170 lawmakers nullifying all agreements between the United Arab Emirates-based company and Somaliland.

DP World have reached agreements with Somaliland over the Berbera and Bosaso ports but with the Monday vote – both deals are “null and void.” If the Upper House reaches a similar decision the President will sign it into law.

Africa News

Central African Republic

Militia commits mass rape in Central African Republic: MSF

Militia fighters attacked, kidnapped and then raped en masse a large group of women in an isolated area of Central African Republic last month, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Thursday.

The medical charity treated 10 survivors of the Feb. 17 violence near Kiriwiri, a village in the country’s northwest. Fearing further attacks if they tried to reach a hospital, the women were unable to seek medical treatment until about two weeks later, it said.

Many other victims remained behind, fearing that, as rape victims, they would be stigmatised in their community.

“Some were totally in shock, others paralysed by fear or unable to talk about the incident. Some of the women had open wounds caused by blades,” said Soulemane Amoin, a midwife at the hospital in the town of Bossangoa where the women were treated.

eNCA

Central African bishop accuses U.N. forces of rape, abuse

A Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic accused U.N. peacekeeping troops of sexual abuse in his diocese and warned they could be guilty of crimes against humanity.

“Women are selling their bodies to the Blue Helmets out of desperation,” said Bishop Juan Aguirre Munoz of Bangassou.

“Many are doing this to avoid dying of hunger, and some of the abused are minors. When I asked their mothers what happened, they sank their heads.”

The bishop spoke while staying in his native Spain on U.N. advice after his diocesan vicar general narrowly survived a machete attack.

In an interview with Madrid’s Alfa y Omega Catholic weekly, he said up to 2,000 Muslims had been sheltering in the seminary adjoining Bangassou’s Catholic cathedral, protected by peacekeepers, since a wave of anti-Muslim violence in May 2017 left dozens dead.

National Catholic Reporter

Sudan

UAE offers $1.4bn in aid to Sudan: state media

The United Arab Emirates has offered $1.4 billion to Sudan’s central bank to help Khartoum tackle an acute foreign exchange crisis, the official Sudanese news agency reported Tuesday.

The Sudanese pound has weakened against the dollar in recent months on the black market amid a shortage of hard foreign currency, in turn forcing the central bank to devalue the pound this year.

“President Omar al-Bashir has been informed by the UAE that it is giving Sudan 4 billion dirhams… as a central bank deposit to help support the country’s foreign currency reserves,” the official SUNA news agency reported.

The report did not provide further details on the aid.

News24

Sudan orders media to stop ‘attacking’ Egypt

Following a meeting between Egyptian and Sudanese intelligence, Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has directed the country’s newspapers to stop their hostile media campaign against Egypt, the Sudan Tribune reported.

The NISS media department circulated a memo directing newspaper editors to avoid raising controversial issues affecting the relationship between the two countries.

Egyptian-Sudanese relations have been strained over various issues including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the dispute on the border area of Halayeb, and mutual recriminations of supporting terrorism by the other side.

eNCA

South Sudan

UN urged to boost civilians’ protection efforts in South Sudan

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) must boost efforts to protect civilians against the senseless violence that has plagued the country for over four years and publicly report on the human rights situation, Amnesty International said.

The UN mission in South Sudan plays a crucial role in providing much-needed civilian protection, and timely public reporting on the human rights situation in the country.

“With the continuing conflict and associated human rights violations in South Sudan, the possibility of civilians returning to their homes or being resettled remains remote. The Protection of Civilians (POC) sites are truly life-saving for hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of protection,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan runs out of cash

South Sudan has run out of cash and the economy will not be fixed unless the ongoing civil war is brought to a halt.

President Salva Kiir openly admitted as much on Wednesday and acknowledged that peace and stability had to return to the country in order for investors and other money-generating activities to resume.

The South Sudanese leader attributed the cause of being a cash-strapped nation to the war sparked by the power struggle which has ended in a more than four-year conflict with no resolution in sight despite global and regional efforts to salvage the situation, the Sudan Tribune reported.

Kiir made his comments during the swearing-in process of new finance minister following the sacking of predecessor Stephen Dhieu Dau earlier in the week.

IOL

Western Sahara

President Brahim Gali calls UN to urgently stop the organization of so-called Forum of Crans Montana in the occupied Dakhla

he President of the Republic, Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO, Mr. Brahim Gali, called on the United Nations to stop the organization of the so-called Crans Montana Forum in occupied Dakhla, calling this act a provocation that would undermine the efforts of the United Nations led by it Personal Envoy President Horst Koehler in his letter to His Excellency ,Secretary General of the United Nation, Mr. Antonio Guterres

“I am writing to draw the attention of your Excellency to the Moroccan state’s insistence to organize, yet again, another so-called Forum of Crans Montana, from the 15th to the 20th of March, in the occupied city of Dakhla, Western Sahara.” Gali says in his letter to UNSG

President Brahim Gali also went on saying that “The Frente Polisario strongly condemns this new provocative act and calls for your urgent intervention to convince Morocco stop this provocation that undermines the efforts of the United Nations led by your Personal Envoy, President Horst Kohler.”

Sahara Press Service

EU-Morocco fishing deal: US Western Sahara Foundation welcomes ECJ decision

US Western Sahara Foundation welcomed Friday the European Court of Justice’s ruling on the European Union’s fishing agreement with Morocco, stating that it does not apply to Western Sahara and reaffirming Saharawi people’s inalienable right to self-determination.

“US Western Sahara Foundation welcomes European Court of Justice’s recent ruling on the EU-Morocco’s fishing agreement,” the foundation’s chairwoman Suzanne Scholte said, adding that “Once again, we see courts reaffirming the October 16, 1975 ruling by the International Court of Justice which denies Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.”

Scholte said the United States does not recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara, noting that the occupied Saharawi territories are excluded from US-Moroccan free trade agreement signed in 2004.

Sahara Press Service

Swaziland

U.S. Ambassador Encourages Parties

Democracy advocates in Swaziland should put forward policies that would attract people to support political parties, the US Ambassador to the kingdom said.

Explaining why political parties were needed was not enough, Lisa Peterson told a meeting on multiparty democracy, good governance and human rights at the Happy Valley Hotel, Ezulwini, on Saturday (10 March 2018).

Peterson said a poll conducted in 2015 by Afrobarometer had suggested about 36 percent of those questioned supported political parties in Swaziland.

King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the Prime Minister and senior ministers. Advocates for democracy continue to be arrested under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

AllAfrica

MPs Block Swazi State-Radio Funds

Members of parliament have blocked funding to state-controlled radio in Swaziland because they say they are not being allowed on air.

One said the stations under the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS) were being used for ‘character assassination’.

Nkwene MP Sikhumbuzo Dlamini told the House of Assembly SBIS had been used to assassinate his character as a member of parliament.

The Swazi Observer newspaper, which is itself in effect owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported on Tuesday (13 March 2018), ‘He said the national radio station was used to tell people how he was evil and disrespectful. The message was sent to the people in a way to de-campaign him. He strongly blamed the editors at SBIS for disseminating news meant to humiliate him.’

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Activist abduction ‘dark shadow’ on Zimbabwe: Western envoys

Dozens of Zimbabweans protested Friday as Harare-based Western diplomats called on the new government to investigate the abduction three years ago of a rights activist and firebrand critic of ex-ruler Robert Mugabe.

Itai Dzamara, who was also a journalist, was kidnapped by five men as he left a barbershop near his home in Harare in 2015. He has not been seen since then.

In a statement, European Union and top US diplomats encouraged “the new administration to ensure that human rights violations are tackled decisively and transparently, to shed light on Mr Dzamara’s fate and to serve justice”.

“His disappearance remains a dark shadow on the new horizon for Zimbabwe,” they said on the anniversary of Dzamara’s abduction

He had led anti-government protests in a public park in the capital, overlooking parliament, vowing to not stop until Mugabe stepped down.

The Citizen

Mugabe acolyte forms new Zimbabwe political party to challenge Mnangagwa

A retired Zimbabwean general and acolyte of ex-president Robert Mugabe has formed a political party to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the polls later this year, the new grouping said on Monday.

Mugabe, 94, was forced to step down last November following a de facto military coup. Sources close to the former leader say he is bitter over his departure after 37 years in office and has given his support to the New Patriotic Front (NFP) party.

Ambrose Mutinhiri, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war, quit the ruling ZANU-PF party and gave up his parliamentary seat last Friday, then met Mugabe on Sunday to brief him about the latest developments, an NPF statement said.

CNBC Africa

 

 

 

 

Africa in General

Egypt’s foreign minister in South Sudan to boost relations

Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir in the capital, Juba, on Monday to encourage an end to the country’s civil war and to give assistance in health and education.

South Sudan is well into its fifth year of fighting and the conflict, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, shows no signs of ending.

“Egypt has been a steadfast supporter of the people of South Sudan in their darkest of hours,” said Mayiik Ayii Deng, South Sudanese Cabinet minister in the president’s office.

News24

Ethiopia, Sudan to develop nuclear power with the help of Russia

Ethiopia recently signed an agreement with Russia to set up nuclear technology to help power the Horn of Africa country.

The agreement was signed last week during the visit of the Russian foreign affairs minister, Sergey Lavrov who met Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu in Addis Ababa.

“We agreed to strengthen economic, trade and investment relations between the two countries. We have also discussed ways to cooperate on various sectors, including in setting up nuclear technology centre, education, science, and technology,” said Workneh.

He was quick to indicate that the nuclear development program which will be launched after the conclusion of the agreement will be used for “peaceful purpose”, reports local media FANA Broadcasting Corporation.

Face2Face Africa

Russia cementing military ties with the Central African Republic

Russia is deepening its military cooperation with the Central African Republic, donating small arms to the country’s military and holding diplomatic talks with its leader as it seeks to strengthen its influence on the continent.

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been struggling with serious turmoil, civil war and brutal regime shifts in the past decade. Following conflict between government forces and the Seleka rebel coalition in 2012-2013, an arms embargo was implemented by the UN in December 2013.

Elections held in March 2016 established a new constitution and brought President Faustin Archange Touadéra to power. He made reconciliation, disarmament and demobilization of non-governmental armed forces his priorities. But these groups remain active, causing much violence across the country and making the redeployment of governmental authority a very difficult task.

Defence Web

ED Insincere About Polls, Chamisa Tells SADC

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been insincere in its commitment to holding a free, fair and credible elections, MDC-T president Nelson Chamisa, told Sadc envoys Tuesday.

The seven-member Sadc Electoral Advisory Council, chaired by Advocate Leshele Thoahlane, is currently on a week-long fact finding mission in Zimbabwe which is preparing for crucial polls between July and August this year.

Chamisa headed a mine member delegation that included secretary general Douglas Mwonzora, vice president Elias Mudzuri and youth assembly leader Happymore Chidziva among others.

AllAfrica

 

News Briefs 02 March 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

One killed, four injured as DR Congo police fire on banned protests

One person was killed and at least four injured as police fired live bullets and tear gas to disperse banned protests calling on DR Congo President Joseph Kabila to stand down.

The church-backed protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo come after months of tension sparked by Kabila’s prolonged rule and long-delayed elections in the vast and chronically unstable country.

In the capital Kinshasa, one man was killed and two people seriously injured as police opened fire on demonstrators.

“Since 7am we have received three injured people from the Catholic march. Two were seriously injured and one died from a bullet wound in the chest,” said Francois Kajingulu, a senior doctor at the St Joseph de Limete hospital in central Kinshasa.

TimesLive

Kabila agrees to UN chief’s request to visit DR Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has agreed to a request from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to visit his country ahead of elections later this year, the UN spokesman said Tuesday.

Guterres wrote to Kabila to propose a joint visit with African Union chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat following a series of meetings he held on the sidelines of the AU summit in Addis Ababa in late January.

There is growing international concern that the DR Congo could slide into all-out violence as it heads to elections on December 23.

“I can confirm that a letter was sent and that a message came back that they would be welcome in Kinshasa at their earliest convenience,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told AFP.

TimesLive

Somalia

AMISOM Heads Meet Amid Security Concerns About Somalia

Officials from countries that contribute to AMISOM, the African Union force in Somalia, are meeting this week in Uganda to discuss a transitional security plan for the troubled country. While AMISOM has made gains in Somalia, the risks still presented by militant group al-Shabab remain vivid due to inadequate funding and troop numbers.

 

Over the past few years, AMISOM has pushed al-Shabab away from major cities, and the federal government of Somalia has taken steps toward stability. With foreign help, the Somali security forces have grown stronger, and political leaders are aiming to hold nationwide elections in 2020.

These gains, however, are being undermined by inadequate troop numbers and lack of predictable and sustainable funding to fight al-Shabab and a small fraction of Islamic State fighters in the north.

The five AMISOM countries are planning to start a drawdown of their troops in Somalia this year and withdraw all of them by the end of 2020. Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa says it is essential that the Somali government intensify its effort to provide security for its people.

Voice of America

Uganda warns AMISOM to jealously guard Somalia gains

Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa has warned the Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to “avoid turning our gains into vain.”

He called upon the TCCs and other international partners to “establish predictable and sustainable solutions that can safeguard the enormous successes registered by the peace keeping mission in Somalia.”

Sam Kutesa sounded the warning as he opened a meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence of AMISOM troop contributing countries at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala on Thursday.

The one-day meeting, was held a day before President Yoweri Museveni hosts the AMISOM TCCs Heads of State Summit on Friday.

“As we consider concrete steps to forge a way forward on peace and security in Somalia, as TCCs we have made enormous efforts and sacrifices to AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA). Therefore, it is crucial that mechanisms be put in place that aim at safe guarding the enormous AMISOM success,” he said.

The Independent

Central African Republic

1 Unicef worker, 5 others killed in Central African Republic

A United Nations children’s agency staffer and five other education workers have been killed in an attack in Central African Republic, the UN agency said on Wednesday.

The team came under attack Sunday while traveling near Markounda, a remote northwestern area near the border with Chad.

“We strongly condemn this senseless act against aid workers who were there to improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations,” said Unicef’s West and Central Africa regional director, Marie-Pierre Poirier.

The Unicef said it has no further details.

Central African Republic has faced deadly 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.

News24

Security Council Press Statement on the Central African Republic

The members of the Security Council met on 22 February 2018 to discuss the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the activities of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). They were briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary General for the CAR and Head of the MINUSCA, M. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the Special Representative of the African Union to the CAR, M. Bédializoun Moussa Nébié, the Chair of the Sanctions committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the CAR, Ambassador Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoué, the Director General of the European Union Military Staff, General Esa Pulkkinen, and the Chair of the Peace Building Commission CAR configuration, Ambassador Omar Hilale.

The members of the Security Council renewed their support to President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, and his government, and welcomed again his efforts to advance the dialogue with armed groups and national reconciliation and to extend state authority in all parts of the country. In particular, they welcomed the deployment of prefects and sub-prefects, the resumption of criminal sessions in Bouar and Bangui, the efforts to operationalize the Special Criminal Court, as well as the first results of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration pilot project with the integration of former elements of armed groups into the armed forces. They called on the CAR authorities to continue their efforts to implement transparent and inclusive measures that will address the root causes of instability, allow for stabilization and reconciliation in the CAR and restore the effective authority of the State over all the territory of the CAR, to fight impunity by restoring administration of the judiciary and the criminal justice system, to achieve the reform of the CAR armed forces and internal security forces in order to put in place multi-ethnic, republican, professional, and well-equipped security forces, to carry out the inclusive and effective, disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation of armed groups, and to establish a functioning public financial management in order to meet the expenses related to the functioning of the State, implement early recovery plans, and revitalize the economy.

CNBC Africa

Sudan

UN lauds Sudan for implementing children protection plan in conflict areas

A United Nations (UN) official on Thursday expressed satisfaction over the commitment by Sudanese government to implement the UN plan to protect children in conflict zones.

Virginia Gamba, special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, addressed a press conference here, saying that Sudan has implemented the UN plan and released around 2,500 children during the past three years.

“I witnessed how the Action Plan between the Sudanese government and my office has been put in place and the great success happened in the implementation,” said Gamba.

Meanwhile, the UN official acknowledged that there are violations against children including recruitment, killing and sexual abuse by armed groups in conflict areas in Sudan.

“There is continued recruitment of children by armed groups, particularly in the region of Darfur,” she noted.

Xinhua

Sudan releases dozens arrested over bread protests

Activists say Sudanese authorities have released dozens of people arrested for taking part in last month’s protests against rising bread prices.

Two protesters, Imtenan Ali el-Radi and Amal Habany, say they were released on Tuesday from Kober prison, north of the capital, Khartoum. They say several families were waiting for their loved ones in front of the prison.

Protests erupted in Khartoum and other parts of the country last month after the government slashed subsidies and devalued the local currency, measures aimed at strengthening the battered economy. Hundreds of people were detained.

News24

South Sudan

Nine South Sudanese opposition parties form alliance

Nine South Sudanese opposition groups have formed an alliance to expedite efforts to end the country’s civil war ahead of the next round of the revitalization of the peace accord.

The group, in a statement issued Thursday, said they were driven by the desire to improve the situation and prevent it from disintegrating.

“At no time in the history of our country has the need to rescue South Sudan from complete disintegration become more urgent,” partly reads the group’s statement.

“To meet the challenge of restoring the integrity and unity of our people and ensure a radical political, economic and security transformation, we the leaders of following South Sudanese Opposition Political Movements, Parties and Fronts namely: FDP, NAS, NDM, PDM, SSLM/A, SSNMC, SSPM, SSUM/A and UDRA have resolved to formalize and operationalize an alliance to accelerate efforts to restore just and durable peace, democracy and to preserve human rights and the fundamental democratic rights of our people,” it added.

Sudan Tribune

  1. Sudan cautions world not to rush peace deal

South Sudan on Thursday cautioned the international community that unsolicited pressure and issuance of deadlines will not help push through a final peace deal.

Michael Makuei, the minister of information, said Juba is ready to resume peace revitalization talks with the armed opposition in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, but any sustained pressure or threats from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Western countries such as Britain and the United States cannot result in an agreement.

“In negotiations you don’t say this is the last round… if you don’t bring peace we will apply Plan B (sanctions) on you,” Makuei said “We cannot just be threatened. We are a country, a sovereign state, and nobody has the right to threaten South Sudan.”

The current arms embargo imposed by the United States and describing the upcoming talks as the last opportunity for the warring parties to make peace are threats that do not help, he said.

Xinhua

Western Sahara

Fishy Moroccan trade agreement limited from Western Sahara

An EU fishery deal with Morocco remains valid as long as it does not involve the disputed region of Western Sahara, the bloc’s top court ruled Tuesday, avoiding a clash between Brussels and Rabat.

The European Court of Justice said the fisheries agreement concluded between the EU and Morocco “is valid in so far as it is not applicable to Western Sahara and to its adjacent waters.”

“If the territory of Western Sahara were to be included within the scope of the fisheries agreement, that would be contrary to certain rules of general international law,” it said.

Morocco suspended ties with Brussels in 2016 after a lower EU court annulled an agriculture deal on similar grounds, although the ruling was later overturned, and they are now pushing ahead with the pact.

eNCA

EU can’t fish off Western Sahara coast, rules top court

A fishery deal between the EU and Morocco cannot include the disputed territory of the Western Sahara, annexed by Morocco, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled Tuesday (27 February).

“The fisheries agreement concluded between the EU and Morocco is valid in so far as it is not applicable to Western Sahara and to its adjacent waters,” said the ECJ in a statement.

The UK-based Western Sahara Campaign (WSC), which brought the case before the court, has described it as major victory.

The verdict pleased the Polisario Front, the political arm of the exiled Saharawi people, many of which fled to neighbouring Algeria during a protracted war that ended in a shaky ceasefire in the early 1990s.

“We are quite happy,” Mohamed Sidati, Polisario’s European representative, told this website.

EU Observer

International community urged to set date for self-determination referendum

The International Conference on Nonviolent Resistance wrapped up Tuesday with a call urging the international community to set a date for a referendum on Western Sahara people’s self-determination.

The participants in the international conference, named after the Saharawi martyr “Dida El-Yazid,” stressed the need to support the peaceful resistance and uphold human rights in the occupied territories and end Morocco’s systematic despoliation of Saharawi natural resources with the complicity of foreign countries and international companies.

They also emphasized the need to demolish the “wall of shame,” which divides Western Sahara in two parts, considered as a crime against humanity.

The conference adopted all the decisions and recommendations made during the various workshops held on the sidelines of the event, mainly in relation to natural resources, human rights, Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan jails, peaceful Intifada and the wall of shame.

Sahara Press Service

Swaziland

US slams Swaziland for banning political parties

Lisa Peterson, the American ambassador to Swaziland, has spoken out in support of banned political parties in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as an absolute monarch, Richard Rooney from Swazimedia.blogspot reported.

Parties are not allowed to contest elections and people and groups that advocate for democratic reform are prosecuted under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, the website reported.

“International organisations such as the European Union and Commonwealth routinely declare that Swaziland’s elections are not free and fair because parties are banned from taking part,” said Rooney.

“After the last election in 2013, the Commonwealth Observer Mission and African Union separately called for a review of the kingdom’s constitution to un-ban parties.”

The King chooses the Prime Minister and top government ministers.

eNCA

Swazi Student Leaders Suspended

Student leaders at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) have been suspended without specific charges being laid following a class boycott over unpaid allowances.

A total of 25 students have been suspended including Student Representative Council (SRC) President Sakhile Ndzimandze and three SRC Cabinet members.

UNISWA announced the suspensions after two of its campuses reopened following a two-week shutdown. All the suspended students have been banned from entering university premises.

The students received a letter from UNISWA Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof M.D. Dlamini stating they had been suspended from the university with immediate effect pending investigation.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Activists in Zimbabwe challenge Mnangagwa’s presidency

A group of Zimbabwean activists approached the Constitutional Court on Thursday, seeking to challenge the November 15, military intervention, which led to the ousting of former president Robert Mugabe.

Activists Linda Masarira; Bongani Nyathi; and Vusumuzi Sibanda, together with opposition political parties the Liberal Democrats and the Revolutionary Freedom Fighters approached the court challenging the “unconstitutional actions of members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and security services” which was code-named “Operation Restore Legacy”.

They listed “Constitutional infringements by organs and institutions of the State upon whom the Constitution directly demands that they protect and uphold” as the grounds for the application, according to the court papers.

They are also seeking an order declaring that “the political affiliation of members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is prohibited by Section 211(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe”.

IOL

Chamisa to fight Zimbabwe polls for opposition party

Zimbabwe’s main opposition on Thursday named a former youth activist, Nelson Chamisa, as its candidate for upcoming presidential polls, the party’s first major test since the death of its charismatic leader and the ouster of Robert Mugabe.

Chamisa, 40, becomes the Movement for Democratic Change’s electoral champion after veteran leader Morgan Tsvangirai died of cancer on February 14 at the age of 65.

Tsvangirai embodied opposition to former president Mugabe whom the MDC accused of vote-rigging, voter intimidation and authoritarian behaviour.

But Tsvangirai’s final months were marked by increasingly public quarrelling between his deputies over who would succeed him as leader.

News24

 

 

Africa in General

Ramaphosa to visit Namibia, Botswana and Angola

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), will undertake working visits to Luanda in Angola, Gaborone in Botswana and Windhoek in Namibia, the Presidency said.

His spokesperson Tyrone Seale said Ramaphosa will undertake his working visits to Angola and Namibia on Friday, to hold consultative meetings with Angolan President João Lourenço; and Namibian President Hage Geingob.

“Angola is the current chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation while Botswana hosts the SADC Secretariat and Namibia is the incoming SADC Chair after South Africa,” Seale said.

eNCA

Congo Hits Back After Botswana Blames President for Crisis

The Democratic Republic of Congo reacted angrily to Botswana’s claim that President Joseph Kabila’s decision to remain in power is stoking instability in the vast central African nation.

Congo’s communications minister dismissed as “nonsense” Monday’s comments from Botswana, which represented the most strident criticism yet of Kabila by an African government. It comes as militia violence flares in Congo’s restive east, exacerbating countrywide insecurity that’s forced 5 million people from their homes.

Botswana shouldn’t interfere in Congo’s internal affairs, Lambert Mende said by phone from the capital, Kinshasa, accusing its government of “trying to please some powerful friends.” The European Union, U.S. and Switzerland have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Kabila allies including Mende for alleged rights abuses and blocking the electoral process.

Bloomberg

ED apprises Kabila on Zim transition

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday held a closed-door meeting with his Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart President Joseph Kabila and briefed him on the transition that led to the resignation of former President Cde Robert Mugabe in November last year.

Emerging from the meeting, President Mnangagwa said he felt “home away from home” after the warm welcome he received.

“I feel home away from home. President Kabila is a brother to me, I am his elder brother, he is younger, but of course he is my elder colleague.

“He has been President for some time, but we are actually family and I am very happy to be here in the DRC and I was briefing my brother about this transition that has taken place in Zimbabwe and committing the new administration to consolidate our already excellent relationship.”

Herald

Gukurahundi victims’ hearings begin in Zimbabwe

Public hearings have started into alleged atrocities committed in Zimbabwe more than 30 years ago during the rule of Robert Mugabe.

It is claimed the former president ordered the deaths of people he believed were trying to depose him.

But many feel the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) hearings, set up by Zimbabwe’s government, are a waste of time.

News24

UK optimistic over Zim future, but wants a ‘free,fair vote’

Britain’s foreign affairs minister Boris Johnson has reportedly expressed optimism over Zimbabwe’s political future but has urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to deliver “a free and fair election”.

Writing on his Twitter page this week, Johnson said that he was delighted to welcome Zimbabwe’s finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in London.

See his tweet below.

Chinamasa was in London, leading a Zimbabwean delegation for engagement under Mnangagwa’s new theme: “Zimbabwe is open for business.”

Following Johnson’s tweet, opposition leader David Coltart challenged the UK minister to also listen to the voices of the people on the ground, according to a Daily News report.

Coltart said that the condition for a fair vote were not yet met and the country’s constitution was “flagrantly violated”.

News24

News Briefs 16 February 2018

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Five killed in accident with DR Congo presidential motorcade

Three soldiers and two civilians were killed and 11 other people injured in an accident involving DR Congo President Joseph Kabila’s motorcade, his office said Wednesday.

The accident happened on a road in the southwest of the country, 220 kilometres (110 miles) south of Kinshasa, as Kabila was returning to the capital on Tuesday.

“Last night, a vehicle in the presidential motorcade was hit on the Matadi highway at Kimpese by a truck carrying cement,” communications official Yvon Ramazani told AFP on Wednesday.

“Three soldiers in the Republican Guard were killed along with two civilians who were nearby,” he said. Seven soldiers and four civilians were also injured, Ramazani said, adding that the accident had been caused by heavy rain.

TimesLive

U.S. warns Congo against electronic voting for delayed election

The United States warned the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday against using an electronic voting system for a long-delayed presidential election in December this year because it has the potential to undermine the credibility of the poll.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told an informal U.N. Security Council meeting on the Congolese electoral process that deploying “an unfamiliar technology for the first time during a crucial election is an enormous risk.”

“These elections must be held by paper ballots so there is no question by the Congolese people about the results. The U.S. has no appetite to support an electronic voting system,” Haley told the meeting, which was organized by the United States.

Several other countries on the 15-member council also raised concerns about the possible use of electronic voting.

Reuters

Somalia

Somali forces destroy Al-Shabaab bases in southern Somalia

Somali forces backed by African Union forces destroyed Al-Shabaab bases in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, the military said.

Lower Shabelle region military commander Ibrahim Aden Najah told journalists on Thursday that the forces raided the bases in Kurtunwarey and destroyed the bases used by the militants to attack Somali and Amisom forces.

The military officer said the forces were going on with operations in the regions to flush out the militants. Lower Shabelle region remains one of the strongholds of Al-Shabaab.

“We will not relent until we kick out all Al-Shabaab in the region,” added Najah.

Xinhua

UNHCR Special Envoy for Somalia commends South Africa for hosting Somali refugees

The generosity of the South African government has ensured that over 300,000 refugees and asylum-seekers live in the country in a free and safe environment, noted UNHCR Special Envoy to the Somalia Refugee Situation.

“South Africa has a generous policy that grants asylum seekers and refugee’s free movement, access to jobs and public services,” said Ambassador Mohamed Abdi Affey during a recent visit to South Africa.

The Special Envoy visited Pretoria and Cape Town from 05 to 09 February and met with Government officials, the Ambassador of Somalia to South Africa and representatives from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, donors and partner agencies.

Horsed Media

Central African Republic

Thousands flee militia violence in C Africa

About 7 400 people have been forced to flee their homes as fighting raged between rival militias in northwest Central African Republic, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.

The internally displaced people in the area of Markounda since late December have faced living conditions that “are extremely difficult,”, according to the ICRC, which is working alongside the Central African Red Cross and the NGO Doctors Without Borders.

“Families are confined to makeshift huts. The only health centre in Markounda has been looted since the outbreak of hostilities, there are not enough showers and latrines,” said Jean-Francois Sangsue, head of the ICRC delegation in Bangui

News24

Central African Republic: UN, partners seek $515 million in humanitarian aid for 2018

“The situation requires greater attention more than ever,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Najat Rochdi, at the launch of the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan on Wednesday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that due to violence perpetrated by armed groups, more than one in four Central Africans is either internally displaced or a refugee.

The number of internally displaced persons has increased by more than 70 per cent since the first quarter of 2017. This has prevented thousands of children from enjoying their basic right to education. The combination of these factors means that 2.5 million out of the total 4.6 million Central Africans will need humanitarian assistance in 2018.

UN News

Sudan

US says ‘deeply concerned’ over political arrests in Sudan

The United States Embassy in Sudan says it is “deeply concerned by the continued arrests and detentions of hundreds of political leaders, activists and ordinary citizens” in the country.

In a Thursday statement it says that many of the detained are “being held in inhumane and degrading conditions, and without access to lawyers or family.”

Sudan’s economy has been struggling since it lost oil-rich South Sudan to secession in 2011, with double-digit inflation and rising food prices driving unrest. Security forces violently shut down attempted demonstrations.

News24

Russia to boost Sudan military: Bashir

President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday said that Khartoum and Moscow have agreed on a programme to boost Sudan’s military capabilities.

In an address to army officers and soldiers in the Red Sea town of Port Sudan, Bashir said the plan aimed to enable the Sudanese military to counter any threat.

He said, “Sudan has a programme with Russia to develop the Sudanese armed forces in a way that will deter anybody who intends to harm the country”, the official SUNA news agency reported.

SUNA gave no details of the plan.

News24

South Sudan

UN envoy hopes for some agreement at South Sudan peace talks

The UN envoy for South Sudan says he hopes “some form of agreement” will be signed Friday in Ethiopia’s capital where talks are taking place aimed at ending the country’s five-year civil war.

David Shearer told reporters Thursday that “it might not go quite as far as we all would have hoped, but it might provide the platform for ongoing discussions.”

Shearer says the Ethiopian-led talks “didn’t start well” last week, but over the last three days the parties have split into smaller groups “and there appears to be quite a bit more progress.” He says the two issues being discussed are security and constitutional and governance matters.

News24

200 000 more S Sudan refugees expected in Sudan: UN

About another 200 000 South Sudanese refugees are expected to arrive in Sudan this year, fleeing fighting and food insecurity in their country, the United Nations said on Thursday.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, descended into civil war just two years after it split from the north in 2011.

Since the war erupted in late 2013, 417 000 South Sudanese refugees have already crossed into Sudan, according to the UN.

About 200 000 more refugees are expected in 2018, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Office, or OCHA, said in its latest bulletin.

News24

Western Sahara

EU promises to respect Western Sahara trade ruling

The European Commission is seeking a trade deal with Morocco but some MEPs say a draft appears to ignore a European Court of Justice ruling on the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

However, a commission spokesperson on Monday (5 February) said they are sticking to the judgement and that any final deal will follow the court’s ruling on the territory.

“The starting point is the respect of the court judgement and the goal is to clarify the status of products from Western Sahara,” the spokesperson said, in an email.

The Western Sahara is a disputed territory annexed by Morocco in the late 1970s. A shaky ceasefire between the Polisario independence movement and Morocco was signed in 1991.

The United Nations says the largely marginalised indigenous Sahrawi have a right to a referendum on independence. But the poll has yet to take place, posing questions on moves by Rabat and EU to secure any trade deals that involve exploiting resources in the desert area.

EU Observer

Morocco Invites UNSG’s Personal Envoy to “Examine Details” of Negotiations over Western Sahara

Morocco has reportedly sent an invitation to Kohler to discuss details of the future negotiations over the Western Sahara conflict. The invitation aims to examine thoroughly the details of the upcoming negotiations, according to an unidentified diplomat quoted by Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum.

Kohler is set to meet with officials of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to discuss his vision and his proposals that would help end the four-decade-long conflict over the region.

Kohler, who sent invitations to the parties to the conflict in January, hopes to devise a new vision and strategies to find a mutually acceptable solution to end the conflict.

Morocco World News

Swaziland

Swaziland: PM Admits Forcing Newspaper Closure

Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has said a newspaper in the kingdom was closed down because it published reports critical of his government.

He told a Cabinet retreat at the Pigg’s peak Hotel, ‘As the government we have seen people who are desperate to criticise us as their public servants at every opportunity. In the past we saw a certain news editor write only on government’s faults.’

The Swazi Observer reported his comments on Tuesday (13 February 2018). It said, ‘Dlamini said the editor in question would write volatile articles published in a certain newspaper every Monday resulting in the newspaper in question eventually being shut down for a period of time.’

AllAfrica

Swaziland: Students March on Government

University students in Swaziland have boycotted classes and marched on the government protesting against unpaid and inadequate allowances.

The University of Swaziland (UNISWA) and the Southern African Nazarene University (SANU) have been affected.

The problem of delayed student allowances is not new as public services across the kingdom have been hit by the Swazi Government mishandling of the economy. Hospitals and health centres have run dry of medicines and blood. Schools are unable to run vital food programs for starving children and schools are without teachers.

SANU students were due to march and deliver a petition to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Swaziland Higher Education Council (SHEC) on Monday (12 February 2018). The petition came after a class boycott that started at the previous Wednesday and is continuing.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Grief as Zimbabwe opposition icon Tsvangirai dies

Zimbabwe was plunged into grief on Thursday following the death of veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, roundly praised as a hero, champion of democracy and symbol of resistance who will be hard to replace.

 

The former trade union stalwart who posed the most formidable challenge to the ruling Zanu PF party’s nearly four-decade hold on power, died on Wednesday in a hospital in neighbouring South Africa where he was being treated for colon cancer.

He was 65.

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa lauded his party’s arch-rival as “a strong trade unionist and opposition leader” and vowed free elections in honour of Tsvangirai who was assaulted, jailed and humiliated under his Zanu-PF government.

News24

Zimbabwe Govt to Help in Laying Late Opposition MDC-T Leader Morgan Tsvangirai to Rest

Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa says the government will help in laying the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai to rest.

Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer in Johannesburg yesterday.

Tsvangirai’s opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change also met this morning to make burial arrangements.

The ruling Zanu PF’s acting Information Minister, Simon Khaya Moyo, said the death of Tsvangirai was untimely, “Such a development was not expected and really we are very sad about it. I believe not only the party, not only the government — -minister of information as well, but I believe the entire people of Zimbabwe are saddened by this development and all I can say really is that God giveth and he taketh, and we wish his soul to enter and rest in eternal peace. We mourn of course with the family, the relatives and all those who were close to him, and we want to say go well, go well and go well.”

Voice of America

 

 

 

Africa in General

6 African nations among the worst to be young in a war zone

Six African nations are among the 10 worst in the world to be a child in a war zone, a new report says.

The Save the Children report released on Thursday looks at factors including attacks on schools, child soldier recruitment, sexual violations, killings and lack of humanitarian access and is based on analysis by the Norway-based Peace Research Institute Oslo.

Syria tops the list followed by Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, Iraq, Congo, Sudan and Central African Republic.

 

Almost 360 million children worldwide, or one in six, live in affected areas, the report says. In addition, conflicts are grinding on longer than before.

News24

No witnesses appear to defend South African ex-colonel in South Sudan trial

Defence witnesses did not appear in court to testify on Thursday in the trial of a South African national who faces the death penalty in South Sudan, on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government.

William John Endley served as an adviser to rebel leader Riek Machar, whose forces have been fighting those loyal to President Salva Kiir in a civil war since 2013. He was arrested in August 2016. A verdict in his case is expected next week.

On Thursday, a high court in the capital Juba said none of the witnesses called by the defence appeared.

“The defence case is closed and the final judgment will be given on the 23rd of this month,” presiding judge Ladu Eriminio Sekwat said during the hearing.

Business Day

SA troops accused of beating boy and sexually exploiting women in DR Congo – UN

South African troops serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been accused of beating a 17-year-old boy and sexually exploiting women, the UN spokesperson said on Monday.

UN and South African investigators will conduct a joint probe of the four allegations of misconduct that took place in Kasai province and in North Kivu.

The allegations, which surfaced last week, involve a 17-year-old Congolese boy who was subjected to “physical violence” in eastern Kasai, said spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

Probe to be completed within 90 days

Given the “serious concern raised by these allegations”, the United Nations has asked South Africa to send a team of agents to the DR Congo within five days and that the investigation be completed within 90 days, he added.

News24

 

News Briefs 09 February 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN Expects Congo Offensive Against Eastern Rebels To Displace 370,000

A military offensive launched last month by Congolese troops against Ugandan militants in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is likely to force nearly 370,000 people from their homes, the United Nations said on Thursday.

The fallout from a joint effort by Congo and Uganda to defeat the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) will compound Africa’s worst displacement crisis and further stretch meager humanitarian resources.

Persistent conflict in Congo’s eastern borderlands with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and insurrection in the center of the country have displaced 4.3 million people internally. Last year, it led the United Nations to declare Congo a level three humanitarian emergency – on par with Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

EWN

DRC crisis: aide says Kabila not standing in elections

Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in 2016 resulted in ongoing, bloody street protests, will not stand in elections due to be held this year, a key aide has said.

Lambert Mende, the minister of communications, said Kabila, who has been in office since 2001, had never intended to seek a third term and would not seek to appoint a candidate to represent his interests in the polls, currently scheduled for December.

“This is not a kingdom, where the king appoints an heir. It is a democratic republic,” Mende told the Guardian on Wednesday.

Kabila’s second term as president expired in December 2016 and he has been accused of deliberately delaying preparations for a new poll. The central African country is in the grip of a worsening humanitarian crisis fuelled by inter-ethnic conflict and food insecurity.

The Guardian

Somalia

Somalia court issues death sentence over Oct. 2017 Mogadishu attack

A court in the Somalia capital Mogadishu has sentenced a man to death for his role in the suicide bomb attacks in October 2017.

The attacks killed over 500 people according to official records. It has been tagged the deadliest attack in a country that is beset by onslaughts from Al-Shabaab insurgents.

The convict, Hassan Aden Isak, according to the court was driving a truck intended to be used in a second bombing on the day.

A second person was also handed a similar sentence for his role in the incident. The court sentenced Ibrahim Hassan Absuge in absentia. He is believed to have brought the truck that subsequently detonated.

Africa News

Urgent help sought for AU force’s planned Somalia withdrawal

The African Union mission in Somalia’s planned withdrawal of 21 000 troops from the extremist-threatened Horn of Africa nation by 2020 cannot be met without urgent help from the international community, the mission’s chief said on Saturday.

In an interview, Francisco Madeira told The Associated Press he fears all gains made in the past decade could be lost in an abrupt departure.

Speaking on the sidelines of an African Union summit, he said the world must “fast-track” to meet the 2020 goal of handing over security responsibilities to Somalia’s military. “The UN and other partners must understand that this enterprise needs additional resources,” he said.

News24

Central African Republic

Thousands flee militia violence in Central Africa

About 7,400 people have been forced to flee their homes as fighting raged between rival militias in northwest Central African Republic, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.

The internally displaced people in the area of Markounda since late December have faced living conditions that “are extremely difficult,”, according to the ICRC, which is working alongside the Central African Red Cross and the NGO Doctors Without Borders.

“Families are confined to makeshift huts. The only health centre in Markounda has been looted since the outbreak of hostilities, there are not enough showers and latrines,” said Jean-Francois Sangsue, head of the ICRC delegation in Bangui.

eNCA

‘Drugs and ammo’ found in UN contractor’s vehicle in CAR

A stash of drugs and ammunition was found hidden in a truck chartered by a private company under contract with the UN in Central African Republic, the UN’s mission in the country MINUSCA said on Thursday.

“MINUSCA has opened an investigation,” after Blue Helmets discovered several hundred shotgun cartridges hidden in containers, and an unspecified drug, in Ippy in central CAR, mission spokesperson Vladimir Monteiro told AFP.

All UN materials transported by private companies in CAR are in sealed containers marked “UN”, but Monteiro said “these goods were not in the sealed containers”, but “under” the cargo.

The truck belonged to a subcontractor of Dubai-based company Ecolog – a provider of services, including transport – under contract with the UN in the CAR.

News24

Sudan

Sudan seizes 3 newspapers for covering protests

Sudanese security agents seized the entire print-runs of three newspapers on Thursday after they covered food price protests in Khartoum and other towns, their editors said.

Opposition groups have organised repeated demonstrations since bread prices jumped in early January when a government decision to leave wheat imports to the private sector triggered a sharp rise in the cost of flour.

Several newspapers have criticised the government’s decision, and on Thursday agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confiscated the print-runs of Al-Tayar, Al-Midan and Al-Jadida newspapers.

“The agents of NISS confiscated all copies of our newspaper today without giving any reason,” Al-Jadida editor Ashraf Abdelaziz told AFP.

News24

Sudan says ambassador to Cairo to return ‘very soon’

Sudan’s foreign minister says the country’s ambassador to Cairo will return to Egypt “very soon.”

Ibrahim Ghandour spoke on Thursday, more than a month after Sudan recalled its ambassador to Egypt for consultation, at the time signaling deteriorating relations.

Ghandour’s statements were made during a news conference in Cairo with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. Both stressed strong ties between the two countries.

Earlier, the two foreign ministers met with the heads of the intelligence services of both countries.

Cairo’s ties with Khartoum have been tense over Sudan’s revival of a longstanding border dispute. Egypt and Sudan have been also at odds over Khartoum’s perceived support for the construction of a massive Nile dam in Ethiopia that Cairo fears will reduce its vital water share.

News24

South Sudan

Freed South Sudan Child Soldiers Recount Trauma of Abduction

Bakhita was only 12 years old when rebels snatched her from her family’s farm, adding her to a grim list of almost 19,000 children that the United Nations says have been recruited, often by force, by armed groups in South Sudan’s brutal civil war.

 

“I was thinking of my family every day. Sometimes, I cried but I couldn’t escape, the soldiers were everywhere in the bushes,” Bakhita told Reuters in a soft voice from the western town of Yambio, where she was among hundreds of children handed over to the UN on Wednesday.

She had been with the rebels two years, she said.

“There’s no house. We sleep in a tent. Sometimes at night, some soldiers come to my place and want to rape me by force. If I resist, they will beat me and make me cook for a week as a punishment for refusing to sleep with them,” the 14-year-old said, beginning to cry.

EWN

South Sudan peace talks stall over punitive provision

South Sudan peace talks have stalled over a text mediators and opposition officials want added to a provision that authorizes levying punitive measures against individuals who violate the peace process.

The parties, multiple sources attending the ongoing talks said, also failed to reach a consensus on governance and security sector reform matters.

Government officials at the talks told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that they agreed on many issues but were unable to sign the agreement on declaration of principles because their team rejected a text which says peace violators should be sanctioned.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Polisario ‘ready’ for direct Western Sahara talks with Rabat

The Polisario Front which seeks independence for Western Sahara said Monday it is ready for direct negotiations with Morocco on the future of the disputed territory.

Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, foreign minister of the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic which controls a thin strip of the territory, said a Polisario delegation had met in Berlin on January 25 with the UN envoy on Western Sahara, Horst Koehler.

“This is a new phase of discussions aimed at preparing for a new phase of direct negotiations,” he told a news conference in Algiers, which supports the Polisario.

The Polisario is “ready for direct negotiations with the Kingdom of Morocco to make peace”, Ould Salek said.

Morocco has also said it would meet with Koehler, a former German president appointed in August as special envoy to lead a new UN push for talks, but without giving a date.

The Citizen

Western Sahara: President Gali receives African Court delegation

Sahrawi President, Secretary General of Frente POLISARIO Brahim Ghali has received the delegation of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on a working visit to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) since Monday.

“Gali welcomed the visit of the African Court’s delegation to SADR institutions, wishing them pleasant stay in the Sahrawi Republic and refugee camps,”

In a statement to the press after the audience, the president of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, Sylvain Ore said that the visit “aims at increasing awareness of the importance of the African Court, especially for states that ratified the Protocol of its creation.”

He also hailed the positive commitment of SADR, which is among the thirty countries that ratified the Protocol and among the fifty-five members of the African Union.

Sahara Press Service

Swaziland

Swaziland: Schools in Chaos

Schools across Swaziland are in chaos at the start of the new academic year.

Children have been turned away because there are no spaces for them in classes at High School. This is because the kingdom has in recent years introduced free primary school education. Now children have graduated there are not enough places in secondary schools. Parents were reported by local media to be walking from school to school in unsuccessful attempts to get their children placed.

Minister of Education Phineas Magagula told the Swazi Observer that new classes had been built across the kingdom to accommodate the expected influx of schoolchildren. Magagula was unable to tell media exactly how many new schools had been opened and how many had been upgraded from secondary to high school.

AllAfrica

Swaziland: True Life of Swazi Prime Minister

Swaziland’s unelected Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has published the first volume of his autobiography. It runs for 500 pages and more books are promised.

Unsurprisingly newspapers such as the Swazi Observer which is in effect owned by King Mswati III, the absolute monarch who appointed Dlamini to office with the order to attack democrats who wanted political parties to be able to contest elections, was full of praise for the book.

The Observer on Saturday (3 February 2018) reported, ‘Dlamini disclosed during the launch of his book that he was inspired to write the book by the absence of a significant number of similar accounts by prominent public figures in Swaziland.’

Dlamini who is a very sick man turned 75 in May 2017. Informed readers (that is those who don’t rely solely on the censored and self-censoring news media in Swaziland) will not bother to buy the book which retails at E300 (US$25). Most people in Swaziland where seven in ten of the 1.3 million population have incomes of less than US$2 per day would not be able to afford it even if they wanted to buy.

Allafrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s top opposition party hurt by power struggles

Power struggles are ravaging Zimbabwe’s main opposition party months before the election as party leader Morgan Tsvangirai seeks cancer treatment in neighbouring South Africa.

Three deputies are vying to act as MDC-T party leader in Tsvangirai’s absence. Spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka told reporters that Tsvangirai remains unwell but will return to the country “soon”. The spokesperson described those interested in succeeding him as “political vultures.”

The 65-year-old Tsvangirai has dominated opposition politics for close to two decades as the leading voice against former president Robert Mugabe, who resigned under pressure in November.

The upcoming election will be the first without Mugabe, who led the southern African country for 37 years. The opposition is scrambling to counter new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a longtime Mugabe ally who has vowed that the election will be free and fair as he seeks to re-engage the international community after years of sanctions over alleged human rights abuses.

News24

Zim land reforms: 99-year-leases ‘now bankable, transferable’, says official

Zimbabwe’s reserve bank governor, John Mangudya, has reportedly said that local banks have agreed to finance farmers after government tweaked the country’s 99-year land leases to be “transferable and bankable”.

According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, farmers were now going to be able to use their farms as collateral when obtaining loans, following the landmark development set to change the agricultural sector.

The southern African country’s financial institutions were previously refusing to lend money to farmers, arguing that they were not transferable in the event that the farmers were unable to repay their loans.

But following talks with government, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the bankers, it was agreed that the 99-year-leases were now bankable.

News24

 

 

 

African in General

Democratic Republic of Congo orders former coloniser Belgium to close consulate and cut flights from Brussels

The Democratic Republic of Congo has ordered Belgium to close a consulate and cut flights by Brussels Airlines in a further deterioration of relations between the European nation and its former Central African colony.

Belgium’s foreign ministry said it had shut a diplomatic office in the south-eastern city of Lubumbashi after being told to do so by Kinshasa. Congo has also decided to close its consulate in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp.

Brussels Airlines, owned by Germany’s Lufthansa, has had its flights to and from Kinshasa cut from seven a four week to four, a foreign ministry spokesman added.

The airline said it had been told by Congolese authorities the reduction was because of “an absence of reciprocity” in international air services between the two countries.

Independent

Local firms keen to invest as Zimbabwe opens its doors

There could finally be a sliver of hope for foreign companies in the post-Robert Mugabe era in Zimbabwe, particularly for South African companies, which stuck it out during the country’s darkest of times.

Mugabe often used threats of seizure and the closure of operations to have his way with foreign companies.

In 2012, mining company Impala Platinum was issued with a 14-day ultimatum to comply with Zimbabwe’s 51% indigenisation law or risk losing its mining licence.

David Brown, the then Impala CEO, had to lead a team of executives to Harare from Johannesburg in an effort to stave off the threat facing its subsidiary, Zimplats.

Business Day

Uganda’s EALA MPs divided over Somalia EAC application

Uganda’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA)have expressed divergent views on the proposal by the heads of states to admit Somalia into the community.

One of the issues to be discussed during the Heads of State Summit scheduled for later this month in Kampala is Somalia’s application to join the East African Community.

According to Susan Nakawuki, opening boarders for Somalia is a dangerous move that is likely to allow terrorists to attack the region with a lot of ease.

However, Fred Mukasa Mbidde says that bringing Somalia closer to the region will help improve monitoring and sharing of security strategies to eliminate terrorists from the region.

kfm.co.ug

Zimbabwe legislators call on Mnangagwa to end political unrest

Zimbabwean legislators and civic society organisations are seeking an end to political violence which has characterised the past few weeks as the country moves towards this elections this year.

The legislators want “something done” ahead of the coming elections.

MDC-T acting president and Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa on Wednesday pleaded with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the National Assembly to intervene and order a stop to politically-motivated violence.

“I want to alert the House that Parliament needs to do something on the issue of vulnerability of MPs pertaining to violent attacks on them. I have checked with the police and noted that there was an attack on Epworth.

IOL

 

News Briefs 26 January 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

Thousands flee to Uganda as DRC violence surges

People fleeing the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo) have reported a surge in arbitrary killings, rapes and abductions by unidentified armed groups.

The violence has pushed more than 10,000 people into neighbouring Uganda since the beginning of December, according to the UN.

Rebecca Salama, a refugee from Congo, told Al Jazeera in Uganda’s Nyakabande refugee transit camp in western Uganda that armed groups kept attacking her village, forcing her to walk into neighbouring Uganda with her husband and five children.

Aljazeera

There’s a decades-old law threatening digital freedom in DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo has in recent years emerged as one of the most important nations to watch for digital rights violations in Africa. As the political reality in the central African nation heats up, authorities have resorted to a distinct tactic to keep demonstrations and anti-government rhetoric in check: shutting down the internet and SMS services.

Digital rights activists say a 16-year-old law has been instrumental in cracking down on internet accessibility. Passed in 2002, law No. 013/2002 (in French) governs the telecommunication sector and confers powers on the government to take charge of communication facilities in the interest of national security or public defense. Internet service providers, including Bharti Airtel and Orange Group, have often complied with government orders, fearing their licenses would be terminated if they refused to assent.

With an internet penetration of just 6.2%, the DR Congo has repeatedly cut off internet services to its more than 83 million people, blocked or throttled social media outlets, and surgically targeted services like WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, and Skype in order to hamper communication among protesters while allowing businesses like banks to operate. In 2017, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa estimated the DR Congo was losing $2 million a day due to these shutdowns.

Quartz

Somalia

UN Security Council welcomes progress in Somalia

The UN Security Council on Thursday welcomed Somalia’s progress and urged the parties to make 2018 a year of implementation of various reforms.

In a press statement, the Security Council welcomed the political commitment to security sector, economic and political reforms.

The council stressed the importance of making progress on the political settlement in preparation for elections in 2020/2021.

It welcomed the Nov. 5 agreement between the federal government and states on taking forward security and federalism, and urged the federal government to ensure high-level dialogue with states to make progress on key issues, including the constitutional review, elections, fiscal federalism, and power and resource sharing.

Xinhua

Somalia inks new justice, corrections framework

Somalia government and federal member states on Thursday signed a new agreement seeking to streamline the justice and corrections system, critical institutions shattered by over two decades of civil war.

The accord provides a framework within which the federal and state-level governments can support the rebuilding of the country’s justice and corrections system.

“This agreement will enable the systematic building of justice and corrections institutions at state and federal levels and increased provision of basic justice chain services for the Somali people,” said Staffan Tillander, Director of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) Rule of Law and Security Institutions Group.

UNSOM said in a statement that its activities include supporting the country in the next phase of building a justice system that upholds judicial independence and benefits all Somalis and a humane and secure corrections system.

Xinhua

Central African Republic

Fresh violence in Central African Republic sparks ‘unprecedented’ levels of displacement – UN

Surging violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has put unprecedented numbers of people on the run, the United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday, reporting that hungry, desperate arrivals being registered in neighbouring Chad say their houses have been torched and that armed groups are “killing anyone in their way.”

Overall, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said the violence has pushed displacement to its highest levels since the start of the violence in 2013, moreover, estimates show that almost half the population is now food insecure and some 2.5 million people need humanitarian assistance.

“Data as of the end of December shows that 688,700 people were displaced internally – 60 per cent more than just a year ago,” Adrian Edwards, UNHCR spokesperson told reporters at today’s regular press briefing in Geneva.

 

Meanwhile, 542,380 CAR refugees are in neighbouring countries, a 12 per cent increase compared to last year.

UN News

Militia leader convicted in Central African Republic

Human rights groups in Central African Republic say a former warlord who fought in the anti-Balaka militia has been sentenced to life in prison, a first for this conflict-wracked country.

The International Federation for Human Rights said on Monday that the conviction of Rodrigue Ngaibona, known as “General Andjilo,” is the first of its kind since communal tensions erupted in 2013. A coalition of human rights group said on Monday it was a “decisive first step.”

The anti-Balaka are an armed group that rose in opposition to the Muslim rebels who had overthrown the government in 2012.

News24

Sudan

Sudanese opposition forces decline consultations meeting with African mediators

The opposition Sudan Call forces in Khartoum, which is supportive for the African Union efforts for peace and reforms in Sudan, has declined an invitation by the chief mediator for a consultation meeting in Addis Ababa on 4-5 February

They further criticised the silence of the mediation over the arrest of the opposition leaders and even its decision to hold a meeting for the Two Areas only with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu.

The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) led by President Thabo Mbeki has called the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu for a new round of talks but excluded the other SPLM-N faction of Malik Agar saying this time talks are on a ceasefire agreement in the Two Areas pointing that the latter has no forces on the ground.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s foreign minister postpones visit to France

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has postponed a planned visit to France next week, Sudanese diplomatic source said on Thursday.

“The Sudanese-French talks that were scheduled in Paris were delayed due to Ghandour’s participation in the African summit in Addis Ababa,” a Sudanese official said under the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the press.

“The visit will take place at a later date to be determined through diplomatic channels,” he said.

The two countries resumed bilateral meetings after several years of strain over rebel presence in France. The visit means to mark the improvement of relations and to discuss bilateral cooperation on areas of interest.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

AU Summit chance to salvage South Sudan

My country is the youngest. Its birth was a joyous time. Yet South Sudan has been brought up in a broken home, with our leaders constantly battling for control.

Our East African neighbours always ask us to keep the noise down but, in reality, constantly sneak in through the back door to pilfer what they can for themselves.

Every day of fighting takes us closer to the point of no return. The humanitarian crisis disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in society: Women, children and the elderly. Rape against women and girls is being used as a weapon. The violence is increasingly along ethnic lines.

Daily Nation

US after supporting South Sudan’s leader calls him ‘unfit’

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Wednesday the United States is giving up on South Sudan’s president after backing the country’s independence in 2011 and investing over $11bn, calling him “an unfit partner” in the pursuit of peace and urging an arms embargo on the conflict-wracked nation.

She cited President Salva Kiir for almost immediately violating a December 21 cease-fire that took effect three days later, for blocking aid to millions in need despite a promise of “free and unhindered access,” and for last month’s promotion of three generals sanctioned by the UN Security Council in 2015 for leading “the slaughter” of civilians.

In a hard-hitting speech to the council, Haley called the generals’ promotion “a slap in the face” of the council, of nations that supported the Kiir government, and “of basic decency.”

News24

Western Sahara

UN’s Western Sahara envoy to hold talks in Berlin

The UN envoy on Western Sahara talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front has invited the parties and neighboring countries to Berlin for bilateral talks, a UN spokesperson said Tuesday.

Former German president Horst Koehler has invited the foreign ministers of Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, as well as Polisario Front Secretary-General Brahim Ghali, Koehler’s spokesman said.

No date was given in the statement beyond mention of “this January and February.”

Koehler was appointed in August as special envoy to lead a new UN push for talks between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front on Western Sahara.

Morocco and the Polisario fought for control of Western Sahara from 1974 to 1991, with Rabat taking over the desert territory before a UN-brokered ceasefire in the former Spanish colony.

The Citizen

UN Envoy extends Western Sahara invite to warring parties for talks

The UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara has invited the relevant “parties to the conflict” to “separate talks” in Germany, according to reports in Morocco. Horst Kohler initiated the invitation to Morocco, the Polisario front and Mauritania following a ten-day tour of Europe and Africa. Kohler held talks with EU officials in Brussels and AU officials in Addis Ababa to discuss the Western Sahara issue.

The UN opened negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front in 2007. A number of sessions have followed since, but little progress has been made. The last of these negotiations took place in New York in 2012; again, there was no positive outcome.

Under Morocco’s autonomy plan, the Sahrawis will have exclusivity in managing local affairs but will only be able to function under Morocco’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The plan has been rejected by the Polisario Front and its backer Algeria, which supports full autonomy for Western Sahara independent of Morocco.

Middle East Monitor

Swaziland

Exiled Swazi editor speaks out

In mid-December, Zweli Martin Dlamini received a tip-off. As a professional private investigator and editor of the independent business newspaper Swaziland Shopping, he receives plenty of them — usually about politicians taking bribes, shady tender deals or the hidden hand of the monarchy in Swazi affairs.

But this tip-off was a little closer to home. According to his anonymous informant, Dlamini was about to be arrested. His reporting had upset the powers that be and they were coming for him.

He panicked. He left his home and drove from Mbabane to Manzini, Swaziland’s second city, where his face wasn’t quite so recognisable. He spent the night in his car but he was too worried to sleep much.

“It was painful. When you sleep in a car for doing your job, it tells you something. I received first-hand experience of how we journalists are treated in Swaziland.”

In the morning, when the border post opened, he crossed into South Africa. To safety. To exile.

“It’s not safe for me to go home. I can’t just go back without knowing what will happen to me.”

Mail& Guardian

Swaziland’s King Mswati III to miss AU summit, represented by PM

Swaziland’s King Mswati III will miss the 30th Ordinary Session of the African Union General Assembly taking place in Ethiopia at the weekend as he is still observing the Incwala traditional rites that keep him out of the public spotlight for three months.King Mswati is not yet ready to participate in public events, both nationally and internationally, because he is observing the Incwala traditional rites.

The Incwala ceremony requires him to be out of the public eye between November and February.

His first appearance will be in three weeks’ time when he is expected to officially open the 5th session of the 10th Parliament of Swaziland.

He will be represented by Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini at the AU meeting that kicks off in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on January 28. Dlamini left Mbabane for Ethiopia on Thursday night.

Journal du Cameroun

Zimbabwe

MDC-T Dismisses Mnangagwa’s Remarks on Holding Free, Fair Election in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai has dismissed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s remarks that the country will hold free and fair elections this year, saying the current electoral environment is not conducive for transparency.

In a statement, the MDC-T said, “Whilst the Mnangagwa administration has been persistently stating that this year’s elections will be free and fair, the situation that obtains on the ground points to a totally different scenario. For instance, in virtually all the country’s rural areas, people have been forced to surrender the serial numbers of their biometric voter registration slips to their local village heads and Zanu PF officials.

“This has been a systematic campaign of psychological and emotional terror meant to instil fear in the rural electorate so that they are compelled to vote for Zanu PF in the forthcoming elections. This psychological terror campaign has now reached the cities because in certain parts of Highfield and Hopley in the capital city, Harare, Zanu PF officials have embarked on a door to door campaign forcing people to surrender serial numbers of their voter registration slips. Needless to state, this reprehensible and unlawful practice can never be consistent with a desire to conduct a free and fair election.”

Voice of America

Zim VP Chiwenga ’causes a stir’ in parliament as he ‘threatens’ opposition leader

Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga reportedly left lawmakers from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) outraged when he told the party’s vice president Nelson Chamisa during a parliamentary session that the country would have been better off if he had not gone to the US and other places “campaigning for sanctions”.

According to New Zimbabwe.com, the problem started after Chamisa asked about pensions for war veterans.

Chamisa reportedly said that all the countries in the world, except Zimbabwe, took care of their war veterans. He said that the Zimbabwean government seemed reluctant to “restore the legacy” of war veterans.

Chamisa said this was not inspiring for a government that had been in power for more than three decades and yet failed to acknowledge the importance of the country’s freedom fighters.

News24

 

 

Africa in General

Kenya vows to deepen economic ties with Sudan

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Thursday his government will deepen economic cooperation with Sudan, including boosting production of lower-cost sugar and expanding Nairobi’s tea exports to the Arab nation.

Kenyatta who spoke when he met Kamal Ismael, special envoy of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir in Nairobi, recalled that during meetings with the Sudanese leader, they had agreed to collaborate more on sugar production, with Kenya learning from the technologies that have made Sudan one of the lowest-cost producers in the world.

According to a statement issued after the meeting, Kenyatta said he wanted to see an agreement for Kenya to learn from Sudan on expanded cotton farming come to fruition, because it was at the base of a plan to increase textiles and apparels manufacturing under the President’s Big Four agenda of manufacturing, affordable housing, universal healthcare and food security.

Xinhua

African Davos delegates plan Trump speech boycott

African delegates are planning to boycott United States President Donald Trump’s closing speech at the World Economic Forum’s flagship annual meeting in Davos on Friday. This follows leaks that he called African countries “shitholes” in a White House meeting on immigration this month.

Trump arrives in Davos on Thursday where he will concentrate on boosting trade and business links between the US and other countries as part of his “America First” agenda, according to members of his cabinet who briefed the press. Trump will also meet Swiss President Alain Berset in Davos.

But he may not receive as warm a reception as he would like from other quarters.

Business Leadership Africa CEO Bonang Mohale, a Davos attendee, penned an open letterexternal link before the WEF meeting, urging people to turn their backs on Trump when he arrives at WEF.

Swiss Info

Africa braces for high-stakes Davos meet

Donald Trump will be the star at Davos. Love or hate him, he’s likely to be the only head of state whose speech will be broadcast live on all the news channels.

Reporters will grill the president on immigration and his alleged “shitholes” slur (he denies saying it), as well as whatever else he tweets between now and the start of the summit on Tuesday.

But for Africans, there are more interesting stories that will play out at this year’s World Economic Forum, with more at stake for the continent than at any time since 1992 when Mandela, de Klerk and Buthelezi shared the stage and laid a blueprint for the change that followed.

Davos will be the first outing for Emmerson Mnangagwa since he replaced Robert Mugabe in November.

The US, EU, Australia and a raft of other countries still have limits on trade with Harare, from weapons to state contracts. But magic can happen, like Barack Obama’s handshake with Raul Castro in 2013 at the funeral of Nelson Mandela. Eighteen months later, the US reopened its embassy in Cuba after a break of 44 years.

Mail& Guardian

 

News Briefs: 19 January 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN probes DRC clashes that killed Burundi refugees

The United Nations announced Tuesday it will investigate the death of 39 Burundian refugees in clashes with soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo in September.

The soldiers allegedly opened fire on the refugees in eastern South Kivu province after they protested the detention of a small group of Burundians by Congolese authorities.

Nigerian Lieutenant-General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor will lead the UN investigation of the violence on September 15 in Kamanyola, said a UN statement.

News24

Democratic Republic of Congo: UN Agencies in Urgent Bid to Prevent Famine in Kasai

In a stark warning, three UN agencies – the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) – say time is running out to save hundreds of thousands of lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Farmers  – who fled due to conflict – have missed three consecutive planting seasons. This has left people with almost nothing to eat. Food assistance is failing to fill the gap. Only 400,000 out of the 3.2 million severely food insecure people in Kasai received assistance in December. More than 750,000 are still displaced. Around 630,000 people have returned to their burned down villages after hiding in the forest, they must be helped to resume food production. Over ninety percent of rural communities depend entirely on agriculture.

“Agriculture is the only way to become productive again. Not only does it generate food and income for families, but it restores hope, dignity and self-reliance”, said Alexis Bonte, FAO Representative ad interim in the DRC.

CNBC Africa

Somalia

Somalia’s al Shabaab denies forcibly recruiting children to fight

Somalia’s Islamist militant group al Shabaab on Thursday denied that it was threatening and abducting civilians to hand over their children for indoctrination and military training.

Al Shabaab has been fighting for years to topple Somalia’s central government and rule the Horn of Africa country according to its own interpretation of Islamic law.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday that the armed group began ordering elders and teachers in rural parts of the southern Bay region in mid-2017 to provide them with children – as young as eight – or face reprisals.

But an al Shabaab spokesman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the group does not recruit members below the age of 15, and that no one is forced to join. He said children were being sent to Islamic religious schools to be educated.

Reuters

Somalia: US$1.6 billion urgently needed to save and protect 5.4 million lives from unprecedented drought

The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia, which calls for $1.6 billion to protect the lives of 5.4 million Somalis, was launched today by the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq.

In his remarks, De Clercq said: “Working together with the Somali authorities and with historical levels of support from the international community, I am proud that we averted a possible famine last year.

“Lasting solutions to drought, conflict and displacement remain, however, out of our reach, and much more must be done to eliminate the looming threat of famine in this country. We must tackle the humanitarian needs while simultaneously looking at longer-term solutions. If we do not continue to save lives and in parallel build resilience, then we have only delayed a famine, not prevented one,” warned de Clercq.

CNBC Africa

Central African Republic

Central African Republic: UN mission issues 48-hour ultimatum to armed groups

The United Nations Mission in the troubled Central African Republic, known by its French acronym, MINUSCA, has given armed groups in the north of the country 48 hours to clear out.

The Mission wants to clear a 50 kilometre perimeter around the town allowing displaced persons to return.

Over the last three weeks, some 60,000 people – mostly women – left everything behind to escape clashes between the armed groups Justice Riot (RJ) and the National Movement for the Liberation of the Central African Republic (MNLC).

UN News

UN says 100 000 people in Central African Republic need aid

The UN says some 100 000 people in the Central African Republic city of Paoua urgently need humanitarian aid following clashes between armed groups.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Monday that over 60 000 people have taken refuge in the city near the border with Chad as a result of the fighting and 40 000 live there.

Dujarric said “should armed groups continue clashing and attack other villages, the number of displaced people in Paoua could potentially double or triple.”

News24

Sudan

Police clash with protesters in Sudan

Sudanese police fired tear gas, struck demonstrators with batons and arrested several people at a protest against soaring living costs in the centre of Khartoum on Tuesday.

Several hundred demonstrators gathered on a street near the presidential palace, chanting slogans against rising prices and calling for a change of government before clashes broke out, a Reuters reporter said.

Protests and clashes with security forces broke out across the country early this month after Khartoum imposed tough economic measures in line with recommendations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

eNCA

Newspapers seized, journalists arrested as Sudan protests boil over

Authorities in Sudan have seized copies of newspapers and arrested several reporters over articles on “anti-inflation protests” prompting calls from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) against the harassment.

“Sudanese authorities should cease harassing and arresting journalists and confiscating newspapers, and should allow journalists to report on matters of public interest without fear of reprisal,” the CPJ said on Friday.

The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) said on Tuesday and Wednesday Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested seven journalists while they were reporting on anti-inflation protests in Khartoum.

eNCA

South Sudan

South Sudan Rebels Call Mediators Biased

Rebels in South Sudan have accused mediators of allowing the government to violate the recent cease-fire, an allegation the top mediator quickly rejected Thursday.

A rebel spokesman accused the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development bloc and the “troika” countries of Norway, Britain and the United States of turning a blind eye to violations by South Sudan’s first vice president, Taban Deng Gai.

Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel said in a statement that IGAD and the troika allowed Gai to travel to Jonglei state, “where he is causing more destruction and displacement to civilians in the areas under the control of SPLM-IO” — the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition.

Voice of America

28 aid workers killed in South Sudan last year, a new high

The United Nations says violence against aid workers in South Sudan reached a new high in 2017, with 28 killed.

Nearly half of the 1 159 humanitarian access incidents reported last year by aid agencies involved violence including killing, looting and threats.

The UN humanitarian office calls the trend “indicative of increasingly difficult times for aid workers in the country.” It says the trend continues even after President Salva Kiir in November ordered unimpeded movement for aid groups.

South Sudan’s civil war, now in its fifth year, has killed tens of thousands and plunged parts of the country into famine. Two million people have fled the country.

News24

Western Sahara

Morocco, Western Sahara: Protests Bare ‘Red Lines’

Demonstrations in Morocco’s Rif region, the most sustained street protests the country has seen since the Arab uprisings of 2011, showed the limits to Morocco’s tolerance of free speech and the right of peaceful assembly, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2018. Morocco should release all imprisoned peaceful protesters and abolish penal code provisions that allow the government to jail people for expressing their views.

Protests began in the restive northern Rif region in October 2016. The authorities tolerated the protests for several months, but violently detained protest leaders in May 2017 and banned a major rally announced for July. Since then the government has imprisoned journalists and others for participating in, or supporting, “illegal” demonstrations.

Authorities frequently tolerated protests held in front of parliament in Rabat and elsewhere, but almost never in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara, where police came out in force to pre-empt any gathering deemed sympathetic to self-determination for that disputed territory.

Human Rights Watch

Western Sahara dispute should invalidate EU-Morocco fish deal, EU court adviser says

The European Union’s fisheries deal with Morocco should be declared invalid because it includes Western Sahara, an adviser to the EU’s top court said on Wednesday in the latest legal opinion on trade ties involving the disputed territory.

Western Sahara has been contested since 1975 when Spanish colonial powers left. Morocco claimed the territory as it own and fought the 16-year war with the Polisario Front independence movement which established its self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

 

The United Nations says the region has a right to self-determination and campaigners have sought to challenge the EU’s trade deals with Morocco in the courts because they include the desert region.

Wednesday’s opinion by the European Union Court of Justice’s Advocate General Melchior Wathelet came in response to British-based campaigners who said Britain was wrong to uphold the EU-Morocco fisheries deal. Britain asked the ECJ for advice.

Reuters

Swaziland

Swaziland Civil Liberties Worsen

Civil liberties in Swaziland have deteriorated in the past year, a leading global freedom group has reported.

Freedom House reported, ‘Swaziland’s civil liberties rating declined from five to six due to increased government infringements on religious freedom and freedom of private discussion.’

The organisation said this in the Freedom in the World 2018 report just released. On a scale from one to seven where seven is the least free, Swaziland scored 6.5 on freedom; seven on political rights and six on civil liberties. It scored 16 out of 100 in total and Freedom House reported Swaziland was ‘not free’.

It has yet to release a detailed report on human rights in Swaziland for the past year. Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

AllAfrica

Swaziland: ‘Editor Flees After Death Threat’

Swazi editor Zweli Martin Dlamini has fled to neighbouring South Africa after he received death threats. He had written a story about absolute monarch King Mswati III’s shady dealings in the telecommunications industry, writes Kenworthy News Media.

Last June, editor of independent business newspaper Swaziland Shopping Zweli Martin Dlamini wrote and published a story about new telecommunications company Swazi Mobile, owned by King Mswati III and run by local businessman Victor Gamedze.

The punchline of the story was that the pair had forced Swaziland’s government to side-line rival government parastatal company SPTC from competing with Swazi Mobile – a new company that they and other high-ranking officials, including the Prime Minister, owns shares in.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe new leader promises to hold ‘free, fair’ post-Mugabe vote

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced that the country will hold elections in five months, the first poll the southern African state since independence that does not involve former President Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa said that he had no doubt that the vote would go ahead peacefully, according to the state daily, The Herald.

“We will ensure that Zimbabwe delivers free, credible, fair and indisputable elections to ensure Zimbabwe engages the world as a qualified democratic state,” he said.

Mugabe, who was one of the longest serving leaders in the world, was forced out of office late November by the army.

News24

Plea for military to accept election outcome in Zimbabwe

The call comes at a time when President Emmerson Mnangagwa‚ whose ascendance to power is credited to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF)‚ told Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in Maputo on Wednesday that elections would be held in about five months’ time and be peaceful.

However‚ the MDCT is worried about developments at home with allegations that military personnel in civilian clothing have been deployed to rural areas‚ home to 65% of the population in Zimbabwe.

“We have solid and incontrovertible evidence pointing to the fact that thousands of army officers in civilian attire have been deployed into the countryside for the purpose of carrying out clandestine political campaigns on behalf of Zanu PF‚” the party said.

The party also made an open plea that international election observers such as the United Nations be allowed into the country.

TimesLive

 

 

Africa in General

Numsa calls for DRC’s Kabila to go

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has expressed solidarity with the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in their struggle “to rid themselves of the repressive regime of President Joseph Kabila”.

In a Thursday press release, the union stated: “Numsa condemns Kabila and his administration for the brutality and violence which has been meted out against the people of that country. He has no legitimacy and therefore has no right to govern.”

The organisation demanded that Kabila be removed immediately and that all political prisoners be released.

“There is no doubt that Kabila’s regime is cruel and ruthless. The UN Mission in the DRC has documented over 700 violations across the country in October last year, including extra judicial killings and rape,” Numsa said. “Mass graves have also been discovered in the town of Nganza where its alleged that government forces went door-to-door massacring entire families in March last year.”

Numsa added: “He must be relegated to the dustbin of history along with other dictators, which is where he belongs! Numsa demands an end to the war of terror which the administration of Kabila has unleashed on the citizenry of the DRC.

The Citizen

In Central African Republic, militia violence leaves villages devastated

“We first heard gunshots. Then we saw the horses arrive, each carrying two or three men, armed with Kalashnikovs, rifles, bows and arrows,” Charles Tombe says.

“They shot at everyone — we fled into the bush. There are corpses over there, rotting.”

Tombe, 52, ran a small medical centre, which he said was burned down along with all the other houses after the village of Bekoro Misso was looted.

He is one of numerous eyewitnesses AFP interviewed about militia violence that has erupted in northwest Central African Republic, sapping hopes of stabilising a dirt-poor, fragile state.

Tombe and thousands of others have sought refuge in the small dusty town of Paoua. Many survivors recount nightmarish stories of gunfire and machete attacks.

TimesLive

Zimbabwean politician dies in US helicopter crash

Founding Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett died in a helicopter crash in a remote area of the US state of New Mexico, authorities said Thursday.

Bennett was killed along with his wife Heather and three other people after the helicopter went down on Wednesday, New Mexico state police said.

A crash survivor called 911 for help but could not say where in the mountainous region the wreckage was located. After a frantic search the crash was found ablaze at a ranch about 10 miles east of the town of Raton.

State police officers at the scene “reported the helicopter wreckage had been engulfed in fire making identification difficult,” the NMSP statement read but confirmed that Bennett, 60, and his 55-year-old wife were among the victims.

TimesLive

African Ambassadors Demand Apology from Trump

With condemnations of US President Donald Trump from African leaders continuing, the collective of African ambassadors to the UN has described his remarks as outrageous, racist and xenophobic.

This comes after Trump questioned why the US would accept more immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador or countries in Africa using a vulgar term to describe them.

The US president reportedly made the remarks at a White House meeting on immigration last week.

The ambassadors are demanding an apology and retraction of the remarks from Trump.

Ghanaian ambassador to the UN Martha Pobee speaks on behalf of the African ambassadors.

“The African ambassadors are extremely appalled and strongly condemns the remakes attributed to the president of America.”

EWN

US says Africa important but no apology for Trump

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told African envoys on Thursday that “Africa is very important for the United States”, but she didn’t apologise for President Donald Trump’s vulgar comment about the continent as they had demanded, the chair of the African Group said.

Equatorial Guinea’s UN ambassador, Anatolio Ndong Mba, told two reporters after the closed meeting requested by Haley that “we do hope that that (apology) will come”, perhaps from Trump to African leaders at their summit in Ethiopia on January 28-29.

Ndong Mba said the 54-nation African Group at the United Nations gave Haley a “specific recommendation” but he refused to disclose it. Other diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to speak publicly, said it was to have Trump send a message to leaders at the summit.

News24