News Briefs 23 June 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

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

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

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

International Business Times

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

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

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

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

EWN

Somalia

7 dead in suicide blast at police station in Somalia capital

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

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

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

News24

Blackwater founder’s FSG signs security deal with Somali region

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

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

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

Reuters

Central African Republic

CAR stuck between racism and exploitation

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

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

IOL

Spiraling Violence in Central African Republic Isolates Neediest

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

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

Voice of America

Central African Republic foes sign Church-mediated peace accord

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

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

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

Reuters

Sudan

Sudanese scientist battles climate change in Africa

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

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

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

Aljazeera

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

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

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

AllAfrica

South Sudan

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

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

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

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

News24

International community urged to support South Sudan refugees

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

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

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

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

The Citizen

Western Sahara

SA court orders Moroccan ship held over Western Sahara

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

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

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

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

The Citizen

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

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

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

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

Voice of America

Swaziland

SACU summit set for Swaziland

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

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

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

The Southern Times

 Swaziland: Senate Snubs LGBTI Health Report

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

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

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

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe appeals for $10.9m aid for refugees

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

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

NewsDay

 

 

Africa in General

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

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

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

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

UN News

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

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

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

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

EU News

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

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

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

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

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

News24

Angolan VP to be tried for corruption in Portugal

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

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

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

News24

 

News Briefs 02 June 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

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

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

Deal struck

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

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

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

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

ReliefWeb

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

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

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

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

Bloomberg

Somalia

Not enough funds to fight persisting hunger in Somalia: WFP

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

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

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

SABC News

Somalia And Its Backers Seek Security Pact to Beef Up Army

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

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

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

EWN

Central African Republic

Lack of aid funds fuelling C Africa crisis: UN

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

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

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

News24

UN: Renewed Violence Puts CAR Peace Process on Life Support

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

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

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

Voice of America

Sudan

Almost 4,000,000 Sudanese displaced by fighting

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

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

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

Aljazeera

Sudan rejects Egypt official offer on disputed border region

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

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

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

The New Arab

South Sudan

Botched Anti-Measles Campaign Kills 15 Children in South Sudan

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

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

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

US News

South Sudan

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

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

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

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

News24

Western Sahara

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

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

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

Anphoblacht

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

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

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

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

Forbes

Swaziland

Pupils Beaten Unlawfully at School

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

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

 

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

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

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

AllAfrica

‘No Terror Threat in Swaziland’

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to woo the youth vote

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

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

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

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

BBC

Barclays Sells Zimbabwe Bank to Malawi’s First Merchant Bank

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

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

 

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

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

EWN

 

Africa in General

Lesotho election ‘likely to deliver uneasy coalition’

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

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

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

News24

44 migrants, including babies, die in Niger desert

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

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

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

News24

United Nations Security Council must include Africa – Zuma

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

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

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

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

News24

 

News Briefs: 19 May 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

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

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

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

Washington Examiner

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

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

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

NBC News

Somalia

Somalia: Drought doubles influx at children nutrition centres

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

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

ReliefWeb

Blast Kills 3 Bomb Disposal Experts in Somalia’s Capital

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

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

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

US News

Central African Republic

Red Cross Finds 115 Bodies in Central African Republic Town

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

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

A senior UN official had previously reported 26 civilian deaths.

EWN

UN: Firepower escalates in Central African Republic conflict

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

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

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

New York Times

Sudan

Trump to attend Saudi conference alongside Sudanese President wanted for genocide

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

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

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

Independent

Huge influx of South Sudanese refugees puts pressure on Sudan

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

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

Coastal Week

South Sudan

South Sudan president and former army chief “reconciled”

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

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

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

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

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

The Star

Western Sahara

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

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

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

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

Reuters

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

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

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

Sahara Press Service

Swaziland

Swazi Govt. ‘Killing Its Own People’

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

SNPF now worth over E3.2bn

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

It was already worth E300 million by the year 2000.

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

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

Swazi Observer

Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

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

News24

 

 

Africa in General

A decade after debt forgiveness, Africa still hooked on dollars

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

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

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

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

Reuters

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

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

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

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

Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

The Philadelphia Tribune

SA deports at least 300 Malawi illegal immigrants – report

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

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

The other half was expected to have arrived on Wednesday.

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

News24

 

News Briefs: 12 May 2017

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Thousands Flee Congo Conflict, Swelling Villages Over Border in Angola

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

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

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

EWN

Kabila names new Cabinet of more than 50

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

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

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

News24

Somalia

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

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

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

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

Aljazeera

Somalia And Its Backers Sign Security Pact to Beef Up Army

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

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

 

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

EWN

Central African Republic

Latest fighting kills 37 people in Central African Republic

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

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

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

UN News

Sudan

Sudan’s PM reshuffles cabinet, replaces economic ministers

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

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

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

TimesLive

EU announces a new phase in relations with Sudan

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

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

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

Middle East Monitor

South Sudan

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

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

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

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

UN News

Sacked South Sudan army chief quits Juba

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

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

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

DefenceWeb

 

 

Western Sahara

US Renews Support for Autonomy under Morocco’s Sovereignty

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

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

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

North Africa Post

Polisario says ready for Western Sahara talks with Rabat

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

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

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

News24

Swaziland

SADC should not ignore the situation in Swaziland

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

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

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

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

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

Mmegionline

 

Investigate ‘Police Brutality’ – Court

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s ‘odd couple’ seeking to oust Mugabe

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

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

EWN

 

 

 

 

 

Africa in General

African countries need unity to prosper: Zuma

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

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

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

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

Jacaranda FM

Lesotho ready to hold ‘peaceful’ election

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

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

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

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

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

News24

Libya intercepts almost 500 migrants after sea duel

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

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

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

News24

 

News Briefs: 05 May 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo to top global mining sector growth

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

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

Mining Review

Democratic Republic of Congo returns militia leader’s body

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

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

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

The Citizen

Somalia

3 soldiers arrested in shooting death of Somalia minister

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

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

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

News24

Aid worker kidnappings soar in famine-threatened Somalia

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

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

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

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

eNCA

Central African Republic

Dozens of Civilians Killed in Central African Republic – Report

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

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

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

EWN

Aid groups in Central African Republic retreat amid threats

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

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

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

FOX News

Sudan

Rights group urges US to pressure Sudan on rights violations

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

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

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

News24

Western diplomats discuss Sudan political developments with dialogue forces

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

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

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

UN Condemns ‘Callous’ Attack on Base in South Sudan

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

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

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

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

EWN

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

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

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

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

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

The Star.com

Western Sahara

SA detains cargo ship after Western Sahara request

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

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

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

News24

Morocco welcomes UN vote backing Western Sahara talks

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

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

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

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

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

The Nation

Swaziland

Kingdom Faces LGBTI Rights Review

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

 

Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

News24

Zimbabwe ‘not a poor country’: Mugabe

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

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

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

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

News24

 

 

 

Africa in General

Siemens partnerships for African progress

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

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

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

Business Report

Zuma urges African youth to partake in Agenda 2063

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

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

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

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

Business Report

South Africa second in African competitive ranking

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

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

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

TimesLive

 

 

 

 

News Briefs: 21 April 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC returns militia leader’s body; new chief named

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

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

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

News24

UN may ask ICC to probe DRC mass graves

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

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

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

DW

Somalia

General – U.S. Not at War in Somalia

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

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

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

 

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

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

PBS

Central African Republic

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

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

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

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

Relief Web

MSF: Central African Republic Violence Worst In Years

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

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

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

EWN

 

 

 

Sudan

Sudan likens South Sudanese influx to ’emergency’

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

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

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

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

TimesLive

Egypt, Sudan vow not to aid opposition groups

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

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

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

News24

South Sudan

South Sudan conflict could cost billions if fighting continues

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

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

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

eNCA

 

 

South Sudan war strains Uganda’s generous refugee policy

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

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

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

News24

Western Sahara

UN peacekeeping force in Western Sahara must urgently monitor human rights

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

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

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

Amnesty International

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

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

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

Morocco World News

 

 

 

Madagascar

Swaziland govt denies claims that King Mswati has banned divorce

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

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

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

SABC News

Israel thanks Swaziland for not breaking relations

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

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

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

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

Swazi observer

Zimbabwe

Cash Crisis Bites as Zimbabwe Marks 37 Years of Independence

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

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

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

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

EWN

Firms in Zimbabwe innovate to survive

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

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

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

IOL

 

 

Africa in General

Angola steps up security patrols along DRC border

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

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

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

News24

Gambia president’s party takes majority in parliament

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

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

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

News24

 

News Briefs: 03 March 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC Used Excessive Force Against Protesters, UN Office Says

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

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

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

Voice of America

Democratic Republic of Congo snubs calls for massacre video investigation

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

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

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

Japan Times

Somalia

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

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

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

Standard Press

US goes after Islamic terrorists in Somalia

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

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

 

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

News Day

Central African Republic

Un Air Operation Disperses Central African Republic Militia

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

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

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

EWN

Central African Republic Returnees Face Challenges, Insecurity

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

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

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

Voice of America

Sudan

Sudan’s first PM since 1989 coup sworn in

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

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

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

eNCA

South Sudan

UN delivers food to 140.000 starved South Sudanese

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan deputy defence minister denies resignation

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Morocco King Urges UN measures on Western Sahara

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

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

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

EWN

Morocco says to withdraw from Western Sahara tension zone

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

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

 

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

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

News24

Madagascar

Madagascar PM to Receive Mandela Award

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

Swaziland

Terror Act Changes Stall At Senate

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

Swazi Activist Forgotten in Jail

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

News24

 

 

 

Africa in General

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

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

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

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

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

News24

Gambia scraps age limit for presidential candidates

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

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

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

News24

Protesters Vow to Shut Zimbabwe Down

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

AllAfrica.com

We Are Not Targeting African Leaders – ICC

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

 

News Briefs: 13 January 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN peacekeeping chief warns DRC elections could be delayed

The UN peacekeeping chief is warning that elections in Democratic Republic of Congo recently scheduled to be held this year could be pushed back by any delays in establishing voting lists, creating a transitional government, and implementing a December 31 political agreement.

Herve Ladsous also told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that every effort must be made to ensure that all political players, including the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, sign up to the agreement.

It calls for President Joseph Kabila to leave power after the election.

News24

Dozens die in Democratic Republic of Congo as violence spreads amid political instability

Militias in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo killed at least 34 civilians over the weekend, the army and local activists said, the mounting violence stoking concerns over political instability.

Attacks have surged across the country in the past week alongside violent protests over president Joseph Kabila’s failure to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate on Tuesday.

While it is not clear that all the violence is related, analysts fear political instability over Kabila’s tenure is stoking localised conflicts by creating security vacuums.

An ethnic Nande militia killed at least 13 Hutu civilians on Sunday in the eastern town of Nyanzale with guns and machetes in an apparent revenge attack for the deaths of Nande civilians last week, local activist Innocent Gasigwa said.

The Guardian

Somalia

Somalia speaker election narrows field for presidency

Somalia’s newly-installed lawmakers chose a speaker of parliament on Wednesday in a vote that, according to the country’s clan-based politics, rules out at least one leading presidential candidate.

The re-election of former speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari took place at a heavily-guarded police academy in the capital Mogadishu where he won 141 votes from 259 MPs, enough for a first-round victory, according to Osman Elmi Boqore who chaired the session.

Fears that Somalia’s Shabaab insurgents might target the election meant the area close to the voting was on lock-down with many other roads around the city also closed to civilian vehicles.

News24

UN set to launch humanitarian response plan for Somalia

The UN agencies working in Somalia said Thursday they will next week launch the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan which outlines the humanitarian situation and priorities for response throughout the country.

A statement from the UN Office for Coordinating of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the humanitarian situation in Somalia remains among the most complex in the world.

“Worsening drought conditions across the country have left hundreds of thousands of Somalis facing severe food and water shortages,” OCHA said. The Plan will be launched in Mogadishu on Tuesday next week

News Ghana

Central African Republic

Amnesty urges special court for war crimes in CAR

Amnesty International on Wednesday denounced the prevailing impunity in Central African Republic, urging the creation of a Special Criminal Court to try the perpetrators of war crimes committed during the sectarian conflict that started in 2013.

“Individuals suspected of committing war crimes including killing and rape during the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) are evading investigation and arrest, and in some cases live side by side with their victims,” Amnesty said in a statement.

Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International Central Africa Researcher said perpetrators were still free while their victims continued to await justice.

“Thousands of victims of human rights abuses across CAR are still waiting for justice to be served, while individuals who have committed horrific crimes like murder and rape roam free,” she said.

  1. com.tr

UN condemns deadly ambush that leaves one ‘blue helmet’ dead in Central African Republic

The Security Council has strongly condemned the ambush by unknown attackers late last week against a convoy of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in Bokayai, in the northwest part of the country, in which one Bangladeshi peacekeeper was killed.

In a press statement, the members of the Security Council expressed their deepest condolences and sympathy to the bereaved family of the peacekeeper killed, the Government of Bangladesh and MINUSCA, and extended their sympathies to the Government of the Central African Republic (CAR).

Strongly condemning all attacks and provocations against MINUSCA by armed groups – a similar deadly ambush on a convoy in the south-eastern part of the country killed two blue helmets from Morocco and wounded two others just a day before the most recent incident – the Security Council underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and reminded all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law.

UN News

Sudan

United States to Lift Sudan Sanctions

After nearly 20 years of hostile relations, the American government plans to reverse its position on Sudan and lift trade sanctions, Obama administration officials said late Thursday.

Sudan is one of the poorest, most isolated and most violent countries in Africa, and for years the United States has imposed punitive measures against it in a largely unsuccessful attempt to get the Sudanese government to stop killing its own people.

On Friday, the Obama administration will announce a new Sudan strategy. For the first time since the 1990s, the nation will be able to trade extensively with the United States, allowing it to buy goods like tractors and spare parts and attract much-needed investment in its collapsing economy.

New York Times

Minister condemns hatred campaign against Sudanese Christians

Sudanese minister of religious affairs Wednesday condemned hatred campaigns by extremists Islamists groups calling to boycott Christmas celebrations and other Christian events, and reiterated his support to religious coexistence in the east African nation.

During the celebrations of Christmas by the Sudanese Catholic and Coptic Churches, radical Islamists plastered the walls of several churches with flyers calling on Muslim to boycott the celebrations and to not pay visits or to congratulate them.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Minister of (religious) Guidance and Waqf Amar Mirghani Hussein said he had received complaints from Christian religious leaders and clerics about flyers plastered on the wall of their churches, calling on Muslims to boycott their festivals.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

Riek Machar’s wife: My chairman is offering a solution to end South Sudan war

South Sudan’s rebel leader and former vice-president Riek Machar is offering a solution to end the ongoing civil war in the world’s newest nation, his wife has told IBTimes UK. Angelina Teny made the comment during a conference – held at London’s Chatham House 10 January – on prospects of peace in South Sudan.

The African nation gained independence from Sudan in 2011. However, it descended into war in 2013, when President Salva Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, fired his deputy and rebel leader Riek Machar from his cabinet.

International Business Times

South Sudan rejects new peacekeeping troops even as citizens continue to flee

South Sudan has rejected the deployment of a further 4,000 United Nation (UN) peacekeepers, insisting that the situation in the country is improving. The new troops were to have strengthened the 13,500-strong UN team already in place. “The government of South Sudan has the ability to provide security and stability for the country and for its citizens without the deployment of a … protection force,” a spokesperson for the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Despite this confident proclamation, violence in the country continues. Over a million people have fled South Sudan since the civil war broke out in December 2013, mostly travelling to Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya. A further 1.7 million remain internally displaced, while tens of thousands of others have been killed in the conflict.

VICE

Western Sahara

SA backs Western Sahara independence at talks

South African President Jacob Zuma on Friday held talks in Pretoria with the leader of Western Sahara’s Polisario Front independence movement, in a show of support for the territory’s struggle against Morocco.

Brahim Ghali was making his first visit to South Africa — a long-time ally of Western Sahara — since he was elected in July.

Morocco insists the sparsely-populated desert region is an integral part of the kingdom, despite UN resolutions to hold a referendum on self-determination.

“It is unfathomable that Western Sahara… still remains colonised,” Zuma said.

“We remain committed to continue to walk with the people of Western Sahara until you are free to live in your own land and able to determine your own future.”

eNCA

Threat of war emerges again in Western Sahara

As the situation remained unchanged in the Western Sahara for almost 25 years, the turmoil in the Middle East left the region out of the limelight, but recent tensions in the village of Gueguerat are ringing alarm bells of the possibility of a new war in North Africa.

The Polisario – the Sahrawi independence movement – and Morocco have been fighting over the Western Sahara since 1975, when the former colonial powers withdrew from the region without organising a referendum for the Sahrawi people, leaving the issue unresolved to this day.

A UN resolution was passed in 1991 to organise a plebiscite on the basis of choosing an independent Sahrawi state under the leadership of the Polisario or becoming part of Morocco. This option has been blocked by Rabat, however.

Now, more than half of the Sahrawi population live in the Moroccan-occupied territories of Western Sahara, while those who fled during the 16-year guerrilla war live in refugee camps in the southwestern Algerian region of Tindouf.

Middleeasteye.net

Madagascar

President Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar Meets with Wang Yi

 

On January 7, 2017, President Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar met at the Presidential Palace in Antananarivo with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Hery Rajaonarimampianina said that Madagascar and China enjoy time-honored friendship, and the two peoples share family-like closeness. For a long time, China has offered a lot of selfless assistance to Madagascar, and many Chinese enterprises have participated in Madagascar’s domestic construction, making positive contributions to pushing forward Madagascar’s development. As a gateway into Africa, Madagascar faces rare development opportunities. The country welcomes and supports the “Belt and Road” initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping as well as hopes that this initiative will enter Africa through Madagascar. The Madagascan side is ready to actively take part in the “Belt and Road” construction and deepen cooperation with China in agriculture, fishery, tourism and other areas under this framework. The country will continue to staunchly uphold the one-China policy and maintain mutual support with China on issues concerning respective core interests. Regarding China as the most trustworthy cooperation partner, Madagascar is confident in the prospects of bilateral relations. Hery Rajaonarimampianina conveyed his sincere greetings to President Xi Jinping.

MFA China

WHO reports suspected plague outbreak in Madagascar

WHO reported that health officials are currently investigating a suspected outbreak of pneumonic and bubonic plague in the Southeastern region of Madagascar that resulted in 62 illnesses and 26 deaths.

The cases, six of which have been confirmed, occurred in two adjacent districts in two neighboring regions —Befotaka district in Atsimo-Atsinanana Region and Iakora district in Ihorombe Region. These are the first cases to be reported in the area since 1950.

Of the reported cases, five were classified as pneumonic plague and the remaining as bubonic plague. Retrospective investigations revealed that the outbreak may have started in mid-August.

Healio.com

Swaziland

Strike at Swazi King’s SADC University

Workers at the university in Swaziland that King Mswati III has chosen to spearhead his University of Transformation started a strike on Monday (9 January 2016) protesting about short-term contracts.

About 100 workers at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology took to the streets and blocked the university’s main gate.

The strike was led by the Swaziland Union of Non-Academic Staff for Higher Institutions (SUNASHI).

AllAfrica.com

Inflation, World Prices Volatility Push Import Bill to E5.3 Billion

Inflation and world food prices volatility has pushed the country’s import bill up 16 per cent, to edge at E5.3 billion in the second quarter of the preceding year.

A yearly comparison shows a significant 25.3 per cent growth in the import bill.

According to the Central Bank of Swaziland (CBS) Recent Economic Development (RED) report for December 2016, released on Wednesday, the bill depicted both increases in volumes of imported goods and the effects of inflationary increases on world prices.

“In the second quarter, fuel import payments shot up by 16.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter after falling by 21.1 per cent in the previous quarter,” said the report.

Swazi Observer

 

Zimbabwe

Pressure mounts on Zimbabwe

More Zimbabwean companies could close if the government and the business sector failed to come up with measures to address liquidity challenges, cost structure and delayed payments buffeting the economy, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) warned on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has projected economic growth of 1.7 percent for Zimbabwe this year, but business leaders and company executives are sceptical of this growth rate. Last year Zimbabwe’s economic growth rate was a paltry 0.6 percent.

Now the CZI, which represents big manufacturers, is engaging the government to come up with solutions.

“Companies could close and we could end up with a dire situation,” the president of the CZI, Busisa Moyo, said yesterday.

IOL

Opposition Political Parties Squabble Over 2018 Coalition

That a coalition of opposition political parties and movements is seen as a formidable force to end President Robert Mugabe’s prolonged rule appears to be an open secret for many Zimbabweans pinning their hopes on a political solution to halt socio-economic implosion.

But haggling, jostling and inflated egos have impeded progress towards a pact.

The better part of 2016 saw the idea to form a united front to remove Mugabe from power in the 2018 general elections hanging in the balance as opposition parties spent time focussing on serious contestations and jockeying for power before formal negotiations had even begun.

Mugabe’s controversial rule has been characterised by massive company closures, deteriorating public health facilities, increased poverty levels, high unemployment, among other signs of failure. This has given social movements and political parties the impetus to coalesce and challenge his stay in power.

AllAfrica.com

 

News Briefs: 03 February 2017

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo Opposition Leader’s Death Jeopardizes Political Deal

The death of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, puts in jeopardy a political deal aimed at getting President Joseph Kabila to leave office.

Tshisekedi, president of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress and one of the country’s longest-serving political leaders, died Wednesday in a hospital in Brussels, party spokesman Augustin Kabuya said, after struggling with illness for many years. He was 84.

Tshisekedi’s death comes four weeks after opposition parties organized around Tshisekedi agreed in December that Kabila, in power since 2001, would step down after delayed elections this year. Efforts to implement the accord have stalled.

Bloomberg

M23 rebels ‘kidnapped, tortured and killed’ DRC army helicopter crash survivors

Officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s armed forces have said that the two military helicopters that crashed over the weekend had not been attacked by a once-powerful rebel group in the country, but confirmed their active presence on Congolese soil.

The 27 January crash of the military helicopters near Rushuru, a town located in the strife-ridden eastern region of North Kivu province near the borders with Rwanda and Uganda highlighted fears of a potential revival of the M23 rebels, the former largest armed group in the country.

The crash came after 101 former Congolese rebels of the M23, who had fled the disarmament camps where they have lived in Uganda since 2013, tried to return to neighbouring DRC and were stopped by Ugandan authorities earlier this month.

International Business Times

Somalia

UK and EU invest EUR 16.1 million to support Somalia Public Resource Management

The programme will help the Federal Member States establish their core administration, collect revenue and begin to fund the provision of basic services to the people of Somalia.

UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), European Union and senior officials from Federal Government and Federal States of Somalia successfully launched a Public Resource Management in Somalia – PREMIS – programme.

This four year programme will support newly established Federal Member States of Somalia – South West, Galmudug, Jubbaland and Hirshabelle in fulfilling their core state functions – raising revenues, effectively managing public resources and building up their civil service.

ReliefWeb

Somalia On the Brink of Famine, U.N. Warns

The United Nations is warning that Somalia could soon be facing a famine without urgent international action, raising concerns about a repeat of 2011’s famine which killed more than a quarter of a million people.

The country is in a severe drought after two seasons of weak rainfall, the U.N. said in a statement. “In the worst affected areas, inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock, while communities are being forced to sell their assets, and borrow food and money to survive,” the U.N. says.

“If we do not scale up the drought response immediately, it will cost lives, further destroy livelihoods, and could undermine the pursuit of key State-building and peacebuilding initiatives,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq.

npr.org

Central African Republic

UN extends sanctions on Central African Republic

he UN Security Council has extended an arms embargo on the Central African Republic and a travel ban and asset freeze on blacklisted individuals for another year.

The resolution adopted unanimously by the council on Friday added a new provision making sexual violence a criterion for sanctions. It also encouraged member states to require that airlines provide advance passenger information to national authorities to make sure the travel ban is enforced.

France’s UN Ambassador Francois Delattre, whose country drafted the resolution, said extending sanctions is justified because of “the persisting threat of various militias that continue to try to derail the process of stabilization and reconciliation.”

News24

UN fund allocates $6 million to help thousands in violence-hit parts of Central African Republic

The top United Nations relief official today approved an allocation from the Organization’s humanitarian emergency response fund to assist the response to new emergencies triggered by a surge of violence in the Central African Republic’s Kaga Bandoro, Bambari and Bria areas.

The top United Nations relief official today approved an allocation from the organization’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support response to assist the response to new emergencies triggered by a surge of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR)’s Kaga Bandoro, Bambari and Bria areas.

The allocation, amounting to $6 million and allocated by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien today, will enable the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to reach some 36,800 people facing food insecurity due to the crises in the last few months of 2016 that not only led to new displacements but also caused a significant decline in commercial activities in the areas.

UN News

Sudan

Sudan frees British journalist detained in Darfur: embassy

Sudan has freed a British journalist it detained last month for “illegally entering” the country, the British embassy and Sudanese media said on Thursday.

“We are pleased that British journalist Phil Cox has been released after being held in custody in Sudan,” embassy spokesperson Ishtiaq Ghafoor told AFP.

“Our staff in Khartoum and London worked relentlessly to make sure his welfare was protected and his case was handled quickly and fairly.”

Cox was handed over to the British embassy on Wednesday. He was still in Khartoum on Thursday but plans were under way to reunite him with his family in Britain, Ghafoor said.

News24

Sudan summons U.S. envoy over Donald Trump’s travel ban

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday has summoned the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Khartoum Steven Koutsis to protest against the decision by President Donald Trump restricting entry for Sudanese nationals to the United States.

President Trump on Saturday issued an executive order temporarily banning refugees and travellers to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries – Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

In a press release extended to Sudan Tribune Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gharib Allah Khidir said Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdel-Ghani al-Nai’m has expressed to Koutsis his government resentment over the ban against Sudanese nationals.

He described the move as a “negative signal” in light of the recent positive developments in relations between the two countries following the ease of economic sanctions imposed on Sudan and the joint cooperation in the fight against terror.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

Kenya agrees to re-join South Sudan UN force

Kenya has agreed to take part in a UN regional force for South Sudan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday, three months after Nairobi angrily withdrew its troops from the country.

Kenya pulled its peacekeepers from South Sudan and announced it would not contribute to the planned regional force after Guterres’ predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, fired the Kenyan commander of the peacekeeping force.

The commander was sacked following a report that showed UN peacekeepers failed to protect civilians during heavy fighting in Juba in July.

Guterres told reporters that he had “reached full agreement with Kenya in order for Kenya to participate in the regional protection force” to be deployed in Juba.

New Vision

 

 

Human rights activist takes aim at South Sudan’s ‘war economy’

Human rights activist John Prendergast outlined the issues plaguing South Sudan, the world’s newest country, during a talk Thursday night in Rubenstein Library.

After decades of civil war, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. But another civil war broke out in 2013 between the government and opposition forces, largely revolving around economic conditions and natural resources. Prendergast—founding director of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity—discussed how greed and corruption have led to South Sudan’s history of conflict.

“War has been hell for South Sudan’s people, but it’s been extremely lucrative for the country’s leaders, and their international commercial facilitators and enablers,” Prendergast said. “These are South Sudan’s war profiteers.”

The Chronicles

Western Sahara

Western Sahara welcomes Morocco’s African Union membership

Western Sahara has welcomed Morocco’s readmission to the African Union, 32 years after members refused to withdraw support for the territory’s independence.

It was a “good opportunity” and “a chance to work together,” a top Western Sahara official told the BBC. Morocco controls two-thirds of Western Sahara and sees it as part of its historic territory.

However, some, including the UN, see Western Sahara as Africa’s last colony. A referendum was promised in 1991 but never carried out due to wrangling over who was eligible to vote.

Thousands of Sahrawi refugees still live in refugee camps in Algeria – some have been there for 40 years.

BBC

Western Sahara territory, “not free” where democratic liberties are not respected

Western Sahara has been classified as a “non-free” territory where the respect for political and civic rights has declined significantly in 2016, according to a report by the US NGO, Freedom House, issued Tuesday in Washington.

In 2016, the occupied Western Sahara experienced a marked degradation in the respect for democratic freedoms with a score of 4 points out of 100, the world’s worse score after Tibet, according to this report.

The Freedom House Foundation considered Western Sahara as occupied territories, whose final status remains to be determined.

Saharan Press Service

Madagascar

World Bank to alleviate Madagascar power struggle

With only 14% of the population with access to electricity, Madagascar is high on the priority list for the World Bank Group.

Last week, the World Bank Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, confirmed the Bank’s commitment to support Madagascar with $1.3 billion over the next three years, as pledged in Paris last December during the international donors conference.

Diop made this announcement during a courtesy call to the President of the Republic of Madagascar, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, SAT PR News reported.

World Bank to increase power access

Diop said: “The World Bank will work with the government to improve two critical development factors: human development and access to energy.

“This will entail scaling up nutrition for children and expanding electricity access to a greater percentage of the Malagasy population.”

ESI-Africa.com

Madagascar’s new Mining Business Centre to unlock country’s mining potential

The Mining Cadastre Bureau of Madagascar (BCMM) will launch its Mining Business Centre in Antananarivo at the Mining Indaba taking place from 6 to 9 February 2017.

The Mining Business Centre (MBC) is a dedicated hall offering 12 000 m of exhibition space and showcases the full range and depth of Madagascar’s mineral wealth. The MBC further offers mining investors, operators and service providers the opportunity to connect, share and do business together – ultimately unlocking the full potential of Madagascar’s nascent mining industry.

It is expected to be operational in June 2016, and an international fair will be hosted at the MBC in November.

Mining Review

Swaziland

King lands another top African role

His Majesty King Mswati III has been nominated chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA).

He was nominated for Swaziland’s recognised progress against malaria, on track to eliminate by 2022

His Majesty King Mswati III succeeds President of Chad, Idriss DébyItno as Chair of ALMA. The king is also chairman of SADC a position he assumed last year.

The announcement was made at the ALMA Heads of State and government meeting during the 28th African Union Summit yesterday.

Swazi Observer

African leaders recognise King’s leadership skills

African Heads of State have commended and recognised leadership skills displayed by His Majesty King Mswati III.

This has been evident when the Swaziland delegation which represented the country in the African Union (AU) summit, which was held in Ethiopia, returned home with two major honours bestowed on His Majesty.

The heads of state elected the King into the position of deputy chairman of the AU, amongst three other deputies who make a committee known as the AU Bureau.

Swazi Observer

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Pastor Evan Mawarire Arrested and Charged with Subversion

Zimbabwean police have arrested a pastor who led an anti-government social media campaign, prompting criticism from the country’s opposition leader and activists.

Evan Mawarire fled Zimbabwe in July 2016 after being arrested and charged with trying to overthrow the government of President Robert Mugabe. A Zimbabwean court threw out the charges against him, but police said they had further charges to lay against the pastor, who traveled to South Africa and then to the United States, where he has remained since leaving Zimbabwe.

Mawarire was arrested upon arrival at Harare International Airport on Wednesday. He has been charged with “subverting constitutional government” between July and December 2016, the BBC reported on Thursday.

Newsweek

US warns Mugabe on political violence

The United States of America ambassador to Zimbabwe Henry Thomas jr has expressed concern over political violence that have charecterised election processes in the country, and that this is not to be accepted.

Speaking at a party to commemorate the smooth handing over of power from former US president Barack Obama to president Donald Trump held in Harare yesterday, Thomas said his country is aware of President Robert Mugabe’s plans to use violence in the pending elections.

He condemned the use of political violence that was witnessed during the recent by-elections held in Bikita West and added that the same should not be left to continue, as Zimbabwe heads for polls in 2018.

ZW News

 

Africa in General

Uganda rules out military intervention in South Sudan

Imposing an external “trusteeship” government on South Sudan to try to end a three-year ethnic civil war and potential genocide in the world’s youngest nation would only make its security situation worse, Uganda said on Thursday. Patience towards President Salva Kiir’s government in Juba has worn thin as the refugee numbers have grown, fuelling talk in international policy circles – including the opinion pages of the New York Times – that “trusteeship” is a viable solution.

South Sudan military intervention, Uganda military intervention in South Sudan, South Sudan news, South Sundan War, War in South Sunda News, latest news, India news, India news, National news Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem rejected the notion, saying such interference in South Sudan would be opposed even by Kiir’s sworn enemy, Riek Machar, currently under house arrest in South Africa.

The Indian Express

Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat Elected New AU Commission Chair

The African Union has elected Moussa Faki Mahamat from Chad as the new AU commission chairman.

Mahamat replaces South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who was elected to the post in 2012.

It took seven rounds of voting for African heads of state to finally settle on Mahamat as the new AU Commission chairperson.

Earlier, results had not been formally announced, but everyone at the AU headquarters knew the outcome seconds after the came out.

EWN

African Union leaders back mass exodus from International Criminal Court

African leaders have backed a “strategy of collective withdrawal” from the International Criminal Court (ICC), but it came with unspecified reservations, an African Union official said on Wednesday after this week’s African Union summit.

The official did not give details about the strategy or the reservations, but it highlights broad antipathy towards the court among Africans who feel the ICC unfairly targets them.

A document seen by Reuters before the summit proposed a co-ordinated withdrawal unless the ICC was reformed. It included a call for “regionalisation” of international law, a reference to proposals for an African war crimes court.

The Independent

Kenya loses first round in battle with Somalia on maritime border

International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday dismissed Kenya’s opposition to Somalia’s case on maritime boundary. By a majority of 13 judges, the top UN court ruled that it had powers to hear the dispute between the two countries.

Kenya had put up the argument that Somalia had jumped the gun as the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) expressly provided for negotiations as a way of settling the impasse, but the court found that the treaty was not binding to one-method process. “The court observes although the applicant breached the treaty, it does not affect its case. Somalia’s objection does not render its application inadmissible,” said Justice Ronny Abraham. A majority of the judges agreed that the court’s powers on maritime was only limited if the MoU signed provided for an alternative way of settling the dispute.

Standard Media

 

 

News Briefs: 10 February 2017

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

AU, France mourn Tshisekedi, call for action on political deal

The African Union (AU) has expressed sorrow at the death of Etienne Tshisekedi, main opposition chief in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The 84-year-old veteran politician died on Wednesday evening at age 84 in Belgium’s capital Brussels.

The AU extended condolences to the Tshisekedi family, to members of his party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), and to the people and Government of the DRC.

The statement released a day after the death described Tshisekedi as ‘‘towering personality of Congolese politics.”

Africa News

Top UN peacekeeping official pushes for endorsement of DR Congo political accord

Addressing the Security Council, the head of United Nations peacekeeping operations today urged the international community to push for a swift endorsement of the so-called 31 December political accord in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to put in place a transitional government of national unity.

“The signing of the 31 December accord gives hope for a peaceful resolution of the political impasse,” the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, told the 15-member Council.

He warned that failure to sign the agreement – facilitated by Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO) mediators, and reached in DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, on 31 December 2016 – could delay elections and increase the risk of renewed political crisis and increased violence in the country.

UN News

Somalia

Somalia hails a new president with joy – and gunfire

Holding high portraits of the man who pledges to bring the nation together, Somalis in the capital hailed their new president on Thursday, singing in joy while soldiers fired weapons skyward in celebration.

Such scenes are unusual in the city, where security is a constant concern due to attacks from Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militants who control many regions of the country.

After decades of corruption and strife the incoming leader, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, faces a huge task rebuilding a battered state.

News24

New Somalia president offers ray of hope

The build-up to the Somalia presidential elections was anything but peaceful, yet they had to go on as scheduled. Al-Shabaab militias still roam the capital, Mogadishu, despite the presence of peace keepers from the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom).  Al-Shabaab has occasionally ambushed peace keepers, as happened to KDF soldiers at Kulbiyow recently and El Adde a year earlier. Ugandan forces have also suffered casualties.

The determination by Somalia’s neighbours, who bear the brunt of Al Shabaab and the African Union, has been to ensure Somalia must find its footing again after the overthrow of deposed President Siad Barre in 1990 threw the country into pandemonium from which it has been hard to extract itself.

Standard Digital

Central African Republic

Central African Republic Violence Leaves at Least 5 Dead

Militia members stormed a health center in the Central African Republic’s capital seeking to kill the wounded after renewed violence left at least five people dead, including a pastor, authorities said Wednesday.

The fighting centered Tuesday on Bangui’s PK5 neighborhood, long a flashpoint for tensions between Muslim and Christian fighters, even as security has improved in recent months.

More than two dozen wounded were brought to a local health facility, according to Dr. Michel Yao, acting U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the country and the World Health Organization representative.

Voice of America

Senior UN official condemns armed, forceful entry into hospital

Denouncing forceful entry by armed individuals into a hospital in the Central African Republic’s restive PK5 neighbourhood with the intention to kill some of the patients, a senior United Nations humanitarian official has emphasized that such incidents are in violation of the international humanitarian law.

This is the second such incident at the health facility, situated in the capital, Bangui, in the last five days.

“It is unacceptable that armed elements come to a hospital, with arms to kill patients,” stressed Michel Yao, the Acting Humanitarian Coordinator and the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) office in the Central African Republic (CAR), in a news release.

UN News

Sudan

Sudan accuses Egypt of supporting rebels

Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, has accused Egyptian Intelligence of arming and harboring Sudanese rebels and threatened to take Cairo to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) over a border dispute, Al-Arabiya TV network reported.

Khartoum and Cairo have been in a dispute over Halayeb Triangle on the Red Sea coast which Egypt seized in 1990.

“If they [Egyptians] insist there are no negotiations, we will be forced to seek the Security Council track,” Bashir said.

In an interview, the Sudanese leader blasted Iran, asserting that Tehran is trying to “spread Shiite Islam in Sudan.” He also accuses the United States of “handing over” Iraq to Iran by overthrowing Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

South Sudan News Agency

UN independent expert on human rights to visit Sudan today

The United Nations Independent Experts on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, is expected to begin a 10-day visit to the country today.

In a press statement by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Ninonsi’s mission is to assess the efforts undertaken by the Sudanese government to comply with its international human rights obligations.

“I will follow up on the implementation by the Government of the Sudan on its human rights obligations, in light of the recommendations made to the Sudan by all human rights mechanisms, including those contained in my report of September 2016 to the Human Rights Council,” said Nononsi.

Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan

UN Says South Sudan National Dialogue Could Be Undermined by Violence

While the South Sudan government prepares for a national dialogue early next month, one high-ranking United Nations official said the talks could be undermined by the ongoing violence in the country.

Adama Dieng, the U.N. Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus that the Kiir administration should concentrate on creating meaningful dialogue that includes the opposition, as well as a path to justice.

“I should remind President Kiir and his government so to acknowledge that peace is not made among friends, it is made among enemies,” said Dieng, who added that South Sudanese should begin to look at themselves as brothers and sisters.

Voice of America

UNMISS chief visits opposition-controlled areas of S. Sudan

Head of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, visited area controlled by allies of former First Vice President Riek Machar in Unity state to discuss humanitarian and peace processes.

Shearer, returned to Juba on Thursday from a two-day field visit to Bentiu and Leer, which have been most-affected by the country’s ongoing conflict.

In Bentiu, he reportedly met state government officials, as well as internally displaced people who are living in the largest protection of civilians site in the country.

Sudan Tribune

 

Western Sahara

Zambia hopes that Western Sahara borders are respected following Morocco’s accession to AU

The Zambian minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba expressed Wednesday, in Algiers, his country’s wish that the Western Sahara borders are respected and that Morocco “keeps in mind that Western Sahara is a member country of the African Union (AU).”

“I hope that the Western Sahara borders are respected and that Morocco keeps in mind that Western Sahara is a member State of the AU,” Kalaba told the press at the end of his meeting with the Minister of State, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ramtane Lamamra.

He recalled that the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is a member of the AU, underlining that the continental Organization was created not only to promote trading and cooperation between the countries of the continent but also to impose the respect of the sovereignty of the member States and their borders.”

Sahara Press Service

Western Sahara’s Polisario to test EU court ruling on oil shipment

Western Sahara’s Polisario independence movement said it will ask EU and French authorities to seize the cargo of a ship it accused of illegally transporting marine oil from the Moroccan-controlled part of the disputed territory.

The case could break new legal ground in the long-running conflict over the desert region, where Polisario has declared an independent state, but which has been claimed by Morocco as part of its kingdom.

Mhamed Khadad, Polisario’s secretary for foreign affairs, said the oil shipment violated a ruling from the European Court of Justice last month that, for the purposes of two trade deals between the European Union and Morocco, said the territory of the latter did not include Western Sahara.

He said as an “occupying force”, Morocco had no right to issue export licences. The Moroccan foreign ministry declined to make any immediate comment.

Reuters

Madagascar

UNHCR welcomes new law giving men and women equal rights to transfer nationality to children

UNHCR welcomes a recent amendment to the nationality law in Madagascar, which gives men and women equal rights to pass on nationality to children. The new law also helps spouses and children to retain their nationality, if a partner or a parent loses theirs.

The nationality reform is an encouraging and important step in preventing and reducing statelessness. UNHCR will continue our support to the Government of Madagascar, its Parliament and civil society actors to implement the law. In Madagascar, we are also advocating for accession to the 1954 and 1961 statelessness conventions as well as the implementation of these instruments through national law.

In 2014, UNHCR launched the ambitious global #IBelong Campaign to end statelessness by 2024. The #IBelong campaign advocates for the removal of gender discrimination from nationality laws which is a leading cause of statelessness.

UNHCR

Swaziland

250,000 Swazi Still Need Food Aid

At the same time that King Mswati III told his subjects that Swaziland had been saved from the drought because people believed in God, the World Food Program reported 250,000 Swazi people would need assistance with food until at least March 2017.

In a sermon, delivered on 28 January 2017, King Mswati declared the drought over.

The Sunday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported, ‘His Majesty said he was proud because it turned out that Swazis really believed in God as they were now experiencing tremendous amounts of rain.’

Allafrica.com

King Mswati III of Swaziland Congratulates President Akufo-Addo

The King of Swaziland, King Mswati III, has congratulated President Akufo-Addo on his victory in the December 2016 election, and subsequent swearing-in as Ghana’s President.

A special delegation sent by the King to Ghana on Wednesday, February 8, 2017,  to convey the message, assured the President of the co-operation of the King, and the people of Swaziland over the course of the tenure of office of President Akufo-Addo.

It was the hope of King Mswati III that bilateral relations between the two countries will grow to the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.

News Ghana

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe judge orders protest pastor Mawarire be freed on bail

A Zimbabwean judge has ordered that a pastor arrested for organising anti-government protests be freed on bail.

Judge Clement Phiri said on Wednesday that Evan Mawarire should be released on $300 bail, surrender his passport and report twice a week to police.

Mawarire has been detained since Friday at a maximum-security prison in the capital, Harare, on charges of subverting a constitutionally elected government.

He faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

News24

South Africa announces end to special dispensation for Zimbabweans

At least 200 000 Zimbabweans in South Africa face deportation when their special dispensation permits expire on December 31.

They will then have to return home to apply for new permits.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, in a statement on Tuesday, confirmed speculation in the mainstream and social media in recent weeks that Zimbabwe Special Permits holders (ZPS) wishing to extend their stay at the expiry of their permits will do so under the conventional immigration laws.

“Accordingly, we have advised Zimbabwean nationals whose special permits are expiring, to apply for visas we issue under the mainstream immigration legislation, in the event they aspire to stay for any other purpose or period.

Nehandaradio.com

 

Africa in General

Mozambique rival parties commit to peace deal

The government of Mozambique is confident of a breakthrough in the ongoing talks to end renewed terror that has led to thousands fleeing to neighbouring countries.

President Filipe Nyusi is hopeful a deal will be concluded this week with the opposition Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo), whose insurgents have carried out some banditry following a contentious election outcome in 2014.

Renamo claims that Nyusi’s Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) rigged the election.

On Monday Nyusi said the rival parties are inching closer to a solution.

IOL

African countries against AU withdrawal from ICC – HRW

The African Union made headlines this week for purportedly agreeing to mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. The reality is more complex though, argues Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The decision by AU member states after the announced withdrawals by South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia, to adopt the “ICC withdrawal strategy”, and called for member states to consider implementing its recommendations.

“This is based on text we have seen that, while labelled a draft, reflects the final text, sources close to the negotiations said,” HRW reported.

IOL

Gambia to reverse its ICC withdrawal

A European Union official says Gambia’s new president confirms the West African country will re-join the International Criminal Court, after the previous leader began the formal process of withdrawal last year.

The EU commissioner for international co-operation and development, Neven Mimica, announced the development on Thursday on Twitter after meeting new President Adama Barrow. “Excellent news,” Mimica said.

Gambia’s former leader Yahya Jammeh formally notified the UN secretary-general it would withdraw from the ICC. Withdrawal comes a year after notification.

News24