News Briefs: 17 February 2017

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

D.R. Congo government: Elections are too expensive, so we may not have one this year

The ruling government in the Democratic Republic of Congo has indicated it may not hold long-awaited elections this year.

Why? It’s simply too expensive, a government official suggested this week

“It will be difficult to think that we can mobilize $1.8 billion this year,” Pierre Kangudia Mbayi, minister of state in charge of budget, said at a news conference Wednesday, Africa News reported. “At this stage, I prefer to keep a language of sincerity.”

That $1.8 billion cost was the one estimated by D.R. Congo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) last year.

National Post

DRC militia using child soldiers: UN

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has expressed its concern about the persistent conflict in the Kasai provinces where violent atrocities are being committed by the Kamuina Nsapu militia.

The militia is recruiting and using child soldiers while targeting symbols and institutions of state authority, according to a Monday news release issued by the UN Stabilisation Mission in the African country (MONUSCO), which also cited the disproportionate use of force by government security forces known as FARDC in their response to the situation.

Particularly since 9 February there have been ongoing clashes between Kamuina Nsapu militia and Congolese security forces in the area of Tshimbulu, 160km southeast of Kananga, with unconfirmed reports of 30 to 50 deaths resulting from these clashes.

eNCA

Somalia

Somalia praised for holding peaceful polls

President Uhuru Kenyatta has commended Somali for successfully holding a peaceful presidential election, saying it is proof the Horn of Africa country is heading in the right direction.

Uhuru said the election gave renewed hope to the Somali people and the international community that Somalia is on the road to full recovery.

“The way the election was conducted and the subsequent peaceful transfer of power has made us very proud,” Uhuru said.

The President spoke at State House, Nairobi when he received a special message from new Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo. The message was delivered by Farmaajo’s special envoy, Abdisalam Omer, who is the new Foreign Minister of Somalia.

The Star

 

AU envoy says election of new president puts Somalia on path to renewal

Somalia has a chance to forge a new beginning after peaceful election of the new President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo) on Feb. 8, said the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) for Somalia, Francisco Madeira.

Madeira said in a commentary published by Kenya’s Daily Nation on Wednesday that election of a new president will enable Somalia to shake off its tragic past and chart a new beginning marked by peace, stability and development.

“The successful conclusion of the presidential election heralds a new dawn for a country that has been plagued by years of instability, internal strife, cyclical drought and violent extremism,” said Madeira.

Coast Week

Central African Republic

Situation in Central African Republic warrants continued international attention, UN Security Council told

Despite improving security situation in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), concerns remain in other parts of the country, the top United Nations peacekeeping official told the Security Council today, underlining the need for continued international attention.

Particularly worrying were clashes between the Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique and the Union pour la paix en Centrafrique groups in the country’s central region which had assumed ethnic overtones, said Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping in his briefing to the 15-member Council.

He added that the two groups were outside an ongoing dialogue, established by the country’s President, Faustin Archange Touadera, with other armed groups which was making progress in such areas as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

UN News

UN air strikes in Central African Republic kill several – militia

A top militant and three others were killed in Central African Republic when a UN helicopter fired on fighters advancing towards the town of Bambari, a rebel group said on Sunday.

The UN’s mission known as MINUSCA shot at fighters from the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central African Republic (FPRC), on Saturday after they crossed a “red line” it had set north of the town, said spokesman Vladimir Monteiro.

“We were looking to prevent war in Bambari,” he said, referring to the town about 250 km (155 miles) northeast of the capital Bangui.

A death toll had not yet been established, he added.

eNCA

 

 

Sudan

Unicef launches $110m appeal for Sudan children

The UN children’s agency on Wednesday launched a $110m appeal to help two million acutely malnourished children across Sudan, including hundreds of thousands living in conflict areas.

Unicef said Sudan is home to around 13% of all children suffering from acute malnutrition across Africa.

Their situation is exacerbated by conflict-related displacements, El Nino, epidemics, floods and droughts.

News24

SPLM-N says Khartoum blast proves Sudan continued support to terror groups

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) Thursday said the recent discovery of a terror hideout in the Sudanese capital sends a “disappointing message” to the international community over Khartoum cooperation on counter-terrorism.

Last Sunday, police authorities confirmed an explosion at a residential building at Arkawit suburb, south of Khartoum. There were no human or material causalities but the small blast led the police to uncover an artisanal laboratory and ingredients for fabricating a bomb.

Also, the police source confirmed the arrest of 26 foreign nationals from Arab countries mainly from Egypt and Syria, besides a Sudanese national.

Commenting on the blast, the SPLM-N Secretary General, Yasir Arman told Sudan Tribune the incident, confirms that “Khartoum remains a base for international terrorism”.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

Nearly 15,000 lost children seek parents in chaos of South Sudan’s war

In the chaos of South Sudan’s civil war, it took three years for Nyagonga Machul to find her lost children.

Machul had traveled from her village to the capital when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, in 2013. The dismissal triggered a civil war in the world’s newest nation that has increasingly been fought along ethnic lines.

Machul found herself cut off from her son Nhial, now aged 14 and the protector of the family; 10-year-old Ruai and 8-year-old Machiey, brothers who love board games and swimming; 6-year-old Nyameer with her shy smile; and Nyawan, now four but then the much-loved baby.

Reuters

U.N.: South Sudan War Reaches ‘Catastrophic Proportions’

A confidential U.N. report is warning that the war in South Sudan has reached “catastrophic proportions for civilians” and the rise of militias risks spinning out of control, fueling fighting for years to come.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the report obtained by Agence France Presse that civilians were fleeing villages and towns “in record numbers” and that the danger of mass atrocities “is real”.

“The security situation continues to deteriorate in parts of the country and the consequent impact of this ongoing conflict and violence, has reached catastrophic proportions for civilians,” Guterres wrote.

“The rise of militias under the loose command of the SPLA or rebel commanders is spreading the fragmentation and dislocation of its territories, which risk, if this trend continues, remaining out of any government control for years to come,” said the report.

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

Western Sahara

Polisario Front insists Morocco must recognize Western Sahara’s independence

The Saharawi liberation movement says it is time Morocco accepted Western Sahara’s independence.

The Polisario Front said on Tuesday that since Morocco has rejoined the African Union and accepted the group’s principles, it must recognize Western Sahara or it could face possible sanctions or requests to leave the regional organization.

AP news reported that Ahmed Boukhari, Polisario Front’s UN representative said that the independence movement will be watching what Morocco does between now and the next AU summit in July.

Africa News

Western Sahara Intergroup must “stimulate” different initiatives of solidarity and be Saharawi people voice

The president of CEAS-Sahara, Mr. José Taboada said Wednesday that the Intergroup on Western Sahara must “boost” the different solidarity initiatives and be “the voice” of the Saharawi people, “according to the newspaper Diario.es.

The Intergroup on Western Sahara has been constituted on Wednesday by the Congress of Deputies and will have among its first tasks to promote an institutional statement to express the resolve to solve the conflict in Western Sahara, according to the same source.

The event was attended by the president of CEAS-Sahara, José Taboada and the delegate of the Frente POLISARIO for Spain, Jira Boulahi Bad.

Sahara Press Service

Madagascar

Water, power supply in Madagascar’s capital returning to normal

Water and electricity supply to Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, “is returning to normal,” Madagascar’s prime minister said Thursday.

“The electricity supply by the state-owned company JIRAMA for the population of Antananarivo already exceeds the need of the customers,” Prime Minister Mahafaly Solonandrasana said during his visit to water stations that supply water and electricity to Antananarivo.

The prime minister said increased rain in recent days had increased water levels in four hydropower stations that provide electricity for JIRAMA.

News Ghana

Swaziland

King’s Bogus Claim On Democracy

A campaign of misinformation has begun in Swaziland to convince people that it is a democratic kingdom when it is not.

King Mswati III, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has urged people to vote at next year’s national election to pick their own leader.

The King’s message was delivered by Chief Gija Dlamini, Chairperson of the Elections and Boundaries Commission.

AllAfrica.com

Hunger Forces Schools to Close Early

Teachers across Swaziland are reporting that schools are forced to close early because there is no food to feed children.

Zwelithini Mndzebele, General Secretary of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), told local media the union had a number of reports that some schools had broken early each day because of food shortages.

Mndzebele blamed government for being slow in paying school fees so principals could not buy supplementary food.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe

Cut Wage Bill to 70 Percent – Parly

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development has recommended that government carry out a restructuring of the civil service and reduce the wage bill to 70% of the budget within the first quarter of 2017, businessdigest has learnt.

The move piles pressure on Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa who, in his 2015 mid- term fiscal statement, said he intends to reduce the wage bill from 80% to 40% on wages in the long-term.

If adopted, the recommendations could help boost government coffers which have been severely depleted due to a wage bill that is gobbling up more than 90% of the US$4,1 billion national budget, crowding out capital and social spending.

AllAfrica.com

 

Mugabe’s Govt Threatens to Fire Striking Doctors

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s government has threatened to fire striking doctors demanding better salaries and working conditions, as the industrial action spread and entered its second day on Thursday.

Information obtained by News24 showed that the government through the ministry of health and child welfare was compiling names of doctors who heeded the call to down tools.

Clinical Director at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Noah Madziva dispatched a memo charging that anyone who withdrew their services would be removed from duty register and pay roll.

AllAfrica.com

 

Africa in General

Top US official in The Gambia for Barrow’s inauguration

A top official of the United States (US) will join a host of dignitaries at the inauguration ceremony of Gambian President Adama Barrow tomorrow.

The Gambia’s 52nd Independence Day celebration has also been tied to the official swearing-in of President Adama Barrow. The event will take place at the Independence Stadium in the capital, Banjul.

Reports indicate that Presidents from about 20 African countries are expected to attend the event. Majority of these will be from the West African subregion, many international partners will also be expected in the ‘Smiling Coast’ of Africa to grace the occasion.

Africa News

Zimbabwe doctors kick-off nationwide strike over poor conditions

Zimbabwean doctors on Wednesday commenced a nationwide strike protesting low salaries and poor conditions of service.

The main demand of the doctors is for an increase in their on-call allowance which has remained unchanged since 2014 – they want the government to honor a pledge to peg it at a minimum of $720 per month.

They are asking for subventions to allow doctors to purchase their own vehicles and also insisting that the government employs a 120 trained doctors who will be out of work in the next two weeks.

Africa News

 

Angolan veep charged with corruption during his tenure as state oil boss

Angola’s Vice President, Manuel Vicente, has been charged with corruption and money laundering in Portugal, the Prosecutor General’s office in Lisbon confirmed on Thursday.

The charges dates back to when he was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the national oil firm, Sonangol. Vicente is accused of bribing a magistrate in order to shelve investigations into his deals at the oil company.

He is alleged to have given a former prosecutor, one Orlando Figueira, a bribe of $810,000 as part of the corrupt deal. Figueira has been arrested last year and appropriately charged.

Africa News

East and southern Africa join forces against armyworm

Sixteen east and southern African countries have agreed on urgent plans to tackle armyworm and avian flu.

The armyworm has already infested at least seven countries in the southern Africa region.

The Southern African Development Community has blamed the slow response on inadequate pest identification services and gaps in technical capacity.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation’s coordinator for southern Africa, David Phiri, said the caterpillar was new to southern Africa so governments, communities and farmers were not fully aware on how to control it.

eNCA