Democratic Republic of Congo
Three soldiers and two civilians were killed and 11 other people injured in an accident involving DR Congo President Joseph Kabila’s motorcade, his office said Wednesday.
The accident happened on a road in the southwest of the country, 220 kilometres (110 miles) south of Kinshasa, as Kabila was returning to the capital on Tuesday.
“Last night, a vehicle in the presidential motorcade was hit on the Matadi highway at Kimpese by a truck carrying cement,” communications official Yvon Ramazani told AFP on Wednesday.
“Three soldiers in the Republican Guard were killed along with two civilians who were nearby,” he said. Seven soldiers and four civilians were also injured, Ramazani said, adding that the accident had been caused by heavy rain.
The United States warned the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday against using an electronic voting system for a long-delayed presidential election in December this year because it has the potential to undermine the credibility of the poll.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told an informal U.N. Security Council meeting on the Congolese electoral process that deploying “an unfamiliar technology for the first time during a crucial election is an enormous risk.”
“These elections must be held by paper ballots so there is no question by the Congolese people about the results. The U.S. has no appetite to support an electronic voting system,” Haley told the meeting, which was organized by the United States.
Several other countries on the 15-member council also raised concerns about the possible use of electronic voting.
Somali forces backed by African Union forces destroyed Al-Shabaab bases in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, the military said.
Lower Shabelle region military commander Ibrahim Aden Najah told journalists on Thursday that the forces raided the bases in Kurtunwarey and destroyed the bases used by the militants to attack Somali and Amisom forces.
The military officer said the forces were going on with operations in the regions to flush out the militants. Lower Shabelle region remains one of the strongholds of Al-Shabaab.
“We will not relent until we kick out all Al-Shabaab in the region,” added Najah.
The generosity of the South African government has ensured that over 300,000 refugees and asylum-seekers live in the country in a free and safe environment, noted UNHCR Special Envoy to the Somalia Refugee Situation.
“South Africa has a generous policy that grants asylum seekers and refugee’s free movement, access to jobs and public services,” said Ambassador Mohamed Abdi Affey during a recent visit to South Africa.
The Special Envoy visited Pretoria and Cape Town from 05 to 09 February and met with Government officials, the Ambassador of Somalia to South Africa and representatives from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, donors and partner agencies.
Central African Republic
About 7 400 people have been forced to flee their homes as fighting raged between rival militias in northwest Central African Republic, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.
The internally displaced people in the area of Markounda since late December have faced living conditions that “are extremely difficult,”, according to the ICRC, which is working alongside the Central African Red Cross and the NGO Doctors Without Borders.
“Families are confined to makeshift huts. The only health centre in Markounda has been looted since the outbreak of hostilities, there are not enough showers and latrines,” said Jean-Francois Sangsue, head of the ICRC delegation in Bangui
“The situation requires greater attention more than ever,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Najat Rochdi, at the launch of the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan on Wednesday.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that due to violence perpetrated by armed groups, more than one in four Central Africans is either internally displaced or a refugee.
The number of internally displaced persons has increased by more than 70 per cent since the first quarter of 2017. This has prevented thousands of children from enjoying their basic right to education. The combination of these factors means that 2.5 million out of the total 4.6 million Central Africans will need humanitarian assistance in 2018.
The United States Embassy in Sudan says it is “deeply concerned by the continued arrests and detentions of hundreds of political leaders, activists and ordinary citizens” in the country.
In a Thursday statement it says that many of the detained are “being held in inhumane and degrading conditions, and without access to lawyers or family.”
Sudan’s economy has been struggling since it lost oil-rich South Sudan to secession in 2011, with double-digit inflation and rising food prices driving unrest. Security forces violently shut down attempted demonstrations.
President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday said that Khartoum and Moscow have agreed on a programme to boost Sudan’s military capabilities.
In an address to army officers and soldiers in the Red Sea town of Port Sudan, Bashir said the plan aimed to enable the Sudanese military to counter any threat.
He said, “Sudan has a programme with Russia to develop the Sudanese armed forces in a way that will deter anybody who intends to harm the country”, the official SUNA news agency reported.
SUNA gave no details of the plan.
The UN envoy for South Sudan says he hopes “some form of agreement” will be signed Friday in Ethiopia’s capital where talks are taking place aimed at ending the country’s five-year civil war.
David Shearer told reporters Thursday that “it might not go quite as far as we all would have hoped, but it might provide the platform for ongoing discussions.”
Shearer says the Ethiopian-led talks “didn’t start well” last week, but over the last three days the parties have split into smaller groups “and there appears to be quite a bit more progress.” He says the two issues being discussed are security and constitutional and governance matters.
About another 200 000 South Sudanese refugees are expected to arrive in Sudan this year, fleeing fighting and food insecurity in their country, the United Nations said on Thursday.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, descended into civil war just two years after it split from the north in 2011.
Since the war erupted in late 2013, 417 000 South Sudanese refugees have already crossed into Sudan, according to the UN.
About 200 000 more refugees are expected in 2018, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Office, or OCHA, said in its latest bulletin.
The European Commission is seeking a trade deal with Morocco but some MEPs say a draft appears to ignore a European Court of Justice ruling on the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
However, a commission spokesperson on Monday (5 February) said they are sticking to the judgement and that any final deal will follow the court’s ruling on the territory.
“The starting point is the respect of the court judgement and the goal is to clarify the status of products from Western Sahara,” the spokesperson said, in an email.
The Western Sahara is a disputed territory annexed by Morocco in the late 1970s. A shaky ceasefire between the Polisario independence movement and Morocco was signed in 1991.
The United Nations says the largely marginalised indigenous Sahrawi have a right to a referendum on independence. But the poll has yet to take place, posing questions on moves by Rabat and EU to secure any trade deals that involve exploiting resources in the desert area.
Morocco has reportedly sent an invitation to Kohler to discuss details of the future negotiations over the Western Sahara conflict. The invitation aims to examine thoroughly the details of the upcoming negotiations, according to an unidentified diplomat quoted by Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum.
Kohler is set to meet with officials of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to discuss his vision and his proposals that would help end the four-decade-long conflict over the region.
Kohler, who sent invitations to the parties to the conflict in January, hopes to devise a new vision and strategies to find a mutually acceptable solution to end the conflict.
Morocco World News
Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has said a newspaper in the kingdom was closed down because it published reports critical of his government.
He told a Cabinet retreat at the Pigg’s peak Hotel, ‘As the government we have seen people who are desperate to criticise us as their public servants at every opportunity. In the past we saw a certain news editor write only on government’s faults.’
The Swazi Observer reported his comments on Tuesday (13 February 2018). It said, ‘Dlamini said the editor in question would write volatile articles published in a certain newspaper every Monday resulting in the newspaper in question eventually being shut down for a period of time.’
University students in Swaziland have boycotted classes and marched on the government protesting against unpaid and inadequate allowances.
The University of Swaziland (UNISWA) and the Southern African Nazarene University (SANU) have been affected.
The problem of delayed student allowances is not new as public services across the kingdom have been hit by the Swazi Government mishandling of the economy. Hospitals and health centres have run dry of medicines and blood. Schools are unable to run vital food programs for starving children and schools are without teachers.
SANU students were due to march and deliver a petition to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Swaziland Higher Education Council (SHEC) on Monday (12 February 2018). The petition came after a class boycott that started at the previous Wednesday and is continuing.
Zimbabwe was plunged into grief on Thursday following the death of veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, roundly praised as a hero, champion of democracy and symbol of resistance who will be hard to replace.
The former trade union stalwart who posed the most formidable challenge to the ruling Zanu PF party’s nearly four-decade hold on power, died on Wednesday in a hospital in neighbouring South Africa where he was being treated for colon cancer.
He was 65.
Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa lauded his party’s arch-rival as “a strong trade unionist and opposition leader” and vowed free elections in honour of Tsvangirai who was assaulted, jailed and humiliated under his Zanu-PF government.
Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa says the government will help in laying the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai to rest.
Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer in Johannesburg yesterday.
Tsvangirai’s opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change also met this morning to make burial arrangements.
The ruling Zanu PF’s acting Information Minister, Simon Khaya Moyo, said the death of Tsvangirai was untimely, “Such a development was not expected and really we are very sad about it. I believe not only the party, not only the government — -minister of information as well, but I believe the entire people of Zimbabwe are saddened by this development and all I can say really is that God giveth and he taketh, and we wish his soul to enter and rest in eternal peace. We mourn of course with the family, the relatives and all those who were close to him, and we want to say go well, go well and go well.”
Voice of America
Africa in General
Six African nations are among the 10 worst in the world to be a child in a war zone, a new report says.
The Save the Children report released on Thursday looks at factors including attacks on schools, child soldier recruitment, sexual violations, killings and lack of humanitarian access and is based on analysis by the Norway-based Peace Research Institute Oslo.
Syria tops the list followed by Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, Iraq, Congo, Sudan and Central African Republic.
Almost 360 million children worldwide, or one in six, live in affected areas, the report says. In addition, conflicts are grinding on longer than before.
Defence witnesses did not appear in court to testify on Thursday in the trial of a South African national who faces the death penalty in South Sudan, on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government.
William John Endley served as an adviser to rebel leader Riek Machar, whose forces have been fighting those loyal to President Salva Kiir in a civil war since 2013. He was arrested in August 2016. A verdict in his case is expected next week.
On Thursday, a high court in the capital Juba said none of the witnesses called by the defence appeared.
“The defence case is closed and the final judgment will be given on the 23rd of this month,” presiding judge Ladu Eriminio Sekwat said during the hearing.
South African troops serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been accused of beating a 17-year-old boy and sexually exploiting women, the UN spokesperson said on Monday.
UN and South African investigators will conduct a joint probe of the four allegations of misconduct that took place in Kasai province and in North Kivu.
The allegations, which surfaced last week, involve a 17-year-old Congolese boy who was subjected to “physical violence” in eastern Kasai, said spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.
Probe to be completed within 90 days
Given the “serious concern raised by these allegations”, the United Nations has asked South Africa to send a team of agents to the DR Congo within five days and that the investigation be completed within 90 days, he added.