Democratic Republic of Congo
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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”.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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”.