News Briefs: 03 February 2017


Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo Opposition Leader’s Death Jeopardizes Political Deal

The death of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, puts in jeopardy a political deal aimed at getting President Joseph Kabila to leave office.

Tshisekedi, president of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress and one of the country’s longest-serving political leaders, died Wednesday in a hospital in Brussels, party spokesman Augustin Kabuya said, after struggling with illness for many years. He was 84.

Tshisekedi’s death comes four weeks after opposition parties organized around Tshisekedi agreed in December that Kabila, in power since 2001, would step down after delayed elections this year. Efforts to implement the accord have stalled.


M23 rebels ‘kidnapped, tortured and killed’ DRC army helicopter crash survivors

Officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s armed forces have said that the two military helicopters that crashed over the weekend had not been attacked by a once-powerful rebel group in the country, but confirmed their active presence on Congolese soil.

The 27 January crash of the military helicopters near Rushuru, a town located in the strife-ridden eastern region of North Kivu province near the borders with Rwanda and Uganda highlighted fears of a potential revival of the M23 rebels, the former largest armed group in the country.

The crash came after 101 former Congolese rebels of the M23, who had fled the disarmament camps where they have lived in Uganda since 2013, tried to return to neighbouring DRC and were stopped by Ugandan authorities earlier this month.

International Business Times


UK and EU invest EUR 16.1 million to support Somalia Public Resource Management

The programme will help the Federal Member States establish their core administration, collect revenue and begin to fund the provision of basic services to the people of Somalia.

UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), European Union and senior officials from Federal Government and Federal States of Somalia successfully launched a Public Resource Management in Somalia – PREMIS – programme.

This four year programme will support newly established Federal Member States of Somalia – South West, Galmudug, Jubbaland and Hirshabelle in fulfilling their core state functions – raising revenues, effectively managing public resources and building up their civil service.


Somalia On the Brink of Famine, U.N. Warns

The United Nations is warning that Somalia could soon be facing a famine without urgent international action, raising concerns about a repeat of 2011’s famine which killed more than a quarter of a million people.

The country is in a severe drought after two seasons of weak rainfall, the U.N. said in a statement. “In the worst affected areas, inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock, while communities are being forced to sell their assets, and borrow food and money to survive,” the U.N. says.

“If we do not scale up the drought response immediately, it will cost lives, further destroy livelihoods, and could undermine the pursuit of key State-building and peacebuilding initiatives,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq.

Central African Republic

UN extends sanctions on Central African Republic

he UN Security Council has extended an arms embargo on the Central African Republic and a travel ban and asset freeze on blacklisted individuals for another year.

The resolution adopted unanimously by the council on Friday added a new provision making sexual violence a criterion for sanctions. It also encouraged member states to require that airlines provide advance passenger information to national authorities to make sure the travel ban is enforced.

France’s UN Ambassador Francois Delattre, whose country drafted the resolution, said extending sanctions is justified because of “the persisting threat of various militias that continue to try to derail the process of stabilization and reconciliation.”


UN fund allocates $6 million to help thousands in violence-hit parts of Central African Republic

The top United Nations relief official today approved an allocation from the Organization’s humanitarian emergency response fund to assist the response to new emergencies triggered by a surge of violence in the Central African Republic’s Kaga Bandoro, Bambari and Bria areas.

The top United Nations relief official today approved an allocation from the organization’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support response to assist the response to new emergencies triggered by a surge of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR)’s Kaga Bandoro, Bambari and Bria areas.

The allocation, amounting to $6 million and allocated by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien today, will enable the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to reach some 36,800 people facing food insecurity due to the crises in the last few months of 2016 that not only led to new displacements but also caused a significant decline in commercial activities in the areas.

UN News


Sudan frees British journalist detained in Darfur: embassy

Sudan has freed a British journalist it detained last month for “illegally entering” the country, the British embassy and Sudanese media said on Thursday.

“We are pleased that British journalist Phil Cox has been released after being held in custody in Sudan,” embassy spokesperson Ishtiaq Ghafoor told AFP.

“Our staff in Khartoum and London worked relentlessly to make sure his welfare was protected and his case was handled quickly and fairly.”

Cox was handed over to the British embassy on Wednesday. He was still in Khartoum on Thursday but plans were under way to reunite him with his family in Britain, Ghafoor said.


Sudan summons U.S. envoy over Donald Trump’s travel ban

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday has summoned the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Khartoum Steven Koutsis to protest against the decision by President Donald Trump restricting entry for Sudanese nationals to the United States.

President Trump on Saturday issued an executive order temporarily banning refugees and travellers to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries – Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

In a press release extended to Sudan Tribune Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gharib Allah Khidir said Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdel-Ghani al-Nai’m has expressed to Koutsis his government resentment over the ban against Sudanese nationals.

He described the move as a “negative signal” in light of the recent positive developments in relations between the two countries following the ease of economic sanctions imposed on Sudan and the joint cooperation in the fight against terror.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

Kenya agrees to re-join South Sudan UN force

Kenya has agreed to take part in a UN regional force for South Sudan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday, three months after Nairobi angrily withdrew its troops from the country.

Kenya pulled its peacekeepers from South Sudan and announced it would not contribute to the planned regional force after Guterres’ predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, fired the Kenyan commander of the peacekeeping force.

The commander was sacked following a report that showed UN peacekeepers failed to protect civilians during heavy fighting in Juba in July.

Guterres told reporters that he had “reached full agreement with Kenya in order for Kenya to participate in the regional protection force” to be deployed in Juba.

New Vision



Human rights activist takes aim at South Sudan’s ‘war economy’

Human rights activist John Prendergast outlined the issues plaguing South Sudan, the world’s newest country, during a talk Thursday night in Rubenstein Library.

After decades of civil war, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. But another civil war broke out in 2013 between the government and opposition forces, largely revolving around economic conditions and natural resources. Prendergast—founding director of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity—discussed how greed and corruption have led to South Sudan’s history of conflict.

“War has been hell for South Sudan’s people, but it’s been extremely lucrative for the country’s leaders, and their international commercial facilitators and enablers,” Prendergast said. “These are South Sudan’s war profiteers.”

The Chronicles

Western Sahara

Western Sahara welcomes Morocco’s African Union membership

Western Sahara has welcomed Morocco’s readmission to the African Union, 32 years after members refused to withdraw support for the territory’s independence.

It was a “good opportunity” and “a chance to work together,” a top Western Sahara official told the BBC. Morocco controls two-thirds of Western Sahara and sees it as part of its historic territory.

However, some, including the UN, see Western Sahara as Africa’s last colony. A referendum was promised in 1991 but never carried out due to wrangling over who was eligible to vote.

Thousands of Sahrawi refugees still live in refugee camps in Algeria – some have been there for 40 years.


Western Sahara territory, “not free” where democratic liberties are not respected

Western Sahara has been classified as a “non-free” territory where the respect for political and civic rights has declined significantly in 2016, according to a report by the US NGO, Freedom House, issued Tuesday in Washington.

In 2016, the occupied Western Sahara experienced a marked degradation in the respect for democratic freedoms with a score of 4 points out of 100, the world’s worse score after Tibet, according to this report.

The Freedom House Foundation considered Western Sahara as occupied territories, whose final status remains to be determined.

Saharan Press Service


World Bank to alleviate Madagascar power struggle

With only 14% of the population with access to electricity, Madagascar is high on the priority list for the World Bank Group.

Last week, the World Bank Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, confirmed the Bank’s commitment to support Madagascar with $1.3 billion over the next three years, as pledged in Paris last December during the international donors conference.

Diop made this announcement during a courtesy call to the President of the Republic of Madagascar, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, SAT PR News reported.

World Bank to increase power access

Diop said: “The World Bank will work with the government to improve two critical development factors: human development and access to energy.

“This will entail scaling up nutrition for children and expanding electricity access to a greater percentage of the Malagasy population.”

Madagascar’s new Mining Business Centre to unlock country’s mining potential

The Mining Cadastre Bureau of Madagascar (BCMM) will launch its Mining Business Centre in Antananarivo at the Mining Indaba taking place from 6 to 9 February 2017.

The Mining Business Centre (MBC) is a dedicated hall offering 12 000 m of exhibition space and showcases the full range and depth of Madagascar’s mineral wealth. The MBC further offers mining investors, operators and service providers the opportunity to connect, share and do business together – ultimately unlocking the full potential of Madagascar’s nascent mining industry.

It is expected to be operational in June 2016, and an international fair will be hosted at the MBC in November.

Mining Review


King lands another top African role

His Majesty King Mswati III has been nominated chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA).

He was nominated for Swaziland’s recognised progress against malaria, on track to eliminate by 2022

His Majesty King Mswati III succeeds President of Chad, Idriss DébyItno as Chair of ALMA. The king is also chairman of SADC a position he assumed last year.

The announcement was made at the ALMA Heads of State and government meeting during the 28th African Union Summit yesterday.

Swazi Observer

African leaders recognise King’s leadership skills

African Heads of State have commended and recognised leadership skills displayed by His Majesty King Mswati III.

This has been evident when the Swaziland delegation which represented the country in the African Union (AU) summit, which was held in Ethiopia, returned home with two major honours bestowed on His Majesty.

The heads of state elected the King into the position of deputy chairman of the AU, amongst three other deputies who make a committee known as the AU Bureau.

Swazi Observer


Zimbabwe Pastor Evan Mawarire Arrested and Charged with Subversion

Zimbabwean police have arrested a pastor who led an anti-government social media campaign, prompting criticism from the country’s opposition leader and activists.

Evan Mawarire fled Zimbabwe in July 2016 after being arrested and charged with trying to overthrow the government of President Robert Mugabe. A Zimbabwean court threw out the charges against him, but police said they had further charges to lay against the pastor, who traveled to South Africa and then to the United States, where he has remained since leaving Zimbabwe.

Mawarire was arrested upon arrival at Harare International Airport on Wednesday. He has been charged with “subverting constitutional government” between July and December 2016, the BBC reported on Thursday.


US warns Mugabe on political violence

The United States of America ambassador to Zimbabwe Henry Thomas jr has expressed concern over political violence that have charecterised election processes in the country, and that this is not to be accepted.

Speaking at a party to commemorate the smooth handing over of power from former US president Barack Obama to president Donald Trump held in Harare yesterday, Thomas said his country is aware of President Robert Mugabe’s plans to use violence in the pending elections.

He condemned the use of political violence that was witnessed during the recent by-elections held in Bikita West and added that the same should not be left to continue, as Zimbabwe heads for polls in 2018.

ZW News


Africa in General

Uganda rules out military intervention in South Sudan

Imposing an external “trusteeship” government on South Sudan to try to end a three-year ethnic civil war and potential genocide in the world’s youngest nation would only make its security situation worse, Uganda said on Thursday. Patience towards President Salva Kiir’s government in Juba has worn thin as the refugee numbers have grown, fuelling talk in international policy circles – including the opinion pages of the New York Times – that “trusteeship” is a viable solution.

South Sudan military intervention, Uganda military intervention in South Sudan, South Sudan news, South Sundan War, War in South Sunda News, latest news, India news, India news, National news Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem rejected the notion, saying such interference in South Sudan would be opposed even by Kiir’s sworn enemy, Riek Machar, currently under house arrest in South Africa.

The Indian Express

Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat Elected New AU Commission Chair

The African Union has elected Moussa Faki Mahamat from Chad as the new AU commission chairman.

Mahamat replaces South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who was elected to the post in 2012.

It took seven rounds of voting for African heads of state to finally settle on Mahamat as the new AU Commission chairperson.

Earlier, results had not been formally announced, but everyone at the AU headquarters knew the outcome seconds after the came out.


African Union leaders back mass exodus from International Criminal Court

African leaders have backed a “strategy of collective withdrawal” from the International Criminal Court (ICC), but it came with unspecified reservations, an African Union official said on Wednesday after this week’s African Union summit.

The official did not give details about the strategy or the reservations, but it highlights broad antipathy towards the court among Africans who feel the ICC unfairly targets them.

A document seen by Reuters before the summit proposed a co-ordinated withdrawal unless the ICC was reformed. It included a call for “regionalisation” of international law, a reference to proposals for an African war crimes court.

The Independent

Kenya loses first round in battle with Somalia on maritime border

International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday dismissed Kenya’s opposition to Somalia’s case on maritime boundary. By a majority of 13 judges, the top UN court ruled that it had powers to hear the dispute between the two countries.

Kenya had put up the argument that Somalia had jumped the gun as the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) expressly provided for negotiations as a way of settling the impasse, but the court found that the treaty was not binding to one-method process. “The court observes although the applicant breached the treaty, it does not affect its case. Somalia’s objection does not render its application inadmissible,” said Justice Ronny Abraham. A majority of the judges agreed that the court’s powers on maritime was only limited if the MoU signed provided for an alternative way of settling the dispute.

Standard Media