News Briefs 15 June 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo President Kabila Will Not Seek Third Term: DRC PM

Congo’s current President Joseph Kabila will not seek a third mandate in the Central African country’s upcoming December elections because of constitutional term limits that prevent him from running again, Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala said on Tuesday.

“The elections are going to take place without the participation of President Kabila who will abide by the spirit and the letter of the constitution,” Tshibala said in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum of the Americas, Conference of Montreal.

Tshibala’s comments follow signs in the mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo that Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father Laurent in 2001, is prepared to run for a third elected term.

Tshibala said the elections are still scheduled to take place on 23 December.


Belgium prepared to accept DRC’s Bemba after acquittal: official

Belgium is prepared to accept former Democratic Republic of Congo vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, after he was cleared of war crimes last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders said on Thursday.

“The Belgian authorities have responded favourably to the court’s request to allow Mr Bemba to stay in Belgium, where his family lives, following his release on bail,” Reynders said in a statement, adding that the handover would be finalised in the coming days.

Bemba left the detention centre of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday following his acquittal of war crimes after a decade behind bars, his lawyer said.



UN says 53 people killed by tropical cyclone in Somalia

At least 53 people were killed and some 229,000 others affected by tropical cyclone Sagar that caused heavy rains and flooding in Somaliland and Puntland in northern Somalia in May, the UN humanitarian agency said on Thursday.

Citing estimates from local disaster management authorities in the two regional states, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 50 people were killed in Somaliland while three lost their lives in Puntland.

“The subsequent floods and strong winds exacted a heavy toll on infrastructure and farmland, leaving many people dead and thousands of others displaced. Basic infrastructure, including water sources and communication equipment, collapsed in many areas,” OCHA said in its latest Flash Update.



Somalia’s Al Shabaab Claims Attack in Which Us Soldier Died

Somalia’s Islamist group al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for an attack in which a US commando was killed and four others were wounded when they came under fire in the country.

The US special operations forces were fighting alongside about 800 troops from the Somali National Security Forces and Kenyan Defence Forces when they were attacked late on Friday by mortars and small arms fire.

“We attacked a military base … killed one US soldier, two Kenyan soldiers and nine Somali soldiers from Jubbaland state. We also injured four US soldiers,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters on late Friday.

He said the attack was in the southern town of Kismayo.


Central African Republic

UN peacekeeper killed in Central African Republic

A Burundian soldier in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) was killed late on Sunday in a clash in the centre of the country, UN sources said.

The fighting occurred in the town of Bambari, according to UN sources there and in the capital Bangui. A CAR soldier was also injured.

The death came a week after a Tanzanian peacekeeper was killed and seven others were wounded when their patrol was ambushed in the village of Dilapoko in the southwest Mambere-Kadei prefecture.


US, France and Britain freeze sale of Chinese weaponry to Central African Republic

France, Britain and the United States on Thursday put on hold a request from the Central African Republic for UN Security Council approval of Chinese weapons deliveries for its national forces.

CAR’s defence minister asked a UN sanctions committee on June 5 to grant an exemption to an arms embargo and allow the shipments of Chinese-made armoured vehicles, machine guns, tear gas grenades and other weaponry for its army and police.

France said it had “concerns concerning some lethal equipment included in this exemption request,” citing anti-aircraft weapons and ammunitions, according to a document obtained by Agence France-Presse.

The French mission to the United Nations requested “additional justifications concerning this lethal equipment to be able to take a decision.”

South China Morning Post


Sudan’s security apparatus ban journalists from reporting

Sudanese security service Thursday enforced a new crackdown on journalists and the press as it withdrew the licence of a journalist reporting for a pan Arab newspaper and confiscated the entire print-runs of local newspapers.

Ahmed Younes, the correspondent of Asharq aA-Awast told Sudan Tribune that the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) withdrew his licence and stopped him from reporting to his London based newspaper.

He further said his suspension and the withdrawal of licence come as a continuation of the abuse he experienced from the NISS agents who had summoned him and threatened to remove his permit on 7 June.

NISS agents interrogated Younes on an article where he predicted a bloody purge (a Night of the Long Knives) within the National Congress Party, as he referred to a power struggle among the different factions of the ruling party.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s ruling party and opposition Umma reiterate commitment to peace roadmap

Sudan ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Thursday said they agreed to create a conducive environment for national dialogue and to commit themselves to the African Union roadmap as a mechanism to discuss national issues.

The agreement was announced in a joint statement signed by NUP leader Sadiq al-Mahdi and al-Hadi Abdallah who travelled to Cairo heading an NCP delegation to meet the self-exiled political leader.

“After mutual clarification of the views, it was agreed that creating the confidence-building measures and sticking to the roadmap should serve as a mechanism for discussing national issues,” reads the joint statement co-signed by the two political leaders.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

South Sudan’s cabinet passes $584 million budget for 2018-19

South Sudan’s cabinet adopted on Thursday a budget of 81.6 billion South Sudanese pounds ($584 million) for the 2018-19 fiscal year, an increase of 75 percent from the previous period, the government said.

More than four years of civil war have destroyed South Sudan’s economy. Inflation was at 161.2 percent in March, with hyperinflation persisting for several years due in part to its depreciating currency.

The government depends on crude oil, but output is less than half its pre-war level of 245,000 barrels per day.


South Sudan’s Kiir orders return of Muslim properties

The South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Monday directed that all properties that had earlier been confiscated from the Muslim communities be returned to them.

The president made these remarks during the annual Ramadan dinner with Muslim leaders at Freedom Hall in the capital, Juba.

The South Sudanese leader instructed the national security minister to work with the South Sudanese Islamic Council to retrieve back all the looted Muslims properties in the different parts of the country.

“The minister of national security is here with us in the hall, so I want him to go tomorrow morning [Tuesday] to visit the sites of the properties that have been grabbed. You will show him [minister] the stolen properties,” said Kiir.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Committee of 24: Participants call to speed up Western Sahara decolonization

The delegations of several countries participating in the annual session of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization, known as Committee of 24, called Monday to resume negotiations on Western Sahara to speed up its decolonization.

In a session devoted to the Sahrawi issue, the representative of the Ecuador Diego Fernando Morejon Pazmino said that it is important to focus on the resumption of the negotiations at the approach of the end of the Third International Decade of the eradication of colonialism, underlining that 30 years of failure is inacceptable.

For his part, East Timor’s representative Mautito called the Committee to intensify efforts to put an end to colonialism, pointing out that 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories provide shelter for nearly two million people.

Sahara Press Service

Cuba backs UN a just solution to Western Sahara question (PL)

The Permanent Representative of Cuba to the UN, Anayansi Rodríguez, has reaffirmed the support of her country for a just and definitive solution to the question of Western Sahara.

Speaking at a session of the United Nations Decolonization Committee, the diplomat expressed Cuba’s support for the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination, based on respect for the principles of the UN Charter and international law. .

In this regard, she highlighted the call of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union to initiate talks among the member states in order to establish a free and fair referendum.

“Cuba has repeatedly expressed its support for the efforts of the United Nations to find a definitive solution to this case, in such a way that the people of Western Sahara can exercise their right to self-determination.”

Sahara Press Service


Swaziland name change to eSwatini is now official

The change of name from Swaziland to eSwatini has been made official through a gazette signed by His Majesty King Mswati III.

The change was announced by King Mswati on April 19 during the double celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence and of his 50th birthday.

Mswati explained the change by highlighting the fact that his country needed a name his people could identify with. Swazis have in the past complained of being confused with Switzerland in international fora.

“In exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 64 (3) of the Constitution of Swaziland Act No. 1 of 2005, I, Mswati III, King and Ingwenyama of Eswatini makes the declaration that the name of the Kingdom of Swaziland is changed to Kingdom of Eswatini,” read the gazette.

Africa News

‘Police Beat Man Close to Death’

Community police officers in Swaziland / Eswatini attacked a man described as ‘mentally disturbed’ and beat him close to death, a newspaper in the kingdom reported.

The Swazi Observer on Tuesday (12 June 2018) said five officers at Ngoloweni in Sandleni were accused of beating a 44-yearod man after claims that he attempted to rape a girl aged six.

The newspaper reported police and local residents ‘pounced on him and without saying much, he was handcuffed and heavily assaulted with sticks. He was also slapped and kicked all over the body.’

The Observer described the man as ‘mentally disturbed’ with ‘speech challenges’.



Twenty-three (23) presidential candidates cleared for Zimbabwe’s vote

At least 23 presidential candidates were cleared on Thursday to run in Zimbabwe’s elections due on July 30, the electoral commission announced.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) published a provisional list of approved candidates that include President Emmerson Mnangagwa and a young opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa.

More applications were still being processed for the first election since Robert Mugabe was ousted following a brief military takeover in November last year.

“We will announce another batch once we are done with the rest of what is being processed,” Japhet Munjere, ZEC director of elections told reporters.

The Zimbabwean Mail

Zimbabwe opens candidate nomination ahead of July polls

Zimbabwe fired the starting pistol for election campaigning on Thursday when it formally opened the nomination process to presidential hopefuls ahead of polls due on July 30.

The election will be a key test for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded long-serving autocrat Robert Mugabe after a brief military takeover in November and remains untested at the ballot box.

Candidates seeking to contest next month’s presidential, parliamentary and local polls have just one day to submit their candidacy to one of several specially convened electoral courts across the country.

Mnangagwa, 75, of the ruling ZANU-PF party and Nelson Chamisa, 40, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party are the presidential front-runners.





Africa in General

US calls for crackdown on S Sudan war money invested in Kenya

The United States urged Kenya on Wednesday to investigate properties and assets owned by elite families from South Sudan, including its president and his rival, who have enriched themselves in their country’s civil war raging since 2013.

Sigal Mandelker, the US Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence on a tour of east Africa, said South Sudanese, some of them on a sanctions list, have continued to invest illicit money in Kenya’s real estate market.

“I wanna be very clear, those who profit from human rights violations and corruption, preying on the poor and innocent and mothers and children, must heed our warning,” Mandelker told a press conference in Nairobi.


AU welcomes Sudan’s proposal to host peace meeting on South Sudan

The African Union (AU) on Tuesday welcomed Sudan’s proposal to host a meeting between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar, the Sudanese Media Center reported.

“The AU welcomes any step that is likely to achieve peace in South Sudan,” said Wakil Amutingon, acting head of the AU Liaison Office in Khartoum.

In May, foreign ministers of the member states of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Africa agreed on holding a face-to-face meeting between Kiir and Machar.

The meeting is expected to revive the peace process in South Sudan and urge the parties to the conflict to implement the peace deal brokered by the IGAD in August 2015.


ICC court launches fund for CAR victims of Bemba militia

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched a $1.18m fund for victims of a militia once run by former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, it said on Wednesday.


The fund – announced after Bemba was acquitted on war-crimes charges – will be dispensed to people who suffered at the hands of Bemba militia in the Central African Republic (CAR), the ICC’s director in CAR, Mike Cole, told a press conference.

The serious crimes committed in CAR “have not been forgotten,” he said.

The violence took place over a timeframe of five months in 2002-2003, at a time when the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was in the grip of a war that sucked in neighbouring countries.

Bemba at that time was leader of a militia called the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) – a 1 500-strong force backed by neighbouring Uganda and opposed to DRC President Joseph Kabila.



News Briefs 08 June 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo OKs experimental Ebola treatments

The Democratic Republic of Congo has approved new experimental drugs to treat Ebola as the central African country tries to stem its latest outbreak, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

An ethics committee said the therapies could be used on the grounds of compassionate care.

The DRC declared a new outbreak of the Ebola virus in early May in the Equateur province. As of Monday, there have been 37 confirmed cases, 14 probable cases, seven suspected cases and 27 deaths, according to Peter Salama, deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response for WHO.

The virus has largely been confined to the city of Mbandaka and surrounding rural towns. Health officials have targeted points of entry into the area for in-depth medical assessments. They also attempted to halt the spread of the disease using an experimental vaccine.

DR Congo crisis stirs concerns in central Africa

Across central Africa, a belt of countries is casting a wary eye at the political crisis brewing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), fearing the impact on their security and economy if the situation explodes.

Nine countries share a border with the DRC, one of the biggest and most troubled nations in Africa — and the theatre of two wars in the late 1990s and early 2000s that sucked in countries around the region and led to the deaths of three million people.

From the Republic of Congo and Angola in the west to Uganda and Rwanda in the east, memories of that traumatic period remain razor sharp today as their vast neighbour’s political future hangs in the balance.

“The DRC is the mother of all crises,” Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel Domingo Augustos told the French daily Le Monde in January. “What happens there affects the entire Great Lakes region.”



UN warns that Somalia’s political unity at risk

The UN Security Council warned on Thursday that “internal and external pressures risk undermining Somalia’s political unity” and expressed serious concern at the ongoing threats posed by the al-Shabab extremist group.

A presidential statement approved by the 15-member council calls for stepped-up efforts “to prevent destabilizing effects of regional crises and disputes from spilling over into Somalia” and to support the country’s federal system and institutions.


Somalia, which borders restive Kenya and lies across the Gulf of Aden from conflict-wracked Yemen, began to fall apart in 1991, when warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

Years of conflict and attacks by al-Shabab, along with famine, shattered the country of some 12 million people. It has been trying to rebuild since establishing its first functioning transitional government in 2012.


UN appeals for ‘unhindered’ access for Somalia aid

The United Nations Security Council called Thursday for “unhindered humanitarian access” in Somalia, expressing concern about the risk of famine in the conflict-racked country.

“The Security Council expresses deep concern about the humanitarian situation in Somalia, including the continued risk of famine and the impact of recent flooding,” the council said in a statement adopted Thursday.

“The Security Council notes with concern that the fighting has exacerbated the humanitarian situation and calls on all parties to allow and facilitate full, safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access,” it said.

Arab News

Central African Republic

Central African Republic Approves War Crimes Court

Central African Republic has approved a law creating a special criminal court to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity during more than a decade of ethnic and religious conflict, a lawmaker said.

Hundreds have died in the violence and scores more have been raped and tortured, but the perpetrators have not faced any meaningful legal pursuit, rights activists say.

“With this law, we will now be able to count on the justice system to put an end to the conflicts, to the killings, to the massacres,” Ernest Mezedio, a national deputy, told Reuters on Wednesday.

“The executioners who walk around freely should know that the hour of justice has sounded,” he said. The country’s parliament approved the law late on Tuesday.


1 UN peacekeeper dead, 7 wounded in Central African Republic

The United Nations said Monday that a Tanzanian peacekeeper was killed and seven others wounded in the Central African Republic when a U.N. patrol was ambushed.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the attack happened Sunday in Dilapoko, a village in Mambere-Kadei Prefecture in the country’s southwest.

He said one of wounded peacekeeper was in critical condition and was taken to the capital, Bangui, for treatment at the U.N. Mission’s military hospital along with three other soldiers whose condition was serious.

The U.N. mission in Central African Republic is one of the deadliest peacekeeping missions. The country has seen deadly interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital and mainly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back.

Tampa Bay Times


EU calls on Sudan to commute death sentence of teen who killed husband

The European Parliament has called on the Sudanese government to commute the death sentence of a woman who killed her husband after he raped her. Noura Hussein, now 19, was forced into the marriage at the age of 16.

The Sudan Tribune reported that the young woman had been held down by the brother of her husband, a relative and a third person to assist in her rape. The next day she stabbed him to death after he tried to force himself on her again.

The woman was sentenced to death in May after her family refused to accept compensation, in a case that has raised international solidarity.

The European Parliament “deplores and condemns the sentencing to death of Noura Hussein Hammad; calls on the Sudanese authorities to commute the death sentence and fully take into account the fact that Hussein was acting in self-defence against the attempt by a man and his accomplices to rape her”, according to a recently adopted resolution.


Sudan Says It Has Cut All Defence Ties with North Korea

Sudan said on Wednesday it had cut all defence ties with North Korea, in a rare admission that it used to have such ties in the first place.

The announcement came as Washington is locked in a standoff over Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons programmes, and as Sudan, which is still on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, reels from an economic crisis.

“Sudan’s government would like to affirm that its defence production sector has cancelled all contracts … with North Korea, and ended all relations, direct or through a third party,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.


South Sudan

S Sudan rebel chief ‘happy’ to meet Kiir but denies Khartoum talks

South Sudan’s armed opposition said that leader Riek Machar would be “happy” to meet with his bitter rival President Salva Kiir but denied knowledge of planned talks in Khartoum.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir this week offered to host a meeting between the warring parties as regional leaders seek an end to the more than four-year civil war in South Sudan which has resisted numerous peace efforts.

Kiir’s spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, told AFP that such a meeting was to take place at the end of June, after his boss apparently welcomed the encounter.

However, Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) slammed this as “disinformation”.


South Sudan’s dire humanitarian crisis worsens – NGO

A humanitarian crisis in conflict-torn South Sudan is reaching alarming proportions after four and a half years of fighting, Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) warned on Thursday.

“I’ve never before seen, heard, experienced so many people being so food-insecure in so many places in South Sudan,” he told a press conference in Nairobi.

“What is different this year is that the acute food insecurity has spread to more parts of the country,” such as southern Equatoria, he said.

In February, UN agencies warned that 48 percent of South Sudan’s population was experiencing extreme hunger and seven million would need aid in 2018.

In 2017 some 100,000 people were affected by a famine — meaning people started dying due to lack of food. It was declared over in June.

Daily Monitor

Western Sahara

Ramaphosa condemns humanitarian crisis in Western Sahara

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said the protracted humanitarian crisis in Western Sahara’s refugee camps was a direct consequence of the delay in finding a lasting solution to the conflict in the North Africa region.

Ramaphosa’s comments follow his bilateral meeting with Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic President Brahim Ghali in Pretoria. Ghali is in the country on a working visit.

Upon concluding their meeting, Ramaphosa said a memorandum signed between the two African countries regarding the current conflict and humanitarian crisis provides his country with an opportunity to assist the people of Western Sahara, particularly those who continue to struggle in refugee camps.

“The lack of a solution is also an impediment towards greater regional integration and security cooperation in the Maghreb region,” Ramaphosa said in a statement adding “in our discussions, we expressed our full support and confidence in the efforts undertaken by the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Mr Horst Köhler, to bring the parties together and mobilise the international community to implement all UN resolutions on Western Sahara.”


Namibians rally behind Western Sahara

“Why isn’t Morocco fulfilling its obligation to the United Nations (UN) Security Council for the self-determination of Western Sahara?  Why are economic sanctions not being imposed on Morocco? Can we accept an African country being a coloniser of another? What is being done to put pressure

on France and Spain, which are blocking the independence of Western Sahara? What are the pressure tactics Namibia can use to talk to the African Union (AU) for the independence of Western Sahara?”

These were some of the pressing questions posted to President Brahim Ghali of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) during a public lecture on the current political development in the SADR in Windhoek on Monday.

Namibians, who came to listen to the public lecture, made it known in no uncertain terms that they were in full solidarity of the Sahrawi’s struggle for independence from Morocco as they sang liberation songs and chanted, “Down Morocco, down!”

Sahara Press Service


Election Board Targets Fewer Voters

Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) is targeting to register fewer voters for the forthcoming national election than registered at the last poll in 2013.

EBC Chairman Chief Gija Dlamini said it was targeting 500,000 voters. The Swazi Observer reported on Friday (1 June 2018) he said, ‘It could be a miracle to have all eligible Emaswati [Swazi people] turning out for registering but we are expecting the number to reach 80 per cent.’ If this figure is met, 400,000 people will register. He said 278,888 people had already registered.

The 400,000 target is fewer than the 414,704 people who registered to vote in 2013.


China angles for Swaziland to ditch Taiwan before major African summit

China hopes self-ruled Taiwan’s only remaining African ally, Swaziland, will sever ties with Taipei before China hosts a summit of African leaders this year, the foreign ministry said on Friday, keeping up the pressure on Taiwan.

Taiwan is claimed by China as its own, with Beijing saying that as it is merely a Chinese province it has no right to state-to-state relations.

Taiwan has lost two diplomatic allies in the past month, most recently the West African state of Burkina Faso, which re-established ties with Beijing last weekend. The Chinese government’s top diplomat State Councilor Wang Yi urged Swaziland to follow suit.



Zimbabwe’s MDC-T pledges $100B economy if it wins vote

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party says it will create a $100 billion economy within a decade and improve ties with Israel if it wins the July 30 elections.

The MDC-T, which has re-energized under 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, launched its election manifesto Thursday.

The state broadcaster, which is closely aligned with the ruling party, provided rare live coverage.


President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power in November when longtime leader Robert Mugabe stepped down under pressure, has promised free and fair elections in a country with a history of disputed polls.

Both Mnangagwa and the opposition pledge to improve the once-prosperous economy and attract foreign investors put off by years of international sanctions.


MDC wants Zimbabwe to join Rand Monetary Union

The MDC Alliance launched its election manifesto in Harare on Thursday‚ vowing to deal with Zanu-PF’s “economic mischief” ‚ should its candidate‚ Nelson Chamisa‚ romp to victory.

Presenting the party’s Sustainable and Modern Agenda for Real Transformation (SMART) document‚ finance minister from the inclusive government of 2009-13 Tendai Biti said they would seek to join the Rand Monetary Union as a stopgap measure to address the country’s economic woes.

Currently the rand is being used under a basket of currencies but pricing of goods and services is in US dollars.

“We seek to strengthen the multi-currency regime while we work towards joining the rand union and scrapping the bond notes totally‚” said Biti.




Africa in General

South Sudan and Sudan agree to repair damaged oil infrastructure

South Sudan said on Thursday it had agreed with its northern neighbor Sudan to repair oil infrastructure facilities destroyed by conflict within three months to boost production in Africa’s youngest country.

Michael Makuei Lueth, South Sudan’s information minister, told Reuters officials agreed with their visiting Sudanese counterparts to “evaluate and assess the damage” to South Sudan’s oilfields in the Heglig area in the country’s north.

“There is an agreement between the two oil ministries of the two countries. They agreed to cooperate and work together in order to repair (the damage),” he said.

South Sudan depends virtually entirely on oil sales for its revenue but production has declined since war broke out in the country in 2013.


Raila Odinga heads to South Africa to broker South Sudan peace deal

Opposition chief Raila Odinga heads to South Africa this morning in his second leg of talks with South Sudan leaders in a bid to end three years civil war. Weeks after Raila travelled to Juba, where he held talks with President Salva Kiir, he is expected to meet with rebel leader Riek Machar, in an effort to reconcile the duo. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has given them up to June 30th to reach a deal.

The meeting is expected to complement IGAD’s peace talks which ended prematurely after parties failed to agree on a power-sharing structure or details about how to absorb rebel forces into the national army.

The National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi said yesterday confirmed the trip saying it reaffirms Raila’s image as a preeminent statesman on the continent.

Standard Media

Burundi president promises to step down in 2020

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza said in a surprise announcement on Thursday that he will not run in the 2020 elections, despite a recent referendum allowing longer term limits.

“Our presidential mandate will end in 2020,” said Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005, at a ceremony in central Gitega province.

“I am ready, with all my heart and all my intelligence, to support the one who will be the new president in 2020,” added the 54-year-old former rebel leader who was recently declared “supreme eternal leader” by the ruling party.

Nkurunziza made the announcement some two weeks after a large majority of Burundians voted “yes” in a referendum on presidential term limits that could allow Nkurunziza to stay in power until 2034.


Tunisia PM fires top minister amid alarm over migrant deaths

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Wednesday fired his interior minister amid recriminations over a capsized boat of migrants off the coast of the North African country in the deadliest shipwreck this year on the dangerous Mediterranean Sea route to Europe.

The announcement did not say why Lotfi Brahem was fired but came a day after Brahem dismissed 10 high-level security officials amid an investigation into the weekend disaster. An estimated 112 people were known to be dead or missing.

Officials have cited “security failures” surrounding the capsizing early Sunday of the old, overloaded boat near Kerkennah Island off the coast of the city of Sfax. The boat was carrying an estimated 180 people.

Among those fired based on preliminary investigations into the sinking are the heads of the judicial police and National Guard in Sfax and the head of the maritime border patrol in Kerkennah.



News Briefs 11 May 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

Ebola outbreak declared in Democratic Republic of Congo

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo declared an outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, a rare and deadly disease, on Tuesday, the World Health Organization reported. The declaration came after laboratory results confirmed two cases of the disease in the province of Bikoro in the northwestern part of the country.

Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees), is caused by one of five Ebola viruses. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average case fatality rate is around 50%.

A government statement released Tuesday states that the Ministry of Health has “taken all necessary measures to respond promptly and effectively to this new epidemic of Ebola in the DRC’s national territory”.


UN chief urges DRC to lift ban on demonstrations

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government to lift a ban on demonstrations that threatens to scupper chances for credible elections.

The December 23 elections in the vast resource-rich country are to pave the way to a historic transfer of power that would end President Joseph Kabila’s rule.

Guterres told the Security Council in a report that “persistent divergences” over the vote and “the lack of political space remain a threat to the holding of credible and inclusive elections.”

“Lifting the ban on public demonstrations would greatly contribute to the opening of political space” and allow the Congolese to “freely exercise their political and civil rights,” said the report sent to the council this month.



11 killed in Somalia market explosion: security official

At least 11 people were killed in an explosion in a busy market in a small Somali city north of Mogadishu, a security official and witnesses said.

“Eleven people were confirmed dead and more than 10 others were wounded in the blast, which we are still investigating. Some of the victims have serious wounds and they were admitted to hospital,” Mohamed Abdikarim, a regional security official, told AFP.

Sources contacted by AFP did not yet know whether the blast was caused by a suicide bomber or an explosive device.

The blast occurred at the marketplace in Wanlaweyn district about 70 kilometres north of the Somali capital where Khat (narcotic leaves) is sold.


Parliament Inaugurates New Speaker

The newly elected Lower House of Somali parliament, Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman has been inaugurated on Thursday following his election on 30th April.

Mursal who was elected last month has replaced the former speaker of federal parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawari who resigned after MPs filed a no-confidence motion against him.

The inauguration ceremony was held in Mogadishu under tight security.

Several cabinet Ministers, lawmakers, and high-ranking Somali government officials have attended the inauguration event.


Central African Republic

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official website] on Thursday called for a reduction in violence [press release] in the Central African Republic (CAR), which has seen an increase along religious lines in recent days.

Violence started on May 1 when a group known as Force attacked a church, killing 22 and wounding 185 after the government tried to arrest one of their leaders. Christian groups then responded by killing three Muslim individuals with further attacks from both sides continuing afterwards.

Zeid called on the government of the CAR as well as all relevant national and international actors to help stop the growing violence in the region. Zeid stated that “with hate speech and incitement to violence so prevalent in media and social media, I fear that spontaneous eruptions of violence like that of May 1 could become more widespread and difficult to contain.”

Pope prays for peace in Central African Republic

Pope Francis has offered a prayer in St Peter’s Square for an end to violence in the deeply impoverished Central African Republic, which he visited 2½ years ago.

Francis during his traditional Sunday blessing recalled the serious violence in recent days that left many, including a priest, dead. He called for an end to vendettas “to construct peace together.”

At least 19 people were killed and 98 wounded in the renewed sectarian violence in the Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui, with targets including a church, a mosque and health facilities. The country has faced deadly interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, with thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.



Sudan’s al-Bashir pardons 5 death-sentenced rebels

Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir Thursday pardoned five members of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) who had been sentenced to death by military courts.

The presidential decree includes Ibrahim Abdel-Rahman Saffi al-Nur, Yahia Abbaker Musa al-Nur, Ibrahim Ali al-Rashid Abdel-Gadir, Mohamed Ibrahim al-Doma and Azrag Daldoom Adam Haroun.

Except for Yahia Abbaker Musa al-Nur who was arrested with Ibrahim al-Maz in West Darfur state in January 2011, all the others took part in the attack on the Sudanese capital in May 2008.

The decision to drop the death penalty has been taken in response to an appeal by the national dialogue parties and to promote the national reconciliation atmosphere, reads the decree.

Sudan Tribune

FM Undersecretary Meets Deputy Director of Office of U.S. Envoy to Khartoum and Juba

The Foreign Ministry Undersecretary, Ambassador, Abdul Ghani Al-Naeim met, Thursday, at his office, the Deputy Director of the Office of the US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Andrew Bernet accompanied by the US Charge de Affaires in Khartoum.

The meeting discussed spheres of joint cooperation between Sudan and the US in the previous Five Tracks and the ongoing work in the context of the preparations for the coming phase of the constructive engagement.

The US official has commended Sudan’s cooperation concerning the Second Phase, specially, the roundtable dialogue, the Korean File, the interreligious dialogue and Sudan’s positive efforts to restore stability in the State of South Sudan.


South Sudan

South Sudan accuses US of blocking path to country’s peace

South Sudan’s government on Wednesday lashed out at the United States after the Trump administration threatened to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid amid the country’s grinding civil war, calling the US “a real obstacle” toward achieving peace.

The statement from President Salva Kiir’s office also accused the Trump administration of “naked direct interference” in South Sudan’s affairs ahead of peace talks that will resume on May 17 in neighbouring Ethiopia, mediated by a regional bloc.

The US is the top aid donor to South Sudan, but in a sharply worded statement on Tuesday it said it would review its assistance if the East African nation’s conflict grinds on. The US says it has given over $3.2bn in humanitarian assistance since the conflict broke out in December 2013.


Kiir Fires Bank Governors

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has fired the governor and first deputy governor of the Bank of South Sudan without explanation. Kiir issued two decrees Wednesday night removing Governor Othom Rago Ajak and Deputy Governor Dier Tong Ngor from their posts.

A South Sudanese economic analyst says the two bank governors were likely removed because of their failure to improve the nation’s deteriorating economy. Sources at the Bank of South Sudan confirmed to VOA’s South Sudan in Focus radio program there has been a changing of the guard at the bank.

President Kiir’s Press Secretary, Ateny Wek Ateny, was less certain.

“I have not seen a decree yet and I cannot talk about speculation. If there is any decree that the president issued in regards to the relieving of the governor of the central bank it should be read at the SSBC,” (South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation) Ateny told VOA.


Western Sahara

Morocco cuts diplomatic ties with Iran over Western Sahara feud

Morocco has announced it will cut diplomatic ties with Iran over Tehran’s support for the Polisario Front, a Western Saharan independence movement.

Morocco’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it will close its embassy in Tehran and expel the Iranian ambassador in Rabat over Iran’s support for Polisario.

Rabat accuses Tehran and Lebanese proxy Hezbollah of training and arming Polisario Front fighters.

Morocco’s foreign affairs minister, Nasser Bourita, told Al Jazeera that Rabat has evidence that incriminates the Iranian government, which assisted Hezbollah in providing financial as well as logistical support to Polisario through its embassy in Algiers.


Algeria makes “exception” in supporting refugees

“Algeria is an exception in supporting refugees whether they are from Western Sahara or other Arab and African countries (…). The international community wasn’t aware of the importance of such a sacrifice of the Algerians only after the recent outbreak of several conflicts causing a real refugee crisis,” said Bouhabini in the ceremony of donation of ten million dinars by the ambassador of China to Algiers to the Sahrawi refugees in the camps of Tindouf.

Algeria “makes the exception in dealing with the needs of refugees at a time when a number of countries were overwhelmed by the crisis of refugees,” he added.

Bouhabini underlined that “the international community wasn’t aware of Algeria’s sacrifices in terms of humanitarian aid and assistance to the Sahrawi refugees during more than 40 years only after the outbreak of recent conflicts which led to a crisis of refugees in several European countries.”

Algeria Press Service


Swazi Govt ‘Runs Out of Cash’

The Swazi Government has run out of cash and is living hand-to-mouth. It has to wait for the Swaziland Revenue Authority to put tax collections into its account each Monday before it can pay bills.

The revelation was made by the Sunday Observer (6 May 2018), one of the newspapers in Swaziland in effect owned by the kingdom’s absolute monarch King Mswati III.

In March, Martin Dlamini, the Finance Minister announced the Government owed its suppliers E3.1 billion.


Swazi Govt Hides from the Public

People in Swaziland cannot access critical information from government and there is no political will in the kingdom for this to change, a report on media freedom concluded.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) said a law to allow access to information had been drafted in 2007 but had been ‘left to gather dust on the shelves’.

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the Prime Minister and government ministers. There are few opportunities in Swaziland for people to engage in free and open debate.



Big and bold claims as Zimbabwe prepares for crucial election

Big promises and bizarre allegations bordering on the near impossible are inherent as political parties try to out-smart each other as Zimbabwe heads towards the polls in about three months’ time.

In March‚ having taken over the reigns of power after the death of former MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai‚ the MDC Alliance’s presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa had big shoes to fill.

Not a Tsvangirai equivalent in terms of charisma but with his own attributes‚ Chamisa at a rally in Bindura declared that he would introduce high speed bullet trains when voted into power.

“We want to have the best infrastructure in the next two to three years…we want to bring bullet trains that travel at 600km/hour from Bulawayo to Harare in 30-35 minutes‚” he said as the crowd cheered.


Chamisa to meet Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn; warns UK that Zimbabwe needs democracy not managed stability

MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa has warned the British government that overlooking crucial democratic reforms in favour of managing political stability in Zimbabwe could lead to post-election instability.

Speaking at Chatham House in London on Tuesday, Chamisa expressed concern over what he said was the inclination of the British government in Zimbabwe “to align with one political party against another.”

“We have seen that there has been a bit of a shift on the part of the British government in terms of focusing more on political stability and trade and commerce at the expense of democracy. But that is a false narrative, you can never have stability without democracy,” he said.

New Zimbabwe




Africa in General

Nigerian diplomat found dead in Sudan capital

A Nigerian diplomat has been found dead at his home in Khartoum, Nigeria’s government and Sudanese police said Thursday, with the latter investigating what it called a “criminal act”.

“An employee in the consular section of the Nigerian embassy was found dead at his home in Khartoum,” Sudanese police said in a statement.

“Preliminary investigation shows that the death was due to a criminal act and not politically motivated,” the statement added.

The Nigerian foreign ministry confirmed the death of the diplomat and described him as an “immigration attaché”.



US, Somali raid on al-Shabaab seizes 3 commanders: Officials

Somali intelligence officials say US and Somali commandos have seized three men thought to be commanders with the al-Shabaab extremist group during a deadly raid in a village in Lower Shabelle region.

Five people thought to be banana farmers were killed in the raid late on Wednesday and several others were captured, says Moalim Ahmed Nur, a traditional elder in the village.

A Somali intelligence official says the forces targeted a key hideout and coordination centre for the Somalia-based al-Shabaab. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.


Kenyatta urged not to sign cybercrime bill into law

The Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) has called on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta not to sign into law a cybercrimes bill that was recently passed by the National Assembly because it will stifle press freedom.

On April 26, 2018, the National Assembly approved the Computer and Cybercrimes Bill, 2017, which among other provisions, criminalises the publication of false news and stipulates hefty fines and lengthy prison terms for those found guilty of the offense.

In a statement on Thursday, CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal based in New York said: “Kenyan legislators have passed a wide-ranging bill that will criminalise free speech, with journalists and bloggers likely to be among the first victims if it is signed into law.


Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia fail to agree on Nile dispute

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have failed again to make progress on their Nile dispute as Ethiopia works to complete a massive upstream dam, an Egyptian official said on Tuesday.

Egypt fears the Renaissance Dam will cut into its share of the river, which provides virtually all the freshwater for the arid country of 100 million people. Ethiopia, which has the same sized population, says the dam is essential for its economic development.

Technical talks among irrigation ministers of the three countries in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, last week ended with no deal, Hossam el-Emam, a spokesperson for Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry, told The Associated Press.



News Briefs 13 April 2018


Democratic Republic of Congo

UN Calls on DRC to Not Shun Pledging Conference

The United Nations says it hopes the Democratic Republic of Congo will attend a donors’ conference in Geneva later this week aimed at raising $1.7 billion for life-saving aid. DRC authorities say they will boycott the conference because the UN’s description of Congo’s humanitarian crisis as “catastrophic” is false and gives the country “a bad image.”

The United Nations reports more than 13 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are in need of humanitarian assistance. Seven-point-seven million are going hungry, more than two million acutely malnourished children are at risk of dying, and four-point-five million people are displaced by conflict.

Because of worsening conditions in DRC, the United Nations declared three regions in the country — the Kasai, Tanganyika and South Kivu–as a Level 3 emergency late last year. This is the world body’s highest-level emergency.

A spokesman for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jens Laerke, tells VOA the DRC government’s displeasure with this designation is based on a misunderstanding.

Relief Web

DR Congo opposition takes swing at election organizers

Congolese opposition groups rounded Wednesday on the country’s electoral commission and its insistence that a long-awaited presidential vote in the vast African nation must be conducted using electronic voting machines.

“Democratic Republic of Congo’s political opposition expresses its profound concern over the casual attitude of the national electoral commission (CENI) in managing the election process,” representatives of five parties said in a rare joint statement from Kinshasa.

DR Congo’s long-delayed elections are slated for December 23 but there are fears of mounting unrest and organisers have already encountered a slew of logistical problems — including “millions” of duplicate names on voting registers — organising the vote in the vast, mineral-rich nation.

Daily Monitor


Somalia disbands UAE programme to pay and train soldiers

Somalia has disbanded a United Arab Emirates programme to train some of its troops in a new sign of rising tensions in bilateral relations.


The Somali government announced on Wednesday that it will take over paying and training the soldiers in the programme, Defence Minister Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman told Somalia’s state news agency Sonna.

“Somalia will fully take over [its troops] trained by the UAE… Those forces will be added to the various battalions of the Somalia National Army,” Abdirahman said, adding the soldiers would be integrated into other units on Thursday.

The UAE has trained hundreds of troops since 2014 as part of an effort boosted by an African Union military mission to defeat an al-Shabab uprising and secure the country for the government, which is backed by Western nations, Turkey and the United Nations.


Somalia parliament speaker quits as Gulf rivalries boil

The speaker of Somalia’s parliament resigned on Monday after a dispute with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed that analysts said was fuelled in part by a crisis in the Gulf spilling into the politics of the volatile Horn of Africa nation.

The resignation of Mohamed Osman Jawari came the day after the seizure of $9.6 million in cash at Mogadishu airport from a plane that had landed from the United Arab Emirates, according to police and government sources.

The Mogadishu government confirmed the seizure but did not say what the money was for.

The mystery cash has fuelled a widespread view among Somalis that the political problems in their country are the work of foreign powers, said Rashid Abdi of the think-tank International Crisis Group.

The Star

Central African Republic

Protesters deliver the dead to UN mission in Central African Republic

Hundreds of angry demonstrators laid the bodies of at least 16 people killed in clashes in the Central African Republic capital in front of the UN mission headquarters on Wednesday, witnesses said.

Since Sunday, UN peacekeepers and local security forces have battled armed groups in Bangui’s PK5 area, a Muslim enclave of the majority Christian city, in a bid to dismantle their bases there.

One peacekeeper was killed and eight others were wounded in fighting on Tuesday.

The surge in violence coincides with a visit to the country by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN’s head of peacekeeping operations.

The demonstrators, who blame UN soldiers for firing on residents protesting against the operation in PK5, carried the bodies wrapped in cloth to the gates of the mission.

Business Day

Exchanges of gunfire near president’s residence in Central African Republic

UN troops and an armed group exchanged gunfire during the night near the president’s residence in the Central African Republic, a security source said on Monday.

The incident in the capital Bangui came hours after United Nations and Central African forces launched an operation targeting armed groups in a mainly Muslim district of the city. At least two people were killed and dozens wounded during the joint operation, according to UN and medical sources.

The security source said the exchanges late on Sunday took place after an armed group arrived “by the Ndeke Luka radio station by the road that leads to the residence” of President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

“The group was repulsed by UN peacekeepers from Egypt,” the source said.

Times Live


Sudan’s president Bashir issues decision to release all political prisoners

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has ordered the release of all political prisoners held in the country, state news agency SUNA said on Tuesday.

The decision came in response to calls from political parties and groups that have participated in the country’s ongoing national dialogue to grant detainees the opportunity to engage in the political process, SUNA reported.

Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989 when he came to power in an Islamist and military-backed coup, has said he will not stand in elections expected in 2020 and appointed a vice president last year for the first time.

“The release of political prisoners comes to strengthen the spirit of reconciliation, national harmony and peace created by the national dialogue” and as part of “steps to prepare a permanent constitution for the country,” SUNA said.

Africa News

Sudan to continue mission within Saudi coalition in Yemen

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said his country’s forces will continue their role within the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen to support efforts to restore stability to the country.

The Sudanese minister made the remarks during a meeting with the ambassadors of Egypt, Osama Shaltout, Saudi Arabia, Ali Bin Hassan Jafar, and the UAE, Hamad Bin Hussein Al-Junaibi, in Khartoum.


“The meeting dealt with bilateral relations between Sudan and the three countries and the fraternal and historical ties that bind the peoples of these countries,” a statement from the Sudanese foreign ministry said.

“The meeting also dealt with Sudan’s participation in the Arab summit, on April 15 in Saudi Arabia.”

Middle East Monitor

South Sudan

South Sudan Wants IGAD To Deny Malong Role In Peace Talks

South Sudan has said the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and international community should deny former army chief, General Paul Malong Awan a role in the opposition following his declaration of a rebellion movement.

There are currently nine opposition groups which in February this year formed the Opposition Alliance alongside the main opposition group the SPLM IO to negotiate with the government in the IGAD-led High Level Revitalization Forum in Addis Ababa.

Malong has expressed his intention to join the Opposition Alliance participating in the peace talks.

“We wish to further state our intention to participate in the Revitalization Forum scheduled to commence on 26th April 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We will equally be appending our signature to the addendum to the Cessation of Hostilities already signed by the other parties,” Malong said in the statement.


Western Sahara

Settlement of conflict in Western Sahara: There is no alternative to negotiations

Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelkader Messahel underlined Tuesday, in an interview with France 24, that there is no alternative to negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front for the settlement of the conflict of Western Sahara.

“There was first the report of the United Nations Secretary General on Western Sahara. We are on the verge of examining by the Security Council of this report. Recommendations were made by the Secretary General on the basis of the report of the mission that he entrusted to former German President Horst Kohler. On this basis, everyone agrees on the fact that there is no alternative to the negotiations between the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco. These are the recommendations and everyone agrees that these negotiations restart,” underlined Messahel.

Now when you say that Algeria supports the Sahrawi people, we answered to say: We recognize that Algeria supports the principle of self-determination, it supports the Sahrawi people’s legitimate rights. This is not a secret, it is a principle,” added the head of the Algerian diplomacy.

Sahara Press Service


Morocco Could Improve Human Rights in Western Sahara

Morocco’s minister for human rights admitted his country could do better in the way it deals with civil rights in the disputed Western Sahara, as the North African kingdom warned it could act against the Polisario Front independence movement in the region.

Mustapha Ramid told The Associated Press on Monday that Morocco is “working to enhance the institutional framing of human rights. Morocco is not hell for human rights, but it is not a heaven.”

Ramid spoke days after Morocco’s foreign minister warned that all options, including military action, are on the table if the United Nations doesn’t act against alleged plans by the Polisario Front to build military posts in U.N.-monitored buffer zones in Western Sahara.

Voice of America


Swaziland denies purchasing luxury cars for King’s birthday

Swaziland’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport Principal Secretary Makhosini Mndawe has denied that the government bought a fleet of cars worth $7.5-million (R90.6-million) ahead of King Mswati III’s 50th birthday, Swazimedia.blogspot reported.

However, Mndawe’s denial contradicts a report from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

Swaziland marks the King’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain on April 19, 2018, in the so-called 50/50 Celebration.

According to Swaziland’s Sunday Observer, a newspaper owned by the king, Mndawe said dignitaries at the party would be chauffeured in top-of-the-range BMW 740i sedans that were purchased for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit held in 2016.


Housing demolitions leave dozens homeless

Dozens of people, including more than 30 children, were left homeless after their homes were demolished by 20 armed police and bulldozers in the farming area of Embetseni in Malkerns town, Amnesty International said today.

The demolition, which saw 61 people forcibly evicted from their homes, took place on 9 April. Some of those rendered homeless were forced to spend the night in a chicken shed.

“This latest demolition of homes exposes the grim reality facing many people in Swaziland today. Hundreds have been forced from their homes in recent years to make way for development,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

“Despite supposed protection by the country’s laws, ordinary Swazis appear to be helpless in the face of forced evictions for development purposes.”

Relief Web


Zimbabwe to allow Western poll observers for first time since 2002

Zimbabwe will invite Western powers to monitor its national elections for the first time in more than 15 years, official papers showed on Tuesday, ending a ban imposed by veteran former leader Robert Mugabe.

The vote, scheduled for July, is seen is a major test for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s democratic credentials since he came to power in November after a de facto army coup ousted 94-year-old Mugabe.

Zimbabwe will invite the United States, the European Union’s Commission and parliament, Australia and the Commonwealth among 46 countries and 15 organisations, a list released by the foreign affairs ministry showed.

The countries and groups on the list were all previously banned from watching elections in 2002 after Mugabe accused them of favouring his opponents.

Africa News

Zimbabwe Parliament to Summon Mugabe Over Diamond Mining

A committee of lawmakers in Zimbabwe is to summon former president Robert Mugabe to testify at a probe into lost revenue from diamond mining, a legislator said Tuesday.

The lawmakers plan to question Mugabe over his 2016 claim that the country had lost $15 billion (12.13 billion euros) in income from diamonds due to corruption and foreign exploitation.

Mugabe – whose own regime was accused of siphoning off diamond profits – was ousted last November after a military takeover that ushered his former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to power.

“The committee resolved to call the former president to testify,” Temba Mliswa, an independent lawmaker who chairs parliament’s committee on mines and energy, told AFP.

Voice of America




African in General

Zambian opposition accuses UN of helping to rig 2016 elections

Zambia’s opposition United Party for National Development’s (UPND) deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka, has accused United Nations resident coordinator Janet Rogan of working with the Electoral Commission of Zambia (EZC) and the ruling party Patriotic Front leaders to rig the 2016 elections.

The Zambian Observer reported that while appearing on a Diamond Television show on Sunday night, Mucheleka not only accused Rogan of having participated in the rigging of elections in 2016 but also of avoiding interaction with opposition political parties in the country.

Muchuleka said that Rogan and the UN’s support for the printing of 2016’s ballot papers in Dubai, against the wishes and advice of the UPND, had caused all sorts of problems because of disputes arising from disputed ballot papers.

He further questioned why a report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the issue had not been released


AU chairman sends condolences to Algeria following military plane crash

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has sent the condolences of the AU to the Algerian government and families of the victims of Wednesday’s military plane crash in Algeria which killed at least 257 people, stating that the tragedy affected not only Algeria but the whole continent.

At least 26 members of the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria and seeking independence from Morocco for Western Sahara, are said to be among the dead.

Mohammed Achour, the chief spokesman for the civil protection agency, said the Russian-designed Il-76 military transport plane had been carrying soldiers.

The flight had just taken off from Boufarik, about 30km south-west of Algiers, when it crashed. It was bound for a military base in Béchar in the south-west of the country, Achour said.


Joseph Kabila opponents meet in SA to build coalition ahead of polls

Democratic Republic of Congo’s top opposition leader and other figures opposed to longtime President Joseph Kabila are meeting in South Africa to build a coalition ahead of long-delayed elections in the turbulent, resource-rich country.

Delegates gathering at a resort hotel near Johannesburg said on Monday that they would work together to elect Moise Katumbi, who fled DRC in 2016 amid legal troubles that he said were fabricated to stop him from challenging Kabila.

Opposition activist Germain Kabemba said the aim of the meeting is to “fight against those who want to maintain power” and to “accelerate the process of democracy” in DRC.



News Briefs 06 April 2018


Democratic Republic of Congo

UN deactivates maximum emergency level for Congo crisis

The United Nations is downgrading Congo from its highest level of humanitarian emergency after the arrival of aid – and an outcry from government officials who say the focus on such woes is deterring investment.

It activated a so-called Level 3 emergency for Democratic Republic of Congo in October, putting on the country on the same footing as Syria and Yemen.

But that is due to be deactivated this month, a senior UN official said in a statement on Thursday.

Over 13 million Congolese need humanitarian aid, twice as many as last year, and 7.7 million face severe food insecurity, according to a UN report last month, as militia violence spikes across much of the country’s eastern borderlands.


DRC opposition leader may be barred from elections over Italian citizenship

Moïse Katumbi, the most popular opposition leader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, may not be eligible to stand in presidential elections scheduled later this year after it was revealed that he had held Italian citizenship from October 2000 until January 2017.

The DRC’s attorney general said last week he had opened an investigation into allegations about Katumbi’s Italian nationality, first reported by Paris-based magazine Jeune Afrique.

Under Congo’s constitution, its nationals cannot hold dual citizenship and have to petition the government to regain their citizenship if they take up a foreign nationality.

The provision, however, is laxly enforced and many prominent politicians are believed to have second citizenships.

The Guardian


UN security council condemns attack on AU mission in Somalia

The UN Security Council has condemned the attack perpetrated by the Al-Shabaab terrorist group against the Ugandan contingent of the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on April 1.

“The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security,” a statement said on Thursday.

The Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice.

The attack reportedly killed and injured a number of soldiers belonging to the AMISOM.

Today NG

Crisis Averted in Somalia’s Parliament, but Tensions Simmer

A dispute between the speaker of the Somali Parliament and the country’s president briefly threatened on Wednesday to turn violent, the latest development in a complex controversy over the proposed leasing of a major port to a company controlled by the United Arab Emirates.

Conflict was avoided, partly because of the efforts of an African Union soldier, but the dispute also highlighted the fragility of the federal government under the leadership of its new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known by the nickname Farmajo, who was elected last year in a process marred by corruption.

Mr. Mohamed leads a weak federal government that is trying to wield power and influence over six states, while the Shabab, an offshoot of Al Qaeda, regularly challenges its rule with acts of terrorism.

New York Times

Central African Republic

Central African Republic

Militias Kill Un Peacekeeper in Central African Republic; 21 Others Dead

Christian militias stormed a UN base in southern Central African Republic early on Monday, killing one peacekeeper and wounding 11, the United Nations said.

At around 5am, armed anti-balaka militants attacked the base in Tagbara, about 300km northeast of the capital Bangui, a UN statement said.

The ensuing gunfight lasted hours, and 22 anti-balaka were also killed, the statement said.

Later in the morning, peacekeepers discovered 21 dead civilians, including four children, near a church in Tagbara. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for those deaths.


Five Years On, Central African Republic Crisis Deepens

A UN official has called for a new approach to end the still-deepening crisis in the Central African Republic.

The situation in CAR has been deteriorating for five years now, and in the next six months may grow even worse, according to the head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in CAR, Joseph Inganji.

Speaking to World Watch Monitor last week, Mr Inganji called on “all actors to sit around the table to have a shared analysis and joint planning, in order to cut the vicious cycle of violence, and respond according to each other and everyone’s mandate”.

Sight Magazine


Sudan prosecutor charges ex-PM of plotting ‘regime overthrow’: media

Sudan’s state security prosecutor has charged the country’s main opposition leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi, with collaborating with rebel groups to overthrow the regime of President Omar al-Bashir, a media network reported on Tuesday.

Bashir, backed by Islamists, toppled Mahdi’s civilian government in a 1989 coup after which the former prime minister’s Umma Party, Sudan’s main opposition group, has regularly campaigned against the policies of Bashir’s government.

“Sudan state security prosecutor has filed a criminal case against Sadiq al-Mahdi for collaborating with rebel groups for overthrowing the regime” of Bashir, said a report published by Sudan Media Centre, a network close to Sudan’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).


Bashir vows ‘war on corruption’ to revive Sudan economy

President Omar al-Bashir vowed on Monday to launch a “war on corruption” in a bid to revive Sudan’s ailing economy and curb food price rises.

In a strongly worded address to parliament, Bashir said a nexus between foreign currency traders, bankers and smugglers had damaged the economy, already weakened by US sanctions, conflicts and loss of oil revenues since a north-south split in 2011.

“It is clear to us that there is no shortage of foreign currency, but it is the illegal activities of currency dealers and gold and food smugglers that have impacted the economy,” Bashir told lawmakers.


South Sudan

Continuing hostilities greatest challenge for South Sudan, says UN relief official

Speaking to UN News, Alain Noudehou, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, underscored that continuing hostilities remain the greatest challenge.

“People don’t feel secure […] they are not able to go back to their lands and they are not able to produce. They need to feel secure, not only in sense of physical protection but actually in the sense that they can go back to their lives,” he explained.

The world’s youngest country, South Sudan, gained independence in 2011.


However, it spent much of its short life mired in conflict, as what began as a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar erupted into full-blown war late in 2013.

In December last year, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country trade bloc in Africa, facilitated an agreement between the Government and opposing groups. The first phase of talks, formally called the High-Level Revitalisation Forum, was held in February this year.

UN News

‘Clear discrimination’: South Sudanese react to exclusion from migration program

South Sudanese-Australians say they are being discriminated against after being told they will no longer be able to privately sponsor refugees to come to Australia.

The Guardian revealed on Thursday morning that the Community Support Program (CSP), a minor element of Australia’s humanitarian migration program, was being essentially restricted to eight “priority resettlement” countries. Nationals of several other specific countries that were previously considered for supported resettlement, such as South Sudan, Somalia and Iran, are now excluded and will not be able to access the program.

The Guardian understands the priority countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Syria and Iraq.

The Guardian

Western Sahara

Morocco mulls ‘all options’ over its Western Sahara truce threat claim: minister

Morocco was considering “all options” if the United Nations does not address its accusations that the Polisario independence movement is threatening a 1991 ceasefire in the Western Sahara conflict, the foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Morocco claimed Western Sahara after colonial Spain left, but Polisario fought a guerrilla war for independence for the Sahrawi people until a U.N.-backed ceasefire, monitored by U.N. peacekeepers. The U.N. Security Council is due to renew the annual mandate for the peacekeeping mission later this month.

The region has effectively been split by an earthen wall separating an area controlled by Morocco that it claims as its southern provinces, and territory controlled by the Polisario with a U.N.-mandated buffer zone between them.


UN chief urges restraint in dispute over Western Sahara

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement to refrain from actions that could affect the cease-fire in their 42-year conflict over the Western Sahara, pointing to an escalating dispute over a buffer zone.


In a report to the Security Council obtained on Monday by The Associated Press, Guterres calls on the Polisario Front to withdraw from Guerguerat in the buffer zone on the Morocco-Mauritanian border. He urges Morocco to reconsider its refusal to send an expert mission as part of the UN effort to address questions raised by the Guerguerat situation.



The LGBT Heroes Fighting to Hold the First Ever Pride in Swaziland

In the last week of June, LGBT activists in Swaziland hope to make history by holding the African country’s first ever Pride march and festival.

Advocacy group The Rock of Hope told The Daily Beast it is in the process of submitting an application to march and then hold a picnic or gathering in a park in the city of Mbabne.

If it goes ahead, the history-making event will take place around the same time as many other Prides around the world, marking the anniversary of New York City’s Stonewall riots of 1969.

Male homosexuality is outlawed in the southern African country. An anti-sodomy law is still on the statute books, a British-rule hangover. LGBT couples cannot marry or adopt children.

The Daily Beast

King Wants Land Back from S. Africa

One of the newspapers of autocratic Swaziland King Mswati III is pressing for action for the kingdom to claim large parts of South Africa, including the capital Pretoria, for the Swazi people.

The Sunday Observer said (4 March 2018) ‘some Swazis’ believed now was the right time to reclaim land ‘lost’ to South Africa during the Colonial era.

The newspaper reported the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in South Africa, ‘successfully moved a motion of land expropriation without compensation, which has since sparked wide spread debate over Swaziland’s pursuit of reclaiming its lost land from South Africa.



Zimbabwe’s leader thanks China’s Xi, pledges to boost ties

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday for Beijing’s political support and pledged to strengthen ties with the Asian giant on his first visit since his dramatic rise to power last year.

Xi welcomed Mnangagwa to Beijing when they met following a formal welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People.

“You are an old friend of China and I appreciate your efforts to develop relations in all areas,” Xi said in opening remarks. Xi praised Mnangagwa’s efforts to “improve people’s lives” in Zimbabwe, though he did not go into specifics.

“As Zimbabwe’s good friend and partner, we are very happy about this,” Xi said.

Arab News

Zimbabwe to compel mining firms to list on local exchange

Zimbabwe wants mining companies operating in the country to list the majority of their shares on the local exchange, stirring uncertainty among investors as the nation with the world’s biggest platinum reserves after South Africa tries to bring in money to fix the economy.

“No mining right or title shall be granted or issued to a public company unless the majority of its shares are listed on a securities exchange in Zimbabwe,” the government said in the Mines and Minerals Bill before parliament, received by email on Thursday.

Companies that are seeking mining rights and already listed on a foreign bourse must notify the mines minister, and 85% of the funds from the local listing must be used exclusively to develop the local right, according to the bill.




Africa in General

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia FMs meet over Nile dam impasse

Egyptian Foreign Minister has arrived in Sudan for a two-day visit to discuss a massive dam that Egypt fears will cut into its share of the Nile.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said Sameh Shoukry arrived on Wednesday at the meeting being attended by chiefs of intelligence and ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Zeid says the meeting will attempt to settle contentious issues over the so-called Renaissance Dam that Ethiopia is building over the Blue Nile River.

The meeting was scheduled in February but delayed amid anti-government protests in Ethiopia.


Zambian ruling party members to vote against their president

Members of Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) have resolved to vote against President Edgar Lungu in the forthcoming impeachment motion in an effort to “teach” him a “life lesson”, the Zambian Observer reported on Monday.

Sixteen parliamentary members mostly from Luapula, Northern, Muchinga and Copperbelt complained of Lungu’s unreasonable behaviour and how they were being sidelined, during a meeting Sunday night.

However, the PF members also asserted that some members of the opposition were working in cahoots with State House to prevent the impeachment motion proceeding and that Haikende Haichilema, the leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), needed to know that not all of his parliamentary members could be trusted.


China’s Xi tells Zim’s Mnangagwa they should write ‘new chapter’ in ties

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday told President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe that they should work towards a new chapter in ties, during the African leader’s first state visit to China since he seized power last year.

Mnangagwa, who was sworn in as president in November after a de facto military coup ended Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule, has vowed to rebuild his country’s ravaged economy and re-engage with the international community.

China had considered Mugabe a “good friend” in a relationship dating back to its support for Zimbabwe’s independence war, but pointedly failed to support him when he was ousted.

“I’m willing to work with Mr President to jointly map out our future cooperation and write a new chapter in China-Zimbabwe relations for the benefit of our two peoples,” Xi said, during a meeting in Beijing.


Ghana will not offer military base to US: president

Ghana will not sign an agreement with Washington to set up a military base, President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Thursday.

The president confirmed in a television address that the two countries would ink a defence cooperation agreement but was emphatic that “Ghana has not offered a military base and will not offer a military base to the United States of America”.

His comments come after hundreds of people took to the streets of Accra, Ghana’s capital, last Wednesday to protest against a controversial military deal with Washington which was passed by parliament last week.




News Briefs 30 March 2018

Civilians die as DRC troops and rebels fight

Ten civilians and a Ugandan militant died when Congolese troops clashed with rebels in the flashpoint town of Beni in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) troubled east, an army spokesman said on Wednesday.

The incident took place on Tuesday evening when rebels attacked military positions around Beni in North Kivu, Capt Mak Hazukay told AFP.

“We listed 10 dead civilians so far,” he said. A rebel from Uganda’s Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia was also killed, he said, adding that fighting was ongoing. Michel Kakule, the lead physician at Beni hospital, told AFP that some of the victims “had gunshot wounds while others had been attacked with machetes”.

Business Day

UN strengthens role of DR Congo mission in elections

The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously backed a resolution that tasks the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo with helping to prepare elections and avoid deadly violence.

France presented the measure that renews the mandate for MONUSCO, the UN’s biggest peacekeeping mission, until March 2019 and emphasizes the need to protect civilians as the DR Congo heads toward historic elections in December.

The resolution “underscores the need to do everything possible to ensure that the elections on 23 December 2018 are organized with the requisite conditions of transparency, credibility and inclusivity and security.”

The council requested that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres make plans for beefing up the peacekeeping mission if needed, “looking at all options” such as sending reinforcements from other missions.

Guterres will report to the council in 90 days on the contingency planning.

Times Live


At least 3 hurt as bomb explodes near aid office in Somalia

Somali police say at least three people are wounded after a bomb attached to their vehicle exploded near the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the capital, Mogadishu.

Officer Abdifitah Ahmed confirms that the bomb went off shortly after the three left in the vehicle from a parking lot next to the ICRC office on Wednesday.

The ICRC says it is “shocked and deeply troubled” that one of its staffers was hurt.

The police officer says one victim is in critical condition while the other two are lightly wounded.


Somalia calls for UN action against UAE base in Berbera

Somalia has urged the United Nations Security Council to take action against the construction of a United Arab Emirates (UAE) military base in Somaliland.

Speaking at the Security Council on Tuesday, Abukar Osman, Somalia’s ambassador to the UN, said the agreement between Somaliland and the UAE to establish the base in the port city of Berbera is a “clear violation of international law”.

Osman also called on the Security Council to “take the necessary steps” to “put an end to these actions”.

“The Federal Government of Somalia strongly condemns these blatant violations and reaffirms that it will take the necessary measures deriving from its primary responsibility to defend the inviolability of the sovereignty and the unity of Somalia,” he added.


Central African Republic

Scores Killed in Renewed CAR Rebellion

AN unspecified number of people, including a Catholic priest and children, have been killed after a clash between rival rebel groups in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The deadly confrontation between the Christian extremist Anti-Balaka and elements of the Movement for Unity and Peace in CAR (UPC) has occurred in the village of Tagbara, located 70km from Bambari in the centre of the troubled country.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) said the fighting also resulted in several injuries and a significant displacement of the civilian population. Houses were burned and property ransacked.


Six Aid Workers Killed in Central African Republic Attack

A Unicef employee and five other education workers were killed this week in an attack in the Central African Republic, the United Nations children’s fund said in a statement on Wednesday.

The attack took place on 25 February as the group was travelling to the northeastern town of Markounda, located in a remote region near the Chadian border. Unicef declined to immediately give the nationalities of those killed.

“We strongly condemn this senseless act against aid workers who were there to improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations,” Unicef’s West and Central Africa Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier said in the statement.

The agency said it was not yet in a position to release more details on the incident.



Sudan extends ceasefire for another three months

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday announced a three-month extension of an ongoing ceasefire in conflict-prone parts of the country, according to the Sudan News Agency (SUNA).

It is the sixth such extension since mid-2016, when the ceasefire first came into effect between the Sudanese government and a handful of rebel groups.

According to a presidential decree issued on Wednesday, the ceasefire will remain in force until June 30.

The truce applies to Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, along with the western Darfur region.


US sanctions lift paves way for Sudan’s e-commerce entrepreneurs

Sudan is opening up to the internet economy, thanks to the easing of US sanctions.

The country has experienced a growth in e-commerce businesses, such as online shopping platforms and an Uber-style taxi app Mishwar.

According to the most recent data from Internet World Stats, internet users made up 29% of the population in 2016 — a notable rise from the 9.3% in 2009.

This number is expected to boom even further as Sudan’s young e-commerce entrepreneurs drive customers out of the shops and into the online marketplace.

“The reason why e-trade at large is a new phenomenon is that we’ve been allowed to get in touch with the world once again,” said Yousif Ahmed El Tinay, CEO of Sudan’s United Capital Bank.


South Sudan

South Sudan peace not around the corner: first vice president

South Sudan’s First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai Wednesday has expressed doubt that peace was around the corner, saying differences between the armed and non-armed opposition were huge and wide

“Some people say peace is around the corner. I would say it is not. The gap between what the government proposes as the way to resolving the current situation and what the opposition is proposing is huge and wide. It is difficult to close,” said Taban Deng Gai in a statement broadcast by the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation.

Gai was speaking at a political function organized by his faction under the theme ‘give peace a chance’ attended by high-level delegates including Minister of Public Service and Dhieu Mathok, head of the Youth league, who underlined the importance of peace and security in governance.

The South Sudanese former rebel chief negotiator who turned an ally of the incumbent president made his remarks after a decision by the IGAD countries to end the confinement of the former First Vice President Riek Machar in South Africa and to bring to a country that has no direct border with South Sudan.

Sudan Tribune

IGAD to end house arrest of South Sudan’s Riek Machar

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg. He is isolated from his friends and family and has been frozen out of South Sudan’s peace process.

The IGAD’s communique issued following its 61st Extra-Ordinary Session held on Monday in Addis Ababa, said it would release Dr. Machar as soon as possible if he would agree to renounce violence, not obstruct the peace process and relocate to any country “outside the region not neighbouring South Sudan.”

Dr. Machar’s wife described the conditional “lifting of house arrest” as unfair.

“If you read it carefully, actually, there is no lifting of any house arrest. Because what they said is very clear that they will transfer him from where he is now, which is South Africa, to another location that is not in the region, and that would not be in any proximity with South Sudan, ’Angelina Teny, Machar’s wife said, who is also a senior opposition member.

Africa News

Western Sahara

AU Ready to Settle Western Sahara Dispute

The African Union is ready to propose a settlement to the decades-long Western Sahara dispute.

This is unsettling Morocco, the newest member of the continental organisation. Morocco has been illegally occupying its neighbour since 1975.

Morocco has expressed its displeasure at AU commissioner Moussa Faki leading a delegation to the region to prepare a Western Sahara solution.

When Morocco joined the AU last year, it was expected it would be pressed to keep its 30-year promise to hold a referendum, which will allow the people of Western Sahara to decide on their future.


UN presses on with bid to restart Western Sahara talks

The UN Security Council on Wednesday told the peace envoy for Western Sahara to press on with talks on relaunching negotiations to settle the dispute over the North African territory.

Horst Koehler met with the council behind closed doors to report on his meetings with representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania as well as the Polisario Front seeking independence for Western Sahara.

Council members expressed “their full support” for Koehler’s diplomatic efforts to “relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit,” said the council president, Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom.



Workers Sacked for Joining Union

Trade unionists in Swaziland are reporting that a textile factory has sacked workers for wanting to join a union.

The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) said Taiwanese-owned company Far East Textiles in Matsapha also threatened to stop workers’ pay and closed down a factory.

In a statement circulated on social media on Thursday (22 March 2018) ATUSWA said, ‘Just for joining our organization and for showing interest to join ATUSWA the company unleashed terror to the workers by threatening not to pay their wages, closing down the factory and dismissing those suspected to have joined the union.’

It added the company tried to coerce workers to beat up union officials and organisers and when they would not it sent management to take photographs of all those seen interacting with the union.


King in Total Control of His Kingdom

The Swaziland Attorney-General’s announcement that the conflict within the three arms of government in the kingdom is ‘normal’ and there cannot be a separation of powers between them is irrelevant because all power rests with the absolute monarch, King Mswati III.

The political structure in Swaziland exists only to deliver on the King’s wishes. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections, the prime minister and government ministers are appointed by the King and the monarch is above the Constitution.

Attorney-General Sifiso Khumalo made his comments because for many years there has been conflict in Swaziland between the three branches of government: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. In simple terms, the executive is responsible for the day-to-day running of government and is headed by the prime minister. The legislature is parliament made up of the House of Assembly and the Senate and is responsible for enacting and amending the law and controlling the money necessary to operate the government. The judiciary interprets and makes judgements about the law.



Zimbabwe minister vows upcoming elections will be free and fair

The highly-anticipated Zimbabwe’s first presidential elections in the post-Robert Mugabe era will be credible, free and fair, the country’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo said on Monday.

“Zimbabwe is preparing for harmonised elections around July or August, and we believe that the election is going to be free and fair … a credible election. We have allowed anybody who wants to observe our elections to come in so that they can really see for themselves,” Moyo said speaking to journalists in Pretoria on the sidelines of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers.

“The winner is going to be the winner — without any limitations. We are saying everybody (should) come and observe. We are saying, the benchmark we are going to be using is the SADC guidelines for elections. That’s what everybody must use. SADC is where we belong, that is why we are here.”


Credibility of Zimbabwe’s first post-Mugabe vote is on the line

As Zimbabwe prepares to hold its first election since Robert Mugabe was toppled after almost four decades in power, a key question is whether the government can accomplish something he failed to do: oversee a free vote.

Whether the election due before September 1 is regarded as fair may determine the success of efforts by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe as president in November, to attract investment to revive an economy that has halved in size since 2000. The government is keen to kick-start the nation’s stagnant mining and agriculture industries.

The main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, is threatening to disrupt the vote unless the government institutes procedural and legal reforms. It wants access to the voters’ roll, equal air time in the media and guarantees the security forces will allow it to campaign freely. Mnangagwa has pledged to hold a legitimate election and says international observers are welcome.








Africa in General

UN Security Council makes ‘historic’ warning on climate threat to Somalia

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has formally recognised climate change as a destabilising factor in Somalia.

In a resolution adopted on Tuesday as part of a renewed mandate for assistance and peacekeeping in the country, the council noted “the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural disasters among other factors on the stability of Somalia, including through drought, desertification, land degradation, and food insecurity”.

The council emphasised the need for peacekeepers and governments working in Somalia to be better prepared to cope with complications arising from climate impacts.

The links between climate change and insecurity have been emerging on the ground and in the halls of diplomacy.

Climate Change News

SADC prepares for Zimbabwe, DRC elections

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Tuesday said it was gearing up to support the holding of highly anticipated presidential elections in its member states — Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At the conclusion of a SADC Council of Ministers summit in Pretoria on Tuesday evening, Executive Secretary of the regional block Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the much needed support will be afforded to the two nations, and advance observer missions had already visited Harare and Kinshasa.

“How we support our sister countries is that we observe elections. In both cases we have sent and undertaken our advance missions. Those missions assess the preparedness of the country, and that was done in the DRC and also in Zimbabwe,” said Tax.

“The next phase will be to observe elections. We have already been invited for Zimbabwe. We are waiting to be invited for the DRC. The invitation will come depending on the electoral calendar. As you are aware, elections in DRC take place on the 23rd of December so we still have time to get the invitation.”


Ethiopia’s Ruling Coalition Approves Abiye Ahmed As Prime Minister

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition voted in Abiye Ahmed as new prime minister on Tuesday following the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn last month, the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said.

The state-run channel said the 180-member council of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) chose Abiye to succeed Hailemariam as the chairperson of the coalition, meaning he automatically became premier.

“In today’s session, the council held a vote and elected Abiye Ahmed as chairperson,” said the EBC presenter, without giving further details.

State-affiliated outlets said Abiye won over 60% of all votes in the council.


Zambian parliament delays debate on motion to impeach president

Zambia’s parliament has delayed a debate due on Wednesday on a motion seeking to impeach President Edgar Lungu over accusations of breaching the constitution, according to a letter from the parliamentary clerk seen by Reuters.

Zambia’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND), filed a motion last week. The notice set Wednesday as the date for the lawmakers’ debate and vote on the motion.

“In view of the gravity of the motion, the same is being studied and we shall revert to you in due course,” said the letter sent on Monday from the Clerk of the National Assembly to Garry Nkombo, UPND parliamentary Chief Whip who filed the motion.

UPND spokesman Charles Kakoma said the motion would now not be debated until parliament’s next session begins in June. Signed by a third of the 166-member house, the motion needs the backing of two thirds to succeed.



News Briefs 23 March 2018


Democratic Republic of Congo

UN warns of ‘catastrophic’ aid crisis in DRC

A humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is worsening and has reached catastrophic levels in some parts of the country, with millions facing severe hunger, the UN Security Council warned on Thursday.

At least 13.1 million Congolese are in need of humanitarian aid including 7.7 million who are severely food insecure, said a unanimous statement from the top UN body.

The humanitarian crisis has been compounded by a doubling over the past year of the number of Congolese fleeing violence in the country who now total close to 4.4 million.

Council members “expressed great concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, which has reached catastrophic levels in some parts of the country”, said the statement.


Uncertainty Surrounds the Upcoming Election in the Democratic Republic of Congo

For nearly two years, President Joseph Kabila’s regime has managed to cling to power in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) despite pressure from the country’s opposition and the international community. Now, to prevent a crisis, these groups are pushing the president to accept the holding of presidential elections. Under the 2006 constitution, the President is directly elected to a five-year term – renewable only once. The first President to have been elected under these provisions is incumbent president Joseph Kabila in the 2006 elections. Elections should have been held since 2016 but Kabila has pushed back on organizing them.

Kabila’s refusal to step down has numerous analysts concerned that the situation in the DRC could degenerate. The mounting opposition has denounced the state of political stagnation and continued its mobilization efforts. On February 25, a march in the streets of the capital Kinshasa was organized by the Lay Coordination Committee (“Comité laïc de coordination”, or CLC in French). Leading opposition politician Moîse Katumbi, currently in exile in Brussels, called on Congolese “lovers of justice and peace” to join the movement.

Authorities cracked down hard on the peaceful, multi-religious march; three people were shot and killed by the forces of order. An infant is on the brink of death after inhaling tear gas. For Women’s Day on March 8, women dressed in black to “honor the martyrs of democracy, fallen under the bullets of Kabila’s police.”

Global Voices


Deadly car bomb blast rocks Somalia’s capital Mogadishu

At least 14 people have been killed in a car bomb blast outside a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, according to a government official.

The explosion on Thursday happened near Weheliye hotel on the busy Maka Al-Mukarrama Road.

A spokesman for the Somali interior ministry confirmed the death toll to Al Jazeera, adding that 10 others were wounded in the blast.

Witnesses at the scene said the powerful blast struck a street filled with civilians.

“Most of the casualties are … people who were spending time to take tea, there was devastation and buildings were damaged,” Mohamednur Abdirahman told AFP News Agency.


UN office seeks proposals for solar energy enterprises

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Somalia office solicits proposals for solar energy enterprise development in Mogadishu, Kismayo and Baidoa.

Any proposal submitted will be regarded as an offer by the bidder and does not constitute or imply the acceptance of any proposal by UNDP.

In responding to this request for proposal (RFP), UNDP requires all interested bidders to conduct themselves in a professional, objective and impartial manner, and they must at all times hold UNDP’s interest’s paramount.

Eligible bidders must strictly avoid conflicts with other assignments or their own interests, and act without consideration for future work.


Central African Republic

Half the population needs aid

The United Nations is appealing to the international community to help with humanitarian efforts in the Central African Republic.

The agency says half the population requires urgent assistance.

Fighting between various armed groups plunged the country into civil conflict in 2013, and the violence is spreading fast with many groups involved in the fighting.


1 Unicef worker, 5 others killed in Central African Republic

A United Nations children’s agency staffer and five other education workers have been killed in an attack in Central African Republic, the UN agency said on Wednesday.

The team came under attack Sunday while traveling near Markounda, a remote northwestern area near the border with Chad.

“We strongly condemn this senseless act against aid workers who were there to improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations,” said Unicef’s West and Central Africa regional director, Marie-Pierre Poirier.

The Unicef said it has no further details.



Egypt, Sudan presidents agree to patch up differences

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hosted his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir for talks in Cairo on Monday, with the pair pledging to boost cooperation after tensions between their neighbouring countries.

Bashir’s visit comes two weeks after the reinstatement of Sudan’s ambassador to Cairo following his recall to Khartoum in January.

Ties deteriorated between Egypt and Sudan last year when Bashir accused Egypt’s intelligence services of supporting opposition forces fighting his troops in the country’s conflict zones like Darfur.

One bone of contention is Egypt’s administration of the Halayeb triangle, in a mineral-rich border area near the Red Sea, which Sudan claims as its own.

“We reiterate the eternal brotherly relations and common links that unite the two peoples of the Nile valley,” Sisi said in a televised news conference following a meeting with Bashir.


Russia’s Putin accepts Bashir invitation to Sudan

Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted an invitation from his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir to visit the North African country, Sudan’s state news agency said on Thursday.

Putin, fresh from an election victory granting him his fourth term and extending his leadership of Russia by six years, called Bashir on Thursday to discuss bilateral relations, SUNA said.

Bashir congratulated Putin who affirmed his country’s commitment to investing in Sudan’s energy, oil, gas, and gold mining sectors.

“The president extended an invitation to the Russian president to visit Sudan and discuss developing relations and building a strategic partnership and Putin accepted the invitation,” SUNA said. It provided no date for the visit.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region, and is mostly shunned by Western leaders.


South Sudan

US targets South Sudan oil firms with sanctions

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on 15 South Sudanese oil operators that it said were important sources of cash for the government, an action aimed at increasing pressure on President Salva Kiir to end the country’s conflict and humanitarian crisis.

The companies and government bodies would in future require special licenses to do business in the United States, the State Department said.

“The South Sudanese Government, and corrupt official actors, use this revenue to purchase weapons and fund irregular militias that undermine the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan,” the department said in a statement.

The groups on the list “are involved in activities that are contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States,” according to a related Department of Commerce document published on Wednesday.

The South Sudanese government was not immediately available to comment.


South Sudan’s economy is among the victims of the conflict

As the armed conflict rages on, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir is looking for ways to revive the economy. The solution he came up with was to replace the finance minister. But will that help?

Economists say the reason South Sudan’s economy is in disarray is instability. The only way to revive the economy, they argue, is to restore peace and stability, thereby giving production a chance and encouraging investors to come back to the country.

Last week, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir sacked and immediately replaced his long serving Finance Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau with Salvatore Garang, himself a formerly sacked undersecretary at the finance ministry. Kiir said at the time that a change in the leadership of the finance ministry will help the economy along.  At the swearing-in ceremony of his new minister he said: “We have lost the value of our currency and there is nothing that we can do soon to gain the value of our currency unless we produce. This is a challenge that is ahead of you and you must think very hard on how to get out of this.”

Deutsche Welle

Western Sahara

UN presses on with bid to restart Western Sahara talks

The UN Security Council on Wednesday told the peace envoy for Western Sahara to press on with talks on relaunching negotiations to settle the dispute over the North African territory.

Horst Koehler met with the council behind closed doors to report on his meetings with representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania as well as the Polisario Front seeking independence for Western Sahara.

Council members expressed “their full support” for Koehler’s diplomatic efforts to “relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit,” said the council president, Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom.



The African Union is ready to propose a settlement to the decades-long Western Sahara dispute.

This is unsettling Morocco, the newest member of the continental organisation. Morocco has been illegally occupying its neighbour since 1975.

Morocco has expressed its displeasure at AU commissioner Moussa Faki leading a delegation to the region to prepare a Western Sahara solution.

When Morocco joined the AU last year, it was expected it would be pressed to keep its 30-year promise to hold a referendum, which will allow the people of Western Sahara to decide on their future.



Fraud At Swazi Deputy PM’s Office

The Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in Swaziland is in a financial mess; money is given to those who do not deserve it and withheld from those who do, overtime payments have been made fraudulently and rents not collected.

This is contained in the annual report of the Auditor General.

The DPM Office oversees the kingdom’s national policy that supports effect delivery of Government services, ‘through a well-coordinated decentralized system with a special emphasis on a comprehensive social welfare system, gender mainstreaming, children issues as well as proactive disaster preparedness’, according to the report.

Disability grants

The report which covers the year ending March 2017 stated there are no working guidelines on how to award disability grants yet the DPM’s Office gave out of E12.46 million (about US$1 million) to the three years ending March 2016.


MPs Say Anti-Corruption Body ‘Corrupt’

Members of Parliament in Swaziland have suspended the budget of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) because they say the organisation is itself corrupt.

They want a select committee to investigate alleged wrongdoings. They blocked a budget of E13.1 million (US$109,000) until a report is delivered. The ACC comes under the Ministry for Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

It happened at the Swazi House of Assembly on Friday (16 March 2018). The Observer on Saturday reported MPs were concerned that the contract for ACC Commissioner Thanda Mngwengwe expired at the end of January 2018 but he still seemed to be at work and using a Mercedes Benz ML worth E1.2 million supplied by the ACC, plus a rented car.



UN throws its support behind Zimbabwe elections

The United Nations on Saturday threw its support behind new elections in Zimbabwe set for July and urged the government to kickstart the African nation’s economy as an “urgent priority”.

Achim Steiner, administrator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was in Harare as part of a three-day trip that saw him meet Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“UNDP is committed to continue supporting the preparatory process for the elections and economic recovery efforts,” Steiner told reporters.

Presidential polls are due by the end of August, when Mnangagwa will face his first major test after taking over from long-time strongman Robert Mugabe, who resigned in November after four decades in office.


Zimbabwe signs $4,2-billion platinum deal to transform mining sector

A Cypriot investor signed a $4.2 billion deal on Thursday to develop a platinum mine and refinery in Zimbabwe, an investment that President Emmerson Mnangagwa said showed the country was “open for business”.

Signing the agreement with Cyprus-based Karo Resources, Mines Minister Winston Chitando said work would start in July, with the first output of platinum group metals expected in 2020, aiming to reach 1,4-million ounces annually within three years.

Located in the Mhondoro-Ngezi platinum belt, west of Harare, where Impala Platinum Holdings has operations, the project will include a coal mine and power station to produce electricity for the smelter, and should employ 15,000 people when fully implemented, according to Karo head Loucas Pourolis.




Africa in General

Russia provides free military aid to Central African Republic — Foreign Ministry

Moscow has provided free military aid to the Central African Republic at the country’s government’s request, Russian Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Artyom Kozhin said on Thursday.

“At the request of the Central African Republic’s president, Russia decided to provide the country with free military aid,” he said. According to him, with the consent of the United Nations Security Council committee, the Russian Defense Ministry handed a batch of small arms and ammunition to the armed forces of the Central African Republic and sent five military and 170 civilian instructors to train the country’s military servicemen.

Kozhin stressed that the aid “is provided in strict compliance with the UN Security Council’s sanctions” imposed on Central African Republic. “Russia has been providing aid in line with the global community’s efforts aimed at strengthening the Central African Republic’s security forces, handing full security responsibility over to them and finding a sustainable solution to the prolonged internal armed conflict,” he added.


South African peacekeepers in DR Congo face paternity claims – UN

Five peacekeepers from South Africa face allegations of sexually exploiting women in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are now seeking child support, a United Nations spokesperson said on Tuesday.

One of the cases involves a minor who was allegedly sexually abused when the incidents took place between 2014 and 2016 in North and South Kivu.

“All five incidents involve paternity and child support claims,” said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

The latest allegations surfaced a month after South African troops were accused of beating a 17-year-old boy in the Kasai region and sexually exploiting women in North Kivu.


‘Disband compromised Zim electoral body and allow UN to supervise vote,’ govt told

Zimbabwe’s trade union umbrella body has reportedly called on government to “disband” the country’s electoral body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), and “allow the United Nations to supervise” the upcoming general elections.

According to New, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), said this following the recent trip to Russia by ZEC’s chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumbu in the company of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s special advisor Chris Mtsvangwa.

The trip was meant to “observe” the eastern European country’s just ended presidential election.

But, the ZCTU’s secretary general Japhet Moyo expressed concern, saying that the trip had since compromised the credibility of the forthcoming elections.


Ramaphosa signs declaration on African free trade region

South Africa is one of 44 African countries to sign a declaration on establishing a free trade region in Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Kigali Declaration on the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the Assembly of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda on Wednesday.

The Presidency tweeted that the signing of the declaration by Ramaphosa is subject to the conclusion of all outstanding issues that form an integral part of the agreement.

AFP reported that the signing of the agreement establishing a free trade area is seen as vital to the continent’s economic development, according to the head of the African Union.

“The agreement establishing the CfTA was signed by 44 countries,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU commission.



News Briefs 16 March 2018


Democratic Republic of Congo

Dozens killed in DR Congo’s Ituri province

Ethnic strife in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed dozens of lives in recent days, according to officials.

Local civil society leader Jean Bosco Lalu told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that at least 40 people had been killed in ethnic violence between Hema herders and Lendu farmers in Ituri province in the last 48 hours.

A government official said they had recorded 30 deaths, AFP news agency said.

“There are certainly other bodies out in the bush. A search is under way,” a government official told AFP.


Exiled DR Congo opposition leader launches presidency bid

Exiled Congolese opposition leader Moise Katumbi launched a campaign Monday to be elected president in polls scheduled for December, unveiling his new “Together for Change” party in South Africa.

“We will fight the battle to take power – and we will win,” said Katumbi at a meeting of several hundred supporters at a hotel outside Johannesburg.

“This fight and the successful transfer of power are national issues… so we have decided to establish a political movement known as ‘Together for Change’.”

Democratic Republic of Congo’s election was originally scheduled for late 2016, but has been twice delayed, leading to unrest in the vast mineral-rich country.



Gambia, Somalia human rights strides praised by U.N.

The Gambia and Somalia were up for praise during a recent address to the Human Rights Council delivered by the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zei Ra’ad Al Hussein.

In his March 7, 2018 address, Hussein bemoaned how over a dozen Africa countries were flagrantly violating rights of citizens – be it the media, opposition groups, activists etc.

He however reserved praise for The Gambia in the wake of a freeze on death penalty and Somalia for government’s efforts to protect rights of citizens.


“I commend The Gambia for its announcement of a moratorium on the death penalty last month.

Africa News

Somalia parliament rejects Somaliland’s Berbera port deal with DP World, Ethiopia

Somalia’s lower house of parliament on Monday backed the federal government’s rejection of the Berbera port deal entered into by semi-autonomous Somaliland, Ethiopia and DP World.

A Voice of America journalist, Harun Maruf, reported that the lower house had voted to reject the deal through a landslide with 168 of the 170 lawmakers nullifying all agreements between the United Arab Emirates-based company and Somaliland.

DP World have reached agreements with Somaliland over the Berbera and Bosaso ports but with the Monday vote – both deals are “null and void.” If the Upper House reaches a similar decision the President will sign it into law.

Africa News

Central African Republic

Militia commits mass rape in Central African Republic: MSF

Militia fighters attacked, kidnapped and then raped en masse a large group of women in an isolated area of Central African Republic last month, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Thursday.

The medical charity treated 10 survivors of the Feb. 17 violence near Kiriwiri, a village in the country’s northwest. Fearing further attacks if they tried to reach a hospital, the women were unable to seek medical treatment until about two weeks later, it said.

Many other victims remained behind, fearing that, as rape victims, they would be stigmatised in their community.

“Some were totally in shock, others paralysed by fear or unable to talk about the incident. Some of the women had open wounds caused by blades,” said Soulemane Amoin, a midwife at the hospital in the town of Bossangoa where the women were treated.


Central African bishop accuses U.N. forces of rape, abuse

A Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic accused U.N. peacekeeping troops of sexual abuse in his diocese and warned they could be guilty of crimes against humanity.

“Women are selling their bodies to the Blue Helmets out of desperation,” said Bishop Juan Aguirre Munoz of Bangassou.

“Many are doing this to avoid dying of hunger, and some of the abused are minors. When I asked their mothers what happened, they sank their heads.”

The bishop spoke while staying in his native Spain on U.N. advice after his diocesan vicar general narrowly survived a machete attack.

In an interview with Madrid’s Alfa y Omega Catholic weekly, he said up to 2,000 Muslims had been sheltering in the seminary adjoining Bangassou’s Catholic cathedral, protected by peacekeepers, since a wave of anti-Muslim violence in May 2017 left dozens dead.

National Catholic Reporter


UAE offers $1.4bn in aid to Sudan: state media

The United Arab Emirates has offered $1.4 billion to Sudan’s central bank to help Khartoum tackle an acute foreign exchange crisis, the official Sudanese news agency reported Tuesday.

The Sudanese pound has weakened against the dollar in recent months on the black market amid a shortage of hard foreign currency, in turn forcing the central bank to devalue the pound this year.

“President Omar al-Bashir has been informed by the UAE that it is giving Sudan 4 billion dirhams… as a central bank deposit to help support the country’s foreign currency reserves,” the official SUNA news agency reported.

The report did not provide further details on the aid.


Sudan orders media to stop ‘attacking’ Egypt

Following a meeting between Egyptian and Sudanese intelligence, Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has directed the country’s newspapers to stop their hostile media campaign against Egypt, the Sudan Tribune reported.

The NISS media department circulated a memo directing newspaper editors to avoid raising controversial issues affecting the relationship between the two countries.

Egyptian-Sudanese relations have been strained over various issues including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the dispute on the border area of Halayeb, and mutual recriminations of supporting terrorism by the other side.


South Sudan

UN urged to boost civilians’ protection efforts in South Sudan

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) must boost efforts to protect civilians against the senseless violence that has plagued the country for over four years and publicly report on the human rights situation, Amnesty International said.

The UN mission in South Sudan plays a crucial role in providing much-needed civilian protection, and timely public reporting on the human rights situation in the country.

“With the continuing conflict and associated human rights violations in South Sudan, the possibility of civilians returning to their homes or being resettled remains remote. The Protection of Civilians (POC) sites are truly life-saving for hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of protection,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan runs out of cash

South Sudan has run out of cash and the economy will not be fixed unless the ongoing civil war is brought to a halt.

President Salva Kiir openly admitted as much on Wednesday and acknowledged that peace and stability had to return to the country in order for investors and other money-generating activities to resume.

The South Sudanese leader attributed the cause of being a cash-strapped nation to the war sparked by the power struggle which has ended in a more than four-year conflict with no resolution in sight despite global and regional efforts to salvage the situation, the Sudan Tribune reported.

Kiir made his comments during the swearing-in process of new finance minister following the sacking of predecessor Stephen Dhieu Dau earlier in the week.


Western Sahara

President Brahim Gali calls UN to urgently stop the organization of so-called Forum of Crans Montana in the occupied Dakhla

he President of the Republic, Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO, Mr. Brahim Gali, called on the United Nations to stop the organization of the so-called Crans Montana Forum in occupied Dakhla, calling this act a provocation that would undermine the efforts of the United Nations led by it Personal Envoy President Horst Koehler in his letter to His Excellency ,Secretary General of the United Nation, Mr. Antonio Guterres

“I am writing to draw the attention of your Excellency to the Moroccan state’s insistence to organize, yet again, another so-called Forum of Crans Montana, from the 15th to the 20th of March, in the occupied city of Dakhla, Western Sahara.” Gali says in his letter to UNSG

President Brahim Gali also went on saying that “The Frente Polisario strongly condemns this new provocative act and calls for your urgent intervention to convince Morocco stop this provocation that undermines the efforts of the United Nations led by your Personal Envoy, President Horst Kohler.”

Sahara Press Service

EU-Morocco fishing deal: US Western Sahara Foundation welcomes ECJ decision

US Western Sahara Foundation welcomed Friday the European Court of Justice’s ruling on the European Union’s fishing agreement with Morocco, stating that it does not apply to Western Sahara and reaffirming Saharawi people’s inalienable right to self-determination.

“US Western Sahara Foundation welcomes European Court of Justice’s recent ruling on the EU-Morocco’s fishing agreement,” the foundation’s chairwoman Suzanne Scholte said, adding that “Once again, we see courts reaffirming the October 16, 1975 ruling by the International Court of Justice which denies Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.”

Scholte said the United States does not recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara, noting that the occupied Saharawi territories are excluded from US-Moroccan free trade agreement signed in 2004.

Sahara Press Service


U.S. Ambassador Encourages Parties

Democracy advocates in Swaziland should put forward policies that would attract people to support political parties, the US Ambassador to the kingdom said.

Explaining why political parties were needed was not enough, Lisa Peterson told a meeting on multiparty democracy, good governance and human rights at the Happy Valley Hotel, Ezulwini, on Saturday (10 March 2018).

Peterson said a poll conducted in 2015 by Afrobarometer had suggested about 36 percent of those questioned supported political parties in Swaziland.

King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the Prime Minister and senior ministers. Advocates for democracy continue to be arrested under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.


MPs Block Swazi State-Radio Funds

Members of parliament have blocked funding to state-controlled radio in Swaziland because they say they are not being allowed on air.

One said the stations under the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS) were being used for ‘character assassination’.

Nkwene MP Sikhumbuzo Dlamini told the House of Assembly SBIS had been used to assassinate his character as a member of parliament.

The Swazi Observer newspaper, which is itself in effect owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported on Tuesday (13 March 2018), ‘He said the national radio station was used to tell people how he was evil and disrespectful. The message was sent to the people in a way to de-campaign him. He strongly blamed the editors at SBIS for disseminating news meant to humiliate him.’



Activist abduction ‘dark shadow’ on Zimbabwe: Western envoys

Dozens of Zimbabweans protested Friday as Harare-based Western diplomats called on the new government to investigate the abduction three years ago of a rights activist and firebrand critic of ex-ruler Robert Mugabe.

Itai Dzamara, who was also a journalist, was kidnapped by five men as he left a barbershop near his home in Harare in 2015. He has not been seen since then.

In a statement, European Union and top US diplomats encouraged “the new administration to ensure that human rights violations are tackled decisively and transparently, to shed light on Mr Dzamara’s fate and to serve justice”.

“His disappearance remains a dark shadow on the new horizon for Zimbabwe,” they said on the anniversary of Dzamara’s abduction

He had led anti-government protests in a public park in the capital, overlooking parliament, vowing to not stop until Mugabe stepped down.

The Citizen

Mugabe acolyte forms new Zimbabwe political party to challenge Mnangagwa

A retired Zimbabwean general and acolyte of ex-president Robert Mugabe has formed a political party to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the polls later this year, the new grouping said on Monday.

Mugabe, 94, was forced to step down last November following a de facto military coup. Sources close to the former leader say he is bitter over his departure after 37 years in office and has given his support to the New Patriotic Front (NFP) party.

Ambrose Mutinhiri, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war, quit the ruling ZANU-PF party and gave up his parliamentary seat last Friday, then met Mugabe on Sunday to brief him about the latest developments, an NPF statement said.

CNBC Africa





Africa in General

Egypt’s foreign minister in South Sudan to boost relations

Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir in the capital, Juba, on Monday to encourage an end to the country’s civil war and to give assistance in health and education.

South Sudan is well into its fifth year of fighting and the conflict, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, shows no signs of ending.

“Egypt has been a steadfast supporter of the people of South Sudan in their darkest of hours,” said Mayiik Ayii Deng, South Sudanese Cabinet minister in the president’s office.


Ethiopia, Sudan to develop nuclear power with the help of Russia

Ethiopia recently signed an agreement with Russia to set up nuclear technology to help power the Horn of Africa country.

The agreement was signed last week during the visit of the Russian foreign affairs minister, Sergey Lavrov who met Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu in Addis Ababa.

“We agreed to strengthen economic, trade and investment relations between the two countries. We have also discussed ways to cooperate on various sectors, including in setting up nuclear technology centre, education, science, and technology,” said Workneh.

He was quick to indicate that the nuclear development program which will be launched after the conclusion of the agreement will be used for “peaceful purpose”, reports local media FANA Broadcasting Corporation.

Face2Face Africa

Russia cementing military ties with the Central African Republic

Russia is deepening its military cooperation with the Central African Republic, donating small arms to the country’s military and holding diplomatic talks with its leader as it seeks to strengthen its influence on the continent.

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been struggling with serious turmoil, civil war and brutal regime shifts in the past decade. Following conflict between government forces and the Seleka rebel coalition in 2012-2013, an arms embargo was implemented by the UN in December 2013.

Elections held in March 2016 established a new constitution and brought President Faustin Archange Touadéra to power. He made reconciliation, disarmament and demobilization of non-governmental armed forces his priorities. But these groups remain active, causing much violence across the country and making the redeployment of governmental authority a very difficult task.

Defence Web

ED Insincere About Polls, Chamisa Tells SADC

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been insincere in its commitment to holding a free, fair and credible elections, MDC-T president Nelson Chamisa, told Sadc envoys Tuesday.

The seven-member Sadc Electoral Advisory Council, chaired by Advocate Leshele Thoahlane, is currently on a week-long fact finding mission in Zimbabwe which is preparing for crucial polls between July and August this year.

Chamisa headed a mine member delegation that included secretary general Douglas Mwonzora, vice president Elias Mudzuri and youth assembly leader Happymore Chidziva among others.



News Briefs 02 March 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

One killed, four injured as DR Congo police fire on banned protests

One person was killed and at least four injured as police fired live bullets and tear gas to disperse banned protests calling on DR Congo President Joseph Kabila to stand down.

The church-backed protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo come after months of tension sparked by Kabila’s prolonged rule and long-delayed elections in the vast and chronically unstable country.

In the capital Kinshasa, one man was killed and two people seriously injured as police opened fire on demonstrators.

“Since 7am we have received three injured people from the Catholic march. Two were seriously injured and one died from a bullet wound in the chest,” said Francois Kajingulu, a senior doctor at the St Joseph de Limete hospital in central Kinshasa.


Kabila agrees to UN chief’s request to visit DR Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has agreed to a request from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to visit his country ahead of elections later this year, the UN spokesman said Tuesday.

Guterres wrote to Kabila to propose a joint visit with African Union chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat following a series of meetings he held on the sidelines of the AU summit in Addis Ababa in late January.

There is growing international concern that the DR Congo could slide into all-out violence as it heads to elections on December 23.

“I can confirm that a letter was sent and that a message came back that they would be welcome in Kinshasa at their earliest convenience,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told AFP.



AMISOM Heads Meet Amid Security Concerns About Somalia

Officials from countries that contribute to AMISOM, the African Union force in Somalia, are meeting this week in Uganda to discuss a transitional security plan for the troubled country. While AMISOM has made gains in Somalia, the risks still presented by militant group al-Shabab remain vivid due to inadequate funding and troop numbers.


Over the past few years, AMISOM has pushed al-Shabab away from major cities, and the federal government of Somalia has taken steps toward stability. With foreign help, the Somali security forces have grown stronger, and political leaders are aiming to hold nationwide elections in 2020.

These gains, however, are being undermined by inadequate troop numbers and lack of predictable and sustainable funding to fight al-Shabab and a small fraction of Islamic State fighters in the north.

The five AMISOM countries are planning to start a drawdown of their troops in Somalia this year and withdraw all of them by the end of 2020. Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa says it is essential that the Somali government intensify its effort to provide security for its people.

Voice of America

Uganda warns AMISOM to jealously guard Somalia gains

Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa has warned the Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to “avoid turning our gains into vain.”

He called upon the TCCs and other international partners to “establish predictable and sustainable solutions that can safeguard the enormous successes registered by the peace keeping mission in Somalia.”

Sam Kutesa sounded the warning as he opened a meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence of AMISOM troop contributing countries at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala on Thursday.

The one-day meeting, was held a day before President Yoweri Museveni hosts the AMISOM TCCs Heads of State Summit on Friday.

“As we consider concrete steps to forge a way forward on peace and security in Somalia, as TCCs we have made enormous efforts and sacrifices to AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA). Therefore, it is crucial that mechanisms be put in place that aim at safe guarding the enormous AMISOM success,” he said.

The Independent

Central African Republic

1 Unicef worker, 5 others killed in Central African Republic

A United Nations children’s agency staffer and five other education workers have been killed in an attack in Central African Republic, the UN agency said on Wednesday.

The team came under attack Sunday while traveling near Markounda, a remote northwestern area near the border with Chad.

“We strongly condemn this senseless act against aid workers who were there to improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations,” said Unicef’s West and Central Africa regional director, Marie-Pierre Poirier.

The Unicef said it has no further details.

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


Security Council Press Statement on the Central African Republic

The members of the Security Council met on 22 February 2018 to discuss the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the activities of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). They were briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary General for the CAR and Head of the MINUSCA, M. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the Special Representative of the African Union to the CAR, M. Bédializoun Moussa Nébié, the Chair of the Sanctions committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the CAR, Ambassador Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoué, the Director General of the European Union Military Staff, General Esa Pulkkinen, and the Chair of the Peace Building Commission CAR configuration, Ambassador Omar Hilale.

The members of the Security Council renewed their support to President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, and his government, and welcomed again his efforts to advance the dialogue with armed groups and national reconciliation and to extend state authority in all parts of the country. In particular, they welcomed the deployment of prefects and sub-prefects, the resumption of criminal sessions in Bouar and Bangui, the efforts to operationalize the Special Criminal Court, as well as the first results of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration pilot project with the integration of former elements of armed groups into the armed forces. They called on the CAR authorities to continue their efforts to implement transparent and inclusive measures that will address the root causes of instability, allow for stabilization and reconciliation in the CAR and restore the effective authority of the State over all the territory of the CAR, to fight impunity by restoring administration of the judiciary and the criminal justice system, to achieve the reform of the CAR armed forces and internal security forces in order to put in place multi-ethnic, republican, professional, and well-equipped security forces, to carry out the inclusive and effective, disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation of armed groups, and to establish a functioning public financial management in order to meet the expenses related to the functioning of the State, implement early recovery plans, and revitalize the economy.

CNBC Africa


UN lauds Sudan for implementing children protection plan in conflict areas

A United Nations (UN) official on Thursday expressed satisfaction over the commitment by Sudanese government to implement the UN plan to protect children in conflict zones.

Virginia Gamba, special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, addressed a press conference here, saying that Sudan has implemented the UN plan and released around 2,500 children during the past three years.

“I witnessed how the Action Plan between the Sudanese government and my office has been put in place and the great success happened in the implementation,” said Gamba.

Meanwhile, the UN official acknowledged that there are violations against children including recruitment, killing and sexual abuse by armed groups in conflict areas in Sudan.

“There is continued recruitment of children by armed groups, particularly in the region of Darfur,” she noted.


Sudan releases dozens arrested over bread protests

Activists say Sudanese authorities have released dozens of people arrested for taking part in last month’s protests against rising bread prices.

Two protesters, Imtenan Ali el-Radi and Amal Habany, say they were released on Tuesday from Kober prison, north of the capital, Khartoum. They say several families were waiting for their loved ones in front of the prison.

Protests erupted in Khartoum and other parts of the country last month after the government slashed subsidies and devalued the local currency, measures aimed at strengthening the battered economy. Hundreds of people were detained.


South Sudan

Nine South Sudanese opposition parties form alliance

Nine South Sudanese opposition groups have formed an alliance to expedite efforts to end the country’s civil war ahead of the next round of the revitalization of the peace accord.

The group, in a statement issued Thursday, said they were driven by the desire to improve the situation and prevent it from disintegrating.

“At no time in the history of our country has the need to rescue South Sudan from complete disintegration become more urgent,” partly reads the group’s statement.

“To meet the challenge of restoring the integrity and unity of our people and ensure a radical political, economic and security transformation, we the leaders of following South Sudanese Opposition Political Movements, Parties and Fronts namely: FDP, NAS, NDM, PDM, SSLM/A, SSNMC, SSPM, SSUM/A and UDRA have resolved to formalize and operationalize an alliance to accelerate efforts to restore just and durable peace, democracy and to preserve human rights and the fundamental democratic rights of our people,” it added.

Sudan Tribune

  1. Sudan cautions world not to rush peace deal

South Sudan on Thursday cautioned the international community that unsolicited pressure and issuance of deadlines will not help push through a final peace deal.

Michael Makuei, the minister of information, said Juba is ready to resume peace revitalization talks with the armed opposition in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, but any sustained pressure or threats from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Western countries such as Britain and the United States cannot result in an agreement.

“In negotiations you don’t say this is the last round… if you don’t bring peace we will apply Plan B (sanctions) on you,” Makuei said “We cannot just be threatened. We are a country, a sovereign state, and nobody has the right to threaten South Sudan.”

The current arms embargo imposed by the United States and describing the upcoming talks as the last opportunity for the warring parties to make peace are threats that do not help, he said.


Western Sahara

Fishy Moroccan trade agreement limited from Western Sahara

An EU fishery deal with Morocco remains valid as long as it does not involve the disputed region of Western Sahara, the bloc’s top court ruled Tuesday, avoiding a clash between Brussels and Rabat.

The European Court of Justice said the fisheries agreement concluded between the EU and Morocco “is valid in so far as it is not applicable to Western Sahara and to its adjacent waters.”

“If the territory of Western Sahara were to be included within the scope of the fisheries agreement, that would be contrary to certain rules of general international law,” it said.

Morocco suspended ties with Brussels in 2016 after a lower EU court annulled an agriculture deal on similar grounds, although the ruling was later overturned, and they are now pushing ahead with the pact.


EU can’t fish off Western Sahara coast, rules top court

A fishery deal between the EU and Morocco cannot include the disputed territory of the Western Sahara, annexed by Morocco, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled Tuesday (27 February).

“The fisheries agreement concluded between the EU and Morocco is valid in so far as it is not applicable to Western Sahara and to its adjacent waters,” said the ECJ in a statement.

The UK-based Western Sahara Campaign (WSC), which brought the case before the court, has described it as major victory.

The verdict pleased the Polisario Front, the political arm of the exiled Saharawi people, many of which fled to neighbouring Algeria during a protracted war that ended in a shaky ceasefire in the early 1990s.

“We are quite happy,” Mohamed Sidati, Polisario’s European representative, told this website.

EU Observer

International community urged to set date for self-determination referendum

The International Conference on Nonviolent Resistance wrapped up Tuesday with a call urging the international community to set a date for a referendum on Western Sahara people’s self-determination.

The participants in the international conference, named after the Saharawi martyr “Dida El-Yazid,” stressed the need to support the peaceful resistance and uphold human rights in the occupied territories and end Morocco’s systematic despoliation of Saharawi natural resources with the complicity of foreign countries and international companies.

They also emphasized the need to demolish the “wall of shame,” which divides Western Sahara in two parts, considered as a crime against humanity.

The conference adopted all the decisions and recommendations made during the various workshops held on the sidelines of the event, mainly in relation to natural resources, human rights, Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan jails, peaceful Intifada and the wall of shame.

Sahara Press Service


US slams Swaziland for banning political parties

Lisa Peterson, the American ambassador to Swaziland, has spoken out in support of banned political parties in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as an absolute monarch, Richard Rooney from Swazimedia.blogspot reported.

Parties are not allowed to contest elections and people and groups that advocate for democratic reform are prosecuted under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, the website reported.

“International organisations such as the European Union and Commonwealth routinely declare that Swaziland’s elections are not free and fair because parties are banned from taking part,” said Rooney.

“After the last election in 2013, the Commonwealth Observer Mission and African Union separately called for a review of the kingdom’s constitution to un-ban parties.”

The King chooses the Prime Minister and top government ministers.


Swazi Student Leaders Suspended

Student leaders at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) have been suspended without specific charges being laid following a class boycott over unpaid allowances.

A total of 25 students have been suspended including Student Representative Council (SRC) President Sakhile Ndzimandze and three SRC Cabinet members.

UNISWA announced the suspensions after two of its campuses reopened following a two-week shutdown. All the suspended students have been banned from entering university premises.

The students received a letter from UNISWA Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof M.D. Dlamini stating they had been suspended from the university with immediate effect pending investigation.



Activists in Zimbabwe challenge Mnangagwa’s presidency

A group of Zimbabwean activists approached the Constitutional Court on Thursday, seeking to challenge the November 15, military intervention, which led to the ousting of former president Robert Mugabe.

Activists Linda Masarira; Bongani Nyathi; and Vusumuzi Sibanda, together with opposition political parties the Liberal Democrats and the Revolutionary Freedom Fighters approached the court challenging the “unconstitutional actions of members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and security services” which was code-named “Operation Restore Legacy”.

They listed “Constitutional infringements by organs and institutions of the State upon whom the Constitution directly demands that they protect and uphold” as the grounds for the application, according to the court papers.

They are also seeking an order declaring that “the political affiliation of members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is prohibited by Section 211(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe”.


Chamisa to fight Zimbabwe polls for opposition party

Zimbabwe’s main opposition on Thursday named a former youth activist, Nelson Chamisa, as its candidate for upcoming presidential polls, the party’s first major test since the death of its charismatic leader and the ouster of Robert Mugabe.

Chamisa, 40, becomes the Movement for Democratic Change’s electoral champion after veteran leader Morgan Tsvangirai died of cancer on February 14 at the age of 65.

Tsvangirai embodied opposition to former president Mugabe whom the MDC accused of vote-rigging, voter intimidation and authoritarian behaviour.

But Tsvangirai’s final months were marked by increasingly public quarrelling between his deputies over who would succeed him as leader.




Africa in General

Ramaphosa to visit Namibia, Botswana and Angola

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), will undertake working visits to Luanda in Angola, Gaborone in Botswana and Windhoek in Namibia, the Presidency said.

His spokesperson Tyrone Seale said Ramaphosa will undertake his working visits to Angola and Namibia on Friday, to hold consultative meetings with Angolan President João Lourenço; and Namibian President Hage Geingob.

“Angola is the current chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation while Botswana hosts the SADC Secretariat and Namibia is the incoming SADC Chair after South Africa,” Seale said.


Congo Hits Back After Botswana Blames President for Crisis

The Democratic Republic of Congo reacted angrily to Botswana’s claim that President Joseph Kabila’s decision to remain in power is stoking instability in the vast central African nation.

Congo’s communications minister dismissed as “nonsense” Monday’s comments from Botswana, which represented the most strident criticism yet of Kabila by an African government. It comes as militia violence flares in Congo’s restive east, exacerbating countrywide insecurity that’s forced 5 million people from their homes.

Botswana shouldn’t interfere in Congo’s internal affairs, Lambert Mende said by phone from the capital, Kinshasa, accusing its government of “trying to please some powerful friends.” The European Union, U.S. and Switzerland have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Kabila allies including Mende for alleged rights abuses and blocking the electoral process.


ED apprises Kabila on Zim transition

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday held a closed-door meeting with his Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart President Joseph Kabila and briefed him on the transition that led to the resignation of former President Cde Robert Mugabe in November last year.

Emerging from the meeting, President Mnangagwa said he felt “home away from home” after the warm welcome he received.

“I feel home away from home. President Kabila is a brother to me, I am his elder brother, he is younger, but of course he is my elder colleague.

“He has been President for some time, but we are actually family and I am very happy to be here in the DRC and I was briefing my brother about this transition that has taken place in Zimbabwe and committing the new administration to consolidate our already excellent relationship.”


Gukurahundi victims’ hearings begin in Zimbabwe

Public hearings have started into alleged atrocities committed in Zimbabwe more than 30 years ago during the rule of Robert Mugabe.

It is claimed the former president ordered the deaths of people he believed were trying to depose him.

But many feel the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) hearings, set up by Zimbabwe’s government, are a waste of time.


UK optimistic over Zim future, but wants a ‘free,fair vote’

Britain’s foreign affairs minister Boris Johnson has reportedly expressed optimism over Zimbabwe’s political future but has urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to deliver “a free and fair election”.

Writing on his Twitter page this week, Johnson said that he was delighted to welcome Zimbabwe’s finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in London.

See his tweet below.

Chinamasa was in London, leading a Zimbabwean delegation for engagement under Mnangagwa’s new theme: “Zimbabwe is open for business.”

Following Johnson’s tweet, opposition leader David Coltart challenged the UK minister to also listen to the voices of the people on the ground, according to a Daily News report.

Coltart said that the condition for a fair vote were not yet met and the country’s constitution was “flagrantly violated”.


News Briefs 16 February 2018


Democratic Republic of Congo

Five killed in accident with DR Congo presidential motorcade

Three soldiers and two civilians were killed and 11 other people injured in an accident involving DR Congo President Joseph Kabila’s motorcade, his office said Wednesday.

The accident happened on a road in the southwest of the country, 220 kilometres (110 miles) south of Kinshasa, as Kabila was returning to the capital on Tuesday.

“Last night, a vehicle in the presidential motorcade was hit on the Matadi highway at Kimpese by a truck carrying cement,” communications official Yvon Ramazani told AFP on Wednesday.

“Three soldiers in the Republican Guard were killed along with two civilians who were nearby,” he said. Seven soldiers and four civilians were also injured, Ramazani said, adding that the accident had been caused by heavy rain.


U.S. warns Congo against electronic voting for delayed election

The United States warned the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday against using an electronic voting system for a long-delayed presidential election in December this year because it has the potential to undermine the credibility of the poll.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told an informal U.N. Security Council meeting on the Congolese electoral process that deploying “an unfamiliar technology for the first time during a crucial election is an enormous risk.”

“These elections must be held by paper ballots so there is no question by the Congolese people about the results. The U.S. has no appetite to support an electronic voting system,” Haley told the meeting, which was organized by the United States.

Several other countries on the 15-member council also raised concerns about the possible use of electronic voting.



Somali forces destroy Al-Shabaab bases in southern Somalia

Somali forces backed by African Union forces destroyed Al-Shabaab bases in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, the military said.

Lower Shabelle region military commander Ibrahim Aden Najah told journalists on Thursday that the forces raided the bases in Kurtunwarey and destroyed the bases used by the militants to attack Somali and Amisom forces.

The military officer said the forces were going on with operations in the regions to flush out the militants. Lower Shabelle region remains one of the strongholds of Al-Shabaab.

“We will not relent until we kick out all Al-Shabaab in the region,” added Najah.


UNHCR Special Envoy for Somalia commends South Africa for hosting Somali refugees

The generosity of the South African government has ensured that over 300,000 refugees and asylum-seekers live in the country in a free and safe environment, noted UNHCR Special Envoy to the Somalia Refugee Situation.

“South Africa has a generous policy that grants asylum seekers and refugee’s free movement, access to jobs and public services,” said Ambassador Mohamed Abdi Affey during a recent visit to South Africa.

The Special Envoy visited Pretoria and Cape Town from 05 to 09 February and met with Government officials, the Ambassador of Somalia to South Africa and representatives from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, donors and partner agencies.

Horsed Media

Central African Republic

Thousands flee militia violence in C Africa

About 7 400 people have been forced to flee their homes as fighting raged between rival militias in northwest Central African Republic, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.

The internally displaced people in the area of Markounda since late December have faced living conditions that “are extremely difficult,”, according to the ICRC, which is working alongside the Central African Red Cross and the NGO Doctors Without Borders.

“Families are confined to makeshift huts. The only health centre in Markounda has been looted since the outbreak of hostilities, there are not enough showers and latrines,” said Jean-Francois Sangsue, head of the ICRC delegation in Bangui


Central African Republic: UN, partners seek $515 million in humanitarian aid for 2018

“The situation requires greater attention more than ever,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Najat Rochdi, at the launch of the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan on Wednesday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that due to violence perpetrated by armed groups, more than one in four Central Africans is either internally displaced or a refugee.

The number of internally displaced persons has increased by more than 70 per cent since the first quarter of 2017. This has prevented thousands of children from enjoying their basic right to education. The combination of these factors means that 2.5 million out of the total 4.6 million Central Africans will need humanitarian assistance in 2018.

UN News


US says ‘deeply concerned’ over political arrests in Sudan

The United States Embassy in Sudan says it is “deeply concerned by the continued arrests and detentions of hundreds of political leaders, activists and ordinary citizens” in the country.

In a Thursday statement it says that many of the detained are “being held in inhumane and degrading conditions, and without access to lawyers or family.”

Sudan’s economy has been struggling since it lost oil-rich South Sudan to secession in 2011, with double-digit inflation and rising food prices driving unrest. Security forces violently shut down attempted demonstrations.


Russia to boost Sudan military: Bashir

President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday said that Khartoum and Moscow have agreed on a programme to boost Sudan’s military capabilities.

In an address to army officers and soldiers in the Red Sea town of Port Sudan, Bashir said the plan aimed to enable the Sudanese military to counter any threat.

He said, “Sudan has a programme with Russia to develop the Sudanese armed forces in a way that will deter anybody who intends to harm the country”, the official SUNA news agency reported.

SUNA gave no details of the plan.


South Sudan

UN envoy hopes for some agreement at South Sudan peace talks

The UN envoy for South Sudan says he hopes “some form of agreement” will be signed Friday in Ethiopia’s capital where talks are taking place aimed at ending the country’s five-year civil war.

David Shearer told reporters Thursday that “it might not go quite as far as we all would have hoped, but it might provide the platform for ongoing discussions.”

Shearer says the Ethiopian-led talks “didn’t start well” last week, but over the last three days the parties have split into smaller groups “and there appears to be quite a bit more progress.” He says the two issues being discussed are security and constitutional and governance matters.


200 000 more S Sudan refugees expected in Sudan: UN

About another 200 000 South Sudanese refugees are expected to arrive in Sudan this year, fleeing fighting and food insecurity in their country, the United Nations said on Thursday.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, descended into civil war just two years after it split from the north in 2011.

Since the war erupted in late 2013, 417 000 South Sudanese refugees have already crossed into Sudan, according to the UN.

About 200 000 more refugees are expected in 2018, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Office, or OCHA, said in its latest bulletin.


Western Sahara

EU promises to respect Western Sahara trade ruling

The European Commission is seeking a trade deal with Morocco but some MEPs say a draft appears to ignore a European Court of Justice ruling on the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

However, a commission spokesperson on Monday (5 February) said they are sticking to the judgement and that any final deal will follow the court’s ruling on the territory.

“The starting point is the respect of the court judgement and the goal is to clarify the status of products from Western Sahara,” the spokesperson said, in an email.

The Western Sahara is a disputed territory annexed by Morocco in the late 1970s. A shaky ceasefire between the Polisario independence movement and Morocco was signed in 1991.

The United Nations says the largely marginalised indigenous Sahrawi have a right to a referendum on independence. But the poll has yet to take place, posing questions on moves by Rabat and EU to secure any trade deals that involve exploiting resources in the desert area.

EU Observer

Morocco Invites UNSG’s Personal Envoy to “Examine Details” of Negotiations over Western Sahara

Morocco has reportedly sent an invitation to Kohler to discuss details of the future negotiations over the Western Sahara conflict. The invitation aims to examine thoroughly the details of the upcoming negotiations, according to an unidentified diplomat quoted by Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum.

Kohler is set to meet with officials of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to discuss his vision and his proposals that would help end the four-decade-long conflict over the region.

Kohler, who sent invitations to the parties to the conflict in January, hopes to devise a new vision and strategies to find a mutually acceptable solution to end the conflict.

Morocco World News


Swaziland: PM Admits Forcing Newspaper Closure

Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has said a newspaper in the kingdom was closed down because it published reports critical of his government.

He told a Cabinet retreat at the Pigg’s peak Hotel, ‘As the government we have seen people who are desperate to criticise us as their public servants at every opportunity. In the past we saw a certain news editor write only on government’s faults.’

The Swazi Observer reported his comments on Tuesday (13 February 2018). It said, ‘Dlamini said the editor in question would write volatile articles published in a certain newspaper every Monday resulting in the newspaper in question eventually being shut down for a period of time.’


Swaziland: Students March on Government

University students in Swaziland have boycotted classes and marched on the government protesting against unpaid and inadequate allowances.

The University of Swaziland (UNISWA) and the Southern African Nazarene University (SANU) have been affected.

The problem of delayed student allowances is not new as public services across the kingdom have been hit by the Swazi Government mishandling of the economy. Hospitals and health centres have run dry of medicines and blood. Schools are unable to run vital food programs for starving children and schools are without teachers.

SANU students were due to march and deliver a petition to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Swaziland Higher Education Council (SHEC) on Monday (12 February 2018). The petition came after a class boycott that started at the previous Wednesday and is continuing.



Grief as Zimbabwe opposition icon Tsvangirai dies

Zimbabwe was plunged into grief on Thursday following the death of veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, roundly praised as a hero, champion of democracy and symbol of resistance who will be hard to replace.


The former trade union stalwart who posed the most formidable challenge to the ruling Zanu PF party’s nearly four-decade hold on power, died on Wednesday in a hospital in neighbouring South Africa where he was being treated for colon cancer.

He was 65.

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa lauded his party’s arch-rival as “a strong trade unionist and opposition leader” and vowed free elections in honour of Tsvangirai who was assaulted, jailed and humiliated under his Zanu-PF government.


Zimbabwe Govt to Help in Laying Late Opposition MDC-T Leader Morgan Tsvangirai to Rest

Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa says the government will help in laying the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai to rest.

Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer in Johannesburg yesterday.

Tsvangirai’s opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change also met this morning to make burial arrangements.

The ruling Zanu PF’s acting Information Minister, Simon Khaya Moyo, said the death of Tsvangirai was untimely, “Such a development was not expected and really we are very sad about it. I believe not only the party, not only the government — -minister of information as well, but I believe the entire people of Zimbabwe are saddened by this development and all I can say really is that God giveth and he taketh, and we wish his soul to enter and rest in eternal peace. We mourn of course with the family, the relatives and all those who were close to him, and we want to say go well, go well and go well.”

Voice of America




Africa in General

6 African nations among the worst to be young in a war zone

Six African nations are among the 10 worst in the world to be a child in a war zone, a new report says.

The Save the Children report released on Thursday looks at factors including attacks on schools, child soldier recruitment, sexual violations, killings and lack of humanitarian access and is based on analysis by the Norway-based Peace Research Institute Oslo.

Syria tops the list followed by Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, Iraq, Congo, Sudan and Central African Republic.


Almost 360 million children worldwide, or one in six, live in affected areas, the report says. In addition, conflicts are grinding on longer than before.


No witnesses appear to defend South African ex-colonel in South Sudan trial

Defence witnesses did not appear in court to testify on Thursday in the trial of a South African national who faces the death penalty in South Sudan, on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government.

William John Endley served as an adviser to rebel leader Riek Machar, whose forces have been fighting those loyal to President Salva Kiir in a civil war since 2013. He was arrested in August 2016. A verdict in his case is expected next week.

On Thursday, a high court in the capital Juba said none of the witnesses called by the defence appeared.

“The defence case is closed and the final judgment will be given on the 23rd of this month,” presiding judge Ladu Eriminio Sekwat said during the hearing.

Business Day

SA troops accused of beating boy and sexually exploiting women in DR Congo – UN

South African troops serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been accused of beating a 17-year-old boy and sexually exploiting women, the UN spokesperson said on Monday.

UN and South African investigators will conduct a joint probe of the four allegations of misconduct that took place in Kasai province and in North Kivu.

The allegations, which surfaced last week, involve a 17-year-old Congolese boy who was subjected to “physical violence” in eastern Kasai, said spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

Probe to be completed within 90 days

Given the “serious concern raised by these allegations”, the United Nations has asked South Africa to send a team of agents to the DR Congo within five days and that the investigation be completed within 90 days, he added.