News Briefs: 03 March 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC Used Excessive Force Against Protesters, UN Office Says

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

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

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

Voice of America

Democratic Republic of Congo snubs calls for massacre video investigation

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

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

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

Japan Times

Somalia

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

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

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

Standard Press

US goes after Islamic terrorists in Somalia

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

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

 

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

News Day

Central African Republic

Un Air Operation Disperses Central African Republic Militia

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

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

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

EWN

Central African Republic Returnees Face Challenges, Insecurity

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

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

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

Voice of America

Sudan

Sudan’s first PM since 1989 coup sworn in

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

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

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

eNCA

South Sudan

UN delivers food to 140.000 starved South Sudanese

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan deputy defence minister denies resignation

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Morocco King Urges UN measures on Western Sahara

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

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

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

EWN

Morocco says to withdraw from Western Sahara tension zone

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

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

 

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

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

News24

Madagascar

Madagascar PM to Receive Mandela Award

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

Swaziland

Terror Act Changes Stall At Senate

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

Swazi Activist Forgotten in Jail

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

News24

 

 

 

Africa in General

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

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

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

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

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

News24

Gambia scraps age limit for presidential candidates

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

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

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

News24

Protesters Vow to Shut Zimbabwe Down

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

AllAfrica.com

We Are Not Targeting African Leaders – ICC

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

 

News Briefs: 13 January 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN peacekeeping chief warns DRC elections could be delayed

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

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

The Guardian

Somalia

Somalia speaker election narrows field for presidency

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

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

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

News24

UN set to launch humanitarian response plan for Somalia

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

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

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

News Ghana

Central African Republic

Amnesty urges special court for war crimes in CAR

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

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

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

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

  1. com.tr

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

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

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

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

UN News

Sudan

United States to Lift Sudan Sanctions

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

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

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

New York Times

Minister condemns hatred campaign against Sudanese Christians

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

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

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

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

International Business Times

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

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

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

VICE

Western Sahara

SA backs Western Sahara independence at talks

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

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

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

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

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

eNCA

Threat of war emerges again in Western Sahara

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

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

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

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

Middleeasteye.net

Madagascar

President Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar Meets with Wang Yi

 

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

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

MFA China

WHO reports suspected plague outbreak in Madagascar

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

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

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

Healio.com

Swaziland

Strike at Swazi King’s SADC University

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

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

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

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

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

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

Swazi Observer

 

Zimbabwe

Pressure mounts on Zimbabwe

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

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

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

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

IOL

Opposition Political Parties Squabble Over 2018 Coalition

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica.com

 

News Briefs: 03 February 2017

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo Opposition Leader’s Death Jeopardizes Political Deal

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

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

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

Bloomberg

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

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

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

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

International Business Times

Somalia

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

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

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

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

ReliefWeb

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

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

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

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

npr.org

Central African Republic

UN extends sanctions on Central African Republic

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

UN News

Sudan

Sudan frees British journalist detained in Darfur: embassy

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

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

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

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

News24

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

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

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

Kenya agrees to re-join South Sudan UN force

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

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

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

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

New Vision

 

 

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

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

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

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

The Chronicles

Western Sahara

Western Sahara welcomes Morocco’s African Union membership

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

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

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

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

BBC

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

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

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

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

Saharan Press Service

Madagascar

World Bank to alleviate Madagascar power struggle

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

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

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

World Bank to increase power access

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

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

ESI-Africa.com

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

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

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

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

Mining Review

Swaziland

King lands another top African role

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

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

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

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

Swazi Observer

African leaders recognise King’s leadership skills

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

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

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

Swazi Observer

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Pastor Evan Mawarire Arrested and Charged with Subversion

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

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

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

Newsweek

US warns Mugabe on political violence

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

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

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

ZW News

 

Africa in General

Uganda rules out military intervention in South Sudan

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

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

The Indian Express

Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat Elected New AU Commission Chair

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

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

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

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

EWN

African Union leaders back mass exodus from International Criminal Court

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

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

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

The Independent

Kenya loses first round in battle with Somalia on maritime border

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

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

Standard Media

 

 

News Briefs: 10 February 2017

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

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

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

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

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

Africa News

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

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

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

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

UN News

Somalia

Somalia hails a new president with joy – and gunfire

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

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

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

News24

New Somalia president offers ray of hope

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

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

Standard Digital

Central African Republic

Central African Republic Violence Leaves at Least 5 Dead

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

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

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

Voice of America

Senior UN official condemns armed, forceful entry into hospital

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

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

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

UN News

Sudan

Sudan accuses Egypt of supporting rebels

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

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

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

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

South Sudan News Agency

UN independent expert on human rights to visit Sudan today

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

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

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

Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan

UN Says South Sudan National Dialogue Could Be Undermined by Violence

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

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

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

Voice of America

UNMISS chief visits opposition-controlled areas of S. Sudan

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

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

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

Sudan Tribune

 

Western Sahara

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

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

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

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

Sahara Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

Reuters

Madagascar

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

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

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

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

UNHCR

Swaziland

250,000 Swazi Still Need Food Aid

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

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

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

Allafrica.com

King Mswati III of Swaziland Congratulates President Akufo-Addo

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

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

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

News Ghana

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe judge orders protest pastor Mawarire be freed on bail

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

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

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

He faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

News24

South Africa announces end to special dispensation for Zimbabweans

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

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

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

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

Nehandaradio.com

 

Africa in General

Mozambique rival parties commit to peace deal

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

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

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

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

IOL

African countries against AU withdrawal from ICC – HRW

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

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

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

IOL

Gambia to reverse its ICC withdrawal

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

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

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

News24

News Briefs: 17 February 2017

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

D.R. Congo government: Elections are too expensive, so we may not have one this year

The ruling government in the Democratic Republic of Congo has indicated it may not hold long-awaited elections this year.

Why? It’s simply too expensive, a government official suggested this week

“It will be difficult to think that we can mobilize $1.8 billion this year,” Pierre Kangudia Mbayi, minister of state in charge of budget, said at a news conference Wednesday, Africa News reported. “At this stage, I prefer to keep a language of sincerity.”

That $1.8 billion cost was the one estimated by D.R. Congo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) last year.

National Post

DRC militia using child soldiers: UN

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has expressed its concern about the persistent conflict in the Kasai provinces where violent atrocities are being committed by the Kamuina Nsapu militia.

The militia is recruiting and using child soldiers while targeting symbols and institutions of state authority, according to a Monday news release issued by the UN Stabilisation Mission in the African country (MONUSCO), which also cited the disproportionate use of force by government security forces known as FARDC in their response to the situation.

Particularly since 9 February there have been ongoing clashes between Kamuina Nsapu militia and Congolese security forces in the area of Tshimbulu, 160km southeast of Kananga, with unconfirmed reports of 30 to 50 deaths resulting from these clashes.

eNCA

Somalia

Somalia praised for holding peaceful polls

President Uhuru Kenyatta has commended Somali for successfully holding a peaceful presidential election, saying it is proof the Horn of Africa country is heading in the right direction.

Uhuru said the election gave renewed hope to the Somali people and the international community that Somalia is on the road to full recovery.

“The way the election was conducted and the subsequent peaceful transfer of power has made us very proud,” Uhuru said.

The President spoke at State House, Nairobi when he received a special message from new Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo. The message was delivered by Farmaajo’s special envoy, Abdisalam Omer, who is the new Foreign Minister of Somalia.

The Star

 

AU envoy says election of new president puts Somalia on path to renewal

Somalia has a chance to forge a new beginning after peaceful election of the new President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo) on Feb. 8, said the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) for Somalia, Francisco Madeira.

Madeira said in a commentary published by Kenya’s Daily Nation on Wednesday that election of a new president will enable Somalia to shake off its tragic past and chart a new beginning marked by peace, stability and development.

“The successful conclusion of the presidential election heralds a new dawn for a country that has been plagued by years of instability, internal strife, cyclical drought and violent extremism,” said Madeira.

Coast Week

Central African Republic

Situation in Central African Republic warrants continued international attention, UN Security Council told

Despite improving security situation in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), concerns remain in other parts of the country, the top United Nations peacekeeping official told the Security Council today, underlining the need for continued international attention.

Particularly worrying were clashes between the Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique and the Union pour la paix en Centrafrique groups in the country’s central region which had assumed ethnic overtones, said Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping in his briefing to the 15-member Council.

He added that the two groups were outside an ongoing dialogue, established by the country’s President, Faustin Archange Touadera, with other armed groups which was making progress in such areas as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

UN News

UN air strikes in Central African Republic kill several – militia

A top militant and three others were killed in Central African Republic when a UN helicopter fired on fighters advancing towards the town of Bambari, a rebel group said on Sunday.

The UN’s mission known as MINUSCA shot at fighters from the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central African Republic (FPRC), on Saturday after they crossed a “red line” it had set north of the town, said spokesman Vladimir Monteiro.

“We were looking to prevent war in Bambari,” he said, referring to the town about 250 km (155 miles) northeast of the capital Bangui.

A death toll had not yet been established, he added.

eNCA

 

 

Sudan

Unicef launches $110m appeal for Sudan children

The UN children’s agency on Wednesday launched a $110m appeal to help two million acutely malnourished children across Sudan, including hundreds of thousands living in conflict areas.

Unicef said Sudan is home to around 13% of all children suffering from acute malnutrition across Africa.

Their situation is exacerbated by conflict-related displacements, El Nino, epidemics, floods and droughts.

News24

SPLM-N says Khartoum blast proves Sudan continued support to terror groups

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) Thursday said the recent discovery of a terror hideout in the Sudanese capital sends a “disappointing message” to the international community over Khartoum cooperation on counter-terrorism.

Last Sunday, police authorities confirmed an explosion at a residential building at Arkawit suburb, south of Khartoum. There were no human or material causalities but the small blast led the police to uncover an artisanal laboratory and ingredients for fabricating a bomb.

Also, the police source confirmed the arrest of 26 foreign nationals from Arab countries mainly from Egypt and Syria, besides a Sudanese national.

Commenting on the blast, the SPLM-N Secretary General, Yasir Arman told Sudan Tribune the incident, confirms that “Khartoum remains a base for international terrorism”.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

Nearly 15,000 lost children seek parents in chaos of South Sudan’s war

In the chaos of South Sudan’s civil war, it took three years for Nyagonga Machul to find her lost children.

Machul had traveled from her village to the capital when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, in 2013. The dismissal triggered a civil war in the world’s newest nation that has increasingly been fought along ethnic lines.

Machul found herself cut off from her son Nhial, now aged 14 and the protector of the family; 10-year-old Ruai and 8-year-old Machiey, brothers who love board games and swimming; 6-year-old Nyameer with her shy smile; and Nyawan, now four but then the much-loved baby.

Reuters

U.N.: South Sudan War Reaches ‘Catastrophic Proportions’

A confidential U.N. report is warning that the war in South Sudan has reached “catastrophic proportions for civilians” and the rise of militias risks spinning out of control, fueling fighting for years to come.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the report obtained by Agence France Presse that civilians were fleeing villages and towns “in record numbers” and that the danger of mass atrocities “is real”.

“The security situation continues to deteriorate in parts of the country and the consequent impact of this ongoing conflict and violence, has reached catastrophic proportions for civilians,” Guterres wrote.

“The rise of militias under the loose command of the SPLA or rebel commanders is spreading the fragmentation and dislocation of its territories, which risk, if this trend continues, remaining out of any government control for years to come,” said the report.

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

Western Sahara

Polisario Front insists Morocco must recognize Western Sahara’s independence

The Saharawi liberation movement says it is time Morocco accepted Western Sahara’s independence.

The Polisario Front said on Tuesday that since Morocco has rejoined the African Union and accepted the group’s principles, it must recognize Western Sahara or it could face possible sanctions or requests to leave the regional organization.

AP news reported that Ahmed Boukhari, Polisario Front’s UN representative said that the independence movement will be watching what Morocco does between now and the next AU summit in July.

Africa News

Western Sahara Intergroup must “stimulate” different initiatives of solidarity and be Saharawi people voice

The president of CEAS-Sahara, Mr. José Taboada said Wednesday that the Intergroup on Western Sahara must “boost” the different solidarity initiatives and be “the voice” of the Saharawi people, “according to the newspaper Diario.es.

The Intergroup on Western Sahara has been constituted on Wednesday by the Congress of Deputies and will have among its first tasks to promote an institutional statement to express the resolve to solve the conflict in Western Sahara, according to the same source.

The event was attended by the president of CEAS-Sahara, José Taboada and the delegate of the Frente POLISARIO for Spain, Jira Boulahi Bad.

Sahara Press Service

Madagascar

Water, power supply in Madagascar’s capital returning to normal

Water and electricity supply to Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, “is returning to normal,” Madagascar’s prime minister said Thursday.

“The electricity supply by the state-owned company JIRAMA for the population of Antananarivo already exceeds the need of the customers,” Prime Minister Mahafaly Solonandrasana said during his visit to water stations that supply water and electricity to Antananarivo.

The prime minister said increased rain in recent days had increased water levels in four hydropower stations that provide electricity for JIRAMA.

News Ghana

Swaziland

King’s Bogus Claim On Democracy

A campaign of misinformation has begun in Swaziland to convince people that it is a democratic kingdom when it is not.

King Mswati III, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has urged people to vote at next year’s national election to pick their own leader.

The King’s message was delivered by Chief Gija Dlamini, Chairperson of the Elections and Boundaries Commission.

AllAfrica.com

Hunger Forces Schools to Close Early

Teachers across Swaziland are reporting that schools are forced to close early because there is no food to feed children.

Zwelithini Mndzebele, General Secretary of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), told local media the union had a number of reports that some schools had broken early each day because of food shortages.

Mndzebele blamed government for being slow in paying school fees so principals could not buy supplementary food.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe

Cut Wage Bill to 70 Percent – Parly

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development has recommended that government carry out a restructuring of the civil service and reduce the wage bill to 70% of the budget within the first quarter of 2017, businessdigest has learnt.

The move piles pressure on Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa who, in his 2015 mid- term fiscal statement, said he intends to reduce the wage bill from 80% to 40% on wages in the long-term.

If adopted, the recommendations could help boost government coffers which have been severely depleted due to a wage bill that is gobbling up more than 90% of the US$4,1 billion national budget, crowding out capital and social spending.

AllAfrica.com

 

Mugabe’s Govt Threatens to Fire Striking Doctors

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s government has threatened to fire striking doctors demanding better salaries and working conditions, as the industrial action spread and entered its second day on Thursday.

Information obtained by News24 showed that the government through the ministry of health and child welfare was compiling names of doctors who heeded the call to down tools.

Clinical Director at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Noah Madziva dispatched a memo charging that anyone who withdrew their services would be removed from duty register and pay roll.

AllAfrica.com

 

Africa in General

Top US official in The Gambia for Barrow’s inauguration

A top official of the United States (US) will join a host of dignitaries at the inauguration ceremony of Gambian President Adama Barrow tomorrow.

The Gambia’s 52nd Independence Day celebration has also been tied to the official swearing-in of President Adama Barrow. The event will take place at the Independence Stadium in the capital, Banjul.

Reports indicate that Presidents from about 20 African countries are expected to attend the event. Majority of these will be from the West African subregion, many international partners will also be expected in the ‘Smiling Coast’ of Africa to grace the occasion.

Africa News

Zimbabwe doctors kick-off nationwide strike over poor conditions

Zimbabwean doctors on Wednesday commenced a nationwide strike protesting low salaries and poor conditions of service.

The main demand of the doctors is for an increase in their on-call allowance which has remained unchanged since 2014 – they want the government to honor a pledge to peg it at a minimum of $720 per month.

They are asking for subventions to allow doctors to purchase their own vehicles and also insisting that the government employs a 120 trained doctors who will be out of work in the next two weeks.

Africa News

 

Angolan veep charged with corruption during his tenure as state oil boss

Angola’s Vice President, Manuel Vicente, has been charged with corruption and money laundering in Portugal, the Prosecutor General’s office in Lisbon confirmed on Thursday.

The charges dates back to when he was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the national oil firm, Sonangol. Vicente is accused of bribing a magistrate in order to shelve investigations into his deals at the oil company.

He is alleged to have given a former prosecutor, one Orlando Figueira, a bribe of $810,000 as part of the corrupt deal. Figueira has been arrested last year and appropriately charged.

Africa News

East and southern Africa join forces against armyworm

Sixteen east and southern African countries have agreed on urgent plans to tackle armyworm and avian flu.

The armyworm has already infested at least seven countries in the southern Africa region.

The Southern African Development Community has blamed the slow response on inadequate pest identification services and gaps in technical capacity.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation’s coordinator for southern Africa, David Phiri, said the caterpillar was new to southern Africa so governments, communities and farmers were not fully aware on how to control it.

eNCA

 

News Briefs: 09 December 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo

EU/US: Sanction Senior DR Congo Officials

The European Union and United States should expand targeted sanctions against those most responsible for recent violent repression and other serious human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a coalition of 72 Congolese and 15 international human rights organizations said today.

Ten days before the December 19, 2016, deadline marking the end of President Joseph Kabila’s constitutionally mandated two-term limit, he still has not made any clear commitment on when or even if he will step down. At the same time, government repression against pro-democracy activists, the political opposition, largely peaceful protesters, and the media has intensified at an alarming rate.

Human Rights Watch

US Envoy Hopes for Last-minute Political Deal in DRC

December 19 marks the end of President Joseph Kabila’s second five-year term in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and many in the country are nervous as the date approaches.

Elections were to have been held this year but have not been organized. Kabila now plans to remain in office until polls can be held in 2018. A large opposition coalition known as the Rassemblement views the president’s prolonged second and, under the constitution, final term as a power grab. This group wants him to leave at the end of his mandate, and it calls for elections in 2017.

The lack of common ground between the parties has observers fearing a repeat of September 19, when a Rassemblement demonstration in Kinshasa descended into violence. The United Nations says security forces killed more than 50 people over two days.

Voice of America

Somalia

Somalia recaptures town from IS-linked fighters; 34 dead

A Somali official says security forces have recaptured a port town from Islamic State-linked fighters in the semi-autonomous state of Puntland.

Yusuf Mohamed, the governor of Puntland’s commercial hub of Bossaso, says 30 militants and four soldiers were killed during the operation today to recapture Qandala.

Residents confirmed that troops entered the town after fighters retreated into nearby villages.

The seizure of Qandala in October had been the first victory for the Islamic State-linked fighters, who are expanding the areas under their control amid a rivalry with the homegrown al-Shabab extremist group.

Times of India

 

 

Somalia’s National Leadership Forum kicks off in Mogadishu

Somalia’s caretaker President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has officially opened the National Consultative Forum in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Wednesday, Garowe Online reports.

Leaders of the Federal Member States of Puntland, Southwest, Galmudag, Hirshabelle and Jubbaland are attending the meeting at Halane compound, AMISOM headquarters in Somalia.

International diplomats led by Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the United Nations for Somalia are also in attendance in the meeting with the Somali leaders.

The talks are expected to focus on range of issues mainly on the ongoing parliamentary and upcoming presidential election of the horn of African nation. The meeting comes as the country is near to wrap up the ballot of both Lower and Upper Houses of Federal Parliament in the capitals of regional states.

Garowe Online

Central African Republic

UN completes investigations into allegations pf sexual abuse by peacekeepers

The United Nations announced today that it has completed an internal investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against Burundian and Gabonese peacekeepers deployed in Dekoa, Kemo prefecture, Central African Republic (CAR).

The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) interviewed 139 people and then investigated their accounts. 16 possible perpetrators from Gabon and 25 from Burundi have been identified through photos and corroborating evidence. Of the 139 victims, 25 were minors who asserted that they were sexually assaulted. Eight paternity claims have been filed, six of which were by minors.

The United Nations has shared the report with the Governments of Burundi and Gabon, which includes the names of the identified alleged perpetrators. It has requested that appropriate judicial action proceed in order to ensure criminal accountability.

UN News

U.N. condemns recent outbreak of violence in Central African Republic

The peaceful and successful transition in the Central African Republic is apparently been marred by the recent outbreak of violence.

A United Nations official in the Central Africa region made this known to the Security Council.

The acting head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, François Fall, said the violence “resulted in a high number of fatalities, demonstrating once more the extreme fragility of the situation.”

But he admitted that the efforts of Lake Chad Basin countries in fighting terrorism have resulted in substantial military and security successes.

TVC News

Sudan

Sudan arrests top human rights activist – Amnesty

Sudanese security agents have arrested a prominent rights activist, Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, as part of an ongoing crackdown on dissent, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

The 58-year-old was taken into custody on Wednesday at the University of Khartoum where he works as a professor of engineering, the rights watchdog said.

“He was arrested by National Intelligence and Security Service agents… and taken to an undisclosed location where he is at a grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment,” Amnesty said in a statement.

News24

Austerity measures fuel discontent in Bashir’s Sudan

Tensions are high as Sudan’s government tries to resolve the country’s economic troubles. Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan’s economy has struggled to recover after losing three-quarters of its oil production. Additionally, rising inflation and US sanctions are adding to the discontent.

Protests started in late November. Hundreds of pharmacies closed their doors and went on strike last month in solidarity with protesters and in response to the rising costs of medicine.

The Sudanese people have also been using several hashtags in Arabic and English, like #SudanCivilDisobedience, to share how they have been affected by austerity measures, fuel subsidy cuts and price increases in medication, food and electricity.

News24

South Sudan security arrest senior relief official in Juba

South Sudan’s National Security Service on Thursday afternoon arrested the Country Director of Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Victor Moses. Victor was picked from his office in Tonpping and taken to NSS detention center in Jebel.

A source told Radio Tamazuj yesterday evening that the three officers in plain clothes came around 1pm at their office in Tonyping, near the US Residence, asked the security guard at the gate that that they want to see the country director.

“Three security personnel came this afternoon and asked the security guards at the gate that they want to meet the country director, but minutes later, a full truck of soldiers in uniform entered into the office compound and picked him,” he said.

“They picked him from the office and to the National Security office in Jebel were he’s currently held inside. There is no any clear reason given, as we are talking now, he’s now sleeping inside the national security detention site,” he said.

Radio Tamazuj

Us Worries About Spiralling Violence in South Sudan – State Department

The United States is alarmed by the violence in South Sudan, where ethnically motivated hate speech, the targeting of civilians and sexual violence is becoming widespread and cannot be ignored, the State Department said on Monday.

“The United States is alarmed by the violence in the Equatoria region of South Sudan and concerned it could quickly spiral out of control,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement. “This situation is intolerable, will worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis.”

The United States has confirmed that more than 1,900 houses have been destroyed in the Central Equatoria of South Sudan since September, he said in a statement.

EWN

Western Sahara

EU should share Algeria’s position on Western Sahara conflict

Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Maghreb countries, Maria Teresa Gimenez Barbat, said that the duty of the European Union should be to share Algeria’s position on the Western Sahara, and underlined its crucial role in the stabilization of North Africa and the fight against terrorism.

“The EU’s duty should be to share the same position as Algeria and defend Sahrawi people’s right to decide their future,” wrote recently Gimenez Barbat in the European Parliament Magazine, Opinion.

In this regard, the MEP said that “Algeria has always expressed its unconditional support to the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination and the independence of Western Sahara, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975.”

Sahara Press Service

France supports search for “just, lasting and mutually agreed” solution

France supports the search for a “just, lasting and mutually agreed” solution to Western Sahara conflict, reaffirmed on Tuesday the French foreign ministry spokesperson.

“The position of France about this issue is known and constant. France supports the search for a just, lasting and mutually agreed solution, under the aegis of the United Nations and in compliance with the Security Council resolutions,” spokesman Romain Nadal told an online news conference.

To a question on the reception of a Sahrawi human rights defenders delegation at the French Foreign Ministry, as reported Monday by APS, the spokesman said that representatives of associations held discussion on Western Sahara at the Quai d’Orsay.

Sahara Press service

Madagascar

Madagascar’s £152m vanilla industry soured by child labour and poverty

ine-year-old Xidollien has no idea that the vanilla pods he and his family so painstakingly cultivate throughout the year on their small vanilla farm in the north of Madagascar is one of the most valuable spices in the world.

He hides behind his mother, Liliane, as she stands among the family’s vanilla plants . He has spent all morning clearing weeds from the land with a machete. Tomorrow will be the same for him and thousands of other children in the northern region of the island.

Roughly 80% of the vanilla sold on the global market comes from Madagascar. Madagascan vanilla is used in chocolate, cakes and ice-cream sold to consumers around the globe by some of the world’s biggest brands.

The Guardian

Swaziland

U.S.$360 Million Missing Govt Funds – Swazi Workers Threaten ‘National Shutdown’

Swaziland’s largest workers’ federation has reportedly demanded a thorough investigation into alleged missing government funds from the country’s treasury department.

According to Voice of America, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) threatened to embark on a nationwide industrial action if the country’s prime minister Barnabas Dlamini failed to institute an independent investigation over the missing funds.

An independent forensic audit of the accountant general’s office conducted by Kobla Quashie Consultants reportedly revealed that the government treasury department bank accounts had a $360m shortfall.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe Unveils $4 Billion National Budget with Projected Billion Dollar Deficit

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has unveiled a $4.1 billion budget for 2017 with a projected funding gap of at least $400 million and state wage bill set to gobble the bulk of the budget.

Presenting the budget in parliament today, Chinamasa said the country is expected to grow by 1,7% from 0.6% estimated this year.

He said agriculture and mining are expected to drive overall growth with sector growth of 12% and 0.9% respectively in 2017.

Inflation is projected at 1.1% from a negative 1.5% in 2016 while total revenues are projected at $3.7 billion with total expenditure estimated at $4.1 billion.

Zimbabwe will have a financing gap of $400 million with capital expenditure amounting to $520 million, which is 3.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Voice of America

British bank may finance Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s cash-strapped government

Standard Chartered Bank is considering the financing of a $262m (£206m) package to bail out President Robert Mugabe’s cash-strapped government.

Bretton Woods institutions ? including the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Bank (ADB) ? suspended their financial assistance to Zimbabwe in 1999 when the nation defaulted, and rendered it unable to clear a $1.8bn (then £1.36bn) debt it owes the institutions.

In 2014, the IMF stated the government needed to pay off its arrears and restore confidence by implementing economic reforms, social development and poverty eradication programmes if it was to be awarded financial assistance to aid its struggling economy.

International Business Times

 

 

Africa in General

Uganda sends 2,745 troops to Somalia

The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has commissioned 2,745 new soldiers to Somalia to replace an equal number of fighters who have been recalled from the battlefield after serving for one year.

The first batch of 80 soldiers left Entebbe Airport on Monday morning aboard a Boeing 737 managed by Ocean Airlines Company and landed at the Adan Abdulle International Airport at about 07.30hrs, East African time.

The UPDF deputy spokesman, Major Henry Obbo, said more troops were scheduled to join their colleagues in the war-torn country in an exercise that will take a week or more, depending on the air situation and other factors.

New Vision

AU to hold first-ever debate for contenders seeking to replace Dlamini-Zuma

The African Union Commission is reportedly set to hold its first-ever debate for the five candidates seeking to head the continental body and take over from the current chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

According to BBC Live, an invitation from the commission stated that all the candidates who had expressed interest in contesting would take part in a “town hall-style” debate on December 9 at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The elections were due in January 2017.

“It is our sincere belief that this debate will help in the transformation of our union and Africa, as often elections of the union leadership occur behind closed doors, thus denying the broad African public an opportunity to be informed and participate in the work of the commission,” the commission was quoted as saying.

News24

Angola to announce President Dos Santos’s successor

Angola is expected to formally announce the end of President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos’ controversial 37-year rule on Saturday, and name a successor to lead the ailing African oil-producing country.

News of the veteran leader’s impending retirement, announced on state radio on December 2, has made front page news in Angolan newspapers all week.

But the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), in power since 1975, has officially remained silent on the matter.

On Saturday, on the 60th anniversary of its founding, the party is expected to confirm that Dos Santos, 74, will not seek another term as president in the 2017 party elections.

New24

Zimbabwe to release another 7 million bond notes – central bank

Zimbabwe’s central bank says it is about to “drip-feed” another seven million US worth of bond notes into circulation – just as the finance minister readies for a difficult budget.

Said an RBZ statement on Wednesday: “The bank would like to advise the public that it is releasing the second batch of $2 bond notes amounting to $7m this week.”

Ten million US worth of bond notes – a surrogate currency that Zimbabweans are extremely sceptical of – were put into circulation last Monday.

News24

 

News Briefs: 2 December 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN envoy calls on political stakeholders to show flexibility to aid election process

Wrapping up a visit to Africa’s Great Lakes region, a United Nations envoy today urged stakeholders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) electoral process to do more to help ensure the country is able to hold peaceful elections.

“The Democratic Republic of the Congo is at an important turning point in its political history – I call on all parties to demonstrate flexibility and readiness for compromise to create propitious conditions for peaceful and credible elections,” the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Said Djinnit, said today, according to a news release from his office.

The envoy’s comments came at the end of a four-day trip to the DRC’s capital, Kinshasa. According to his office, the aim of the visit was to consult with a wide range of national stakeholders on the electoral process and related political issues and seek their views on how best to support the ongoing mediation efforts led by the Conference Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO), which, it said, are aimed at broadening the consensus on, and inclusivity of the electoral and political process building on the so-called Global Political Agreement reached on 18 October.

UN News

UN mission in DRC condemns deadly attack on Hutu village

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have condemned Sunday’s attack on an internally displaced people’s camp by militiamen.

The attack attack on over 1000 Hutu displaced families was carried out by the Mayi-Mayi Mazembe group. It led to the death of over 30 people.

‘‘MONUSCO strongly condemns this attack against civilians and extends its sympathy and condolences to the families of the deceased. MONUSCO remains determined to protect civilians to the best of its ability,’‘ the statement said.

Africa News

Somalia

After election delay, Somalia’s first female presidential candidate says she may not run again

Fadumo Dayib, Somalia’s first female presidential candidate, is so dismayed by the decision this week by Somali’s electoral body to postpone the country’s presidential elections for the third time that she thinks she will not run for president again, even if a new date is set.

“I think I am not going to run … because the level of corruption, the shocking level of corruption, it is all very, very disheartening, and I don’t want to legitimize something that is that bad by running in it,” Dayib said via Skype from Nairobi.

Washington Post

Ethiopia promises to support Somalia for peaceful polls

As the presidential election in Somalia approaches, the Ethiopian government has promised support assuring peaceful elections.

Though much of the country is still under the control of Islamist militant group Al Shabaab, especially after the withdrawal of the Ethiopian military, the Ethiopian government seems to be committed to working towards building a peaceful Somalia.

During a visit this week, Somali Prime Minister Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke met Ethiopian officials, including newly appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Workineh Gebeyehu.

IOL

Central African Republic

Central African Republic clashes leave 85 dead

The latest clashes between rival armed groups in the Central African Republic have left 85 dead, a government official said Monday, in what the UN warns is a worsening situation.

“This figure is confirmed,” said presidential spokesman Albert Mopkem, referring to a toll provided by Adama Dieng, a UN special envoy for the prevention of genocide.

Nearly half the population needs humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations which has appealed for $399 million from donors to cover the country’s aid needs next year.

The latest deaths in the town of Bria, 400 kilometres (250 miles) northeast of Bangui, were amplified by 76 wounded and nearly 11,000 people being displaced in battles between factions of the former “Seleka” Muslim rebel group last week, Dieng said.

eNCA

Half of population in Central African Republic need aid: U.N.

Nearly half of the population in war-torn Central African Republic – more than two million people – need humanitarian aid despite progress in stabilizing the country since it plunged into chaos in 2013, a United Nations official said on Monday.

The country has been plagued by conflict since March 2013, when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, triggering reprisals by Christian militias. Despite a February election seen as a step toward reconciliation, fighting still flares.

Deadly outbreaks of violence have erupted across the country since September, killing hundreds of civilians and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Reuters

Sudan

Opposition Forces Request Al Bashir to Step Down

On Wednesday, officials at the Republican Palace in Khartoum refused to accept a memorandum demanding President Omar Al Bashir immediately step down from power. Security agents blocked access to the premises of the Communist Party, and reportedly detained a number of party leaders.

More than 20 parties, organisations, and individuals, signed the memorandum in which they demand the president to hand the power to the Sudanese people.

Representatives of the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of leftist political parties), the Civil Society Initiative, and a number of public figures planned to hand the memo to the Sudanese president on Wednesday morning.

AllAfrica.com

Three UN workers abducted in Darfur

Two Nepalese and one Sudanese UN staff taken to an unknown location by unidentified gunmen. Unidentified gunmen have kidnapped three workers from the United Nation’s refugee agency in Sudan’s restive Darfur region.

The three workers – one from Sudan and two from Nepal – were kidnapped on Sunday from Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, and were taken to an unknown location, Abdallah Gar al-Nabi, West Darfur government spokesman, said on Monday.

UNHCR officials were not immediately available for comment, but its spokesman in Khartoum said a meeting was underway to discuss the “urgent incident”.

Aljazeera

South Sudan

UN calls for end to restriction on humanitarian agencies in war-torn South Sudan

United Nations Official for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said aid workers increasingly face “bureaucratic impediments”, and called on South Sudanese authorities to ensure unfettered access to the needy in the affected areas.

Eugene Owusu, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan and deputy head of UN mission in the country, said agencies registered more than cases of blockage to aid work in November.

“They (humanitarian organizations) continue to face obstacles and challenges which hamper their efforts. This must stop,” said Owusu in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

Sudan Tribune

UN warns of ‘ethnic cleansing’

Ethnic cleansing is taking place in war-torn South Sudan, the country’s UN human rights commission has warned. It says it has observed starvation, the burning of villages and rape being used as weapons of war across the country.

The three-member commission, which was established earlier this year, has just completed a 10-day visit to South Sudan, which has been blighted by conflict for more than three years. President Salva Kiir has denied that ethnic cleansing is taking place. In a statement released on Thursday, the commission says “the stage is being set for a repeat of what happened in Rwanda” in 1994 – a reference to the killing of 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, in the space of three months.

BBC

 

 

Western Sahara

Morocco Accuses AU Chief of Obstructing Readmission

Morocco accused African Union Commission head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of blocking its efforts to rejoin the organization it left 32 years ago, the country’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Morocco has asked the African Union (AU) to readmit it, as it seeks support for its plan to offer autonomy to the disputed territory of Western Sahara while keeping it under Moroccan sovereignty.

Morocco abandoned its seat in 1984 when the AU recognized Western Sahara, a sparsely populated stretch of desert that was formerly a Spanish protectorate, and admitted it as a member.

Voice of America

Morocco leads mass walkout at Africa-Arab summit over Western Sahara independence

Officials from Morocco, Somalia and seven Arab nations have walked out from an Africa-Arab summit in Equatorial Guinea in protest against the presence of a delegation from a movement that calls for the independence of Western Sahara. Morocco sees Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, as its “southern province”, and has occupied a large part of its territory since 1975.

Members of the Polisario Front (PF) seeks independence and calls for a referendum on self-determination.

The Moroccan delegation took the decision to protest at “the presence of the emblem of a puppet entity in the meeting rooms”, Moroccan news agency MAP said.

International Business Times

 Madagascar

Madagascar aims for annual growth of 6.5 percent by 2019

Madagascar needs to achieve growth of 6.5 percent to help it reduce poverty, the president told a donor conference in Paris on Thursday.

Madagascar’s economy has been struggling since a 2009 coup scared off foreign investors. The country is one of the world’s poorest, despite reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals.

“We need at least 6.5 percent annual growth rate. It is the only guarantor of the structural change that the country needs to reduce poverty,” President Hery Rajaonarimampianina told the conference.

Reuters

Drought Causes Severe Hunger in Madagascar

Hunger levels are so severe in drought-ridden southern Madagascar that many people in remote villages have eaten almost nothing but cactus fruit for up to four years, said a Catholic Relief Services official.

Eating this fruit leaves crimson stains on people’s faces and hands, and there is a “shame of poverty associated with these stains in Madagascar,” an island nation 250 miles off the coast of mainland Africa, said Nancy McNally, CRS information officer for East and Southern Africa.

The cactus plant “is the only thing that grows” in southern Madagascar, and the plants “are growing everywhere” in earth “that looks like white silt,” she said in a Nov. 23 telephone interview from Nairobi, Kenya.

American Magazine

Swaziland

Swaziland Workers Demand Inquiry into Alleged Missing Public Funds

The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) is threatening a “national shutdown” if Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini fails to ensure an independent investigation into alleged missing public funds from Treasury Department bank accounts.

This, after an independent forensic audit of the Accountant General’s office conducted by Kobla Quashie Consultants showed that the government Treasury Department bank accounts have a $360 million shortfall.

Local media reported that auditors fear there may have been fraud, misappropriation and embezzlement of the funds. The independent Times of Swaziland newspaper quoted Quashie as saying, “It should be stated that the amounts noted as differences are so significant that it renders the annual treasury accounts submitted to Parliament and other government agencies inaccurate and misleading.”

Voice of America

Political Bar in Swazi Broadcast Bill

People in Swaziland who are affiliated to any political group will not be granted radio or television broadcasting licences in a proposed law.

Swaziland is controlled by King Mswati III who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Broadcasting and newspapers in the kingdom are already heavily restricted. Political parties are not allowed to contest elections and those that advocate for democracy are in effect banned in Swaziland.

The Swaziland Broadcasting Bill was discussed by stakeholders at a workshop organised by the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology at the Royal Swazi Sun Convention Centre.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe

Zim Opposition Political Parties Meet in SA

At least 12 Zimbabwean political parties have met at Stellenbosch University to discuss how they will compete in the 2018 elections.

The main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Party (MDC), however, did not take part in the discussions.

Talks of opposition parties forming a coalition ahead of the 2018 elections have been on the rise, mainly after the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and former vice-president and Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader, Joice Mujuru made the announcement in August.

MDC Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora told News24 during an interview that his party did not participate in Wednesday’s discussions due to “differing agendas”.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe’s new currency, introduced on Monday, is already losing value

It may be in its infancy, but Zimbabwe’s new “bond note” currency is already coming under fire as some vendors refuse to accept it at face value.  Introduced by Robert Mugabe’s government on Monday as part of a desperate bid to stave off a cash flow crisis, the green notes are supposed to be traded 1 – 1 with the US dollar.

Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2008 and officially adopted the American currency as its own. But continued economic uncertainty led people to stash dollars outside the country, prompting a critical shortage.

In Harare on Wednesday afternoon, a small group of protesters declaring “No To Bond Notes” took to the streets of the central business district.

Though no more than 100 turned out from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the pressure group Tajamuka, they were quickly routed by riot police wielding water cannons and rubber truncheons.

Nehanda Radio

Africa in General

Namibia will stay in ICC – if US joins: Geingob

Namibia would remain a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the United States joined, Namibia’s president Hage Geingob told Reuters in London on Thursday.

Namibia said in March that it would withdraw from the ICC, which sits in The Hague and has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The court has come under criticism from African nations.

“People are saying that it only targets African leaders. That seems to be true … and that’s a problem,” said Geingob, who was elected as president of Namibia in November 2014.

IOL

Riek Machar denied entry to Ethiopia, returns to SA

Rebel leader and former South Sudan vice President Dr. Riek Machar was denied entry by the Department of Immigration and Nationality Affairs of Ethiopia to the country because of lack of proper documentation.

This move is seen as part of a regional policy to exclude him from the political process in South Sudan after Taban Deng’s appointment as First Vice President.

According to a report by a state media, Fana Broadcasting Corporate, the Department was forced to return Machar to South Africa because he has no permission to stay in Addis Ababa.

IOL

 

South Africa makes history with HIV vaccine trial

South Africa is participating in an experimental vaccine programme that could prevent HIV infection. With 5 400 adults taking part, the study, called HVTN 702, is the biggest and most advanced HIV vaccine trial to take place in the country.

The drug trial began last month.

“If deployed alongside our current armoury of proven HIV prevention tools, a safe and effective vaccine could be the final nail in the coffin for HIV,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which falls under the American National Institutes of Health (NIH), a co-funder of the trial.

South African Info

President Salva Kiir in SA

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday held talks with President Salva Kiir Mayardit of the Republic of South Sudan in Pretoria.

Deputy President Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Special Envoy to South Sudan, said he was satisfied that peace is taking hold over the newest country in Africa. The East African country has been beset with conflict between government and opposition forces.

South Africa has been instrumental in negotiating peace to stabilise South Sudan through its participation in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Plus Peace Process, and the inter-party process led by the African National Congress and Chama Cha Mapinduzi of Tanzania.

AllAfrica.com

 

News Briefs: 18 November 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN delegates visit amid political turmoil

Members of the UN Security Council are slated to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday amid mounting international concern about increased violence and political unrest in the troubled Central African nation.

President Joseph Kabila’s two terms in office are due to end December 19. But it remains unclear whether he will step down then and, if so, who might take charge.

Members of a UN-backed group agreed last month to push back elections originally due in November to April 2018, but the process has been criticized for not legitimately involving opposition, as virtually all opposition parties boycotted the process.

CNN

Democratic Republic of Congo Prime Minister resigns

Augustin Matata Ponyo said on Monday he had resigned as prime minister of Democratic Republic of Congo in line with a political deal that extends Joseph Kabila’s tenure as president.

Kabila was due to step down on Dec. 19 but his ruling coalition and part of the opposition agreed last month to delay a presidential vote until April 2018, citing logistical problems in registering millions of voters and a lack of financing.

“I have just handed in my resignation and that of my government to the president of the republic in line with the spirit of the political accord signed on October 18,” Matata said.

Citizentv.co.ke

Somalia

Just a few weeks after the Norwegian authorities said they will send refugees back to Somalia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has urged Norway to change its mind.

In October, Immigration Minister Sylvi Listhaug said that the Norwegian government had concluded that the situation in Somalia has settled down and that 1,600 Somali refugees living in Norway should have their refugee status revoked.

In a letter dated November 7th, but first reported on Wednesday night, the UNHCR wrote to the Norwegian government and said that the security situation in Mogadishu was far too unstable to warrant Norway’s decision. Just two days before the letter was sent, a car bomb attack near the Somali parliament building in Mogadishu killed at least two police officers, with some reports indicating that up to 20 people were killed.

The Local

Somalia regional ‘electoral colleges’ elect 76 MPs

Thousands of Somali delegates in five Somali state capitals have elected a total of 76 MPs of the House of the People, commonly referred to as the Lower House of Federal Parliament.

The elections kicked off earlier this month, as part of Somalia’s indirect electoral process agreed upon by federal and state leaders. According to the electoral model, some 14,000 “electoral college” delegates – 51 voters per seat of the 275-member Lower House – will elect MPs at polling sites in the state capitals – Garowe, Kismayo, Baidoa, Adado and Jowhar.

A presidential election was postponed twice to November 30th, but delays in the formation of the Lower House could potentially push the presidential election back another month, according to sources familiar with electoral developments.

SomaliReviwe.com

Central African Republic

Brussels conference to play ‘significant role’ in supporting Central African Republic’s recovery – Security Council

Ahead of tomorrow’s Brussels conference for the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Nations Security Council emphasized the “significant role” the gathering will play in expressing the firm political support of international community and to secure essential resources to assist the country to implement key recovery and stabilization priorities over the next three to five years.

Through a Presidential Statement agreed this evening, the Council also welcomed the recent visit of UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson to CAR ahead of the international conference. Mr. Eliasson will participate in the Conference, co-organized by the European Union (EU), the CAR Government, the World Bank and the UN. It aims to raise funds for recovery and peacebuilding initiatives in CAR.

UN News

Justice and reconciliation key to lasting peace, UN expert says

The justice system in the Central African Republic (CAR) must be urgently strengthened if the country is to achieve lasting peace, a United Nations human rights expert has said, ahead of a major donors’ conference in Brussels, Belgium, tomorrow, which aims to raise funds in support of the country’s national peace-building plan.

“Truth and reconciliation are also critical,” the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in CAR, Marie-Thérèse Keita-Bocoum, said in a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Due to clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian, the country plunged into a civil conflict in 2013. Despite significant progress and successful elections, the CAR has remained in the grip of instability and sporadic unrest. More than 13,000 UN staff are currently based there as part of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the country, known as MINUSCA.

UN News

Sudan

Sudan: ‘Serious Threat to Peace’ – Security Council Extends Mandate for Abyei

The mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (Unisfa) was extended until 15 May 2017 on Tuesday, by the UN Security Council which recognised that the situation along the Sudan-South Sudan border remains a serious threat to international peace and security.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2318 (2016), the 15-member organ reiterated its demand for Sudan and South Sudan to urgently establish an Abyei Area Administration and Council, as well as a police service that would take over policing functions throughout the area, including the protection of oil infrastructure.

AllAfrica.com

Sudan’s Bashir describes South Sudan as ‘enemy’

President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday described the South Sudanese government as Sudan’s “enemy”, in a sign of growing tensions over slow implementation of the joint agreements between the two countries.

Addressing the force of the Sudanese Intelligence on Sunday, President Bashir said that South Sudan is still targeting his country and that it does want to implement the 2012 Joint Cooperation Agreements signed by the two countries.

Separately, the Sudanese leader stressed that any peace agreement signed with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) would not include the integration of its fighters in the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), saying the SPLA-North rebels are still part of South Sudan army.

Radiotamazuj.org

South Sudan

South Sudan opposition fractured by infighting

As the protracted conflict in South Sudan between the followers of President Salva Kiir, and the armed supporters of former Vice President and opposition leader, Dr Riek Machar, grinds on, new intra-fighting between factions of the opposition is adding another complication to any possibility of peace.

Gunmen from Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) have withdrawn from Nhialdiu, a key town in oil-rich Unity state, which borders Sudan, after briefly capturing it.

The Sudan Tribune has reported that the withdrawal from Nhialdiu, and its subsequent recapture by government troops, cast doubt on the possibility of resuming oil production in the area due to the ongoing conflict and the town being in a war zone.

eNCA

UN warns of mass atrocities in war-torn South Sudan

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of the “risk of mass atrocities” in South Sudan, should renewed violence in the world’s youngest nation continue.

In a report released Wednesday, Ki-moon said the UN peacekeepers must be prepared to protect innocent civilians.

“There is a very real risk of mass atrocities being committed in South Sudan, particularly following the sharp rise in hate speech and ethnic incitement in recent weeks,” said the UN Secretary General.

 

“It must be clearly understood that United Nations peacekeeping operations do not have the appropriate manpower or capabilities to stop mass atrocities,” he added.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Western Sahara – Ban Ki-Moon Stresses Need to Push Forward UN Process

Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon called, in Marrakesh, to push forward the process of the United Nations for the settlement of the conflict in Western Sahara, in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council.

“Ban Ki-moon underlined the need to push forward the process of negotiations in Western Sahara as expected in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council,” said the United Nations in a statement published at the end of the meeting of the head of the United Nations and the King of Morocco Mohamed VI in Marrakesh, on the sidelines of the COP22.

The resumption of negotiations was required by the Security Council which underlined in its resolution (2285) of 2016, extending the mandate of MINURSO until 2017, the need to continue the process of preparation for a fifth round of negotiations on the final statute of Western Sahara.

AllAfrica.com

Western Sahara and Morocco: Tension reemerges

Western Sahara opposes the bid of King Mohammed VI to rejoin the African Union and accuses Morocco of unlawfully occupying territory that does not belong to it.

After Spain withdrew its colonial forces in 1975, Morocco sent troops to the area and annexed two-thirds of Western Sahara based on historical claims that the region was originally part of its territory. When the African Union recognized Western Sahara as an independent country in 1984, Morocco withdrew its membership. However, king Mohammed VI has recently applied to rejoin the AU and had been touring African countries to raise support for his request.

Afrika News

Madagascar

World Bank $35 Million Supports Drought Affected Households in the South November 10, 2016

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $35 million grant for the Social Safety Net Project to support the Government’s response to the drought in the South of Madagascar. This additional financing will benefit more than 320,000 people in the five most affected districts and help them recover from the effects of the drought caused by El Niño. It fits within the emergency and early recovery strategy prepared by the Government with the support of the United Nations.

The population of the South has suffered through several successive years of poor crop yields starting with a major locust invasion in 2013. As a result of the El Niño, rainfall has been about 75 percent lower than the average of the last 20 years, causing harvest losses of up to 95 percent, over 1 million people to be food insecure, 35,000 children under 5 to suffer from moderate acute malnutrition and another 12,000 from severe acute malnutrition.

ReliefWeb

King Mohammed VI to Visit Ethiopia Beginning Friday, then Madagascar

King Mohammed VI is heading to Addis Ababa by Friday, November 18 before heading to Madagascar for the International Francophone Organization Summit, reports Le360 Afrique.

The monarch spent a brief period of time in Marrakech to attend the COP22 and preside over the African Summit that was part of the climate change conference and attended by many African heads of state.

King Mohammed VI is now on his way to completing his tour of the continent, beginning with Ethiopia and then onto Madagascar, where the International Francophone Organization Summit is set to take place on November 26 and 27.

Morocco World News

Swaziland

King’s Paper Attacks Asians

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III, is running a campaign of misinformation against Asians in the kingdom.

It has now claimed that 600,000 people in Swaziland are of Asian origin (14 October 2016). A website called countrymeters that constantly updates statistics recorded Swaziland’s total population on Wednesday (19 October 2016) as 1,312,881.

That would mean that about 45 percent of the entire Swazi population were of Asian origin. In fact, every reputable source shows that 97 percent of Swazi people are African. The sources include the CIA factbook and indexmundi.

AllAfrica.com

Swaziland High Court to Determine Constitutionality of Common Law Marital Power Rule

This Morning, the High Court of Swaziland will hear arguments in Sacolo and Another v Sacolo and Others, a case concerning the validity of the common law marital power which denies married women the right to contract, administer property, and sue or be sued in court. The case also concerns a challenge to sections 24 and 25 of the Marriage Act 1964 which imposes on African spouses the customary consequences of marriage while granting to non-African spouses the common law consequences of marriage.

“The time has come for Swaziland to scrap its common law marital power rule and section 24 and 25 of the Marriage Act to bring it in line with the rights guaranteed under its Constitution and international law,” states Brigadier Siachitema, Women’s Land and Property Rights Programme Lawyer at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe

IMF lifts sanctions against Zimbabwe – report

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lifted sanctions against Zimbabwe after the southern African country settled its arrears, a report said on Tuesday.

According to New Zimbabwe, the IMF confirmed on Monday that it had removed the remedial measures against the country.

The IMF, however, maintained that the move did not mean that it would consider new requests for funding from President Robert Mugabe’s administration.

The international lending institution said that Mugabe should implement the reforms first and also repay other international creditors, including the World Bank, and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

News24

Zim 2018 polls: Come home if you want to vote, diasporans told

As one Zimbabwean editor put it: “This does not look good people.”

Zimbabwe’s three million or so diasporans almost certainly won’t be allowed to vote in the 2018 elections unless they come home twice – once to register, once again to vote, according to reports on Wednesday.

That’s despite a provision in the new constitution guaranteeing all Zimbabwean citizens the right to vote.* Three years after the constitution was adopted at a referendum, the electoral law has still not been aligned with the constitution – which is why, as it stands, Zimbabwean voters based outside the country will have their vote denied.

News24

 

 

Africa in General

‘Don’t go!’ ICC officials appeal to African defectors

“Don’t go!” That was the heartfelt appeal to African nations as the International Criminal Court opened its annual meeting Wednesday under the cloud of a wave of unprecedented defections.

Gambia on Monday formally notified the United Nations that it was withdrawing from the court, following in the wake of South Africa and Burundi.

“Don’t go,” pleaded Senegalese politician Sidiki Kaba, the president of the ICC’s Assembly of State Parties meeting in The Hague.

“In a world criss-crossed by violent extremism… it is urgent and necessary to defend the ideal of justice for all,” he said.

News24

DRC president defies growing calls to resign

Congolese President Joseph Kabila on Tuesday defied calls to step down when his term ends next month and vowed during remarks to lawmakers to defend his government against violent overthrow.

His defiant speech to parliament came as criticism grows following a controversial deal between the government and fringe opposition groups that effectively extends the president’s term in office and delays elections until late 2017.

The deal agreed last month followed a “national dialogue” that was aimed at calming soaring political tensions but was largely boycotted by leading opposition figures.

News24

Top UN peacekeeping officials hail success of community violence reduction programmes

Community violence reduction (CVR) programmes are not well-known, but are proving to be an effective peacekeeping tool, senior United Nations officials said today during an event to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the launch of CVR in Haiti.

“Since [the first programme’s launch], CVR has proven itself useful in many different contexts, precisely because it is agile and people-centered,” Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, told a panel discussion at UN Headquarters on ‘Creating Space for Peace.’

He said that an inclusive approach to the reduction of violence is a goal for the entire UN family. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) has assumed a central role in achieving that goal over the past three decades. The endurance of DDR is mostly due to the flexible approaches it has taken to adapt to the changing nature of armed groups.

UN News

Kenya delays Dadaab refugee camp closure by six months

Kenya’s decision comes after calls by the international community to postpone the closure on humanitarian grounds.

Kenya says it will delay by six months the closure of the Dadaab refugee camp, the world’s largest, after calls by the UN and aid groups to postpone it on humanitarian grounds.

Dadaab, currently home to an estimated 350,000, was opened in 1991 as a temporary shelter for people fleeing civil war in neighbouring Somalia. Yet, prolonged violence and insecurity turned it over the years into a sprawling tent city.

Aljazeera

 

News Briefs – 04 November 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN rights experts urge end to ‘unjustified’ ban on protests

UN rights experts urge end to ‘unjustified’ ban on protests The ban was imposed in September after a series of large demonstrations that were brutally supressed by security forces, reportedly leaving dozens of people dead and injured GENEVA, Switzerland, November 3, 2016/APO/ — A group of United Nations human rights experts* has called on authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to lift an “unjustified” ban on protests in the capital, Kinshasa, amid social discontent over delayed presidential elections.

The ban was imposed in September after a series of large demonstrations that were brutally supressed by security forces, reportedly leaving dozens of people dead and injured. “The rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are fundamental rights guaranteed by international law. These rights can only be restricted in very specific and narrowly defined circumstances,” the experts said.

Mareeg.com

Special Envoy, in Security Council, Stresses Need for Concerted Efforts to Secure Gains Made against Great Lakes Region’s ‘Negative Forces’

Concerted efforts would be needed to avert any reversal of the commendable gains achieved in Africa’s Great Lakes region thus far, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy told the Security Council today.

Special Envoy Said Djinnit was briefing the Council on the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region (Framework Agreement), and on the high-level meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism, held in Luanda, Angola, on 26 October. Signatories of the Framework Agreement had made efforts to implement their commitments despite outstanding challenges, including the continuing activities of negative forces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, he noted.

ReliefWeb

Somalia

Somalia remains the global capital of unsolved murders of journalists

With militant group al-Shabaab waging war and the government suppressing press freedom, being a journalist in Somalia is a difficult, and even life-threatening, job. The Committee to Project Journalists’ 2016 Global Impunity Index “spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free.” For the second straight year, Somalia is ranked as the worst country in the index.

The annual ranking is based on the number of unsolved murders (cases with no convictions) over a 10-year period as a share of a country’s population. It defines murder as “a deliberate attack against a specific journalist in relation to the victim’s work,” and excludes cases where journalists are killed in combat, street protests, or while covering other dangerous events.

Quartz Africa

 

Burundi troops in Somalia unpaid for 10 months: withdrawal looms

The Burundian government has served notice that it could withdraw its troops from the African Union (AU) force fighting militants in Somalia, they cited the non payment of troops as the main reason for the threat of withdrawal.

The Defence Minister, Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye, on Thursday told parliament that the soldiers had not received their monthly allowance which is supposed to be paid by the European Union (EU).

According to him, the $800 (£640) allowance was in arrears for 10 months. Over that period, soldiers are only receiving their low army wages.

The decision of the EU to cut off its funding for the troops is tied to the ongoing political crisis in the country.

African News

France ends military mission in troubled Central African Republic

France on Monday formally ended a peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic, hailing it a success despite sporadic outbreaks of violence in its deeply troubled former colony.

The move came just hours after about 10 people were killed in clashes between armed groups Sunday in the restive Muslim PK5 neighbourhood of the capital Bangui, according to local sources.

The toll had yet to be confirmed by the 10,000-strong UN force MINUSCA, which will be alone after France’s departure in facing the militia groups terrorising civilians.

Thousands of people have been killed and 4.5 million forced from their homes since the conflict erupted in 2013.

France24

U.N. deputy Secretary-General visits Central African Republic

United Nations Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said on Wednesday (November 2) during an address to Central African Republic‘s National Assembly that peacekeeping mission MINUSCA would impartially protect the population of the country and uphold their right to peacefully protest.

Eliasson arrived in Bangui two days after the French military operation Sangaris, meant to end sectarian violence in 2013, officially folded and handed over some responsibilities to both MINUSCA and African Union forces.

Eliasson was greeted by Central African Republic (CAR) President Faustin-Archange Touadera at the presidential palace before giving a speech to members of parliament.

TVC News

Sudan

US extends sanctions on Sudan

President Barack Obama has extended US sanctions on Sudan for another year, saying Khartoum’s policies remained an “extraordinary threat” to the national security of the United States.

Sudan has been subject to a US trade embargo since 1997 for its alleged support for Islamist groups. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was based in Khartoum from 1992 to 1996.

 

In recent years, the Sudanese government’s scorched earth tactics against ethnic minority rebels in Darfur have been cited as a reason not to lift the sanctions.

TimesLive

Sudan hikes fuel prices amid foreign currency shortage

Sudan hiked prices of petrol and diesel Friday by about 30 percent as months of fuel shortages caused by a foreign currency shortage have put pressure on the country’s already sanctions-hit economy.

The oil ministry raised the price of one gallon (nearly four litres) of petrol to 27.5 Sudanese pounds ($4.30, 3.90 euros) from 21 and diesel from 14 to 18.

Fuel price hikes have been a sensitive issue in Sudan, which has seen its economy badly hit since 2011 when South Sudan gained independence and took nearly three quarters of the formerly united country’s reserves with it.

The Guardian

South Sudan

Kenya accuses UN of bowing to pressure in South Sudan probe

Kenya on Thursday accused the United Nations of bowing to pressure from certain countries by setting up an investigation that pinned the blame for peacekeeping failures in South Sudan on the Kenyan force commander.

Ambassador Macharia Kamau charged that “certain current and future members of the Security Council” had pushed for a probe with a “pre-ordained outcome” that targeted the Kenyan general as the “fall guy.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday sacked Lieutenant General Johnson Ondieki after the investigation showed that peacekeepers failed to protect civilians during heavy fighting in Juba in July.

eNCA

South Sudan president holds back creation of new states

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has halted a decision to create more new states in the country, underscoring the level of limited involvement of the community in the decision making processes.

According to a presidential order in late October, President Kiir formed a committee under the chairmanship of his controversially appointed First Vice President Taban Deng Gai to quickly carry out consultations with communities and prominent figures in the newly created two states of Lol and Eastern Nile to find their views and come out with recommendations to managing disputes.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Western Sahara standoff fuels tensions, diplomatic scramble

At a rocky outpost in Western Sahara, a new generation of soldiers who have never known war are mobilizing as tensions resurface in one of Africa’s oldest disputes after a quarter century of uneasy peace.

Young Sahrawi troops man new desert posts for the Polisario Front, which for more than 40 years has sought independence for the vast desert region – first in a guerrilla war against Morocco and then politically since a ceasefire deal in 1991.

Now a standoff with Morocco, which controls the majority of Western Sahara, is renewing pressure for a diplomatic solution to ensure footsoldiers like Sidi Ahmed Brahim don’t return to fighting as the last generation of commanders once did.

Aged 25, Brahim is as old as the ceasefire and his patience with United Nations efforts to end the decades-long impasse and prevent new desert clashes is wearing thin.

Reuters

Western Saharan refugees face looming food shortage; UN agencies warn in appeal for donor support

Three United Nations agencies operating in Algeria appealed today for continued donor support for refugees from Western Sahara, warning that insufficient funding makes imminent a cut in basic food rations.

“For more than 40 years, the Sahrawi refugees have been living under extremely harsh conditions in the Sahara desert in south-western Algeria. Hosted in five camps close to the town of Tindouf, they remain heavily dependent on external humanitarian assistance,” the UN World Food Programme (WFP), together with the Office of the UN Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a joint news release.

UN News

Madagascar

Risk of famine as severe drought grips Madagascar

A severe drought in southern Madagascar has led to major food shortages across the island nation, raising the risk of widespread famine. UN agencies warned of a potential “catastrophe”, as around half of the population in southern Madagascar – nearly 850,000 people – are experiencing “alarming” levels of hunger.

This is the third consecutive year in a row that crops have failed and water availability is extremely low. The drought has left around 20 percent of households in southern Madagascar experiencing emergency levels of hunger.

The UN said they will declare a state of famine if the situation worsens.

Aljazeera

Grand Sud of Madagascar: Humanitarian and early recovery needs still to be funded

Like the rest of the Southern African region, Madagascar has been affected by two successive years of drought, worsened by the El Nino phenomenon since September 2015. This has negatively and deeply impacted the three regions of the Grand Sud which is home to approximately 1.63 million people.

The one year humanitarian response plan initiated in February 2016 was budgeted for a total amount of US$ 69.9 million, and has so far only been financed to the tune of 52%. Nonetheless, the impact of ongoing humanitarian response operations demonstrates positive and encouraging results.

Between February and August 2016, the total number of people facing severe acute malnutrition decreased by 90,000 and the nutritional status of children under 5 years old generally improved.

Furthermore, the number of pockets of nutritional insecurity reduced from 32 to 17 communes between February and June 2016.

ReliefWeb

Swaziland

Swazi King Buys Jet, U.S. Feeds Hungry

The United States is to provide US$6.35m in drought relief. That is just US$1m short of the US$7.3m the Swazi Government is paying as a deposit this year for a private jet for King Mswati III.

Swaziland declared a national emergency in February 2016 and called for international aid to help feed 300,000 people affected by a prolonged drought.

In April 2016, the Swazi Government agreed to spend E96m (US$7.3m) on a deposit for an Airbus A340-300 that will eventually cost E200m to buy. There are also expected to be additional costs for upgrades to the interior.

AllAfrica.com

Voters Snub Swazi Election

Only four in ten of the people entitled to vote in Swaziland’s national election did so. The percentage turnout was lower than the previous election in 2008.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has just released figures from the 2013 election, three years after the vote took place.

The ECB reported than 251,278 people voted from the 414,704 who registered. In 2013, the ECB reported that about 600,000 Swazis were entitled to register. That means that only 41.8 percent of those entitled to vote did so in 2013.

The low turnout casts doubts on claims by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, that his subjects support what he calls his kingdom’s ‘unique democracy’.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe

SA businesses in Zimbabwe are safe

South African businesses in Zimbabwe were safe and there was need for the two Southern African neighbours to improve the flow of investments in both directions, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday.

In his opening remarks at the official opening of the inaugural session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-national Commission in Harare, Mugabe said beneficiation and value addition of products offered the two countries vast opportunities for joint ventures and investment partnerships.

IOL

Zimbabwe banks scramble to get out of crisis

Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe, a unit of Standard Bank, has advised its depositors to sign off on new service terms that include accepting transaction settlements in any currency deemed as legal tender as well as to allow the bank to avail cash withdrawal services subject to availability.

Zimbabwe’s central bank is carrying out a public awareness campaign ahead of the introduction of local bond notes this month. The bond notes, a local currency said to be backed by a $200 million (R2.68 billion) Afreximbank facility will have equal value to the US dollar on a 1:1 basis.

IOL

 

Africa in General

This is what Africans really think of the Chinese

ncreasing Chinese investment in everything from small food enterprises to massive railway projects across Africa has drawn criticism and warnings of a future dependency on Asia’s superpower.

But what do Africans themselves think about Chinese investors? Turns out, they love them.

According to a recent report by Afrobarometer, almost two-thirds (63%) of Africans say China’s influence is somewhat positive or very positive, while only 15% see it as somewhat or very negative.

CNN

Refugee Restaurant Dishes Up African Fare to Win Italian Hearts

A refugee-run restaurant opening in Venice this week hopes to exploit Italians’ renowned passion for food to improve community relations, one of its founders said on Thursday, as the arrival of thousands of migrants stokes tensions around the country.

Italy has become the main arrival point in Europe for people fleeing persecution and poverty in Africa, most of them crossing the Mediterranean from lawless Libya in search of a better life.

Their stories inspired Hamed Ahmadi, an Afghan refugee living in Italy, to open Africa Experience, a restaurant managed and run exclusively by refugees.

AllAfrica.com

Canada has more to offer in Africa than military muscle, Trudeau says

Canada’s soon-to-be-announced peace mission to Africa will attempt to tackle “root causes of conflict” because going to fight is not justification enough for deployment, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Canada has an awful lot to offer other than just stopping people from shooting at each other,” Trudeau said Thursday, though he added that is “an important and one of the first things that we want to do” in any engagement.

However, Trudeau said Canadians expect a “layered approach” to any United Nations mission that will “create the conditions for longer-term stability and security.”

The Star

Lessons for Africa on climate change from pace-setting Nordic nations

Africa is gearing up to host a major United Nations climate change conference in Morocco from November 7. This 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) has been dubbed the COP of Action, with delegates’ focus set to be trained on making progress on the issues agreed on in Paris last year. Climate change is a topic of special interest to Africa, which is heavily agricultural and is feeling the impact of deviations in weather patterns. To prevent a disaster of epic proportions, the continent has joined global efforts to lower carbon emissions in an effort to secure the future. We spoke to Hans Jørgen Koch, the director of Nordic Energy Research, an institution under the Nordic Council of Ministers, on what Africa can learn from the green efforts underway in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

Standard Digital

 

News Briefs – 28 October 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC Tensions Continue Despite Regional Backing of Election Delay

Central African heads of state meeting Wednesday in Luanda, Angola, endorsed the deal signed last week in the Democratic Republic of Congo that delays that country’s elections by nearly two years. But the regional stamp of approval has not diminished tensions in the country itself.

The African Union-mediated agreement pushes elections in the DRC from next month to April 2018. President Joseph Kabila will stay on until then at the head of a new power-sharing government, though his elected mandate expires in December.

Angola’s president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, himself in power since 1979, said Wednesday the accord will help “put an end to the climate of contestation and destabilization.”

Voice of America

Seventeen arrested in DR Congo for protesting election delay

Police in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo arrested at least 17 democracy activists this week for campaigning against the postponement of the presidential election, fellow activists said, though 11 had been freed by Wednesday evening.

President Joseph Kabila has ruled Congo since 2001 and is required by the constitution to step down in December. But the ruling coalition and part of the opposition agreed this month to delay the vote to pick his successor from this November to April 2018, citing problems enrolling millions of voters.

Eight members of youth activist group Struggle for Change (Lucha) were arrested in the eastern city of Goma on Wednesday as they prepared to hold a sit-in near the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping mission, Lucha said in a statement.

DefenceWeb

Somalia

Somalia’s al-Shabaab in comeback, as Ethiopia pulls troops

Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabaab, are making a comeback, having recently seized four towns and attacked a guesthouse in neighboring Kenya, killing 12.

The resurgence of al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaeda, could affect Somalia’s plans to hold elections next month and further destabilize what is already one of the world’s most failed states.

The rebels had steadily lost ground over the past five years, first losing control of the capital, Mogadishu, in 2011 and then being pushed out of virtually all of Somalia’s other major cities and towns. This was largely the work of the African Union force of 22 000 soldiers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti, which is supported by the UN. The relatively weak Somalia army, with 35,000 troops, also participated in the operations.

News24

 

 

Somalia: Concern for deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaalkacyo

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation for people in Gaalkacyo in central Somalia, due to violence over the past three weeks.

“At least 85,000 people have been displaced by the fighting so far, 60 per cent of whom have been forced to flee their homes multiple times already because of conflict and drought,” said NRC’s Country Director in Somalia, Abdelgadir Ahmed. “The most recent fighting threatens to aggravate an already fragile situation for communities living in Gaalkacyo.”

Insecurity in 2015 displaced 90,000 people in Gaalkacyo, many of whom have since been living in displacement sites across the city. All 13 displacement settlements in south Gaalkacyo, with an estimated population of 20,000, have been abandoned in the past three weeks. Another eight in the north of the city have been vacated. Over 80 per cent of those displaced are women, children and the elderly.

ReliefWeb

Central African Republic

Four dead in UN Bangui shooting

Four people have been killed during protests against the UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic. Peacekeepers opened fire when demonstrators tried to force their way into the UN headquarters, says a BBC reporter, who saw bodies being taken away in a police vehicle.

The UN denies using live bullets and says its soldiers only used tear gas. A group of Central Africans wants the UN mission to withdraw, saying it is failing to protect people. The peacekeepers were deployed after civil war broke out in 2013 when then-President Francois Bozize was ousted by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

BBC

Tensions Rise Over Perception of UN Favouring Militia Groups

Frustration and lack of communication are fomenting violence in Bangui, Central African Republic, and additionally throughout the country, according to a reconciliation expert. Peaceful protests on the streets of the capital turned violent on Monday when clashes broke out, killing four people and wounding 14 in the skirmishes between protesters and the UN peacekeeping force (MINUSCA) on the streets of Bangui, said the UN.

The death toll was disputed by Gervais Lakosso, president, Work and Civil Society Group, a non-governmental organisation that held the demonstration aimed at getting MINUSCA out of the country. He said that six people were killed.

MINUSCA maintains that Lakosso and his group do not represent the will of Central Africans.

“This is not a general position. It’s not backed by the entire Central African [population],” said Vladimir Monteiro, MINUSCA spokesman, adding that they had spoken to Lakosso twice recently.

AllAfrica.com

 

Chances of success high in Central African Republic if investments made in peace – UN Deputy Secretary-General

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today said that the Central African Republic (CAR) can focus on stabilization, reconciliation and reconstruction now that the country has emerged from one of the worst crises of its history and was trying to establish legitimate institutions.

“A significant investment has been made by the international community to come to this point: for the United Nations, our support in providing humanitarian assistance, our efforts on reconciliation, recovery, development and of course the presence of MINUSCA [the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic] illustrate our determination to help the country,” said Mr. Eliasson.

Mr. Eliasson was speaking to UN Member States and key partners at UN Headquarters in New York ahead of the Donors Conference on the Central African Republic taking place on 17 November in the Belgian capital, Brussels.

UN News

Sudan

President Kenyatta to visit Sudan on Saturday

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will arrive to Khartoum on Saturday in a state a two-day visit at the invitation of his Sudanese counterpart Omer al-Bashir.

Presidents al-Bashir and Kenyatta will discuss regional and international issues of common interest, and ways to develop bilateral relations, said a statement issued by spokesperson of the Sudanese foreign ministry on Thursday.

During the visit, the two countries will sign a number of memorandums of understanding and bilateral cooperation agreements in the field of media, culture and higher education, technology, housing and reconstruction, and agriculture and livestock, further said Ambassador Gharib Allah Khidir.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan backs Gambia, blames Security Council for its position over ICC

Sudan has backed Gambia’s decision to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC) after South Africa and Burundi, blamed the UN Security Council for ignoring the African concerns over the war crimes court.

The Hague based court has been accused of unjustly targeting Africa officials while similar crimes are not investigated in Europe and elsewhere. Recently, South Africa and Burundi decided to leave the court. Gambia is the latest African state to withdraw from the international body.

Last July, the African Union once again requested the Security Council to suspend the referral of the case of Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir and to terminate or suspend the case of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto of Kenya at the ICC until Africa’s concerns and proposals for amendments to the Rome Statute of the ICC are considered.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Abdel-Ghani al-Naeem Thursday told Sudan Tribune that the African Union following Kigali Summit last July sought to meet the Security Council over the ICC but the 15-member body didn’t respond to their demand.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

U.N. chief seeks Security Council help with South Sudan rebels in Congo

United Nations Chief Ban Ki-moon has asked the Security Council for help to resolve a stalemate between peacekeepers and the Democratic Republic of Congo government over what to do with hundreds of South Sudanese rebel fighters.

In a letter to the 15-member council, seen by Reuters on Thursday, Ban said 755 South Sudanese rebels had crossed into Congo’s Garamba National Park with opposition leader Riek Machar in August. They fled the South Sudanese capital Juba in July, after fighting erupted between Machar’s forces and troops loyal to his rival, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.

U.N. peacekeepers in Congo extracted Machar, his wife, son and 10 others from Garamba at the request of the Congolese government in mid-August, Ban said.

Since then the United Nations has been trying to broker an agreement between Congo and South Sudan on the repatriation of the fighters or their relocation to a third country until a political deal is in place in South Sudan, Ban said.

Reuters

Pope Francis accepts church leaders’ invitation to visit South Sudan

Pope Francis has accepted an invitation to visit South Sudan to preach peace in the country embroiled in inter-ethnic and political strife, religious leaders said after talks with the pontiff on Thursday.

“He accepted the invitation and said that in principle he really wants to come,” said Rev. Peter Gai Lual Marrow of the South Sudan’s Presbyterian Church.

Marrow and Paulino Lukudu Loro, Catholic Archbishop of the capital, Juba, and Episcopalian Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak held talks with the pope, who had asked them to come to the Vatican to discuss the situation in their country.

Oil-producing South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, descended into civil war in December 2013 when a dispute between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar ended with fighting, often occurring along ethnic lines. Both sides have targeted civilians, human rights groups say.

Reuters

Western Sahara

There Can Be Only Negotiated Political Solution to Western Sahara: Ambassador

Morocco stressed in the United Nations in Geneva that the only way forward to put an end to the dispute over the Western Sahara is through a mutually acceptable political solution.

During a meeting at the UN office in Geneva, Morocco’s permanent representative to Geneva, ambassador Mohamed Aujjar, said that “the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara can be resolved only through a negotiated political solution pursuant to UNSC resolutions.”

Since 2004, the UNSC committed itself to finding a mutually-acceptable political solution to this conflict, as an alternative to the failure in the implementation of the 1991 settlement plan, said the diplomat during the examining of the 6th Moroccan report by the UNHRC.

Morocco World News

UN peacekeeping chief to visit disputed Western Sahara

The UN peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday he is heading to the disputed Western Sahara later this week to visit UN troops for the first time since Morocco expelled more than 70 UN civilian staffers in March to protest comments by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Herve Ladsous told a group of reporters after briefing the Security Council that he will visit Layoune, the largest city in Western Sahara, as well as camps for Sahrawi refugees in neighboring Tindouf, Algeria, and the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

He will be the highest-ranking UN official to visit the region since early March when Ban used the word “occupation” in talking about Morocco’s involvement in Western Sahara during a visit to a refugee camp in Tindouf. That led to demonstrations against Ban in Morocco and the government’s decision to expel UN civilian workers.

News24

Madagascar

1.4 Million People Are Facing Serious Hunger in Drought-Hit Southern Madagascar

Of that number, 850,000 are said to be in need of urgent humanitarian assistance

This year’s El Niño weather pattern has amplified the effects of consecutive droughts in southern Madagascar, ravaging crops and leaving 1.4 million people desperately short of food.

A report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Wednesday said that insufficient rainfall in the southern region of Androy alone caused an 80 percent drop in maize production this year.

Production of the staple in the south was already down after the droughts in 2015. Yields of cassava, another staple, were also severely reduced.

Crop failures are forcing people to sell their animals and agricultural tools, and is driving them to forage in the wild. The FAO said that it and the World Food Program were trying to replace tools and distribute quick-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds.

TIME

Swaziland

King reshuffles TEN diplomats

His Majesty King Mswati III has reshuffled the country’s diplomats serving in foreign missions.

Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini announced the reshuffle of 10 foreign envoys currently representing the country in foreign states yesterday.

Njabuliso Busisiwe Gwebu will be Ambassador of the Kingdom of Swaziland in the United States of America (USA), while Reverend Abednigo Ntshangase who was Ambassador in the US has been moved to be High Commissioner of Swaziland to the Republic of Mozambique.

Transferred “Dumsile Sukati who was High Commissioner to the United Kingdom has been transferred to be High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa.

Swazi Observer

Swaziland: Nurses Threaten to Strike Next Week

Nurses in Swaziland are threatening to embark on an indefinite strike next week after the government in Mbabane failed to meet their demands for better working conditions.

Last week, leaders of the Swaziland Nurses Association presented a petition to Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini’s office demanding better working conditions. They also issued an ultimatum that the group would strike if the administration failed to address their concerns within seven business days.

The ultimatum expired Wednesday, but the government has yet to signal its intentions, according to Sibusiso Lushaba, national secretary of the Swaziland Nurses Association.

He says the decision to demand better working conditions was taken at a national meeting of nurses in October 2015. Lushaba says there was a consensus at the meeting that the administration in Mbabane be lobbied to improve working conditions and create more opportunities for nurses across the country.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe

Military chief says corruption threatens Zimbabwe’s security

A top Zimbabwe army general says corruption in President Robert Mugabe’s government has become a security threat.

In a sharp rebuke of senior ruling party officials, Zimbabwe National Army Chief of Staff (administration), Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, told Parliament that corruption by some senior government officials was bleeding the economy.

Maj-Gen Nyikayaramba’s comments followed serious infighting in President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party over a failed attempt by the anti-graft agency to arrest a minister accused of abusing public funds.

President Mugabe three weeks ago blocked the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) from arresting Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo over alleged abuse of over $450,000 from a State manpower development fund.

Daily Nation

Record levels of assault, abduction and torture reported in Zimbabwe

NGO records hundreds of cases of political violence, which it says are mostly perpetrated by state security forces

Political violence in Zimbabwe has increased dramatically in 2016, with record levels of assault, abduction and torture recorded as opposition to Robert Mugabe’s 36-year rule escalates.

Around 654 cases of political violence were recorded by a local NGO, the Counselling Services Unit (CSU), as of 21 October, compared to 476 cases in the whole of 2015.

The CSU found that assaults were overwhelmingly perpetrated by the state’s security forces – including police, military and the secretive Central Intelligence Organisation – while opposition supporters and civil society activists had been on the receiving end of the increasingly violent treatment.

The Guardian

 

Africa in General

African revolt threatens international criminal court’s legitimacy

The claim that the international criminal court unfairly targets Africans is gaining significant traction after the Gambia became the third country on the continent to announce its withdrawal from The Hague-based tribunal.

The move follows similar announcements from Burundi and South Africa, who informed the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, of their decision to quit the court last week, making them the first countries to begin the year-long exit process in the court’s 18-year history.

Burundi’s parliament has claimed the court is merely “a political tool used by [foreign] powers to remove whoever they want from power on the African continent”.

The Guardian

SA’s exit from ICC has ripple effect in Africa

South Africa’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court has spurred on other African countries to follow suit, with Kenya the latest to pull out of the institution.

Pretoria announced its decision to withdraw from the ICC on Friday and was followed by Burundi on Saturday.

Last year there was a dispute about Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visiting South Africa despite his being the subject of an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes.

The Kenyan cabinet is finalising a decision to leave the ICC after the country was criticised for prosecuting President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and four other leaders for the 2007 post-election violence. The case crumbled before the ICC last year and the Kenyan leaders were acquitted.

IOL

China’s model of economic development is becoming more popular in Africa than America’s

More African countries are looking East for inspiration on how to grow and manage their economies. According to a survey by Afrobarometer, China is the second-most popular international presence on the continent, only slightly behind the United States. “China rivals the United States in influence and popularity as a development model,” the report, released today (pdf), concluded.

About 30% of 56,000 people surveyed in 36 African countries ranked the US as the most popular model for national development, compared to 24% who ranked China first.

Quartz