News Briefs 06 October 2017


Swaziland seeks new markets as EU sugar quota ends

Swaziland is searching for new regional markets for its sugar following the end of a quota system that limited production by European Union countries for the past 50 years, an official said on Wednesday.The EU last month formally scrapped quotas on the production and sale of the commodity by its member states after nearly 50 years.

The quota system meant that total EU production was set at 13.5 million tonnes of sugar, which was divided between 20 member states. Production in excess of the quota is known as “out-of-quota” sugar and strict rules governed its use.

The end of the quotas means that there are no further limits to production or exports, allowing production to adjust to market demand both within and outside the EU.

Journal du Cameroun

Police Block Democracy Meeting

Police stopped a pro-democracy meeting taking place in Swaziland. They said they had not given organisers permission to meet.

It happened on Friday (8 September 2017) during a Global Week of Action for democracy in the kingdom ruled by absolute monarch King Mswati III.

About 100 people reportedly intended to meet at the Mater Dolorosa School (MDS) in the kingdom’s capital, Mbabane. The Observer on Saturday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported that ‘proscribed pro-democracy groups’ led by the Swaziland United Democratic Front tried to meet.

In Swaziland groups advocating for multi-party democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.


Democratic Republic of Congo

Thousands flee to Zambia to escape violence in Democratic Republic of Congo

Several thousand people have fled to Zambia in the past month to escape violence in Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN said on Tuesday.

The UN refugee agency said 3,360 people from Democratic Republic of Congo’s conflict-wracked southeast had entered Zambia since August 30, the largest influx of its kind in the past five years.

People “are escaping inter-ethnic clashes, as well as fighting between Congolese security forces and militia groups,” UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.

Business Day

Ten dead in attack on militia in east DRC

Ten fighters were killed on Thursday when the army launched a pre-dawn attack on a militia in the restive eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo, a military spokesperson said.

The assault targeted a group called the Mai-Mai Mazembe, which had taken up position in Kapanga, a locality in the Lubero district on the border with Uganda, the official said.

“They have been dislodged. We found 10 corpses,” Lieutenant Jules Tshikudi, a spokesperson for the army in North Kivu province, told AFP.



Turkey inaugurates military academy in Somalia

Turkey inaugurated on Saturday the largest foreign-run military training centre in Somalia, where local troops are due to take over the protection of a nation threatened by Shabaab Islamist attacks.

Somalia’s fragile government and institutions, including its national army, are backed by the African Union’s 22 000-strong Amisom force and powers like the United States.

But the gradual withdrawal of the Amisom troops is due to start in October 2018 and doubts persist over the readiness of Somali forces to confront the Qaeda-aligned Shabaab.


Somalia police say car bomb blast kills 5

Somalia’s police say a car bomb explosion in the capital has killed at least five people.

Capt Mohamed Hussein said the blast late on Thursday was at a car parked outside a restaurant in Mogadishu’s Hamarweyne district and killed mostly civilians.

The explosion shattered a period of calm in this seaside city which has a large security presence following a series of attacks by the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab, who are linked to al-Qaeda and fighting the Somali government and African Union forces in the country.


Central African Republic

Central African Republic militants are using rape as a weapon of war, rights group says

Armed groups in Central African Republic (CAR) are using rape and sexual slavery as weapons of war, in abuse that may amount to crimes against humanity, a rights group said on Thursday.

Thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have been uprooted in a conflict that broke out after the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in early 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.

Both the Seleka and the anti-balaka have sexually assaulted, raped and enslaved civilians as revenge against those believed to be supporting the other side, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

Business Day

64,000 flee new fighting in Central African Republic

A flare-up of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) caused 64,000 more people to flee to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo between May and August, the UN Refugee Agency said on Tuesday.

The violence left many Congolese villages overwhelmed.

Thousands more are also believed to have crossed the border but are in areas that are hard for aid agencies to reach because of difficult terrain or militia groups, Andreas Kirchhof, Spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says.

The UNHCR recently tried to deliver aid to refugees near the border village of Bangassou but the trucks got stuck in mud so staff had to take the supplies through on motorcycles, he said.

Daily Trust


Official: US Poised to Lift Sanctions on Sudan

The United States is preparing to lift decades-long economic sanctions against Sudan, citing improvement on human rights and progress on counter-terrorism, a US official said on Thursday.

President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to announce its decision as early as Friday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Shortly before leaving office, former US President Barack Obama temporarily eased penalties that had been in place for two decades against the African nation. In July, the Trump administration postponed for three months a decision on whether to remove the sanctions completely, setting up a 12 October deadline.


President Meets With His Sudanese Counterpart in Khartoum

The official talks between the Sudanese and Somali sides started here on Wednesday at the Republican Palace, with President Omar Bashir heading the Sudan side and the Somali President Mohamed Abdallah heading his country’s delegation.

The talks centered on issues of mutual concern and the areas of cooperation between the two countries.

President Bashir stressed in his statement at the opening of the official talks that Sudanese Somali people relations are eternal and expressed his keenness to see a secure and stable Somali state and that the Sudan would continue its support for Somalia in all areas and help it rebuild its institutions, in particular, the Somali army, police, security, and intelligence services and contribute to the capacity building particularly in the education fields.


South Sudan

Ethiopia, Sudan top diplomats and Riek Machar discuss peace in South Sudan

Ethiopian and Sudanese foreign ministers, Workneh Gebeyehu and Ibrahim Ghandour met with the leader of SPLM-IO in South Africa and discussed ways to achieve peace in South Sudan, said a statement released in Khartoum on Thursday.

The meeting with Riek Machar comes within the framework t preparation of the High- Level Revitalization Forum of all parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS).

“The meeting (..) was fruitful and positive, as It was agreed on the importance and urgency of achieving peace in South Sudan,” said a statement released by the Sudanese foreign ministry on Thursday evening.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan to open humanitarian corridor for aid to South Sudan

The Sudanese government has agreed to open humanitarian corridors to deliver food aid to South Sudan, the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation deputy commissioner said.

“I have received a notification from the Humanitarian Affairs Commission in Sudan stating that it has agreed to open a humanitarian corridor for the delivery of food assistance through the World Food Programme to the affected citizens in the country through the port of Aweil city,” the official told Anadolu Agency.

Khartoum’s approval, the official further stated, would facilitate the transfer of about 1,000 tonnes of food aid to areas affected by lack of food, especially those adjacent to the Sudan border, stressing that opening the humanitarian corridor will reduce transport costs, and will contribute to the rapid delivery of this emergency aid.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Security Council to receive briefing on Western Sahara in October

The United Nations Security Council will receive a briefing on Western Sahara in October to discuss the situation in this non-self-governing territory, while the UN intends to relaunch mediation efforts from next month with a view to resuming talks between Polisario Front and Morocco.

The semi-annual briefing is expected to be conducted by the new Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara, Horst Kohler.

The new UN envoy held discussions with the parties to the conflict, Polisario Front and Morocco and met with representatives of neighbouring countries, top officials of the UN as well as with African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security.

Sahara Press Service

British NGO Calls for Minurso Mandate to Include Human Rights Monitoring

British non-governmental organization for solidarity with Western Sahara, “Western Sahara Campaign,” reiterated its call for the mandate of the United Nation Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to be extended to include human rights monitoring in the occupied territories.

The NGO, in a statement, condemned “the brutality of Moroccan occupation authorities against Saharawi citizen because of their participation in peaceful protests, expressing solidarity with the Saharawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik and calling for their immediate and unconditional release.”

It also urged the UN Security Council to assume its duties, making it possible for Western Sahara people to exert their right to self-determination.




Zimbabwe VP fights back over poisoning ‘lies’

Zimbabwe’s vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday fought back against allegations by his co-deputy that he lied about being poisoned, in a row that displays the growing political in-fighting ahead of next year’s election.

Mnangagwa has been accused by fellow vice president Phelekezela Mphoko of undermining President Robert Mugabe by claiming to have been poisoned during a ruling Zanu-PF rally in August.

“I never said I was poisoned in Gwanda, but that I fell ill,” he said accusing Mphoko of “subjective falsehoods and mischievous perceptions”.

“My commitment to national unity, peace and stability is undoubted and unquestionable,” he added, dismissing Mphoko’s claim that he was attempting to undermine Mugabe’s authority.


Mugabe lost chance to fix Zim financial crisis – Communist Party

The Communist Party of Zimbabwe believes President Robert Mugabe missed an opportunity to solve the cash crunch crippling his country when he met President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria this week for the second session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC).

On Thursday, the party’s secretary general Nqabutho Mabhena said it was disappointing to note that Mugabe did not push to become a member of the Rand Union, a move which analysts believe can heal Harare’s massive cash shortages causing suffering to millions of Zimbabweans, some spending nights at banks just to withdraw money.

“We are disappointed that there was no agreement on Zimbabwe becoming a member of the Rand Union. This in our view, will address the cash crisis in the immediate term, but in the long term, we need to rebuild our industries,” Mabhena told African News Agency (ANA).




Africa in General

South Africa, Zimbabwe push for one-stop Beitbridge border post

President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said South Africa and Zimbabwe must implement their 2009 agreement aimed at cutting the massive delays characteristic with the Beitbridge border post by having a one-stop border post at the busy international gateway.

“I wish to underscore the strategic significance of a one-stop border post at the Beitbridge border. This border post is the busiest border post on the continent. Much of our goods and services go through it. We cannot afford to continue to have unnecessary delays at that border,” Zuma said while addressing the second session of the neighbouring countries’ Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Pretoria.

“It is therefore important and urgent that we start in earnest the process of establishing a one-stop border post. Our two countries took a decision to do so as far back as 2009. In this regard, we direct the relevant ministers and officials to move with speed and report progress at the next BNC [to be hosted in Harare next year].”


Police teargas Kenyan vote protesters, crowds gather in cities

Police fired teargas at opposition activists in Kenya’s capital as protests mounted in cities on Friday calling for the sacking of election board officials involved in August’s cancelled presidential vote.

Crowds gathered in Nairobi, the western opposition stronghold of Kisumu and the port of Mombasa for the second time this week.

Kenya’s Supreme Court voided the August election citing irregularities without finding any individual at the election board responsible.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who won the vote only to have his victory annulled, has accused the Supreme Court of bringing the country close to “judicial chaos”.