News Briefs 16 February 2018

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Five killed in accident with DR Congo presidential motorcade

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

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

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

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

TimesLive

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

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

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

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

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

Reuters

Somalia

Somali forces destroy Al-Shabaab bases in southern Somalia

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

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

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

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

Xinhua

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

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

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

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

Horsed Media

Central African Republic

Thousands flee militia violence in C Africa

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

UN News

Sudan

US says ‘deeply concerned’ over political arrests in Sudan

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

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

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

News24

Russia to boost Sudan military: Bashir

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

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

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

SUNA gave no details of the plan.

News24

South Sudan

UN envoy hopes for some agreement at South Sudan peace talks

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

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

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

News24

200 000 more S Sudan refugees expected in Sudan: UN

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

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

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

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

News24

Western Sahara

EU promises to respect Western Sahara trade ruling

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

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

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

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

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

EU Observer

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

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

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

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

Morocco World News

Swaziland

Swaziland: PM Admits Forcing Newspaper Closure

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

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

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

AllAfrica

Swaziland: Students March on Government

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Grief as Zimbabwe opposition icon Tsvangirai dies

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

 

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

He was 65.

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

News24

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

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

Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer in Johannesburg yesterday.

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

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

Voice of America

 

 

 

Africa in General

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

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

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

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

 

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

News24

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

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

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

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

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

Business Day

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

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

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

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

Probe to be completed within 90 days

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

News24

 

News Briefs 09 February 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

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

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

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

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

EWN

DRC crisis: aide says Kabila not standing in elections

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

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

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

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

The Guardian

Somalia

Somalia court issues death sentence over Oct. 2017 Mogadishu attack

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

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

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

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

Africa News

Urgent help sought for AU force’s planned Somalia withdrawal

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

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

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

News24

Central African Republic

Thousands flee militia violence in Central Africa

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

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

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

eNCA

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

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

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

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

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

News24

Sudan

Sudan seizes 3 newspapers for covering protests

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

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

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

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

News24

Sudan says ambassador to Cairo to return ‘very soon’

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

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

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

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

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

News24

South Sudan

Freed South Sudan Child Soldiers Recount Trauma of Abduction

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

 

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

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

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

EWN

South Sudan peace talks stall over punitive provision

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Polisario ‘ready’ for direct Western Sahara talks with Rabat

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

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

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

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

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

The Citizen

Western Sahara: President Gali receives African Court delegation

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

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

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

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

Sahara Press Service

Swaziland

Swaziland: Schools in Chaos

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

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

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

AllAfrica

Swaziland: True Life of Swazi Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Allafrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s top opposition party hurt by power struggles

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

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

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

News24

 

 

 

African in General

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

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

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

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

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

Independent

Local firms keen to invest as Zimbabwe opens its doors

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

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

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

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

Business Day

Uganda’s EALA MPs divided over Somalia EAC application

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

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

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

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

kfm.co.ug

Zimbabwe legislators call on Mnangagwa to end political unrest

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

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

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

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

IOL

 

News Briefs 26 January 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

Thousands flee to Uganda as DRC violence surges

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

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

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

Aljazeera

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

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

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

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

Quartz

Somalia

UN Security Council welcomes progress in Somalia

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

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

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

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

Xinhua

Somalia inks new justice, corrections framework

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

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

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

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

Xinhua

Central African Republic

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

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

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

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

 

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

UN News

Militia leader convicted in Central African Republic

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

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

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

News24

Sudan

Sudanese opposition forces decline consultations meeting with African mediators

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s foreign minister postpones visit to France

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

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

AU Summit chance to salvage South Sudan

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

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

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

Daily Nation

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

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

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

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

News24

Western Sahara

UN’s Western Sahara envoy to hold talks in Berlin

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

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

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

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

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

The Citizen

UN Envoy extends Western Sahara invite to warring parties for talks

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

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

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

Middle East Monitor

Swaziland

Exiled Swazi editor speaks out

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mail& Guardian

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

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

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

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

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

Journal du Cameroun

Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

Voice of America

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

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

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

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

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

News24

 

 

Africa in General

Kenya vows to deepen economic ties with Sudan

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

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

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

Xinhua

African Davos delegates plan Trump speech boycott

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

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

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

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

Swiss Info

Africa braces for high-stakes Davos meet

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

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

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

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

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

Mail& Guardian

 

News Briefs: 19 January 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN probes DRC clashes that killed Burundi refugees

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

CNBC Africa

Somalia

Somalia’s al Shabaab denies forcibly recruiting children to fight

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

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

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

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

Reuters

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

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

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

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

CNBC Africa

Central African Republic

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

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

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

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

UN News

UN says 100 000 people in Central African Republic need aid

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

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

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

News24

Sudan

Police clash with protesters in Sudan

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

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

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

eNCA

Newspapers seized, journalists arrested as Sudan protests boil over

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

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

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

eNCA

South Sudan

South Sudan Rebels Call Mediators Biased

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

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

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

Voice of America

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

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

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

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

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

News24

Western Sahara

Morocco, Western Sahara: Protests Bare ‘Red Lines’

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

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

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

Human Rights Watch

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

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

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

 

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

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

Reuters

Swaziland

Swaziland Civil Liberties Worsen

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica

Swaziland: ‘Editor Flees After Death Threat’

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

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

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

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

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

News24

Plea for military to accept election outcome in Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

TimesLive

 

 

Africa in General

Numsa calls for DRC’s Kabila to go

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

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

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

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

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

The Citizen

In Central African Republic, militia violence leaves villages devastated

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

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

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

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

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

TimesLive

Zimbabwean politician dies in US helicopter crash

Founding Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett died in a helicopter crash in a remote area of the US state of New Mexico, authorities said Thursday.

Bennett was killed along with his wife Heather and three other people after the helicopter went down on Wednesday, New Mexico state police said.

A crash survivor called 911 for help but could not say where in the mountainous region the wreckage was located. After a frantic search the crash was found ablaze at a ranch about 10 miles east of the town of Raton.

State police officers at the scene “reported the helicopter wreckage had been engulfed in fire making identification difficult,” the NMSP statement read but confirmed that Bennett, 60, and his 55-year-old wife were among the victims.

TimesLive

African Ambassadors Demand Apology from Trump

With condemnations of US President Donald Trump from African leaders continuing, the collective of African ambassadors to the UN has described his remarks as outrageous, racist and xenophobic.

This comes after Trump questioned why the US would accept more immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador or countries in Africa using a vulgar term to describe them.

The US president reportedly made the remarks at a White House meeting on immigration last week.

The ambassadors are demanding an apology and retraction of the remarks from Trump.

Ghanaian ambassador to the UN Martha Pobee speaks on behalf of the African ambassadors.

“The African ambassadors are extremely appalled and strongly condemns the remakes attributed to the president of America.”

EWN

US says Africa important but no apology for Trump

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told African envoys on Thursday that “Africa is very important for the United States”, but she didn’t apologise for President Donald Trump’s vulgar comment about the continent as they had demanded, the chair of the African Group said.

Equatorial Guinea’s UN ambassador, Anatolio Ndong Mba, told two reporters after the closed meeting requested by Haley that “we do hope that that (apology) will come”, perhaps from Trump to African leaders at their summit in Ethiopia on January 28-29.

Ndong Mba said the 54-nation African Group at the United Nations gave Haley a “specific recommendation” but he refused to disclose it. Other diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to speak publicly, said it was to have Trump send a message to leaders at the summit.

News24

 

News Briefs 15 December 2017

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Militiamen jailed in DR Congo’s Kavumu for raping 40 children

A group of 11 militiamen in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been jailed for life for raping about 40 children, including at least one baby.

The girls they raped between 2013 and 2016 were aged between eight months and 12 years old.

The men’s alleged leader was a local MP called Frederic Batumike. He is one of those who was jailed.

Local campaigners hailed the verdict against the men as a sign that impunity for sexual violence was ending.

“It’s a strong signal to anyone who would contemplate this kind of offence,” lawyer for the victims Charles Cubaka Cicura told Reuters news agency.

BBC

EU warns DR Congo of election funding risk over ‘harassment’

The European Union on Monday warned Democratic Republic of Congo it would cut off help to hold elections next year if the authorities failed to end “harassment” of the opposition and civil society.

In a statement, the 28-nation bloc said it was “critical” for the Kinshasa government to uphold the timetable of the much-delayed elections.

It also detailed a long list of abuses, including “acts of harassment toward opposition political figures, representatives of the media and civil society and defenders of human rights.”

The statement urged the release of all political prisoners, the lifting of “unjustified” prosecutions and the reopening of media outlets that had been closed.

“The EU calls on the respect for freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration,” the statement said, warning “the EU will evaluate implementation (of these measures) in implementing its technical and financial support” for the elections.

The Citizen

Somalia

US is cutting some military aid to Somalia amid allegations of misuse

The US government is cutting aid to some Somali military units amid allegations of misuse of funds and corruption by the Somali military, a State Department official told CNN on Thursday.

Aid will continue to Somali military units that are mentored directly by US military advisers or are actively engaged in fighting the al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab and other extremist groups, the State Department official said.

The decision comes as the US has become increasingly involved in the fight against al Shabaab and ISIS with airstrikes and some 500 US troops in the country advising local forces.

The US is also becoming increasingly dependent on the Somali military as thousands of troops from the multinational Africa Union mission in Somalia plan to withdraw by the end of 2020.

CNN

Somalia’s budget meets IMF terms, official says

The budget approved by Somalia’s parliament this week is in line with fiscal reforms the government committed to when it entered an International Monetary Fund programme in May, an IMF official told Reuters.

Somalia is now on its second 12-month IMF staff-monitored programme after decades of war and turmoil, and adherence to the IMF’s fiscal framework opens the door for grants and concessional funding from international financial institutions.

The $274 million budget approved on Wednesday includes measures expected to boost domestic revenue collection by $20-$25 million.

Reuters

Central African Republic

US, Britain, France seek details on Russian arms to C Africa

The United States, Britain and France on Wednesday asked that a Russian request to send light arms to the Central African Republic be put on hold as they seek more information on the shipments, diplomats said.

Russia has asked the UN Security Council for an exemption to an arms embargo on the Central African Republic (CAR) to allow the arms to be shipped to its armed forces.

The first delivery of pistols, automatic rifles and ammunition is scheduled for next week.

CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the weaponry during talks at the Black Sea resort of Sochi in October.

News24 Brazil to Join UN Mission in Central African Republic, MINUSCA

Brazil to Join UN Mission in Central African Republic, MINUSCA

Brazil will join the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the UN announced. This is an important decision for the South American nation, as Brasilia looks to maintain a high profile in UN peace operations. This also shows an increased interest in Africa as well perhaps to counterbalance western interests. What remains to be seen is whether the 750 Brazilian troops to be deployed will have a positive impact in MINUSCA’s operations as the violence in the troubled central African state continues.

Brazil and UN Peace Missions

Brazil has had a strong interest in participating in UN missions in order to increase its international profile. In fact, the South American country had a leading role in the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), as well as the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). MINUSTAH concluded its activities this past October after 13 years in the Caribbean state, prompting Brazil and other donors to withdraw their troops, and it has been replaced by a smaller mission, the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).

International Policy Digest

Sudan

Sudan papers go online for freedom from censors

Seated in his Khartoum office overlooking the Blue Nile, Sudanese journalist Adil al-Baz no longer fears a crackdown by security agents over his articles since he launched an online newspaper.

“We are free to publish what we want on our online newspaper,” Baz, a former print newspaper editor, told AFP at the office of Al-Ahdath, the website he launched this year.

In a country of increasing media censorship, Baz is among several independent journalists who have left newspaper jobs and launched online papers or websites.

About a dozen internet papers have been launched in the past year alone as agents of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) continue to confiscate entire print-runs of newspapers over articles opposed to President Omar al-Bashir’s regime.

TimesLive

Sudan: Britain Ambassador – It Was Very Successful Event

After his participation in activities of the Sudanese- British economic forum in london UK ambassador to Khartoum Michael Aron, described it “very successful event” and said in statement to SUNA , there is very little British investment in Sudan at the moment. But in Egypt, UK is the largest international investors and in Kenya there are big Britain companies employing thousands of Kenyans in high productive jobs and we want to see that in Sudan as well. He spoke also on cooperation with Sudan in different arenas such as economic, political, and military fields. In addition to hot topics of human rights, refugees and migration… … more details in Interviews page

AllAfrica

South Sudan

UN Security Council warns on South Sudan peace efforts

The UN Security Council warned on Thursday of “costs or consequences” for South Sudan’s government and opposition if they undermine upcoming efforts to achieve a cease-fire and implement a 2015 peace agreement.

The council underlined in a presidential statement approved by all 15 members that “no party should set preconditions to participation” in the new peace process.

 

Council members strongly backed the forum organized by an eight-nation East African regional group to revitalize peace efforts. It is expected to begin Monday in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

There were high hopes that South Sudan would have peace and stability after its independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011. But the world’s newest nation plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, started battling those loyal to his former vice president, Riek Machar, a Nuer.

News24

South Sudan: Global action needed to end human rights violations and humanitarian crisis

Sustained international action is urgently needed to end the horrific human rights violations taking place in South Sudan, said Amnesty International today as the country’s armed conflict entered its fifth year.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed, thousands more subjected to sexual violence, and close to four million displaced since the conflict began on 15 December 2013.

“Coordinated and sustained international action is needed now more than ever to end the suffering in South Sudan, especially as the rainy season ends and the dry season begins, heralding an escalation in fighting,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“Regional states and the international community must work together to find a lasting solution to this crisis and put an end to the litany of human rights violations.”

Amnesty international

Western Sahara

Extremadura Assembly (Spain) adopts an institutional declaration supporting for Western Sahara

The Assembly of Extremadura (Spain), has adopted, unanimously, an institutional declaration of support to the people of Western Sahara, signed by all the parliamentary groups present in the autonomous chamber.

Extremadura legislators demand the Kingdom of Morocco the immediate release of Saharawi political prisoners, and the cease of violations of human rights in the prisons it controls,” went on saying the statement, condemning the continued plundering of the natural resources of Western Sahara.

It considers it necessary and urgent for MINURSO to have in its functions the capacity to supervise and document the violations committed by Morocco against the Sahrawis in the OOTT.

Sahara Press Service

Western Sahara UN envoy says ‘encouraged’ after first meetings

Fresh from a regional tour to discuss the dispute over Western Sahara, the new UN envoy said Wednesday he was “encouraged” but did not announce plans for new political talks.

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

After briefing the Security Council behind closed doors, Koehler told reporters “I am encouraged” but declined to provide details.

“We know it’s a very complex issue but there was a kind of constructive attitude in all the interlocutors he met,” said Italian Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, who is council president this month.

The council adopted a resolution in April that calls for kick-starting talks on a settlement following a tense standoff last year between Moroccan troops and Polisario fighters in Guerguerat, a remote area in Western Sahara near Mauritania.

Daily Mail

Swaziland

Swaziland: 8 in 10 Elderly Are in Poverty

More than 80 percent of women aged 60 and over and 70 percent of men in Swaziland live in poverty, according to a new report.

This comes at a time when the Swazi Government has run out of money and cannot pay elderly grants (pensions) to all people in that age group.

The figures are contained in the National Strategy and Action Plan to End Violence in Swaziland: 2017 to 2022.

About seven in ten of Swaziland’s 1.3 million population live in abject poverty defined as having incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The report said poverty among people aged 60 or over was highest compared to other age groups.

AllAfrica

SRA LOCKS OUT STRIKING WORKERS

THE Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) has locked out its striking employees from all its premises across the country. In a notice dated December 13, 2017 and signed by Commissioner General Dumisani Masilela, the authority gave formal notice of the lockout in terms of section 86(9) of the Industrial Relations Act 2000 and it will be effective from today (December 15, 2017) at 7am.

Masilela said the lockout would subsist until such time that the Swaziland Revenue Authority Workers Union (SRAWU) and its members accept the offer that has been placed by SRA and as set out in the certificate of unresolved dispute issued by the Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC). The commissioner general said the lockout shall only be called off by written notice issued by SRA which shall be copied to the Labour Commissioner and CMAC “During the course of the lockout notice, the union and its striking members are not permitted to enter their places of employment for whatever reason,” wrote Masilela. There was however commotion and confusion at the SRA headquarters in Mbabane yesterday afternoon after the march to the ministry of finance to deliver a petition by the workers. Soon after delivering their petition, the workers marched to the SRA headquarters where they were supposed to be addressed by union leaders. When they arrived at the headquarters, some of the workers, mainly those based at the head office, made attempts to enter the building to conduct certain errands but were barred by a strong contingent of police officers and security guards.

Swazi Observer

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe orders illegal farm invaders off land

Zimbabwe’s new agriculture minister has ordered people illegally occupying formerly white-owned commercial farms to vacate, nearly two decades after violent land grabs led by ousted ex-president Robert Mugabe, state media said Thursday.

“All those who were illegally settled or who just settled themselves on resettlement land should vacate immediately,” The Herald quoted Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe’s new lands and agriculture minister, as saying.

“Only those people with documentation of land occupancy and or those who were allocated land legitimately should remain on the farms and concentrate on production unhindered.”

Shiri, a retired air force marshal who served in the military when the army took over government last month resulting in the ouster of Mugabe, said “sanity” had to prevail for Zimbabwe to revive its agriculture.

“If we are to meet the goals set out by government to use agriculture as the mainstay of the economy, we need to ensure unquestionable sanity on the farms,” he said.

TimesLive

Zimbabwe’s new leader begins journey to key 2018 election

imbabwe’s new president is showing signs of charting a path different from that of his ousted mentor, Robert Mugabe, as he tries to win over the country before next year’s elections.

On Friday, the ruling Zanu-PF party is expected to endorse President Emmerson Mnangagwa as party leader and its presidential candidate. The elections are a key test of his promises to strengthen Zimbabwe’s democracy and attract badly needed foreign investment to revive a devastated economy.

The party congress also will endorse the recall of 93-year-old Mugabe from the party and government, said spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo, completing last month’s dramatic events that saw the military put Mugabe under house arrest, scores of thousands rally in the streets and lawmakers begin impeachment proceedings before the longtime leader resigned.

News24

Africa in General

Damning allegations over Kenya’s election unrest emerge

Kenya’s opposition leader was targeted in a virulent online campaign created by a US-based company during the recent election turmoil, a privacy watchdog said Thursday, while another rights group reported multiple gang-rapes by men in uniform in opposition strongholds.

The reports highlight the volatility of the months during which the Supreme Court nullified the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ordered a new vote that opposition leader Raila Odinga boycotted and Kenyatta won. Anger remains high among Odinga supporters; scores were killed in clashes with security forces.

The data-driven social media campaigns allegedly created by Texas-based Harris Media contributed to one of the most divisive votes in the East African nation’s history, the London-based Privacy International said.

IOL

Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa calls for end to Western sanctions

New President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday called for the removal of Western sanctions on members of Zimbabwe’s ruling elite and said elections due in 2018 were “nearer than you expect”.

The United States maintains a travel and economic embargo on several Zanu-PF party officials, top military figures and some government-owned firms. It imposed it during former president Robert Mugabe’s rule over what it called violations of human rights and democracy.

The EU lifted most of its sanctions in 2014 but kept them on Mugabe and his wife Grace.

“We call for the unconditional lifting of the political and economic sanctions, which have crippled our national development,” Mnangagwa told a meeting of the Zanu-PF central committee in downtown Harare.

IOL

UN peacekeeping chief visits Goma after deadly attack

The UN’s chief peacekeeper was in eastern DR Congo on Friday to visit those wounded in last week’s deadly ambush that killed 14, the worst attack on a peacekeeping mission in 24 years.

A week after the bloodshed, Jean-Pierre Lacroix was in Goma where he visited around 30 of those injured in the December 7 attack in North Kivu province which targeted a base of the UN’s Monusco force.

The UN said the ambush, which sparked a prolonged gun battle in which 53 peacekeepers were wounded, was carried out by suspected ADF rebels, a shadowy group dominated by hardline Ugandan Muslims that is one of several armed groups active in the North Kivu region.

News24

Major Liberian opposition party backs George Weah presidency

A Liberian opposition party formally backed George Weah for president on Thursday despite mounting a prolonged legal fight with his opponent, Vice-President Joseph Boakai, against the country’s electoral commission.

Weah and Boakai are due to face each other in a December 26 run-off triggered when the two men took first and second spots respectively in an October 10 presidential election but failed to win more than 50 percent of ballots cast.

The Liberty Party, whose standard bearer Charles Brumskine complained of fraud and irregularities after he scraped third with 9.6% of ballots, had joined forces with Boakai’s ruling Unity Party in arguing the National Elections Commission (NEC) had rigged the vote.

News24

 

News Briefs 08 December 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo displacement crisis ‘worse than Middle East’

Conflict has forced 1.7 million people to flee their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo this year, causing “a mega-crisis”, aid agencies say.

This means that for the second consecutive year, DR Congo is worst-affected by conflict displacement in the world, the agencies add.

DR Congo has been hit by years of instability, with rival militias fighting for control of territory.

The conflict has been worsened by the failure to hold elections last year.

“It’s a mega-crisis. The scale of people fleeing violence is off the charts, outpacing Syria, Yemen and Iraq,” the Norwegian Refugee Council’s DR Congo director, Ulrika Blom, said.

BBC

DR Congo: Hunger crisis, scarce funds could push Kasais to brink of catastrophe, UN agency warns

An acute hunger emergency ravaging Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)’s strife-torn Greater Kasai region could transform into a long-term disaster if additional resources are not made available urgently, the United Nations food relief agency warned Thursday.

“Without immediate donor support, many – particularly women and children – will die,” said Claude Jibidar, the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) operations in the DRC.

The eruption of violence in what used to be a poor but peaceful region has claimed countless lives and forced nearly 1.4 million people from their homes.

The crisis has also resulted in traditionally high malnutrition rates to sky-rocket and according to estimates, 3.2 million people are “desperately” short of food, the UN agency said.

UN News

Somalia

‘Somalia’s Peacekeeping Mission Could Be Hurt by Cut In Force Size’

The force of 22,000 deployed a decade ago is set to lose 1,000 soldiers this year as part of a long-term plan to pull out of the country and hand security to the Somali army.

The African Union’s plan to trim its Somalia peacekeeping force (AMISOM) will hurt the mission unless extra equipment is found to offset the troop decrease, the mission’s leader told Reuters on Monday.

The force of 22,000 deployed a decade ago is set to lose 1,000 soldiers this year as part of a long-term plan to pull out of the country and hand security to the Somali army.

AMISOM is confronting the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, whose ranks have been swelled by Islamic State fighters fleeing military setbacks in Libya and Syria.

EWN

Dozens of Ugandan troops withdrawn from Somalia duty

Uganda’s military has begun withdrawing dozens of its troops from a regional force in Somalia, a military official said on Thursday, marking the beginning of the end of an African Union team that has battled violent Islamic extremists.

Some 281 troops will leave Somalia by December 31, said Lt. Col. Deo Akiiki, deputy spokesperson for the Ugandan military.

Uganda was the first country to deploy troops to Somalia in 2007 to back a weak federal government in Mogadishu against an insurgency by the extremist group al-Shabaab, which is responsible for many deadly attacks in Somalia and elsewhere in the region.

News24

Central African Republic

Aid worker killed in C.Africa amid violence

A Central African Republic aid worker was killed after gunman stormed his home, his family said Thursday, the latest death in a week of clashes in the country.

The 35-year-old man who worked for Italian humanitarian organisation Intersos, died at hospital following the shooting overnight Wednesday to Thursday in Kaga Bandoro, in the north of CAR.

The region is controlled by two armed groups which last week prevented the celebration of a national holiday.

At least 10 people had already been killed this week in a wave of incidents between rival armed groups, local officials and a UN source said on Thursday.

The bloodshed, which began on Sunday in the central town of Ippy, resulted from clashes between the mainly Muslim ex-Seleka rebels and Christian anti-Balaka militia.

The Citizen

Armed groups in central Africa using roadblocks as funding source

Roadblocks in war-torn areas of Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo provide armed groups with millions of dollars in annual income, a report said on Wednesday.

A year-long study by the International Peace Information Service (IPIS), a Belgian research group, found 1 082 roadblocks in CAR and in the North and South Kivu provinces of eastern DRC alone.

Money extorted from road users nets armed groups around $8.2m annually, it estimated.

Roadblocks are a “key mechanism of conflict funding,” IPIS said in a statement.

News24

Sudan

Sudanese opposition calls for international probe into North Darfur violence

in North Darfur state between the government troops and the tribal militia of the Border Brigades Forces (BBF) led by Musa Hilal.

Within the framework of a weapons collection campaign, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) stormed Hilal headquarters in Mistiriyha after the killing of a commander of the government militia by the BBF on 27 November 2017.

As a result of the operation, Hilal, his sons and several senior BBF and tribal officials were arrested and transferred to Khartoum where they are held in the army detention centre. There were also reports of attacks human rights abuses against the civilians in Mistiriyha.

“The Sudan Call forces condemn the recent attacks by the government militias in Mistiriyha, and call for an immediate end of the war,” said the opposition alliance which gathers the political parties and armed groups including those of Darfur region.

Sudan Tribune

Militia chief arrest ‘dangerous moment’ for Sudan’s Darfur

By arresting Darfur’s powerful militia chief Musa Hilal, Khartoum has tightened its control over Sudan’s strife-torn region but analysts say it might open a new chapter of violence.

Hilal, a former aide to President Omar al-Bashir, was arrested last week by Sudan’s counter-insurgency forces near his hometown of Mustariaha in North Darfur state after fierce clashes that left several dead.

“This is a dangerous moment actually,” Magnus Taylor, Sudan analyst with the think-tank International Crisis Group, told AFP.

“By taking out Musa Hilal, they have pitched two different Darfuri Arab tribes against each other.”

News24

South Sudan

UN says 1.25 million South Sudanese are 1 step from famine

Over 1.2 million people in war-torn South Sudan are one step away from famine — twice as many as at the same time last year — and in early 2018 half the country’s population will be reliant on emergency food aid, the U.N. humanitarian chief said Thursday.

Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council that even though 2 million people have fled the country over the past four years, 7 million people inside the country — “almost two-thirds of the remaining population” — still need humanitarian aid.

“The next lean season beginning in March is likely to see famine conditions in several locations across the country,” Lowcock said. “We were able to reverse famine conditions this year — with significant resources and risks — and we must avoid a repeat of this.”

Washington Post

South Sudan: Security Council urged to do more to protect civilians, help end violence

With the conflict in South Sudan entering its fifth year, senior United Nations officials on Thursday expressed concern about the precarious security situation and bleak humanitarian conditions in the world’s youngest country.

“The people of South Sudan have simply suffered far too much for far too long and we must not take their resilience against incredible odds for granted,” Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council today, about a week before the current mandate of UN peacekeeping force in the country expires.

Focusing his remarks on developments over the past year, Mr. Lacroix said the UN’s sustained efforts to effect change on the ground will require the continued support of the 15-member Council.

“Now, more than ever, I urge this Council to remain vigilant and exert more effort to condemn and stop the violence, protect civilians, and urgently facilitate a political settlement of the conflict,” he said.

UN News

Western Sahara

Swedish MPs urge government to speed up Western Sahara decolonization

Swedish MPs urged their government to seize the seized the opportunity of their mandate as member of the UN Security Council to speed up the decolonization of Western Sahara and allow the Sahrawi people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence. They also called to stop the planned plundering of the country’s natural resources, in violation of all relevant European and international resolutions.

The Swedish press published a letter signed by four Swedish MPs from different political persuasions urging the government to use its mandate as a member of the UN Security Council to accelerate the decolonization of Western Sahara and allow the Saharawi people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.

As for the “difficult living conditions” in the Sahrawi refugee camps, the MPs stressed that international humanitarian aids, on which these refugees depend, were decreasing each year due to global migration flows and famine in the Horn of Africa.

Sahara Press Service

UN chief appoints new special representative for Western Sahara

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Colin Stewart of Canada as his new special representative for Western Sahara and head of the UN mission in the disputed territory.

Stewart succeeds Kim Bolduc of Canada, who has held the position since May 2014.

Stewart brings to the position demonstrated management and leadership, with more than 25 years of experience in peace and security and international affairs, said Guterres’ spokesman in a statement, on Friday.

Most recently, Stewart served as deputy head and chief of staff of the UN Office to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He has also held appointments in a number of UN field missions.

Xinhua

Swaziland

UNAIDS PCB learns about the response to HIV in Swaziland

A delegation of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) visited Swaziland from 14 to 16 November to get insight into the country’s national AIDS response. During the visit, the delegation met the Acting Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and other representatives of the government, civil society, the private sector and development partners. The meetings with the political leadership clearly displayed the commitment to the response from the highest political level, from the King down.

During the meetings, the close collaboration between the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and UNAIDS, based on UNAIDS’ role as the key link between the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Health and the broader political leadership, and with key civil society stakeholders, was noted. The critical role of the Joint Programme in preparing the recent concept note submitted for an application for financing by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for the AIDS response in Swaziland was also discussed.

ReliefWeb

Zimbabwe

Mugabe-era finance minister out on bail in Zimbabwe

A Zimbabwean court on Thursday freed a Mugabe-era finance minister on bail ahead of his trial on corruption charges, laid following his arrest at the height of last month’s military takeover.

Ignatius Chombo, a close ally of former president Robert Mugabe who resigned on November 21, was the first Mugabe loyalist to be charged with a crime.

The Zimbabwe High Court freed him on $5 000-bail but ordered he report to police three times a day, surrender his passport and stay away from government offices and the central bank.

He had been in police custody for more than a fortnight.

News24

IMF Ready to Assist Zimbabwean Authorities

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it will be sending its officials to Zimbabwe to help the country in its efforts to design policies to revive the economy.

The IMF says it will be working closely with the country which has been isolated and unable to borrow money from the IMF.

The IMF says it stands ready to assist the Zimbabwean authorities.

“The new president (Emmerson Mnangagwa) is putting in place his Cabinet and we stand ready to work closely with the country and the staff should help us to make progress in that direction.”

The regular staff visit to Harare in early December “will update our assessment of Zimbabwe’s fiscal position, foreign exchange developments and inquire about the new administration’s economic plans,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.

EWN

 

 

Africa in General

SA Resumes Morocco Ties, Despite ANC’s Position On Western Sahara

South Africa and Morocco will resume diplomatic ties more than a decade after Morocco withdrew its ambassador from Pretoria, South African President Jacob Zuma said in a City Press interview published on Sunday.

Morocco recalled its ambassador from South Africa in 2004 after former South African president Thabo Mbeki recognized a breakaway region in the Western Sahara which Morocco claims as part of its territory.

“Morocco is an African nation and we need to have relations with them,” Zuma told City Press in the interview.

Zuma met Morocco’s King Mohammed last week on the sidelines of an African Union-European Union summit.

“They felt that even if we differ on the Western Sahara issues, the two countries should have a relationship,” Zuma said about Moroccan officials’ position at the meeting.

Huffington Post

 

 

UN condemns ‘heinous’ sale of migrants in Libya as slaves

he UN Security Council on Thursday condemned the sale of African migrants into slavery in Libya as “heinous abuses of human rights” that may constitute crimes against humanity.

A presidential statement approved by all 15 council members and read at an open meeting called for speedy investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The statement comes after an emergency council meeting on November 28 held amid global outrage over CNN video showing African men being sold at a slave market in Libya.

The Security Council urged Libyan authorities and all UN member states to comply with their obligations under international law, including respect for the rights of migrants.

News24

In Africa, LGBT rights activists worry about Trump impact

Gay rights activist Joseph Achille Tiedjou is worried every day that he will be harassed or arrested in Cameroon.

Defending LGBT rights can be dangerous in Africa, where many countries have laws against homosexuality. But in recent years activists have stepped out of the shadows, empowered by the support of the Obama administration and the international community.

Now many fear the Trump administration will undermine those gains, and that their exposure could make them more vulnerable if support fades.

“I have so many worries with the new administration,” the 32-year-old Tiedjou said, pointing out Trump’s ban on transgender people in the US military. “Obama was known to be very engaged. Hillary Clinton was a champion of LGBT rights and made many guarantees in addressing these issues specifically.”

New24

 

News Briefs 01 December 2017

Bishops urge DRC president to vow to stand down

Influential bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday urged President Joseph Kabila to pledge he will not seek a third term in office in order to ease fears of unrest.

Roman Catholic bishops last year helped broker a deal under which elections for a new president would be held in 2017.

However, the ballot has been delayed, with the country’s electoral commission blaming logistical problems.

Under international pressure, the mineral-rich but chronically poor and politically unstable country has now scheduled the vote for December 23 2018.

News24

DR Congo: leaders of opposition group in police custody

Some senior opposition figures in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been arrested by the police.

Martin Fayulu and Kabund leaders of opposition in the country are under the police custody for questioning for non-compliance of a government decision prohibiting demonstrations.

The opposition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the movements of citizens had called on their members to go on the Streets on Thursday for a walk they call “walk of anger.”

An anger against President Joseph Kabila whose presidential mandate elapsed since December 2016.

Africa News

Somalia

Somalia twin blast toll now at 512

More than 500 people were killed in twin bomb blasts in Mogadishu in October, a Somali committee looking into the attack said on Thursday, raising the death toll from at least 358.

In the incidents on 14 October, a truck bomb exploded outside a busy hotel at the K5 intersection lined with government offices, restaurants and kiosks. A second blast struck Medina district two hours later.

The impact of the truck bomb was worsened by it exploding next to a fuel tanker that increased its intensity and left many bodies being burnt or mutilated beyond recognition.

By 20 October, the government said the toll had reached 358.

eNCA

Somalia participates in 16 Days of Activism campaign to end gender-based violence

On 27th November, the British Embassy hosted an event to mark the 16 days, bringing together activists, government representatives, NGOs and members of the international community.

In a round table discussion on the DFID funded CHANGES project, participants heard about the current state of play on gender-based violence issues in Somalia, particularly early marriage, FGM and intimate partner violence. Those present committed to continuing to work together to tackle harmful social norms that underpin such violence.

Speaking during the subsequent reception, UK Ambassador to Somalia, David Concar reflected on why tackling gender-based violence matters, and what the UK is doing to support Somalia’s women and girls.

CNBC Africa

Central African Republic

UN strongly condemns attack that kills peacekeeper in Central African Republic

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council have strongly condemned Sunday’s attack allegedly perpetrated by the anti-Balaka group against a convoy of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, in which one peacekeeper from Egypt was killed and three others were injured.

“The Secretary-General offers his deepest condolences and sympathy to the family of the victim and to the Government of Egypt. He wishes a swift recovery to the wounded,” said a statement issued by his Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq following the attack, which took place on the Bangassou-Kongbo axis in the country’s southeast.

With this latest attack, hostile acts have claimed the lives of 13 peacekeepers in the Central African Republic since January 2017.

The statement said that the Secretary-General firmly recalls that attacks against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and calls on the country’s authorities to investigate the attack to swiftly bring those responsible to justice.

UN News

U.N. asks Brazil for peacekeepers for Central African Republic

The United Nations has asked Brazil to send troops to join its peace mission in the Central African Republic, said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the U.N.’s head of peacekeeping operations, in an interview on Monday.

The U.N. Security Council approved this month the deployment of an additional 900 peacekeepers to protect civilians in the impoverished landlocked nation, where violence broke out between Muslims and Christians in 2013.

Lacroix said violence had increased in the east, largely due to a security vacuum left by the departure of Ugandan troops, who had been part of a separate U.S.-supported African Union task force tracking Lord’s Resistance Army rebels.

Reuters

Sudan

Sudan armed groups still deploy child soldiers: UN

The United Nations said on Wednesday that some armed groups fighting in Sudan still deploy child soldiers, but acknowledged Khartoum’s efforts to prevent child recruitment into its forces.

Olof Skoog, chairperson of the UN Security Council’s working group on children and armed conflict, said armed groups including rebel factions were not implementing international regulations on children in conflict.

“We have made very strong appeals to the armed groups that they fully subscribe to international law when it comes to respecting children,” Skoog told reporters in Khartoum during a trip by the working group to Sudan.

News24

Darfur militia chief to face military trial: Sudan minister

A powerful militia chief from Darfur, who was arrested by Sudanese forces after fierce fighting last week, will face a military trial along with his sons, a minister said Wednesday.

Musa Hilal, a former aide to President Omar al-Bashir, was arrested on Sunday by the country’s counter-insurgency unit, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), near his hometown of Mustariaha in the state of North Darfur.

Hilal will face a military trial as he led a unit of border guards that was part of Sudan’s armed forces, Minister of State for Defence Ali Mohamed Salem told parliament.

News24

South Sudan

US threatens measures against South Sudan

The United States on Tuesday threatened to take unspecified measures against South Sudan’s government unless it moves to end the nearly four-year war and stop harassing UN peacekeepers and aid workers.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley put the onus squarely on President Salva Kiir to take action, telling the Security Council that “words are no longer sufficient.”

“The United States is prepared to pursue additional measures against the government – or any party, for that matter – if they do not act to end the violence and ease the suffering in South Sudan,” Haley said.

News24

More than 40 killed as tribal tensions surge in South Sudan

A tribal militia killed at least 43 people in South Sudan’s central Jonglei state, local officials said on Wednesday.

The attack forms part of a cycle of tit-for-tat revenge killings that local authorities have so far been powerless to stop.

Raiders from the Murle ethnic group killed 20 men, 22 women and one child, and injured 19 people in the small village of Duk Payel on Tuesday, Jonglei Information Minister Jocab Akech Deng said.

The killings are the latest chapter in a chain of revenge attacks, cattle raiding, and child abduction between the Murle ethnic group and the Dinka Bor group.

eNCA

Western Sahara

European activists denounce Morocco’s human rights violations in Western Sahara

The human rights violations perpetrated by Morocco in Western Sahara are numerous and daily, said Tuesday, in Brussels, the participants in a meeting on the situation of human rights in the occupied territories, denouncing the various attacks on the Sahrawis, notably the torture, population transfer and unfair trials.

During this meeting, organized at the European Parliament, Euro deputy Paloma Lopez lamented “the continuation of human rights violations” in occupied Western Sahara and the “excessive use of violence against the Sahrawi political prisoners.”

French lawyer of one of the prisoners of Gdeim Izik group Ingrid Metton, who attended the meeting, affirmed that these prisoners suffered serious violations since they were arrested, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, tortures and ill-treatments, violations of the right to a fair trial by the military justice and notably their condemnation on the basis of confessions obtained under torture.

Sahara Press Service

Morocco King says no to Western Sahara independence

Autonomy rather than independence, Morocco maintains its position on Western Sahara. For King Mohamed VI, no other solution can be envisaged to resolve the Saharan conflict.

The monarch said in a televised address on Monday that Morocco would not relent its claim over the territory.

His comments come amid renewed efforts by the UN to resolve the decades-old dispute.

“Past experiences should make it possible to meditate on the obvious: the problem is not so much to find a solution to this case … It is therefore up to the parties of origin of this conflict, to assume full responsibility for the search for a definitive settlement,” said Mohammed VI.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in April that called for a new push for talks between Morocco and the Polisario.

Africa News

Swaziland

Swaziland: King ‘Exploits Forced Child Workers’

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, has been named in an global report on human trafficking for forcing children to work in his fields.

One organisation has called this modern day ‘slavery’.

It is not the first time the King has been criticised for using forced labour.

The annual Trafficking in Persons Report for 2017 from the United States State Department stated it had been reporting conditions in Swaziland for the past five years. It said, ‘Swazis are culturally expected to participate in the seasonal weeding and harvesting of the King’s fields and those who may refuse are subject to coercion through threats and intimidation by their chiefs.’

AllAfrica

Swaziland: Chief Punishes Residents With Fine

Residents in Swaziland have been fined for not attending community meetings and paying ‘homage’ to their chief.

About 20 families have been affected in in the Southern Hhohho region, according to a newspaper report in Swaziland.

It happened at Mvutshini where 20 homesteads were fined E900 each (US$64) ‘for not attending community meetings and not paying homage to the Ezulwini chiefdom,’ the Observer on Saturday reported (25 November 2017).

In Swaziland seven in ten people live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s president names top military officers in new cabinet

Zimbabwe’s new president named his first cabinet on Thursday, appointing two senior military officers to key portfolios and dropping close allies of Robert Mugabe who resigned after the armed forces took control of the country.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed as foreign affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo, the army major general who went on state television announcing the military’s take-over, a dramatic power grab which culminated in Mugabe stepping down a week later.

The long-serving airforce commander Perence Shiri also became the Lands and Agriculture minister, according to a statement released late Thursday night.

News24

Zimbabwe declares Mugabe’s birthday a holiday

Zimbabwe has made former president Robert Mugabe’s birthday a public holiday, a state daily reported on Monday, nearly a week after the long-time ruler stepped down.

“It is hereby declared that February 21 of every year henceforth shall be a public holiday to be known as the Robert Mugabe National Youth Day,” The Herald newspaper reported, citing a government gazette.

The move follows intense lobbying by the ruling Zanu-PF party’s youth league and came weeks after the country’s biggest airport was renamed after the veteran politician who ruled Zimbabwe for nearly 40 years.

News24

 

 

Africa in General

AU/EU Summit: Libya’s modern slavery, Western Sahara tensions under scrutiny in Abidjan

The theme of the three-yearly African Union-European Union summit which starts in Abidjan on Wednesday is “Investing in youth for a sustainable future”. A lot of good work will be done to increase youth employment, for example.

Much of the curiosity though is on what the expected 83 leaders representing 55 African and 28 European countries will do about slavery. And will Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was only sworn into office last Friday – after a de facto coup – attend? Also, will there be a rumpus between the “Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic” (SADR) and Morocco? SADR is one of the 55 official member states of the AU, though its territory, the Western Sahara, is claimed and occupied by Morocco. Morocco stormed out of the AU’s predecessor, the OAU, in 1984, because the SADR was admitted as a member.

Rabat returned to the AU fold this year but it has been creating scenes at previous AU meetings over the SADR’s presence. There was talk a few weeks ago that Cote d’Ivoire has not invited SADR to this week’s summit because of Morocco’s concerns. Eventually it was invited and said it would attend. But will Morocco again create a scene?

Dialy Maverick

Uhuru Kenyatta: back at the helm of a divided nation

Uhuru Kenyatta, who was sworn in on Tuesday for a second and final term after a bruising election season, is the son of Kenya’s founding president and a man who epitomises the country’s elite.

The 56-year-old US-educated multi-millionaire, whose family owns an array of businesses, properties and land, followed in his father’s footsteps when he defeated his rival Raila Odinga to become president in 2013.

However, securing a second term required an acrimonious and drawn-out process that has split the nation, handing him the tricky task of trying to heal deep tribal and political schisms.

At his inauguration in front of a capacity crowd at the 60 000-seat Kasarani stadium, he said: “I will devote my time and energy to build bridges, to unite and bring prosperity.”

News24

Europe-Africa summit aims for evacuation of 3 800 migrants risking abuse

Leaders at an EU-Africa summit called Thursday for the immediate evacuation of nearly 4 000 distressed African migrants in Libya under a new drive to fight slave traders and traffickers.

Wrapping up a two-day summit in Ivory Coast’s economic capital, a top African Union (AU) official said there could be as many as 700 000 Africans stranded in Libya, where many have suffered atrocities and even been sold into slavery.

He said a fact-finding mission had seen one camp in Tripoli where all the residents, numbering several thousand, were “living in inhumane conditions” and were desperate to return home.

“We have agreed, along with the EU and the UN, to set up a task force for repatriating at least 3,800 people,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, head of the AU Commission, told reporters.

News24

 

News Briefs 17 November 2017

Zimbabwe

Mugabe meets with army commander and SA envoy as crisis solution sought

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was shown meeting on Thursday with the army commander who put him under house arrest, as negotiations with a South African delegation and a Catholic priest at the state house pushed for a resolution to the political turmoil and the likely end to Mugabe’s decades-long rule.

New photos of the meeting on Thursday afternoon has been circulated.

The photos did not show first lady Grace Mugabe, whose rapid political rise had alarmed many in the country who feared she could succeed her husband.

According to the Zimbabwe Herald the meeting was attended by Commander General Constantino Chiwenga of the Zimbabwe Defence Force, Father Fidelis Mukonori, South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister Bongani Bongo, Zimbabwe Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi and Zimbabwe State Security Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi.

News24

Zimbabwe: Chombo Found with Us$10 Million Cash – Claim

Finance minister Ignatius Chombo was reportedly found with US$10m in cash at his Harare home after the property was raided by the military Wednesday morning.

The minister, said to be one of President Robert Mugabe’s most corrupt officials, was among the first ministers detained by the army as Generals deposed the 93-year-old Zanu PF leader from power.

The unverified claim that Chombo had bags of cash at plush home was made by independent Norton legislator Temba Mliswa.

“Just for your own information, Minister Chombo’s house which was invaded as he got arrested had US$10 million,” Mliswa claimed in an interview with Al Jazeera.

AllAfrica

Democratic Republic of Congo

South Africa and the DRC agree to remove trade obstacles

South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have committed to remove hurdles that hinder business interactions between business people of the two countries, the trade and industry department (dti) said on Saturday.

The agreement and commitment emanated from discussions held during this week’s Investment and Trade Initiative (ITI) seminar, organised by the dti and hosted in Lubumbashi in the DRC, the department said in a statement.

Addressing delegates at the seminar, South African consul general in Lubumbashi Andrew Maswanganye said it was important for both countries to work towards “harmonising the climate of doing business” and coming up with ideas on how to implement agreements already in place.

Business Report

UN calls DRC to allow peaceful anti-Kabila protests

The United Nations has urged the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to allow peaceful rallies on the eve of expected anti-government demonstrations called by opposition and civil society groups.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, called on DRC authorities “to respect the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Congolese Constitution, including freedom of assembly and of demonstration”.

It also said that authorities should “instruct defence and security forces to respect the principles of necessity, proportionality and legality, consistent with international standards”.

Aljazeera

Somalia

Federal Government of Somalia launches its Child Rights Bill drafting process

The Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development of the Federal Government of Somalia took a major step forward in strengthening the rights of children today by launching the drafting process of its Child Rights Bill, a gesture that the Ministry strongly believes will guarantee a better future for Somali children.

Somalia’s Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, Deqa Yasin Hagi Yusuf, and UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), Leila Pakkala, launched the process in Mogadishu. The Ministry is partnering with UNICEF and Somali Civil Society Organizations in the drafting process and expects wide ranging contributions from Somali society.

 

The Child Rights Bill, once approved, will be the foundation for the promotion and protection of all child rights in the country. Somalia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in October 2015. “The launch of the drafting process of this comprehensive children’s law today shows the determination of the Federal Government to ensure the Articles in the CRC become a reality in Somalia,” said Minister Deqa Yasin Hagi Yusuf. “Children here have been seriously affected by armed conflict, drought and many other challenges. We should now focus on guaranteeing their future by strengthening the legal framework which will enable them to enjoy their rights, including the right to development, education, and protection among others.”

Relief Web

Security Council maintains partial lifting of arms embargo on Somalia for one year

The Security Council on Tuesday renewed until 15 November 2018 the partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia, authorization for maritime interdiction of illicit arms imports and charcoal exports, and the humanitarian exemption.

In the resolution adopted by 11 affirmative votes and four abstentions, the 15-member body requested the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) to continue its investigations related to the export to Somalia of chemicals that may be used as oxidisers in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices, such as the precursors ammonium nitrate, potassium chlorate, potassium nitrate and sodium chlorate.

Those abstained in the vote were Bolivia, China, Egypt and Russia.

UN News

Central African Republic

UN votes to add 900 peacekeepers in Central African Republic

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution increasing the UN peacekeeping force in the conflict-torn Central African Republic to a total of 11 650 military personnel.

The addition of 900 soldiers comes as the impoverished Central African Republic, known as CAR, faces rising communal tensions, violence and a deteriorating humanitarian situation.

France’s UN Ambassador Francois Delattre, who sponsored the resolution, said on Wednesday that the Security Council “cannot afford to take the risk of allowing CAR to relapse into a crisis as tragic as the one in which it was mired between early 2012 and early 2014.”

News24

Seven dead in concert attack, reprisals in Central African Republic

Seven people were killed and around 20 others were injured in a grenade attack on a peace concert and reprisal violence in Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, on Saturday and Sunday, government officials and city residents said.

The riverside city has in the past been a flashpoint for inter-religious violence that erupted between Muslims and Christians in 2013 and has since engulfed most of the impoverished, landlocked nation.

Interior Minister Henri Wanzet Linguissara said two individuals on a motorcycle approached revelers attending a concert organized to foster reconciliation and social cohesion late on Saturday night and threw a grenade into the crowd.

Reuters

Sudan

Sudan journalists oppose new law curbing media freedom

Dozens of Sudanese journalists on Wednesday demonstrated in Khartoum against a proposed new press law that aims to tighten restrictions on media freedom in the African country.

“United Against the New Law” and “Free Press or No Press,” read banners held up by demonstrators who say the bill empowers Sudan’s press council to ban any journalist for an indefinite period if his writings oppose government policies.

The cabinet led by Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh is examining the draft, which if passed would go to parliament for a final approval.

“The new law threatens the freedom of the press, and so we outright reject it,” said Sadeq al-Rizeigat, head of the Sudan Journalists’ Syndicate.

News24

US prepared to talk on removing Sudan terror tag: diplomat

The United States is prepared to hold talks on removing Sudan from its blacklist of “state sponsors of terrorism,” a senior US official said in Khartoum on Thursday.

Sudan meanwhile said it was ready to cut ties with North Korea, in a sign of goodwill towards Washington.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said that given the “positive” steps taken by Sudan since last year, Washington was prepared to discuss removing Sudan from the blacklist, which also includes Iran and Syria.

“We are prepared to continue discussions with the government of Sudan on this issue … and to engage with them on all that would be required to have them removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism,” Sullivan told foreign media journalists based in Khartoum.

eNCA

South Sudan

South Sudan’s Government Using Food as Weapon of War – UN Report

South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s government is using food as a weapon of war to target civilians by blocking life-saving aid in some areas, United Nations sanctions monitors told the Security Council in a confidential report seen by Reuters on Friday.

During 2016 and 2017, the UN monitors said a military campaign by government troops in the northwestern town of Wau and surrounding areas in Western Bahr el-Ghazal targeted civilians on ethnic grounds and displaced more than 100,000.

“The government has during much of 2017 deliberately prevented life-saving food assistance from reaching some citizens,” the monitors wrote. “These actions amount to using food as a weapon of war with the intent to inflict suffering on civilians the government views as opponents to its agenda.”

EWN

  1. Sudan President Reconciles with Former Army Chief

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his former army chief of staff apparently have reconciled, a week after a tense standoff in Juba threatened to escalate into violence.

The reconciliation happened Thursday at a prayer service at the president’s residence in Juba. Pictures surfaced on the internet showing Paul Malong hugging Kiir.

The coziness seems a world away from events last week in Juba, when tanks and dozens of government troops surrounded Malong’s house after he refused to release a platoon of soldiers guarding him.

Voice of America

Western Sahara

Morocco king rejects independence for Western Sahara

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has ruled out any peace deal that allows for the independence of the Western Sahara as the United Nations renews efforts to resolve the decades-old dispute.

A UN peacekeeping force has been deployed in the former Spanish colony since 1991 with a mandate to organise a referendum on its independence or integration with Morocco.

Morocco agreed to the vote in a 1988 agreement with the pro-independence Polisario Front that ended 13 years of conflict but has since blocked it being held, saying it will accept only autonomy for the territory.

“No settlement of the Sahara affair is possible outside the framework of the full sovereignty of Morocco over its Sahara and the autonomy initiative, whose seriousness and credibility the international community has recognised,” the king said in a televised address on Monday.

Mail & Guardian

The UN refuses to comment on the royal speech delivered on the 42nd anniversary of Green March

The UN has refused for the moment to comment on the royal speech delivered Monday November the 6th on the 42nd anniversary of the Green March. Yesterday, during his daily press briefing, the Secretary-General spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, refused to answer a question saying “I’m not going to react to the King’s speech”.

A cautious answer that aims at avoiding tension between the two parties after the sovereign’s speech. On the Green March commemoration day, King Mohammed VI stressed in his address the conditions and the framework in which the upcoming negotiations should take place.

“‘No’ to any solution to the Sahara question other than within the framework of Morocco’s full sovereignty over its Sahara and the Autonomy Initiative, which has been declared serious and credible by the international community”.

Yabiladi

Swaziland

Swaziland Central Bank Governor: It’s ‘Not Wise’ to Dismiss Cryptocurrency

The central bank of the Kingdom of Swaziland is researching cryptocurrencies, according to its governor.

Speaking at an economic forum last week, Central Bank of Swaziland (CBS) chief Majozi Sithole struck an optimistic note about the technology, according to a report from the Swazi Observer.

While he didn’t issue any definitive statements on the topic, Sithole indicated that its a topic of study at the central bank, and that officials there don’t want to impede any possible financial innovation.

“It may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies and as the CBS we are learning and we want to accept and support innovation. If this is innovation, we do not want to stifle it. We want to learn more about it,” he told event attendees.

Coin Desk

Swaziland: Ex-MP Sues for ‘Jail Assault’

A former member of the Swaziland parliament is suing the kingdom’s jail services, alleging he was assaulted while an inmate at a correctional facility.

Charles Myeza says officers at the Bhalekane Correctional Centre squeezed his private parts and smacked his buttocks.

He is not the first former inmate at Bhalekane to allege to have been assaulted in this way.

Myeza has filed a claim at the Swazi High Court and with another former inmate is seeking E600,000 (US$44,000) damages.

AllAfrica

 

 

 

Africa in General

Zimbabwe turmoil worries SADC Organ Troika

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ Troika Plus on Thursday, said it noted with “great concern” the unfolding situation in Zimbabwe.

“[The] SADC Organ Troika further reaffirmed the need for SADC Member States to remain guided by their Constitutions. [The] SADC Organ Troika called upon all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to settle the political challenges through peaceful means,” the short statement said.

“Having considered the unfolding situation in the Republic of Zimbabwe, the Organ Troika recommended the convening of an urgent Extra Ordinary SADC Summit and committed to remain seized with the situation in the Republic of Zimbabwe.”

IOL

Kenya police use tear gas on supporters welcoming Odinga

Kenyan police have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga who are trying to gather near the country’s main airport to welcome him back from an overseas trip.

Friday’s incident was shown on live television. Opposition supporters are responding to a call to welcome Odinga after speaking engagements in the United States and Britain over Kenya’s political turmoil following a court-nullified presidential election and the fresh vote last month.

Odinga boycotted the new vote, saying electoral reforms had not been made.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win on Oct 26 is being challenged at the Supreme Court by activists and a politician amid claims of irregularities.

IOL

 

News Briefs – 10 November 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN Watchdog Tells Congo To Hold Election, Clean Up Human Rights

The UN Human Rights Committee on Thursday gave the Democratic Republic of Congo a year to report on actions it has taken to hold free and fair elections and clean up its rights record.

The United Nations watchdog, whose 18 independent experts monitor countries’ compliance with a global human rights treaty, said Congo should come back with an explanation by 10 November 2018, rather than after the regular four years between reviews.

Congo should “cooperate with all stakeholders to establish an agreed electoral calendar for the holding of free, peaceful and honest elections as soon as possible”, the committee said in its report on the central African country.

EWN

Congo Election Set for Dec 2018 – Electoral Commission Chief

Congo’s electoral commission president announced on Sunday that long-awaited presidential elections to replace President Joseph Kabila would take place in December 2018.

Speaking at a news conference in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, Corneille Nangaa said around 43 million voters had so far been registered for the vote.

Repeated delays to the poll, originally scheduled for late 2016, have triggered unrest and raised fears the central African nation could slip back into the conflicts that killed millions around the turn of the century, mostly from hunger and disease.

EWN

Somalia

Somalia fires security chiefs as attack toll hits 27

The death toll from a deadly attack on a hotel in Mogadishu rose to 27 on Sunday, prompting the Somali government to sack its police and intelligence chiefs.

The move came after Al-Qaeda aligned Shabaab gunmen staged coordinated bomb attacks Saturday outside the Nasa Hablod Hotel 2 before storming the building.

Two weeks ago, Mogadishu was hit by a massive truck bombing that killed 358 people in the troubled country’s worst-ever attack.

Saturday’s carnage was unleashed when a car bomb exploded outside the hotel entrance followed by a minibus loaded with explosives going off at a nearby intersection.

eNCA

US kills ‘several militants’ in Somalia air strike

The US military announced Thursday it had killed “several militants” in an airstrike against Al-Shabaab jihadists in Somalia.

The attack took place early Thursday in the Bay region in the center of the country, about 160km west of Mogadishu.

The strike was carried out “in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia,” the US Africa Command said in a statement.

“Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and is dedicated to providing safe haven for terrorist attacks throughout the world,” it said.

News24

Central African Republic

UN considers sending 900 extra peacekeepers to Central African Republic

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution that would bolster the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic with 900 extra troops to help protect civilians, according to the text obtained by AFP on Tuesday.

The measure follows a request from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who has warned of a risk of ethnic cleansing in parts of the impoverished African country.

The French-drafted resolution would extend the mission known as MINUSCA until November 2018 and increase the number of uniformed peacekeepers by 900, to a ceiling of 11,650, along with 2,080 police and 480 military observers.

The Guardian

UN releases Central African Republic war crimes suspects

The UN mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) released rebel fighters accused of shooting a UN peacekeeper, confidential documents seen by the BBC show.

The two men were handed back to their commander in 2015 despite injuring the UN peacekeeper – a war crime under international law.

Because the incident happened shortly before crucial elections, UN officials chose to “appease the electoral process” by “set[ing] the alleged war criminals free, handing them over”, a UN report says.

This revelation is the latest blow for a peacekeeping mission beset by problems.

BBC

 

 

Sudan

UNAMID to help Sudan gather illegal weapons in Darfur

The head of the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Jeremiah Mamabolo, announced yesterday that the mission is ready to provide support for Sudan’s campaign to collect illegal firearms in Darfur.

The remarks came during a meeting with Sudanese Vice President Hasabo Abdul Rahman yesterday at the Republican Palace in Khartoum, the Sudanese news agency reported.

The agency did not give details on the nature of the support.

“The mission welcomes the arms collection campaign in Darfur,” Mamabolo said, adding that collecting the illegal weapons is the strongest guarantee to preserve peace, stability and security and will enable the people to exercise their normal lives.

Middle East Monitor

Sudan editor convicted after Bashirs accused of graft

A Sudanese court on Monday sentenced a prominent newspaper editor to six months in jail for publishing an article accusing President Omar al-Bashir’s family of corruption, the journalist told AFP.

The court also handed down a three-year suspended jail term against the writer of the piece which was published in 2012.

“The court has ordered me to pay 10,000 Sudanese pounds ($1,428) or go to jail for six months,” Osman Mirgani, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Tayar, said.

“I have decided not to pay the money, and am waiting for the authorities to take me to jail.”

TimesLive

South Sudan

UN mission says ready to assist in solving S. Sudan’s standoff if requested

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on Thursday that it is willing to provide assistance when requested in solving the ongoing standoff between the government and the former Army (SPLA) Chief of General Staff Paul Malong.

UNMISS spokesperson Daniel Dickinson told Xinhua that the world body considers this standoff an internal matter for the South Sudanese, but UNMISS is ready to provide assistance if requested by both sides.

“UNMISS considers this an internal matter for the South Sudanese. The Mission is calling on all involved parties to resolve the situation peacefully.UNMISS is ready to provide assistance if requested by both sides,” Dickinson, who did not disclose further details, said in Juba.

Xinhua

Former South Sudan Army Chief of Staff Released from House Arrest

South Sudan’s former army chief of staff, General Paul Malong, who has been held under house arrest by the Kiir administration since May, has been freed.

His wife, Lucy Ayak, told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus program that Malong was released Thursday. “My husband has been released and has been allowed to go for a medical checkup in east Africa,” she said.

Recently, dozens of tanks and troops were deployed along the road leading to Malong’s home in Juba after Malong refused a presidential order to release a platoon of 30 soldiers guarding him. Ayak told VOA on Monday that some of the men deployed to her husband’s home were police while some were from military intelligence.

Voice of America

Western Sahara

Ould Salek calls on UN, AU and France to assume their responsibilities

Sahrawi Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek on Wednesday called on all stakeholders in the Western Sahara conflict, namely the United Nations, the African Union and mainly France, to assume their responsibilities and find a lasting solution.

He also denounced the complicity between Paris and Morocco and their desire to undermine and block the peace process in Western Sahara.

Following the speech of Morocco’s King Mohamed VI marking the anniversary of Moroccan military invasion of the Sahrawi territories, Ould Salek said that the King of Morocco has reneged on the commitments made by his country under the auspices of the UN and the AU, regarding the referendum on self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Sahara Press Service

Polisario condemns Morocco king speech on Western Sahara

The Polisario Front on Wednesday condemned a speech by Moroccan King Mohammed VI ruling out independence for the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

The speech on Monday “contradicts the commitments of Morocco”, said a senior official of the pro-independence movement, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, quoted by the Algerian news agency APS.

He said the king’s stand ran contrary to commitments to the African Union banning occupation of the territory of a fellow member country.

News24

 

 

Swaziland

Two months after picking 14th wife, Swazi King visits Zambia with wife number 13

His visit to Zambia with the former beauty pageant finalist comes two months after picking his 14th wife – 19-year-old Siphele Mashwama – from the about 40,000 maidens who danced for him during the traditional chastity rite.

The latest wife and daughter of Swaziland’s cabinet minister, Jabulile Mashwama, travelled with him to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly held in New York recently.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu was King Mswati’s guest at the 2017 Reed Dance ceremony where he donned traditional Swazi outfit and joined the King and his regiment of Swazi men during the kudlalisela session which is a procession around the dancing arena to appreciate the maidens.

African News

Swaziland Rail Link project to create more jobs

More than 9 000 direct jobs are set to be created in South Africa and Swaziland during the construction of the Swaziland Rail Link project.

“Approximately 3000 and 6500 jobs will be created in South Africa and Swaziland individually during the construction of the Swaziland Railway line,” said Transnet Rail Freight Chief Executive Officer Ravi Nair.

The Swaziland Rail Link entails the construction of a 150 kilometre new railway line from Lothair in South Africa to Sidvokodvo in Swaziland and the revamping of two existing lines in both countries. “This line has been designed to carry 150 general freight wagons at a time and will be operated as a seamless service without stopping at any of the boarders either into Swaziland or out of Swaziland,” Nair said.

IOL

Zimbabwe

Sacking of Mnangagwa moves Zim to ‘unchartered territories’

President Robert Mugabe has exerted almost total authority over Zimbabwean politics for decades — but the sacking of his most senior long-time confidante could spark repercussions beyond his control.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was dismissed and humiliated on Monday after clashing with Mugabe’s wife Grace, who is now in prime position to succeed her husband.

The removal of Mnangagwa, who has powerful military connections, has laid bare the rivalries inside Zimbabwe’s political establishment as Mugabe, 93, shows increasing signs of old age.

“The situation reflects an enormous amount of unpredictability,” said Piers Pigou of the International Crisis Group. “We are moving into unchartered territories.”

IOL

Sacked Zimbabwe VP in exile, vows to defy Mugabe

Zimbabwe’s sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday he had fled the country as he issued a direct challenge to long-ruling President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.

The ruling Zanu-PF “is not personal property of you and your wife to do as you please,” Mnangagwa said in an angry five-page statement, vowing he would return to Zimbabwe to lead party members.

“This is now a party controlled by undisciplined, egotistical and self-serving minnows who derive their power not from the people and party but from only two individuals in the form of the First Family,” he said.

News24

 

 

Africa in General

ICC to probe politically motivated crimes in Burundi

The judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have authorised the Prosecutor of the court to investigate the crimes allegedly committed in Burundi since the outbreak of the political crisis in 2015, it said on Thursday.

In a statement, the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber III of the ICC granted Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda permission to extend her investigation to crimes which were committed before April 26, 2015 and continued after October 26.

Burundi announced its withdrawal from the ICC a year ago, and the withdrawal became official on October 27. Burundian authorities have declared that the ICC was no longer allowed to open investigations against Burundi.

IOL

Uganda to Deploy 5,000 Troops in Somalia Outside AU, UN Mandate

The Ugandan military on Thursday said it is ready to deploy 5,000 troops in Somalia outside the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) mandate for all-out offensive operations against the Al-Shabaab militants.

Brig. Richard Karemire, the military and defense spokesperson, told Xinhua that Uganda as a Pan-Africanist country is ready to send the troops as long as the international community commits resources for the operation.

“We are always ready to deploy such a number and even more as a country and Pan-Africanists. We need some support somewhere,” said Karemire.

News24

 

 

News Briefs 27 October 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

UNHCR warns of worsening displacement in Democratic Republic of the Congo

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is increasingly concerned by escalating displacement we are seeing in several key regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since 2015 the number of people displaced internally has more than doubled and now stands at 3.9 million people – some 428,000 of these having been displaced in the past three months alone. Over the past year, some 100,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees. With widespread militia activities, and unrest and violence fueled by ethnic and political conflict affecting many areas, the risk of further displacement is high. The challenges of getting aid to people in need are growing fast.

UNHCR

Widespread militia activity, political unrest drive millions from their homes in DR Congo, UN warns

Some 3.9 million people across several regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been displaced from their homes, and amid growing violence and unrest, the United Nations refugee agency warned on Tuesday that the number could rise even further.

According to a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over the last three months alone, more than 428,000 people have been displaced.

“With widespread militia activities, and unrest and violence fuelled by ethnic and political conflict affecting many areas, the risk of further displacement is high,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told journalists at a regular briefing in Geneva today.

“The challenges of getting aid to people in need are growing fast,” he added.

UN News

Somalia

Somalia Preparing for Large-scale Offensive Against Al-Shabab

Somali government troops and their African Union allies are preparing a large-scale offensive against al-Shabab militants, according to multiple witnesses and government officials.

Somali leaders including the president have threatened to retaliate for the truck bombing of a busy Mogadishu intersection on Oct. 14 that killed more than 300 people. Al-Shabab did not claim responsibility for the blast, but officials blamed the group and few Somalis doubt the accusation.

A resident of Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region told VOA on Thursday that thousands of troops are massing in the area.

VOA

 

Somalia truck bombings: Death toll climbs to 358

The death toll in a double bombing in Somalia has climbed to 358 people, Security Minister Mohamed Abukar and Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman said Friday.

The truck bombings occurred October 14, in Mogadishu, the capital city. The initial vehicle bomb destroyed dozens of stalls and the popular Safari Hotel in the heart of the city. Minutes later, a second vehicle bomb went off nearby.

Abukar and Osman said 56 people are still missing and 228 are injured, with 122 of the most seriously injured flown to Turkey, Sudan and Kenya for treatment.

News Day

Central African Republic

UN chief praises peacekeepers in Central African Republic

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres paid tribute on Wednesday to the thousands of the UN peacekeepers in Central African Republic, the site of one of the UN’s most dangerous missions and the most sexual misconduct allegations against peacekeepers and UN personnel last year.

The UN chief attended a wreath-laying ceremony in the capital of Bangui. A dozen peacekeepers have lost their lives so far this year amid escalating violence in the long-volatile country.

“We need to make sure that the world fully appreciates the heroic contributions of peacekeepers protecting civilians, sometimes in extremely difficult circumstances, like the ones we face in the Central African Republic,” Guterres said.

News24

Central African Republic: Civilians Targeted as Violence Surges

Violence threatening civilians has surged in recent months in the Central African Republic’s south-central and southeastern regions. To protect people at risk, the United Nations Security Council should renew the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission before it ends on November 15, 2017, and approve an October 18 request by Secretary-General António Guterres for 900 more troops.

United Nations peacekeepers have been instrumental in protecting civilians in many instances; the 15-member Council should give the peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, the additional resources the UN says it needs to protect civilians from attacks, including sexual abuse.

Human Rights Watch

Sudan

Sudan opens up as US lifts sanctions

Sudan’s government and its businesses have begun introducing financial reforms and lobbying for new investment to revive the economy after Washington lifted 20-year-old trade sanctions earlier in October.

Sudan has suffered from the sanctions and the south’s secession in 2011, when it lost three-quarters of its oil output, its main foreign currency source.

Now, Khartoum businessmen say they are closing deals with US companies, and President Omar al-Bashir began a trip to Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia this week, seeking new markets for Sudanese exports and Arab investment in Sudan.

Business Day

EU announces $124 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan

The European Union has announced a $124 million humanitarian and development aid package for Sudan.

The donation, the EU Commission said Monday, would go towards urgent food, water, sanitation, health and education needs, as well as supporting people who have been forced from their homes and the communities that host them.

EU’s commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides, said the aid was necessary to meet the needs of displaced Sudanese as well as refugees who came from neighboring South Sudan.

“The humanitarian aid I am announcing today will help bring life-saving relief to the most vulnerable populations,” said Stylianides during a visit to South Darfur in Sudan.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley evacuated from South Sudan camp after protest violence breaks out

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was suddenly evacuated Wednesday from a U.N. camp in South Sudan after violence and looting broke out during a political demonstration.

Haley, who’s in the middle of a three-country visit in Africa, left the camp as several hundred protesters opposing President Salva Kiir approached, a spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the U.N. told Fox News. The protesters “became upset that [Haley] was not able to meet with them, due to time constraint,” the U.N. told The Associated Press.

Shortly after Haley left the camp, which is meant for homeless and displaced residents, U.N. security guards fired tear gas into the crowd of more than 100 people who looted and destroyed a charity office operating there, an aid worker at the camp said.

Fox News

US Mulls South Sudan Pressure, Cutting Aid May Not Work – UN Envoy

The United States is considering how to pressure South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir into peace, but withdrawing aid may not work, US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley said ahead of a visit to South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia on Tuesday.

Haley plans to visit Gambella in western Ethiopia, where nearly 350,000 refugees have flooded across the border from South Sudan since the country spiraled into civil war in 2013, just two years after it gained independence from Sudan.

“You have to really think hard before you pull US aid because President Kiir doesn’t care,” Haley said. “He doesn’t care if his people suffer and that’s the concern we have as we don’t know that will make a difference.”

EWN

Western Sahara

The Battleground for the Morocco-Algeria Rivalry

In an interview last month with Jeune Afrique, Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita argued that Morocco-Algeria relations “are at a dead end at every level.” To add insult to injury, in a meeting with business leaders in Algiers last week, Algeria’s foreign minister Abdelkader Messahel accused Morocco of “laundering cannabis money via its banks in the continent (Africa).” Rabat reacted to the comments by recalling its ambassador to Algeria on 21 October. Morocco’s foreign ministry also issued a statement, saying that the comments demonstrate, “an unprecedented level of irresponsibility in the history of bilateral relations.”

This state of affairs is not particularly new. The two countries maintain a regional rivalry that goes beyond the conflict over the Western Sahara territory. Currently, the competition is rising over regional influence across the African continent in the wake of Morocco’s foreign policy shift toward this region.

Jadaliyya

New UN envoy pays first visit to disputed Western Sahara

The United Nations’ new special envoy for the disputed Western Sahara has met with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and government ministers as part of his first tour of the region.

Horst Kohler, A former president of Germany, is also expected to visit refugee camps in Algeria for Saharawi refugees who fled the territory.

Moroccan state news agency MAP reports that the king received Kohler on Tuesday at the royal palace in Rabat. Kohler also met with Prime Minister Sa?deddine El Othmani and Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

Some hope Kohler brings new impetus for a long-delayed referendum on Western Sahara’s future.

ABC News

Swaziland

Ex-MP Sues for ‘Jail Assault’

A former member of the Swaziland parliament is suing the kingdom’s jail services, alleging he was assaulted while an inmate at a correctional facility.

Charles Myeza says officers at the Bhalekane Correctional Centre squeezed his private parts and smacked his buttocks.

He is not the first former inmate at Bhalekane to allege to have been assaulted in this way.

Myeza has filed a claim at the Swazi High Court and with another former inmate is seeking E600,000 (US$44,000) damages.

AllAfrica

‘Secretive’ Gold Mine Closes

A gold mine in Swaziland opened by King Mswati III promising more than 400 jobs has been closed after allegations of poor management.

The Lufafa Gold Mine (now known as Lomati) at Hhelehhele in the Hhohho region was in February 2016 reported to have more than two million tonnes of ore which could contain about 15,000 kilograms of gold. It had an estimated value of more than E4 billion (US$263 million). Twenty-five percent of this would be held by King Mswati ‘in trust’ for the Swazi nation. Lufafa Managing Director Mihla Dlamini said at the time there was enough gold to be dug for a period of 35 years.

Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Jabulile Mashwama said on Monday (9 October 2017) the mine had been shut down after concerns were raised by different stakeholders about the running and administration of the company.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

‘You were right about Grace Mugabe bedroom coup remarks,’ war vets say as they apologise to former boss

A faction of Zimbabwe’s war veterans led by Christopher Mutsvangwa has reportedly apologised to its former boss, Jabulani Sibanda, after it vilified him for claiming that First Lady Grace Mugabe had staged a “bedroom coup”.

According to NewsDay, the Mutsvangwa-led executive of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) said that they apologised to the ex-freedom fighters’ chairperson after realising that his remarks were “spot-on”.

“We want to say we are very sorry about our reactions to his statement. We have realised that when he talked of ‘bedroom coup’ he was spot-on because Grace and the so-called G40 have already usurped power from Zanu-PF. Grace is just a secretary for women affairs. Where does she have the powers to insult her boss, who is the vice secretary for the party?” Nhando reportedly quizzed.

News24

Zimbabwe’s grim hospital wards fuel outrage toward WHO

An emergency tray at a public hospital in Zimbabwe stands empty, for medical supplies have run out – one example why President Robert Mugabe’s brief appointment as WHO “goodwill ambassador” provoked such outrage.

Under Mugabe’s rule, life expectancy in Zimbabwe dived from 61 in 1985 to just 44 in 2002, before recovering to 60 today, due largely to international aid.

The major causes of the country’s health crisis have been the collapse of healthcare, falling standards of living as the economy has crumbled, and the struggle to tackle HIV-Aids, experts say.

News24

 

Africa in General

Low turnout as violence tarnishes Kenya’s repeat election

As polling officials tallied votes, Kenyans counted the cost Friday of a deeply divisive election marred by low voter turnout and violence that left at least four dead and scores wounded.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is headed for a landslide win in the absence of his main rival Raila Odinga who boycotted the vote, however his legitimacy will be sorely questioned with initial figures showing only about a third of registered voters turned up.

The country’s second presidential election in three months has sharply divided east Africa’s flagship democracy, and could yet face further legal battles.

In its post-election editorial the Daily Nation warned Kenya is now “more fractured and unstable than ever before” but added, “ours is a political problem that requires a political solution.”

“There is a need to forge inclusivity.”

The Citizen

Burundi becomes 1st to leave ICC

Burundi is becoming the first country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

An ICC spokesperson confirmed that the pullout takes effect on Friday, a year after the East African nation notified the United Nations secretary-general of its intention to leave the court that prosecutes the world’s worst atrocities.

Burundi is the only one of three African nations to go ahead with its withdrawal after making moves last year to leave amid accusations that the court focuses too much on the continent.

News24

Burundi government backs disputed constitution change

The government of crisis-torn Burundi has approved changes to the constitution that could pave the way to a potential 14-year extension in President Pierre Nkurunziza’s stay in office, senior officials said Thursday.

Ministers, meeting on Tuesday in an extraordinary session, gave their agreement in principle to the proposed reforms, they said.

The head of Burundi’s opposition forum reacted with fury, declaring Nukurunziza had crossed a “red line” and should be chased from office.

The present constitution derives from the country’s 2000 peace agreement, which was signed in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha to end a 13-year civil war that claimed more than 300,000 lives.

The planned changes do not touch ethnic and gender quotas required for the government, parliament or police, “but they no longer make a reference to the Arusha peace agreement”, said one of the officials, who like the other sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Citizen

Nikki Haley abruptly evacuated from South Sudan camp, now visits Congo

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was in Congo on Thursday to press for free elections, one day after she was abruptly evacuated from a U.N. camp in South Sudan amid a turbulent demonstration against that country’s leadership.

Haley is wrapping up a three-nation African tour that began in Ethiopia. In South Sudan, Haley was visiting a camp for more than 30,000  people displaced by the country’s relentless civil war that has killed thousands and driven more than 2 million from their homes.

Hundreds of people lined the roads of the camp near the South Sudan capital of Juba, many gathering outside her meeting with reunited families to chant and call for peace, the U.N. said in a statement.

A smaller demonstration against President Salva Kiir grew violent, and an aide worker at the camp told the Associated Press that U.N. security guards fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. The United Nations said camp residents “became upset that (Haley) was not able to meet with them, due to time constraint.

USA Today