News Briefs: 10 February 2017


Democratic Republic of Congo

AU, France mourn Tshisekedi, call for action on political deal

The African Union (AU) has expressed sorrow at the death of Etienne Tshisekedi, main opposition chief in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The 84-year-old veteran politician died on Wednesday evening at age 84 in Belgium’s capital Brussels.

The AU extended condolences to the Tshisekedi family, to members of his party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), and to the people and Government of the DRC.

The statement released a day after the death described Tshisekedi as ‘‘towering personality of Congolese politics.”

Africa News

Top UN peacekeeping official pushes for endorsement of DR Congo political accord

Addressing the Security Council, the head of United Nations peacekeeping operations today urged the international community to push for a swift endorsement of the so-called 31 December political accord in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to put in place a transitional government of national unity.

“The signing of the 31 December accord gives hope for a peaceful resolution of the political impasse,” the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, told the 15-member Council.

He warned that failure to sign the agreement – facilitated by Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO) mediators, and reached in DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, on 31 December 2016 – could delay elections and increase the risk of renewed political crisis and increased violence in the country.

UN News


Somalia hails a new president with joy – and gunfire

Holding high portraits of the man who pledges to bring the nation together, Somalis in the capital hailed their new president on Thursday, singing in joy while soldiers fired weapons skyward in celebration.

Such scenes are unusual in the city, where security is a constant concern due to attacks from Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militants who control many regions of the country.

After decades of corruption and strife the incoming leader, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, faces a huge task rebuilding a battered state.


New Somalia president offers ray of hope

The build-up to the Somalia presidential elections was anything but peaceful, yet they had to go on as scheduled. Al-Shabaab militias still roam the capital, Mogadishu, despite the presence of peace keepers from the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom).  Al-Shabaab has occasionally ambushed peace keepers, as happened to KDF soldiers at Kulbiyow recently and El Adde a year earlier. Ugandan forces have also suffered casualties.

The determination by Somalia’s neighbours, who bear the brunt of Al Shabaab and the African Union, has been to ensure Somalia must find its footing again after the overthrow of deposed President Siad Barre in 1990 threw the country into pandemonium from which it has been hard to extract itself.

Standard Digital

Central African Republic

Central African Republic Violence Leaves at Least 5 Dead

Militia members stormed a health center in the Central African Republic’s capital seeking to kill the wounded after renewed violence left at least five people dead, including a pastor, authorities said Wednesday.

The fighting centered Tuesday on Bangui’s PK5 neighborhood, long a flashpoint for tensions between Muslim and Christian fighters, even as security has improved in recent months.

More than two dozen wounded were brought to a local health facility, according to Dr. Michel Yao, acting U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the country and the World Health Organization representative.

Voice of America

Senior UN official condemns armed, forceful entry into hospital

Denouncing forceful entry by armed individuals into a hospital in the Central African Republic’s restive PK5 neighbourhood with the intention to kill some of the patients, a senior United Nations humanitarian official has emphasized that such incidents are in violation of the international humanitarian law.

This is the second such incident at the health facility, situated in the capital, Bangui, in the last five days.

“It is unacceptable that armed elements come to a hospital, with arms to kill patients,” stressed Michel Yao, the Acting Humanitarian Coordinator and the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) office in the Central African Republic (CAR), in a news release.

UN News


Sudan accuses Egypt of supporting rebels

Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, has accused Egyptian Intelligence of arming and harboring Sudanese rebels and threatened to take Cairo to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) over a border dispute, Al-Arabiya TV network reported.

Khartoum and Cairo have been in a dispute over Halayeb Triangle on the Red Sea coast which Egypt seized in 1990.

“If they [Egyptians] insist there are no negotiations, we will be forced to seek the Security Council track,” Bashir said.

In an interview, the Sudanese leader blasted Iran, asserting that Tehran is trying to “spread Shiite Islam in Sudan.” He also accuses the United States of “handing over” Iraq to Iran by overthrowing Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

South Sudan News Agency

UN independent expert on human rights to visit Sudan today

The United Nations Independent Experts on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, is expected to begin a 10-day visit to the country today.

In a press statement by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Ninonsi’s mission is to assess the efforts undertaken by the Sudanese government to comply with its international human rights obligations.

“I will follow up on the implementation by the Government of the Sudan on its human rights obligations, in light of the recommendations made to the Sudan by all human rights mechanisms, including those contained in my report of September 2016 to the Human Rights Council,” said Nononsi.

Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan

UN Says South Sudan National Dialogue Could Be Undermined by Violence

While the South Sudan government prepares for a national dialogue early next month, one high-ranking United Nations official said the talks could be undermined by the ongoing violence in the country.

Adama Dieng, the U.N. Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus that the Kiir administration should concentrate on creating meaningful dialogue that includes the opposition, as well as a path to justice.

“I should remind President Kiir and his government so to acknowledge that peace is not made among friends, it is made among enemies,” said Dieng, who added that South Sudanese should begin to look at themselves as brothers and sisters.

Voice of America

UNMISS chief visits opposition-controlled areas of S. Sudan

Head of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, visited area controlled by allies of former First Vice President Riek Machar in Unity state to discuss humanitarian and peace processes.

Shearer, returned to Juba on Thursday from a two-day field visit to Bentiu and Leer, which have been most-affected by the country’s ongoing conflict.

In Bentiu, he reportedly met state government officials, as well as internally displaced people who are living in the largest protection of civilians site in the country.

Sudan Tribune


Western Sahara

Zambia hopes that Western Sahara borders are respected following Morocco’s accession to AU

The Zambian minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba expressed Wednesday, in Algiers, his country’s wish that the Western Sahara borders are respected and that Morocco “keeps in mind that Western Sahara is a member country of the African Union (AU).”

“I hope that the Western Sahara borders are respected and that Morocco keeps in mind that Western Sahara is a member State of the AU,” Kalaba told the press at the end of his meeting with the Minister of State, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ramtane Lamamra.

He recalled that the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is a member of the AU, underlining that the continental Organization was created not only to promote trading and cooperation between the countries of the continent but also to impose the respect of the sovereignty of the member States and their borders.”

Sahara Press Service

Western Sahara’s Polisario to test EU court ruling on oil shipment

Western Sahara’s Polisario independence movement said it will ask EU and French authorities to seize the cargo of a ship it accused of illegally transporting marine oil from the Moroccan-controlled part of the disputed territory.

The case could break new legal ground in the long-running conflict over the desert region, where Polisario has declared an independent state, but which has been claimed by Morocco as part of its kingdom.

Mhamed Khadad, Polisario’s secretary for foreign affairs, said the oil shipment violated a ruling from the European Court of Justice last month that, for the purposes of two trade deals between the European Union and Morocco, said the territory of the latter did not include Western Sahara.

He said as an “occupying force”, Morocco had no right to issue export licences. The Moroccan foreign ministry declined to make any immediate comment.



UNHCR welcomes new law giving men and women equal rights to transfer nationality to children

UNHCR welcomes a recent amendment to the nationality law in Madagascar, which gives men and women equal rights to pass on nationality to children. The new law also helps spouses and children to retain their nationality, if a partner or a parent loses theirs.

The nationality reform is an encouraging and important step in preventing and reducing statelessness. UNHCR will continue our support to the Government of Madagascar, its Parliament and civil society actors to implement the law. In Madagascar, we are also advocating for accession to the 1954 and 1961 statelessness conventions as well as the implementation of these instruments through national law.

In 2014, UNHCR launched the ambitious global #IBelong Campaign to end statelessness by 2024. The #IBelong campaign advocates for the removal of gender discrimination from nationality laws which is a leading cause of statelessness.



250,000 Swazi Still Need Food Aid

At the same time that King Mswati III told his subjects that Swaziland had been saved from the drought because people believed in God, the World Food Program reported 250,000 Swazi people would need assistance with food until at least March 2017.

In a sermon, delivered on 28 January 2017, King Mswati declared the drought over.

The Sunday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported, ‘His Majesty said he was proud because it turned out that Swazis really believed in God as they were now experiencing tremendous amounts of rain.’

King Mswati III of Swaziland Congratulates President Akufo-Addo

The King of Swaziland, King Mswati III, has congratulated President Akufo-Addo on his victory in the December 2016 election, and subsequent swearing-in as Ghana’s President.

A special delegation sent by the King to Ghana on Wednesday, February 8, 2017,  to convey the message, assured the President of the co-operation of the King, and the people of Swaziland over the course of the tenure of office of President Akufo-Addo.

It was the hope of King Mswati III that bilateral relations between the two countries will grow to the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.

News Ghana


Zimbabwe judge orders protest pastor Mawarire be freed on bail

A Zimbabwean judge has ordered that a pastor arrested for organising anti-government protests be freed on bail.

Judge Clement Phiri said on Wednesday that Evan Mawarire should be released on $300 bail, surrender his passport and report twice a week to police.

Mawarire has been detained since Friday at a maximum-security prison in the capital, Harare, on charges of subverting a constitutionally elected government.

He faces 20 years in prison if convicted.


South Africa announces end to special dispensation for Zimbabweans

At least 200 000 Zimbabweans in South Africa face deportation when their special dispensation permits expire on December 31.

They will then have to return home to apply for new permits.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, in a statement on Tuesday, confirmed speculation in the mainstream and social media in recent weeks that Zimbabwe Special Permits holders (ZPS) wishing to extend their stay at the expiry of their permits will do so under the conventional immigration laws.

“Accordingly, we have advised Zimbabwean nationals whose special permits are expiring, to apply for visas we issue under the mainstream immigration legislation, in the event they aspire to stay for any other purpose or period.


Africa in General

Mozambique rival parties commit to peace deal

The government of Mozambique is confident of a breakthrough in the ongoing talks to end renewed terror that has led to thousands fleeing to neighbouring countries.

President Filipe Nyusi is hopeful a deal will be concluded this week with the opposition Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo), whose insurgents have carried out some banditry following a contentious election outcome in 2014.

Renamo claims that Nyusi’s Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) rigged the election.

On Monday Nyusi said the rival parties are inching closer to a solution.


African countries against AU withdrawal from ICC – HRW

The African Union made headlines this week for purportedly agreeing to mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. The reality is more complex though, argues Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The decision by AU member states after the announced withdrawals by South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia, to adopt the “ICC withdrawal strategy”, and called for member states to consider implementing its recommendations.

“This is based on text we have seen that, while labelled a draft, reflects the final text, sources close to the negotiations said,” HRW reported.


Gambia to reverse its ICC withdrawal

A European Union official says Gambia’s new president confirms the West African country will re-join the International Criminal Court, after the previous leader began the formal process of withdrawal last year.

The EU commissioner for international co-operation and development, Neven Mimica, announced the development on Thursday on Twitter after meeting new President Adama Barrow. “Excellent news,” Mimica said.

Gambia’s former leader Yahya Jammeh formally notified the UN secretary-general it would withdraw from the ICC. Withdrawal comes a year after notification.