News Briefs 14 June 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC opposition lose 23 seats to Kabila’s coalition: Apex court rebuked

EEC, the Protestant Church of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, has waded into a recent judicial ruling that led to the loss of over twenty parliamentary seats by the country’s main opposition party.

The Church described the ruling, earlier this week, of the constitutional court as a “violation of the law,” and questioned its legitimacy and timing.

“The ECC notes with regret the violation of the electoral law, especially since this law says that invalidations must be made within 60 days, that the constitutional court can invalidate the deputies in June, 5 months later, it is breaking the law,” said Pastor Moïse Bwema, chief of staff of the ECC president.

Africa News

DR Congo applies for admission to East African Community

The Democratic Republic of Congo has formally applied for admission to the six-member East African Community (EAC).

The vast natural resource-rich central African country is seeking to join the regional bloc after various behind-the-scenes rapprochements.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi this week wrote to his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, who is the current chairman of the EAC, seeking to join the Community whose member countries are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

“This request follows the ever-increasing trade between the economic players of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and those of the states of the Community,” he wrote on June 8.

AllAfrica

Somalia

AMISOM Equips Somalia’s Security Forces with Specialised Containers

In order to enhance the capacity of the Somali security forces as they intensify operations to liberate the country from militants, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has donated specially-designed

refrigerated containers for storage of fresh food and supplies, and for moving items required to be in a controlled room temperature. Speaking during the handing over ceremony of the six containers, the Special

Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, congratulated the Somali security forces for their role in liberating Bariire town in the Lower Shabelle region, and said that AMISOM would continue to motivate and support the Somali security forces.

AllAfrica

Africom, Somalia leaders meet

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command (Africom), and U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto met with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and other key Somali leaders during a visit to Mogadishu, Somalia, on 11 June.

Discussions during the key leader engagement centred on the incremental progress the U.S. interagency team has witnessed in Somalia, as well as U.S. whole of government support for the Federal Government of Somalia, Africom said.

“Employing an integrated interagency defense, diplomacy, and development approach, our efforts in Somalia help contain a potentially broader regional security threat,” said Waldhauser. “The assistance provided in Somalia is truly an international effort and there are encouraging signs of change, progress, and emerging options for Somalis.”

Defense Web

Central Africa Republic

UN expert to assess the human rights situation in Central African Republic

The United Nations independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic (CAR) will visit the country from 4 to 14 June 2019.

Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum’s visit follows the 6 February signing of the Peace Agreement in Khartoum between the Government and 14 armed groups and deadly attacks last month that killed more than 49 people in Ouham-Pendé prefecture. In this context, her visit will focus on the protection of populations and the fight against impunity, taking into account actions that could compromise the success of the peace process.

Keita Bocoum will also assess the implementation of the Khartoum Agreement, particularly regarding transitional justice and the situation of youth and women. She will meet with national authorities, possibly in different regions. She will visit organisations in charge of protecting populations and implementing social programmes, particularly women and young people. Keita Bocoum will also meet representatives of civil society, the United Nations system and the diplomatic community.

Relief Web

World Bank Provides $100 Million for the LONDO Project in the Central African Republic

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a $100 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA)* for the LONDO project in the Central African Republic (CAR).

This additional financing will provide temporary employment to vulnerable persons and facilitate access to basic services nationwide. Known as “LONDO+,” this financing will help triple the number of labor-intensive public works beneficiaries, providing close to 5 million paid work days in the country.

“While it will take time for the formal private sector to establish itself across the entire country, the project will continue to fill an important gap by providing temporary jobs in all of the CAR’s districts, including the most remote areas. It will also provide access to basic services, especially in isolated areas where neither humanitarian nor development actors operate,” says Jean-Christophe Carret, World Bank Country Director for the Central African Republic.

Relief Web

Sudan

UN says it confirmed 17 deaths in Darfur region violence

The United Nations says it has confirmed the killing of 17 people and the burning of more than 100 houses in a village in Sudan’s central Darfur region earlier this week.

Another 15 people in Deleij village were wounded, according to the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which said on Thursday that the violence “occurred during heated clashes between nomads and residents apparently angered by the increase in commodity prices at the local market”.

The statement came days after medics linked to opposition protesters had said “Janjaweed” militias fired live ammunition at civilians on Monday at a market in Deleij, killing at least nine people and wounding 20 others.

Aljazeera

Sudan’s junta expels SPLM-N leading members to Juba: Agar

Sudan’s Transitional Military Council has expelled to Juba Yasir Arman the deputy head of the SPL0M-N Agar, the Movement’s Secretary Ismail Jalab and its Spokesperson Mubarak Ardol.

The official Sudan News Agency issued a short statement on Monday morning saying the three have been released from jail without further details. Also, the authorities did not explain the reason for their arbitrary detention.

However, the group’s leader Malik Agar issued a statement in the afternoon saying the three have been deported to Juba and thanked the South Sudanese president for “the good reception and hospitality”.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

South Sudan jails prominent economist over media interviews

A South Sudanese court sentenced a prominent economist to two years in prison on Tuesday for disturbing the peace because he gave interviews to foreign media after he was arrested on treason charges that were subsequently dropped.

The case of Peter Biar Ajak, a former child refugee who returned to his native South Sudan as an internationally renowned academic, has thrown the spotlight on what rights groups say is repression of dissent in Africa’s youngest country.

Biar fled to the United States as a youth, was educated at Harvard and Cambridge and worked at the World Bank. He became South Sudan country director for the International Growth Centre, part of the London School of Economics.

Reuters

South Sudan returnees find hope in farm support for self-reliance

For two years Moses Aloro eked out a living at Uganda’s Rhino Camp for refugees having escaped from South Sudan when renewed fighting hit Yei in River State in 2016.

When the revitalised peace agreement was announced in September last year committing President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar to form a transitional government of national unity, Mr Aloro returned home.

“We just returned to Yei only to discover our homes no longer exist. Things are hard and we are starting from scratch,” he told The EastAfrican.

Mary Okello, a mother of four who also recently returned from Congo’s Biringi refugee camp, said she was also starting life afresh, cautiously optimistic that the war will end once and for all.

The East African

Western Sahara

Nigeria labour Congress reiterates supports for Western Sahara people

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has reinstated its support for the struggle of the Western Sahara people against the colonial grip of Morocco.Mr. Najeem Yasin, acting NLC president, gave the assurance during a visit by Mr. Brahim Ghali, President Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic on Thursday in Abuja.

According to him, the Congress is fully aware of the struggle of the Saharawi people against the colonial grip of Morocco.

“Unfortunately, an African country is holding Africa’s last colony against the resolutions of the defunct Organisation of Africa Unity, now Africa Union and the collective interests of all freedom loving people across the world,” he said.

Yasin said that the NLC would continue to spearhead national solidarity of the labour movement and its allies in the academia, civil society, professional groups, among others in support of the struggles of the people of Western Sahara.

Journal du Cameroun

In Western Sahara, Europe sides with occupier over occupied

The European Parliament has backed a controversial trade agreement with Morocco that includes the occupied Western Sahara within its remit. Has Europe prioritized ‘securing’ its borders over human rights? Ruairi Casey reports.

Shops in the Tindouf refugee camps in western Algeria are sparsely-stocked, but customers can choose from several varieties of sardines, each in brightly coloured tins.

The fish are caught by Algerian trawlers in the Mediterranean Sea and transported over 1,000 kilometres to the edge of the Sahara desert, where around 170,000 Sahrawi refugees have lived since fleeing their homeland of Western Sahara. In 1975, the Kingdom of Morocco violently invaded and partly annexed the territory.

New International

Swaziland

Is Speaking Truth to Swazi Royal Power Bringing Slow Change?

Little news emerges from Eswatini, the tiny monarchy landlocked by South Africa and Mozambique, except lurid stories about the latest shenanigans of King Mswati III and his many wives. So it’s hardly surprising that few outsiders – and not even many insiders apparently – have been paying attention to quite encouraging recent political developments.

Five years ago, the country hit rock bottom, sparking international outrage after the arrest and jailing of journalists, lawyers and opposition politicians for criticising the lack of democracy and judicial independence.

In 2016 the United States (US) responded by removing Eswatini – then still called Swaziland – as a beneficiary of its African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows low-tariff or tariff-free entry into the US market for exports from eligible African countries. Since then, however, things have begun moving in the right direction, even if slowly and almost invisibly.

AllAfrica

Time for Swaziland to Follow Botswana’s Lead and Decriminalise Gay Sex

Swaziland should follow the example of its near-neighbour Botswana and decriminalise gay sex.

The kingdom, also known as eSwatini, has much in common with Botswana. Both were protectorates of Great Britain and have laws relating to homosexuality dating back to that time. They became independent in the 1960s. Both countries have small but active fundamentalist Christian groups that today demonise LGBT people; the media largely ignore them and when they do report they are usually antagonistic. Both countries want people to believe that homosexuality is in some way ‘un-African’. Nevertheless, both want to believe that they are modern societies. Swaziland aims to become a ‘First-World’ country by 2022.

The Botswana High Court on Tuesday (11 June 2019) unanimously ruled in favour of decriminalising homosexuality. Judge Michael Elburu said, ‘Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized.’

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe court releases two more rights activists

Two Zimbabwean rights campaigners arrested last month and charged with subversion were released on bail on Monday, lawyers said.

The pair were among a group of seven human rights defenders arrested at Harare airport on their arrival from the Maldives, where police allege, they attended a workshop on how to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

High court judge Justice Amy Tsanga ordered the release of Rita Nyamupinga and Stabile Dhewa, who were charged with “subverting a constitutional government”, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda told AFP.

“We welcome the court’s decision in releasing the human rights campaigners. They did not deserve to have been in prison in the first place,” he said.

The Citizen

Zimbabwe president says new currency a must by year-end

The southern African nation in February removed an unrealistic peg for its electronic dollars and surrogate bond notes and merged them into a transitional currency called the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollar.

In January Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe, in the grip of a severe dollar crunch that has caused shortages of fuel and medicines, would have a new currency in the next 12 months.

“As a country we must have our currency by the end of this year, we have started that journey,” Mnangagwa said at an event south of the capital Harare.

Prices of basic goods from sugar to maize meal have spiked in the last month as the RTGS dollar has lost value.

Standard Digital

Africa in General

Botswana decriminalizes gay sex in latest LGBT rights victory in Africa

Botswana became the latest country to decriminalize gay sex on Tuesday in a landmark case for Africa. The High Court of Botswana rejected as unconstitutional sections of the penal code punishing same-sex relations with up to seven years in prison.

Jubilant activists in the packed courtroom cheered the unanimous decision in the southern African nation that is seen as one of the continent’s most stable and democratic. The ruling came less than a month after Kenya’s High Court upheld similar sections of its own penal code in another closely watched case that left LGBT rights advocates disappointed.

More than two dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa have laws criminalizing gay sex, often holdovers from colonial times. Earlier this year, the southern African nation of Angola decriminalized same-sex activity and banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

CBS News

Africa is Doing Better on LGBTQ Rights Than You Think

B otswana’s High Court ruled for LGBTQI rights in the southern African country on Tuesday — another historic decision in favour of equality, diversity and dignity.

The judges struck down section 164 of the country’s penal code, which had stipulated seven years in prison for what it called “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.”

The court unanimously ruled that the legislation was discriminatory, unconstitutional and against the public interest.

And let’s face it, it is a huge victory — especially after last month’s let-down in Kenya, where the courts failed to decriminalize their own colonial-era anti-gay sex laws.

Of course, there are those who will respond to Botswana’s landmark ruling with confusion, and rage about the so-called ‘scourge of homosexuality’ sweeping across Africa.

CNN

Kenya indefinitely closes border with Somalia, trade ban imposed

Multiple media sources in Kenya are reporting that the government has closed a border with neighbouring Somalia indefinitely with cross border trade banned in the process.

The specific border point is the Lamu County area, one of four border crossings between the two neighbours. They are also joined by Mandera, Wajir and Garissa Counties.

Reports indicate that the measure is part of security operations against Al-Shabaab insurgents operating from the Somali side. The regional East African portal quoted Lamu Country police chief as saying the border will only remain open to security officers.

He added that with respect to ban on cross-border trade, persons that contravene the measure will lose their permits and also be arrested. “The border closure comes barely a week after fishing activities off the coast near the Somalia border were outlawed,” the report added.

Africa News