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