News Briefs 01 September 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC temporarily bans import of key consumer goods

Authorities have banned imports of several popular consumer products in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo for six months to fight smuggling, Trade Minister Jean-Lucien Busa said on Monday.

“We have decided on the temporary restriction of imports in the western part of the country for six months of grey cement, sugar, beer and fizzy drinks in order to put an end to fraud and contraband,” Busa told AFP.

The measure was also aimed at “protecting local industry in a crucial period of growth that risks being undermined by those who practice prices below production costs”, the minister said, stressing that he had not “turned to protectionism”.


SADC sending special envoy to DRC as Zuma assumes chairmanship

The Southern African Development Community will be sending a former head of state to the Democratic Republic of Congo as a special envoy amidst increasing tensions in that country due to overdue elections.

There were still consultations “aimed at finalising this matter”.

President Jacob Zuma, who assumed the SADC chairpersonship at this weekend’s summit, said in his closing address on Sunday that the summit has also urged the DRC’s Independent National Electoral Commission to publicise the revised electoral calendar.

These steps came amidst protests by DRC citizens living in South Africa outside the Department of International Relations headquarters where the summit was held.



UN Somalia mission extended

The United Nations Security Council approved the gradual withdrawal of uniformed personnel in Somalia while extending its authorisation of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) until May 31, 2018.

Uniformed personnel will be downsized to a maximum of just over 21,600 by the end of December this year, with an eye towards the gradual handover over of responsibilities to Somali security forces.

Somalia’s fragile central government faces dealing with two decades of conflict, famine and attacks by the al-Shabaab Islamic extremist group.




Outrage as Somalia Transfers Citizen to Ethiopia in Breach Of National Laws

There is outrage in Somalia following the reported transfer of a citizen to neighbouring Ethiopia. The detention and subsequent transfer of Mr. Abdikarin Sheikh Muse of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has been labeled as a breach of national and international laws.

Reports of his transfer to Ethiopia started early this week but was confirmed by ONLF in a statement issued on Thursday. The statement directly accused Somali President Mohammed Abdullahi ‘Farmajo,’ of complicity in the said transfer.

It also listed as accomplices, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, National Security Advisor Gen. Bshir Mohamed Jamac-Goobe and head of the state intelligence agency Abdullahi Mohamed Ali.

Africa News

Central African Republic

US congressional visit urges Central African Republic aid

A US congressman on Thursday called for urgent aid to Central African Republic during a visit to the impoverished country where deadly sectarian violence is surging again.

Hundreds of people have been killed this year and more than 600 000 have been displaced.

Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Associated Press that the international community “has to think about the long-term implications of abandoning our efforts to stabilize this country.”

Cicilline criticized the recent withdrawal of US special operations troops and said it creates a “void” in the country’s southeast. The US military this year ended operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group in the region. The LRA has continued attacks against civilians since then.


For the Central African Republic, there will be no peace without justice

The government of the Central African Republic recently signed a peace deal with 13 rebel groups to bring an end to violence that has plagued the country since 2013.

There has been a series of conferences, summits, agreements and plans for peace in the past five years, yet instability in the republic continues. The most recent agreement, signed in June, was no different. The day after it was signed, there was an upsurge of violence in the country’s eastern provinces.

The Central African Republic is located in the middle of Africa. It shares a border with six other African countries: Chad, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Sudan. It has a population of 4.6 million people.



Sudan President Pardons, Frees Rights Activist – Family

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has pardoned and released a prominent human rights activists who had been jailed since last year on spying and other charges, his family said.

The release of Mudawi Ibrahim Adam came after a visit by US President Donald Trump’s aid administrator to Sudan and before an October deadline when the administration will decide whether to permanently lift 20-year-old sanctions.

“He is home after a presidential amnesty and he seems in good health,” his wife Sabah told Reuters late on Tuesday.

International rights groups had often called for the release of Ibrahim Adam, who they said had faced the death penalty on false charges since his arrest in December.


Defending human rights ‘not a crime’: freed Sudan activist

A leading Sudanese activist who was released after a presidential pardon said Wednesday that defending human rights was “not a crime”, as he vowed to continue fighting against rights abuses.

Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, an engineering professor at the University of Khartoum, told AFP in an interview that it was pressure from global and local human rights groups that finally led to his release on Tuesday after months of detention, during which he was put on trial on charges of spying for foreign embassies.

“Defending human rights is not a crime,” Ibrahim Adam, winner of several international human rights awards, said at his home in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman.


South Sudan

South Sudan’s sacked army chief ‘confined’ to Juba home, minister says

South Sudan’s former army chief is being confined to his home for security reasons, the country’s defense minister said on Thursday.

Paul Malong was sacked in May by President Salva Kiir amid resignations by senior generals alleging military abuses and tribal bias as the country’s ethnically charged civil war ground on.

“He was not arrested, but he [is] confined. There are no charges against him,” Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk told Reuters in an interview.

New York Daily News

South Sudan wants mandate of UN peacekeeping force reviewed

South Sudan on Wednesday demanded review of the mandate of the newly deployed Regional Protection Force (RPF) serving under the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMISS), saying it is not satisfied with their services.

Government Spokesman Michael Makuei said told a news conference that under the current setting, RPF offers little help to South Sudan as there is no further threat of violence in the capital Juba following last year’s clashes between rival forces.

“If they (RPF) have come to assist the people and the government of South Sudan, then we will have to revisit their mandate so that they render better services to the people of South Sudan instead of patrolling, accompanying water tanks to the riverside and moving in the town with guns, which sends negative message to the people,” Makuei said.

Coastal Weekly

Western Sahara

Activist Aminatou Haidar calls for protection of Western Sahara people, self-determination referendum

Saharawi human rights activist Aminatou Haidar called Wednesday, in Algiers, for protection of Western Sahara people and speeding up the organization of a self-determination referendum, to find a definitive solution to the Saharawi conflict.

Haidar, in an interview with APS, said the violations of Saharawi people’s human rights by Moroccan occupation authorities “will continue, at all levels, as long as Western Sahara conflict is not settled.”

“The abuses committed by Moroccan authorities against Western Sahara people include the non-respect of Saharawi people’s right to self-determination and the confiscation of their civil, economic, social and cultural rights.”

Sahara Press Service

Western Sahara people wishes Guetteres efforts be along same lines as Ban ki-moon’s

Saharawi people wishes that the efforts of UN secretary general Antonio Guterres for the settlement of Western Sahara issue be along the same lines as those of his predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, who tried to revive the self-determination process, Saharawi journalist Hamma Mehdi said.

Hamma Mehdi told APS that Ban Ki-moon tried to revive the self-determination process, adding that the efforts of his personal envoy, Christopher Ross, contributed to this move, in spite of Morocco’s attempts to divert UN attention.

Moroccan regime had accused Ban Ki-moon of being partial, which led him to move to the Saharawi territory to see the situation on the ground, Mehdi said, adding that he was the first United Nations chief to speak of an “occupation” in Western Sahara.

Sahara Press Service


SADC Democracy Forum Calls on Various African Presidents to Resign

Members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Democracy Forum, a coalition of civil society organisations, are calling for their respective presidents to resign for various reasons.

They’ve been protesting outside the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) in Pretoria where the SADC summit is being held.

Foreign dignitaries are in Pretoria attending the summit.

Citizens from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are there protesting against their respective heads of state just a kilometer away from the department.


Swaziland: School Fees Against Constitution

The short-lived era of free primary school education in Swaziland has officially come to an end. The move contravenes the kingdom’s constitution.


The Swazi Government has approved a circular allowing the Ministry of Education and Training to charge additional educational fees over and above the Free Primary Education (FPE) grant and Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) grant from government.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom rules by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported on Monday (28 August 2017), ‘The signing and endorsing of the circulars brings to an end the impasse that seems to have existed between the ministry and school administrators.’



Zimbabwe looks for Mugabe’s successor after a surreal month

Before she landed herself in hot diplomatic water by allegedly attacking a South African model with a power cord, Zimbabwe’s notoriously ill-tempered first lady, Grace Mugabe, joined the clamour for her aged husband Robert to name a successor. Curiously, she also called for a female vice president, stirring up rumours that she’s positioning herself for a presidential bid in 2023, not next year. That may take her name off a growing list of potential successors to one of the world’s oldest presidents.

Mugabe still plans to be his Zanu-PF party’s presidential candidate in 2018, but were he to win and complete a full term her would be 99 years old. A new potential candidate to succeed him is political veteran Sydney Sekeramayi, seemingly endorsed by the Generation 40 group long associated with Grace. As with his rival presidential hopeful Emmerson Mnangagwa, the septugenarian Sekeramayi does not represent a new generation. What both men stand for is the liberation generation’s last chance to redeem itself after Mugabe, before the “born frees” or “young frees” finally get to build a future their elders seem unable to imagine.


‘Excessive Force’ Used to Evict Villagers From ‘Farm Meant for Grace Mugabe’

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has slammed the police for using “excessive force” to evict villagers from a farm reportedly given to First Lady Grace Mugabe.

The commission, which was sworn in by President Robert Mugabe a year ago, carried out a probe into the evictions at Arnold Farm that began in March.

The commission said it had interviewed villagers at the farm, just north of Harare, who “highlighted that those who carried out the demolitions purported to be members of the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) acting on instructions from the First Lady to evict the complainants”.

“The ZRP also used excessive force which resulted in the assault of anyone who wanted to defend their homes from destruction,” the commission said in its investigative report that has just been published.




Africa in General

Mswati, Zuma to appoint envoy to DRC

Swaziland’s King Mswati III may have handed over the SADC chairmanship to South African President Jacob Zuma, but he has one important task to do.

The Swazi monarch has been tasked, together with President Zuma, to put together a special envoy to be sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in light of the current political and security situation as violence has escalated in that country.

This was announced at the closing ceremony of the 37th SADC Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and government in Pretoria last weekend.

The Southern Times

Kenya’s Supreme Court orders rerun of disputed presidential election

Kenya’s Supreme Court has invalidated the result last month’s contentious presidential election and ordered a new vote, after a legal challenge by the opposition.

Four out of six judges upheld a petition filed by opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who claimed the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta was fraudulent.

“The presidential election was not conducted in accordance with the constitution, rendering the declared results invalid null and void,” Chief Justice David Maraga said, ordering fresh elections within 60 days.


Moroccan FA Minister Talks Western Sahara, AU, ECOWAS, and Relations with Algeria and South Africa

In an interview with the French magazine JeuneAfrique, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita discussed key issues related to Morocco’s foreign policy.

From Western Sahara, to the reintegration of the African Union (AU), the bid to join the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS), and the relationships with main Polisario-supporters Algeria and South Africa, Bourita explained Morocco’s positions.

Western Sahara: No More Biased Terminology

With Morocco’s return to the AU, the continental organization turned into an arena between the kingdom and Polisario and its allies.

Backed by its friends, Morocco had in July a first confrontation with the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arabic Democratic Republic (SADR) and its supporters over the terminology used by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the Peace and Security Council (PSC), which referred to Western Sahara as “occupied” and “annexed” territories.

Morocco World News