News Briefs – 14 July 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN: Another 38 probable mass graves found in DR Congo

Another 38 probable mass graves have been found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where violence between troops and armed fighters has killed thousands of people since August, the United Nations announced on Wednesday.

This means at least 80 mass graves have been identified so far, the UN peacekeeping mission in the vast Central African nation said.

The latest mass graves were found this month in the Diboko and Sumbula areas of Kamonia territory by an investigative team from the local UN human rights office and the Congo’s military justice authorities, the UN said.


Security Council warned DR Congo’s violence on rise amid little political progress

The security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to be a major source of concern, with violence in the Kasai provinces, in the western part of the vast country, reaching “disturbing” levels, the United Nations Security Council was told today.

Presenting the latest report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the DRC, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who recently visited the country, urged the Council to support the Government and the people to preserve the gains of the past 17 years.

“The current political impasse, the rising insecurity, and the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in the DRC require a concerted response from regional and international partners,” Mr. Lacroix said.

UN News


US, Somalia forces raid al-Shabab, kill several: Official

United States and Somali military forces raided a rebel-held village in southern Somalia and killed several al-Shabab fighters early Thursday, a senior Somali intelligence official said, as both countries step up efforts against Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group.

Somali commandos accompanied by U.S. forces in two helicopters raided two locations, the official said. They included a detention center run by al-Shabab in Kunya-Barrow village in Lower Shabelle region, and an unknown number of detainees were freed.

Troops engaged a small number of extremist fighters, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

U.S. Africa Command spokesman Mark Cheadle said U.S. forces conducted an “advise and assist mission” against al-Shabab with members of the Somali National Army in Kunya-Barrow. He gave no further details.

The Sacramento Bee

Somalia: UK to Save a Woman’s Life Every 90 Minutes by Increasing Birth Spacing Support


The UK today announced a package of global support for modern birth spacing at a major international summit held in London.

The package which goes up to 2022 will help save the lives of over 6,000 women globally by preventing maternal deaths – that’s one woman every 90 minutes. It will also support nearly 20 million women to receive voluntary contraceptives through family planning services, help avert 6 million unintended pregnancies; as well as help prevent the trauma of 75,000 stillbirths and nearly 44,000 new-born deaths.

A satellite event was held at the British Embassy Mogadishu, bringing together representatives from the Federal Government, UN partners and local and international Non-Governmental Organisations. Those present discussed how birth spacing can be used to save and improve lives, helping to prevent women from dying in childbirth and providing long term life-changing benefits for women and their families in Somalia. There were rich discussions on how to increase access to birth spacing methods, especially among hard-to-reach women in rural areas and IDP camps.

Central African Republic

Security Council deplores ongoing violence, attacks on civilians in Central African Republic

The United Nations Security Council today expressed concern at the ongoing clashes between armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) and deplored that civilians from some communities, UN peacekeepers and aid workers continue to be targeted.

In a Presidential statement read out at a formal meeting, members of the Security Council said they believed this violence “continues to destabilize the country, cause many civilian casualties and cause large displacements of the population, even though the parties to the conflict have agreed to put an immediate end to hostilities.”

The Security Council deplored all attacks against civilians, human rights violations and violations of human rights and reiterated the urgent need to bring to justice all perpetrators of these violations or abuses, their status or political affiliation.

UN News

Medical Charity Suspends Work in Central African Republic Town After Militants Kill Baby

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) suspended operations on Wednesday in the town of Zemio in southeastern Central African Republic after militants shot and killed a baby in a hospital hosting thousands of people displaced by violence.

Two armed men entered the hospital in Zemio – about 1,000 km (620 miles) east of the capital Bangui – on Tuesday and threatened a family before opening fire on them, shooting the baby in the head and killing her instantly, according to MSF.

“The callousness of this attack highlights both the indiscriminate nature and disturbing escalation in violence in CAR against civilians … and signals the diminishing space for aid organizations,” said Mia Hejdenberg, MSF’s head of mission.


US delay on sanctions decision leaves Sudanese in limbo

The Sudanese government, businessmen, and banks anxiously awaited a decision on Tuesday that they hoped would permanently lift decades-old US trade sanctions against Khartoum and aid in gradually bringing the country back into the international fold.

Mohammed Saad, a Sudanese expatriate living in Boston, had all but convinced himself that he would finally be able to send money back home to his family without having to use intermediaries or alternative banking routes.

“Nothing is as dependable as banks when you want your family to receive money that you work hard day and night to collect and send home,” he told Al Jazeera. “I waited for this day for six months.”


Sudan party warns extended US sanctions may encourage unrest

The party of Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir said on Thursday it would hold the United States responsible for any insecurity in Sudan after Washington extended decades-old sanctions against Khartoum.

“The people who took this decision (of extending sanctions) will bear the responsibility of any political or security impact resulting from this decision,” the deputy chief of Bashir’s National Congress Party said.

“This decision will encourage the rebels and armed groups to start their activities and disturb security in Sudan and across the region,” Ibrahim Mahmoud said.


South Sudan

Government Forces Approaching Rebel HQ in South Sudan

South Sudanese government forces are approaching the headquarters of rebel forces led by former vice president Riek Machar, a United Nations official says.

David Shearer, the head of the U.N. mission in South Sudan, said thousands of civilians have been displaced in several areas of Upper Nile state as soldiers advance on the rebels’ base in the town of Pagak, in the northeast.

Shearer told journalists in Juba Wednesday that there has been heavy fighting between the army, known as the SPLA, and opposition forces, known as the SPLA-IO.

Voice of America

UN considers new base in South Sudan’s troubled Yei region

The United Nations says it is considering opening a peacekeeping base in South Sudan’s troubled Yei region, which has “gone through a nightmare” in recent months amid warnings of ethnic violence. It would be the U.N.’s first such expansion since civil war began in 2013.

“I can see the prosperity that was once here,” the peacekeeping mission’s chief, David Shearer, told residents on his first visit. But stories of rape, killings and abductions are common in what has become one of South Sudan’s most volatile cities.

The U.N. warned of growing ethnic violence after bodies with bound hands were found in Yei late last year. In May, a U.N. report said pro-government forces killed 114 civilians in Yei between July and January, brutally raping girls and women in front of their families.

ABC News

Western Sahara

AU concerned about current deadlock regarding occupied Western Sahara conflict

The chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed Monday, in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), his concern with the current deadlock regarding the conflict in Western Sahara, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975

“Even though we welcome the decrease in tensions around Al-Guerguerat in Western Sahara, the nomination of a new personal representative of the United Nations Secretary General and his intention to launch a new initiative to settle the political conflict, we remain concerned with the current deadlock,” said Moussa Faki at the opening of the 29th African Union Summit.

“We hope that the presence of both parties (Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) as members of our Union will facilitate a consensual solution, in conformity with international law, which will guarantee the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination,” he said, adding that “the issues of peace and security continue to highly worry us.”

Sahara Press Service

Cargo of Western Sahara phosphate returned

The Moroccan state company OCP, on the 13th of July, has decided to drop defending the, New Zealand bound, detained conflict phosphate rock cargo in South Africa. OCP has realised that it could not defend the indefensible and walked away giving the people of Western Sahara a $USD5 million victory before the trial over the, Ballance Agri-Nutrients bound, phosphate rock ownership had even begun.

On 1 May 2017, the bulk vessel NM Cherry Blossom was detained in Port Elizabeth, on a stop-over to Ballance Agri-Nutrients in New Zealand. The vessel contained 55.000 tonnes of phosphate rock plundered from occupied Western Sahara.

The UN has concluded that any exploitation of resources in Western Sahara would be illegal if the Saharawi people do not consent to it. Similarly, the Court of Justice of the EU on 21 December 2016 judged that trading with the territory would be illegal without such consent. However, Morocco, illegally occupying parts of Western Sahara since 1975, has kept the exports of Western Sahara phosphate rock. In 2016, Morocco earned over 200 million USD from the rock export from the territory.

Scoop Independent




Human Rights Committee Discusses Implementation of Civil and Political Rights in Swaziland

The Human Rights Committee today concluded its consideration of Swaziland’s implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, reviewed in the absence of a report.

In his opening remarks, Edgar E. Hillary, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Swaziland, regretted that the presentation was the result of the country’s inability to report in a timely manner, due to the lack of institutional memory and dedicated focal personnel.  Since 2005, when the initial report was due, there had been remarkable development in the implementation of civil and political rights.  On 26 July 2005, the Kingdom of Swaziland had adopted a constitution after wide consultation with citizens, civil society organizations, and international and regional partners.  Chapter III of the Constitution entrenched a bill of rights which provided for the fundamental human rights contained in the Covenant, as well as a protection mechanism in cases of human rights violations ruled by the High Court of Swaziland.  Furthermore, Swaziland was reviewing the existing legislative framework with the intention of aligning it with the Constitution and international human rights instruments to which the country was a party.

EIN News

S/Africa accuses Swaziland of abuse of human rights

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) claims that Swaziland is abusing human rights and suppressing dissent and political activity, APA reports here on Thursday.The ANC reportedly recommended the party’s supports for the call for the unbanning of political parties in Swaziland and the release of all political prisoners, and that Swaziland is placed before SADC for intervention.

SA’s eNCA media reports suggest that the recommendation was made during the on-going five-day Policy Conference of the African National Congress held in SA.

“The commission recommended that the ANC strengthens its solidarity campaign on Swaziland and that they formalise the party-to-party relations with People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO),” media reported.

Journal du Cameroun


Zim unrest: MDC vehicle torched in wake of protest march

Suspected ruling party supporters burnt a vehicle belonging to Zimbabwe’s main opposition MDC party in apparent retaliation for a demonstration it held in Harare, a top party official said on Thursday.

Meanwhile at least six MDC supporters were arrested and another 10 injured by police armed with baton sticks during Wednesday’s protest march in central Harare.

Beaten with baton sticks

“Ten were injured and received treatment (at a Harare clinic). Three were seriously injured and I think they were admitted. They were beaten up with baton sticks,” MDC Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora told News24.


Zim opposition parties fear violent 2018 election

Opposition parties fear a repeat of the 2008 election violence as Zimbabwe gears up for elections next year.

This comes after one of the opposition party MDC-T’s vehicles was torched at a car park in the high-density suburb of Kuwadzana in Harare on Wednesday night.

MDC-T vice-president, Nelson Chamisa, who is also Kuwadzana East legislator, told a press conference Thursday that the ruling Zanu PF was planning a violent 2018 election campaign, adding it was an “act of terrorism” and there would be no “willingness” on the part of government to stop it.

The Citizen


Africa in General

Africa Union heads of states adopt the creation of Africa Youth Development Fund

During the 29th Heads of States and Governments Summit in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, for the first time in the history of the African Union, a budget for the youth was allocated under the African Youth Development Fund for USD 7 Million, one percent of the African Union budget to fast track African youth activities.

The funds will be used to Strengthen the capacity building of the Pan African Youth Union and National Youth Councils as well as the African Union Youth Volunteers programmes. 70% the Fund will be used to finance youth entrepreneurial Projects (Start-up projects).

The Pan African Youth Union President, Ms. Francine Muyumba had for the past years mobilized Africa Union Member States, Heads of States and government to ensure the support and adoption of the African Youth Development Fund.

Standard Media

African Ministers recommit to regional peace

South Africa, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo have reaffirmed their commitment to the Tripartite Mechanism, which is a crucial vehicle to regional peace efforts.

The three counties met in Luanda, Angola, for their Extra Ordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Tripartite Mechanism, which was attended by their Foreign Affairs Ministers. The Ministers used the occasion to review regional, continental and international issues.

“The Ministers noted with great appreciation the commendable work in the area of peace and security, as evidenced by the successful completion of the first phase of training of army recruits at the Kitona and Mura bases and training in the public order,” the Ministers said in a communique issued after the meeting on Thursday.

The Ministers noted that the security situation in the eastern part of the DRC has substantially improved.

Defence Web

Zambia ratifies 90-day state of emergency

Zambia’s parliament on Tuesday approved a 90-day state of emergency decreed by President Edgar Lungu, a move that critics see as an effort to tighten his grip on power.

Opposition lawmakers boycotted the vote by leaving the chamber, leaving only the 85 members of the president’s majority party to pass the measure.

Lungu last week gave police increased powers of arrest and detention, alleging that opposition parties were behind a string of arson attacks intended “to create terror and panic”, including one that burned down the main market in the capital last week.


Mugabe’s wife moves to grab ‘iconic state-owned Mazowe Dam’ – report

Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly moved to expand her Mazowe “empire” in Mashonaland province by grabbing the “iconic state-owned Mazowe Dam – almost a century after it was built – and surrounding tracts of land”.

According to Zimbabwe Independent, the move had heightened her “bitter fights with local villagers”, who were now barred from using the huge dam, as she also wanted to privatise it.

The First Lady’s growing empire already included a huge double-storey mansion, a dairy farm, an orphanage and a school.

The report said that Grace was also planning on building a university.



News Briefs – 7 July 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo is over

After a 42-day period without any new cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo over.

Initially announced on May 12 in Likati, a remote town in the Bas-Uélé province close to the Central African Republic border, the outbreak resulted in a total of eight cases—with four of those patients dying. While it has declared the outbreak over, WHO says “enhanced surveillance” will continue in the country. The period of 42 days without a new case is significant because it means that two 21-day incubation cycles of the virus have passed.


More EU aid for Democratic Republic of Congo as crisis in Kasaï worsens

The European Commission has announced new humanitarian aid of €5 million to help scores of people in urgent need of assistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s conflict-torn provinces of Kasaï.

This funding brings EU humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to almost €28 million since the beginning of 2017.

“The European Union is extremely concerned by the current humanitarian crisis in Kasaï, causing horrible suffering to so many people. The funding we provide today will help for the very first time in this region our humanitarian partners to respond to the most urgent needs of those affected by the conflict. But ultimately, it is only by laying down arms and restoring peace that all those caught in this conflict will be able to return home and rebuild their lives,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

The situation in the Kasaï has increasingly deteriorated throughout recent months; eight provinces and 2.6 million people are currently affected by conflict.

Over 1.3 million people are internally displaced, with some 35 000 new cases reported during May 2017 alone. Since the beginning of the year, an average of 8 000 people per day have been displaced.



U.S. strikes al Shabaab militants in Somalia: Pentagon

The U.S. military carried out a strike in Somalia against the al-Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militant group on July 4, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, the second attack on the group in the last few days.

The strike occurred about 300 miles (480 km) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, the Pentagon said. It did not disclose additional information such as the number of fighters killed.

On Monday, the U.S. military said it carried out an air strike against al Shabaab on July 2.


“We will continue to assess the results of the operation and will provide additional information as appropriate,” the U.S. military’s Africa Command said in a statement.

“Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operational security.”


US soon to have permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia

The United States ambassador to Somalia says the US once again will have a permanent diplomatic presence in the country after it opens offices in Mogadishu later this year.

The US embassy was closed in 1991 as the Horn of Africa nation slid into decades of chaos. Former Secretary of State John Kerry during a 2015 visit said the US would begin the process of re-establishing a diplomatic presence.

Ambassador Stephen Schwartz, the first US ambassador to Somalia in a quarter-century, this week told Radio Mugadisho the new “facility” should open in October.


Central African Republic

Truck accident in Central African Republic kills 78

At least 78 people were killed and dozens more were injured when a truck heavily loaded with goods and passengers crashed in the Central African Republic, a doctor said on Wednesday.

The accident occurred on Tuesday around 10 kilometres outside the town of Bambari, around 300km northeast of the capital Bangui, as the truck was travelling to a weekly market day in the village of Maloum.

“At the moment, we have counted 78 dead and 72 wounded. Some wounded were taken directly to their homes from the accident scene and died there sometime after, but most died here,” said Chamberlain Bama, chief doctor at the university hospital in Bambari, according to Reuters news agency.


UNHCR condemns attack on its staff in Central African Republic

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, strongly condemns an attack against its staff and premises that took place on Saturday, 1 July, in the northern town of Kaga Bandoro, in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Armed men entered UNHCR’s premises in Kaga Bandoro around 5 pm and looted all goods and money on site. Six of our staff members (including 4 UNHCR and 2 UNDP staff) who were present at the time of the incident were robbed of their belongings, including personal items and passports, and threatened at gun point.

Since the attack, UNHCR has temporarily relocated staff to the MINUSCA Base in Kaga Bandoro, and we will be moving some to Bangui.

We condemn this attack and stand by our staff. The safety of aid workers is of tremendous importance for being able to help civilian populations in desperate need.



Sudan defends human rights record against US criticism

Sudan insisted on Saturday that it respected media and religious freedoms after the United States said it was “very concerned” about Khartoum’s human rights record.

Washington raised its concerns just two weeks before President Donald Trump is due to decide whether to permanently lift a 20-year-old US trade embargo on Khartoum.

“Sudan enjoys freedom of press with more than 30 newspapers supporting government as well as opposition views published daily,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.


Sudan called ‘disaster for religious liberty’

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has urged the U.S. State Department not to ignore religious freedom and persecution issues before possibly lifting sanctions on the government of Sudan.

The ERLC joined six other organizations — including Samaritan’s Purse, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the Enough Project — in a June 29 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling for his department’s consideration of Sudan’s treatment of religious minorities. The organizations sent the letter as the State Department nears a July 12 deadline for lifting sanctions on the East African country.

The State Department has included Sudan in its list of “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) — which is reserved for the world’s most extreme violators of religious liberty — since the designation was first used in 1999. Sudan’s repressive Islamic government in Khartoum was one of 10 CPCs in the State Department’s most recent list in October.

Baptist Press

South Sudan

South Sudan war apparently spilling into Uganda

Men wearing South Sudanese military uniforms launched two raids on a hamlet over the border in Uganda in recent weeks, residents said, stealing cattle and raising fears a near four-year-old conflict is spreading.

The gunmen also tried to seize refugees from Gbari in the first reported attacks on Ugandan soil since the start of South Sudan’s civil war, locals told Reuters.

“I am afraid, they may come … and burn all the houses,” said Martin Koma (44) from the village.

South Sudan’s army denied any involvement. But the reports will alarm regional and world powers, struggling to contain ethnically-charged killings and atrocities the UN warns could lead to genocide.

South Sudanese gunmen have already killed and kidnapped hundreds in cross-border raids in Ethiopia.

Defence Web

People ‘burned to death in homes’ by South Sudan’s government militias

The government of South Sudan and its militias are behaving with vicious brutality in the country, with reports of men being locked in huts and burned to death, and of machete attacks being carried out in remote villages.

The atrocities are just one of the causes of the major refugee crisis in the region, with almost a million people fleeing to Uganda. Out of a population of some 12.5 million, more than 1.7 million are enduring severe hunger, classified as just one step below famine, and the number at risk of starvation is 6 million and growing. On top of that, a fast-spreading cholera outbreak threatens to kill thousands. The human rights group Amnesty International, which has been gathering together reports from the conflict, said forces – those loyal to the government and also some to the opposition – had also cut food supplies to parts of the country.

Women and girls are increasingly being abducted and raped in the region of Equatoria, a new frontline in the conflict, which is now a region of “treacherous killing fields”, according to Amnesty.

The Guardian

Western Sahara

Morocco says UN to resolve Western Sahara dispute

Morocco’s top diplomat said on Tuesday that the United Nations is to lead efforts to end a dispute over a partially recognised state in Western Sahara that Rabat considers its territory.

Speaking in Addis Ababa at his first African Union summit since Morocco returned to the bloc in January, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said the AU had backed the move.

Morocco left the AU in 1984 after the latter admitted the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, proclaimed by the separatist Polisario Front in Western Sahara.

Bourita said he was “very satisfied” by the AU decision to allow the UN to lead attempts to resolve the Western Sahara question, with a resolution urging “appropriate support” of the UN Secretary General’s efforts.


AU re-establishes 10-member contact group on Western Sahara to find an urgent solution to Sahrawi issue

The African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government has adopted today the decisions of the African Peace and Security Council on the situation of peace and security in Africa,  welcoming the international efforts aimed at speeding up a solution to the Sahrawi issue.

The African Union (AU) has recently adopted a resolution proposed by the African Peace and Security Council on the issue of Western Sahara, which includes the re-establishment of the 10-member contact group on Western Sahara to find an urgent solution to the Sahrawi issue, in addition to setting a calendar of meetings on the issuet of Western Sahara to ensure continuous follow-up by the African Union.

Sahara Press Service



SADC Must Intervene in Human Rights Abuse in Swaziland: ANC

The African National Congress on Tuesday called for Swaziland, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy, to be referred to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for abuse of human rights and suppression of dissent and political activity.

Swaziland’s Suppression of Terrorism Act, which has been used by government to ban political groups opposing King Mswati’s rule, was last year declared unconstitutional by the country’s High Court.

Government used the Suppression of Terrorism Act to ban the People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) in 2008.

The party’s president, Mario Masuku, still awaits trial after being charged with treason for publicly uttering the name of his organisation at a May Day rally in 2014.


El Niño Causes Social Disintegration in Swaziland, Study Reveals

The severe drought that hit Swaziland in 2016 has caused an increase in prostitution and rape within families, and the abandonment of children by parents who had to move in search of jobs, it was reported here today.

A study conducted by the Swaziland Economic Policy Analysis and Research Center (SEPARC) circulated in the South African capital says that the effect of El Niño weather phenomenon has been the main catalyst for a massive social disintegration in that neighboring South African nation.

According to SEPARC, the extreme situation in some families has forced the parents to leave the children alone to look for jobs to support them, which has had a negative impact on the minors. The parents did not anticipate that violations and attempted abuses would occur.

Prensa Latin


Zimbabwe’s 93-Year-Old Leader Woos Youth in Latest Campaign

Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old president is courting the young as he makes a pitch for a fresh five-year term ahead of next year’s election.

President Robert Mugabe, accused by critics of human rights abuses and running down this once-prosperous southern African country since taking power in 1980, is on a nationwide blitz to woo a youthful generation most affected by the economic meltdown.

Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, has launched a series of well-attended events called “presidential youth interface rallies.” Some opposition members point to his advanced age as the reason why youth should reject him. But Mugabe’s supporters think otherwise.

US News



Coalition by July 31: Tsvangirai

MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday declared that the proposed coalition of opposition parties will be a done deal by the month-end, so that various stakeholders would have enough time to strategise collectively to dislodge President Robert Mugabe in next year’s elections.

Addressing journalists after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said there was need to put an end to speculation on the electoral pact and embark on real issues affecting the people.

“We are targeting the end of July to end these bilateral discussions and we are open to anyone who wants to discuss with us,” he said.

News Day



Africa in General

State of Emergency Declared in Zambia

The burning of the country’s biggest market, which is the latest in a series of infernos, apparent celebrations of the tragedy and a subsequent state of emergency has driven a wedge further between the Zambian government and opposition parties as well as civil society organisations.

Early on Tuesday, a fire ravaged the Lusaka City Market in the capital destroying property worth millions of Kwachas in what is believed to be an act by arsonists government suspects to be supporters of the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) protesting against the months-long detention of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema on allegations of treason after he allegedly blocked Lungu’s convoy.

No sooner had the smoke settled on the market than United Kingdom-based adviser of the UPND, Larry Mweetwa, added fuel to the fire by praising the alleged arsonists for the “job well done.”


Kenya Cracks Down on Media Ahead of Elections

Kenyan media and the international, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), have expressed concern that authorities are using the argument of preventing inflammatory hate speech to crack down on freedom of speech ahead of the forthcoming elections.

The CPJ warned in a Wednesday press release that new social media guidelines outlined by Nairobi could prevent journalists from reporting critically or close the space for public debate ahead of the general elections in Kenya due to take place August 8.

Two government bodies – the Communications Authority, which has regulatory oversight in broadcasting and telecommunications, and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, which promotes national unity – are reviewing the results of a public consultation on draft guidelines that they proposed to prevent the spread of inflammatory content and hate speech on messaging and social media platforms.


IMF Issues Warning on SA Economy

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned South Africa’s vulnerabilities have become more pronounced and could increase unless economic growth is revived.

The IMF says South Africa’s economic growth is projected to increase to 1% this year and just 1.2% in 2018.

The fund is also warning that the scope for monetary or fiscal policy to provide stimulus is limited.

On Wednesday, the African National Congress (ANC) failed to agree a clear plan to get the economy out of recession and tackle near 28% unemployment but risked rattling investors with pledges on nationalising the central bank and expropriating land.



News Briefs 30 June 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo violence fuels fears of return to 90s bloodbath

Thousands of people have been killed and more than a million displaced in the most severe outbreak of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent years, raising fears of a return to the bloody civil wars of the 1990s and increasing pressure on President Joseph Kabila to step down or hold elections.

The violence in the vast, resource-rich central African country has been concentrated in the central Kasai region, where local communities formed a militia in support of a local leader who opposed the government and was killed by the police last summer.

The authorities have been battling insurgents ever since, and there have been reports of dozens of massacres, ambushes and attacks on villagers. On Monday local officials announced the discovery of 10 mass graves, bringing the total found in Kasai since the outbreak of violence to about 50.

The Guardian

Zuma Urges Kabila’s DRC to Engage in Dialogue Rather Than Conflict

President Jacob Zuma says the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) needs negotiations and dialogue rather than conflict to chart its future.

He was speaking to his counterpart Joseph Kabila in Pretoria on Sunday at the end of the 13th meeting of South Africa’s oldest binational commission with any country.

Zuma notes that South Africa and the DRC have been working together for the past 20 years.

South Africa’s helped in the training of the DRC national army, police, diplomats; providing technical electoral support; as well as conducting the important public service census.



Militants blocking aid to starving children in Somalia, charity says

Lack of access to hungry parts of Somalia controlled by Islamist militants is threatening the lives of tens of thousands of malnourished children, a charity said on Thursday, as the war-torn nation risks falling back into famine.

Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), often fatal without medical care, has “skyrocketed” to more than three times the emergency threshold of two percent in Hiraan region’s Mataban District, a survey by Save the Children found.

“Scaling up to provide services to everyone affected is a challenge because we have around two million people living in al Shabaab controlled areas,” said Hassan Noor Saadi, Save the Children’s Somalia country director.

Thomson Reuters Foundation

20 000 children in Somalia risk starvation, aid group says

An aid group is warning that more than 20 000 children in drought-hit Somalia could starve to death in the coming months without continued international assistance.

Save the Children said on Thursday that the number of cases of severe acute malnutrition has “skyrocketed” in several of the nine Somali districts assessed.

The new survey warns of “famine-like conditions” in parts of the Horn of Africa nation.

The aid group says that without $1.5bn in assistance, Somalia could face a hunger crisis as severe as the one in 2011, when famine killed more than a quarter-million people. Half of the victims were children.


Central African Republic

At least 100 dead in Central African Republic town, mayor says

Clashes between armed groups in the Central African Republic town of Bria have left at least 100 people dead in the wake of a peace agreement signed this week in Rome that called for an immediate cease-fire, officials said on Wednesday.

Security remained so precarious that Red Cross teams could not venture into the streets to collect bodies for burial.

“For the moment, no one dares to go out as everything suggests that fighting can resume at any time,” said the Reverend Gildas Gbeni of the St Louis Catholic mission in Bria.


Red Cross Worker Shot Dead in Central African Republic


An unidentified armed group in Central African Republic shot and killed a Red Cross worker in a town where more than 100 people have died in militia attacks in recent weeks, the Red Cross said on Monday.

Joachim Ali, a Red Cross volunteer in the diamond-mining town of Bangassou in the southeast of the country, was killed on Friday evening while on duty at the organization’s compound, according to a spokesman.

He is the second Red Cross worker to be killed during the conflict, after a driver died in 2014. The Central African Red Cross Society is investigating Ali’s death, a statement said.

Thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have fled their homes in the conflict that broke out after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.

Voice of America


UN Approves Drawdown of Peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur Region

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday approved a phased drawdown of peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur region that could almost halve the number of troops over the next year if conditions are conducive and the government is cooperative.

UN chief Antonio Guterres and the African Union (AU) had recommended the move to the 15-member Security Council in a report last month. The council unanimously adopted a resolution on Thursday that could also cut police by more than a quarter.

Conflict in Darfur began in 2003 when mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms against Sudan’s Arab-led government. A joint AU/UN peacekeeping operation, known as UNAMID, has been on the ground for the past decade.


Sudan hopes US travel ban won’t harm sanctions bid

Sudan expressed hopes on Tuesday that a US court’s decision to partially reinstate a travel ban that includes its citizens will not harm its bid to have American sanctions lifted.

The US Supreme Court on Monday partially reinstated President Donald Trump’s travel ban imposing restrictions on citizens from Sudan, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

The ruling comes just weeks ahead of an expected decision by Trump on whether to permanently lift the United States’ 20-year-old trade embargo on the North African country.

“Sudan hopes the decision on sanctions should not be impacted by this latest decision,” senior foreign ministry official Abdelghani Elnaim said in a statement.


South Sudan

  1. Sudan national dialogue officials in S. Africa for talks with rebel leader

The National Dialogue Committee Co-Chairman Angelo Beda, flanked by several senior officials, Wednesday arrived in South Africa to consult with the exiled former First Vice President turned rebel leader, Riek Machar.

The delegation is yet to arrange how and when it will meet Machar in coordination with authorities of the host country.

Machar has been under solitary confinement since he left Sudan for South Africa. His departure was decided by the IGAD leader and backed by the American administration. However, South Sudanese officials say his accommodations are paid by Juba.

Officials in Juba, in the past months, said they do not want to involve the rebel leader personally in any negotiated settlement and suggested that he can designate any of his aides to represent him.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan cancels Independence Day for second year

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation gripped by civil war, has cancelled its official Independence Day celebrations for the second year running.


“We are not celebrating… because our situation does not require us to celebrate at a time when there are people in need of these funds,” explained government spokesman Michael Makuei of the cancellation.

South Sudan split with Sudan on July 9, 2011 but has been engulfed by civil war since 2013.

Violence and subsequent famine have killed tens of thousands and forced 3.7 million people from their homes.


Western Sahara

Committee of 24 reaffirms its mandate of decolonization of Western Sahara

The UN Special Committee on Decolonization, known as the Committee of 24, reaffirmed its mandate for the decolonization of the territory of Western Sahara, disavowing formally Morocco which wanted to question it.

In its report sanctioning the work of its substantive session which ended on Friday evening in New York, the Committee of 24 unanimously reaffirmed its commitment to the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.

The Committee issued a scathing response to the Ambassador of Morocco to the United Nations, Omar Hilal, who tried, in vain, to call into question this mandate, by claiming falsely that the settlement of the conflict in Western Sahara was the exclusive prerogative of the Security Council alone.

Sahara Press Service

Pierre Galand denounces an attempt to present Western Sahara as Moroccan territory

The President of the European Coordination of Committees in support of the Saharawi people, Pierre Galand, protested Friday against the way French television channel France2 presented documentary “Morocco seen from the sky “, denouncing an attempt to make Western Sahara  as a Moroccan territory.

“I would like to express my total disapproval of the way in which your channel France 2 presented the documentary of Pascal Plisson and Ali Baddou, on 22 June 2017, in the evening: ‘Morocco seen from the sky,'” he wrote in a letter to the French Television Mediator, Gora Patel.

Pierre Galand considered that even if the images captured by Yann Arthus-Bertrand are “superb”, the channel should not “authorize” the diffusion of a so-called “documentary” which is not more than “a propaganda film of the Moroccan government that attempts to present Western Sahara as Moroccan territory, map and interventions of the supporting journalist “.

Sahara Press Service


Swaziland’s economy to grow by 1% – IMF

Swaziland’s economy is likely to grow by not more than one percent, if projections made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are anything to go by, APA can report here on Tuesday. IMF Mission Chief for Swaziland Geremia Palomba said this to local media during the article IV visit convened at the Ministry of Finance boardroom on Tuesday.

“In 2016, a prolonged drought and a sharp decline in revenue from Southern African Customs Union (SACU) severely hit the economy. An expansionary fiscal policy weakened the fiscal accounts and led to the accumulation of domestic arrears,” he said during the media briefing.

Journal du

Zuma concludes Swaziland visit, calls for intra-trade relations

President Jacob Zuma concluded his visit to the Kingdom of Swaziland on Friday, where he attended the fifth Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) Summit Heads of State and Government.

Zuma appealed to the member states of SACU to advance intra-trade relations in the region.

Zuma said it would “help ease the burden of poverty and unemployment facing many people across the countries that are part of the union”.

“I would like to like to also thank the Council of Ministers for having laid the foundation to facilitate the development of SACU economies, SACU needs to move beyond its colonial history and architecture into an arrangement that facilitate growth of the region” Zuma said in a statement.

The Citizen


Proposed Zimbabwe coalition failing to take off

One by one candidates for Zimbabwe’s 2018 general elections are coming out in the open as a possible grand coalition to face President Robert Mugabe is failing to take off due to different interests among political parties.

The first to toy with the idea of going into politics full swing was #thisflag campaigner Pastor Evan Mawarire in February this year. On Monday‚ his lawyer Fadzai Mahere declared interest in running for the Mount Pleasant parliamentary seat as an independent. The seat is currently under Zanu PF.

But the biggest announcement came Thursday from a former minister in President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet. Dr Nkosana Moyo told journalists that he would face his former boss for the presidency.


Zimbabwe’s Mawarire Arrested For ‘Promoting Public Violence’

The leader of the ThisFlag protest movement is now facing a charge of promoting public violence.

Evan Mawarire was arrested on Monday while addressing protesting medical students at the University of Zimbabwe. Defence lawyer Harrison Nkomo says Mawarire will likely appear in court on Wednesday.

He’s been charged with taking part in a public gathering for the purpose of committing public violence.

Mawarire denies the charge, he says he was invited to address University of Zimbabwe medical students who are angry over recent fees hike.


Africa in General

SA, DRC consolidate bilateral relations

South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo are looking to consolidate their relations. Delegations from both nations are attending the 10th Session of the Bi-National Commission in Pretoria.

South Africa and the DRC launched the Bi-National Commission in 2004 leading to the signing of the General Cooperation Agreement – which enjoins the two countries to promote political, economic and social cooperation.

After two decades of bilateral cooperation, the two countries have re-committed to working together to improve their partnership in various fields.


UN ends peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast after 13 years

The UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast comes to an end Friday, 13 years after it intervened to implement a peace agreement as the West African economic powerhouse was split in two by civil war.

While many praise the mission’s success in stabilising the country after years of conflict and post-electoral violence, others point to a recent series of army mutinies as a sign that peace remains tentative.

“The departure of UNOCI shows the remarkable progress that has been accomplished in Ivory Coast on the path to peace, lasting stability and economic prosperity,” said Aichatou Mindaoudou, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for the country.


Mbeki: Masire’s leadership ‘made us proud to call ourselves Africans’

Former president Thabo Mbeki has paid tribute to ex-Botswana leader Sir Ketumile Masire, who was laid to rest in his home village, Kanye, outside the capital Gaborone.

Masire died in hospital last week at the age of 91.

He was buried on Thursday, next to his wife.

Said Mbeki: “We can proclaim to all humanity that from this small acre of Africa was born a son Ketumile Masire, whose quality of leadership made us proud to call ourselves African.”

Mbeki also paid tribute to the role that Masire played during the liberation struggles of the southern region and the rest of Africa.


News Briefs 23 June 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

Catholic Church slams ‘killings and plundering’ by security forces in Kasai

The Catholic Church has condemned the “killings and plundering” allegedly committed by security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s restive Kasaï-Central province.

Kasaï, in the heart of the DRC, has been plagued by violence between the Congolese security forces and a local militia, Kamuina Nsapu, who are seeking to avenge the death of their leader, who was killed in Tshimbulu by Congo’s security forces in August 2016.

International Business Times

Fighting Kills More Than 3,000 In Congo’s Kasai Region – Catholic Church

Congolese security forces and a militia fighting them have killed at least 3,383 people in the central Kasai region since October, the Catholic church said on Tuesday, in the most detailed report to date on the violence.

Church officials, citing their own sources in the remote territory bordering Angola, said the army had destroyed 10 villages as it sought to stamp out an insurrection.

They also accused the Kamuina Nsapu militia of killing hundreds of people, destroying four villages and attacking church property in a campaign to drive out central government troops.



7 dead in suicide blast at police station in Somalia capital

At least seven people are dead and a dozen wounded after a suicide car bomb blast at a police station in Somalia’s capital, police and an ambulance service said on Thursday.

The bomber was trying to drive into the Waberi district’s police station gate but detonated against the wall instead, Captain Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press.

Ambulance sirens echoed across Mogadishu, with dozens of soldiers at the scene. Aamin Ambulance Service said it had transported seven bodies and 12 wounded.


Blackwater founder’s FSG signs security deal with Somali region

Frontier Services Group (FSG) , co-founded by Erik Prince who created the U.S. security firm Blackwater, said on Thursday it would provide logistics, aviation and security services for a regional development project in Somalia.

Hong Kong-listed FSG said the deal was signed with the Free Zone Investment Authority of the South West State of Somalia, one of the federal regions set up under efforts in the Horn of Africa nation to rebuild its political structures and economy.

The president of the South West State region, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, said in a statement that the project was part of the region’s move to attract local and foreign investors.


Central African Republic

CAR stuck between racism and exploitation

In a camp for internally displaced people outside Kabo, in the Central African Republic, I meet a group of Muslims displaced from their homes for the past two years. The camp, home to some 2 600 people, mostly Muslims chased from various parts of the country, is in a horrific state. One of the camp’s elders, Ousmane Bouda, a thin man in a white kurta, says everyone here has a similar story. Their homes ransacked and occupied, their families beaten, their cows stolen. Bouda’s own son was murdered in 2014. He left behind a five-bedroom house to live in a wooden hut made of sticks and dried leaves. When it rains, he and the camp’s other inhabitants stand up, and wait for the water to pass.

The crisis in the CAR has taken a sharp turn towards the dangerous; an accelerating emergency that shows no signs of abating. Whatever gains might have been made after the elections of 2016 have long dissipated. Bouda’s story is fast becoming the norm.


Spiraling Violence in Central African Republic Isolates Neediest

Escalating violence between rival armed factions in Central African Republic is cutting off humanitarian access to civilians most needing help, while emboldened fighters are now infiltrating camps for the displaced, agencies said on Thursday.

As many as 100 people may have been killed on Tuesday in the diamond-mining town of Bria, 580 km (360 miles) northeast of the capital Bangui, one day after militias signed a peace deal aimed at ending years of bloodshed.

Voice of America

Central African Republic foes sign Church-mediated peace accord

The government of the Central African Republic and 13 of the 14 armed groups in the country on Monday signed an accord aimed at ending an ethic and religious conflict that has killed thousands of people.

The deal, which was mediated by the Roman Catholic Sant’ Egidio peace group and signed at their headquarters in Rome, calls for an immediate end to hostilities and recognition of the results of last year’s presidential elections.

The country has been plagued by inter-religious and inter-communal conflict since 2013, when the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, prompting reprisals from the anti-Balaka militia, many of whose fighters are nominally Christian.



Sudanese scientist battles climate change in Africa

She’s seen it before. The images of dry, cracked lands; dead trees; animal corpses; hungry children and lines of people waiting for food assistance are not new to her.

The current drought and resulting food crisis affecting millions across the Horn of Africa are painful reminders of the importance of her work.

But that’s not all that bothers her. Across the Atlantic, the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and proposed policies to reverse the United States’ contribution to the fight against climate change dishearten her. They add insult to injury.


Sudan: Enough Project Pleads for New U.S.-Sudan Policy Framework

In a pamphlet entitled The Missing Track, published in anticipation of the Trump administration’s imminent decisions on Sudan sanctions, the Enough Project, which aims to counter genocide and crimes against humanity, has urged for a re-think of the policy framework between the USA and Sudan.

“In early July, the Trump administration is due to make a pivotal decision concerning Sudan: the administration could fully remove sweeping sanctions that were suspended in the waning days of the Obama administration, reinstate those sanctions, or delay that decision in order to gather more information and allow new appointees to take their seats before any conclusions are reached,” the plea reads.


South Sudan

South Sudan must end war, UN chief says on refugee visit

South Sudan’s leaders must end a civil war that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, the United Nations secretary-general said on Thursday while visiting what has become the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

“The leaders of South Sudan have not deserved the people they have,” Antonio Guterres said after touring a refugee reception center in northern Uganda. More than 900 000 refugees are sheltering in Uganda, most of them women and children. Most have arrived in the past year.

“The people (are) suffering enormously with this endless war,” Guterres said. “It is time for the war to end.”


International community urged to support South Sudan refugees

The international community had the opportunity to express its solidarity with refugees at the two-day Solidarity Summit, co-hosted by Uganda and the UN, which wraps up on Friday in Kampala, Uganda.

The event aims to rally international support for refugees and host communities in the form of donations, investments and innovative programmes.

With Uganda hosting almost one million South Sudanese refugees “as sisters and brothers and sharing with them their land and everything they have”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged the international community to show solidarity with those that had fled their homes, as well as with the Ugandan government and people.

“In a world where so many people are selfishly closing their doors, closing their borders, not allowing refugees to come, this example deserves praise and admiration from the whole international community,” Guterres told reporters at the Imvepi Refugee Reception Centre in the Arua district of northern Uganda on Thursday.

The Citizen

Western Sahara

SA court orders Moroccan ship held over Western Sahara

A South African court on Thursday ordered the further detention of a Moroccan vessel laden with phosphate mined from the disputed Western Sahara pending a trial to determine the owner of the cargo.

The 34 000-tonne vessel from Western Sahara and destined for New Zealand was last month blocked from sailing off due to a court motion seeking that the vessel return its cargo.

The motion argued that transportation of goods from disputed Western Sahara is illegal and in violation of international principles.

“The court has basically found that the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Polisario Front have established, on a prima facie basis, that effectively the people of Western Sahara own the cargo,” Andre Bowley, the complainants’ lawyer told AFP.

The Citizen

UN Chief to Name ex-German President as Western Sahara Envoy

The head of the United Nations will name former German president Horst Koehler as his new envoy for Western Sahara, in charge of restarting talks between Morocco and the Polisario independence movement over the disputed territory.

The United Nations Security Council in April backed attempts to re-enter negotiations over Western Sahara, which has been contested since 1975 and where Morocco and Polisario fought a war until a 1991 ceasefire.

“Following the usual consultations, I intend to appoint Horst Koehler of Germany as my personal envoy for Western Sahara,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a letter to the Security Council released by the U.N. on Friday.

Voice of America


SACU summit set for Swaziland

Delegates from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member states are in Swaziland for a five-day meeting of SACU institutions.

The meeting which runs from the 19-23 June is the 44th SACU gathering. On June 19, the meeting was on the Finance and Audit Committee which was chaired by Botswana. Today there is a SACU Commission which is being chaired by Swaziland in Ezulwini.

In a press statement, the Executive Secretary of SACU Paulina Elago said the 31st meeting of the Council of Ministers will take place on June 21st.

The Southern Times

 Swaziland: Senate Snubs LGBTI Health Report

Senators in Swaziland threw out a motion to make a report on access to health facilities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and/or intersexual (LGBTI) people because it was ‘discrimination’ in favour of them.

The Swazi Observer reported, on Tuesday (13 June 2017), ‘Senator Phumelela, who was very critical of the motion, said she wanted to know from the mover if people of the LGBTI community suffered sicknesses different from heterosexual people.

‘”Is their flu different from our flu, because I don’t understand why they would need special treatment if they get sick the same way that we do,” she said. She further urged senators to be wary of this motion because it would come back to haunt the nation one day.’



Zimbabwe appeals for $10.9m aid for refugees

Financially hamstrung Zimbabwe joined UN agencies and charities on Wednesday in appealing for $10.9m of aid for thousands of refugees in the country including families fleeing violence in neighbouring Mozambique.

Zimbabwe, grappling an economic crisis including a cash crunch which has had a toll on social services, is host to 17 500 refugees, official statistics show.

“Governments and humanitarian organisations are left to deal with the consequences while at the same time struggling to save lives on limited budgets,” Robert Tibagwa, the resident representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Zimbabwe, said at the launch of the appeal.


Voter registration should be free, fair to avoid chaos: ZimRights

RIGHTS watchdog, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has warned the country of possible chaos if the soon-to-be-rolled-out voter registration exercise is not handled in a free and transparent manner.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is soon to roll out a new biometric voter (BVR) registration process after it awarded a $4 million tender to supply BVR kits to a Chinese company early this month.

The process would require a fresh voter registration exercise for the 2018 watershed polls.

But addressing human rights defenders at a peace and conflict resolution workshop in Bulawayo yesterday, ZimRights director, Okay Machisa said if the pre-voter registration process was not handled properly, it could culminate into chaos that could result in people being displaced.




Africa in General

Uganda and UN to convene ‘solidarity summit’ amid fast-growing refugee emergency

Facing a fast-growing refugee crisis, Uganda is set to host in its capital, Kampala, a ‘Solidarity Summit’ with the support of the United Nations, to rally international support for refugees and host communities in the form of donations, investments and innovative programmes.

The two-day Summit, which opens Thursday, 22 June, comes as the UN estimates that in just one year, largely due to an influx of people fleeing violence and instability in South Sudan, the refugee population in Uganda has more than doubled – from 500,000 to more than 1.25 million – making the country host to the world’s fastest growing refugee emergency.

Hosted by President Yoweri Museveni and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the event, which is expecting 30 Heads of State and international donors, looks to raise $2 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees and to support the hosting communities over the next four years.

UN News

EU announces €85 million as Uganda faces world’s fastest growing refugee crisis

Uganda is now facing the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis, due to a continuous and unprecedented influx of people fleeing conflict in neighbouring South Sudan among others. The country is now hosting over 1.27 million refugees and asylum seekers.

“To help Uganda deal with this unprecedented situation and support the most vulnerable refugees, the European Commission has today announced €85 million in humanitarian aid and longer term development assistance. Many refugees have fled conflict in South Sudan, seeking sanctuary from violence, hatred and hunger. Uganda’s example of helping vulnerable people cope with displacement is an example for the whole region and the world. However, no country can deal with such a high number of refugees on its own. The EU funding announced today will help our humanitarian partners working in Uganda bring some relief to those who have lost everything,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

The announcement comes as Commissioner Stylianides is attending the Uganda Solidarity Summit on refugees taking place in Kampala on 22 and 23 June, on behalf of the European Commission.

EU News

Army warns Mugabe over wife Grace’s ‘ambition to succeed him’ – report

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has reportedly moved to stop his wife, Grace’s ambition to succeed him.

According to Bloomberg, this came after the country’s intelligence chief warned that “her campaign may stoke political violence”.

Quoting three members from the ruling Zanu-PF party’s politburo, Bloomberg said that Grace’s ambition faced opposition from the military, who backed Mnangagwa as next leader.

“Mugabe asked his wife Grace, 51, to tone down her public criticism of veterans of Zimbabwe’s independence war who’ve supported the president since he took power in 1980 and back her main rival, Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 74,” the politburo members were quoted as saying.


Angolan VP to be tried for corruption in Portugal

Angolan Vice President Manuel Vicente will face trial in Portugal over allegations he bribed a magistrate to drop two investigations against him, according to a Wednesday ruling cited in Portuguese media.

Vicente, who was the president of Angolan national oil company Sonangol at the time of the alleged crimes, is accused of bribery, money laundering and document falsification, the public prosecutor’s office said, according to Portugal’s main news agency Lusa.

Lisbon’s trial court has also ordered former Portugese prosecutor Orlando Figueira, who was arrested in 2016, to be tried on suspicion of receiving money from Vicente.



News Briefs 02 June 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

The voters of the Democratic Republic of Congo should have gone to the polls last November to choose their new head of state.

Instead, presidential and parliamentary elections were not organized, and shortly afterward, on December 19, President Joseph Kabila’s second and, according to the constitution, final term expired.

Deal struck

Under a political deal struck on New Year’s Eve between Kabila’s ruling coalition and the opposition, the delayed polls are supposed to take place in late 2017. In the meantime, the president has remained in office.

On Sunday, the electoral commission, known as CENI, launched voter enrollment in Kinshasa, the Congo’s capital of about 12 million people, and Kabila himself was the first to register. The process of registering the city’s voters is expected to take about three months.

On Monday, Providence Nsongo was at a registration center at a high school in the district of Barumbu.

Nsongo said he had come to do his civic duty by enrolling so that he could take action against Congo’s political and administrative authorities. He said that this is the right of all Congolese people.


U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Top Military Adviser to Congo’s Kabila

The U.S. imposed sanctions on a senior military adviser of Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, raising pressure on the government for a peaceful transition of power.

The U.S. froze the assets of Francois Olenga, the head of the Military House of the President, for actions that threatened “the peace, security or stability of the DRC,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

Olenga oversaw security operations on behalf of Kabila to quash political dissent and supported the redeployment of senior military offices believed to have “pro-opposition” leanings, according to Treasury. Safari Beach, a resort on the outskirts of Congo’s capital Kinshasa which is owned or controlled by Olenga, was also placed on the sanctions list, it said.



Not enough funds to fight persisting hunger in Somalia: WFP

The World Food Programme is urging for more funding to fight the deepening hunger and nutrition crisis in Somalia where more than half the 12 million population are need of aid and the country risks a repeat of famine that killed hundreds of thousands of people just six years ago.

It is a desperate situation. The World Food Programme is feeding about 2.3 million people right now per day but funds are short and if we do not receive the funds we need, we are talking about a situation that will be potentially much worse than the famine that took place in 2010, 2011 and 2012 when 260,000 people died and literally half of those died before the famine was declared.

We’re looking at multiples much worse than that with the numbers that we are seeing now so, we need the money and we need it now.


Somalia And Its Backers Seek Security Pact to Beef Up Army

Somalia’s government and its foreign backers said on Thursday they were hammering out a plan to try and strengthen the army to take over the fight against Al-Shabaab militants from over-stretched African Union troops.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May told a London conference the scheme would aim to unite Somalia’s main army with a range of regional forces based across the divided and chaotic territory.

The African Union troops have clawed back most of Somalia’s main towns and cities from al Shabaab since they helped drive the Al Qaeda-linked insurgents out of the capital Mogadishu in 2010.


Central African Republic

Lack of aid funds fuelling C Africa crisis: UN

A dire lack of aid funds in the strife-torn Central African Republic risks leaving a vacuum that armed groups will fill, dashing hopes of peace, the UN said on Thursday.

Aid workers have already been forced to scale down their activities and food rations have been cut in half, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the country, Najat Rochdi, told reporters.

“The window of opportunity to prevent the crisis from further escalation risks being shut very soon,” she warned.


UN: Renewed Violence Puts CAR Peace Process on Life Support

The United Nations warns a new spiral of escalating violence in the Central African Republic is threatening to wipe out progress made since 2013 toward peace and reconciliation.

Renewed fighting between Christian anti-Balaka militia and the ex-Seleka Muslim rebels in mid-May continues to take a heavy toll. The United Nations reports more than 100,000 people have fled their homes, more than 100 have been killed and hundreds of others wounded.

The U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for C.A.R., Najat Rochdi, says the peace dividend people were beginning to enjoy has all but disappeared. She warns worse lies ahead if the humanitarian and protection needs of the people continue to be forgotten by the International community.

Voice of America


Almost 4,000,000 Sudanese displaced by fighting

Almost 4,000,000 Sudanese have been forced from their homes in 14 years of tribal violence and battles between government and opposition fighters, the Norwegian Refugee Council says.

The aid group listed Sudan as number three in its latest report, The World’s Most Neglected Displacement Crises, saying almost five million Sudanese were now dependant on humanitarian aid, with three million of those living in the war-scarred region of Darfur.

“Hundreds of thousands of people do not receive the lifesaving help they need because of challenges in accessing communities,” the council said before blaming “a 40 percent shortage in funding and a lack of international media attention to the crisis”.


Sudan rejects Egypt official offer on disputed border region

Sudan has rejected an official offer from Egypt applying the terms of an inactivate agreement on the contested border area of the Halayeb Triangle.

After obstructing the 2004 Four Freedoms Agreement that would have permitted free movement, residence, work and ownership in both countries, Egypt recently offered to implement its terms in the disputed mineral-rich border region, a government official told Egyptian website Mada Masr.

Relations between Egypt and Sudan have recently been fraught with tension, with Khartoum renewing its claim to the Halayeb Triangle, a dispute that dates back to British colonial times.

The New Arab

South Sudan

Botched Anti-Measles Campaign Kills 15 Children in South Sudan

At least 15 children died in South Sudan in early May after health workers vaccinating them against measles used the same syringe without sterilizing it, the health minister said on Friday.

About 300 children were vaccinated on May 2-5 in Nacholdokopele village in Eastern Equatoria state, another 32 of whom have recovered after falling ill with symptoms including fever, vomiting and diarrhea, Health Minister Riek Gai Kok said.

“The team that vaccinated the children in this tragic event were neither qualified nor trained for the immunization campaign,” Kok told a news conference.

US News

South Sudan

SA has been ‘hospitable’, South Sudan rebel leader Machar tells UN

outh Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar, who has been in South Africa since last year, has told the United Nations that the country’s government has been “hospitable”, but he wishes to be released “from confinement and detention”.

“My host here South Africa has been hospitable,” Machar said in a statement released on Wednesday after a teleconference with the UN security council.

According to reports the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), arrived in South Africa late last year without the government’s knowledge – after fleeing the capital Juba, claiming that President Salva Kiir wanted to assassinate him.


Western Sahara

European Commission ‘ignoring’ of UN-recognised Polisario Front on EU-Morocco Agreement raised in Dáil

A EUROPEAN COMMISSION move to renegotiate its Association Agreement with Morocco on trade, political co-operation and development issues without involving the people of Western Sahara and their UN-recognised political representatives, the Polisario Front, has been raised in the Dáil (Irish Parliament) by Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe with the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister.

Morocco has occupied much of resource-rich Western Sahara since 1975. Most of the population has been expelled by force, many to camps in the Algerian desert where 165,000 refugees still live. United Nations resolutions have called for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. The United Nations considers the Polisario Front to be the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people


International Courts Order Pause In Disputed Exports Of Phosphates From Western Sahara

Two cargo ships are currently being detailed in ports in Panama and South Africa under court orders, in the latest sign of difficulty for those involved in exports from Western Sahara, a territory in west Africa occupied by Morocco since 1975.

The Ultra Innovation bulk carrier was detained under court order on May 17 while travelling through the Panama Canal. The vessel is carrying phosphate rock from Western Sahara. The cargo is due to be delivered to Canadian firm Agrium, which plans to use it to make fertilizer at its plant in Alberta, Canada. The Ultra Innovation, which is owned by Danish shipping company Ultrabulk, is currently anchored on the Pacific coast of Panama, close to Panama City.

A spokesman for Agrium said it was aware of the situation and that “steps are being taken to post a bond that will allow the vessel to continue on its voyage without further delay. At this time we don’t anticipate any production interruptions at our phosphate facility in Alberta.”



Pupils Beaten Unlawfully at School

Pupils at a primary school in Swaziland were thrashed because they did not bring enough empty milk cartons to class.

It happened at Lubombo Central Primary School in Siteki, according to a report in the Times of Swaziland on Tuesday (20 May 2017).


After years of physical abuse of children, in 2015 corporal punishment in schools was abolished, but teachers across the kingdom still use it.

According to the Times, Lubombo Central Primary is participating in a waste collection and recycling competition initiated by dairy products manufacturing company, Parmalat Swaziland. Schools are required to collect empty containers of Umcenge Milk, which are then collected by Parmalat. The school which collects the most containers will be awarded with E20,000 (US$1,520).

The Times reported that all pupils at the school, ‘have been instructed to collect at least 10 empty containers of Umcenge Milk per day’.


‘No Terror Threat in Swaziland’

There are no known terrorist groups operating in Swaziland, but even so the government has banned several local organisations as terrorist groups, a new report from the United States has revealed.

Police see no difference between protestors and bystanders and will fire teargas and rubber bullets at close range to disperse protestors.

These insights were contained in a report from the United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, just published. It is aimed at American diplomats in Swaziland.

The report assessed the Swaziland capital Mbabane as a ‘low-threat location for political violence’. It stated, ‘In 2016, there were no acts of terrorism in Swaziland and no known terrorist organizations. Through the Swazi Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008, the government deemed several local political organizations as terrorist groups.’



Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to woo the youth vote

Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe has begun a series of rallies across the country in a bid to win the support of young people ahead of elections next year.

A huge crowd has gathered for the rally in a stadium at Marondera, a small town east of the capital, Harare, the state-run Herald newspaper reports.

It adds that the president is planning nine others similar rallies this year.

Mr Mugabe has been in power since 1980 and is due to run again in 2018.


Barclays Sells Zimbabwe Bank to Malawi’s First Merchant Bank

Barclays announced the sale of its Zimbabwe bank to Malawi-listed First Merchant Bank on Friday as the British lender continues its exit from Africa.

In March it announced that it was in talks on the sale of its stake in Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe as part of a broader exit from Africa to refocus on the United States and Britain.


Barclays did not announce a price but said the deal would remove 292 million pounds in risk-weighted assets from its balance sheet.

All 700 Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe employees will transfer to the new owner, Barclays said. The deal is expected to complete in the third quarter of this year.



Africa in General

Lesotho election ‘likely to deliver uneasy coalition’

The southern African mountain kingdom of Lesotho holds a snap election on Saturday, with experts predicting another fractious coalition government, unlikely to tackle its dire levels of HIV-Aids and unemployment.

The vote is the third general election since 2012 in the country known as Africa’s Switzerland where years of political in-fighting have stymied attempts to fight poverty.

Lesotho, with a population of about two million people, is surrounded by South Africa, which relies on it for essential water supplies to Johannesburg and other cities.


44 migrants, including babies, die in Niger desert

At least 44 migrants, including women and babies, were found dead after their vehicle broke down in the desert of northern Niger while on the way to Libya, local officials said on Thursday.

“The number of migrants who died in the desert is 44 for now,” said Rhissa Feltou, the mayor of Agadez, a remote town on the edge of the Sahara that has become the smuggling capital of Africa.

Last year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recorded 335 000 migrants heading northwards out of Niger.


United Nations Security Council must include Africa – Zuma

President Jacob Zuma during his address on Africa Day at the presidential guest house called for the reform of the United Nations Security Council to include Africa.

“As Africa changes, so too must the instruments of global governance. That is why we continue to call for the reform of the UN Security Council to include Africa,” said Zuma.

“The membership of the UN Security Council must reflect the fact that Africa is now made up of independent countries and not colonies.”

“The whole system of international governance should thus be much more democratic and rules-based,” he said.



News Briefs: 19 May 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

Bob Dole signs contract to help Democratic Republic of Congo’s president cozy up to Trump

Joseph Kabila is in a tight spot. After the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo cancelled elections, his sub-Saharan nation has been rocked by massive protests, global condemnation, and widespread violence. Luckily, the African strongman has a good man in Washington.

The troubled African government has poured millions into a campaign to curry favor in the U.S., recruiting an army of lobbyists, notably including Trump ally and former Majority Leader Bob Dole. And that Kansas Republican doesn’t come cheap.

Washington Examiner

Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo to Cost $10 Million, WHO Says

A fresh outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will cost $10 million to fight, and it could take months because victims are in such a remote and disrupted part of the country, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

At least 20 people are sick and three have been killed by the virus, WHO officials said. They are the first case — a 39-year-old man — a person who cared for him and a man who drove him on a motorcycle to get help.

NBC News


Somalia: Drought doubles influx at children nutrition centres

Hunger and thirst, the deadly consequences of Somalia’s drought, have doubled the number of children admitted to the nutritional centre in Baidoa. The centre, one of the few places where malnourished children under age five can get life-saving treatment in south and central Somalia, has more than twice as many children this year compared to last year. In a similar centre in the country’s southern port city, Kismayo, the situation is much the same, the facility is overwhelmed by the high number of mothers streaming in with children visibly wasted, and in urgent need of medical help.

At Baidoa hospital, tents have been put up to accommodate an increase in patients that has stretched the hospital’s capacity to far beyond its 150-bed limit. The centre has now admitted 230 children under the age of five, who are staying with either their mothers or care givers. This time last year, the figure stood at 100.


Blast Kills 3 Bomb Disposal Experts in Somalia’s Capital

Three bomb disposal experts were killed in a car bomb blast west of Somalia’s capital on Wednesday, police said.

The bomb detonated as the experts were trying to dismantle a car laden with explosives that security forces seized in Wadajir district, Capt. Mohamed Hussein said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. The Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group often claims responsibility for such attacks.

US News

Central African Republic

Red Cross Finds 115 Bodies in Central African Republic Town

Red Cross workers have found 115 bodies in Central African Republic’s diamond-mining town of Bangassou after several days of militia attacks, the president of the aid group’s local branch said on Wednesday.

“We found 115 bodies and 34 have been buried,” Antoine Mbao Bogo told Reuters by phone from the capital Bangui. “They died in various ways: from knives, from clubs and bullet wounds.”

A senior UN official had previously reported 26 civilian deaths.


UN: Firepower escalates in Central African Republic conflict

The latest upsurge in deadly violence in the Central African Republic saw the first use of heavy weapons and more sophisticated military tactics by a predominantly Christian armed group, a senior U.N. official said Thursday.

Diane Corner, the U.N. deputy special representative in the beleaguered country, said that since May 8 more than 150 people, including six U.N. peacekeepers, have been killed in the southeastern city of Bangassou, the southern town of Alindao and the northern town of Bria — and the death toll may rise.

Over 25,000 people are displaced in the three localities and 3,000 people from Bangassou have fled across the border to northern Congo, which has seen a recent outbreak of Ebola cases, she said in a video press conference with U.N. reporters.

New York Times


Trump to attend Saudi conference alongside Sudanese President wanted for genocide

Egypt’s authoritarian Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was the first world leader to get a phone call when US President Donald Trump entered office. Warm congratulations were offered to Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the result of a national referendum which will probably see him stay in power until 2029.

And Mr Trump holds Vladimir Putin in such high regard he was apparently willing to share classified information with the Russian Foreign Minister last week.

The latest international strongman – or dictator, as the rest of us would put it – who Mr Trump could soon be rubbing shoulders with is Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, including genocide.


Huge influx of South Sudanese refugees puts pressure on Sudan

As the rainy season is approaching, the suffering of around 50,000 South Sudanese refugees in a camp in Sudan’s White Nile State is likely to worsen.

Khour Al-Waral refugee camp in Al-Salam locality, some 69 km south of Rebek, the capital city of White Nile State, is accommodating 50,000 refugees. The majority of them are from Upper Nile State of South Sudan on the border with Sudan.

Coastal Week

South Sudan

South Sudan president and former army chief “reconciled”

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has “reconciled” with former chief of army General, Paul Malong Awan.

The presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny described Thursday’s meeting between Awan and the president as “cordial and friendly.”

“I can now report to the South Sudanese that President Salva Kiir Mayardit and former chief of staff General Paul Malong Awan have reconciled. They reflected on their long comradeship, friendship dating back to the time of war of liberation and small differences were easily resolved,” Ateny told reporters in the capital, Juba.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan forces killed 114 civilians around Yei in six months – U.N.

South Sudanese pro-government forces killed at least 114 civilians in and around Yei town between July 2016 and January 2017, as well as committing uncounted rapes, looting and torture, the U.N. human rights office said on Friday.

“Attacks were committed with an alarming degree of brutality and, like elsewhere in the country, appeared to have an ethnic dimension,” a report on the U.N. investigation said.

“These cases included attacks on funerals and indiscriminate shelling of civilians; cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls, including those fleeing fighting; often committed in front of the victims’ families.”

The Star

Western Sahara

Morocco phosphate ship held in Panama over Western Sahara challenge: officials

Panama authorities have detained a Moroccan phosphate shipment from the disputed territory of Western Sahara after the Polisario independence movement claimed the cargo had been transported illegally, Polisario and officials said on Thursday.

The detention of the vessel carrying phosphate rock cargo from Morocco’s OCP for Canada’s Agrium is the second tanker stopped this month by a Polisario legal challenge, a new tactic the independence movement has been using in its conflict with Morocco.

Western Sahara has been disputed since 1975, when Morocco claimed it as part of the kingdom and the Polisario fought a guerrilla war for the Sahrawi people’s independence. A 1991 ceasefire split the region in two between what Morocco calls its southern provinces and an area controlled by Polisario.


Sahrawi Government announces detention of a vessel carrying a cargo of phosphate rock destined for Canada from occupied Western Sahara

The government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) and the Frente POLISARIO, announced today the detention of a second vessel carrying a cargo of phosphate rock illegally mined and sold from occupied Western Sahara.  The motor vessel Ultra Innovation was detained last night in Panama under court order while transiting the Panama Canal en route to Canada.

The motor vessel is carrying phosphate rock, estimated at 55,000 tonnes and valued around $6 million USD is considered to be bound for Agrium Inc. through the Port of Vancouver, consistent with a pattern of shipments for the company and a chartering of vessels managed by the Danish firm Ultrabulk A/S.

Sahara Press Service


Swazi Govt. ‘Killing Its Own People’

The kingdom’s only independent newspaper has accused the Swaziland Government of ‘killing its people’ with a shortage of medicines in hospitals.

The Government, handpicked by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch, has admitted it has not paid drug companies for past deliveries and supplies have dried up.

Under the heading ‘Government now killing its people’ a Times of Swaziland editorial comment on Monday (15 May 2017) asked, ‘What value does our government place on the life of an ordinary citizen when it allows our hospitals and clinics to run short of essential drugs?’

SNPF now worth over E3.2bn

Though the Swaziland National Provident Fund (SNPF) started with as little as E100 000 in 1976, today the fund is worth over E3.2 billion.

It was already worth E300 million by the year 2000.

This was disclosed by SNPF Chief Executive Officer Prince Lonkhokhela yesterday during the fund’s inaugural annual stakeholder meeting held at Esibayeni Lodge in Matsapha yesterday.

The objectives of the annual stakeholder forum which was graced by Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula were to share information on the operations of the fund in an open, effective and timely manner and to create opportunity for stakeholders to interact with the board and management and share their thoughts on the operations of the fund.

Swazi Observer


Zimbabwe’s bond notes ‘being traded outside borders’ – report

They said it couldn’t happen but it has: Zimbabwe’s bond notes are being smuggled just over the border and traded on the black market, a report says.

The state-controlled Sunday News says its reporters have been to border posts at Plumtree, Victoria Falls and Beitbridge where they’ve found traders selling the bond notes to people who want to make sure they have cash before they enter Zimbabwe.

“They will rather change their money here and that is why we try by all means to get the bond notes to conduct business… we are also making sure our people in Zimbabwe keep on supplying the notes so that we are in business,” an unnamed money changer at Ramokgwebana Border Post in Botswana told the paper.


‘Excessive’ spending by Mugabe government could fuel inflation: IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)is warning that excessive spending by President Robert Mugabe’s government will worsen cash shortages and stoke inflation.

The warning came as latest figures showed inflation rose to 0.48% in April up from 0.21% in March.

“Excessive government spending, if continued, could exacerbate the cash scarcity, further jeopardise the health of the external and financial sectors, and, ultimately, fuel inflation,” said Ana Lucia Coronel, who headed an IMF mission to the country this month.


Compensation for seized land ‘an urgent issue’, Germany tells Zimbabwe

Germany has reportedly demanded compensation for land seized from its citizens during Zimbabwe’s controversial land reforms, saying this was “an urgent and important issue”.

According to New, Germany’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Thorsten Hutter maintained that the issue of compensation was part of the re-engagement dialogue between the southern African country and the European Union.

Hutter said this following a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda.

“We have a number of German nationals who invested here in Zimbabwe after independence who are not here anymore… I did not discuss the issue [compensation] with the Speaker of Parliament today but what I can say is that this issue is important,” Hutter was quoted as saying.




Africa in General

A decade after debt forgiveness, Africa still hooked on dollars

When rich countries wrote off billions of dollars of African debt in 2005, they hoped governments would think twice about borrowing again in costly foreign currencies.

Over a decade later, most sub-Saharan African countries still rely on U.S. dollar-denominated debt to finance their economies. Some investors say this is sowing the seeds of future debt crises if local currencies devalue and make dollar debt repayments more expensive.

Aside from South Africa and Nigeria, governments have not yet done enough to develop capital markets that would have allowed them to raise more money in their own currencies, investors say.

United Nations trade body UNCTAD estimates that Africa’s external debt stock rapidly grew to $443 billion by 2013 through bilateral borrowing, syndicated loans and bonds. But since then sharp currency devaluations across the continent have pushed up the cost of servicing this debt pile, which continues to grow.


Eight months after approval, new U.N. troops trickle into South Sudan

Some eight months after the U.N. Security Council authorized the deployment of an extra 4,000 peacekeepers to war-torn South Sudan, the first of those troops have just trickled in amid bureaucratic hurdles by the country’s reluctant government.

“Meanwhile the situation in the country has deteriorated at a rapid pace,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a monthly report on the status of the deployment and obstacles facing some 13,000 peacekeepers already on the ground.

The 15-member Security Council approved the additional troops – known as a regional protection force (RPF) – in August, following several days of heavy fighting in the capital Juba between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing former Vice President Riek Machar.


U.N. gives Sudan and South Sudan 6 months for Abyei monitoring

The U.N. Security Council agreed unanimously that the stalemate between Sudan and South Sudan over the status of the oil-rich region of Abyei has gone on for too long and gave the countries a final six months to implement joint border monitoring.

A U.N. peacekeeping mission has been in Abyei since June 2011 and the council also voted to reduce its military ceiling to 4,791 troops. It was 5,326 in October.

The council’s unanimous actions reflected the Trump administration’s determination to reform the U.N.’s far-flung peacekeeping operations and take action when missions aren’t able to carry out their mandates.

Sudan’s north and south fought a civil war that lasted decades and killed some 2 million people. It ended with a 2005 peace deal that required both sides to peacefully resolve the final status of oil-rich border region of Abyei, and gave the south the right to hold a self-determination vote.

The Philadelphia Tribune

SA deports at least 300 Malawi illegal immigrants – report

South Africa has deported at least 300 Malawian citizens, who had been living in the country without proper documents, a report says.

According to Nyasa Times, Malawi’s deputy national spokesperson for the immigration department, Wellington Chiponde, said that half of the deportees arrived in the southern African country on Tuesday.

The other half was expected to have arrived on Wednesday.

Around 849 Malawians were detained by South African authorities for contravening immigration laws.



News Briefs: 12 May 2017


Democratic Republic of Congo

Thousands Flee Congo Conflict, Swelling Villages Over Border in Angola

Thousands of people have fled fighting in Democratic Republic of Congo over the past month and sought refuge in neighbouring Angola, a provincial governor said, an exodus that is straining resources in villages along the border.

Ernesto Muangala said officials had counted more than 20,000 refugees in his Lunda Norte province, almost double the number recorded a month ago.

All had fled clashes between Congolese government and militia forces that erupted in Congo’s Kasai-Central province in July, then spread to four other provinces.


Kabila names new Cabinet of more than 50

Democratic Republic of Congo’s president has named a new government that doesn’t include any main opposition figures among more than 50 officials.

President Joseph Kabila announced the members of Cabinet on Tuesday, about a month after a new prime minister was put in place.

The new Cabinet will serve under Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala, a key player in the opposition coalition known as the Rassemblement that signed a political agreement reached in December.



Farmajo calls for arms’ embargo end to defeat al-Shabab

Somalia’s president has called on the international community to lift an arms embargo on his country as government soldiers battle to regain territory from the armed group al-Shabab.

Speaking on Thursday at a Somalia conference held in London and attended by world leaders, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, said government forces would defeat the al-Qaeda-linked group in “a few years” – but troops had to be better equipped.

“For far too long, our security forces and terrorist groups have been fighting using the same type of light weapons – mostly AK-47s. The long-standing arms embargo on Somalia severely restricts our ability to procure heavy weapons,” Farmajo said.


Somalia And Its Backers Sign Security Pact to Beef Up Army

Somalia’s government and its foreign backers on Thursday signed a security pact which they presented as a road map towards building a functional national army capable of taking on the fight against al Shabaab militants.

The al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group has lost much of the territory it once controlled in Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu, but its deadly attacks remain one of the main obstacles to stability in the chaotic Horn of Africa country.


A London conference on Somalia also heard that the United Nations was increasing its appeal for the country by $900 million to a total of $1.5 billion to allow aid agencies to cope with a severe drought that is causing a humanitarian crisis.


Central African Republic

Latest fighting kills 37 people in Central African Republic

A local Central African Republic branch of the Red Cross says that days of clashes in the central region have left at least 37 people dead and many displaced.

The group said violence flared in Alindao, some 100km east of Bambari on Saturday and Sunday as a faction of the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel group fought with the Christian rebel group known as anti-Balaka.

Alindao priest Severin Ngoumango said no shots have been heard for more than 24 hours.

Central African Republic descended into sectarian conflict in 2013 when the Seleka rebels overthrew the Christian president. The Christian militia retaliated with a backlash against Muslim civilians.


UN releases new funding to support critical aid operations in Central African Republic

Against the backdrop of a continuingly complex humanitarian scenario in the Central African Republic (CAR) – marked by multiplication of hotspots, increased displacement and growing needs – the head of United Nations humanitarian operations in the country today released $9 million for the most urgent and critical relief operations.

However, even with this new funding, overall resources in the country remains a mere 14 per cent, said the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a news release today.

“An adequate level of funding of humanitarian activities remains an absolute priority, otherwise, CAR risks relapsing into an acute crisis,” warned the UN humanitarian wing.

In the news release, Najat Rochdi, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, who released the funds thanked the donors who haves supported response and reiterated her call for increased resources.

UN News


Sudan’s PM reshuffles cabinet, replaces economic ministers

Sudanese Prime Minister Hassan Saleh announced a new government on Thursday, with changes to economic ministers including the oil, investment and finance chiefs.

Sudan’s constitution was amended in December to introduce the position of prime minister, a demand of opposition parties that took part in a national dialogue with the government, with the aim of redistributing some of the president’s extensive powers.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s long war against various rebel groups has coincided with a severe economic downturn. This year’s budget foresees a growing deficit and slower growth.


EU announces a new phase in relations with Sudan

The European Union has expressed optimism about a new era of improved relations with Sudan. It has, however, urged Khartoum to continue the process of dialogue to end wars and bring about peace, the Sudan’s Media Centre (SMC) reported Wednesday.

Speaking in Khartoum on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties and Europe Day, Jean-Michel Dumond, the EU Ambassador to Khartoum, said that Sudan was vitally important to Europe and that the EU fully supports the peace efforts in the country.

Also at the gathering was the Sudan government representative, Minister of International Cooperation, Osman Ahmed Fadl. He said the EU has to put more pressure on armed movements that reject dialogue and to take advantage of, what he called “the positive atmosphere” in Sudan.

Middle East Monitor

South Sudan

The ‘cycle of revenge’ in South Sudan will hurt everyone – UN envoy

Deteriorating security in parts of South Sudan coupled with increased displacement could worsen the humanitarian suffering in the country through outbreaks of diseases such as diarrhoea and even cholera, the United Nations envoy for the country has warned.

The situation in Bor-Pibor area is particularly concerning with fears of violent clashes between youths from the Dinka Bor and Murle communities, David Shearer, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan, told journalists at a press conference today.

“We are worried that might spark more widespread fighting between those two communities [and] hence the reason we are providing support to the peace efforts on the ground,” he added, noting also the work that is being done with the Government to ease the situation.

UN News

Sacked South Sudan army chief quits Juba

South Sudan’s sacked army chief Paul Malong has left the capital for his home state, the defence minister said, raising concerns over his next move as civil war drags on.

Malong’s removal followed resignations by senior generals in recent months alleging tribal bias and war crimes. Some departed officers subsequently said they might join the revolt against President Salva Kiir.

Malong left Juba in a convoy for Aweil state in the country’s north-west shortly after his dismissal was announced on Tuesday, Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk said.




Western Sahara

US Renews Support for Autonomy under Morocco’s Sovereignty

Morocco’s foreign ministry voiced satisfaction with the support expressed by the US for a political solution to the Sahara issue based on the autonomy proposal under the Kingdom’s sovereignty.

In a statement issued Friday following the adoption by the Congress of the US 2017 appropriation bill, the foreign ministry “welcomed the provisions relating to the Moroccan Sahara in the 2017 appropriations bill.”

The bill, adopted by the Congress and promulgated by the American President Friday, provides for the use of funds allocated to Morocco in all the national territory including the Saharan provinces, underscores the statement.

North Africa Post

Polisario says ready for Western Sahara talks with Rabat

The Algiers-backed Polisario Front independence movement said on Monday it was prepared to embark on negotiations with Morocco on the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

The Polisario is “ready to hold negotiations with Morocco on the basis of the right of Sahrawis to self-determination”, senior official Mhamed Khadad told a news conference in the Algerian capital.

He said the African Union and United Nations should both be involved in the peace process in which the Polisario would aim for “freedom and national independence”.



SADC should not ignore the situation in Swaziland

The chairman of Southern African Development Community (SADC) King Mswati III was in Botswana for a two-day tour of the Secretariat and to inform himself of progress made in implementation of policies and resolutions of the regional bloc.

The King brought atleast two of his wives, and family in addition to his entourage. He was welcomed to the country by the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and was accorded the red carpet.

Previously, in 2015, Zimbabwean President was not accorded the red carpet, as Venson-Moitoi would then argue that his was not a state visit.

King Mswati III is not different from Mugabe and he is an oppressor who does not allow press freedom, multiparty democracy, trade unionism and any dissenting voices are crushed with a disproportionate force.

It would seem that SADC is becoming comfortable with what is happening in Swaziland, yet its past immediate chairman President Ian Khama spoke openly against Mugabe to a point that Botswana took a stance not to recognise his Presidency at some point.



Investigate ‘Police Brutality’ – Court

A senior magistrate in Swaziland has called for an investigation into alleged brutality at one of the kingdom’s police stations.

Sindisile Zwane said she has noted that there have been a lot of complaints by suspects who were brought in to her court from Matsapha Sigodvweni Police Station.

She made her comment after a suspect appeared before her with a bandaged head. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Tuesday (2 May 2017) the woman suspect, ‘was beaten by police officers based at Sigodvweni Police Station [and] suffered severe injuries to the head and as a result had to be stitched in hospital before she was taken to custody.’ She had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The newspaper reported the magistrate said it was ‘becoming the norm’ for suspects to complain of being assaulted by police officers at Sigodvweni.


Zimbabwe’s ‘odd couple’ seeking to oust Mugabe

One is a female former teenage guerrilla fighter who became President Robert Mugabe’s closest ally, the other is a battle-hardened opposition leader often dismissed as a busted flush.

But, despite their differences, Joice Mujuru and Morgan Tsvangirai are in talks to lead a united opposition alliance to try to unseat Mugabe in Zimbabwe’s much-anticipated election next year.

The president, 93 and increasingly frail, has vowed to stand again to extend his rule, which began in 1980 and has been dominated by economic collapse and political repression.


Zimbabwe Defends Mugabe’s Trip to Singapore For Medical Check-Up

President Robert Mugabe is in Singapore for medical treatment, once more raising questions about his health and prompting criticism over his decision to get treated abroad.

Mugabe’s spokesman says he’s only getting specialised treatment for his eyes that isn’t available in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba says the president is attended to by a black Zimbabwean physician in Zimbabwe for everything but his eyes.

He says Mugabe’s eyes need advanced detection that isn’t available at home.







Africa in General

African countries need unity to prosper: Zuma

Africa can achieve its developmental goals and objectives if the countries on the continent work together, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

“We must work together to establish linkages that will allow for effective and efficient intra-Africa trade… In fact, our visit to Tanzania seeks to actualise the same sentiments that the two countries should work together more than ever,” Zuma said in a speech for delivery at the state banquet hosted by Tanzanian President John Magufuli during a visit to Dar es Salaam.

“Unity is the key to prosperity for the African continent and for all our peoples.”

Zuma said that as the countries worked together to fight apartheid, South African and Tanzania should use their natural resources strategically to combat unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Jacaranda FM

Lesotho ready to hold ‘peaceful’ election

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator, has reportedly expressed confidence that Lesotho will hold a peaceful and democratic election in June.

Ramaphosa said this following his visit to the mountain kingdom on Tuesday.

Lesotho was set to hold its general election on June 3.

According to SABC, Ramaphosa said that he was confident that security issues would be properly handled during the vote.

“My visit here was to come and examine the state of preparedness of Lesotho, political parties for elections and my discussions with a number of stakeholders told me that indeed they are ready and prepared to roll out the democratic process once again,” Ramaphosa was quoted as saying.


Libya intercepts almost 500 migrants after sea duel

Libya’s coastguard on Wednesday intercepted a wooden boat packed with almost 500 migrants after duelling with a German rescue ship and coming under fire from traffickers, the navy said.

The migrants, who were bound for Italy, were picked up off the western city of Sabratha, said navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem.

The German non-governmental organisation “Sea-Watch tried to disrupt the coastguard operation… inside Libyan waters and wanted to take the migrants, on the pretext that Libya wasn’t safe,” Qassem told AFP.



News Briefs: 05 May 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo to top global mining sector growth

The Democratic Republic of Congo will vie with Peru as the fastest growing mining market during the next five years according to BMI Research, a unit of Fitch Group.

BMI Research, a unit of Fitch Group, reports that the Democratic Republic of Congo will benefit from low labour costs, high ore grades and vast untapped resources that will attract foreign investment into some of its largest gold and copper deposits, particularly from China.

Mining Review

Democratic Republic of Congo returns militia leader’s body

The family had unsuccessfully been asking for the return of his body since last year.

The Interior Ministry of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has returned the body of the leader of the Kamwina Nsapu militia, whose death last August sparked months of fighting leaving 400 people in Kasai Central province dead.

The Interior Ministry in a statement late Sunday said the Kamwina Nsapu militia, named after its late chief, had appointed Jacques Kabeya Ntumba as its new leader, the Voice of America (VOA) reported.

The Citizen


3 soldiers arrested in shooting death of Somalia minister

Three soldiers have been arrested in connection with the killing of a Somalia government minister near the presidential palace, police said on Thursday.

Police spokesperson Qaasim Ahmed confirmed the arrests as an investigation continued into the circumstances around the shooting, which appeared to be accidental.

Police have said bodyguards for Somalia’s auditor general Nur Farah shot dead the public works and reconstruction minister, Abbas Abdullahi, on Wednesday evening. The car carrying the minister had been trailing the car carrying the auditor general, promoting his bodyguards to open fire.


Aid worker kidnappings soar in famine-threatened Somalia

Kidnapping of aid workers and extortion at checkpoints are on the rise in Somalia, the United Nations said on Thursday, hindering efforts to prevent the country slipping into renewed famine.

In the first 27 days of April, 13 humanitarian workers were abducted, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update, the highest monthly figure since 2011.

“The affected personnel are all frontline responders,” it said, without giving further details.

Four aid workers carrying out vaccinations were kidnapped by al-Shabaab jihadist militants, who are fighting to topple the government, in early April, according to media reports.


Central African Republic

Dozens of Civilians Killed in Central African Republic – Report

Armed groups in Central African Republic have killed at least 45 civilians in apparent reprisal strikes over the past three months, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Tuesday.

The violence pitted armed groups against one another in the central province of Ouaka, which is at the border of the mainly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south of the country.

“As factions vie for power in the Central African Republic, civilians on all sides are exposed to their deadly attacks,” said Lewis Mudge, Africa researcher at the US-based human rights watchdog.


Aid groups in Central African Republic retreat amid threats

The U.N. humanitarian aid coordinator says four international aid groups will temporarily withdraw their workers from parts of northern Central African Republic because of increasing attacks targeting them.

Spokesman Jens Laerke says the country is one of the world’s most dangerous and difficult for humanitarian work, particularly in the northern province of Ouham.

Speaking Friday to reporters in Geneva, Laerke declined to specify the international NGOs but said they would move to the capital, Bangui, because threats against aid workers “have reached a climax.”

FOX News


Rights group urges US to pressure Sudan on rights violations

Human Rights Watch is urging the United States to pressure Sudan to take tangible actions to improve its human rights record before the American administration permanently revokes trade sanctions imposed on the east African country.

The New York-based group warned Wednesday of continued rights violations by Sudan’s government. The State Department designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 and Washington later imposed sanctions on the Khartoum government.

Under a January executive order, the Obama administration temporarily lifted the sanctions; the decision becomes permanent unless State Department revokes it in mid-July.


Western diplomats discuss Sudan political developments with dialogue forces

Western diplomats in Khartoum held separate meetings with the Sudanese opposition forces participating in the national dialogue process on Thursday to discuss issues of peace and their participation in the upcoming National Consensus Government (NCG).

The Popular Congress Party (PCP)’s Secretary General, Ali al-Haj has received at his home in Khartoum, the German and British ambassadors, Canadian Chargé d’affaires in Khartoum, and the Political and Economic Adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, David Scott.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

UN Condemns ‘Callous’ Attack on Base in South Sudan

Unknown assailants attacked a UN operating base in northern South Sudan overnight, showing “callous disregard” for civilians and aid workers, the head of the UN mission said.

The assault in the town of Leer, which lies in an oil-producing region, was repelled by Ghanaian peacekeepers. There were no reported injuries.

The assailants’ identity was not clear. David Shearer, head of the UN mission, said the attack overnight from Wednesday into Thursday was launched from the direction of a nearby government-held town.

“We call on all parties to the conflict to respect the sanctity of UN premises,” Shearer said in a statement.


South Sudanese government releases U.N. aid worker detained for a month

South Sudan’s government has released a United Nations aid worker after detaining him for nearly a month, a top U.N. official said late on Thursday.

Other aid workers have been detained since civil war broke out in 2013 in South Sudan, which is increasingly split along ethnic lines, and at least 82 have been killed, including six in a single ambush last month.

In February, the U.N. declared parts of the country were suffering from famine, the world’s first in six years. This week the government announced it was hiking annual registration fees for international charities from $600 (463.82 pounds) to $3,500.

“We are relieved to learn that Peter Alex, a World Food Program aid worker detained by the Government of South Sudan since April 10, has finally been released and reunited with his family,” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said.


Western Sahara

SA detains cargo ship after Western Sahara request

outh African authorities have detained a Moroccan cargo ship after Western Sahara’s Polisario Front independence movement obtained a court order to seize 54 000 tons of phosphate on board.

The seizure follows a European Union Court of Justice ruling in December that said EU agreements on closer ties and trade with Morocco should not apply to the disputed Western Sahara region. Morocco considers Western Sahara as its “southern provinces” after annexing the former Spanish colony in 1975.

The independence movement has seen the EU ruling as a victory, saying the people of Western Sahara must have a say in deals that include the exportation of the mineral-rich region’s resources


Morocco welcomes UN vote backing Western Sahara talks

Morocco on Saturday voiced satisfaction at a UN Security Council resolution endorsing a new peace initiative on the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Friday’s vote came as UN military observers confirmed that Polisario Front forces, fighting for a breakaway Western Sahara, had withdrawn from the Guerguerat area near the Mauritanian border.

“This action should improve the prospects of creating an environment … to relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said after the vote.

The Security Council also voted on Friday to renew the mandate of the MINURSO peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara for a year.

“Morocco welcomes the resolution,” foreign minister Nasser Bourita said.

The Nation


Kingdom Faces LGBTI Rights Review

Swaziland’s discrimination against LGBTI people is being put under scrutiny by a United Nations group.

Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2004, which protects the rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people among others.

Now, after making no progress, Swaziland has been given a series of questions to answer by the ICCPR Human Rights Committee ahead of a review in July 2017.

ICCPR wants to know what measures in law and practice are in place ‘to protect persons from discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including in housing and employment, and to promote tolerance’.

Swaziland ‘is world’s most unequal country’, says report

The aid group Oxfam says that Africa has higher levels of poverty than previously thought because decades of economic growth have only benefited a small elite.

The report, which says that inequality stifles growth in Africa, was released at the World Economic Forum Africa which started in South Africa’s coastal city of Durban on Wednesday.

The report says Africa has seven of the 20 most unequal countries in the world and a further 250 to 350 million people could be living in extreme poverty within the next 15 years.



Zim’s protest pastor Mawarire set to rattle Mugabe… again

Zimbabwe clergy Evan Mawarire of #This Flag fame is bringing together social movements against President Robert Mugabe ahead of the 2018 polls amid increasing calls for opposition leaders to swiftly bring to finality a grand coalition.

Elections are tentatively set for July 2018 but the country’s opposition parties are still dithering on concluding coalition talks despite the main opposition MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai signing  memorandum of agreements with other smaller parties, including Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party and Welshman Ncube’s political formation.

With the opposition still to conclude coalition talks, Mawarire’s move this week to bring together social movements, among them Tajamuka, is seen as nudging Mugabe’s nemesis closer.


Zimbabwe ‘not a poor country’: Mugabe

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe insisted on Thursday that his country is not a failed state and accused the US of being fragile because of its economic dependence on China.

Mugabe pointed to Zimbabwe’s 90% literacy rate to support his claim that the southern African country, which has battled economic chaos in recent years, is one of the best resourced on the continent.

“We are not a poor country and we can’t be a fragile country, I can call America fragile, they went on their knees to China,” he said during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban.

“Zimbabwe is the most highly developed country in Africa after South Africa.”





Africa in General

Siemens partnerships for African progress

German technology conglomerate Siemens on Thursday entered into a partnership with Uganda, Ghana and Sudan to assist in the areas in power supply, transportation and healthcare.

Siemens said it hoped that the agreements – which were signed on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Durban and witnessed by executives, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and German federal Minister of Economics and Energy Brigitte Zypries – would be worth more than a billion euros by 2020.

Siemens president and chief executive Joe Kaeser said that the agreements were important in unleashing the economic potential of the three countries.

Business Report

Zuma urges African youth to partake in Agenda 2063

outh African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday urged the continent’s youth to participate in the realisation of the African Union’s (AU’s) Agenda 2063, saying that it was in the youth’s hands to shape the future in which they wanted to live.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Durban, Zuma said young people needed to partake in all spheres of society, including politics, as he had done so himself by joining the struggle for freedom before he turned 20.

“It is absolutely important not to believe that for us to succeed, it is other people who must build. Th youth itself must participate, very seriously, to change the future for themselves together with the elders,” Zuma said. “The critical point is that you are able to identify the destination and commitment, and then work on what is the best vehicle or methods to achieve that would help you best shape the future.”

Zuma was fielding a question from a young Global Sharper from Mozambique who wanted to know how to speed up the ideals of Agenda 2063 and make youth partake in decision making processes because young people are impatient. Agenda 2063 is the AU’s strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years.

Business Report

South Africa second in African competitive ranking

South Africa might be reeling from junk status downgrades‚ but it could be worse. The country is still the second most competitive in Africa and in the Top 50 across the globe.

This was revealed during the release of the 2017 Africa Competitive Report at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban on Thursday. Mauritius was at the top of the pile when it came to competitive economies‚ with Rwanda‚ which is climbing fast up the rankings‚ in third.

Globally‚ South Africa has climbed from 56th to 47th position in two years – a rise that‚ according to the World Bank’s Barak Daniel Hoffman‚ is not insignificant. The competitive index looks at 12 “pillars”‚ ranging from strength of institutions through to quality of infrastructure‚ and from higher education and training through to innovation and labour market efficiency.






News Briefs: 21 April 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC returns militia leader’s body; new chief named

Democratic Republic of Congo’s government says it has returned the body of a militia leader, whose death in August sparked months of fighting with the military that has left more than 400 people dead in the country’s Kasai Central province.

The interior ministry said in a statement that the Kamwina Nsapu militia, named after its late chief, has appointed Jacques Kabeya Ntumba as its new leader.

Nsapu’s family has been asking for the late leader’s body since last year.


UN may ask ICC to probe DRC mass graves

UN investigators have confirmed the discovery of another 17 mass graves in central DRC, prompting the world body’s top human rights official to raise the prospect of action by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The announcement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of the discovery of a further 17 mass graves in Kasai Central province in the Democratic Republic of Congo brings the number of such sites recorded by UN investigators to 40.

Fifteen of the newly uncovered graves were in a cemetery in the town of Tshimbulu, while two others were located in the village of Tshienke, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHR).



General – U.S. Not at War in Somalia

The head of the United States Africa Command (Africom) has indicated that Pentagon will not step up the US combat role in Somalia.

Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser told reporters in a conference call that the dozens of additional American soldiers being sent to Somalia are “logisticians” rather than infantry troops.

This “long-scheduled deployment” is primarily intended to help to train Somali forces to become more effective in fighting Al-Shabaab, said Gen Waldhauser. He also disputed media reports that the [Donald] Trump administration has “loosened rules for authority to strike” Al-Shabaab targets.

Al-Shabab militants try food to win hearts and minds in Somalia

The al-Qaida-affiliated militant group al-Shabab is trying to improve its reputation by delivering food to parts of Somalia that are suffering from drought.


Al-Shabab blocked food aid and killed some humanitarian workers during the last major famine in 2011, severely damaging its image. So this time, the group is taking a softer approach, claiming to have distributed food in the six central and southern regions of Bay, Bakol, Mudug, Hiraan, Lower Shabelle and Galguduug.

“This is a resilient group. They do learn their lessons,” said J. Peter Pham, vice president for Research and Regional Initiatives and director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. The militants learned that part of their military defeat was due to the improved training of peacekeepers, but also their own handling of the 2011 famine, he said.


Central African Republic

In the Central African Republic, the World Bank is Financing the Reintegration of 5,000 Ex-combatants While Supporting the Host Communities

The World Bank’s Board of Directors approved a $30 million grant to the Government of the Central African Republic (CAR) to support the social and economic reintegration of 5,000 ex-combatants as the country recovers from years of conflicts.

This project will cover demobilized ex-combatants and their host communities. Support measures such as orientation, advisory services, vocational training, and assistance with business start-up, will be in place to help former combatants reintegrate into communities. The host communities will benefit from increased access to basic social services and new economic opportunities.

“The World Bank believes that the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDRR) Program is a priority for stabilizing the country and strengthening social cohesion,” says Jean-Christophe Carret, World Bank Country Manager in the CAR. “It is nevertheless important to not only assist with the reintegration of former combatants but also to provide resources to their host communities by creating new economic opportunities.”

Relief Web

MSF: Central African Republic Violence Worst In Years

Violence against civilians in Central African Republic (CAR), including summary executions and mutilations, is reaching levels not seen since the height of its years-long conflict, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has said.

The country descended into chaos when a mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance ousted then-president Francois Bozize in 2013, sparking reprisals from Christian militias. Religion has played a waning role as splinter groups now clash over control of territory and resources.

Recent violence has been concentrated in four prefectures in the center and east, where the government and a 13,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission have struggled to contain the bloodshed, the medical charity said.






Sudan likens South Sudanese influx to ’emergency’

Sudan is facing an “emergency-like situation” with nearly 1,500 South Sudanese crossing into the country each day to flee famine and war, a top Sudanese official said Thursday.

South Sudan, formed after splitting from the north in 2011, has declared a famine in parts of the country where 100,000 people are said to be facing starvation.

Each day, 1,500 South Sudanese — mostly women and children — are crossing into Sudan, mainly in states like East Darfur, South Darfur and White Nile, Khartoum’s commissioner for refugees Hamad Elgizouli told reporters.

“We are in an emergency-like situation… and until now we have not received any donations except to meet some existential needs,” he said.


Egypt, Sudan vow not to aid opposition groups

Egypt and Sudan said on Thursday they will not harbour or support opposition groups fighting their respective governments, as top diplomats of the two countries vowed to boost bilateral ties.

Relations between neighbours Cairo and Khartoum have been tense, with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accusing Egyptian intelligence services of supporting Sudanese opposition figures fighting his troops.

The Egyptian media has also accused Khartoum of offering refuge to members of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which was declared a “terrorist group” by Cairo following the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.


South Sudan

South Sudan conflict could cost billions if fighting continues

South Sudan’s ongoing civil war is not only expensive in terms of human lives and suffering, but economically as well, with the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) reporting that if the fighting continued for another four years unabated it could cost the world’s newest country $28-billion (R368-billion).

PDM is an abroad-based observatory grassroots movement that was formed by concerned South Sudanese in the country and the diaspora in response to the political crisis and fast deteriorating economic, humanitarian and security situation in the country, amid heightened ethnic polarisation and the devastating conflict, the Sudan Tribune reported on Thursday.

In a policy brief, the PDM estimated that the cost of the ongoing conflict and intransigence lay between $22.3 billion and $28 billion if the conflict continued for another one to four years.




South Sudan war strains Uganda’s generous refugee policy

Ugandan motorbike taxi driver Sadiq Agotre grumbles as he waits for a rare client among thousands of South Sudanese refugees hoping to receive food rations in the outskirts of his town.

“Business is not good. These people don’t have money,” he says, gazing out over a vast area that in only eight months has transformed from scrubland and trees to the world’s biggest refugee settlement, Bidibidi, which houses more than 270 000 people.

Uganda has been praised for its warm welcome of refugees, but as civil war in neighbouring South Sudan continues to push more than 2 000 people a day into the country, local communities and aid agencies are buckling under the strain.


Western Sahara

UN peacekeeping force in Western Sahara must urgently monitor human rights

The UN must prioritize human rights monitoring for the situation in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and Sahrawi refugee camps across the border in Tindouf, Algeria, Amnesty International urged ahead of a Security Council vote next week on 27 April to renew the mandate of its peacekeeping presence in the area.

The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) does not currently have a mandate to document or report on the human rights situation despite the fact that abuses continue to be committed by both the Moroccan authorities and the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi pro-independence movement, which administers Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, southern Algeria.

“Enabling the UN peacekeeping mission to monitor human rights in Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps is crucial for ensuring that abuses committed far from the public eye are brought to the world’s attention, holding those responsible to account, and improving respect for human rights,” said Heba Morayef, research director for Amnesty International in North Africa.

Amnesty International

UN Report: Will Guterres Adopt a New Approach on Western Sahara

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, released the UN’s annual report on the situation in the Western Sahara on Monday. Like every year, Moroccans had anxiously awaited the report, eager to see if it would contain recommendations in line with Morocco’s interests.

This sense of anxious expectation prompted many Moroccans, both specialists and casual observers, to make hasty conclusions that for the most part were based neither on a careful reading of the report nor a comparison with previous reports. This hastiness led to inaccuracies that cast a sort of blurriness on public discussions and made the task of understanding, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from the report all the more difficult.

Morocco World News





Swaziland govt denies claims that King Mswati has banned divorce

The government of Swaziland has refuted claims that King Mswati III has banned divorce in the Kingdom. This follows widespread reports that the King announced at an Easter weekend prayer service that divorce has been banned in his country. This comes when Swaziland is preparing for the King’s 48th birthday celebrations next Monday.

King Mswati III has been in the media spotlight in the past few days.This comes after reports that he has banned divorce in Swaziland.  It is an assertion that the Swazi government disputes.

Government authorities say the King was merely making a call for the nation to engage in conversation instead of resorting to divorce.


Israel thanks Swaziland for not breaking relations

Israel Ambassador to Swaziland Arthur Lenk thanked government for not breaking relations with his country.

Lenk was addressing University of Swaziland (UNISWA) students, lecturers and professors on issues of international relations.

During the discussions which were also attended by UNISWA top officials including the Vice Chancellor Cisco Magagula, Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) President Brian Sangweni raised his concern on the issue of human rights in Israel.

Sangweni said reports have revealed that people were displaced and students losing the opportunity to further their studies because of the war which is going on between the Palestinians and Israelites which has even resulted in other countries cutting ties with Israel.

Swazi observer


Cash Crisis Bites as Zimbabwe Marks 37 Years of Independence

Zimbabweans mark 37 years of independence on Tuesday but not everyone is excited.

So tight is the cash situation that officials have suggested parents be allowed to pay their children’s school fees in goats.

President Robert Mugabe has told schoolchildren that they needed to celebrate Zimbabwe’s achievements in education.

He was addressing an annual, pre-independence children’s party that he and his wife Grace are always guests of honour at.


Firms in Zimbabwe innovate to survive

Companies in Zimbabwe are now investing in new lines that can produce smaller packages for manufactured products as cash continues to dry up, with executives from foodstuffs manufacturer Nestlé saying conditions in the economy have necessitated this.

Zimbabwe continues to be affected by low productivity, with manufacturing capacity still below 50 percent according to a survey by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries. Although the country has instituted restrictions on imports from countries such as South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique, some foreign goods are still finding their way on markets in the country.

Most of the finished goods still being imported into Zimbabwe include beverages, sugar, rice, chicken and cooking oil among others. This has been bleeding local manufacturers, according to Kipson Gundani, an economist at the Buy Zimbabwe pressure and lobby group.




Africa in General

Angola steps up security patrols along DRC border

Angola said on Wednesday that it was reinforcing security patrols along its northern border through which thousands of refugees have fled violence in the Kasai region of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The Angolan police has intensified patrols on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prevent the infiltration of armed groups into our national territory,” police chief Ambrosio de Lemos said on public RNA radio.

The DRC’s four central provinces of Kasai, Kasai-Central, Kasai-Oriental and Lomami have been gripped by a violent uprising since last year.


Gambia president’s party takes majority in parliament

The party of Gambia’s new president won a majority of seats in parliament after two decades of domination by the party of former leader Yahya Jammeh, the Independent Electoral Commission announced on Friday.

President Adama Barrow’s United Democratic Party won 31 seats in the 53-seat National Assembly. The results mean Barrow can move ahead with promised transitions toward greater freedoms.

Barrow, who beat Jammeh in December elections, has promised a path toward reconciliation in this tiny West African country. Jammeh’s government was long accused of rights abuses.



News Briefs: 03 March 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC Used Excessive Force Against Protesters, UN Office Says

The United Nations said Wednesday that security forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had used excessive and disproportionate force against people protesting President Joseph Kabila’s stay in office and that more than 40 people had been killed.

A report released by the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office for its Congo mission said two children were among those killed during protests in several cities in late December. It said most victims were unarmed civilians wounded by live ammunition.

Many were protesting delayed elections that have seen Kabila remain in power. His final term had been due to end December 20.

Voice of America

Democratic Republic of Congo snubs calls for massacre video investigation

The Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday flatly rejected international calls to investigate a video purporting to show a massacre of unarmed men and women by DR Congo soldiers.

The government’s refusal came as two other videos showing alleged abuses by DR Congo soldiers began circulating on social media networks.

The seven-minute video that emerged over the weekend shows a group of uniformed men opening fire, then walking among at least 20 bodies, apparently in the violence-wracked central Kasai region.

Japan Times


KDF personnel kill 57 Al-Shabaab terrorists at clash in Somalia

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers Thursday killed 57 gunmen who they said were Al-Shabaab militants in a clash at Afmadow area, Somalia. The incident happened close to Subow Centre and involved artillery fire and helicopter gunships. KDF spokesman Col Joseph Owuoth said the incident happened at about 8.45 am.

“In the onslaught, 57 Al-Shabaab militants were killed and unknown number injured. Following the engagement, five technical were destroyed among other weapons,” said Col Owuoth in a statement. Col Owuoth said KDF personnel is still in the region to pacify it from the militants.

Standard Press

US goes after Islamic terrorists in Somalia

United States troops in Somalia may soon get reinforcements if authority is granted for them to go after radical Islamic terrorists under a Pentagon proposal to prop up the country’s new government led by an American with dual citizenship.

Currently, there are about 50 US special sorces in Somalia, with a mandate to “advise and assist” the government in fighting Al-Shabaab, a group that swore an oath to Al-Qaeda in 2012 and uses the same black flag as the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).


“Somalia is our most perplexing challenge,” the head of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), General Thomas Waldhauser, told AP in an interview over the weekend. The country collapsed into anarchy in 1991, and Al-Shabaab continues to frustrate efforts to establish a functioning government.

News Day

Central African Republic

Un Air Operation Disperses Central African Republic Militia

A UN operation with an attack helicopter dispersed heavily armed militiamen in the remote Central African Republic town of Bambari town on Sunday, the peacekeeping mission said in a statement.

About 40 fighters from the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central African Republic (FPRC) armed with AK-47s and rocket propelled grenades had gathered in the town, but UN forces intervened to prevent them carrying out an attack, it said.

The action was in keeping with the peacekeeping forces’ mandate to protect civilians and its aim to “prevent a war” between the militia and the rival Union for Peace in Central African Republic (UPC) rebels, it added.


Central African Republic Returnees Face Challenges, Insecurity

The government of the Central African Republic shut down the displaced persons’ camp at the airport in its capital and sent the camp’s 30,000 remaining residents packing. Many have returned to their old neighborhoods, but say they do not feel safe.

Djiedune Kupato returned home with his wife and eight children late last month. Now his children walk five kilometers to get to school. Kupato worries about their safety, with militias still active in the area.

Kupato says if the government had prepared better for them to return, they would have water near their house. He says they do not have a good house to live in, as it has been destroyed. Instead, the family sleeps under a tarp.

Voice of America


Sudan’s first PM since 1989 coup sworn in

A former army general and top aide to President Omar al-Bashir was sworn in Thursday as Sudan’s first prime minister since the post was scrapped in a 1989 Islamist-backed coup.

Bakri Hassan Saleh, a military officer involved in the bloodless coup that brought Bashir to power three decades ago, was named prime minister a day earlier by the executive bureau of the president’s National Congress Party (NCP).

Saleh, 68, took the oath as prime minister at a presidential palace in Khartoum. He will also continue in his post as first vice president.


South Sudan

UN delivers food to 140.000 starved South Sudanese

In response to the declaration of famine in several areas in the war-torn South Sudan, the UN spokesperson announced on Wednesday that aid workers have reached some 139.500 civilians in the war affected areas.

“UN and partners have delivered food to nearly 114,000 people across four locations in Mayendit county and to nearly 25,500 people in two locations in Koch county,” said Stéphane Dujarric in his daily press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York.

He further said that three mobile response teams are deployed across Leer county to deliver food to nearly 48,500 people, and further food distributions are planned in Koch and Panyiajar in the days ahead.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan deputy defence minister denies resignation

The South Sudanese Deputy Minister of Defence, David Yayau, Wednesday has dismissed as “fake news” reports purporting he resigned from his position.

“Who said I have resigned”, wondered Yauyau when contacted on Wednesday to comment on media reports alleging he resigned from his position and left the country.

“I am in my office. If you want to proof, come. I am available. Talk to the staff here and other officials at the ministry of defence if you want to confirm, Yauyau told Sudan Tribune.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Morocco King Urges UN measures on Western Sahara

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has called on the United Nations to take “urgent measures” following months of tensions with the Polisario independence movement in the disputed Western Sahara region.

The king talked with United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres, denouncing the Polisario Front, which for decades has sought self-determination for the desert region, according to a royal cabinet statement on MAP state news agency late Friday.

During a telephone call, King Mohammed pointed to the “repeated incursion of armed Polisario elements and their acts of provocation” in Guerguerat, an area in disputed Western Sahara near Mauritania.


Morocco says to withdraw from Western Sahara tension zone

Morocco said on Sunday it will pull back from a zone of the contested Western Sahara that has raised tensions with Algeria-backed Polisario Front separatists.

“The Kingdom of Morocco will proceed from today with a unilateral withdrawal from the (Guerguerat) zone,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.


It said the decision was taken by King Mohamed VI at the request of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Rabat now “hopes the secretary general’s intervention will allow a return to the previous situation in the zone concerned, keep its status intact, allow the flow of normal road traffic and thus safeguard the ceasefire”, it said.



Madagascar PM to Receive Mandela Award

Madagascar’s Prime Minister Oliver Mahafaly Solonandrasana has been nominated to receive the 2016 Mandela Prize for Courage, the Malagasy government Press Service said.

Mr Solonandrasana left Antananarivo Friday for Paris, for the award ceremony at the Mandela Institute headquarters.

An official statement from the institute said Mr Solonandrasana was being recognised for his development vision for Madagascar and Africa.


Terror Act Changes Stall At Senate

The promised amendments to the Swaziland’s Suppression of Terrorism Act have been shelved by the kingdom’s Senate – again.

The Act, which bans organisations that advocate democratic reform and imprisons dissenters, has been criticised across the world as undemocratic.

The United States scrapped the lucrative trade deal AGOA with the kingdom because Swaziland refused to accept the need for reform. King Mswati III rules the kingdom as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Swazi Activist Forgotten in Jail

Where is the campaign and help for the appeal of Swazi activist Zonke Dlamini, who was tortured and sentenced to 15 years under repressive terror laws three years ago, asks his co-accused, Bheki Dlamini, who was released without charge? Writes Kenworthy News Media.

Activist Zonke Dlamini was sentenced to 15 years in prison three years ago, on 28 February 2014, for allegedly petrol bombing the houses of two Swazi officials, an MP and a high-ranking police officer.

He denies the charges and says he was tortured during his interrogation, but his case has been more or less forgotten and he has subsequently not been able to appeal his sentence, says his co-accused, Swaziland Youth Congress President Bheki Dlamini.


Mugabe ‘won’t surrender power to anyone, not even to his wife Grace

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is intent on becoming the southern African country’s life president, critics say, following his remarks during his recent 93rd birthday celebrations.

As state enterprises continue to belatedly wish the nonagenarian many more years to come in the state media, his critics and the opposition are adamant that, just like the late Malawian president Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the veteran Zanu–PF leader wants to rule up to the grave.

They point out that Mugabe’s machinations for “president for life” have been laid bare by his wife Grace, and have been confirmed by the Machiavellian politician in his various addresses to mark his birthday.


Nurses at Zimbabwe’s state hospitals go on strike over pay

Thousands of nurses in state hospitals in Zimbabwe have gone on strike over a lack of bonus payments, straining an already dire situation at the poorly resourced hospitals.

Enoch Dongo, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, said on Wednesday that nurses will only return to work when they get a firm commitment that their bonuses will be paid.

Nurses and other government workers have yet to be paid a traditional annual bonus. The financially struggling government has proposed offsetting the 2016 bonus payments with land offers.





Africa in General

Nigerian lawmakers to visit SA ‘to ascertain true state of affairs’

At least six Nigerian lawmakers are reportedly set to visit South Africa following the recent xenophobic attacks in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

According to, the Nigerian delegate would be led by Femi Gbajabiamila, the Majority Leader of the west African country’s House of Representatives.

The lawmakers, the report said, would also be accompanied by foreign affairs officials.

The visit’s aim was to ascertain the “true state” of affairs regarding both Nigerian and other foreign nationals living in South Africa.


Gambia scraps age limit for presidential candidates

The Gambian parliament on Tuesday scrapped the constitutional age limit on presidential election candidates after new President Adama Barrow faced questions over his deputy’s eligibility due to her age.

Anyone over 65 has been barred from running for The Gambia’s highest office under a constitutional amendment that came into force in the west African country in 1997.

The new change comes after Barrow – who took office on February 18 after 22 years of iron-fisted rule by his predecessor Yahya Jammeh – faced criticism over his decision to nominate 68-year-old Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang as his vice president.


Protesters Vow to Shut Zimbabwe Down

ZIMBABWE’S impoverished civil servants will join the social movement in a massive industrial action set to bring the country into a standstill on Monday. The civil servants are protesting non-payment of salaries while the civil society organiations are aggrieved by the worsening social and economic meltdown blamed on the beleaguered administration of President Robert Mugabe and ZANU (PF). Companies are shutting daily as a result of the economic meltdown, which has seen government considering paying civil servants with residential stands. On the other hand,

We Are Not Targeting African Leaders – ICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) president, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, has assured African leaders that the world court is not targeting only African leaders to have them prosecuted but rather the court is playing its role of dispensing justice world-wide.

Judge Fernández was, however, quick to admit that the court initiated its investigations legally called situations mainly on the African continent.

The ICC president’s assurances follow last year’s pronouncement by the governments of South Africa, Burundi and The Gambia to withdraw their membership from the ICC over what they described as disproportionate targeting of the continent’s leaders. In particular, President Museveni has on several occasions lashed out at the ICC for allegedly targeting African leaders before referring to them as a bunch of ‘useless’ people.