News Briefs – 04 November 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN rights experts urge end to ‘unjustified’ ban on protests

UN rights experts urge end to ‘unjustified’ ban on protests The ban was imposed in September after a series of large demonstrations that were brutally supressed by security forces, reportedly leaving dozens of people dead and injured GENEVA, Switzerland, November 3, 2016/APO/ — A group of United Nations human rights experts* has called on authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to lift an “unjustified” ban on protests in the capital, Kinshasa, amid social discontent over delayed presidential elections.

The ban was imposed in September after a series of large demonstrations that were brutally supressed by security forces, reportedly leaving dozens of people dead and injured. “The rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are fundamental rights guaranteed by international law. These rights can only be restricted in very specific and narrowly defined circumstances,” the experts said.

Special Envoy, in Security Council, Stresses Need for Concerted Efforts to Secure Gains Made against Great Lakes Region’s ‘Negative Forces’

Concerted efforts would be needed to avert any reversal of the commendable gains achieved in Africa’s Great Lakes region thus far, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy told the Security Council today.

Special Envoy Said Djinnit was briefing the Council on the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region (Framework Agreement), and on the high-level meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism, held in Luanda, Angola, on 26 October. Signatories of the Framework Agreement had made efforts to implement their commitments despite outstanding challenges, including the continuing activities of negative forces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, he noted.



Somalia remains the global capital of unsolved murders of journalists

With militant group al-Shabaab waging war and the government suppressing press freedom, being a journalist in Somalia is a difficult, and even life-threatening, job. The Committee to Project Journalists’ 2016 Global Impunity Index “spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free.” For the second straight year, Somalia is ranked as the worst country in the index.

The annual ranking is based on the number of unsolved murders (cases with no convictions) over a 10-year period as a share of a country’s population. It defines murder as “a deliberate attack against a specific journalist in relation to the victim’s work,” and excludes cases where journalists are killed in combat, street protests, or while covering other dangerous events.

Quartz Africa


Burundi troops in Somalia unpaid for 10 months: withdrawal looms

The Burundian government has served notice that it could withdraw its troops from the African Union (AU) force fighting militants in Somalia, they cited the non payment of troops as the main reason for the threat of withdrawal.

The Defence Minister, Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye, on Thursday told parliament that the soldiers had not received their monthly allowance which is supposed to be paid by the European Union (EU).

According to him, the $800 (£640) allowance was in arrears for 10 months. Over that period, soldiers are only receiving their low army wages.

The decision of the EU to cut off its funding for the troops is tied to the ongoing political crisis in the country.

African News

France ends military mission in troubled Central African Republic

France on Monday formally ended a peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic, hailing it a success despite sporadic outbreaks of violence in its deeply troubled former colony.

The move came just hours after about 10 people were killed in clashes between armed groups Sunday in the restive Muslim PK5 neighbourhood of the capital Bangui, according to local sources.

The toll had yet to be confirmed by the 10,000-strong UN force MINUSCA, which will be alone after France’s departure in facing the militia groups terrorising civilians.

Thousands of people have been killed and 4.5 million forced from their homes since the conflict erupted in 2013.


U.N. deputy Secretary-General visits Central African Republic

United Nations Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said on Wednesday (November 2) during an address to Central African Republic‘s National Assembly that peacekeeping mission MINUSCA would impartially protect the population of the country and uphold their right to peacefully protest.

Eliasson arrived in Bangui two days after the French military operation Sangaris, meant to end sectarian violence in 2013, officially folded and handed over some responsibilities to both MINUSCA and African Union forces.

Eliasson was greeted by Central African Republic (CAR) President Faustin-Archange Touadera at the presidential palace before giving a speech to members of parliament.

TVC News


US extends sanctions on Sudan

President Barack Obama has extended US sanctions on Sudan for another year, saying Khartoum’s policies remained an “extraordinary threat” to the national security of the United States.

Sudan has been subject to a US trade embargo since 1997 for its alleged support for Islamist groups. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was based in Khartoum from 1992 to 1996.


In recent years, the Sudanese government’s scorched earth tactics against ethnic minority rebels in Darfur have been cited as a reason not to lift the sanctions.


Sudan hikes fuel prices amid foreign currency shortage

Sudan hiked prices of petrol and diesel Friday by about 30 percent as months of fuel shortages caused by a foreign currency shortage have put pressure on the country’s already sanctions-hit economy.

The oil ministry raised the price of one gallon (nearly four litres) of petrol to 27.5 Sudanese pounds ($4.30, 3.90 euros) from 21 and diesel from 14 to 18.

Fuel price hikes have been a sensitive issue in Sudan, which has seen its economy badly hit since 2011 when South Sudan gained independence and took nearly three quarters of the formerly united country’s reserves with it.

The Guardian

South Sudan

Kenya accuses UN of bowing to pressure in South Sudan probe

Kenya on Thursday accused the United Nations of bowing to pressure from certain countries by setting up an investigation that pinned the blame for peacekeeping failures in South Sudan on the Kenyan force commander.

Ambassador Macharia Kamau charged that “certain current and future members of the Security Council” had pushed for a probe with a “pre-ordained outcome” that targeted the Kenyan general as the “fall guy.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday sacked Lieutenant General Johnson Ondieki after the investigation showed that peacekeepers failed to protect civilians during heavy fighting in Juba in July.


South Sudan president holds back creation of new states

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has halted a decision to create more new states in the country, underscoring the level of limited involvement of the community in the decision making processes.

According to a presidential order in late October, President Kiir formed a committee under the chairmanship of his controversially appointed First Vice President Taban Deng Gai to quickly carry out consultations with communities and prominent figures in the newly created two states of Lol and Eastern Nile to find their views and come out with recommendations to managing disputes.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Western Sahara standoff fuels tensions, diplomatic scramble

At a rocky outpost in Western Sahara, a new generation of soldiers who have never known war are mobilizing as tensions resurface in one of Africa’s oldest disputes after a quarter century of uneasy peace.

Young Sahrawi troops man new desert posts for the Polisario Front, which for more than 40 years has sought independence for the vast desert region – first in a guerrilla war against Morocco and then politically since a ceasefire deal in 1991.

Now a standoff with Morocco, which controls the majority of Western Sahara, is renewing pressure for a diplomatic solution to ensure footsoldiers like Sidi Ahmed Brahim don’t return to fighting as the last generation of commanders once did.

Aged 25, Brahim is as old as the ceasefire and his patience with United Nations efforts to end the decades-long impasse and prevent new desert clashes is wearing thin.


Western Saharan refugees face looming food shortage; UN agencies warn in appeal for donor support

Three United Nations agencies operating in Algeria appealed today for continued donor support for refugees from Western Sahara, warning that insufficient funding makes imminent a cut in basic food rations.

“For more than 40 years, the Sahrawi refugees have been living under extremely harsh conditions in the Sahara desert in south-western Algeria. Hosted in five camps close to the town of Tindouf, they remain heavily dependent on external humanitarian assistance,” the UN World Food Programme (WFP), together with the Office of the UN Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a joint news release.

UN News


Risk of famine as severe drought grips Madagascar

A severe drought in southern Madagascar has led to major food shortages across the island nation, raising the risk of widespread famine. UN agencies warned of a potential “catastrophe”, as around half of the population in southern Madagascar – nearly 850,000 people – are experiencing “alarming” levels of hunger.

This is the third consecutive year in a row that crops have failed and water availability is extremely low. The drought has left around 20 percent of households in southern Madagascar experiencing emergency levels of hunger.

The UN said they will declare a state of famine if the situation worsens.


Grand Sud of Madagascar: Humanitarian and early recovery needs still to be funded

Like the rest of the Southern African region, Madagascar has been affected by two successive years of drought, worsened by the El Nino phenomenon since September 2015. This has negatively and deeply impacted the three regions of the Grand Sud which is home to approximately 1.63 million people.

The one year humanitarian response plan initiated in February 2016 was budgeted for a total amount of US$ 69.9 million, and has so far only been financed to the tune of 52%. Nonetheless, the impact of ongoing humanitarian response operations demonstrates positive and encouraging results.

Between February and August 2016, the total number of people facing severe acute malnutrition decreased by 90,000 and the nutritional status of children under 5 years old generally improved.

Furthermore, the number of pockets of nutritional insecurity reduced from 32 to 17 communes between February and June 2016.



Swazi King Buys Jet, U.S. Feeds Hungry

The United States is to provide US$6.35m in drought relief. That is just US$1m short of the US$7.3m the Swazi Government is paying as a deposit this year for a private jet for King Mswati III.

Swaziland declared a national emergency in February 2016 and called for international aid to help feed 300,000 people affected by a prolonged drought.

In April 2016, the Swazi Government agreed to spend E96m (US$7.3m) on a deposit for an Airbus A340-300 that will eventually cost E200m to buy. There are also expected to be additional costs for upgrades to the interior.

Voters Snub Swazi Election

Only four in ten of the people entitled to vote in Swaziland’s national election did so. The percentage turnout was lower than the previous election in 2008.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has just released figures from the 2013 election, three years after the vote took place.

The ECB reported than 251,278 people voted from the 414,704 who registered. In 2013, the ECB reported that about 600,000 Swazis were entitled to register. That means that only 41.8 percent of those entitled to vote did so in 2013.

The low turnout casts doubts on claims by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, that his subjects support what he calls his kingdom’s ‘unique democracy’.


SA businesses in Zimbabwe are safe

South African businesses in Zimbabwe were safe and there was need for the two Southern African neighbours to improve the flow of investments in both directions, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday.

In his opening remarks at the official opening of the inaugural session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-national Commission in Harare, Mugabe said beneficiation and value addition of products offered the two countries vast opportunities for joint ventures and investment partnerships.


Zimbabwe banks scramble to get out of crisis

Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe, a unit of Standard Bank, has advised its depositors to sign off on new service terms that include accepting transaction settlements in any currency deemed as legal tender as well as to allow the bank to avail cash withdrawal services subject to availability.

Zimbabwe’s central bank is carrying out a public awareness campaign ahead of the introduction of local bond notes this month. The bond notes, a local currency said to be backed by a $200 million (R2.68 billion) Afreximbank facility will have equal value to the US dollar on a 1:1 basis.



Africa in General

This is what Africans really think of the Chinese

ncreasing Chinese investment in everything from small food enterprises to massive railway projects across Africa has drawn criticism and warnings of a future dependency on Asia’s superpower.

But what do Africans themselves think about Chinese investors? Turns out, they love them.

According to a recent report by Afrobarometer, almost two-thirds (63%) of Africans say China’s influence is somewhat positive or very positive, while only 15% see it as somewhat or very negative.


Refugee Restaurant Dishes Up African Fare to Win Italian Hearts

A refugee-run restaurant opening in Venice this week hopes to exploit Italians’ renowned passion for food to improve community relations, one of its founders said on Thursday, as the arrival of thousands of migrants stokes tensions around the country.

Italy has become the main arrival point in Europe for people fleeing persecution and poverty in Africa, most of them crossing the Mediterranean from lawless Libya in search of a better life.

Their stories inspired Hamed Ahmadi, an Afghan refugee living in Italy, to open Africa Experience, a restaurant managed and run exclusively by refugees.

Canada has more to offer in Africa than military muscle, Trudeau says

Canada’s soon-to-be-announced peace mission to Africa will attempt to tackle “root causes of conflict” because going to fight is not justification enough for deployment, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Canada has an awful lot to offer other than just stopping people from shooting at each other,” Trudeau said Thursday, though he added that is “an important and one of the first things that we want to do” in any engagement.

However, Trudeau said Canadians expect a “layered approach” to any United Nations mission that will “create the conditions for longer-term stability and security.”

The Star

Lessons for Africa on climate change from pace-setting Nordic nations

Africa is gearing up to host a major United Nations climate change conference in Morocco from November 7. This 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) has been dubbed the COP of Action, with delegates’ focus set to be trained on making progress on the issues agreed on in Paris last year. Climate change is a topic of special interest to Africa, which is heavily agricultural and is feeling the impact of deviations in weather patterns. To prevent a disaster of epic proportions, the continent has joined global efforts to lower carbon emissions in an effort to secure the future. We spoke to Hans Jørgen Koch, the director of Nordic Energy Research, an institution under the Nordic Council of Ministers, on what Africa can learn from the green efforts underway in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

Standard Digital