Democratic Republic of Congo
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
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.
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.
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.
Central African Republic
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Africa in General
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.
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.
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,
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.