LETTER TO AU CHAIRPERSON REQUESTING URGENT INTERVENTION TO PROTECT PEACEFULLY PROTESTING WORKERS AGAINST ALARMING VIOLENCE BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE


Your Excellency,

The African Regional Organization of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa www.ituc-africa.org ) calls for your urgent intervention with the Government of Zimbabwe to bring an end to the alarming and dangerous situation faced by the leaders and members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) for taking peaceful protest action against steep fuel prices that have worsened an already unbearable high cost of living in the country. The ZCTU called for a three-day ‘Stay Away’ from 14 to 16 January 2019 demanding an end to the economic crisis faced by the country and a reversal of the over 200% increase in fuel prices announced by the government.

On Monday, January 14 2019, police and security forces violently attacked peaceful protesters by opening fire on them, injuring many, with reports of eight killed and over 200 arrested. The fierce crackdown has continued with reports of heavy military and police presence on the streets and security forces arbitrarily assaulting citizens, including entering homes to drag out and beat people in an effort to instill fear and to clampdown on dissent. Furthermore, cell and landline communications, the internet and social media were blocked for two days to prevent access to information.

The Government of Zimbabwe has clearly reneged on its duty to ensure that the country’s social climate is free of violence and fear. It is violently attacking protesters on the streets and individuals in their homes instead of protecting and guaranteeing their safety. Workers have the right to express their views on the government’s economic programs, including through peaceful demonstrations in an atmosphere free of fear, intimidation, coercion, repression and violence.

ITUC-Africa therefore requests your immediate intervention with the Government of Zimbabwe to demand an end to the violation of the right to freedom of association and to call for the safety of all protesters as well as the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested. The government must accept the call of the ZCTU for social dialogue in order to address the economic woes of the country.

We also call for an independent judicial inquiry into the excessive violence against protesters to be instituted without delay in order to punish guilty parties and to prevent the repetition of such rights violations.

Yours sincerely,
Kwasi Adu-Amankwah
General Secretary, ITUC-Africa

Read PDF here: letter to AU chairperson on situation in Zimbabwe

SILENCING OF ZIMBABWEANS DISTURBING – COSATU

Source: https://www.politicsweb.co.za/politics/silencing-of-zimbabweans-disturbing–cosatu

Federation condemns forceful nature in which govt of the country is responding to legitimate protests

COSATU Solidarity Statement against the clampdown on legitimate protests and attempts to silence the growing frustration in Zimbabwe

17 February 2019

The Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU] is deeply disturbed and concerned by the blatant disregard for human rights in Zimbabwe, and the level of violence ordinary people are exposed to. This systemic abuse of power and repression against leaders and members of the trade union movement led by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions [ZCTU] as well as the opposition should be condemned.

We condemn the forceful nature in which the government of Zimbabwe is responding, following legitimate and legal protests organised by the ZCTU and its affiliates. We have watched with dismay as the legalised repression unfolds in Zimbabwe.

These protests were organised based on legitimate demands about salaries, fuel price hikes, deteriorating economic situation, living conditions and general affordability of essentials for ordinary Zimbabweans. The Government of Zimbabwe was given the demands with the ultimatum for them to do away with the fuel hike in particular.

We applaud our sister federation the ZCTU in the unwavering determination to represent the working class and poor even in such conditions. The Federation took care to avoid violence by calling for a stay-away protest to avoid violent clashes but, instead of a formal response to their demands the government unleashed the army and the police on people.

In an attempt to cover up the awful and unlawful suppression of human rights by the Zimbabwean Government ,particularly unleashed on the people mainly residing in townships,  the Zimbabwean government suspended the Internet on the 15th January 2019 around 7 am; which was confirmed by Twitter and that the shutdown was as a directive from Zimbabwean Government.

This act clearly was meant to silence the growing frustrated voices and limit communication on the subsequent clampdown today against leaders, workers, and members of the community who are involved in the stay-away since Monday, 14th February 2019.

It is reported that the police and the army have been raiding homes dragging everyone outside, forcing them to go to work and beating them up and also arresting others. It is said no one is spared this humiliation, people as old as 60years old, women included are being dragged from their homes and beaten while others are taken and their whereabouts unknown.

A number of activists have been taken and these include Pastor Evan Mawarira known for the #thisflag campaign and the Organising Secretary of the MDC Alliance, Amos Chibaya one taken by police and the other by soldiers. We call for their immediate release.

It is deplorable that live ammunition has been used on citizens, with more than 27 cases of multiple gunshot wounds and fatalities reported, as well as more than 1600 people reportedly injured and seeking medical care from Doctors without Borders.

Reports from the ground are that the numbers of those who have died since this morning have reached double digits and may increase as people regain the ability to communicate through the internet again.

We call on SADC to stop treating the issue of Zimbabwe lightly, there needs to be a stronger and more sustainable response to normalise the situation in that country, a solution that will include improving the lives of the citizens of that country. Change needs to come urgently.

The Zimbabwe Diaspora has sanctioned a march to the Zimbabwean Embassy on the 26th January 2019 in Pretoria in Solidarity with ZCTU and we call on all to join the march in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum will convene a meeting on 17th January 2019 to develop a formal response to the situation currently unfolding in Zimbabwe and COSATU will be part of this.

COSATU remains resolute as a strong partner of the ZCTU in its struggle for human and trade union rights, social justice, economic and political freedom.

Amandla ZCTU!

Issued by Zanele Matebula, Deputy International Secretary, COSATU, 17 January 2019

Blind eye being turned to the abuse of boys, says report NEWS / 17 JANUARY 2019, 05:15AM / YOLISA TSWANYA

Source: https://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/news/blind-eye-being-turned-to-the-abuse-of-boys-says-report-18844072

Picture: Pixabay

Cape Town – Boys are overlooked when it comes to cases of sexual abuse and exploitation.

This is highlighted in the report “Out of the Shadows: Shining light on the response to child sexual abuse and exploitation”, which was developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with support from the World Childhood Foundation, the Oak Foundation and the Carlson Family Foundation.

The report found child sexual abuse and exploitation was a pressing concern for countries.

“Girls are the primary victims, and boys are overlooked. Just over half – 21 of the 40 countries – have legal protections for boys within their child rape laws, while only 18 countries collect prevalence data about the sexual abuse of boys. Just five collect prevalence data for boys related to child sexual exploitation.”

While statistics on boys is lacking, the research showed that 120 million boys, globally, had been subjected to some form of sexual abuse.

“The adverse effects of sexual violence in childhood on health and mental well-being carry into adulthood, foreshadowing societal and public health risks that, like abuse itself, remain largely overlooked.”

The study found that boys were barely addressed in some legal frameworks covering sexual violence against children, nor were they the focus of much government attention.

UN deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed said: “Every day, across all countries and levels of society, millions of girls and boys face the alarmingly common childhood experience of sexual abuse and exploitation.”

The report found that South Africa had demonstrated its commitment to tackling sexual violence against children by enacting comprehensive legislation on sexual offences against children.

However, victim support and resources for legal and law enforcement professionals could be strengthened.

“South Africa has a comprehensive system of training and guidance for front line support workers who respond to cases of sexual violence against children.

The Department of Education issues guidelines for teaching professionals, and there are similar programmes for medical, social and psychiatric workers.

“The country, also, provides protections against the procurement of minors for sexual services and the visual depiction of minors engaging in sexual activities, having signed into law the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill in 2013.”

Army, Zanu PF role in protests exposed By Newsday

Source: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/01/army-zanu-pf-role-in-protests-exposed/

A SERVING top military official and a police officer were yesterday unmasked as leaders of the deadly protests in the Epworth dormitory town, which led to the death of civilians and looting of shops.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/ XOLISANI NCUBE

Some of the hundreds of protesters arrested over the last three days appear at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts yesterday

This came as more Zanu PF officials were exposed for their riotous role during the three-day mass stayaway organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and social movements to protest the sharp fuel price hikes announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Saturday.

Lieutenant Morrosi Carnage of Inkomo Mounted Regiment, who was arrested together with other 60 protesters, appeared before Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo yesterday charged with public violence.

While opposing bail, Epworth police officer-in-charge Peter Mangwende told the court that Carnage was one of the leaders who led the violent protesters from the front.

Mangwende also told court that a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Ignatius Zuze, was also shot while leading the protesters.

However, Zuze could not be located at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, where he was supposed to be under treatment.

Carnage and his 60 alleged accomplices are represented by members of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights — Kossam Ncube, Marufu Mandevere and Nontokhozo Dube-Tachiona.

The lawyers took the State to task after prison doctors failed to treat and examine the suspects, who were severely assaulted by the police and some had visible injury marks.

Mandevere, however, successfully filed for the accused persons to be examined by private doctors, saying the court should have granted the order to have them treated.

“The court cannot just watch. These accused persons were severely assaulted and some have visible injury marks. The suspects cannot lose dignity or human rights because of the arrest. This can happen to anyone. The court needs to maintain the accused person’s rights,” Mandevere said

The defence applied for bail pending trial, but the State opposed, saying they must proceed to trial.

Mapfumo postponed the matter to today for continuation.

Eight other Zanu PF youth leaders have appeared in court facing allegations of public violence and looting after they allegedly burnt a Zupco bus along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway before they looted a shop belonging to Chegutu East MP Webster Shamu (Zanu PF).

Zanu PF Harare provincial youth league boss Godwin Gomwe was on Wednesday night also reportedly assaulted by soldiers for leading a terror group that was attacking suspected MDC supporters in Budiriro as well as participating in looting under the guise of restoring peace.

Yesterday, a subdued Gomwe had promised to discuss the issue with NewsDay later in the evening, as he claimed to be with “certain important people” discussing important matters.

“Can I call you later. I have your mobile number. I am with important people here, talking something very important. I will call in 30 minutes time,” Gomwe said in a hushed tone.
After 30 minutes, Gomwe was not picking up calls. He also did not respond to messages sent to his mobile phone.

But Zanu PF insiders said the youth league boss was leading a gang of 70 youths that went on a rampage in Budiriro and other residential areas, assaulting known MDC supporters, accusing them of having participated in the protests before he unleashed his troops to loot some shops.

“He was using a fleet of 20 unmarked vehicles and he terrorised people, but luck ran out when they were stopped by the military, who wanted to know what they were doing and who had sanctioned their actions. He ignored them and went away. But the soldiers followed him to his residence, where he was assaulted together with members of his gang. He was left at Harare Central Police Station,” a senior Zanu PF official said.

The ruling party and government have blamed the opposition Nelson Chamisa-led MDC for orchestrating violence during the three-day national strike, to force the administration to address the economic decay bedevilling the country.

During the three-day stayaway, junior military officers, who were earlier reportedly moving around high-density suburbs beating up people for participating in the national strike that turned violent, were seen engaging residents, telling them to exercise their right peacefully.

In Dzivarasekwa and Mabvuku, the soldiers ordered residents to stay indoors and exercise their right to stay away peacefully by not barricading roads or attacking each other.

“The suffering you are going through is shared by everyone. But let us not be violent. Don’t barricade the roads, especially with big stones and logs, try something which is not violent. Do the stayaway in peace,” a soldier at Dzivarasekwa 4 said.

“Do whatever you want, we are supporting you, but don’t be violent. We had to beat you because you were being violent. We don’t want violence,” the soldier told the residents.

Earlier in the day, the military had subjected most men in Dzivarasekwa to beatings for allegedly barricading the roads to block traffic from getting into town or offering transport to anyone who wanted to get into town.

In Mabvuku, according to residents, soldiers summoned all men in the neighbourhood after they had clashed with them in the morning for allegedly blocking traffic.

“They told us that they were not against the idea of the stayaway or protests, but barricading of roads and destruction of property. They actually said they sympathised with ordinary citizens,” a resident told NewsDay.

Contacted for comment, Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore requested that written questions be brought to Josiah Magama Tongogara barracks.

STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY ON THE CRACKDOWN ON LEGITIMATE PROTEST IN ZIMBABWE AND THE SILENCING OF ZIMBABWEAN VOICES BY SHUTTING DOWN THE INTERNET 15th January 2019

The Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum is deeply concerned about the escalation of violence in
Zimbabwe. The level of frustration and anger amongst citizens who feel excluded and
alienated by the successive economic and political attacks carried out by the ZANU PF elites has clearly reached a boiling point. The spark of a callous 150% fuel price increase has ignited the fires of years of political manipulation, the failure of elections to provide a legitimate set of leaders, deteriorating economic conditions and the growing sense that the government of Zimbabwe has no interest in the living conditions of ordinary citizens.

The closing down of social media and the restrictions placed on access to the internet, the direct result of collusion between private sector companies like Econet, and the Zimbabwean regime, are utterly unacceptable. This kind of draconian action is normally associated with despotic regimes. The actions by ZANU PF expose the ugly face of a militarised approach to governance and cannot be tolerated. The ZSF calls for the immediate and unconditional lifting of all restrictions on the use of the internet. We remain deeply concerned that this silencing of legitimate voices provides the pretext for state sanctioned violence and even more severe forms of repression.

Read full PDF here: ZSF Statement January 2019 FINAL

News Briefs 7 December 2018

Africa in General

UAE to open an embassy in Zimbabwe

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will open an embassy in Zimbabwe, the UAE president has said.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued several federal decrees to establish the UAE Embassy in Zimbabwe and appointed and promoted members of the diplomatic corps.

The decrees were published in the latest edition of the Federal Official Gazette and stipulate the establishment of the UAE Embassy in capital, Harare.

The UAE is a destination of choice for many young people, especially from Africa.

IOL

Libya could vote on constitution in February: electoral commission

Libya’s electoral commission could organise a referendum on a new constitution for the strife-torn country in February if it gets security guarantees and funds, its head said on Thursday.

“It is possible to organise a referendum on the constitution… towards the end of February,” commission chief Imed al-Sayeh told a news conference.

He said the first hurdle was overcome when the parliament, based in the remote east of the country, approved in mid-September a law on the referendum.

Sayeh, who received the text of the law in November, said the legislation was a first step “even if it is incomplete and imperfect”.

News24

Morocco meeting to adopt UN migration pact despite withdrawals

Representatives from around the globe are gearing up for a major conference in Morocco to endorse a United Nations migration pact, despite a string of countries shunning the accord.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was finalised at the UN in July following 18 months of negotiations and will be formally adopted at the two-day gathering in Marrakesh starting Monday.

The non-binding UN accord, which aims to promote a common approach to growing migrant flows, has become a target for populist politicians who denounce it as an affront to national sovereignty.

The United States quit negotiations last December, and was followed by Hungary seven months later.

News24

‘Slaughterhouse’ Burundi boots out UN human rights office

The United Nations human rights office on Thursday said Burundi’s government has asked it to leave, months after the outgoing UN rights chief called the country one of the “most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times.”

Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani in Geneva confirmed they received a letter on Wednesday “requesting us to close the office. We of course regret this decision and we would like to continue our cooperation with Burundi.”

She declined to comment further, calling the issue sensitive. Sources within the UN office in Burundi told The Associated Press that they were given two months to leave. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

The East African nation’s government has long been angered by U.N. reports describing alleged abuses amid the political turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for another term in 2015.

IOL

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Aid groups accuse U.N. of manipulating data ahead of Congo polls

Aid agencies working in the Democratic Republic of Congo have accused the United Nations of manipulating data ahead of elections to give an overly positive impression of the situation in a country beset by conflict and disease.

They say new figures from the U.N. humanitarian agency that show a large drop in the number of displaced people are misleading, accusing it of bowing to government pressure before a presidential election scheduled for December 23.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Congo said it did not manipulate data and that it is in ongoing discussions with agencies on the issue.

The government also rejected the accusation, saying aid agencies deliberately exaggerated crises to increase funding.

Reuters

Deadly clashes in South Kivu ahead of elections

At least 18 people have killed in clashes between the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s army and rebels loyal to a renegade former general in the country’s eastern region, according to military sources.

The latest round of violence comes less than three weeks before crucial elections to replace long-time President Joseph Kabila.

Fighting killed 14 rebels and four soldiers in Fizi, a region of South Kivu, a mineral-rich province which is prone to ethnic tensions, a military spokesman and other sources said.

Violence in the troubled eastern region is just one complication before the December 23 elections in DR Congo, which has not seen a peaceful transfer of power since independence from colonial Belgium in 1960.

Aljazeera

Somalia

US re-establishes permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia

The US has re-established a “permanent diplomatic presence” in Somalia for the first time in 27 years.

“On December 2, for the first time since the closure of the US Embassy in Mogadishu on January 5, 1991, the United States re-established a permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia,” said Heather Nauert, the US State Department spokeswoman, in a statement.

Ms Heather called the new move “another step forward in formalising US diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu since recognizing the Federal Government of Somalia in 2013.”

Ambassador Donald Yamamoto and his staff looked forward to working closely with the Somalian government, she added.

The United States has based its diplomatic mission to Somalia in the capital of neighbouring Kenya since 2013, from where US diplomatic staff and other personnel travel frequently into Somalia to conduct official business.

Khmer Times

Senate chief seeks to mediate political crisis

High level delegation led by the chief of Upper House of Somali Federal Parliament Abdi Hashi Abdullahi will be flying to Kismayo, a town lies some 500km south of the capital Mogadishu.

Hon. Abdullahi said the Upper House has been trying to defuse the escalating political crisis pitying between the central government and its member states for the past months.

He will hold talks with Jubaland state President Ahmed Mohamed to resolve the current political tension.

“We will visit to the headquarters of Jubaland to start talks the President Ahmed Madobe, in a bid to defuse the rifts between the central government and its state members”, he said.

Mareeng

Central African Republic

Children suffering in Central African Republic 5 years on

Children are bearing the brunt of five years of fighting in Central African Republic as thousands are trapped in armed groups, many suffer sexual violence, tens of thousands go hungry and one in four have fled their homes, the United Nations children’s agency said on Friday.

The new report pleads for millions in funding for one of the world’s most “neglected” crises.

Deeply impoverished Central African Republic has faced interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital, Bangui. Mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back, resulting in thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Violence has intensified and spread in the past year after a period of relative peace as armed groups battle over lands rich in gold, diamonds and uranium.

News24

Boys, Men Raped and Castrated in CAR War

Rebel groups have raped and cut off genitals of scores of boys and men in the Central African Republic (CAR).

According to findings, most cases have gone unreported because of stigma, societal attitudes and shortcomings by state and international bodies.

Documented cases indicate sexual violence against men and boys has been most common during armed attacks or when victims were held captive by armed groups during the civil war that started in 2013.

The All Survivors Project (ASP) said it had compiled information involving cases of forced nudity, forced masturbation and of incidents in which men had their genitals beaten, mutilated and cut off.

AllAfrica

Sudan

Sudan, armed groups agree to resume talks for peace in Darfur

Sudanese government and two armed groups in Darfur region signed Thursday a pre-negotiation agreement paving the way for the resumption of peace talks in Qatar next year.

The signing of the declaration of principles with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnwi (SLM-MM) took place in Berlin after two years of informal talks facilitated by the German foreign ministry with the support of the Berghof Foundation.

The signing ceremony was attended by Germany’s Deputy Foreign Minister Walter Lindner, Qatari Special Envoy for Combating Terrorism and Conflict Resolution Mutlaq Al Qahtani, Amin Hassan Omer Sudan’s Presidential Envoy for Diplomatic Contact and Negotiation for Darfur Amin Hassan Omer.

The Joint Chief Mediator Jeremiah Mamabolo co-signed the deal with the Sudanese government representative Mohamed Mukhtar, Ahmed Tugud JEM Chief Negotiator and Ali Trayo SLM-MM Chief Negotiator.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan Lawmakers Back Amendment to Let Bashir Stand Again

Sudan’s long-serving President Omar al-Bashir came closer on Tuesday to another term in office after a majority of lawmakers backed a constitutional amendment to extend term limits that would have required him to step down in 2020.

Unless the constitution is changed, Bashir, in power since 1989, is not permitted to stand again when his present term ends, having won two elections since a 2005 constitutional amendment took effect imposing a two-term limit.

Parliament speaker Ibrahim Ahmed Omar said he had received a letter signed by a majority of lawmakers backing an amendment that would extend the limit.

EWN

South Sudan

South Sudan Army Accused of ‘Brutal’ Sexual Violence

A group of human rights lawyers has filed a lawsuit against the government of South Sudan for sexual violence on behalf of 30 women and girls who were allegedly raped by members of the army and the presidential guard.

Antonia Mulvey, director of Legal Action Worldwide, a nonprofit network of human rights lawyers, said the South Sudan army committed “brutal” sexual violence, including sexual slavery, sexual torture, rape and gang rape against women and girls.

Mulvey says the complaint was lodged Thursday in Geneva at the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

“They [CEDAW] will review the complaint and a copy will be sent to the government of South Sudan for comment,” Mulvey said.

Voice of America

South Sudan urged to end death penalty as evidence shows children among dead

Children are among those being executed in South Sudan, in an “extremely disturbing” escalation of the state’s use of the death penalty, according to Amnesty International.

This year, seven people, including one child, were hanged, the highest number since the county gained independence in 2011, according to evidence provided to Amnesty by legal professionals and government officials.

In 2017, two of the four people executed were children at the time of their conviction, the organisation said.

Amon the 342 people currently on death row – more than double the number recorded in 2011 – are a secondary school pupil, who was sentenced to death when he was 15, and a breastfeeding mother. The country’s lack of transparency on its use of the death penalty meant the figures were likely to be underestimated, Amnesty said.

The Guardian

Western Sahara

First Western Sahara talks at UN in six years, begin in Geneva

In 1991, the UN helped bring an end to fighting in the territory, before setting up a peacekeeping mission there: the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Delegations from Morocco, the Frente POLISARIO, Algeria and Mauritania are present at the roundtable meeting in Geneva.

It will involve two days of talks that have been convened by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, former President Horst Köhler of Germany, the UN confirmed in a statement.

“The meeting is the first of its kind in six years and takes place in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2440 as a first step towards a renewed negotiations process with the aim of reaching a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” the communiqué said.

 

In adopting Resolution 2440, the UN Security Council called on the parties to the dispute over the territory “to engage constructively” in talks, according to a Council statement published on 31 October.

UN News

UN envoy: ‘Peaceful solution’ to Western Sahara conflict possible

The UN envoy for Western Sahara said he believes a peaceful solution to the decades-long conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front is possible.

Horst Koehler, a former German president, told reporters in Geneva on Thursday that he was “very pleased to announce the delegations committed to engaging further,” adding all sides promised to meet again for a similar “roundtable” in the first quarter of 2019.

The talks, which were attended by the foreign ministers of Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and representatives from the Western Saharan Polisario secessionist movement, are the first to take place since 2012.

“From our discussions, it is clear to me that nobody wins from maintaining the status quo, and it is my firm belief that it lies in the interest of all to resolve this conflict,” Koehler said.

Aljazeera

Swaziland

Government Offers Yet Another 0.0%

A three-hour Joint Negotiations Forum (JNF) between government and public sector associations (PSA) could bear no fruits as the two parties finally signed a deadlock.

The deadlock between government and the PSAs was signed at the ministry of public service yesterday with the meeting chaired by Secretary to Cabinet Mbuso Dlamini and signing on behalf of the Government Negotiation Team (GNT) was the ministry’s Principal Secretary Evart Madlopha.

The deadlock signed by the GNT and the public sector associations dates back to 28 august 2018 when the negotiations on the Cost of Living Adjustment (CoLA) commenced for the 2018/2019 financial year.

Swazi Observer

Sipho Shongwe To Know Fate on Dec 17

PRINCIPAL Magistrate David Khumalo will decide on December 17 whether businessman Sipho Shongwe should go home or not.

This comes after Shongwe’s legal team made serious arguments at the Manzini Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

His legal team argued that Shongwe was suffering injustice by being kept in prison, while the High Court made a ruling on the matter that he is not a flight risk, hence he should be granted bail which indeed was granted.

Making submissions was Lucky Howe, who told the court that the director of public prosecutions is conducting the trial in a very unprofessional manner and in an unethical way when he argues that the issue which touches on Shongwe escaping from custody was never mentioned at the High Court.

Swazi Observer

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is running out of fuel, according to the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority’s (Zera) acting chief executive officer Eddington Mazambani.

He told Parliament on Thursday that the country had exhausted the $60 million worth of fuel imported last week, Pindula reported on Friday.

“The $60 million foreign currency which was released for fuel has already been exhausted because it came when we were at zero in terms of fuel supplies,” said Mazambani.

“The $60 million is about 100 million litres of fuel and it will be gone in about two-and-a-half weeks, and because we are at zero everyone wants to fill up their vehicles, and we do not know how much per week the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) allocates to oil companies,” added the CEO.

Meanwhile, US Senators said new Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa – who took over the country in last year’s military coup leading many Zimbabweans to believe that a new and brighter era had dawned on the country in the wake of the overthrow of former president Robert Mugabe – is saying the rights things but not producing real results.

IOL

MDC says Zim ‘now a regional security threat’… asks SADC to intervene – report

Zimbabwe’s opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has reportedly said that the country is “fast degenerating into a regional security threat as its economic situation worsens”.

According to NewsDay, the MDC said it had petitioned the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to intervene in bringing the country’s worsening state under control.

MDC spokesperson, Jacob Mafume said that the party would go on a regional offensive to discuss the country’s state with regional leaders.

Mafume also said that the party was planning countrywide protests to allow party supporters a chance to raise their own grievances.

News24

 

 

News Briefs 30 November 2018

Zimbabwe

Thousands of demonstrators rally in Zimbabwe in support of MDC

Zimbabwe’s main opposition group the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has showed its disdain for President Emmerson Mnangagwa with a rally in the streets of the capital Harare denouncing the government.

Several thousand anti-government demonstrators marched through the streets on Thursday, singing and waving placards, closely watched by armed police, who gave the event their approval, in the first rally since a deadly crackdown on an election protest in August, the East African reported.

The MDC claims its leader Nelson Chamisa was the real winner of the July elections.

“Mnangagwa must go”, read one banner alongside others reading “You stole my vote, please give it back”.

IOL

Shun violence, move on: UK

Zimbabwe’S political leaders should reject violence, observe the rule of law and focus on moving the country forward, a top British government official has said.

Britain is also ready to play a role in support of Zimbabwe’s recovery in line with Harare’s reform agenda.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said this on Monday in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords in response to a written question by The Marquess of Lothian.

The Marquess wanted to know Her Majesty’s government’s assessment of the current political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.

Herald

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo Ebola outbreak second largest in history: WHO

The UN health body confirms 426 cases, with 198 deaths reported since August, as DRC struggles to contain the disease.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s deadly Ebola outbreak is now the second largest in history, behind the devastating West Africa outbreak that killed thousands a few years ago, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr Peter Salama, WHO’s emergencies chief, called it a “sad toll” as DR Congo’s health ministry announced the number of cases has reached 426.

That includes 379 confirmed cases and 47 probable ones.

So far this outbreak, declared on August 1, has caused 198 confirmed deaths, DR Congo’s health ministry said.

Aljazeera

‘Possible terrorist threat’ closes US embassy in DRC for fourth day

The US embassy in Kinshasa will on Thursday be closed to the public for a fourth day following “credible and precise information” about a possible terrorist threat, a month ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election.

In a statement on its website, the embassy urged “US citizens in Kinshasa and throughout DR Congo to maintain a high level of vigilance”.

“The US embassy in Kinshasa will remain closed to the public on Thursday, November 29” due to “credible and precise information on a possible terrorist threat” targeting “US facilities in Kinshasa”, it added.

On Monday, after the embassy first closed and warned US nationals to keep a low profile, Congolese authorities described its reaction as “useless psychosis”.

News24

Somalia

UN mission head condemns deadly terrorist attacks in Mogadishu, Galkayo

The top United Nations official in Somalia has “strongly condemned” terrorist attacks in the north-central city of Galkayo and in the Somali capital on Monday, which left a prominent cleric and a number of other civilians dead.

Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and the head of the UN mission there (UNSOM), said no legitimate political agenda can be advanced through the indiscriminate killing of innocent children, women and men.

“Today’s attacks on civilians in Mogadishu and Galkayo demonstrate the disregard of violent extremists for the sanctity of human life”, he said, adding that the UN “stands with the people and government of Somalia in their rejection of terrorism.”

The Al-Shabaab terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the early morning assault on a compound belonging to Sufi Muslim cleric Abdiweli Ali Elmi, in the southern portion of Galkayo, according to UNSOM. In early afternoon, a car bomb was detonated at a busy market in Wadajir district of Mogadishu. A suspect has been arrested by Somali security forces.

CNBC Africa

AFRICOM boss travels to Somalia for high-level talks

America’s top commander for Africa made a rare visit to war-torn Somalia, meeting with local leaders to discuss security in a country where U.S. forces quietly serve in a fight against militants.

U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser also met Tuesday with the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Somalia, Donald Yamamoto, who is in the process of establishing a permanent American diplomatic mission.

A decade ago, such high-level talks inside Somalia involving top American officials were virtually unthinkable. U.S. military operations in the country were still a closely guarded secret and diplomatic efforts were minimal, given the widespread chaos in the country and the lack of a central government.

However, Somalia has emerged as AFRICOM’s main effort during the past three years as the military carries out regular airstrikes against Islamic militants in the country. U.S. special operations troops also serve on the front lines as advisers to government forces.

Stripes.com

Central African Republic

Children suffering in Central African Republic 5 years on

Children are bearing the brunt of five years of fighting in Central African Republic as thousands are trapped in armed groups, many suffer sexual violence, tens of thousands go hungry and one in four have fled their homes, the United Nations children’s agency said Friday.

The new report pleads for millions in funding for one of the world’s most “neglected” crises.

Deeply impoverished Central African Republic has faced interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital, Bangui. Mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back, resulting in thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Violence has intensified and spread in the past year after a period of relative peace as armed groups battle over lands rich in gold, diamonds and uranium.

ABC News

 

Central African Republic Militia Leader Appears at ICC

A Central African Republic militia leader and lawmaker who goes by the nickname Rambo told the International Criminal Court on Friday he was beaten and tortured after his arrest late last month in parliament.

Prosecutors at the global court allege that 43-year-old Alfred Yekatom is responsible for crimes including murder, torture and using child soldiers during his country’s bitter conflict. He allegedly commanded some 3,000 fighters in a predominantly Christian militia that killed Muslims in attacks between December 2013 and August 2014 in and around the capital, Bangui.

At his first appearance before ICC judges since his transfer to the Netherlands over the weekend, Yekatom confirmed his name, age and that he had read the charges in his arrest warrant. He wasn’t required to enter a plea at the 35-minute hearing.

Voice of America

Sudan

Sudan, Darfur armed groups to meet in Berlin next week: chief negotiator

The Sudanese government said it would meet with the Darfur rebel movements next week in Berlin to agree on the general framework of the upcoming round of talks.

Sudan’s Presidential Envoy for Diplomatic Contact and Negotiation for Darfur Amin Hassan Omer told the semi-official Sudan Media Center that the government would meet with an African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) envoy in Khartoum next week to discuss the resumption of Darfur talks.

He pointed out that the Berlin meeting would determine the date of the upcoming talks as well as the requirements set forth by the AUHIP.

Omer said the parties agreed to hold the next round of talks in Doha, adding a date to resume the talks could be set after consulting with the AUHIP envoy.

South Sudan

Sudan’s East Darfur embracing shared natural resource management to curb conflict

Abdulrahman Ismail is passionate about education. The retired primary school teacher, turned cleric, is also concerned about changes to the environment he has witnessed in Bakhiet village of Sudan’s East Darfur State where he has lived since his early childhood in the 1970s.

“This village has experienced dramatic changes both in population and in the social fabric. When I was growing up, there were less than 50 households here. Now, it has risen to more than 5,000. Trees, once abundant, have been decimated due to cooking energy demands, “says the turbaned and bearded grandfather who dons a jalabiya, a long loose-fitting robe with a collar-less rounded neckline.

The environmental changes in Bakhiet are not unique to the village. They are also highly visible in other parts of the semi-arid state, which covers an area slightly larger than Greece—about 52,867square kilometres—and home to about 1.5 million residents.

UN Environment

South Sudan

Tense 1st meeting of South Sudan armed leaders since peace

Stepping out of a helicopter last week, South Sudan armed opposition commander Ashab Khamis came face-to-face with his rival in a crushing five-year civil war, army Gen. Keer Kiir Keer.

The meeting, witnessed by The Associated Press, was their first attempt at reconciliation since the conflict began and a crucial test of a new peace agreement ending a war that has killed nearly 400,000 people.

The governor of Wau state where the meeting occurred called it a “historic event,” while the atmosphere around the table was tense. Surrounded by bodyguards, the regional commanders glared at each other as words of encouragement were laced with accusations.

While they eventually pledged to work together, deep-seated distrust lay behind the handshakes as South Sudan’s warring sides, blamed for vicious abuses against civilians and each other, are now under international pressure to get along — and eventually merge.

The Washington Post

Despite Sanctions South Sudan Stays Armed for War – Report

Despite long-standing restrictions, new weapons have continued to reach South Sudan’s battlefields, often via neighbouring countries, a detailed report by an arms monitoring group said Thursday.

A four-year investigation, by London-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR), into the supply of weapons that have helped keep South Sudan’s civil war alive since December 2013, has revealed the important role played by neighbouring countries, particularly Uganda, in circumventing arms embargoes.

While the UN Security Council did not impose an arms embargo on South Sudan until July 2018, more than four years into a war that has killed an estimated 380,000 people, the EU has banned direct sales of weapons by member states to Sudan since 1994, amending the embargo to include newly-independent South Sudan in 2011.

Nevertheless, the government army – known as the SPLA, or Sudan People’s Liberation Army – has been kept well supplied with weaponry, often funnelled through Uganda and sometimes originating from Europe or the US.

EWN

Western Sahara

A new push to resolve the conflict over Western Sahara

In the Sahara, rain is said to bring good luck. So, negotiators from the United Nations should be encouraged by a recent downpour in Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara. On December 5th they will gather in Geneva to try, yet again, to resolve the differences between Morocco, which rules two-thirds of the territory, and the Polisario Front, a nationalist movement that controls the other (mostly inhospitable) third. Since Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975, upon Spain’s withdrawal, Polisario has fought for its independence.

Expectations for the talks, the first between Morocco and Polisario in six years, are low. The main goal is an agreement that more talking is needed. But even that may be a tough sell. Polisario insists that Morocco must at last hold a referendum on independence in Western Sahara, which it promised to do as part of a UN-backed ceasefire in 1991. Morocco says a vague autonomy plan that it produced in 2008 should be the basis for negotiations.

Pressure from Donald Trump’s administration helped to restart the talks. In March America made the renewal of minurso, the un peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, conditional on political progress. Neither side in the conflict wants to see the peacekeepers go, lest the result be more war. The Trump administration has also been more willing than its predecessors to press Morocco. When John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, was involved in past un efforts to find a solution in Western Sahara, he thought the kingdom negotiated in bad faith.

The Economist

Moroccan king left waiting as Algeria remains silent on talks offer

Morocco has urged Algeria to respond to an offer for talks on mending diplomatic relations after King Mohammed VI’s olive branch was met with silence, but analysts say the entire initiative may be more about image than substance.

The Moroccan Foreign Ministry said it regrets that Algeria hasn’t responded to the king’s overture, adding that Rabat “remains open and optimistic” on the future of relations between the two states.

“Morocco can only regret that this initiative did not [see] the desired response, especially that it has always been requested by Algeria itself,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Animosity between the two states is longstanding, with ill will over the shared borders established by Algeria’s French colonial government in 1957 and on the future of the Western Sahara region, where Algiers backs the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi liberation movement, against Rabat.

The Nation

Swaziland

Swaziland Has No Cash to Pay Elderly Pensions, Prime Minister Says He Will Fly Business Class to Save Money

Swaziland/Eswatini is so broke that pensions for the elderly are not being paid. State-controlled radio has been broadcasting the news over the past few days.

It is another example of how the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III has been mismanaged. The pensions for people aged 60 and over, known locally as elderly grants, are for E400 (US$30) per month.

About 70,000 people receive the grants which often are the only income a family has.

A year ago, it was reported more than 80 percent of women aged 60 and over and 70 percent of men in Swaziland lived in poverty. The figures were contained in the National Strategy and Action Plan to End Violence in Swaziland: 2017 to 2022.

About seven in ten of Swaziland’s 1.1 million population live in abject poverty defined as having incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The report said poverty among people aged 60 or over was highest compared to other age groups.

AllAfrica

Swaziland: Private Sector Corrupt, but Public Sector Worse

The Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, lost US$2.09 million due to fraud and corruption in various sectors of the government, the national police deputy commissioner said Monday at an event celebrating International Fraud Awareness week, the Swazi Observer reported.

“This is a substantial monetary loss comparative to the economic size of the country,” Mumcy Dlamini told an audience assembled at the Mountain Inn in the capital of Mbabane.

While an estimated 63 percent of Swazis live below the poverty line, making less than two dollars per day, the government agreed in March to buy Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini – who died in September at age 76 – a $380,000 retirement house.

In her speech, Dlamini attributed much of the losses to fraud in the “banking sector business,” such as illicit electronic fund transfers and false banking instructions. She cited examples of cloned or skimmed bank cards used to make ATM cash withdrawals.

OCCRP

Africa in General

Uganda diverted weapons to South Sudan despite arms embargo

A key broker of the latest deal to end South Sudan’s civil war diverted European weapons to South Sudan’s military despite an EU arms embargo, a new report says. It also asks how a US military jet ended up deployed in South Sudan in possible violation of arms export controls.

The London-based Conflict Armament Research report, released on Thursday, raises questions about Uganda’s support for neighbouring South Sudan’s government even as it promotes itself as a neutral negotiator in one of Africa’s deadliest conflicts.

South Sudan’s warring sides signed the peace agreement in September to end a five-year civil war that has killed nearly 400 000 people. Previous deals have collapsed in gunfire. The new report is a “forensic picture of how prohibitions on arms transfers to the warring parties have failed,” said Conflict Armament Research’s executive director, James Bevan.

News24

Female equity bill collapses in Kenyan parliament

A gender equity bill, which would have ensured that not more than two-thirds of parliament can be of the same gender, has failed to pass in the Kenyan National Assembly.

The house failed to raise the necessary numbers to pass the two-thirds gender equity bill so it deferred the vote to next year.

The suspension of the vote followed a request by Majority Leader Aden Duale during the debate attended by opposition chiefs Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, the East African reported.

Duale informed speaker Justin Muturi that the house did not have 233 members required to support the proposed law to address Kenya’s gender inequality in political representation.

IOL

Zim inquiry into post-vote violence presents findings summary to Mnangagwa

The commission of inquiry into the August 1 post-election deadly shootings in Harare by the military has on Thursday presented a summary of its findings to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“Today, the commission presented to the President what we call an executive summary, while the complete report will be presented this Saturday,” commission spokesperson John Masuku said.

“In short, what I am saying is that, yes, the report is complete, but we have sent it to government printers for printing and binding and it shall be presented to the President and public this Saturday.”

The commission, chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, made the presentation two days after wrapping up public hearings. The completed report is expected to be completed on November 31.

IOL

Protests over Zim government’s ‘cocktail of lies’ as economy collapses

Zimbabweans are gathering for a nationwide protest over the country’s economic collapse and what the opposition calls the new government’s “cocktail of lies.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is under growing pressure one year after taking office following the removal of long-time leader Robert Mugabe. Tensions remain high after July’s disputed election that Mnangagwa narrowly won.

Zimbabwe’s government is struggling to even arrange a reliable currency as many citizens in the southern African nation say they’ve seen no progress on promises of “jobs, job, jobs.”

There is heavy security in the capital, Harare, as opposition supporters sing anti-government songs.

IOL

 

News Briefs 23 November 2018

Africa in General

‘Arresting Chamisa would be the biggest mistake,’ MDC warns Mnangagwa’s govt

Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) youth leader has reportedly warned that the southern African country would be turned into a war zone if party president Nelson Chamisa is arrested.

Happymore Chidziva said this after acting officer commanding (crime) Harare, Detective Chief Inspector Edmore Runganga told the commission of inquiry into the August 1 shootings last week that they were now close to arresting Chamisa for inciting violence that led to the deadly military crackdown, which left six people dead.

On August 1, armed soldiers were deployed in the capital, Harare, to suppress a protest against delays in announcing results of the country’s first elections without former ruler Robert Mugabe.

Gunfire erupted and six people died, Associated Press reported.

News24

DRC political situation ‘confused’ as country heads to polls, says opposition leader

Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Augustine Kikukama’s wife Kuku Itambo has described as “confused” the current political situation in the central African country, which is headed for elections on December 23.

In an interview with News24, Itambo, who deputises her husband in the M17 said although the party was encouraging people to vote in the upcoming elections, there was an element of uncertainty as it remained unclear what would happen to the country after the announcement of the results.

“The situation is quite confused. We don’t know what will happen after the proclamation of the results. We, as a party, are pushing people to vote because we believe it’s time for change. We have demonstrated that we are a peaceful party and we don’t want people to keep fighting. It’s not longer time to pick up guns and fight but to vote and make a difference in the country,” said Kuku.

The elections will end President Josepk Kabila’s rule. Kabila has been in power since January 2001.

News24

DRC: Human rights concerns persist as electoral campaigns kick-off

The government maintains a blanket ban on protests other than those organized by politicians close to outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Opposition supporters, as well as people calling for improvements to security and services, have faced threats, intimidation, harassment, arrests and violent dispersal often resulting in deaths and injuries.

“The authorities’ determination to silence dissent couldn’t be more evident through their ceaseless silencing of any kind of criticism or public demand, whether it touches on the country’s dire security situation, social grievances or the ongoing electoral process,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

On 15 November, two students from the University of Kinshasa died from gunshot wounds after police illegally used lethal force on campus to disperse students peacefully protesting an ongoing lecturers’ strike. Those who fired the shots have been arrested and charged in court, but officers higher up in the chain of command are yet to be held to account for deploying armed police officers to the university campus.

Amnesty International

Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya: Top US diplomat to visit Horn of Africa

The United States Department of State disclosed on Wednesday that its top diplomat on African Affairs was scheduled to visit the Horn of Africa starting in late November.

Tibor Nagy, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs is expected to visit Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya as part of US efforts in promoting stronger trade and commercial ties, a statement read.

The last time a top diplomat undertook a similar visit was in April 2018 when then Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Donald Yamamoto visited Eritrea, Djibouti before rounding up his visit in Ethiopia. Yamamoto has recently been appointed US Ambassador to Somalia.

Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs Tibor P. Nagy will travel to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, and Germany from November 27 to December 8, 2018.

Africa News

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Human rights concerns persist as electoral campaigns kick-off

Election campaigning will take place in a hostile political environment that leaves little room for people to freely and safely exercise their human rights, Amnesty International said ahead of the 22 November start of political campaigns for the long-awaited elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The government maintains a blanket ban on protests other than those organized by politicians close to outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Opposition supporters, as well as people calling for improvements to security and services, have faced threats, intimidation, harassment, arrests and violent dispersal often resulting in deaths and injuries.

“The authorities’ determination to silence dissent couldn’t be more evident through their ceaseless silencing of any kind of criticism or public demand, whether it touches on the country’s dire security situation, social grievances or the ongoing electoral process,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Relief Web

US Calls for Credible Elections in DR Congo

The United States is calling for peaceful and credible elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where campaigns for next month’s polls begin Friday.

In a statement Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the December 23 elections give the DRC “a historic opportunity” to conduct a peaceful and democratic transfer of power.

She suggested a credible vote will also help Congo alleviate its humanitarian crisis, attract foreign investment, and stabilize central Africa.

The elections were originally due to take place in 2016, but were delayed as President Joseph Kabila refused to leave office at the end of his mandate.

Voice of America

Somalia

Somalia’s zero-sum politics will see no winners

The announcement by Somalia’s Federal Member States in September that they’ve suspended co-operation with the Federal Government of Somalia has thrown the country into internal crisis. Amid numerous complaints, the member states are unhappy with resource and power allocation within Somalia’s federal structure. They also accuse President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s administration in Mogadishu of a lack of co-operation, and even outright interference in their local affairs.

While the dispute has played out differently in each of the member states, the ramifications have been most profound in Galmudug. Internal divisions in the Galmudug Interim Administration have been elevated by the dispute, with factions taking opposing sides in the debate.

The roots of Galmudug’s crisis are complex, but the current rift stems from mediations last year between the Galmudug Interim Administration and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama (ASWJ), held under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

In December 2017, a 14-point agreement was signed that integrated ASWJ into the Galmudug Interim Administration, uniting a state administration that had been divided since its formation in 2014-15. The integration of ASWJ proceeded in a positive manner, but it also created new divisions.

Daily Mavericks

U.N.: Islamic State Flooding Somalia with Foreign Fighters from Iraq, Syria

The United Nations, in a new report issued this month, cited a growing presence of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Somalia, a faction that has directly threatened to displace the al-Qaeda branch in East Africa, al-Shabaab.

Although “an influx of foreign fighters fleeing military pressure” in Iraq and Syria has fueled ISIS’s expansion in Somalia, al-Shabaab remains the most potent threat facing the African country, the U.N. determined.

Citing the issue of ISIS’s weekly Al Naba newsletter last Friday, the Long War Journal (LWJ), a component of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank, reported that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization in Somalia warned al-Shabaab of an “impending clash” between the two groups.

Breitbart

Central African Republic

Death toll in Central Africa clashes rises to 60 – UN

The death toll has risen to at least 60 from clashes last week between Christian and Muslim-dominated militias in a restive Central African Republic town, an internal UN report said Wednesday.

The bloodshed was sparked in the central town of Alindao on November 15 between Christian militiamen, known as anti-Balaka, and the Union for Peace in CAR (UPC) Muslim militia.

Other sources reported an even higher death toll on Wednesday but AFP could not confirm the information.

The number of the dead had previously been reported as 48, including two priests, in the latest surge of sectarian violence in the country.

Daily Monitor

UN warns of famine in violence-hit Central African Republic

Famine will hit the Central African Republic if nothing is done to reverse the humanitarian situation in the country, which is deteriorating at an “alarming rate”, the United Nations has warned.

The growing unrest in the country of 4.5m people is forcing many to flee their homes and abandon their fields, causing spiralling food insecurity, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the country, Najat Rochdi, told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday.

If the situation remains the same and people do not return to their fields, “it means that in very few years, we’ll have a famine in the Central African Republic”, said Rochdi.

“We are not talking about 10 people. We are talking about hundreds of thousands” at risk, added Rochdi, pointing out that several regions have already reached level 4 in terms of food insecurity.

Aljazeera

Sudan

Sudan invites France to attend meeting of Libya neighbours in Khartoum

The Sudanese government has invited France to participate as an observer at a meeting for Libya’s neighbouring countries that would be held at the end of the month in Khartoum.

Sudan’s Foreign Minister El-Dirdeiry Ahmed on Tuesday met with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris at the start of a tour that would take him to three other European nations.

In a press release on Wednesday, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Babiker al-Siddiq said the two sides expressed the desire to promote bilateral relations, pointing out that relations between the two countries have witnessed positive developments during the previous period.

He said that Ahmed has briefed his French counterpart on Sudan’s efforts to achieve peace in Libya, pointing to Khartoum’s initiative to host a meeting of Libya’s neighbouring countries on 29 November.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan: Council adopts conclusions

Sudan, which remains crucial for the peace and stability of the wider Horn of Africa. The Council reaffirms the EU’s readiness to engage in an evolving dialogue and cooperation with Khartoum, depending on progress shown by Sudan in committing to internal reforms, including human rights and good governance, facilitation of humanitarian assistance, sustainable peace and a constructive role in the region.

The Council urges the Sudanese authorities to fully respect the right to freedom of expression, press, access to information, association and peaceful assembly, in compliance with international human rights law. The Council underlines that the run-up to 2020 elections should be an opportunity for Sudan to demonstrate its commitment to reforms by allowing the full participation of all its citizens in an inclusive political process and without restrictions to individual rights.

In this regard, the Council expresses its deep concern with the shrinking space for the civil society and the persecutions against human rights defenders, students, political activists, journalists, and other media workers, as well as with the situation for women and girls.

EU Council

South Sudan

South Sudan’s Kiir, AUHIP’ Mbeki agree to join hands for peace in Sudan

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Kiir and the head of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki agreed to coordinate their efforts and to work together to achieve peace in Sudan.

Mbeki was in Juba on Wednesday to discuss with Kiir his initiative to facilitate the African Union-led mediation to end the armed conflicts in the Two Areas and Darfur.

Sources close to the meeting told Sudan Tribune that the two sides discussed the one-process-two tracks approach adopted by the AUHIP and how the efforts of President Kiir can lead to reaching a comprehensive peace in Sudan.

President Kiir briefed the former South African president about the ongoing efforts to reunite the two factions of the SPLM-North and the consultations with the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

The South Sudanese presidency issued a short statement about the meeting saying the “consultative meeting” discussed the peace talks between the Sudanese government and opposition groups that Kiir plans to host in Juba.

Sudan Tribune

S Sudan woos investors as peace deal revives oil industry

South Sudan said on Wednesday that the country’s latest peace deal had helped revive its war-battered oil sector, with an increase of 20 000 barrels per day in the past two months.

The country’s warring parties in September signed a new peace deal to end five years of civil war that has killed an estimated 380 000 people and crippled the oil industry, which funded about 98% of its budget.

Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth told hundreds of investors attending a three-day forum in Juba that the peace deal had revived activity in Unity State, raising production from 135 000 to 155 000 barrels per day.

“We are aggressively informing the whole world that the potentials are very high here,” Gatkuoth told South Sudan’s second Africa Oil and Power conference.

News24

Western Sahara

Western Sahara conflict: Polisario Front to participate in Geneva talks

The Polisario Front will go to the coming negotiations with Morocco, scheduled in early December in Geneva. The Front will participate in those talks in “good faith and with good willingness to relaunch Western Sahara conflict settlement process and on the basis of the international law, Sahrawi officials said in Madrid, on the sidelines of the 43rd European Conference for Support and Solidarity with the Sahrawi People (EUCOCO 2018).

“We are going to Geneva … to relaunch the settlement process so to allow the Sahrawi people to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination,” Sahrawi minister delegate for Europe Mohamed Sidati said following the Conference Eucoco 2018.

UN special envoy for Western Sahara Horst Kohler has invited the two conflicting parties, Morocco and Polisario Front to a round table on 5 and 6 December in Geneva. Those direct talks are part of the relaunch of the UN process aiming to resolve the conflict in Western Sahara and the exercise by the Sahrawi people of their right to self-determination.

Sahara Press Service

Security Council extends mandate of UN peace mission in Western Sahara by six months

The United Nations Security Council, on Wednesday, extended the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), until 30 April next year.

Adopting resolution 2240 (2018), by a recorded vote of 12 in favour and 3 abstentions, the Security Council underscored the need for a “realistic, practicable and enduring political solution” to the question of Western Sahara.

In that context, the 15-member Council expressed “full support” for the Secretary-General’s plan to initiate renewed negotiations before the end of 2018 and urged all parties to resume dialogue, in good faith, towards a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, “which will provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara.”

Originally established in 1991, in accordance with settlement proposals accepted in 1988 by Morocco and the Frente Polisario movement, MINURSO was tasked with the monitoring of the ceasefire; overseeing the exchange of prisoners of war; repatriation of refugees; and the eventual organization of a free and fair referendum in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco.

UN News

Swaziland

Campaign Growing for Arrest of Swaziland Prince Over Kidnapping and Rape Allegation

A campaign is gaining momentum in Swaziland/Eswatini to have a member of the Royal Family arrested on a rape charge.

One newspaper reported the prince whose name has been widely circulated on social media tried to bribe the victim to drop the allegation by offering her a scholarship to leave the kingdom and study abroad.

It reported the prince and a friend allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped a university student at a guest house on the outskirts of Manzini.

The Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland (18 November 2018) said police had been informed of the alleged rape in early September 2018 but had made no arrest. The alleged rapist is a prince in the Royal Family that has King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of the kingdom, at its head.

AllAfrica

 

Private Sector Corrupt, but Public Sector Worse

The Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, lost US$2.09 million due to fraud and corruption in various sectors of the government, the national police deputy commissioner said Monday at an event celebrating International Fraud Awareness week, the Swazi Observer reported.

“This is a substantial monetary loss comparative to the economic size of the country,” Mumcy Dlamini told an audience assembled at the Mountain Inn in the capital of Mbabane.

While an estimated 63 percent of Swazis live below the poverty line, making less than two dollars per day, the government agreed in March to buy Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini – who died in September at age 76 – a $380,000 retirement house.

In her speech, Dlamini attributed much of the losses to fraud in the “banking sector business,” such as illicit electronic fund transfers and false banking instructions. She cited examples of cloned or skimmed bank cards used to make ATM cash withdrawals.

Organized Crime and Corruption Project

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Unveils Budget Amid Currency Crunch, Inflation Rush

Zimbabwe will unveil its 2019 budget amid surging inflation, foreign-currency shortages, a sticky fiscal gap and the need to find cash to pay arrears to lenders so it can restart aid programs that could revive the economy.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, a University of Cambridge-trained economist appointed in September, has been trying to find ways to raise income for the southern African nation to repay billions of dollars in debt incurred in almost two decades of economic mismanagement under former President Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Efforts so far have backfired, with a 2 percent tax Ncube placed on electronic transactions from Oct. 1 to raise $700 million leading to annual inflation accelerating the most in about a decade as businesses insisted on cash when there isn’t any.

“A year ago, Zimbabwe didn’t have a currency crisis but rather a production headache — the past two consecutive years, however, ignited a currency conundrum which the government can no longer afford to ignore,” Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Christopher Mugaga said by phone.

Bloomberg

Zimbabwe petrol stations run dry due to currency shortages

Some filling stations in Zimbabwe’s capital have run out of gasoline as the country deals with currency shortages, Transport Minister Joram Gumbo said.

“When the foreign currency is eventually released, it takes some time to arrange the transport logistics to deliver the fuel to affected stations,” he said in a statement handed to reporters on Wednesday in Harare.

“There are many competing demands on the available foreign currency.”

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is preparing to announce the 2019 budget tomorrow while juggling a ballooning fiscal deficit, foreign-exchange shortages that are fuelling inflation, and an inability to raise foreign loans because of $5.6bn of debt arrears.

Zimbabwe last month signed a gasoline-supply agreement with a unit of Trafigura Beheer and is in talks with Total Zimbabwe and others about securing more.

fin24

 

 

 

News Briefs 16 November 2018

Africa in General

Zimbabwe must be supported, Ramaphosa tells EU hosts

Zimbabwe was on the agenda in talks President Cyril Ramaphosa had with European Union (EU) leaders on Thursday.

During a media briefing, Ramaphosa said he discussed the importance of Zimbabwe and the lifting of any sanctions still in place against that country.

“Zimbabwe is on a path of great reforms. This needs to be supported, as Zimbabwe has turned a corner,” Ramaphosa said during the briefing.

He further noted that accelerating investment, focusing on climate change and women’s rights all formed part of global matters he discussed with his EU hosts.

“The EU is SA’s largest trading partner. Exploring opportunities for further investment and the investment climate, especially in SA, is of great importance,” said Ramaphosa.

News24

UN lifts sanctions on Eritrea, keeps arms embargo on Somalia

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to lift sanctions against Eritrea following its thaw in relations with Ethiopia and other neighbouring countries – but it kept an arms embargo on Somalia and a ban on trade in charcoal, a key source of funds for al-Shabaab militants.

The resolution approved by the UN’s most powerful body commended “efforts toward peace, stability and reconciliation in the region” sparked by Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in April and accepted an international commission’s border decision that favoured Eritrea.

Ethiopia is the regional power and actions by the country’s leader set off several diplomatic thaws, including one between Eritrea and Somalia. Leaders of Djibouti and Eritrea, which also had a turbulent relationship after multiple border clashes, met with the help of Ethiopia, though there has been no breakthrough.

News24

Somalia lauds lifting of UN sanctions on Eritrea

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on Thursday welcomed the UN Security Council’s decision to lift the arms embargo and targeted sanctions imposed on Eritrea nearly nine years ago.

Farmajo, who thanked the council for its decision to lift the sanctions, said the move came because of the unity efforts spearheaded by regional countries.

“We welcome the arms and other targeted embargoes on Eritrea been lifted with our collective request. Thanks to the UN Security Council for this helpful and timely intervention,” said Farmajo said in a statement.

The Somali president said the Horn of Africa region is swiftly progressing towards partnership and economic cooperation.

His remarks came after the UN Security Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to lift arms embargoes, travel bans, asset freezes and targeted sanctions against Eritrea following its good relations with Ethiopia and other neighboring countries.

Xinhua

Democratic Republic of Congo

Seven peacekeepers killed, 10 wounded in DRC fighting: UN

Seven peacekeepers were killed and 10 others were wounded during a joint military operation with troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo against rebels in the east of the country, a UN spokesperson said on Thursday.

Another UN peacekeeper is missing from the fighting near the city of Beni in North Kivu, said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the killing in a statement and called on armed groups to disarm immediately.

Six peacekeepers from Malawi and one from Tanzania were killed during the operation on Wednesday against rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group blamed for a series of attacks.

News24

DRC candidate pleads for opposition unity after bust-up

A Democratic Republic of Congo legislator chosen by opposition leaders to be their champion in next month’s presidential election pleaded for unity on Tuesday after their historic deal was shot down by party activists.

Martin Fayulu, a little-known MP unexpectedly selected as unity candidate in talks in Geneva, insisted the accord was not dead, and urged dissenting leaders to return to it.

“The agreement is still alive,” Fayulu said on the television channel TV5Monde after two other party leaders backed away from the accord just a day after signing it.

“I urge my brothers to overcome partisan considerations and to give priority to the nation’s higher interests,” he said later in a tweet. “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

News24

Somalia

Somalia hosts its first National Economic Policy Forum

Somalia has hosted its first high level National Economic Policy Forum this week in Mogadishu, which saw participants discuss a national investment strategy, financial governance, tackling corruption and how to enhance regional economic cooperation with other East African countries.

The day-long forum was hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia, Mr. Mahdi Mohamed Guled, as well as the Executive Director of a newly established National Economic Council (NEC) for Somalia, Dr. Ali Issa Abdi, and facilitated by the Ministry of Planning. It was attended by Federal and Members State Government representatives, UN officials, and private sector, academia and civil society members. The Federal Minister of Finance, Dr. Abdirahman Dualeh Beileh, and the Federal Minister of Planning, Mr. Gamal Hassan, also attended the event. The forum was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In his key remarks at the opening session, Deputy Prime Minister Guled said the Federal Government had made tangible progress on public financial management reforms and in increasing domestic revenue to deliver services to the Somali people, adding: “The government is committed to enacting policies and developing strategies to revive the economy, and the National Economic Council, and this Forum, plays a key role in these efforts,” he said.

Relief Web

Toll rises to 53 dead from bomb blasts in Somalia’s capital

Somali hospital and police sources say the death toll from Friday’s bombings outside a hotel in Mogadishu has risen to 53 with over 100 injured.

Captain Mohamed Hussein, a senior Somali police officer, said many of the injured suffered horrific wounds, raising fears that death toll could rise further. The figure given by Hussein is consistent with submissions from hospitals.

Ahmed Yusuf, a nurse at Madina hospital, said that Mogadishu’s hospitals are coping to treat the influx of wounded victims who continued to come in Saturday.

Four car bombs by Islamic extremists exploded outside a hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, on Friday afternoon. After the three explosions in front of the hotel, a fourth blast hit as medics attempted to rescue the injured.

News24

Central African Republic

France, Russia, US wrangle at UN over CAR

France, Russia and the United States were locked in negotiations on Wednesday to overcome differences over peace efforts in the Central African Republic ahead of a deadline for renewing the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission there.

The Security Council must vote on prolonging the 12 000-strong MINUSCA mission in the Central African Republic by midnight on Thursday, when the mission’s mandate expires.

Russia and the United States have raised objections to a French-drafted text presented last week that would see UN peacekeepers offer support to newly-trained national troops as they deploy across the country.

The draft resolution, seen by AFP, also takes aim at recent Russian efforts to broker peace deals in CAR by specifying that an African-led initiative is “the only framework” for a solution.

News24

Sudanese president slams plots to cripple peace efforts for Central African Republic

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday blasted plots to cripple his country’s efforts to achieve peace in Central African Republic (CAR).

“Many envy Sudan over its endeavors to achieve peace in the region and tend to cripple its efforts to achieve it in the CAR,” said al-Bashir during his address to the conference of the Islamic Movement in Khartoum.

“All the conflicting parties in the CAR are convinced that Sudan can achieve peace in their country,” especially after it has succeeded in doing so in South Sudan, he added.

Sudan has become a refuge for those who seek peace and safety, the Sudanese president noted.

In August, Khartoum hosted a session of talks between the CAR’s Seleka armed opposition and the Anti-Balaka militia group under a Russian initiative and the patronage of al-Bashir.

Xinhua

Sudan

Sudan issues arrest warrant against opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi

Sudan’s state security prosecutor on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Sadiq al-Mahdi and others, as he plans to return to the country on 19 November.

Al-Mahdi who left Khartoum in February 2018 was residing in Cairo until the first of July when the Egyptian authorities declared him persona non grata and prevented him from entering into the country. He is now living in the British capital London.

A short notice extended by the security service to media outlets in Khartoum on Thursday announced that the State Security Prosecution issued on Thursday an arrest warrants for “Sadiq al-Mahdi and others”, citing several articles of the Criminal Code related to subversive activities to undermine the constitutional order, incitement against the state, publishing false news.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan: Exiled Activist Surfaces in Detention

Sudanese authorities have confirmed that they are holding a vocal critic of the government who was forcibly disappeared in Egypt in October, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today. Sudan’s national security authorities refused to provide information for weeks about the detention of the activist, Mohamed Boshi, but announced charges against him on November 8.

“Egyptian and Sudanese authorities cooperated in forcibly disappearing and returning an asylum-seeker to Sudan, in clear violation of international norms and the prohibitions on enforced disappearances, persecution, and torture,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Having unlawfully detained him for weeks, Sudan has now charged him with serious crimes that carry the death penalty. They should drop the charges and release him immediately.”

 

Boshi, 35, was reported missing in Cairo on October 10, after five armed men believed to be Egyptian security agents arrived at his apartment building and searched his apartment, witnesses in Cairo told Human Rights Watch. News of Boshi’s disappearance surfaced on social media the next day, amid activists’ fears that Egyptian authorities had returned him to Sudan. Boshi’s family members in Sudan told Human Rights Watch that Sudanese security officials contacted them on October 13 to say he was in their custody but would not say where.

Human Rights Watch

South Sudan

UN report finds violations of South Sudan arms embargo

A UN panel of experts has found violations of the arms embargo imposed on South Sudan, reporting to the Security Council that there are “alarming levels” of sexual violence, hunger and human rights abuses in the war-scarred country.

The panel’s 29-page report seen by AFP on Monday was the first to be released since the arms embargo was narrowly adopted by the Security Council in July, under strong pressure from the United States.

The panel said it was too early to assess the full impact of the embargo, which seeks to cut off the flow of weapons after nearly five years of brutal war in South Sudan.

The report said “a number of violations have been noted by the panel”, which is also investigating foreign private security firms providing training in Juba to the national police and the army.

News24

South Sudan Says Inflation Slowing as War-Torn Economy Improves

Inflation in South Sudan slowed to 49 percent in September, after soaring to eight times that in the previous two years, as increased oil output boosts the war-torn nation’s economy, the central bank governor said.

“The resumption of oil production in Bentiu and the current upward movement of prices of oil has made our foreign reserves much better than a year or two ago,” Dier Tong Ngor told reporters Thursday in the capital, Juba, referring to crude facilities in the country’s north.

A civil war in Africa’s youngest nation has claimed tens of thousands of lives since it erupted in December 2013, with temporary declines in oil production and crude prices fuelling economic chaos. South Sudan’s national statistics bureau stopped publishing inflation data after July 2017, when the figure was about 155 percent, down from 362 percent the month before.

he central bank now “has the capacity to meet market needs for foreign exchange for the importation of fuel and food items,” Ngor said. The inflation figure he gave covers prices in Juba and Wau, a north western city.

Bloomberg

 

Western Sahara

Minister of African Affairs Received At Ugandan Foreign Ministry

A delegation led by the Minister Delegate in Charge of African Affairs, Hamdi Alkhalil Mayara, was received at the Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Ugandan Minister of State for International Relations Henry Oryem Okello, who stressed the strength of his country’s relations with Sahrawi Republic and its support for the Sahrawi people’s just struggle.

The Sahrawi minister conveyed salutation of the President of the Republic, Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and expressed his satisfaction with the level of relations and cooperation between the two countries.

For his part, the Ugandan minister welcomed the visit of the Saharawi delegation and conveyed the greetings of President Museveni to his Saharawi counterpart and through him to the people and the government of the Sahrawi Republic. He also reiterated the continuation of his country’s support for the completion of the decolonization of Western Sahara and the development of bilateral relations and coordination of their positions within the African Union.

AllAfrica

Polisario Front willing to cooperate with UN for Western Sahara decolonization

The Polisario Front on Friday reaffirmed its willingness to cooperate with the United Nations for the decolonization of Western Sahara, and called the Security Council to bring the Kingdom of Morocco back to unconditioned negotiations.

The Polisario Front made this statement at the meeting of the Permanent Bureau of the national secretariat of the front, chaired by Sahrawi President Brahim Ghali.

The meeting focused on the Security Council resolution 2440 (2018) on a sixth-month extension (31 April 2019) of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the resumption of negotiations under the UN aegis to find a just, sustainable and mutually acceptable solution based on the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination.

In this connection, the Polisario Front reiterated the position of the Sahrawi party in favour of cooperation with the efforts made by the UN Secretary General and its personal envoy to complete the decolonization process of Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa.

Sahara Press Service

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean generals deny troops shot and killed 6 protesters

Zimbabweans have reacted with stunned disbelief to the testimony by two generals who denied troops killed six people in August when the military was called in to crush protests following the country’s disputed elections.

The generals suggested that Zimbabwe’s opposition was responsible for the killings.

 

Zimbabweans and opposition leaders on Tuesday expressed outrage at the denials and the lack of a serious investigation by police into the killings.

On August 1, armed soldiers were deployed in the capital, Harare, to suppress a protest against delays in announcing results of the country’s first elections without former ruler Robert Mugabe.

Gunfire erupted and six people died. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa set up a commission of inquiry, headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, to probe the killings.

News24

Zimbabwe Police Chief Says Mnangagwa Deployed Army Linked to Killing of Six Civilians

Zimbabwe’s police chief Godwin Matanga says President Emmerson Mnangagwa deployed the country’s national army to maintain law and order in Harare on August 1st this year during protests staged by suspected opposition supporters, demanding the release of presidential election results of the July 30 poll.

Police Commissioner Matanga said this when he testified before the Kgalema Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry into the killing of about six people by the army, which opened fire on civilians, mostly minding their own business in the city’s central business district.

But the Zimbabwe National Army denies that it killed the people despite video evidence showing some soldiers firing at civilians.

He said Mnangagwa deployed the army following a request by the police that had inadequate manpower as some of them were in various parts of the country monitoring the election process.

Voice of America

 

News Briefs 08 November 2018


Madagascar

Madagascar starts counting ballots in presidential race

Vote counting started Wednesday evening in Madagascar where citizens cast their ballots with hopes that a new leader will take this Indian Ocean island nation out of chronic poverty and corruption.

Polls closed at 17:00 local time after a day of generally calm and uneventful voting.

The 36 presidential candidates have all promised to improve the country’s economy, create new jobs and end graft, but the three leaders in the race are familiar faces who offer little chance of a dramatic change, say political analysts.

“I was looking forward to this election because the misery in Madagascar is everywhere! Our country is rich! Why are the Malagasy people, for the most part, poor?” said Judith Rasolofo, 52, a housewife with five children. “I want to see something new in Madagascar!”

News24

Former president alleges fraud in Madagascar election

Former Madagascar president Hery Rajaonarimampianina has alleged “many voting irregularities” in this week’s election, raising fears of protests and a disputed result.

In a statement on Thursday, Rajaonarimampianina said a number of “anomalies” have been detected, including an “invalid electoral register, intimidation [and] the presence of pre-ticked ballots”.

“All indications are that the votes of the Madagascan people have been stolen,” Rajaonarimampianina, who held office from 2014 to September 2018, said.

“We will not let the people be robbed of their vote,” he added.

As of the latest count, Rajaonarimampianina had won about three percent of the vote based on results from nearly 300 of Madagascar’s 24,852 polling stations.

Aljazeera

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo’s opposition will meet in Geneva to name joint candidate

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) opposition leaders have agreed to meet in Geneva to choose a joint candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

The elections, to take place on December 23, are critical for the future of the DRC, a state that has never experienced a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

“All opposition heads will gather in Switzerland on Thursday to attend a meeting to designate a joint candidate,” one of the challengers, Freddy Matungulu, told AFP news agency on Tuesday.

“The public has high expectations. We, as a group, cannot make any claim on winning the presidential election unless we act together,” he said.

Aljazeera

New measures and strong partnership having positive impact on Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

New measures to overcome challenges in the response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are having a positive impact, although the outbreak remains dangerous and unpredictable, the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping and the World Health Organization (WHO) said after a joint mission to assess the outbreak.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Pierre Lacroix yesterday travelled with the Minister of Health, Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga, to the city of Beni in eastern DRC, the epicentre of the outbreak, where they met health workers, civil society representatives, peacekeeping troops and local authorities.

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC, MONUSCO, has recently taken an active approach to armed groups operating in North Kivu, which has contributed to a period of calm in and around the city of Beni, although some attacks have continued in surrounding villages.

WHO

Somalia

Fatal shooting of four civilians by AMISOM troops must be investigated

The unlawful killing of four unarmed civilians by Burundi troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) must be investigated and the soldiers responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International has said.

The organization has spoken to relatives of those killed and eyewitnesses who saw AMISOM officers open fire on the four men – comprised of three lorry drivers and a rickshaw driver.

“These shocking killings by soldiers who are supposed to protect civilians must be thoroughly and impartially investigated by AMISOM, with those responsible held to account,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“It is deeply disturbing that forces trained to counter threats to civilians have turned against the people they are supposed to protect without any sense of self-control. This simply cannot happen.”

Amnesty International

Turkish defense minister in Somalia for talks

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Thursday met Somali officials in the capital Mogadishu for bilateral and military talks.

Akar and his delegation was received by Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled, some senior government officials and Turkey’s Ambassador to Somalia Olgan Bekar at Adan Adde International Airport in Mogadishu.

Later, he held talks with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and the Chief Commander of the Somali National Army Gen. Dahir Adan Elmi, and chaired a meeting between delegations.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed also received the Turkish delegation at the presidential palace.

The officials discussed bilateral defense and military cooperation as well as regional issues, according to Turkish defense sources.

AA

Central African Republic

UN weighs plan to support deploying C. Africa army

The UN Security Council is weighing a plan that would see UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic offer support to newly-trained national troops as they deploy across the strife-scarred country.

A French-drafted resolution would authorize the MINUSCA mission to “provide limited logistical support” for troops that have been trained by the European Union, according to the text seen by AFP on Wednesday.

The proposal is raising eyebrows, in particular from the United States, which is seeking to streamline peacekeeping operations to reduce costs and make them more effective, diplomats said.

The council will vote on the draft resolution next week.

The European Union has trained more than 3,000 men and women to serve in the Central African Armed Forces while Russia and France have provided them with weapons and other military equipment, with UN approval.

Daily Mail

 

France vows to give assault rifles and cash to Central African Republic

Paris will “soon deliver” 1,400 assault rifles to the Central African Republic, France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has announced.

The weapons will be given to the government’s Central African Armed Forces, which were established after the country gained independence from France in 1960.

Paris will also hand the republic €24.1m (£21.1m) in aid, Mr Le Drian said, which is intended to help pay salaries and build infrastructure.

“France wishes to continue its historical partnership with the Central African Republic,” the minister told journalists in CAR’s capital Bangui.

Independent

Sudan

Rights group warns US against swift normalisation with Sudan

Human Rights Watch is cautioning the United States against lifting its designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The New York-based watchdog says Khartoum continues to violate basic human rights, with security forces regularly attacking civilians and opening fire on peaceful protesters.

Thursday’s statement comes after Washington agreed to a second phase of rapprochement with Khartoum that includes six criteria, which if fulfilled would qualify Sudan to have the designation lifted.

The State Department says these include expanding counterterrorism cooperation and enhancing human rights protections and practices, including freedoms of religion and press.

New24

AUHIP mediators say amending Sudan’s peace roadmap does not mean concealing it

The African Union mechanism for peace in Sudan has made clear that amending the Roadmap Agreement does not necessarily mean abandoning the inclusive national dialogue process.

The Germain Berghoff Foundation hosted in Berlin on Wednesday a meeting between the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and the opposition factions of Sudan Call alliance that signed the Road Map agreement for peace in Sudan including the National Umma Party (NUP), Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North led by Malik Agar (SPLM-N Agar).

Following the meeting, JEM leader Gibril Ibrahim who is also the Sudan Call Deputy-Chairperson told Sudan Tribune that the meeting discussed the course of the peace process in Sudan and a letter the AUHIP Chair Thabo Mbeki sent to the opposition umbrella on 25 September.

Sudan Tribune

 

South Sudan

South Sudan monitoring body urges to order commanders to stop clashes

South Sudan’s ceasefire monitoring body, the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) has urged the peace partners to direct their forces on the ground to stop clashes in Yei and Wau areas.

On Wednesday, the head of CTSAMVM Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Abduljelill chaired the 4th meeting of the CTSAMVM Technical Committee (CTC) in Khartoum with the participation of the government and opposition groups.

In his speech to the meeting, Abduljelill regretted that they continue to receive an increasing number of allegations from the parties including reports of fighting, recruitment, displacement, and sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

“We urge parties to clearly and forcefully communicate orders to field commanders at all levels and make your commitments here at the CTC credible and deliverable,” he said.

Sudan Tribune

Thousands of Child Soldiers Still Trapped After South Sudan War – UN

Thousands of child soldiers dragged into South Sudan’s civil war are unlikely to be freed soon because aid agencies lack the funds to look after them, a UN envoy said on Tuesday.

The government signed a peace deal with rebel factions in September to end a civil war that killed at least 50,000 people, but many children who were forced into the conflict are still stuck in military camps in the bush, Virginia Gamba, UN envoy for children and armed conflict, said.

Gamba, who has spoken to former child soldiers in the country, said a lack of resources to re-integrate the children meant they remained at extremely high risk of abuse.

Since January, 900 child soldiers have been freed and Gamba expects a further 1,000 releases by the end of the year. But there are many more, she told reporters.

EWN

Western Sahara

Algeria doubts Morocco’s eagerness to engage in dialogue and resolve differences

Algeria is still silent about the invitation made by Mohammed VI of Morocco, four days ago, to engage in “mutual dialogue in order to solve problems between both sides.” On the other hand, Algerian press described such call as “a manoeuvre,” “a change of tone,” and “rhetoric of appeasement.”

In a speech on Tuesday, King Mohammed VI described the relations between the two countries as “out of the ordinary and unacceptable,” expressing his country’s readiness to undergo a “direct and frank dialogue with Algeria to overcome situational and substantive differences that hinder the development of relations between both neighbouring countries.”

The Moroccan king suggested a mechanism “that could constitute a practical framework for cooperation on various shared issues, particularly about the investment of opportunities and developmental potentials in the Maghreb region.” Such mechanism “will contribute to enhancing mutual coordination and consultation to meet regional and international challenges, especially, counter-terrorism strategies and immigration.”

Middle East Monitor

Morocco Pushes Development in Disputed Western Sahara

Building roads and expanding cities, ports and industrial parks — Morocco is pressing ahead with economic development in Western Sahara without waiting for a political settlement on the disputed territory.

The latest sign of the kingdom’s assertive approach to the former Spanish colony was on show last weekend at a business forum organised by Moroccan authorities in Laayoune, the region’s largest city.

“This is a very rich region,” said Rokia Derham, Morocco’s secretary of state for foreign trade.

“There is great potential in industry, fishing, agriculture or the relocation of services. We want to see foreign investors coming,” she told AFP.

EWN

 

Zimbabwe

Banks fear hyperinflation return in plea for Zimbabwe reforms

Zimbabwean banks urged the government to introduce wide-ranging reforms amid signs the country is facing an economic crisis reminiscent of a hyper-inflationary spiral a decade ago.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is preparing to announce the 2019 budget later this month. He’s juggling a ballooning budget deficit, foreign-exchange shortages that are fuelling inflation, and an inability to raise foreign loans because of $5.6 billion of debt arrears.

The fiscal shortfall, which was more than triple the amount budgeted in the nine months through September, is the country’s greatest source of economic instability, the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe said in a submission to the Finance Ministry seen by Bloomberg and verified by the ministry.

The deficit is being financed by domestic borrowing and an overdraft at the central bank — essentially printing money, it said.

Bulawayo24

Mugabe ministers in court on corruption charges in Zimbabwe

Two former ministers under Robert Mugabe appeared in court in Harare on Wednesday on corruption charges, nearly a year after Zimbabwe’s long-time ruler was ousted from power.

Mugabe’s successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa has vowed to crack down on corruption, though critics say his government is still mired in the corruption that marred the Mugabe era.

Former information, communication and technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira faces two graft charges involving $5m.

Harare’s chief provincial magistrate granted him bail of $2,000 and set his trial date for December 10.

TimesLive

 

 

 

 

 

Africa in General

Uhuru to retain KDF in Somalia as Treasury cuts soldiers’ budget

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday said Kenya Defence Forces will stay in Somalia until security is restored despite budget cuts signalling the start of the soldiers’ withdrawal slated for next July.

Mr Kenyatta spoke at the Recruits Training School in Eldoret where he presided over the passing-out parade.

Kenya gets a refund for its soldiers in Somalia and expects Sh8.5 billion in the financial year starting next July.

However, the compensation from the UN is expected to drop to Sh5 billion and Sh3.5 billion in the next two years to June 2015, indicating gradual reduction of troops. “To secure Kenya and our region, our forces will continue joint operations with the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom),” Mr Kenyatta said.

Kenya sent 4,660 soldiers to Somalia in October 2011 after incessant attacks and kidnapping of civilians by the militants within its territory.

Business Day

Tanzania frees top officials of global press rights group, CPJ

The two officials of international press rights group, Committee to protect Journalists, CPJ; have been freed by Tanzania’s immigration authorities.

“After arresting them and educating them, we released them the same day… The entry permits forbid employment or business activities.

“If they want to engage themselves in anything more than a normal visit then they have to request appropriate permits,” spokesperson for Tanzania’s immigration ministry Ally Mtanda is quoted to have said.

Late Wednesday, authorities in Tanzania detained two top officials of the United States – based Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ. A viral social media demand for their release kick started through to Thursday when they were released.

Africa News

Madagascar: Leading candidates optimistic, EU observers ‘happy’

As election officials count votes, following Wednesday’s presidential poll, the frontrunners have expressed optimist about their chances of winning.

Incumbent president Hery Rajaonarimampianina, is facing a stiff challenge from two former presidents, Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina.

“I am optimistic and positive, I do not think there will be a second round,” dairy tycoon Marc Ravalomanana said at his political headquarters, where dozens of supporters gathered.

For his part, former nightclub promoter Andry Rajoelina spoke to hundreds of supporters gathered at the studio of his TV chain Viva, saying he was satisfied the early results “express the desire for change.”

Africa News

Malawi President Mutharika sacks his deputy ahead of 2019 presidential polls

Malawi President Peter Mutharika has reportedly sacked his deputy, Saulos Chilima, in a cabinet reshuffle, ahead of a presidential election next year.

AFP reported in July that Chilima had put his hat in the ring for the 2019 elections against Mutharika, who was allegedly embroiled in a growing corruption scandal.

The vice president broke ranks with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in June when he quit the party citing unchecked corruption and nepotism.

“I am ready to contest… If we follow a process that is transparent and democratic, I will present myself as a candidate,” Chilima was quoted as saying at the time.

News24