News Briefs 09 October 2020

Central Africa Republic

Human Rights Council Holds Separate Interactive Dialogues on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Central African Republic.

The Human Rights Council this morning held an enhanced interactive dialogue on the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and on the final report of the Team of International Experts on the Kasai. It then held an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic.

Speaking on the Democratic Republic of the Congo were Sweden on behalf of a group of countries, European Union, Burkina Faso on behalf of the Group of African States, France, Japan, Senegal, Mauritania, Belgium, Togo, China, Australia, Botswana, Angola, Switzerland, Netherlands, Venezuela, Luxembourg, Spain, Mozambique, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Egypt and Ireland.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions : Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme, Together against the death penalty, Dominicans for Justice and Peace, World Vision International, Lutheran World Federation, International Catholic Child Bureau, Amnesty International, World Organisation Against Torture, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, Next Century Foundation, International-Lawyers.Org, and International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

AllAfrica 02 October 2020

Edinburgh businessman, 43, is bidding to become the next PRESIDENT of the Central African Republic after he became celebrity in his home country as an international basketball player

A businessman and former international basketball player based in Edinburgh is hoping to become president of the Central African Republic (CAR) – one of the most corrupt and poorest countries in the world.

Edgard Kalambani, 43, who is also an ex-holiday chalet manager, is bidding to become leader of the nation, which is ranked 153 out of 180 on Transparency International’s corruption index.

The father-of-three hails from the CAR, and hopes to oust Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who came to power in 2016 in the country’s first democratic election since a coup by Muslim rebels three years earlier, which prompted a period of sectarian violence.

Daily Mail 06 October 2020


Student thought he was going to die after ‘abduction by state security services’

Sleep does not come easily to 22-year-old Tawanda Muchehiwa. Sometimes it arrives as the morning sun appears but there are days when his mind will not allow him any peace.

The horror he says he experienced over three fateful days in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe has not subsided.

He replays his abduction like a piece of music on repeat, seeking meaning from an experience that he does not understand.

“When I hear a knock or someone walking outside, I become really scared, I have anxiety and panic attacks,” he says as his fingers visibly shake.

“(My captors) say that if I tell the world about my ordeal, they were going to come after me and the next thing I was going to see is my coffin.”

Sky News 08 October 2020

Zimbabwe parents face huge burden from school reopening

Tobias Muchayi is worried about spiraling costs from the reopening of schools in the Southern African country of Zimbabwe.

“I’m over-burdened as a parent,” Muchayi, who lives in the capital Harare, told Anadolu Agency.

“I have two children who had to go back to school on Sept. 28, in preparation for end-of-year exams.”

“Each school has asked me to pay school levy indexed to US dollars and also want an extra COVID-19 levy because the government failed to assist schools.”

Muchayi said his 13-year-old son will have grade 7 examinations before he enrolls for secondary school next year.

Anadolu Agency 07 October 2020


Abortion Debate to Test Limits of eSwatini’s Absolute Monarchy?

Qinisile Mabuza, a High Court judge in the deeply conservative kingdom of eSwatini has started a debate about legalising abortion after revealing her intentions to lobby for it to be legalised. According to the country’s constitution, abortion is unlawful but might be allowed on medical or therapeutic grounds, including where a doctor certifies that the continued pregnancy will endanger the life or constitute a serious threat to the physical health of the woman. The southern African country is known to stifle political dissent and other freedoms, and the king has absolute power.

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo’s fragile detente ‘could yet unravel’, Security Council warned

Leila Zerrougui, Head of the UN’s Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), urged Council members to continue to support its efforts to help the Congolese government and people maintain the gains made since its establishment in 2010.

Discussing the political situation, she said that in the peaceful transfer of power that following the 2018 elections, the political class accepts – “and even appreciates” – the opportunities offered by the ruling coalition between the Cap pour le Changement (CACH) and the Front Commun pour le Congo (FCC).

However, in addition to persistent tension between coalition members, there is a risk that politicking and positioning ahead of elections in 2023 will overshadow the governance reforms and stabilization measures that the Democratic Republic of the Congo needs, she said.

“The current political dispensation remains fragile and could yet unravel,” she said.  “At the same time, it has the potential to sustain and advance the gains which have already been made – should all actors work towards this goal.”

UN News 06 October 2020

Constructive dialogue crucial to settle conflict in DR Congo: Ambassador

Constructive dialogues and reconciliation efforts will help settle conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), particularly cross-border security challenges, said Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, head of the Vietnamese mission to the United Nations.

Attending the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)’s video teleconference on October 6, Ambassador Quy noted the Congolese government’s efforts in stablising local situation and enhancing international cooperation to address security and peace difficulties and challenges.

He voiced his concern over the instability in the country’s eastern region, which has been plagued by violence stretching over decades, challenges to humanitarian situation as well as critical impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ebola and other diseases in the country.

Vietnam Plus 07 October 2020


Somalia Names New Pm, Announces Plan for National Elections

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has appointed a new prime minister hours after brokering an agreement with regional leaders for elections next year that abandons a promised one-person, one-vote model.

Mohamed’s office announced late Thursday the appointment of Mohamed Hussein Roble, a Swedish-trained civil engineer and political neophyte, and “wished him to take duties and tasks ahead with diligence”.

He fills a vacancy left when former premier Hassan Ali Khaire was removed by parliament in July for failing to pave the way for fully democratic elections due before February 2021.

The foreign-backed government in Mogadishu has been in drawn-out negotiations with Somalia’s federal states over how to proceed with parliamentary and presidential elections.

EWN 18 September 2020

Officials: 2 Cuban Doctors Held Hostage in Somalia Not Freed

Somalia’s foreign minister Ahmed Isse Awad told local media that “they’ve not yet been released but we have higher hope in that.”

Cuba’s foreign ministry said “huge efforts” were being made to ensure their release.

The Associated Press on Wednesday erroneously reported that the doctors had been freed, citing Somali officials. The officials on Thursday said they had been mistaken. The Somali officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

It was not clear where the doctors were on Thursday.

US News 08 October 2020


Sudan to strike peace with rebels after decades of war

Sudan’s government and rebels are set to sign a landmark peace deal in a bid to end decades of war in which hundreds of thousands have died – an historic achievement if it holds.

Ending Sudan’s internal conflicts has been a top priority of the transition government in power since last year’s removal of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir amid a popular uprising.

Both sides are due to sign the deal in full on Saturday in Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan, after putting their initials on the agreement at the end of last month.

The location of the ceremony holds great significance – South Sudan’s leaders themselves battled Khartoum as rebels for decades, before establishing the world’s newest nation-state.

Aljazeera 01 October 2020

New World Bank Group Country Engagement Note to Support Inclusive and Equitable Growth Path for Sudan

The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today endorsed a new Country Engagement Note (CEN) for Sudan. The CEN is aimed at supporting the Government of Sudan’s efforts to reform the economy, build a more equitable social contract, and provide a better future for Sudanese people.

“To end extreme poverty and lift people up from a history of fragility and conflict, Sudan must ensure access to basic services, stable jobs, transparent and accountable institutions, and economic and social inclusion,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Eastern and Southern Africa. “The World Bank’s engagement will support the country’s development vision, focusing on macro-economic stability, job creation, and sustainable development for all Sudanese people.”

Since 2019, the government has taken bold steps to resolve long-standing internal conflicts, reverse economic distortions, renew the social contract, and re-engage with the international community. Substantial resources are needed to address these challenges, given their deep-rooted nature.

AllAfrica 08 October 2020

South Sudan

Starvation used as weapon of war in South Sudan conflict, UN rights body finds

Starvation is being intentionally used as a war tactic in South Sudan’s brutal conflict, a UN-backed human rights panel said on Tuesday, releasing its latest report on the country.

South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 but descended into conflict roughly two-and-a-half years later, following irreconcilable tensions between President Salva Kiir and his deputy, Riek Machar.  

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said the brutal fighting has caused incalculable suffering to civilians, and resulted in staggering levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition.

Government and opposition culpable

“With 7.5 million South Sudanese currently requiring humanitarian assistance, we have found that food insecurity in Western Bahr el Ghazal, Jonglei, and Central Equatoria States is linked directly to the conflict and therefore almost entirely human-induced”, said the Commission Chair, Yasmin Sooka. 

UN News 06 October 2020

Eastern Sudan rocked by protests and calls for independence

Eastern Sudan has been rocked by widespread protests over recent days, with demonstrators disrupting the country’s largest port, threatening to cut off oil supplies and calling for independence from Khartoum.

Operations in Port Sudan resumed on Wednesday after negotiations between striking workers and the Khartoum government, sources from both sides told Middle East Eye.

However, fury remains, as protesters continue to voice their anger at a peace deal between the government and eastern rebels.

On Saturday, the transitional Khartoum government signed a conflict-resolution agreement with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), an alliance of several current and former rebel groups from the Darfur region, and the southern states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Middle East Eye 07 October 2020

Western Sahara

Situation concerning Western Sahara – Report of the Secretary-General

I. Introduction

  1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2494 (2019), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2020 and requested me to submit a report on the situation in Western Sahara before the end of the mandate period. The report covers developments until 31 August 2020 that have occurred since the issuance of my previous report of 2 October 2019 (S/2019/787) and describes the situation on the ground, the status of political negotiations on Western Sahara, the implementation of resolution 2494 (2019) and the existing challenges to the Mission’s operations and steps taken to address them.

II. Recent developments

  1. Overall calm prevailed in Western Sahara on both sides of the berm. While respect for the ceasefire agreement by both parties generally continued, there was a notable decline in compliance with the terms of military agreement No. 1, particularly east of the berm.
  2. The impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on Western Sahara was moderate west of the berm. Following early and thorough preventive and containment measures by Morocco, this part of the Territory witnessed only a handful of cases until 30 May. At that point, a significant outbreak was detected in the area of Laayoune. As at 31 August, the number of active cases in Laayoune was 41. The Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y Río de Oro (Frente POLISARIO) reported taking strict measures to prevent the spread of the virus east of the berm, where no cases were officially reported. In the Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria, three active cases had officially been identified as at 31 August. In the town of Tindouf, where a number of United Nations and international humanitarian operators have offices, cases were detected in August and, as at 31 August, 43 cases remained active.

Read Full Report from (Published on 05 October 2020)

Human rights organizations remind of more than 400 cases in Western Sahara still missing

The Sahrawi National Commission for Human Rights, along with 240 human rights organizations, have reminded the UN Working Group against Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances of more than 400 Sahrawis who have been missing since the invasion and military occupation of Western Sahara by the Kingdom of Morocco.

In an oral statement during the 45th Ordinary Session of Human Rights, the organizations said that although the Kingdom of Morocco ratified the International Convention to Protect People from Enforced Disappearance adopted in 2006 by the United Nations, it has not yet submitted its first report to the Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

The statement added that the UN Working Group against Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances continues to receive reports of reprisals against the families of victims, human rights defenders and supporting organizations in the occupied areas of Western Sahara, a non-self-governing territory, according to the United Nations General Assembly.

Sahara Press Service 21 September 2020