News Briefs 15 March 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN slams DRC failure to prevent December massacre

The UN on Tuesday criticised authorities in southwestern Democratic Republic of Congo for failing to prevent a massacre of hundreds of people last December, despite clear signs of rising tensions.

The attacks could amount to crimes against humanity, the UN human rights office said, as it presented the findings of an investigation into intercommunal violence in four locations in Yumbi territory between December 16 and 18 2018.

“It is crucial to ensure that the perpetrators of these terrible crimes are punished,” UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said.

The UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC deployed investigators after receiving “credible reports” that nearly 900 people had been killed in clashes between the Banunu and Batende communities.

Business Day

DRC President Tshisekedi pardons about 700 political prisoners

Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) new President Felix Tshisekedi on Wednesday pardoned about 700 political prisoners who were jailed under his predecessor.

Tshisekedi signed the decree, fulfilling a promise he made earlier this month to do so during his first 100 days in office.

Among those set for release is Firmin Yangambi, who was sentenced in 2009 to 20 years in prison on charges of being a threat to national security.

Also being freed is Franck Diongo, an opposition figure who was sentenced to five years.

Amnesty International praised Tshisekedi’s move, saying in a statement it was “to be applauded as a crucial first step towards restoration of human rights in the country”.

Aljazeera

Somalia

No agreement reached in Kenya-Somalia border dispute

Despite the intervention of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Kenya and Somalia have failed to settle a maritime border dispute which has spiked diplomatic tensions between them.

Mogadishu will instead wait for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to rule on the dispute as opposed to Nairobi’s demand for an out-of-court settlement and reversion to a map agreeable to both sides, the Business Daily reported.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Ahmed arrived in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Tuesday night for talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta but endeavours to resolve the dispute failed. Kenya released no details of the discussions and nor was a joint communiqué issued.

The maritime border dispute has been simmering for years, negatively impacting relations between the two countries. On February 16 Kenya recalled its ambassador to Somalia and Mogadishu subsequently followed suit by recalling its own ambassador.

IOL

Death toll rises to 18 in Somalia bombing, clashes with militants

The death toll from a powerful car bombing explosion and clashes between security forces and gunmen near a hotel in the Somali capital has risen to 18, police said on Friday. An Islamic extremist group claimed that a Mogadishu hotel was the intended target, but a police officer said militants detonated a bomb while trying to assassinate a judge.

The car bomb went off near the residence of appeals court chief judge Abshir Omar, and security forces stationed outside the judge’s house fought off gunmen who tried to force their way inside, police officer Capt. Mohamed Hussein said.

At least 40 others were injured in the attack, said Hussein. He said the death toll could rise as many of the wounded are still being treated in hospitals.

Shortly after the detonation, at least four gunmen running on foot opened fire at nearby buildings and businesses, sparking clashes with security forces stationed nearby and hotel guards, he said.

News24

Central African Republic

Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcomes of the Central African Republic and Monaco

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of the Central African Republic and Monaco.

Léopold Ismael Samba, Permanent Representative of the Central African Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva, recalled that the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review was taking place at a decisive moment in the history of the Central African Republic.  Out of 207 recommendations, the Government had accepted 178 and taken note of 28.  The accepted recommendations concerned the re-establishment of State authority, the search for peaceful solutions to the conflict, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and the fight against impunity.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers commended the Government of the Central African Republic for its focus on promoting security, peace and national reconciliation.  States encouraged the Government to view all recommendations as guides towards the attainment of human rights.  Speakers also commended the country for putting in place mechanisms for preventing discrimination against women and children and for adopting measures to end the recruitment of children in armed conflicts.  Concern was raised that perpetrators still enjoyed impunity, which further threatened civilians, especially women and girls.  

Speaking were China, Côte D’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Iraq, Madagascar, Philippines, Russian Federation and Senegal.

Africa News

Central African Republic’s Khartoum Agreement: Optimism and challenges

The peace accord dubbed the “Khartoum agreement” is officially titled the “Political Accord for Peace and Reconciliation.” The peace deal was first initialled in Khartoum, Sudan, on Tuesday, 5 February.

Over the weekend, details of the peace accord emerged brightening peace prospects in CAR notwithstanding that this is the eighth agreement since the fighting began in 2013. Analysts say what is different this time is that the deal is the result of lengthy and direct dialogue between the government in CAR and rebel groups. The talks were brokered by the African Union (AU) and supported by the United Nations (UN). Chad, Congo, Gabon, Angola, Cameroon, France, Britain, Russia and the United States are also said to have contributed, in some way, to the peace initiative.

Reporting on some of the key details of the peace agreement, AP notes that these include the dissolution of armed groups, the formation of an inclusive government and the creation of a fund for victims who have suffered in years of conflict.

The Vatican

Sudan

Sudan protesters rally as new cabinet is sworn in

Scores of protesters rallied in the Sudanese capital on Thursday as President Omar al-Bashir swore in a new cabinet to tackle an economic crisis that has triggered months of protests against his rule.

Chanting their movement’s catch-cry “Freedom, peace, justice”, protesters took to the streets in areas of Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, witnesses said. But security forces swiftly confronted them with tear gas, they said.

“How long will you remain silent?” chanted some protesters, urging residents to join the demonstrations.

Bashir on Thursday swore in a new cabinet tasked with tackling the economic crisis, the key factor behind the protests. The new cabinet led by Prime Minister Mohamed Tahir Eila is Sudan’s third government in less than two years, with the previous two sacked by Bashir for failing to revive the economy.

Business Day

Sudanese vow to keep protesting as president digs in

Three months after Sudanese protesters rose up against President Omar al-Bashir, the longtime autocrat has bound himself more tightly to the military and refuses to bow to their demands.

The wily 74-year-old has remained in power through three decades of war and sanctions, the secession of Sudan’s oil-rich south in 2011 and an international arrest warrant for genocide and war crimes linked to the Darfur conflict.

But since December he has faced the biggest protests of his long rule, with political parties and unions demanding his ouster and demonstrators chanting slogans from the 2011 Arab Spring.

A look at where things stand, three months on.

Demonstrators are still taking to the streets nearly every day despite a heavy crackdown by security forces. The largest protests are being held in the capital, Khartoum, and nearby Omdurman, with smaller ones breaking out elsewhere.

News24

South Sudan

South Sudan accord in danger of collapse, think-tank warns

South Sudan’s six-month-old peace deal is doomed to collapse unless the sides can settle a string of disputes and bring former rebels into the army before the formation of a new government in May, a think-tank said on Wednesday.

About 400,000 people have been killed and more than a third of the country’s 12-million people uprooted by the five-year civil war, a conflict punctuated by multiple rounds of mediation followed by renewed bloodshed.

The accord signed in September by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar — the former vice president — has reduced fighting but could break down over several disputes, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report. “The peace agreement is stalling and is at risk of collapse if more political deals aren’t struck,” said Alan Boswell, the group’s South Sudan analyst.

There was no immediate comment from the government or Machar’s supporters.

Business Day

South Sudan’s bid to build a new army is troubled

A fortnight ago, the United Nations envoy to South Sudan, David Shearer, noted that, after five years of civil war and many botched peace deals, fighting in the world’s newest nation has diminished greatly since the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan was signed on September 12 2018.

South Sudan plunged into violence in December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and those loyal to Riek Machar, the former vice-president and a Nuer, fought.

The main protagonists are trying to rebuild trust and develop a security sector reform (SSR) strategy to merge their forces and several other militias into a new South Sudan People’s Defence Force (SSPDF) capable of providing the security that the South Sudanese citizens expect and demand.

The stakes could hardly be higher. The country’s brutal civil war has killed nearly 400 000 people, displaced millions and left seven million — two-thirds of the population — in dire need of humanitarian aid.

Mail& Guardian

Western Sahara

Kohler Submits Invitations for 2nd Roundtable

The personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General, Horst Kohler, has officially addressed invitations to a roundtable to the parties involved in the Western Sahara conflict.

AFP reported that the second roundtable will take place behind closed doors, like the first roundtable, which convened December 5-6 in Geneva.

Diplomats quoted by AFP said that the objective is to deepen the talks that began in December on political and economic dimensions.

While they do not expect a “breakthrough” during the second roundtable, one of the diplomats said that it would be “positive” if the second roundtable would experience the “same context, the same atmosphere, and same spirit.”

None of the parties—Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and Polisario—have confirmed receiving formal invitations from Kohler. But the personal envoy had already announced his intention to invite the parties to a second roundtable during the first roundtable.

Morocco World News

Amnesty Denounces Moroccan Repression Against Sahrawi People

Non-governmental organization Amnesty International denounced on Tuesday the pressure exerted by the authorities of the Moroccan occupation against peaceful demonstrations in the occupied Sahrawi cities.

“The Moroccan Police dispersed violently in June a peaceful demonstration in occupied Aaiun,” during a visit of the Personal Envoy of UN Secretary General for Western Sahara, denounced Amnesty International in its report on “the situation of human rights in the Middle East and North Africa,” published on Tuesday.

Last September, underlined the human rights organization, the police of the Moroccan occupation resorted to an unjustified force against peaceful Sahrawi demonstrators who were against the illegal agreement on fisheries concluded in August by the European Union (EU) and Morocco, affirming, in this regard, that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) gave a ruling in February according to which this agreement shouldn’t be applied to the adjacent waters in occupied Western Sahara.

AllAfrica

Swaziland

eSwatini fights for free political expression

King Mswati III of eSwatini has been criticised for clamping down on critical voices who challenge his authoritarian rule. Many of the activists demanding reform of the anti-democratic parts of the constitution are either in jail and or in exile.

The muzzling of dissidents became more pronounced when the king introduced the Suppression of Terrorism Act in 2008, which meant certain political parties critical of the regime were categorised as terrorist organisations.

These include the People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), the country’s biggest opposition party, along with its youth wing, the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO); the Umbane People’s Liberation Army, also known as People’s Liberation Army, which is a secret militant group allegedly linked to Pudemo; and a vocal South African-based organisation called Swaziland Solidarity Network (SNN), which supports progressive organisations striving for systematic reforms and democracy.

Flanked by South Africa and Mozambique, eSwatini is predominantly a rural country with a population of about 1.3-million people. Its workers are divided into civil servants and those who receive menial wages.

Mail& Guardian

Swaziland Govt Wage Bill Chaos as Auditor General Reveals Error and Fraud

In his budget speech Neal Rijkenberg the Finance Minister of Swaziland / eSwatini stated that public service salaries had risen by 125 percent in the past 10 years and he threatened to cut the kingdom’s wage bill. He said the kingdom could not afford to pay cost of living salary adjustments (CoLA).

Now, the Swaziland Auditor General (AG) Timothy Matsebula in his annual report has revealed that the government has no clear idea how much money it is legitimately paying out in salaries. Matsebula reported in the year ending March 2018 the government overpaid its workers by E6.2 million and a further E1.9 million was paid to ‘ghost employees’ – that is workers who do not exist.

He also said that it was impossible to tell how many ghost workers there were in schools across Swaziland.

The AG reported the overpayments were made across a number of government departments.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Suspends NGO Over January Public Protests

The Zimbabwean government has suspended a non-governmental organization, which allegedly encouraged people to stage public protests early this year over the high cost of living following President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s announcement of fuel prices of up to 150 percent.

Masvingo district administrator Ray Hove suspended with immediate effect Community Tolerance and Reconciliation Development Trust, a youth organization that promotes democracy, development and human rights issues.

Hove stressed that the NGO can no longer carryout activities of any kind in the district “pending investigations on registration and approval of your organization by our office.”

Hove declined to shed light on the circumstances leading to the suspension of NGO when he was asked by VOA Zimbabwe Service to provide details of the allegations being made against the organization.

Voice of America

Zimbabwe miners to pay 80% wage increase

Zimbabwe mining companies – which include units of Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum and Caledonia Mining – are to award a wage increase of just under 80% to mine workers, with the salary for the lowest-paid worker in the industry rising to about 480 RTGS dollars* per month.

At current rates, this amounts to approximately US$192 or R2 800.

Protracted negotiations between the Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe (AMWUZ) and the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines resulted in the salary adjustment for employees in the industry. The cost of living in the country rose dramatically after inflation for January surged to above 50%.

“Following extensive negotiations between the AMWUZ and the Zimbabwe chamber of mines, we managed to cobble out an agreement of 80% wage/salary increase for the mining industry covering the period January to December 2019,” Tinago Ruzive, president of the mine workers’ union, said Thursday.

Fin24

Africa in General

SA to sit in next critical Zimbabwe Treasury meetings

In an unprecedented move, Zimbabwe has agreed to allow SA, to sit in official Ministry of Finance meetings to oversee Harare’s debt clearance strategy tied to the country’s prospects of securing new funding, its reform agenda and economic recovery plan, confidential documents show.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa this week dashed hopes that Pretoria would immediately open its wallet and extend critically-needed financial assistance to cash-strapped Zimbabwe, the Daily News can report.

However, the leader of Africa’s most industrialised country also made it clear that South Africa was ready to help Zimbabwe to revive its sickly economy – although this would be done within Pretoria’s means and after the regional economic giant had fully considered all the available options.

In addition, Ramaphosa bluntly demanded that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his under-pressure government provide a safe and conducive investment climate for South African companies operating in Zimbabwe.

Balawayo24

Malawi’s Joyce Banda quits presidential race

Joyce Banda, who was Malawi’s first female president in 2012, has withdrawn from the 2019 presidential race, endorsing opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera who heads the Malawi Congress Party.

Speaking to AFP, Banda, who heads the People’s Party, confirmed her decision, saying: “Yes, it is true”.

But she declined to comment further ahead of a joint news conference with Chakwera on Saturday.

In a joint statement, the two parties said they had begun talks in 2015, a year after Banda lost the presidency, partly as a result of a huge multimillion-dollar corruption case known as the “Cashgate” scandal.

Banda fled the country into self-imposed exile but returned to Malawi last year, saying the allegations against her were politically motivated. She has never faced any charges.

Africa News

SA, Zim discussing state-guaranteed bank loan

South Africa is considering more loans to Zimbabwe, including state-guaranteed funding from banks to support its northern neighbour’s cash-strapped private sector.

The facility is among a range of options the two nations’ presidents discussed at a bilateral meeting Tuesday in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, Foreign Minister Sibusiso Busi Moyo said.

The talks come almost three months after South Africa rejected Zimbabwe’s request to borrow $1.2 billion.

The leaders agreed to “consider options for expanding the standing facility arrangement between the respective central banks,” Moyo said.

“Other financing options beyond this are also being explored, for example a facility from South African private banks to the Zimbabwe private sector and guaranteed by the South African government with an appropriate counter-guarantee from the Zimbabwe government.”

News24

Sisulu to lead delegation to SADC Council of Ministers meeting in Namibia

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu will lead a South African delegation to Windhoek, Namibia, for a meeting of the SADC Council of Ministers, her office said on Thursday.

The meeting is expected to take place on Friday and Saturday.

The department said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers is responsible for overseeing the functioning and development of the region. The Council also ensures that policies and decisions taken are implemented.

The meeting is expected to deliberate on a number of key issues pertaining to the region and will also consider a number of strategic documents and receive update reports on the progress made since the last meeting, which took place in Windhoek in August last year.

“Key issues to be deliberated upon will include the status of finances of the organisation and the approval of the 2019/20 budget. Furthermore, the Council will also reflect on progress made towards Continental and Regional Integration,” the statement said.

IOL

News Briefs 24 January 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo

Tshisekedi Declared Congo’s President, but Runner-Up Revolts

Congo’s election crisis deepened early Sunday when the Constitutional Court confirmed the win of Felix Tshisekedi, rejecting claims of fraud, and runner-up Martin Fayulu promptly declared himself the country’s “only legitimate president.”

Fayulu’s supporters have alleged an extraordinary backroom deal by outgoing President Joseph Kabila to rig the vote in favor of the opposition after the ruling party’s candidate did so poorly that a Plan B was needed. Neither side has acknowledged the accusations.

The court, however, said Fayulu offered no proof to back his assertions that he had won easily based on leaked data attributed to the electoral commission.

Voice of America

DRC presidential inauguration set for Thursday

Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi will be sworn in on Thursday as Democratic Republic of Congo’s next president, sources said in Kinshasa, ending uncertainty about when the ceremony would take place.

The inauguration will take place at the Palace of the Nation, the seat of the presidency, starting at noon (1100 GMT), aides to Tshisekedi and outgoing President Joseph Kabila said on Wednesday.

It will be the first peaceful transition of power in the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Tshisekedi, 55, will be taking the helm from Kabila who at only 47 has ruled the vast country for 18 years, succeeding his father Laurent-Desire, who was assassinated in 2001.

News24

Somalia

Somalia declares UN envoy persona non grata

Somalia’s government has ordered the United Nations envoy to the country to leave, amid questions over the arrest of the al-Shabab extremist group’s former deputy leader who had run for a regional presidency.

A foreign ministry statement late Tuesday accuses Nicholas Haysom of diplomatic overreach that violated the Horn of Africa nation’s sovereignty, declaring him “persona non grata.” He arrived as envoy a few months ago.

Haysom had questioned the legal basis used in the arrest last month of Mukhtar Robow, a former al-Shabab spokesman who defected from the group in 2017, and whether U.N.-funded regional police in the Southwest were involved.

 

Ethiopian troops who are part of the African Union force in Somalia and Somali police arrested Robow days before the regional election in which Robow had been a leading candidate. Deadly protests followed. Ethiopia has not commented.

Associated Press

Ex-Somalia President Sheikh Sharif sets eye on Presidency

Sheikh Sharif served as the Head of State in 2009-11. He said the inability of the current leadership to restore peace and security in the Horn of Africa country has compelled him to make a come-back to politics.

Speaking during an interview with The Standard, the ex-President said during his tenure he successfully waged a war against Al Shabaab militants, noting that after he left office, the members of the extremist group made a resurgence.

“When I was the President, we managed to restore security in Somalia. We brought back peace and the country was united.”

Sheikh Sharif spoke a week after the 14 Riverside Drive terror attack, explaining that if he is elected to office, he will lobby the international community to strengthen the capacity of his country’s security forces.

Standard Media

Central African Republic

Central African Republic’s warring factions to hold peace talks

Mediated by the African Union, the Central African Republic (CAR) government will hold peace talks with 14 militia groups today in Khartoum, Sudan.

Frustrated by the CAR’s high unemployment, a 37% literacy rate and a corrupt ruling class, Islamic militias toppled CAR President Francois Bozize six years ago. Since then, sectarian human rights violations led by Christian and Muslim militias has engulfed the country.

Under pressure from human rights groups, the government is unlikely to concede to the militias’ demands for amnesty.

With 80% of CAR controlled by militias competing for its wealth of gold, uranium and diamonds, 1.2 million people have either fled the country or are internally displaced. Just this month Muslim militias invaded Bakouma, a uranium-rich town, burning 90% of homes. Instead of CAR’s natural resources offering economic opportunity for African countries, the country presents a huge refugee burden, especially for neighbouring Chad.

Foreign Brief

Aid group warns of Central African Republic ‘catastrophe’

The leader of an international aid group says Central African Republic “is steering toward a catastrophe” unless a new round of peace talks in Sudan this week succeed.

 

Jan Egeland, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s secretary general, says repeated cycles of violence in one of the world’s poorest nations “have pushed people*s resistance to breaking point.”

Egeland said on Wednesday in a statement that a majority of Central African Republic’s 2.9 million people “urgently need humanitarian support.”

The country has faced interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, and violence has intensified and spread in recent months.

News24

Sudan

Sudan’s al-Bashir returns from Qatar without immediate pledge of financial support

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday ended a two-day visit to Qatar, during which he briefed the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani about the challenges facing his government.

Al-Bashir who is facing nationwide protests that began on 19 December arrived in Doha Tuesday hoping to receive financial support for his government.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Qatari Emiri Diwan said the meeting discussed various developments in Sudan, and that the Emir was briefed on the latest developments and challenges facing Sudan.

“The Emir affirmed Qatar’s firm stance on Sudan’s unity and stability,” said the statement without speaking about an immediate pledge of financial support to the visiting president.

Sudan Tribune

Omar al-Bashir launches media crackdown as Sudan protests continue

The government of Omar al-Bashir in Sudan has launched an “alarming” crackdown on journalists covering weeks of protests against the regime.

At least five reporters have been detained by the national intelligence security services and are being held at undisclosed locations. Dozens of others have been arrested and held before being released.

Khartoum has also revoked the work permits of correspondents working for two Arab-language regional news networks preventing them from working in the country.

“We expect the blackout to get worse and more violations by the authorities against the media as the protests continue,” said Khalid Ahmed of the Sudanese Journalists’ Network.

The Guardian

South Sudan

South Sudan pursues fragile peace, but people remain wary

South Sudan opposition commander Moses Lokujo flipped through his notes, explaining international humanitarian law to an attentive group of senior officers.

“Soldiers are not supposed to kill someone who’s not an enemy,” he said. “And if a civilian is walking with a goat it doesn’t mean you can steal it just because you have a gun.”

Just months ago, such training seemed implausible in a country that was embroiled in a five-year civil war that killed almost 400 000 people and displaced millions. Since a fragile peace deal was signed in September, however, South Sudan’s previously warring parties have been trying to rebuild trust in some of the areas hardest-hit by the war.

On a trip this month to government and opposition-held territories in Kajo Keji in Central Equatoria state, The Associated Press met with both sides who said the reconciliation of former rivals President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar was the reason peace efforts appear to be working on the ground.

News24

JMEC urges South Sudan peace partners to accelerate implementation of security arrangements

The unification of armed forces will be “a decisive milestone” for the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement said the acting head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) who called to speed up the process.

During the past four months, the signatories of the revitalized peace pact made little progress on the implementation of the security arrangements. The discussions were mainly focusing on troops cantonment, their sustainment and the subsequent reintegration.

Since the signing of the peace agreement, experts and military observers warned many points related to these three aspects were flawed and require more discussion during the implementation phase.

Also, the lack of funding becomes an additional challenge because the unification process is costly and require a lot of money.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

OOTT and Abroad Communities Ministry slams Moroccan authorities repression against Sahrawi masses in the occupied parts of Western Sahara

The Ministry of the Occupied Territories and Abroad Communities has strongly criticized  of the Moroccan authorities’ repression and harassment against the Sahrawi people  the occupied parts of Western Sahara, in communiqué issued by it  on the horizon of theThe King of Spain’s upcoming visit to Morocco, a copy of which obtained by SPS

“The ministry expressed vigorous condemnation of the Moroccan occupation authority’s repression, harassment and siege of the masses of our people in the occupied territories and southern Morocco and Sahrawi political prisoners in Moroccan Jails” the Ministry statement confirms

The communiqué reiterated its strong condemnation of the Spanish government’s complicity with the Moroccan occupation, the last example of which was the handover of the activist Hussein Ould Bechir Ould Brahim to the Moroccan authorities on 17/01/2019.

It appealed all Conscientious people of the organizations and associations of the international community, especially Spanish and French, to reveal the complicity of their governments and their continued support for the Moroccan occupation regime.

Sahara Press Service

Calls to detain vessel carrying fish cargo from disputed Western Sahara

An organisation working to preserve the resources of the occupied Western Sahara has asked the Port of Cape Town to detain a vessel that is due to land in Cape Town on Saturday.

The vessel is alleged to contain about 5,500 tonnes of fish, caught in the exclusive economic zone waters of occupied Western Sahara between December last year and early this year.

The Western Sahara Resource Watch has called for the detention of the vessel. The organisation is relying on a precedent set by the high court in Port Elizabeth in June 2017 and February 2018, following the detention of the vessel NM Cherry Blossom, which carried phosphate rock illegally exported from the Western Sahara when it entered the Port Elizabeth Harbour in May 2017. The phosphate was designated for a company in New Zealand.

TimesLive

Swaziland

Civil Servants In Swaziland Set To Strike Over Salary Hikes

Civil servants in Swaziland are set to go on a countrywide strike on January 28, The international organizer for the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), Njabulo Dlamini, said that the main demand of the strike was the a cost of living adjustment (CoLA) of 6.55%, which translates into a salary increment. Workers had gone on strike for the same demand in August/September last year but it was not accepted by the regime of king Mswati. The Public Sector Associations of Swaziland (PSAS) has also released a statement supporting the demand. Employees across all kinds of government offices, ministries, departments, schools, colleges, clinics, hospitals, transport departments and others will be taking part in the national strike. Swaziland is the last remaining absolute monarchy in the sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Dlamini, the percentage of the CoLA is now double that of last year. The CPS, in their statement, accused the autocratic Mswati regime of trying to recently disrupt a teachers’ preparatory meeting by arresting the two leaders. The CPS also reiterated its call for “Maximum Defiance in the Maximum Number of Sites” against the brutal regime of King Mswati, on behalf of the struggling masses of Swaziland, resolving to respond with “direct decisive force” against the oppressive actions of the regime.

News Click

 

 

‘Don’t Join That Strike’

These were the words of the Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, yesterday as he issued a press statement informing public sector associations (PSAs) not to engage in the strike action scheduled for Monday.

He said partaking in the strike action would be at the expense of the education of pupils and the health of the citizenry.

Instead, he said the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) shall continue to engage unions to encourage them to join the effort to find ways of reducing government expenditures, improving service delivery and improving the economy.

Through Government Press Statement No.1 of 2019, Dlamini expressed concern over the proposed strike action by PSAs.

Times of Swaziland

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe troops accused of ‘systematic torture’ of protesters

A government-appointed human rights group in Zimbabwe has accused soldiers of using “systematic torture” in a crackdown on protests.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission strongly criticised authorities for using troops to quell demonstrations.

Unrest broke out more than a week ago following a sharp rise in fuel prices

A government spokesman defended the crackdown, telling the BBC: “When things get out of hand, a bit of firmness is needed.”

Reports have emerged of assaults allegedly carried out by the military in various parts of the capital, Harare.

News Day

Zim High Court rules internet shutdown illegal, orders govt to restore full internet to the country

Zimbabwe’s High Court has ordered the government to restore full internet to the country. The court ruled that the government’s shutdown of the internet was illegal because the Minister of State for Security, who ordered the internet closure, does not have powers to issue such a directive.

The court said only President Emmerson Mnangagwa has the authority to make such an order.

Zimbabwe’s government closed the internet for much of last week. Over the weekend it restored partial internet, but kept a blackout on social media apps like Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter.

A spokesperson for Zimbabwe’s largest trade union said police have arrested the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Japhet Moyo.

News24

Africa in General

EU, AU urge DRC leader to unite country after tense polls

The European Union and African Union on Tuesday committed to work closely with Democratic Republic of Congo’s president-elect Felix Tshisekedi, backing off reservations about the disputed vote.

Speaking after a meeting of EU-AU government ministers, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Tshisekedi, the son of the late opposition leader Etienne, to help heal divisions in the turbulent central African country. He faces inauguration on Thursday.

“The task facing the new president contains major challenges, in several sectors, on the security, social, economic and governance levels,” Mogherini told reporters in Brussels. “All of this requires that the president be a unifier; that he engages in a dialogue inside the country as well as abroad.”

News24

Central African Republic war crimes suspect sent to court

A war crime suspects who is also head of Central African Republic’s soccer federation has been sent to the International Criminal Court, where he faces allegations of leading a mainly Christian militia that targeted Muslims in deadly interreligious fighting.

The court says in a statement that Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona was transferred to the court on Wednesday from France, where he was arrested last month on an ICC warrant.

Prosecutors say Ngaissona was the most senior leader of a militia known as anti-Balaka in 2014 when it was accused of crimes including murder and rape of Muslims in fighting that broke out the previous year when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui.

News24

Zimbabwe’s civil servants to strike on Friday over salaries

Zimbabwe faces a new wave of unrest as the group representing government workers announced on Wednesday that civil servants across the country will go on strike after salary negotiations failed.

David Dzatsunga, secretary of the Civil Service Apex Council, said the strike by some 500,000 civil servants will begin on Friday as the southern African nation’s economic collapse deepens and frustration with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government grows.

A crackdown on last week’s protests over a sharp rise in fuel prices continued in the courts and on the streets, where witnesses and rights groups reported abuses by the military, police and ruling party youth gangs. Mnangagwa’s call for national dialogue has been met with skepticism.

IOL

 

 

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


Your Excellency,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SILENCING OF ZIMBABWEANS DISTURBING – COSATU

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

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

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

17 February 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amandla ZCTU!

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

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

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

Picture: Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Army, Zanu PF role in protests exposed By Newsday

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

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

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/ XOLISANI NCUBE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mapfumo postponed the matter to today for continuation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read full PDF here: ZSF Statement January 2019 FINAL

News Briefs 7 December 2018

Africa in General

UAE to open an embassy in Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

IOL

Libya could vote on constitution in February: electoral commission

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

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

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

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

News24

Morocco meeting to adopt UN migration pact despite withdrawals

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

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

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

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

News24

‘Slaughterhouse’ Burundi boots out UN human rights office

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

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

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

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

IOL

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

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

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

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

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

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

Reuters

Deadly clashes in South Kivu ahead of elections

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

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

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

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

Aljazeera

Somalia

US re-establishes permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia

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

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

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

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

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

Khmer Times

Senate chief seeks to mediate political crisis

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

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

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

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

Mareeng

Central African Republic

Children suffering in Central African Republic 5 years on

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

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

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

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

News24

Boys, Men Raped and Castrated in CAR War

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica

Sudan

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

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

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

Sudan Lawmakers Back Amendment to Let Bashir Stand Again

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

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

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

EWN

South Sudan

South Sudan Army Accused of ‘Brutal’ Sexual Violence

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

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

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

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

Voice of America

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

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

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

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

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

The Guardian

Western Sahara

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

UN News

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

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

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

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

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

Aljazeera

Swaziland

Government Offers Yet Another 0.0%

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

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

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

Swazi Observer

Sipho Shongwe To Know Fate on Dec 17

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

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

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

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

Swazi Observer

Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

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

IOL

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

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

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

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

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

News24

 

 

News Briefs 30 November 2018

Zimbabwe

Thousands of demonstrators rally in Zimbabwe in support of MDC

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

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

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

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

IOL

Shun violence, move on: UK

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

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

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

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

Herald

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo Ebola outbreak second largest in history: WHO

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

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

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

That includes 379 confirmed cases and 47 probable ones.

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

Aljazeera

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

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

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

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

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

News24

Somalia

UN mission head condemns deadly terrorist attacks in Mogadishu, Galkayo

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

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

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

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

CNBC Africa

AFRICOM boss travels to Somalia for high-level talks

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

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

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

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

Stripes.com

Central African Republic

Children suffering in Central African Republic 5 years on

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

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

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

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

ABC News

 

Central African Republic Militia Leader Appears at ICC

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

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

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

Voice of America

Sudan

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

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

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

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

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

South Sudan

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

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

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

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

UN Environment

South Sudan

Tense 1st meeting of South Sudan armed leaders since peace

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

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

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

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

The Washington Post

Despite Sanctions South Sudan Stays Armed for War – Report

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

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

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

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

EWN

Western Sahara

A new push to resolve the conflict over Western Sahara

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

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

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

The Economist

Moroccan king left waiting as Algeria remains silent on talks offer

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

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

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

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

The Nation

Swaziland

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

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

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica

Swaziland: Private Sector Corrupt, but Public Sector Worse

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

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

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

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

OCCRP

Africa in General

Uganda diverted weapons to South Sudan despite arms embargo

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

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

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

News24

Female equity bill collapses in Kenyan parliament

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

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

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

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

IOL

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

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

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

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

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

IOL

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

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

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

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

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

IOL

 

News Briefs 23 November 2018

Africa in General

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

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

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

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

Gunfire erupted and six people died, Associated Press reported.

News24

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

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

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

Amnesty International

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

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

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

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

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

Africa News

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Human rights concerns persist as electoral campaigns kick-off

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

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

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

Relief Web

US Calls for Credible Elections in DR Congo

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

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

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

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

Voice of America

Somalia

Somalia’s zero-sum politics will see no winners

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

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

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

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

Daily Mavericks

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

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

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

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

Breitbart

Central African Republic

Death toll in Central Africa clashes rises to 60 – UN

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

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

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

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

Daily Monitor

UN warns of famine in violence-hit Central African Republic

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

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

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

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

Aljazeera

Sudan

Sudan invites France to attend meeting of Libya neighbours in Khartoum

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

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

Sudan: Council adopts conclusions

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

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

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

EU Council

South Sudan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

S Sudan woos investors as peace deal revives oil industry

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

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

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

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

News24

Western Sahara

Western Sahara conflict: Polisario Front to participate in Geneva talks

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

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

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

Sahara Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

UN News

Swaziland

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

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica

 

Private Sector Corrupt, but Public Sector Worse

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

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

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

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

Organized Crime and Corruption Project

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Unveils Budget Amid Currency Crunch, Inflation Rush

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

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

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

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

Bloomberg

Zimbabwe petrol stations run dry due to currency shortages

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

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

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

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

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

fin24