Democratic Republic of Congo
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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”.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.