News Briefs 20 October 2017

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe To Slash Budget Deficit Despite Looming Elections

Zimbabwe plans to cut its budget deficit by half next year to 4% of GDP, the national Treasury said, an ambitious goal at a time when the country is expected to hold a presidential vote that veteran President Robert Mugabe is set to contest.

The southern African country has over the last four years failed to cut its deficit despite promises to do so, mainly due to high government spending on public sector salaries, which accounted for more than 90% of the 2016 budget.

In an election year Mugabe’s government is unlikely to reduce spending, economic analysts said, making it difficult to cut the deficit to 4% of the gross domestic product. This year the government targets a deficit of 8.4% for GDP.

EWN

Democratic Republic of Congo

Neutralise Threats by Negative Forces in DRC – UN

THE United Nations has called for vigorous action to neutralise the continued threats posed by negative forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes Region.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has also encouraged armed forces in the DRC to step up their operations in collaboration with other stakeholders against armed groups still active in the country.

“I see four priority areas for our collective efforts. First vigorous action is needed to neutralise the continued threats posed by negative forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region as a whole,” Mr Guterres said.

Addressing the 7th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Brazaville, Republic of Congo yesterday, Mr Guterres in a speech read for him by Special UN Envoy to the Great Lakes Region Said Djiniti said the UN continued offering support to protect civilians in the Congo from all armed groups still active in the DRC.

Time of Zambia

DR Congo controversially elected to UN Human Rights Council

Congo’s election to the UN’s Human Rights Council has been criticized because of the country’s human rights record. “This is like making a pyromaniac the town fire chief,” head of the NGO UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, said.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was one of 15 states chosen on Monday after a vote by the 193-member General Assembly as rights representatives for three-year terms starting in January 2018.

Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were also elected.

The Human Rights Council is made up of 47 UN member states elected through direct and secret ballots.

DW

Somalia

Death Toll in Somalia Attack Rises To 263

At least 263 people were killed by twin bomb explosions in the heart of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, doctors said on Monday, confirming the deadliest attack since an Islamist insurgency began in 2007.

Aden Nur, a doctor at the city’s Madina hospital, said it had recorded 258 deaths while Ahmed Ali, a nurse at the nearby Osman Fiqi hospital, told Reuters five bodies had been sent there.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo declared three days of national mourning and called for donations of blood and funds to victims of Saturday’s attack.

EWN

EU Releases Emergency Aid Following Somalia Attack

The funding will help to provide critical medical and surgical interventions and supplies, human resources, and psycho-social support in the aftermath of the bombing in the Somali capital.

“The world has been watching in dismay, shock and sadness as the magnitude of last Saturday’s terror attack in Mogadishu has been unfolding.

The loss of innocent human life is appalling. This initial EU aid will help our partner IMC scale up the medical response and urgently treat the hundreds of wounded that need immediate life-saving assistance,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

AllAfrica

Central African Republic

UN chief heading to conflict-torn Central African Republic

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday he is going to conflict-torn Central African Republic next week to spotlight growing communal tensions, spreading violence and deteriorating humanitarian situation as well as highlight the work of UN peacekeepers.

He said at a news conference that since Jan. 1 the number of internally displaced people has almost doubled to 600 000 and the number of refugees who have fled the country has surpassed 500 000. So far this year, 12 peacekeepers have been killed by hostile acts and 12 humanitarian workers have also been killed, “making it one of the world’s most dangerous places for aid workers to serve,” he said.

News24

UN forced to halve rations in Central African Republic

A UN humanitarian official warns that aid workers have had to cut rations in half across Central African Republic because of underfunding.

Najat Rochdi, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Central African Republic, said on Tuesday that operations have been suspended entirely in some remote areas of the southeast because aid could only be delivered there by air and had become too expensive.

Central African Republic has suffered waves of communal violence since late 2013 and officials have said the violence now approaches the bloodshed seen during the peak of the earlier crisis.

News24

 

Sudan

Injured Victims of Somalia Blast Arrive in Sudan

Dozens of people injured by Saturday’s terrorist bombing in Mogadishu – which left at least 267 people dead – have arrived in Khartoum for medical treatment, Sudan’s local health minister told reporters today.

According to Mamoun Humaida, 82 people seriously injured by Saturday’s truck-bombing are now set to receive treatment at different hospitals in Khartoum.

“Two separate batches of injured Somalis have been evacuated [from Mogadishu] to receive urgent medical treatment here,” Humaida said.

News24

Sudan, Central African Republic discuss economic relations

Sudan and the Central African Republic discussed Thursday the development of economic relations within the framework of regional efforts to bring stability in the troubled central African country.

The President of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadera and the Sudanese Vice President Hassabo Abdel Rahman discussed bilateral relationship on the sidelines of the meetings of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) held in Brazzaville the capital of the Republic of Congo.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the state minister for foreign affairs Atta Almannan Bakheit said President Touadera showed their interest to develop the old economic relations with its northeastern neighbour the Sudan and to use the Port Sudan as a seaport for his country.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

South Sudan forces ‘assaulted’ UN commander

South Sudanese forces stopped a UN peacekeeping convoy at gunpoint and beat the unit’s commander in the latest clash with peacekeepers in the war-wracked African country, a report obtained by AFP on Thursday said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council that South Sudan’s defence minister had apologised for the September 21 incident in Juba, the capital.

About 100 officers from South Sudan’s national security service “surrounded the convoy and pointed weapons at the vehicles,” said the confidential report sent to the council on Monday.

News24

 

 

U.N. Peacekeeping Chief Issues Warning on South Sudan

The leader of United Nations’ peacekeeping operations offered a dire appraisal of South Sudan on Tuesday, saying the world’s youngest nation is sliding further into mayhem with no sign that its antagonists want peace.

In a report to the United Nations Security Council, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the under secretary general of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, called upon the leaders of South Sudan’s warring factions to “bring the country back from the impending abyss.”

Mr. Lacroix said that a diplomatic effort by eight African nations to revitalize a 2015 peace agreement in South Sudan had received only a “lukewarm response” from the government of President Salva Kiir, and that Mr. Kiir’s political adversaries also remained cautious about it.

New York Times

Western Sahara

UN envoy meets W Sahara independence leaders in bid to restart talks

The new UN envoy for disputed Western Sahara, Horst Koehler, met leaders of an Algerian-backed independence movement on Wednesday after visiting Morocco in a bid to get stalled peace talks back on track.

Koehler, a former German president tasked by the United Nations in August with mediating the decades-old dispute, sat down with leaders from the pro-independence Polisario Front as he made his first trip to the refugee camps in Algeria where they are based.

The meeting is part of a fresh push by the United Nations to try to resolve one of Africa’s longest-running territorial disputes, which saw the Polisario Front wage a bitter 16-year insurgency against Moroccan control.

News24

Senate challenges House on Western Sahara dispute

A handful of senators are standing up to their House colleagues who want the United States to side with Morocco over the disputed Western Sahara.

The Senate spending panel that oversees US foreign aid has included language in its annual appropriations bill that would require the Donald Trump administration to consult with the United Nations before providing aid to Western Sahara, a contested region administered by Morocco. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the Algerian-backed government in exile that is pushing for a long-delayed independence referendum, welcomed the Senate’s move.

“Since Morocco does not have any legitimacy in the territory, it makes sense that Congress should consult with the United Nations,” Mouloud Said, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’s envoy to the United States, told Al-Monitor. “We are very happy for the language that was adopted by the Senate. This is the logical approach while the country still is not recognized.”

Al-Monitor

Swaziland

Local Election Corruption Claim

A veteran journalist in Swaziland has slammed the organisation of the upcoming municipal elections in the kingdom, suggesting voting will be rigged.

Ackel Zwane, writing his weekly column for the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III the absolute monarch in Swaziland, pointed to ‘rampant corruption’.

Zwane wrote on Friday (13 October 2017), the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) which runs the election had disregarded the Swazi Constitution that requires it to set up appropriate rules and monitor elections in Swaziland.

‘Since their commissioning the EBC has done nothing but recite certain clauses about the voting process instead of creating institutions that will protect citizens from all forms of rigging and make elections truly meaningful and not just a scramble for unearned positions of power.’

AllAfrica

New SA-Swaziland railway line on its way

Plans are well underway for the multimillion-rand Swaziland Railway project, which will link Lothair in Mpumalanga to Sidvokodvo in Swaziland, Transnet says.

The feasibility study report had received a green light from both countries companies and they could now proceed to the next phase of the project.

The search for suitable partners had already begun.

Transnet said the project’s primary objective was to reduce rail- and road-traffic congestion based on a realistic and achievable system capacity, but it would serve also as a back-up to the coal line.

eNCA

 

 

Africa in General

DRC, CAR crises under debate at ‘Great Lakes’ summit

The crises in Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Burundi and South Sudan are expected to come under the microscope at a 12-nation summit in Brazzaville on on Thursday, officials say.

The summit will gather heads of state or government from Angola, Burundi, CAR, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Security officials, military chiefs and foreign ministers held ground-clearing meetings on Sunday and Monday in the Republic of Congo’s capital.

News24

Agreement reached on DRC roadmap – Zuma

SADC chair and South African President Jacob Zuma says an agreement has been reached regarding the roadmap that will lead to the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, no details were made available including a date the elections will be held. President Zuma met the DRC’s President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa who updated him about the electoral process.

The 37th SADC summit called on the DRC to come up with a clear programme regarding the country’s elections.

This, following accusations that it had not gone far enough to ensure that elections were held speedily.

The Southern Times

Somali president vows war on Shabaab after devastating bomb

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed vowed on Wednesday to step up the war against al-Shabaab, as he addressed thousands at a rally in Mogadishu for the victims of the city’s worst-ever bombing.

Protesters wearing red bands around their heads marched through the scene of the truck bombing, a once bustling district, before gathering at a stadium where they chanted: “We are ready to fight”.

Residents of the Somali capital, while wearily accustomed to regular bombs and attacks by the Islamist militants, have been outraged by the strike on Saturday which left at least 276 dead and 300 wounded.

News24

News Briefs 13 October 2017

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo Elections Won’t Be Held Before April 2019

Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo that were due last year won’t be held before April 2019, the electoral commission said, a delay that undermines a pact President Joseph Kabila’s supporter made with his political opponents for him to step down this year.

The commission said in a statement that it will need 504 days to organize the polls once it completes the enrollment of voters. The body says it has finished the registrations in all of Congo except the conflict-ravaged Kasai region, where it began in early September and said it will take three months.

The commission also said it will need almost 17 months to allow for the passing of a new law drawing elected representatives’ constituencies, obtaining voting materials and recruiting personnel.

Bloomberg

President Zuma to undertake working visit to The Democratic Republic of Congo

President Jacob Zuma will visit Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 15 October 2017, in his capacity as chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The President will hold discussions with President Joseph Kabila Kabange on the issues of peace and security in the Great Lakes region, particularly the situation in the DRC.

SADC is committed to assist the Government and the people of the DRC to achieve sustainable peace, security and stability.

CNBC Africa

Somalia

Somalia’s Top Military Chiefs Resign, No Reason Given

Two of Somalia’s highest-ranking military officials have resigned, state outlets said on Thursday, in moves that could deal a blow to the war-torn Horn of Africa country’s efforts to fight Islamist militants.

Somalia has been at war since 1991, when clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

For a decade, the weak UN-backed government has also been fighting alongside African Union troops against Al Shabaab, which aims to topple the government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam.

EWN

How the Gulf crisis is destabilising Somalia

The Saudi Arabia-United Arab Emirates (UAE) decision to break relations with Qatar, and more importantly their insistence for others to follow their lead, has pitted the Federal Government of Somalia (‘Somali government’) against many of its federal member states. This has created a serious challenge for the country’s nascent state-building process. 1

When Saudi Arabia cut ties with Qatar in June this year, it was the third time in three years that the nation (with the UAE close behind) had called on the Horn of Africa to remake its foreign policy in line with Riyadh. In 2015, Saudi Arabia convinced the entire Horn – except Ethiopia – to sign up to its coalition against the Houthi movement in Yemen; a key priority given Iran’s support for the Houthis, who are also Shia Muslims. Then in early 2016 when Saudi Arabia broke relations with Iran, Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia did so as well.

Daily Maverick

Central African Republic

New allegation of sexual abuse surfaces at UN mission in Central African Republic

United Nations Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said Wednesday that the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reported it had received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor that took place in Bambari by UN peacekeepers.

“The alleged victim was immediately referred to our humanitarian partners on the ground for appropriate medical and psychological assistance,” said the Spokesman, adding that the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services has carried out a verification of information inquiry and preserved evidence, which will lead to the matter being referred to the Member State for further investigation and action.

Last month, during a high-level event on the margins of the UN General Assembly’s annual general debate, Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Jane Connors as the first-ever UN Victims’ Right Advocate, who, he said would develop system-wide mechanisms and policies to promote reliable gender- and child-sensitive processes for victims and witnesses to file complaints.

UN News

Home is close, but so far away for Central African Republic refugees

More than 60,000 refugees have crossed the Ubangi and Mboumou rivers in the past five months, fleeing the war-torn Central African Republic.

Sporadic gunfire interrupts their conversations. Further downstream, a dozen canoes with women, men and children cross the river to safety.

Rose Yasambia, 30, stands in the crowd and weeps. “They are setting all the houses on fire,” she says. “Soon they will be at our house.”

Rose and her family crossed from Mobaye, a town just across the river in the Central African Republic (CAR), four months earlier. Armed groups and the fires have destroyed any hope they had of returning home soon.

UNHCR

Sudan

U.S. lifts sanctions on Sudan banks, ports, railways

The U.S. has lifted sanctions on dozens of Sudanese entities, including banks, ports, oil and industrial corporations, the Treasury Department said on Thursday.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control published a list of entities that are now formally removed from the U.S. sanctions list, including African Drilling Company, Bank of Sudan, Sudan Air, Sudan Railways, Petroleum General Administration and African Oil Corporation, among dozens of others.

Thursday’s Treasury Department Action formally marks the end of decades of US-imposed sanctions on the country, though some measures related to the conflict in Darfur will remain in place.

The News Nigeria

First foreign currency comes into Sudan as sanctions end

For the first time in 20 years Sudan started receiving foreign currency inflows, the central bank said on Wednesday, days after the US government lifted decades-old trade sanctions on the northern African country.

A statement by the bank confirmed the receipt of international transfers in US dollars to two Sudanese banks, the first signal of recovery for Sudan’s battered economy.

The decision to suspend sanctions and lift a trade embargo, unfreeze assets and remove financial restrictions came after a US assessment that Sudan had made progress on counter terrorism co-operation and resolving its long internal conflicts such as in Darfur.

Defence Web

South Sudan

South Sudan peace talk process now includes more groups

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will hold talks to find a solution to the South Sudan crisis.

The talks titled “Revitalisation Forum” are a product of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State summit of June 12, 2017, when the regional body agreed to revitalise the South Sudan peace process. Brazille Musumba, IGAD’s communications advisor said the talks come after the IGAD Council of Ministers held its 58th extra-ordinary session under the chairmanship of Workneh Gebeyehu, Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chairperson of the IGAD Council.

The session held in Juba, South Sudan, was also attended by Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and others from the eight-member bloc.

Standard Media

Ex-S. Sudan rebel commander says optimistic on IGAD forum

A former South Sudan rebel commander says he is optimistic that the peace revitalization forum, spearheaded by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will help end the country’s conflict and bring about peace.

General Peter Gatdet made these remarks on Monday after meeting the revitalization forum team in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

Gatdet, who broke away from the armed opposition faction led by former First Vice President Riek Machar, urged IGAD to consider all options required to restore peace and stability in the war-torn nation.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Sahrawi leaders willing to cooperate with UN for Western Sahara’s decolonization

Sahrawi Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Salem Ould Salek reaffirmed Wednesday, in Algiers, the “sincere” willingness of the Sahrawi leaders to cooperate with the United Nations (UN) and its mission in Western Sahara for the decolonization of the occupied Sahrawi territories, on the basis of the agreement of 1991, welcoming the expected visit to Western Sahara of the personal envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for Western Sahara Horst Kohler.

The Sahrawi government and its leaders of the Polisario Front reaffirmed “their sincere willingness” to cooperate with the United Nations and its mission to Western Sahara for the decolonization of the occupied Sahrawi territories, on the basis of the agreement concluded in 1991 between Morocco and Western Sahara, under the aegis of the United Nations and the African Union (AU), which stipulates that the Sahrawi people are able to decide about their future through a democratic, free and regular referendum in accordance with the charters and resolutions of the two organizations, he said in a press conference.

Sahara Press Service

US Congress demands implementation of UN Security Council resolution on Western Sahara

The US Congress, through the Committee on Appropriations, has called on the United States Permanent Mission to the United Nations to work hard to accelerate the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2351 of 28 April 2017 on the issue of Western Sahara, according the Polisario Front representation in the US.

The source added that the US Congress, during its discussion of the Sahrawi issue, stressed that the support allocated under article 3 of this law, would be available to assist the people of Western Sahara after consultation and coordination among the Committees of Appropriations and representatives of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Sahara Press Service

 

Swaziland

HIV prevention efforts must reach vulnerable girls and young women

More than one in five adults in Swaziland are HIV-positive, according to the most recent data, and the rates are highest among women. Despite these dangers, young people – and young women in particular – often lack the information and services they need to keep themselves safe.

Takhona, 17, says that, until recently, she did not know anything about HIV or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

“I believed, before, that having sex, you just enjoy. Nothing can happen. I didn’t know about pregnancy and HIV and STIs,” she said.

Takhona is from Shiselweni, one of the poorest regions in Swaziland. “Sometimes I had no uniform or other school supplies,” she said.

Relief Web

UPDATE: Locals charged with terrorism in Swaziland

Three Lowvelders who were charged with poaching and terrorism in Swaziland last month will apply for bail in the country’s High Court tomorrow.

In Swaziland, the Suppression of Terrorism Act acknowledges poaching as an act of terrorism.

Sources confirmed that the accused are two Swaziland citizens, Muzi Dlamini and Sipho Mhlanga, Lowvelders, Isaac Mkhabela and Stanley Khlakalufu (a police reservist) and a third man whose identity remains unknown because his only form of identification was fake.

A Mozambican accomplice was killed during their arrest on August 11 near the Hlane Royal National Park.

Lowvelder

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Ruling Party Plans Vote to Strengthen Mugabe’s Hand

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF is planning a special vote to give veteran President Robert Mugabe a fresh five-year mandate as party leader, three sources said, strengthening his hand as rivals plot to succeed him.

One member of the party’s politburo told Reuters the 93-year-old president could also use the party election in December to end divisions in its top ranks, raising the prospect of the removal of some of his challengers.

“Comrade Mugabe is the only one centre of power in Zanu-PF and that will be re-affirmed in December,” another politburo member told Reuters.

EWN

Zimbabwe War Veterans Say Grace Mugabe Is Behind New Cabinet

Zimbabwe war veterans say the powerful first lady Grace Mugabe is behind the latest cabinet reshuffle by president Robert Mugabe.

The controversy started when Mugabe fired three ministers this week accusing them of being loyal to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and appointed new ones.

The veterans reassured Grace will be prevented from succeeding the 93-year-old president. They insisted that they wanted one of theirs to take over from Mugabe.

“We want them in the card that’s what I will canvass for. And also if we don’t have good leaders from the war veterans, we are for the people, we will chose from the people”, said Christopher Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe War Veterans Association Chairman.

African News

 

 

Africa in General

Results of Liberia’s election delayed

Liberia’s election results were delayed on Wednesday by hitches at a number of polling stations, with Vice President Joseph Boakai and footballer George Weah seen as the front runners to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The National Elections Commission (NEC) is expected to announce the first official results from the presidential and legislative elections on Thursday.

If no candidate wins 50% of the presidential vote, a run-off between the top two contenders will be held on November 7, an outcome analysts say is a near certainty.

News24

Kenya bans opposition protests prior to election re-run

Kenya’s government on Thursday banned opposition protests in their strongholds in the country’s three biggest cities because of “imminent danger of breach of peace” as the fresh presidential election approaches.

Interior Minister Fred Matiangi said demonstrations are banned in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa.

The right to protest is enshrined in Kenya’s constitution, “but we shall not allow a few people while purportedly exercising their freedoms to infringe on the rights of others,” Matiangi said.

IOL

 

Former Lesotho Defence Force chief Kamoli faces police interrogation

Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli, former commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), accused of overseeing atrocities, including an August 2014 coup, is in police custody.

Spokesperson Inspector Mpiti Mopeli said Kamoli had handed himself in on Wednesday and remains in custody pending the outcome of an interrogation.

Under Kamoli’s leadership, Lesotho lurched from one crisis to another. Assassination of government opponents became routine and at one stage all opposition leaders fled into exile until the collapse of the government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, Kamoli’s main benefactor, earlier this year.

IOL

UN rights chief decries ‘endemic’ abuses after vist to Libya

The UN human rights chief warned on Thursday that serious violations were “endemic” in many detention centres in Libya, but said he was “optimistic” that authorities were intent on improving the situation.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who this week became the first UN rights chief to make an official visit to Libya, welcomed commitments he received from authorities, including Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, and the ministers of Justice and Interior, to address a wide range of abuses.

But he warned that “the human rights situation in Libya continues to be marked by widespread abuses and violations perpetrated by all sides to the conflict with complete impunity”.

News24

 

News Briefs 06 October 2017

Swaziland

Swaziland seeks new markets as EU sugar quota ends

Swaziland is searching for new regional markets for its sugar following the end of a quota system that limited production by European Union countries for the past 50 years, an official said on Wednesday.The EU last month formally scrapped quotas on the production and sale of the commodity by its member states after nearly 50 years.

The quota system meant that total EU production was set at 13.5 million tonnes of sugar, which was divided between 20 member states. Production in excess of the quota is known as “out-of-quota” sugar and strict rules governed its use.

The end of the quotas means that there are no further limits to production or exports, allowing production to adjust to market demand both within and outside the EU.

Journal du Cameroun

Police Block Democracy Meeting

Police stopped a pro-democracy meeting taking place in Swaziland. They said they had not given organisers permission to meet.

It happened on Friday (8 September 2017) during a Global Week of Action for democracy in the kingdom ruled by absolute monarch King Mswati III.

About 100 people reportedly intended to meet at the Mater Dolorosa School (MDS) in the kingdom’s capital, Mbabane. The Observer on Saturday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported that ‘proscribed pro-democracy groups’ led by the Swaziland United Democratic Front tried to meet.

In Swaziland groups advocating for multi-party democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

AllAfrica

Democratic Republic of Congo

Thousands flee to Zambia to escape violence in Democratic Republic of Congo

Several thousand people have fled to Zambia in the past month to escape violence in Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN said on Tuesday.

The UN refugee agency said 3,360 people from Democratic Republic of Congo’s conflict-wracked southeast had entered Zambia since August 30, the largest influx of its kind in the past five years.

People “are escaping inter-ethnic clashes, as well as fighting between Congolese security forces and militia groups,” UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.

Business Day

Ten dead in attack on militia in east DRC

Ten fighters were killed on Thursday when the army launched a pre-dawn attack on a militia in the restive eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo, a military spokesperson said.

The assault targeted a group called the Mai-Mai Mazembe, which had taken up position in Kapanga, a locality in the Lubero district on the border with Uganda, the official said.

“They have been dislodged. We found 10 corpses,” Lieutenant Jules Tshikudi, a spokesperson for the army in North Kivu province, told AFP.

News24

Somalia

Turkey inaugurates military academy in Somalia

Turkey inaugurated on Saturday the largest foreign-run military training centre in Somalia, where local troops are due to take over the protection of a nation threatened by Shabaab Islamist attacks.

Somalia’s fragile government and institutions, including its national army, are backed by the African Union’s 22 000-strong Amisom force and powers like the United States.

But the gradual withdrawal of the Amisom troops is due to start in October 2018 and doubts persist over the readiness of Somali forces to confront the Qaeda-aligned Shabaab.

News24

Somalia police say car bomb blast kills 5

Somalia’s police say a car bomb explosion in the capital has killed at least five people.

Capt Mohamed Hussein said the blast late on Thursday was at a car parked outside a restaurant in Mogadishu’s Hamarweyne district and killed mostly civilians.

The explosion shattered a period of calm in this seaside city which has a large security presence following a series of attacks by the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab, who are linked to al-Qaeda and fighting the Somali government and African Union forces in the country.

News24

Central African Republic

Central African Republic militants are using rape as a weapon of war, rights group says

Armed groups in Central African Republic (CAR) are using rape and sexual slavery as weapons of war, in abuse that may amount to crimes against humanity, a rights group said on Thursday.

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

Both the Seleka and the anti-balaka have sexually assaulted, raped and enslaved civilians as revenge against those believed to be supporting the other side, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

Business Day

64,000 flee new fighting in Central African Republic

A flare-up of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) caused 64,000 more people to flee to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo between May and August, the UN Refugee Agency said on Tuesday.

The violence left many Congolese villages overwhelmed.

Thousands more are also believed to have crossed the border but are in areas that are hard for aid agencies to reach because of difficult terrain or militia groups, Andreas Kirchhof, Spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says.

The UNHCR recently tried to deliver aid to refugees near the border village of Bangassou but the trucks got stuck in mud so staff had to take the supplies through on motorcycles, he said.

Daily Trust

Sudan

Official: US Poised to Lift Sanctions on Sudan

The United States is preparing to lift decades-long economic sanctions against Sudan, citing improvement on human rights and progress on counter-terrorism, a US official said on Thursday.

President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to announce its decision as early as Friday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Shortly before leaving office, former US President Barack Obama temporarily eased penalties that had been in place for two decades against the African nation. In July, the Trump administration postponed for three months a decision on whether to remove the sanctions completely, setting up a 12 October deadline.

EWN

President Meets With His Sudanese Counterpart in Khartoum

The official talks between the Sudanese and Somali sides started here on Wednesday at the Republican Palace, with President Omar Bashir heading the Sudan side and the Somali President Mohamed Abdallah heading his country’s delegation.

The talks centered on issues of mutual concern and the areas of cooperation between the two countries.

President Bashir stressed in his statement at the opening of the official talks that Sudanese Somali people relations are eternal and expressed his keenness to see a secure and stable Somali state and that the Sudan would continue its support for Somalia in all areas and help it rebuild its institutions, in particular, the Somali army, police, security, and intelligence services and contribute to the capacity building particularly in the education fields.

AllAfrica

South Sudan

Ethiopia, Sudan top diplomats and Riek Machar discuss peace in South Sudan

Ethiopian and Sudanese foreign ministers, Workneh Gebeyehu and Ibrahim Ghandour met with the leader of SPLM-IO in South Africa and discussed ways to achieve peace in South Sudan, said a statement released in Khartoum on Thursday.

The meeting with Riek Machar comes within the framework t preparation of the High- Level Revitalization Forum of all parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS).

“The meeting (..) was fruitful and positive, as It was agreed on the importance and urgency of achieving peace in South Sudan,” said a statement released by the Sudanese foreign ministry on Thursday evening.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan to open humanitarian corridor for aid to South Sudan

The Sudanese government has agreed to open humanitarian corridors to deliver food aid to South Sudan, the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation deputy commissioner said.

“I have received a notification from the Humanitarian Affairs Commission in Sudan stating that it has agreed to open a humanitarian corridor for the delivery of food assistance through the World Food Programme to the affected citizens in the country through the port of Aweil city,” the official told Anadolu Agency.

Khartoum’s approval, the official further stated, would facilitate the transfer of about 1,000 tonnes of food aid to areas affected by lack of food, especially those adjacent to the Sudan border, stressing that opening the humanitarian corridor will reduce transport costs, and will contribute to the rapid delivery of this emergency aid.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Security Council to receive briefing on Western Sahara in October

The United Nations Security Council will receive a briefing on Western Sahara in October to discuss the situation in this non-self-governing territory, while the UN intends to relaunch mediation efforts from next month with a view to resuming talks between Polisario Front and Morocco.

The semi-annual briefing is expected to be conducted by the new Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara, Horst Kohler.

The new UN envoy held discussions with the parties to the conflict, Polisario Front and Morocco and met with representatives of neighbouring countries, top officials of the UN as well as with African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security.

Sahara Press Service

British NGO Calls for Minurso Mandate to Include Human Rights Monitoring

British non-governmental organization for solidarity with Western Sahara, “Western Sahara Campaign,” reiterated its call for the mandate of the United Nation Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to be extended to include human rights monitoring in the occupied territories.

The NGO, in a statement, condemned “the brutality of Moroccan occupation authorities against Saharawi citizen because of their participation in peaceful protests, expressing solidarity with the Saharawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik and calling for their immediate and unconditional release.”

It also urged the UN Security Council to assume its duties, making it possible for Western Sahara people to exert their right to self-determination.

AllAfrica

 

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe VP fights back over poisoning ‘lies’

Zimbabwe’s vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday fought back against allegations by his co-deputy that he lied about being poisoned, in a row that displays the growing political in-fighting ahead of next year’s election.

Mnangagwa has been accused by fellow vice president Phelekezela Mphoko of undermining President Robert Mugabe by claiming to have been poisoned during a ruling Zanu-PF rally in August.

“I never said I was poisoned in Gwanda, but that I fell ill,” he said accusing Mphoko of “subjective falsehoods and mischievous perceptions”.

“My commitment to national unity, peace and stability is undoubted and unquestionable,” he added, dismissing Mphoko’s claim that he was attempting to undermine Mugabe’s authority.

News24

Mugabe lost chance to fix Zim financial crisis – Communist Party

The Communist Party of Zimbabwe believes President Robert Mugabe missed an opportunity to solve the cash crunch crippling his country when he met President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria this week for the second session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC).

On Thursday, the party’s secretary general Nqabutho Mabhena said it was disappointing to note that Mugabe did not push to become a member of the Rand Union, a move which analysts believe can heal Harare’s massive cash shortages causing suffering to millions of Zimbabweans, some spending nights at banks just to withdraw money.

“We are disappointed that there was no agreement on Zimbabwe becoming a member of the Rand Union. This in our view, will address the cash crisis in the immediate term, but in the long term, we need to rebuild our industries,” Mabhena told African News Agency (ANA).

IOL

 

 

Africa in General

South Africa, Zimbabwe push for one-stop Beitbridge border post

President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said South Africa and Zimbabwe must implement their 2009 agreement aimed at cutting the massive delays characteristic with the Beitbridge border post by having a one-stop border post at the busy international gateway.

“I wish to underscore the strategic significance of a one-stop border post at the Beitbridge border. This border post is the busiest border post on the continent. Much of our goods and services go through it. We cannot afford to continue to have unnecessary delays at that border,” Zuma said while addressing the second session of the neighbouring countries’ Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Pretoria.

“It is therefore important and urgent that we start in earnest the process of establishing a one-stop border post. Our two countries took a decision to do so as far back as 2009. In this regard, we direct the relevant ministers and officials to move with speed and report progress at the next BNC [to be hosted in Harare next year].”

eNCA

Police teargas Kenyan vote protesters, crowds gather in cities

Police fired teargas at opposition activists in Kenya’s capital as protests mounted in cities on Friday calling for the sacking of election board officials involved in August’s cancelled presidential vote.

Crowds gathered in Nairobi, the western opposition stronghold of Kisumu and the port of Mombasa for the second time this week.

Kenya’s Supreme Court voided the August election citing irregularities without finding any individual at the election board responsible.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who won the vote only to have his victory annulled, has accused the Supreme Court of bringing the country close to “judicial chaos”.

eNCA

News Briefs 29 September 2017

Sudan

Al Bashir extends helping hand to South Sudan

Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir has extended a helping hand to South Sudan saying his government will pull out all the stops to ensure that there is a lasting peace and stability in their neighbouring state.

Al Bashir gave the keynote address at the opening of the Intelligence and Security Services Conference underway in the capital Khartoum.

He says Sudan’s national security will not be complete unless there is stability in South Sudan. Intelligence, security officials and experts from across the continent are trying to find lasting solutions to threats facing Africa.

They have been looking into how they could combat terrorism, human trafficking and other forms of organised crime. The conference was opened by Sudanese President, Omar Al Bashir.

“I would like to affirm through this conference that we will spare no efforts in giving all the assistance possible for our refugees from our neighbouring country South Sudan, despite the absence of the assistance coming from the international community,” says Bashir.

SABC

FM Meets President of International Crisis Group

Foreign Minister, Professor Ibrahim Ghandour met at Sudan UN Mission and on the sideline of the 72nd session of UN General Assembly with President of International Crisis Group, Jean Marie Guéhenno.

The meeting discussed national dialogue initiative, negotiations over the Two Areas and progress of Sudan-US relations.

The meeting also talked the situations in Libya and the South Sudan crisis and the role of Sudan within IGAD efforts to resolve the conflict in addition to Gulf crisis.

AllAfrica

South Sudan

U.S. urges South Sudan to seize last chance to save peace deal

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged South Sudan’s leaders to seize “the last chance” to salvage the 2015 peace agreement and end the worsening violence that has forced 4 million people to flee their homes and left 7.6 million in desperate need of aid.

Haley told the U.N. Security Council that “the people of South Sudan are suffering and the promise of their hard-fought independence is slipping away.”

She said opposing parties in the world’s newest nation must commit themselves to the revitalization process put forward by the eight-nation East African regional group known as IGAD “to resuscitate the peace agreement — and to do so quickly for time is running short.”

The Philadelphia Tribune

 South Sudan’s Kiir, UN envoy differ over regional forces

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and the head of the United Nations Mission in the country (UNMISS) have each differed over the deployment of regional protection forces.

President Kiir on Wednesday directed all the country’s security organs to extend full cooperation to regional protection force, saying initial differences over the airport had finally been resolved.

“There is no dispute. What happened when they [regional force] came has resolved. They wanted to deploy at the airport, but we said that if they have gone to the airport, we will leave them to stay there but we stop cooperation with them. There will be no force coming in and we are not going to give any clearance,” said Kiir.

Sudan Tribune

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN mission deploys ‘blue helmets’ to protect civilians and refugees

Responding to the worsening security situation near a major town in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations mission in the country has deployed peacekeepers to deter any attacks on the city and to prevent escalation in clashes.

According to the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym MONUSCO, clashes had occurred in the area of Uvira, in South Kivu province, between presumed armed groups and the Congolese national army (FARDC).

Noting that the response is guided by the Mission’s mandate, Maman Sidikou, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO, said: “[We are] strongly committed to the protection of civilians, including vulnerable groups such as refugees and displaced people.”

He called on the armed groups to immediately cease this hostility including all forms of violence against constituted authority and innocent civilians.

UN News

Refugees Reaching Zambia Accuse DRC Troops of Killing Civilians

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government forces have been killing civilians in an insurgency-hit region, prompting the latest influx of refugees into northern Zambia, a senior UN official said, citing accounts of asylum seekers.

Zambia fears a looming humanitarian crisis after more than 6,000 refugees fleeing turmoil in the DRC entered its territory in one month.

Pierrine Aylara, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) chief representative in Zambia, told Reuters that the latest asylum seekers had said they were fleeing Congolese government forces.

“It is the government of the DRC that is said to be persecuting its own people by killing, maiming and torching houses, as well as committing rape and looting food stored in granaries,” Aylara said.

EWN

Somalia

Human Rights Improve in Somalia, Big Challenges Remain

A report finds significant improvement is being made in human rights in Somalia, but it notes huge challenges to continued progress, compounded by conflict, drought and poverty, remain to be overcome.

The report, which has been submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, says both natural and man-made factors are to blame for ongoing human rights abuses in Somalia. A major concern is the violation of the right to life. The report says Al-Shabab militants are killing military personnel and civilians through improvised explosives, ambushes, assassinations and other random attacks.

It also blames fighting between clan militias for civilian casualties. And the report notes severe drought conditions in the country are contributing to a dire situation.

Voice of America

Al-Shabab launches deadly attack on army base

Al-Shabab fighters in Somalia attacked a military base outside the capital Mogadishu with car bombs and gunfire on Friday, killing at least eight soldiers before looting the outpost.

“There was heavy fighting this morning,” said Mohamed Haji Ali, a Somali military commander, confirming the attack to local media without providing details of casualties.

Residents said the attack left bodies of government soldiers scattered on the ground while al-Shabab fighters looted the base, stealing vehicles and weapons.

Aljazeera

Central African Republic

The Country Must Combat Impunity to Achieve Peace, President Says

In a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the president of Central African Republic told the 47-member body the road to peace for his embattled country lies in combating impunity and making people accountable for their crimes.

CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera says those who have caused the deaths of more than 4,000 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands since conflict erupted in 2013 must be punished. Fighting started when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital, Bangui. Anti-Balaka militias, mostly Christians, fought back.

Allfrica

Security risks push humanitarians out of Central African Republic, even as need grows

A deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic is threatening to undermine an already frail and underfunded aid response to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Attacks against humanitarian workers and ongoing violence have pushed relief organizations out of key regions, despite 52 percent of the country’s population needing immediate assistance.

Eleven aid workers have lost their lives in CAR since the beginning of 2017, and the International NGO Safety Organisation has recorded 232 instances targeting humanitarians, including attacks on NGO premises and convoys and during assessment missions. Aid workers have also been held temporarily by various armed factions, and in some cases, tortured, Joseph Inganji, head of office for U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in CAR, told Devex

“Instances perpetrated against humanitarians represent 30 percent of the global incidents against humanitarians, which means Central African Republic is the most dangerous place for humanitarians to work,” Inganji told Devex.

Devex

 

Western Sahara

Western Sahara independence emissary refuses to leave Lima airport

An emissary of an independence movement in the Western Sahara has spent two weeks in Lima airport and refuses to leave, after she was denied entry to Peru for alleged political activities on a prior visit, Peru’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Jadiyetu El Mohtar is a Spanish citizen who describes herself as the ambassador to Peru for a disputed area in the Western Sahara known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

Peru is one of a few dozen countries that has recognized the self-declared SADR, which the Polisario independence movement claims is a separate state from Morocco. SADR is not recognized as a state by the United Nations and Peru suspended diplomatic ties with SADR in 1996.

Reuters

Bahrain reiterates support for Morocco dominance in Western Sahara

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa has given his country’s full backing for a final solution to the Western Sahara issue under full Moroccan sovereignty.

Addressing the UN General Assembly convening in New York, Al Khalifa stressed “the need to support the negotiations aimed at achieving a consensual and final political solution to this problem in the context of Moroccan national sovereignty.”

The Bahraini official argued that the final solution should also be based on “relevant Security Council resolutions that confirm the seriousness of Morocco’s self-government initiative” and urged “all parties to fully cooperate with the United Nations in this respect.”

Middle East Monitor

Swaziland

King Misleads UN On Swazi Freedom

Only days after it was learnt that people who criticise King Mswati of Swaziland face two years’ jail, the King misled the UN General Assembly saying that ‘all citizens’ have the opportunity to air their views.

King Mswati was speaking at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday (20 September 2017).

The King who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch in a kingdom where political parties are banned from contesting elections and prodemocracy campaigners are prosecuted under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, said, ‘The kingdom of eSwatini [Swaziland] is committed to peace and a decent life for all. We are also firm believers in the principle of consultative decision-making. This involves a transparent and all-inclusive undertaking that grants every citizen an opportunity to voice their views in order to constructively contribute to the social, economic, cultural and political development of the country.’

AllAfrica

School Children ‘Face Starvation’

Children in Swaziland must ‘brace themselves for starvation’, according to a head teacher as once again the government has failed to deliver food to schools.

This is part of a long-running problem where government has not paid its bills to suppliers.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, reported on Monday (11 September 2017) that as the third school term opened food promised by the government had not been delivered.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe court orders release of activist pastor

A Zimbabwean court on Tuesday ordered the release of an activist pastor and government critic who was detained over a video on social media lamenting the country’s worsening economic crisis.

A Harare magistrate ruled that Evan Mawarire be freed immediately after the prosecution delayed taking him to court.

Elisha Singano said the prosecution “were in breach of the 48 hours mandatory time that an accused person must be brought to court” and ordered the cleric’s release without conditions.

News24

Zimbabwe threatens to crack down on social media

The Zimbabwean government has warned that it will crack down on social media after accusing it of spreading false rumours of shortages and causing panic buying of fuel and other goods, Reuters reported.

Amid a mounting economic crisis, which has included most service stations in Harare running out of fuel since Monday and long queues outside those that are still selling, Harare has placed the blame on social media and said it would take unspecified measures.

“The trigger to the artificial shortages that was created was most unexpected. In fact, it was like a bombshell because there were no shortages in the market”, said Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

IOL

 

 

Africa in General

Kenya’s talks collapse on how to conduct a fresh election

Kenya’s officials say talks have collapsed between the electoral commission, ruling party and opposition on how to conduct fresh presidential elections.

Senator James Orengo, opposition candidate Raila Odinga’s representative, on Thursday said the talks failed because the ruling party has introduced changes in the electoral law and is using its majority in parliament to remove a requirement that results be transmitted electronically, a measure introduced to curb electoral fraud following the 2007 flawed poll.

Kenya’s electoral commission set October 26 to rerun the presidential elections after the Supreme Court nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s August re-election citing irregularities and illegalities in the vote-counting.

News24

Boko Haram: UN warning over school closures in NE Nigeria

Most schools in the state worst-hit by the Boko Haram conflict remain shut, the UN said on Friday, blaming the jihadists for deliberating targeting education.

Unicef, the UN children’s agency, said at least 57% of schools in Borno state were closed as the new academic year began this month, with teacher numbers as well as buildings badly hit by the violence.

More than 2 295 teachers have been killed and 19 000 displaced, while nearly 1 400 schools have been destroyed in eight years of fighting, it added in a statement.

News24

Mugabe expected in SA next week

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is expected in South Africa on Tuesday next week on an official visit, the presidency has said in a statement.

“President Jacob Zuma will on Tuesday, 03 October 2017, host the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency President Robert Mugabe, during his official visit to South Africa to attend the 2nd Session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC) scheduled to take place in Pretoria,” read part of the statement.

The BNC session, which will be co-chaired by both Zuma and Mugabe, will afford an opportunity to review the state of the bilateral relationship between the two neighbouring countries.

News24

 

News Briefs 22 September 2017

Somalia

Over 50 killed, thousands displaced in Somalia clashes

Dozens have been killed, and over 55 000 ethnic Oromos have fled from Ethiopia’s Somali region, after a week of clashes between Oromos and Somalis.

AP reported on Monday that Oromia’s regional government released a statement on Sunday detailing these developments following claims by Somali regional officials earlier this week that more than 50 people were killed in an attack against ethnic Somalis in the town of Aweday.

Some of the refugees have found safety in makeshift camps at a stadium in the city of Harar in the east, while others are camping out at police stations as aid agencies move in to provide humanitarian assistance.

IOL

Somalia: Cabinet Meeting Focuses on Country’s Neutral Stance Gulf Crises

Today, the council of ministers of the Federal Government of Somalia re-iterated Somalia’s decision in June 2017 towards the crisis in some of the Gulf States.

Somalia takes neutral approach with a view to solve the crisis in some of the Golf States through diplomacy and brotherly-hood manner.

The Federal Government of Somalia has successfully implemented an excellent working relationship with Federal member states that are part of the Federal Government of Somalia.

AllAfrica

Democratic Republic of Congo

Dozens of Burundian refugees killed in DR Congo

Soldiers shot dead 36 Burundian refugees in clashes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said Saturday, prompting shock, outrage and a demand for answers from the United Nations.

A Burundian refugee said that more than 30 had been killed and at least 100 wounded in the violence in Kamanyola, in the eastern province of South Kivu, on Friday.

Maman Sidikou, the head of MONUSCO, the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the country, said in a statement Saturday that at least 36 refugees had been reported killed.

He also stressed that defence and security forces could resort to force “only as a last resort” and in accordance with international norms, and urged “the authorities to promptly open criminal investigations”.

The Citizen

US, EU slam DR Congo army for using ‘excessive force’

The United States and European Union on Wednesday urged Congolese security forces to refrain from using “excessive force” after soldiers fired on Burundian refugees last week, killing over 30.

“The US government is dismayed by the violence and death of more than 30 Burundian nationals and a Congolese soldier in Kamanyola, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“We urge the security forces of the DRC to refrain from using excessive force”.

According to MONUSCO, the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the country, at least 36 refugees in Kamanyola, in the eastern province of South Kivu, were killed during violent clashes on Friday. A Congolese soldier also died.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende claimed on Saturday that many of those killed were members of an “armed group”.

The Citizen

 

Central African Republic

UN seeks more peacekeepers for Central African Republic

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic is requesting about 750 more troops to help fill a “security vacuum” worsened by the withdrawal of US special forces as violence surges again, according to a confidential cable obtained by The Associated Press.

The additional troops are needed in the southeast after the withdrawal this year of U.S. and Ugandan troops hunting the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, according to the message from mission head Parfait Onanga-Anyanga to the UN’s head of peacekeeping operations in New York.

Hundreds of people have been killed since May and more than half a million people have been displaced as largely sectarian violence moves into parts of Central African Republic that were spared the worst of the fighting that began in 2013. International observers warn that the country is approaching the levels of violence seen at the height of the conflict in 2014.

News24

UN mishandling Central African Republic abuse claims

A watchdog group is condemning the way sexual abuse allegations are being handled by the United Nations in Central African Republic.

The Code Blue campaign says it has obtained leaked case files that show “egregious mishandling” of misconduct allegations. It says in eight of the 14 cases it examined, fact-finders failed to even interview the alleged victims.

The campaign says in some cases investigators did not begin their work until at least a month after the reported abuse.

News24

Sudan

Sudan’s Al-Bashir collects arms in Darfur

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday pressed on with a government campaign to collect arms from tribes in war-torn Darfur where a devastating conflict has killed thousands and displaced millions.

Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes related to the conflict in Darfur, is touring the region ahead of a US decision on October 12 on whether to permanently lift a decades-old trade embargo on Sudan.

“We are asking people to surrender their arms voluntarily. Some are giving up their weapons but others are keeping them,” Bashir said at a rally in West Darfur.

“Very soon we will come and take away these arms that are not surrendered.”

eNCA

Sudan’s Bashir reiterates pledges to develop Darfur region

In a speech delivered in South Darfur state, Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir Thursday reiterated his pledges to implement development and services projects in the region which has suffered from war since 2003.

To show that his government has restored its authority in the western Sudan region, al-Bashir’s tour takes place weeks before a U.S. decision on the permanent lift of sanctions on the country.

Speaking to the crowd in Gereida which hosts a big IDPs camp in South Darfur, al-Bashir recalled his electoral pledges and said that his government is ready to implement the development projects he mentioned in his programme.

“We are not merchants of votes and we are not lying to people like political forces that come to get votes in the elections and do not implement their programme after winning,” he said.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

South Sudan civilians pay police for protection

Residents of South Sudan’s capital say they are collecting cash to pay police unofficially to patrol their neighbourhoods, amid a crime wave and a cash crunch that means authorities often cannot pay their wages.

Robbers killed more than 60 people last month in Juba, twice as many as in July, according to the Community Empowerment of Progress Organisation, a civil society organisation in Juba that tallies violent incidents.

In one incident this month, around 50 gunmen in army uniforms attacked homes. Armed residents repulsed them and there were no known casualties, the organisation said. It was unclear whether the attackers were members of the security forces.

IOL

$670 needed for South Sudan refugees in Uganda: UN

More than $670 is urgently need if Uganda is to properly addresses the plights of more than one million South Sudanese refugees currently living in the country, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said.

Out of the 1.3 million refugees in Uganda, only 834 have been medically screened, leaving hundreds in dire need of medical attention, a response matrix on South Sudan released by UNHCR on Tuesday showed.

“61% of population [of refugees] are children under 18,” says the report.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

New UN Envoy Horst Köhler to Make Official Visit to Morocco

Horst Köhler, the new Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Western Sahara, has announced his intention to visit Morocco, after conducting a series of meetings with stakeholders on the issue, according to a statement released September 17 by the UN.

Köhler, who officially took up his position on September 8 in New York, held several meetings and consultations this past Saturday, according to the UN’s press release.

“Köhler met with the Secretary-General [Antonio Guterres] and senior United Nations officials, representatives of the parties and neighbors, Member States and the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security,” said the statement.

Guterres “welcomed the intention of his Personal Envoy to travel to the region,” explained the communique, and “he stressed the importance of the visit to help re-launch the political process in a new spirit and dynamic, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2351 (2017).”

Morocco World News

A Saharawi Delegation Takes Part At UNGA 72nd Session

A Saharawi delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mohamed Salem Ould-Salek, arrived in New York on the occasion of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

The Minister has held meetings with a large number of heads of delegation from countries participating in this session of the General Assembly, mainly in Africa, Europe and Latin America.

The Minister and the delegation accompanying him will hold meetings with other delegations in preparation for the discussions on Decolonization that will take place early next month in the framework of the agenda of the Fourth Committee.

AllAfrica

Swaziland

New bride, his 14th, for Swazi King Mswati the Third

After weeks of speculation, Swaziland’s King Mswati the Third has officially unveiled a new bride: Siphelele Mashwama (19), daughter of a Swaziland Cabinet minister, Jabulile Mashwama.

The news was confirmed by royal festivities overseer Hlangabeza Mdluli.

The new bride is in currently in New York in the United States, where the king (49) is attending the United Nations general assembly.

City Press

Swazi Textile Workers Exploited

A trade union drive is underway in Swaziland to recruit workers in the kingdom’s notorious textile industry.

The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) has visited several factories across the kingdom.

ATUSWA’s Bongani Ndzinisa told local media that workers in the textile industry had been neglected. The Swazi Observer reported (11 September 2017), ‘He disclosed that the union had already conducted an assessment which indicated that the workers were faced with numerous challenges which affected their livelihood.

‘Ndzinisa said they were in the process of encouraging workers to join the union, after which they will be writing to the various factories to demand recognition.’

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe financial crisis deepens, inflation ‘on the march again’

Zimbabwe’s fiscus, unable to meet significant foreign debts, nor provide cash for some crucial imports, was sinking fast this week as the black market rate for US dollars and other hard currencies such as the South African Rand, were roaring ahead invoking unhappy memories of 2007/8 when the economy shut down and a trillion Zimbabwe dollar note would not buy a loaf of bread.

The majority of transactions are now electronic with the value of price marked goods significantly higher in real terms then if the purchase was made in US dollars, South African Rands, or even the locally printed currency known as Bond Notes which were introduced into the economy by the Reserve Bank a year ago and cannot be used outside Zimbabwe.

Bond Notes, supposedly backed as a loan from the Cairo-based Afreximbank, and which are supposed to have the same value as US dollar notes which this week with a sudden escalation of the black market rate are about 35 – 40 percent lower in real value when they are available.

IOL

Zimbabwe’s shady police roadblocks reflect its failing governance

In Harare, it is sometimes said, nothing is what it appears to be. This is certainly the case with the city’s omnipresent police roadblocks, which give the impression of efficient police maintaining order on the roads.

The roadblocks are in fact little more than an officially authorised shakedown of the public and a means by which Zimbabwe’s broke government seeks to fund a massively under-resourced police force. Numerous violations of the country’s laws occur in the process, and the roadblock dynamics neatly encapsulate, at a micro level, many aspects of Zimbabwe’s broader mis-governance.

The source of the problem is a decision to allow the police to retain the fines they collect. This creates an incentive for the over-regulation of traffic and inducement to find as many motorists as possible guilty of traffic offences, real or imagined.

Defence Web

 

 

 

Africa in General

Mugabe Calls on Trump to Trumpet Peace, Dislikes Return of ‘Biblical Giant Goliath’

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe took the stage at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and used part of his time to preach peace to U.S. President Donald Trump, urging him to be a trumpet for peace, not damnation.

“May I say to the United States President, Mr. [Donald] Trump, please blow your trumpet. Blow your trumpet in a musical way towards the values of unity, peace, cooperation, togetherness, dialogue, which we have always stood for and which are well written in our very sacred document and charter of the United Nations,” said President Mugabe.

He added that the values of peace and unity is what the U.S. should guide the world with, “and not by the promise of our damnation,” which President Mugabe said the world would resist.

Voice of America

Sudan, South Sudan Sign Deal to Boost Oil Output

Sudan and South Sudan have signed a deal to open direct trade along the border and increase production in the oil fields in South Sudan that are currently not functioning, in an agreement that will serve as an economic lifeline to both countries.

Both Sudan and South Sudan desperately need the oil and revenues, so the agreement would likely work, analysts told Al Jazeera.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but it has been a bloody road to establishing a stable government whose budget is dependent almost entirely on oil. In December 2013, civil war broke out when President Salva Kiir Mayardit sacked the cabinet and accused Vice President Riek Machar of instigating a failed coup. The civil war ended in 2015—officially—but clashes persist.

Oil Price

Kenya court blames election commission for botched vote

Kenya’s Supreme Court on Wednesday placed the blame for last month’s annulled presidential vote firmly on the country’s election committee, in its full ruling detailing the judges’ decision.

Deputy chief justice Philomena Mwilu described “disturbing, if not startling, revelations” about the conduct of the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and singled it out for ignoring a Supreme Court order to open up its computer servers after opposition allegations of hacking.

“Our order of scrutiny was a golden opportunity for the IEBC to place before the court evidence to debunk the petitioner’s claim,” Mwilu read from the court’s detailed judgement on Wednesday.

News24

 

News Briefs 15 September 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo: Children’s access to education under threat from ongoing violence in Kasai region

A large campaign to get 150,000 primary school-aged children back to the classroom has kicked off in the volatile Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following months of clashes between militias and security forces that have displaced thousands of families and left 850,000 children without access to essential services like education and healthcare.

UNICEF estimates that in the five provinces hit hardest by the crisis – Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental, Sankuru and Lomami – 440,000 children were prevented from finishing the previous school year because of insecurity. Since the start of the crisis, more than 400 schools have been attacked, and the fear of violence means that parents are reluctant to send their children to school.

“It is crucial for children to return to school to restore a sense of normalcy in their lives after months of fear and uncertainty,” said Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, Acting Representative of UNICEF in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Newswire.ca

Civil society coalition in DRC announce dates for elections

Congolese civil society coalition has drawn up its own electoral calendar, urging the electoral authorities to set up

dates in order to get the Democratic Republic of Congo out of the crisis arising from President Joseph Kabila’s stay in power.

According to the timetable presented at a press conference, the presidential election would take place on the 31st of December

with voter registration scheduled for the 1st of October 2017 and an electoral campaign from the 1st of december to the 30th.

African News

Somalia

Somalia in world’s top 10 countries affected by terrorism – Global Terrorism Index

Somalia has been identified as among the world’s top 10 countries affected by terrorism, according to the Global Terrorism Index.

The East-African country has battled with conflict since the overthrow of Major General Muhammad Siad Barre during a civil war 1991.

Terrorist group al-Shabab continues to contribute to conflict and instability in the country.

Every year since 2007, al-Shabab, in its attempt to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, has been responsible for attacks on civilians, the government and its allies.

In 2013, the number of estimated al-Shabab fighters was estimated to vary between 3000 to more than 7000, according to Global Security.

News24

Al-Shabab fighters storm military base in Somalia

The al-Shabab militants rammed the base in Beled Hawa town with an explosives-packed vehicle, and then stormed it on foot, Mohamud Hayd Osman added.

Al-Shabab said it had killed 30 soldiers in the hit-and-run attack.

It has carried out a spate of attacks in Somalia and Kenya since launching an insurgency more than a decade ago.

The African Union has an 18,000-strong force helping the UN-backed Somali government tackle the militants. The militants also blew up the police station and a phone mast, before retreating, Mr Osman added.

BBC

Central African Republic

Central African Republic Risks Return to Major Conflict – UN Report

Deadly ethnic fighting in the Central African Republic could descend into a much larger-scale conflict if nothing is done to disarm combatants and defuse tensions, a UN report said on Friday.

With a fifth of the population displaced since the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted the president in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias, UN peacekeepers are struggling to contain simmering violence.

The UN human rights working group on mercenaries and foreign fighters said it “strongly senses that the possibility of another armed conflict is likely, if foreign armed actors, along with local armed groups, are not effectively dismantled and suppressed.”

EWN

Central African Republic defence minister sacked

Central African Republic president Faustin-Archange Touadera sacked his defense minister on Tuesday evening, according to a state radio broadcast, amid growing violence that threatens to spin the country out of control.

The dismissal of Levy Yakete, who was blacklisted by a United Nations Security Council committee in 2014 for his role in a bloody 2013 civil war, was part of a wider Cabinet reshuffle. The statement did not say if his dismissal was related directly to growing violence.

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

eNCA

Sudan

Rebel leader welcomes tension in Sudan

A power struggle between President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the leader of Sudan’s ruling party marks the beginning of the end of the Islamist regime that took power in a 1989 coup, the main Sudanese rebel faction says.

John Garang, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), said he welcomed the recent events in Khartoum, not because they would bring a change in policy but because they had paralysed the government.

Bashir imposed a three-month state of emergency last Sunday and dissolved parliament in a bid to sideline his former ally Hassan al-Turabi, speaker of parliament and secretary-general of the ruling National Congress Party.

IOL

Sudan extends deadline for southerners

Sudan on Thursday extended a deadline for the return of thousands of South Sudanese to their country until May 20, a government news agency reported.

The Sudan Media Centre said there are up to 15 000 South Sudanese stranded in Sudan’s White Nile State along the border of the two feuding neighbours.

Khartoum’s decision came after the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said this month that it cannot meet an earlier deadline for South Sudanese to leave the north.

IOL

South Sudan

UN hails South Sudan over improved security

The South Sudanese authorities have received rare praise from the UN for an improvement in the security situation in Wau province in South Sudan which has allowed fleeing refugees to return.

“I am pleased to see that the local authorities, the police and national security have worked to improve the security environment,” said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to South Sudan, David Shearer, according to a Thursday press release.

On a visit to the world’s newest country Shearer pointed out that Wau could serve as a role model for other parts of the country where displacement rose so far this year.

IOL

African leaders urged to push for end to S. Sudan war

A senior United States diplomat has urged leader of the various African countries to put pressure on South Sudan’s political leaders to enable them end the ongoing civil war.

“We think there is more our African colleagues can and should be doing at this point, especially in terms of focusing on leadership, that from our point of view is behaving in a way that is very irresponsible,” Reuters quoted Tom Shannon, U.S. under-secretary for political affairs at the State Department while speaking at the sidelines of a U.S-African Partnerships event at the U.S. Institute of Peace on Thursday.

The conflict in South Sudan broke out in December 2013 following political disagreements within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). The civil war has displaced over 2 million people.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

UN shuns Western Sahara rights plea

The United Nations Security Council voted on Tuesday to keep peacekeepers in Western Sahara for six more months, but shunned a plea that Morocco do more to safeguard human rights in the territory after France objected.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council proposed no new substantive steps for resolving Africa’s oldest territorial dispute, instead simply reaffirming the UN body’s support for a solution that would “provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”.

Diplomats said France alone had initially objected to a Danish proposal that the resolution express concern about human rights violations by Morocco in the north-west African territory of 260 000 people

IOL

Moroccan Rep. Calls to Remove Western Sahara from United Nations Decolonization Agenda

Speaking during the Committee’s meeting on Monday during which the question of Western Sahara was examined, Omar Hilale said that the issue should no longer remain on the Committee’s agenda because it goes against the UN’s charter.

The Moroccan representative suggested that the issue of Western Sahara should have ceased to be on the Committee’s agenda since 1988, when the UN Security Council took over in dealing with this question.

Hilale pointed to paragraph 1, article 12 of the UN’s charter. The paragraph says that “While the Security Council is exercising in respect of any dispute or situation the functions assigned to it in the present Charter, the General Assembly shall not make any recommendation with regard to that dispute or situation unless the Security Council so requests.”

Morocco World News

 

Swaziland

Swaziland seeks freelance hangman

The small southern Africa kingdom of Swaziland has resumed its search for a hangman after six churchgoers were sentenced to death this week, according to a press report on Sunday.

High Court Judge Stanley Maphalala on Wednesday sentenced six members of the Red Gown Zionist religious sect to hang, prompting a new search for an executioner by the Swazi authorities, the Sunday World newspaper said.

The six, five men and a woman aged between 26 and 34, were found guilty of butchering a priest from another church and his wife in March 1997, after accusing the couple of bewitching them, the Johannesburg paper said.

IOL

Queen quashes hopes of reform in Swaziland

One of Swaziland’s 11 queens has poured cold water on hopes for democratic reform in sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy, saying King Mswati III would remain fully in charge under a new constitution.

Queen LaMbikiza, in a rare interview with a Swazi newspaper on Thursday, warned Swazis not to expect opposition parties or a change in the status of her husband’s absolute monarchy.

“The draft (constitution) does not allow the existence of political parties. If it was meant to allow political parties, it would have said so expressly,” LaMbikiza told the Swazi Observer newspaper.

Mswati, 36, who frequently makes headlines for his 11 wives and lavish spending, is under increasing domestic and international pressure to introduce democracy in his small country, tucked between South Africa and Mozambique.

IOL

 

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe opposition warns over 2018 polls voter registration

Zimbabwe’s longserving President Robert Mugabe unveiled a new biometric voter registration programme on Thursday ahead of next year’s elections, drawing criticism from opponents who claim the system could be manipulated.

Registration will open nationwide on Monday and continue until January 15 for the polls in which 93-year-old Mugabe will seek to extend his 37-year-long stranglehold on power.

But opposition parties have warned that registration authorities are not ready for the process, creating a risk of errors on the voter roll that could leave the ballot open to rigging.

News24

Mugabe Launches Zimbabwe Biometric Voter Registration Exercise

Zimbabwe on Thursday officially kicked off its election registration process, though no election date has been set.

President Robert Mugabe was among the first to register with the newly acquired Biometric Voter Registration kits or BVR, together with his wife, Grace, and other officials, in full view of the media at his residence.

“On the advice of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, I duly proclaimed today as the first day upon which the biometric voter registration will officially commence.”

This is the first time Zimbabwe is using the BVR kits, provided by a Chinese company Laxton Group Limited. The country is expected to receive a total of 3,000 kits by the end of the year, in preparation for the elections scheduled sometime in 2018.

Voice of America

 

 

Africa in General

Kenyan foreign minister calls for UN, WTO reform

Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, has called on the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other international institutions to reform themselves, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported on Friday.

Mohamed told the Athens Democracy Forum in Greece that if these organisations wanted to operate effectively they had to improve their legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness.

She added that these reforms could help reverse the trend in which international solidarity has been overtaken by national interests, creating a recipe for chaos and conflict.

The importance of international institutions to global peace, order and development was highlighted by Mohamed.

IOL

War vets vow to rid Zanu-PF of Mugabe’s G40

Zimbabwean war veterans fired from the ruling Zanu-PF party have vowed they will campaign against President Robert Mugabe’s preferred successors as long as they were rooted in the G40 faction angling to succeed the 93-year-old leader.

The Christopher Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association made the declaration on Wednesday at a press conference in the capital, saying the G40 faction was anti-development, hence: “These people are not going to see the light of power in Zimbabwe. We declare (it) here, the war veterans.”

G40 is a faction reportedly fronted by defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, said to have the backing of Zanu-PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, First Lady Grace Mugabe, home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, youth, indigenisation and economic empowerment minister Patrick Zhuwao as well as higher and tertiary education minister Jonathan Moyo.

IOL

Lesotho ex-minister slapped with graft charge

Lesotho Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) has slapped former minister of finance ‘Mamphono Khaketla with a corruption charge for the alleged solicitation of M4 million ($302 000) bribe in exchange for a government fleet tender.

According to the anti-corruption body, Khaketla, together with her co-accused, Thabo Napo solicited the bribe from Lebelonyane Fleet Solutions Joint Venture on March 17, 2016.

According to the charge sheet, Khaketla in common purpose with her “friend and/or partner” Napo attempted to solicit a bribe of about M4 million from Lebelonyane in exchange for a government fleet tender, also known as Lesotho fleet-gate which was eventually awarded to South African based Bidvest Bank Limited.

African Independent

Kenya, Ethiopia could overtake Africa’s economic heavy weights in attracting investment

A report released by a global risk consultancy, Control Risks, on Thursday shows that Kenya and Ethiopia might soon outshine Africa’s economic giants, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt in the competition for investment.

The report Africa Risk-Reward Index, developed by Control Risks, was released in Johannesburg.

The report noted that while Nigeria and South Africa have recovered, there are still some risks.

Ethiopia, which is one of the fastest growing countries in the continent, outperformed all African countries in the survey.

African Independent

 

News Briefs 08 September 2017

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo: Government must deliver on pledge to end child mining labour by 2025

In response to the commitment made this week by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to eliminate child labour in the mining sector by 2025, Seema Joshi, head of Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

“This commitment could mark a significant step on the road towards eradicating the scourge of children as young seven working in the mines of the DRC. If delivered, it means future generations of Congolese children won’t spend their childhoods mining materials for our smartphones and electric cars, in dark, dirty and dangerous conditions.

Amnesty International

Democratic Republic of Congo army general profits from illegally mining conflict gold

As gold continues to fuel the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN report says Major General Gabriel Amisi Kumba with a history of serious human rights abuses is illegally running a gold mining operation.

The northeastern corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is home to some of Africa’s richest goldfields. From 1998 to 2003, the mineral helped fuel the deadliest conflict in the history of the continent.

Today, armed groups, from government forces to rebel militia, continue to benefit from illicit trade in gold, finds a new United Nations report.

Deutsche Welle

Somalia

US says airstrike kills 3 al-Shabaab extremists in Somalia

The US military says it has killed three members of the al-Shabaab extremist group with a “precision airstrike” in Somalia.

A statement from the US Africa Command says the airstrike was carried out on Tuesday morning local time in the Bay region, about 75km west of the capital, Mogadishu.

The statement says the strike was carried out in support of Somali army forces and African Union forces that were operating in the area.

News24

Somalia remains volatile, problematic

The commander of Uganda’s contingent deployed under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Brig. Kayanja Muhanga, has said Somalia remains a volatile state with a number of challenges for citizens and the peacekeepers.

In a brief to Simon Mulongo, the newly appointed deputy special representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Muhanga also said lack of air capacity by AMISOM troops, expanded area of operation, poor conditions of infantry fighting vehicle and the poor road network are some of the major challenges that have complicated peacekeeping in Somalia.

New Vision

Central African Republic

Central African Republic: Civilians Facing Atrocities in Basse-Kotto As UN Protection Proves Ineffective

A wave of brutal attacks in the Central African Republic, including the systematic rape and murder of civilians, highlights the urgent need for stronger UN action to protect civilians, Amnesty International said today.

On-the-ground research by the organization in August 2017 also uncovered a horrifying surge in torture, pillage, and forced displacement by a Seleka off-shoot, the Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC).

“Communities living in Basse-Kotto have been left at the mercy of the UPC. Women have been raped, men murdered, villages destroyed, and the region’s UN peacekeeping force has proved ineffective in stemming these abuses,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International

‘People are dying’: violence forces aid workers out of Central African Republic

The lives of thousands of people across Central African Republic are at risk because aid workers are being forced to withdraw from cities and villages due to escalating violence.

Médecins Sans Frontières is among the organisations unable to provide vital healthcare, preventing treatment for malaria during the disease’s high season, with the result that “people are dying for sure”, according to Caroline Ducarme, MSF’s head of mission in the country.

Ducarme said the situation was having a particularly alarming impact on pregnant women. She described how, in the town of Bakouma, women had been denied a safe place to give birth because the health centre was “not functional” and had not received any deliveries since early June.

The Guardian

Sudan

UN hopes donors continue offering aid to Sudan

A UN official on Monday called on donors to provide more assistance to Sudan after the world body received only a fraction of the $804m it needs for humanitarian aid.

Marta Ruedas, the UN resident humanitarian coordinator, told a news conference in Khartoum that only 23% of the humanitarian aid for Sudan in 2017 had been raised.

The United Nations and its aid agencies had so far managed to raise only about $182m, she said.

“We look forward to the continued generosity of donors to ensure that critical needs can be addressed in a timely manner,” Ruedas said at the news conference to mark World Humanitarian Day.

News24

Sudan’s FM, Norwegian envoy discuss South Sudan crisis

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour and the visiting Norway’s Special Envoy to South Sudan and Sudan, Erling Skojonsberg Thursday discussed the ongoing regional efforts to end the four-year crisis in South Sudan.

“The meeting dealt with the issues of peace in South Sudan, especially the role of Sudan through the IGAD gate to bring peace to the (neighbouring country), said a statement released by the foreign ministry spokesperson.

With the USA and UK, the Norway is part of the Troika countries that support the regional efforts to bring peace in South Sudan.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

US sanctions senior South Sudan officials

The United States slapped sanctions on Wednesday against three senior South Sudan officials accused of fomenting and profiting from the four-year civil war in Africa’s youngest country.

Washington was South Sudan’s key foreign sponsor as it won its independence from Sudan in 2011, but US officials have become frustrated by its descent into chaos and infighting.

The latest measures target information minister Michael Makuei, who is in particular accused of having “engaged in or been complicit in” attacks on the UN mission in South Sudan.

News24

As South Sudan plans 2018 elections, UN expresses concern

The United Nations says it is concerned by South Sudan’s announcement to hold elections next year as the country is gripped by civil war.

Haile Menkerios, the U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy to the African Union, says the elections planned for July 2018 risk “deepening and extending” the conflict.

The envoy spoke Friday during a U.N. Security Council visit. He says the election can only be held in a stable environment where “people are not displaced by violence and hunger and in which they are able to express their political views free from intimidation.”

WBAL.com

Western Sahara

United Nations: Need to resolve conflict in Western Sahara

Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Antonio Guterres stressed the need to put an end to the conflict in Western Sahara, expressing his commitment to starting the negotiation process between the two parties of the conflict (the Frente  POLISARIO and Morocco) for a new impetus to reach a political settlement guaranteeing the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination.

In his report on the issue of Western Sahara presented during the 72nd UN General Assembly, Guterres stressed the need to put an end to the conflict in Western Sahara as soon as possible to allow the region to face security threats, economic challenges and human sufferings in a coordinated and human way.

Sahara Press Service

BRICS leaders hail efforts for resolution of Western Sahara conflict

he leaders of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) expressed, during their Summit in China’s Xiamen, their support to Africa’s efforts for the resolution of conflicts in the continent, including in Western Sahara.

“We commend the efforts of African countries, the African Union and sub-regional organizations in addressing regional issues and maintaining regional peace and security (…) We support efforts towards comprehensively resolving the issues in Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Somalia, Central Africa Republic and Western Sahara,” they said Tuesday in their final declaration.

Sahara Press Service

Swaziland

Swaziland church takes lead in fighting human trafficking, violence against women

The Catholic Church in the small African nation of Swaziland has taken a lead role in southern Africa in raising awareness on two important justice issues: gender-based violence and human trafficking. For the second time in two months the church has helped coordinate nationwide awareness marches, and the country’s police commissioner, Isaac Magagula, has publicly thanked the church for its efforts in what he calls “the fight against crime.” Most Swazi adhere to Christianity, but only about 20 percent of the population is Roman Catholic.

On July 1, the Justice and Peace Commission of the nation’s only diocese, in Manzini, organized a march against gender-based violence. Speaking at the march, the interim mayor of the town of Hlatikulu, Maduduza Zwane, described gender-based violence as “one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world, one of the least prosecuted crimes, and one of the greatest threats to lasting peace and development in Swaziland and the entire world.”

Americamagazine.org

Zambia’s Lungu joins King Mswati III at Swaziland’s Reed Dance ceremony

Zambian President Edgar Lungu was the guest of Swaziland’s King Mswati III at the annual Umhlanga or Reed Dance ceremony held on Monday at Ludzidzini Royal palace near the capital Mbabane.

This year’s traditional chastity rite was participated by about 40,000 maidens who sang and danced for the King at the climax of the week-long event.

Edgar Lungu donned traditional Swazi outfit and joined the King and his regiment of Swazi men during the kudlalisela session which is a procession around the dancing arena to appreciate the maidens.

African News

 

 

 

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe businesses warn Mugabe growing deficit could destabilise banks

Zimbabwean business leaders told President Robert Mugabe on Thursday that his government’s expanding fiscal deficit was unsustainable and that financing it through local borrowing could destabilise the banking sector.

At the first such meeting in 10 years, executives from the mining, manufacturing, banking and farming sectors and representatives of foreign airlines told Mugabe and his cabinet ministers they must exercise fiscal discipline.

“The current levels of the fiscal deficit and the mode of financing, against diminished fiscal revenue sources, is measurably unsustainable,” said Charles Msipa, who represented the business leaders at the meeting in Harare.

Money Web

Some white farmers still hope to return to Zimbabwe

Some of the thousands of white Zimbabwean farmers evicted from their land in the early 2000s by President Robert Mugabe’s supporters continue to hold out hopes of one day receiving compensation and returning to the country.

“I know friends who have gone to Zambia, Britain, South Africa and Australia. They’d love to come back to Zimbabwe,” Peter Steyl, President of Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), told Reuters in an interview in Harare. The CFU represents white and black farmers.

Senior figures in Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party acknowledged publicly that white farmers should be compensated for their losses two decades ago, although talks with farmers have yet to produce any major breakthrough. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told parliament in July that Harare had paid $134-million (R1.73-billion) in compensation last year; farmers disputed this.

eNCA

 

 

Africa in General

As US weighs lifting Sudan sanctions, South Sudan a concern

As the United States considers lifting sanctions on Sudan, one of the most sensitive issues is on display in these tense borderlands: weapons. South Sudan’s government accuses its neighbor of supplying arms to rebels fighting its bloody civil war.

On a visit last month, The Associated Press spoke with opposition fighters who recently defected to the South Sudan government side. They described how weapons flow in from Sudan — and how rebels flee there to find safe harbor.

Washington Post

Violence Flares in Zimbabwe as Mugabe Readies Election Bid

Political violence has flared in Zimbabwe as the southern African nation gears up for elections next year that may see a united opposition seek to end President Robert Mugabe’s near four-decade rule.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project recorded attacks on 745 people last month, up from 435 in July. The ruling party, military, police and intelligence services were responsible for 94 percent of the assaults, according to the human-rights group, which is based in the capital, Harare, and has 420 observers in the 10 provinces.

“The nature of the human-rights violations, mainly politically motivated violence, makes disturbing reading,” Jestina Mukoko, the head of the group, said in an interview. The attacks point “to a festering culture of political intolerance that potentially spells trouble for the 2018 elections,” she said.

Bloomberg

Burundi committing crimes against humanity, says report

Crimes against humanity are being committed in Burundi, according to a United Nations commission of inquiry.

Killings, torture, sexual violence, degrading treatment, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests have been taking place since April 2015, according to the report published Monday.

“We were struck by the scale and the brutality of the violations. We also noted a lack of will on the part of the Burundian authorities to fight against impunity and guarantee the independence of the judiciary. As a result, there is a strong likelihood that the perpetrators of these crimes will remain unpunished,” said Fatsah Ouguergouz, president of the commission.

The Philadelphia Tribune

News Briefs 01 September 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC temporarily bans import of key consumer goods

Authorities have banned imports of several popular consumer products in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo for six months to fight smuggling, Trade Minister Jean-Lucien Busa said on Monday.

“We have decided on the temporary restriction of imports in the western part of the country for six months of grey cement, sugar, beer and fizzy drinks in order to put an end to fraud and contraband,” Busa told AFP.

The measure was also aimed at “protecting local industry in a crucial period of growth that risks being undermined by those who practice prices below production costs”, the minister said, stressing that he had not “turned to protectionism”.

News24

SADC sending special envoy to DRC as Zuma assumes chairmanship

The Southern African Development Community will be sending a former head of state to the Democratic Republic of Congo as a special envoy amidst increasing tensions in that country due to overdue elections.

There were still consultations “aimed at finalising this matter”.

President Jacob Zuma, who assumed the SADC chairpersonship at this weekend’s summit, said in his closing address on Sunday that the summit has also urged the DRC’s Independent National Electoral Commission to publicise the revised electoral calendar.

These steps came amidst protests by DRC citizens living in South Africa outside the Department of International Relations headquarters where the summit was held.

News24

Somalia

UN Somalia mission extended

The United Nations Security Council approved the gradual withdrawal of uniformed personnel in Somalia while extending its authorisation of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) until May 31, 2018.

Uniformed personnel will be downsized to a maximum of just over 21,600 by the end of December this year, with an eye towards the gradual handover over of responsibilities to Somali security forces.

Somalia’s fragile central government faces dealing with two decades of conflict, famine and attacks by the al-Shabaab Islamic extremist group.

eNCA

 

 

Outrage as Somalia Transfers Citizen to Ethiopia in Breach Of National Laws

There is outrage in Somalia following the reported transfer of a citizen to neighbouring Ethiopia. The detention and subsequent transfer of Mr. Abdikarin Sheikh Muse of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has been labeled as a breach of national and international laws.

Reports of his transfer to Ethiopia started early this week but was confirmed by ONLF in a statement issued on Thursday. The statement directly accused Somali President Mohammed Abdullahi ‘Farmajo,’ of complicity in the said transfer.

It also listed as accomplices, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, National Security Advisor Gen. Bshir Mohamed Jamac-Goobe and head of the state intelligence agency Abdullahi Mohamed Ali.

Africa News

Central African Republic

US congressional visit urges Central African Republic aid

A US congressman on Thursday called for urgent aid to Central African Republic during a visit to the impoverished country where deadly sectarian violence is surging again.

Hundreds of people have been killed this year and more than 600 000 have been displaced.

Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Associated Press that the international community “has to think about the long-term implications of abandoning our efforts to stabilize this country.”

Cicilline criticized the recent withdrawal of US special operations troops and said it creates a “void” in the country’s southeast. The US military this year ended operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group in the region. The LRA has continued attacks against civilians since then.

News24

For the Central African Republic, there will be no peace without justice

The government of the Central African Republic recently signed a peace deal with 13 rebel groups to bring an end to violence that has plagued the country since 2013.

There has been a series of conferences, summits, agreements and plans for peace in the past five years, yet instability in the republic continues. The most recent agreement, signed in June, was no different. The day after it was signed, there was an upsurge of violence in the country’s eastern provinces.

The Central African Republic is located in the middle of Africa. It shares a border with six other African countries: Chad, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Sudan. It has a population of 4.6 million people.

News24

Sudan

Sudan President Pardons, Frees Rights Activist – Family

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has pardoned and released a prominent human rights activists who had been jailed since last year on spying and other charges, his family said.

The release of Mudawi Ibrahim Adam came after a visit by US President Donald Trump’s aid administrator to Sudan and before an October deadline when the administration will decide whether to permanently lift 20-year-old sanctions.

“He is home after a presidential amnesty and he seems in good health,” his wife Sabah told Reuters late on Tuesday.

International rights groups had often called for the release of Ibrahim Adam, who they said had faced the death penalty on false charges since his arrest in December.

EWN

Defending human rights ‘not a crime’: freed Sudan activist

A leading Sudanese activist who was released after a presidential pardon said Wednesday that defending human rights was “not a crime”, as he vowed to continue fighting against rights abuses.

Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, an engineering professor at the University of Khartoum, told AFP in an interview that it was pressure from global and local human rights groups that finally led to his release on Tuesday after months of detention, during which he was put on trial on charges of spying for foreign embassies.

“Defending human rights is not a crime,” Ibrahim Adam, winner of several international human rights awards, said at his home in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman.

News24

South Sudan

South Sudan’s sacked army chief ‘confined’ to Juba home, minister says

South Sudan’s former army chief is being confined to his home for security reasons, the country’s defense minister said on Thursday.

Paul Malong was sacked in May by President Salva Kiir amid resignations by senior generals alleging military abuses and tribal bias as the country’s ethnically charged civil war ground on.

“He was not arrested, but he [is] confined. There are no charges against him,” Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk told Reuters in an interview.

New York Daily News

South Sudan wants mandate of UN peacekeeping force reviewed

South Sudan on Wednesday demanded review of the mandate of the newly deployed Regional Protection Force (RPF) serving under the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMISS), saying it is not satisfied with their services.

Government Spokesman Michael Makuei said told a news conference that under the current setting, RPF offers little help to South Sudan as there is no further threat of violence in the capital Juba following last year’s clashes between rival forces.

“If they (RPF) have come to assist the people and the government of South Sudan, then we will have to revisit their mandate so that they render better services to the people of South Sudan instead of patrolling, accompanying water tanks to the riverside and moving in the town with guns, which sends negative message to the people,” Makuei said.

Coastal Weekly

Western Sahara

Activist Aminatou Haidar calls for protection of Western Sahara people, self-determination referendum

Saharawi human rights activist Aminatou Haidar called Wednesday, in Algiers, for protection of Western Sahara people and speeding up the organization of a self-determination referendum, to find a definitive solution to the Saharawi conflict.

Haidar, in an interview with APS, said the violations of Saharawi people’s human rights by Moroccan occupation authorities “will continue, at all levels, as long as Western Sahara conflict is not settled.”

“The abuses committed by Moroccan authorities against Western Sahara people include the non-respect of Saharawi people’s right to self-determination and the confiscation of their civil, economic, social and cultural rights.”

Sahara Press Service

Western Sahara people wishes Guetteres efforts be along same lines as Ban ki-moon’s

Saharawi people wishes that the efforts of UN secretary general Antonio Guterres for the settlement of Western Sahara issue be along the same lines as those of his predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, who tried to revive the self-determination process, Saharawi journalist Hamma Mehdi said.

Hamma Mehdi told APS that Ban Ki-moon tried to revive the self-determination process, adding that the efforts of his personal envoy, Christopher Ross, contributed to this move, in spite of Morocco’s attempts to divert UN attention.

Moroccan regime had accused Ban Ki-moon of being partial, which led him to move to the Saharawi territory to see the situation on the ground, Mehdi said, adding that he was the first United Nations chief to speak of an “occupation” in Western Sahara.

Sahara Press Service

Swaziland

SADC Democracy Forum Calls on Various African Presidents to Resign

Members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Democracy Forum, a coalition of civil society organisations, are calling for their respective presidents to resign for various reasons.

They’ve been protesting outside the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) in Pretoria where the SADC summit is being held.

Foreign dignitaries are in Pretoria attending the summit.

Citizens from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are there protesting against their respective heads of state just a kilometer away from the department.

EWN

Swaziland: School Fees Against Constitution

The short-lived era of free primary school education in Swaziland has officially come to an end. The move contravenes the kingdom’s constitution.

 

The Swazi Government has approved a circular allowing the Ministry of Education and Training to charge additional educational fees over and above the Free Primary Education (FPE) grant and Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) grant from government.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom rules by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported on Monday (28 August 2017), ‘The signing and endorsing of the circulars brings to an end the impasse that seems to have existed between the ministry and school administrators.’

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe looks for Mugabe’s successor after a surreal month

Before she landed herself in hot diplomatic water by allegedly attacking a South African model with a power cord, Zimbabwe’s notoriously ill-tempered first lady, Grace Mugabe, joined the clamour for her aged husband Robert to name a successor. Curiously, she also called for a female vice president, stirring up rumours that she’s positioning herself for a presidential bid in 2023, not next year. That may take her name off a growing list of potential successors to one of the world’s oldest presidents.

Mugabe still plans to be his Zanu-PF party’s presidential candidate in 2018, but were he to win and complete a full term her would be 99 years old. A new potential candidate to succeed him is political veteran Sydney Sekeramayi, seemingly endorsed by the Generation 40 group long associated with Grace. As with his rival presidential hopeful Emmerson Mnangagwa, the septugenarian Sekeramayi does not represent a new generation. What both men stand for is the liberation generation’s last chance to redeem itself after Mugabe, before the “born frees” or “young frees” finally get to build a future their elders seem unable to imagine.

News24

‘Excessive Force’ Used to Evict Villagers From ‘Farm Meant for Grace Mugabe’

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has slammed the police for using “excessive force” to evict villagers from a farm reportedly given to First Lady Grace Mugabe.

The commission, which was sworn in by President Robert Mugabe a year ago, carried out a probe into the evictions at Arnold Farm that began in March.

The commission said it had interviewed villagers at the farm, just north of Harare, who “highlighted that those who carried out the demolitions purported to be members of the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) acting on instructions from the First Lady to evict the complainants”.

“The ZRP also used excessive force which resulted in the assault of anyone who wanted to defend their homes from destruction,” the commission said in its investigative report that has just been published.

AllAfrica

 

 

Africa in General

Mswati, Zuma to appoint envoy to DRC

Swaziland’s King Mswati III may have handed over the SADC chairmanship to South African President Jacob Zuma, but he has one important task to do.

The Swazi monarch has been tasked, together with President Zuma, to put together a special envoy to be sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in light of the current political and security situation as violence has escalated in that country.

This was announced at the closing ceremony of the 37th SADC Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and government in Pretoria last weekend.

The Southern Times

Kenya’s Supreme Court orders rerun of disputed presidential election

Kenya’s Supreme Court has invalidated the result last month’s contentious presidential election and ordered a new vote, after a legal challenge by the opposition.

Four out of six judges upheld a petition filed by opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who claimed the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta was fraudulent.

“The presidential election was not conducted in accordance with the constitution, rendering the declared results invalid null and void,” Chief Justice David Maraga said, ordering fresh elections within 60 days.

CNN

Moroccan FA Minister Talks Western Sahara, AU, ECOWAS, and Relations with Algeria and South Africa

In an interview with the French magazine JeuneAfrique, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita discussed key issues related to Morocco’s foreign policy.

From Western Sahara, to the reintegration of the African Union (AU), the bid to join the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS), and the relationships with main Polisario-supporters Algeria and South Africa, Bourita explained Morocco’s positions.

Western Sahara: No More Biased Terminology

With Morocco’s return to the AU, the continental organization turned into an arena between the kingdom and Polisario and its allies.

Backed by its friends, Morocco had in July a first confrontation with the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arabic Democratic Republic (SADR) and its supporters over the terminology used by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the Peace and Security Council (PSC), which referred to Western Sahara as “occupied” and “annexed” territories.

Morocco World News

 

News Briefs – 14 July 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN: Another 38 probable mass graves found in DR Congo

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

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

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

Aljazeera

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

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

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

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

UN News

Somalia

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

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

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

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

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

The Sacramento Bee

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

 

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

Central African Republic

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

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

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

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

UN News

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

Sudan

US delay on sanctions decision leaves Sudanese in limbo

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

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

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

Aljazeera

Sudan party warns extended US sanctions may encourage unrest

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

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

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

News24

South Sudan

Government Forces Approaching Rebel HQ in South Sudan

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

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

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

Voice of America

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

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

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

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

ABC News

Western Sahara

AU concerned about current deadlock regarding occupied Western Sahara conflict

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

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

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

Sahara Press Service

Cargo of Western Sahara phosphate returned

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

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

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

Scoop Independent

 

 

Swaziland

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

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

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

EIN News

S/Africa accuses Swaziland of abuse of human rights

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

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

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

Journal du Cameroun

Zimbabwe

Zim unrest: MDC vehicle torched in wake of protest march

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

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

Beaten with baton sticks

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

News24

Zim opposition parties fear violent 2018 election

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

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

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

The Citizen

 

Africa in General

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

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

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

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

Standard Media

African Ministers recommit to regional peace

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

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

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

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

Defence Web

Zambia ratifies 90-day state of emergency

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

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

News24

 

News Briefs – 7 July 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo is over

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

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

Quartz

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

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

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

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

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

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

ReliefWeb

Somalia

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Reuters

US soon to have permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia

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

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

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

News24

Central African Republic

Truck accident in Central African Republic kills 78

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

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

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

Aljazeera

UNHCR condemns attack on its staff in Central African Republic

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

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

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

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

UNHCR

Sudan

Sudan defends human rights record against US criticism

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

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

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

News24

Sudan called ‘disaster for religious liberty’

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

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

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

Baptist Press

South Sudan

South Sudan war apparently spilling into Uganda

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

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

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

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

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

Defence Web

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

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

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

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

The Guardian

Western Sahara

Morocco says UN to resolve Western Sahara dispute

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

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

Sahara Press Service

 

Swaziland

SADC Must Intervene in Human Rights Abuse in Swaziland: ANC

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

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

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

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

IOL

El Niño Causes Social Disintegration in Swaziland, Study Reveals

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

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

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

Prensa Latin

Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

US News

 

 

Coalition by July 31: Tsvangirai

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

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

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

News Day

 

 

Africa in General

State of Emergency Declared in Zambia

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

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

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

IOL

Kenya Cracks Down on Media Ahead of Elections

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

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

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

IOL

IMF Issues Warning on SA Economy

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

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

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

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

EWN