Democratic Republic of Congo
The United States has imposed sanctions on two senior officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo in an apparent warning to President Joseph Kabila to respect the constitution of the vast, unstable African country and call elections later this year.
The DRC has suffered repeated bouts of unrest since Kabila, 45, announced that the polls would be delayed.
Last week about 50 people died in clashes between security forces and protesters angered by what opposition groups charge is Kabila’s plan to retain power unlawfully through the indefinite postponement of a vote.
The United Nations, the African Union and the European Union pressed Democratic Republic of Congo leaders on Saturday to urge their supporters to refrain from violence as the International Criminal Court prosecutor warned she was watching the situation.
Dozens of people died in clashes between protesters and security forces in the capital Kinshasa on Monday. Anger has simmered in Congo for months over what opponents of President Joseph Kabila believe are his efforts to hold on to power beyond his constitutional two-term limit. [nL8N1BX3UT]
Kabila denies opponents’ charges. Congolese authorities have said elections due in November cannot be held until at least next year due to logistical problems in the vast central African country, a producer of gold, diamonds and copper.
In a joint statement on Saturday, the AU, the U.N., the EU and the International Organization of La Francophonie said “only an inclusive dialogue resulting in an agreement involving the widest range of political actors will pave the way towards peaceful and credible elections.”
Regretting an extension to the 2016 electoral process in Somalia announced by the country’s electoral body, the United Nations Security Council has called on all parties in the country to upload their commitments on the elections and to come to an agreement on the remaining political challenges without further delay.
“The members of the Security Council underlined that holding a peaceful, transparent and inclusive electoral process in 2016 will mark a historic step forward for all Somalis, and will be fundamental for the country’s continued progress towards democracy and stability,” said a press statement issued by the Council late yesterday.
“[They also] called for all parties to adhere to the implementation plan put in place by the FIEIT [Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team, the body responsible for the oversight and overall planning of the electoral process and for ensuring its uniformity], and to demonstrate the political will to ensure the revised timetable will be met,” the statement added.
Somali officials said that a recent U.S. airstrike killed civilians and Somali soldiers, not al-Shabab militants as the U.S. has claimed.
According to the BBC, the regional government in the autonomous central region of Galmudug has demanded an explanation from the U.S., claiming that 22 civilians and Somali soldiers were killed in the attack late Tuesday.
Galmudug officials reportedly suggested that the U.S. military had been tricked into believing it was targeting extremists by the neighboring state of Puntland.
The BBC reports that the Somali military has confirmed that its soldiers were killed, but the report did not specify the number of casualties.
Central African Republic
Armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) have been told to leave the schools they are occupying or face forceful eviction by UN troops.
The UN says 10,000 children have been unable to resume their education this year because militiamen have set up base in their schools.
A third of all schools have either been struck by bullets, set on fire, looted or occupied by armed groups, it says.
The CAR is trying to recover from a brutal civil war that erupted in 2013.
Taking the podium today at the General Assembly, Faustin Archange Touadera, President of the Central African Republic (CAR), paid tribute to the entire United Nations system and all those in the wider international community that helped his country return to stability and constitutional legality, as he set out his four-pronged framework to continue the momentum towards lasting peace.
“The Central African Republic has turned its back on past dark days,” he told Assembly’s annual general debate, emphasizing the country’s efforts to end the cycles of violence and instability sparked by a 2013 coup, and to attain security, justice and sustainable development.
“There are vast challenges to address and much remains to be done to address the yearnings of our citizens,” Mr. Touadera said, explain that when he assumed the presidency, he took special measures to ensure that all Government institutions are well placed to undertake much-needed reforms. He also assured the Assembly that his administration was determined to tackle corruption and address impunity.
Sudan’s justice minister has refuted claims by displaced persons in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur that they suffered chemical exposure at the hands of the government of Sudan.
Amnesty International reported earlier Thursday that since January, people in Jebel Marra have reported blisters and rashes, peeling skin, eye problems including total vision loss, bloody vomit, diarrhea and severe respiratory problems.
Amnesty said the symptoms are due to chemical weapons used by Sudanese authorities. As many as 250 people, including children, may have died as a result of chemical attacks, and hundreds more have been injured, according to the rights group.
Voice of Africa
Sudan on Tuesday has pledged to support the efforts of East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to achieve peace in South Sudan and backed the deployment of regional forces in the conflict hit country.
Sudan’s Foreign Ministry Under- Secretary, Abd al-Gani al-Naeim has participated in a ministerial meeting on the situation in South Sudan that convened in New York and chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Jan Eliasson, and attended by senior officials and organizations concerned by the conflict in South Sudan.
In a press release in Khartoum on Tuesday, the official who is part of Sudan delegation to UN General Assembly meeting, Also reiterated Sudan’s commitment to support the IGAD decision to send regional forces to South Sudan to protect civilians,
South Sudanese government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir has slammed the former First Vice President, Riek Machar, for declaring resumption of armed struggle against the “regime” as an alternative action to bring true peace to the country.
President Kiir speaking through his spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, in a response statement on Thursday rejected the new position of the leader of the armed opposition faction of the SPLM-IO, saying there is no place in South Sudanese politics for those who wish to take part through the barrel of the gun.
“Riek Machar will never be a peacemaker. Indeed, he has a long history of turning to war to force his demands on the peoples of South Sudan,” said the presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny,
Meanwhile Machar’s replacement, Taban Deng Gai, described the decision of his predecessor and the man on whose behalf he negotiated the August 2015 peace agreement to end the two years of violent conflict with the government as unacceptable. He asked the Sudanese government to “shut him up” and stop him from inciting violence.
Government of South Sudan has said launching a rebellion to destroy the country and attain political promotion are factors driving the recent defection of senior South Sudan Democratic Movement/Cobra (SSDM/Cobra) of Pibor-based ethnic Murle force early this week.
Akol Paul Kordit, the Deputy Minister of Information, said the May 2014 Peace Agreement signed between the government and SSDM/Cobra has been fully respected.
“The President […] created Pibor as an administrative area as proposed by the Cobra faction, created seven counties and all the Cobra forces were integrated into the SPLA with [military ranks] promotion and inclusion in the rank and files of the SPLA,” said Khordit, speaking to reporters in Juba on Thursday.
The Sahrawi President and Secretary General of Polisario Front, Brahim Gali said that the “absence of a clear and firm position” of the United Nations Security Council in the face of Morocco’s violation of its decisions, would result in “dangerous developments” that would threaten peace, security and stability in the whole region.
“The Moroccan occupying forces have launched, on Friday 23 September 2016, works for the extension of a section of the road in the buffer strip,” said Sunday President Gali in a letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
Sahara Press Service
EU-Morocco relations risk hitting another rough patch after a senior lawyer said that their trade treaties do not apply to Western Sahara, a disputed territory.
Advocate-general Melchior Wathelet set out his opinion to EU judges in Luxembourg on Tuesday (13 September). He said that “neither the EU-Morocco association agreement nor the EU-Morocco agreement on the liberalisation of trade in agricultural and fishery products apply to Western Sahara” because “Western Sahara is not part of Moroccan territory”.
His opinion is not binding, but judges follow advocates general in most cases.nIf their verdict, expected in November, echoes Wathelet then the EU could see a repeat of last year’s fiasco, when Morocco severed diplomatic ties with EU institutions after an unfavourable ruling.
Western Sahara is a territory in north-west Africa, known as its last colony.
Addressing the leader’s debate at the United Nations General Assembly, the President of Madagascar today underlined the need to take the commitments made in 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development and the Paris Agreement on climate change into practice.
Highlighting that these global development agreements apply to all countries, President Hery Martial Rajaonarimampianina Rakotoarimanana said, “[These] goals are universal, they target all countries.”
“A sustainable world only can be achieved with ecological transitions in the North and responsible development in the South,” he added referring to the developed and the developing countries.
Reporting that his country is integrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its national development plan, he noted the national agenda accords particular importance to social justice, education and health.
The newly-appointed Chairperson of Southern African Development Community (SADC), King Mswati III of Swaziland, says his country has good relations with South Africa, despite some disputing this.
He has also called for more dialogue when resolving political issues on the continent.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with SABC News, the King has responded to accusations that his government doesn’t allow for democratic reforms in the Kingdom.
Critics have also accused the Kingdom of stifling dissent and refusing democratic reforms. He has urged leaders to respect people’s views and the constitutions of their countries to prevent unnecessary instability.
Swaziland’s High Court has ruled that sections of the Suppression of Terrorism Act and the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act are unconstitutional.
Judges ruled that the Acts contravened provisions in the Constitution on freedom of expression and freedom of association.
The ruling was delivered on Friday (16 September 2016) ending years of campaigning to have the Acts overthrown.
Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer; Maxwell Dlamini, Swaziland Youth Congress secretary-general; Mario Masuku, president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and Mlungisi Makhanya, PUDEMO secretary-general, brought four actions against the Swazi state.
Some shops in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, closed down as running battles between police and street vendors turned violent.
Police on Monday fired teargas to disperse vendors resisting eviction from the central business district, where they clog street pavements and sidewalks.
The vendors fought back, resulting in some shops being stoned in the melee.
Zimbabwe police have stepped up efforts to clear the capital’s downtown of street sellers, but the efforts have often been resisted.
Zimbabwe has run up a debt with Eskom, and now a state newspaper in Bulawayo says South Africa’s power utility wants a guarantee of R500 million rand to continue supplying its northern neighbour.
Power cuts haven’t been as frequent in Zimbabwe in recent months but there are now fears that cuts will resurface just as the controversial new banknotes kick in.
The state-run Chronicle is reporting that Zimbabwe could owe as much as $12 million to Eskom.
A source in the finance ministry told the paper that Eskom now wants a guarantee of R500 million to secure future imports.
Africa in General
Despite recent indications that the World Bank was considering giving Zimbabwe US$300 million to settle part of its arrears to the multilateral lender, latest information shows that the plan has been thwarted due to mounting local and international pressure against the country’s ambitious arrears clearance strategy.
An International Development Association (IDA) Turnaround Eligibility Note for the Republic of Zimbabwe dated July 27 revealed that the World Bank was considering providing assistance to the debt ridden country to settle its arrears.
The report showed that Zimbabwe was on the cusp of accessing exceptional support under the IDA 17 Turnaround Regime (Tar). IDA is a unit of the World Bank Group which fights poverty by giving interest-free loans to poor countries.
Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is likely to slip to 1.6 percent this year, its lowest level in two decades, due to continuing woes in the continent’s largest economies South Africa and Nigeria, a World Bank report said on Thursday.
Africa has been one of the world’s fastest growing region’s over the past decade, but a commodities slump has hit its oil and mineral exporters hard, bringing growth down to 3 percent in 2015.
However, other countries, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Tanzania, have continued to record GDP growth above 6 percent, according to “Africa’s Pulse”, the Bank’s twice-yearly analysis of economic trends.
The report, which was unveiled in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan, also singled out Ivory Coast and Senegal as top performers.
“Our analysis shows that the more resilient growth performers tend to have stronger macroeconomic policy frameworks, better business regulatory environment, more diverse structure of exports, and more effective institutions,” said Albert Zeufack, World Bank chief economist for Africa.
FROM HIGH ABOVE, Agadez almost blends into the cocoa-colored wasteland that surrounds it. Only when you descend farther can you make out a city that curves around an airfield before fading into the desert. Once a nexus for camel caravans hauling tea and salt across the Sahara, Agadez is now a West African paradise for people smugglers and a way station for refugees and migrants intent on reaching Europe’s shores by any means necessary.
agadez-doc_edit-tint Document: U.S. Africa CommandAfricans fleeing unrest and poverty are not, however, the only foreigners making their way to this town in the center of Niger. U.S. military documents reveal new information about an American drone base under construction on the outskirts of the city. The long-planned project — considered the most important U.S. military construction effort in Africa, according to formerly secret files obtained by The Intercept through the Freedom of Information Act — is slated to cost $100 million, and is just one of a number of recent American military initiatives in the impoverished nation.
Uneven access to water makes household farming questionable for delivering food security in the African context.
Southern Africa has suffered through one of the worst droughts in decades and now small farmers face a long hungry season with growing food aid needs until the next harvest.
Given the growing uncertainty of rainfall in this region, many are turning to irrigation as a key strategy for securing future harvests. The problem, however, is that male and female farmers have deeply unequal rights to critical resources, including water.
Uneven access to water also complicates assumptions about the ability of commercial farming to deliver household food security in the African context.
The 2015-16 drought was the worst to hit Southern Africa in 35 years, leaving an estimated 32 million people in the region food insecure. This hunger will only deepen until March, 2017 when new harvests normally arrive.