Democratic Republic of Congo
Violence broke out on Thursday between supporters of rival Congolese opposition parties, exposing deep divisions among President Joseph Kabila’s adversaries over whether to engage in talks about a delayed presidential election.
The talks between the government, opposition and civic leaders opened later on Thursday. Authorities said last month that the poll, set for November, could not be held before next July as they enroll millions of new voters.
Kabila’s opponents accuse him of stalling the vote to hang onto power, a charge he denies. Most of the main opposition parties are boycotting the talks but some prominent figures have agreed to participate, saying they will use the forum to insist on his departure this year.
A decade ago, in July 2006, the Democratic Republic of the Congo went to the polls for the first time in 45 years. The ballot was seen as a litmus test for a dream of democratising and stabilising the whole of Central Africa.
Perceiving it as a compromised process, the main opposition party boycotted the ballot for the DRC’s historic 2006 election. But the election passed off mostly peacefully and Joseph Kabila became the country’s first democratically elected leader since Patrice Lumumba’s assassination in 1961.
Five years later, Kabila won re-election, but only after he had abolished the election’s second round and endured eruptions of violence; that process was generally seen as lacking in transparency, fairness and legitimacy. Yet the SADC and the international community were silent in the presence of such serious irregularities.
Today the DRC is organising its third successive democratic election. On the surface, this is a positive, but history is repeating itself and Kabila is placing the very democratic process that put him in power under threat.
An ambitious plan to repatriate some 150,000 Somali refugees from the Dadaab camp headed into turbulence after officials in Somalia prevented returnees from moving beyond a post on the country’s border with Kenya.
As many as 1200 Somalis who recently left Dadaab are being held at the Dhobley transition centre, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency said on Thursday.
“This situation is quite unfortunate,” commented spokesman Julien Navarre.
The impasse threatens a tri-partite agreement involving Kenya, Somalia and the UN refugee agency whereby large numbers of Somali refugees are to be resettled in their homeland this year as part of Kenya’s push to close Dadaab entirely.
The death toll from a car bomb blast in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has risen to at least 15, police said.
Tuesday’s suicide bombing near the Somali president’s palace in Mogadishu caused a huge blast and destroyed two hotels nearby.
“The number of the people who died in the blast reached 15 and 45 others were wounded, most of them lightly,” said Mogadishu police chief Bishar Abshir Gedi.
Medical officers, however, are quoting a higher casualty figure, with head of Mogadishu Ambulances Abdirahman saying 22 bodies were recovered from the site of the blast.
Reuters news agency said al-Shabab fighters claimed responsibility for the attack.
Witnesses and social media users reported hearing a loud explosion in Mogadishu, followed by gunfire.
Central African Republic
The United Nations has decorated 448 Rwandan police peacekeepers serving under the Multidimensional Integrated United Nation Mission for Stabilization in Central African Republic (MINUSCA), with service medal in recognition of their outstanding contribution to ensure safety, security and peace in CAR.
The decorated officers include two Rwanda Formed Police Units (FPUs) and a Protection and Support Unit (PSU) contingents, and Individual Police Officers (IPOs) who act as Police advisors.
The medal award ceremony was held on August 26 in the capital Bangui, and presided over by the Special Representative of United Nations Secretary General in CAR and head of Mission, Parfait Onanga Anyanga.
The U.S. Treasury has imposed financial sanctions against two sons of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group fighting a bloody war in Central Africa.
The Treasury on Tuesday froze all assets in the United States belonging to Salim and Ali Kony, and prohibited Americans from doing business with them. Similar sanctions were imposed on Joseph Kony in March.
“Our initiatives that target the finances of the LRA and its leaders, while combating their involvement in illicit ivory trade, are part of the concerted international effort to fight against violence in the Central African Republic,” said John Smith, acting director of the branch of the Treasury in charge of financial sanctions.
Sudan on Thursday decided to treat South Sudanese that fled the conflict in their country as refugees, enabling United Nations to provide assistance and raise funds for aid operations.
In December 2013, Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir decided to treat South Sudanese refugees as citizens and refused establishing refugee camps for them, saying they can live and work all over Sudan.
On Thursday, United Nations Refugees Agency (UNHCR) and Sudan’ Refugees Commission signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to provide needed services to South Sudanese refugees in East Darfur, South and West Kordofan, White Nile and Khartoum states.
China has urged Sudanese stakeholders to show seriousness and join the national dialogue process soon, with the view to achieve comprehensive and lasting peace in the Sudan as soon as possible.
A spokesperson for the China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Li Kang, who issued a statement about peace process in the country said china support Sudan to maintain its sovereignty, independence and the unity of its lands.
The statement which was distributed by the Chinese embassy in Khartoum reaffirmed Chinese support for the National dialogue in the Sudan and called on concerned movements to join the process of the Sudanese national dialogue.
The U.N. Security Council is expected to arrive in South Sudan on Friday for a rare visit to the troubled nation on the edge of renewed civil war.
The trip comes amid tensions between South Sudan and the United States, its former champion who now threatens to cut off aid.
At the center of the visit is a council resolution approved last month to send 4,000 additional peacekeepers to secure the capital, Juba, a foreign ministry spokesman, Mawien Arik, told The Associated Press. Hundreds were killed in Juba when government and rebel forces clashed in July, and rebel leader Riek Machar fled the country and is now in Sudan.
The diplomats must balance two main goals: avoiding further bloodshed in the country, a priority of the United States; and respecting South Sudan’s sovereignty, a priority of Russia, China, and Egypt.
South Sudanese government has deployed a huge force along Juba-Nimule road after security officers were killed on the road by unknown gunmen believed to be allied to the former First Vice President, Riek Machar.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the official army of South Sudan, has been ordered to deploy troops in response to the new situation on the road connecting to Uganda that serves as the lifeline for the government.
Police spokesperson, Brigadier General Daniel Justin Boulo said at least two officers have been confirmed dead with other sustaining injuries when they were attacked on the road by the gunmen.
“The army will help track down the bandits so that law and order is restored immediately,” said Boulo.
A confidential UN document says Morocco violated a 1991 cease-fire agreement with the Polisario Front independence movement by sending armed security personnel and equipment into the contested Western Sahara region without prior notice to U.N. peacekeepers.
The note to the UN Security Council from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, said the Polisario Front deployed 32 armed military personnel in response, also in violation of the cease-fire.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concern Sunday at “the tense situation that has developed in the narrow buffer strip in southwestern Western Sahara between the Moroccan berm and the Mauritanian border,” his spokesperson said.
Moroccan government said on Thursday it will maintain its “clearing operations” against smuggling and crime at a Western Sahara border area despite warnings from the Polisario Front that it was a violation of their 1991 ceasefire deal.
Polisario, which declared an independent republic in the disputed desert land in the 1970s and fought a guerrilla war with Morocco, accuses Rabat of breaking the terms of the ceasefire by building a road in the U.N. buffer zone. Morocco claims sovereignty of the region.
U.N. peace-keeping observers (Minurso) deployed this week to monitor a standoff between Moroccan forces and Western Sahara Polisario troops in the buffer zone in the Guerguerat region, near the Mauritanian border.
The buffer zone is in an area between the Moroccan-built berm – a mostly sand wall that stretches through Western Sahara, separating government-controlled areas from Polisario territory – and the Mauritanian and Algerian borders.
President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday night concluded a visit to Swaziland for the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government.
He said there were positive discussions and decisions coming out of the summit.
“The summit was a success as we dealt with a number of important issues that affect the region most, in particular issues around industrialisation, energy and infrastructure development,” said Zuma.
“As leaders we have further reiterated that the time to implement Harare decisions on industrialisation and creating a vibrant economy has come to ensure that we develop our economy, create jobs and fight poverty in our region.”
SADC will support the candidacy of Angola as member country for the Council of the United Nations Human Rights, whose election will take place in September next year in Geneva, Switzerland.
The decision was taken at the 36th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the regional organization, closed on Wednesday in Mbabane, capital of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
Speaking to the press at the end of the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Georges Chikoti said that SADC has committed itself to supporting the Angolan candidacy for the referred council as it was requested by Angola.
Angola has already been part of the Council of the United Nations Human Rights from 2007 to 2010.
The Zimbabwean government is remaining tight-lipped about the whereabouts of President Robert Mugabe as opposition political parties gather for another demonstration in the capital today.
Reports yesterday speculated that Mugabe, 92, fell ill at the 36th Southern African Development Community summit in Mbabane, Swaziland, and was flown to Dubai for treatment. However, these claims could not be confirmed.
In the past week Mugabe was in Kenya for the Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development before making a brief stop in Swaziland for the SADC summit.
President Robert Mugabe last night dumped the ongoing 36th Sadc Heads of States and Government Summit which ends today in Swaziland and headed back home, amid speculative reports of ill health, NewsDay has learnt.
The 92-year-old Zanu PF leader landed at Harare International Airport at 1944hrs and was reportedly scheduled to leave for Dubai around 0100hrs this morning.
Mugabe left for Swaziland on Monday and was scheduled to stay until the summit closure today.
An impeccable government source said: “The President will be leaving Harare tomorrow (today) early morning around 1am to Dubai for medical attention.”
Zanu PF activists have dismissed as nonsensical calls for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene in Zimbabwe to end crippling social and economic problems bedeviling the nation
The party’s Youth League political commissar in London, Farai Muvuti, and veteran Zanu PF activist, Effort Nkomo, told VOA Studio 7 that Zimbabweans should be in a position to resolve their problems without involving organization like SADC.
Muvuti said, “I think we have to deal with this ‘mis-notion’ that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe. When you talk about Zimbabweans as people are portraying that Zimbabweans are protesting that notion does not exist. Zimbabweans are not protesting. There are pockets in Zimbabwe that are protesting …”.
Voice of America
Africa in General
The European Union said on Thursday that the official announcement of election results in Gabon had plunged the African country into a “deep crisis” and said that verification of each polling station result was required.
“It is important that all actors reject violence and call for calm. Any protest must be peaceful means to prevent the burning of the country, the police must react responsibly,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
“Confidence in the election results can only be restored by a transparent verification polling station by polling station, “she continued.
Demonstrators have clashed with police and set part of the parliament building on fire as anger boiled over among opposition supporters at President Ali Bongo’s re-election in polls that his main rival, Jean Ping, claimed to have won.
The 36th Ordinary summit of Southern African Development Community (SADC) concluded its business on Wednesday with calls on member states to finalise consultations and facilitate the approval of the Industrialisation Action Plan (IAP).
The two-day summit was attended by fifteen heads of state and elected South Africa as the next host.
The summit approved the agreement on the setting up of the SADC Regional Development Fund and urged member states to urgently ratify the agreement.
The agreement will help facilitate the mobilisation of resources to finance key regional projects and programmes, with the aim to fast-track giving infrastructure development and industrialisation projects.
Nigeria’s government has approved a three-year plan to borrow more from abroad, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said on Wednesday after the economy slipped into recession for the first time in more than 20 years.
The government has so far disbursed more than 400 billion naira in capital expenditure this year, part of a record 6.06 trillion naira ($30 billion) budget for 2016, Adeosun said last week
But with lower oil prices and attacks on oil facilities, it has struggled to fund its budget, aimed at averting the recession.
Data on Wednesday showed Nigeria had slipped into recession and the naira was quoted at a new record low of 420 per dollar on the black market as chronic hard currency shortages continued to hurt businesses. The news sent its dollar bonds down to more than two-week lows.
South Africa will push for sustainable and inclusive growth, the creation of decent jobs and the reduction of illicit financial flows at the G20 Summit which begins in Hangzhou, China this weekend
President Jacob Zuma is leading the country’s high level delegation of ministers and business people to the two-day meeting.
As the only permanent African member of the G20, South Africa has over the years used its participation to raise issues of concern to Africa with other G20 members.
And this year, it will focus on among others things the illicit financial flows from the continent, estimated at almost 90 billion US dollars per annum.
Pretoria believes development in Africa could hit a brick-wall if this loss of capital is not halted.