News Briefs 10 January 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 200 militiamen surrender in east

More than 200 militiamen have surrendered since Jan. 3 as a crackdown on armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile east continues, the army said Monday.

The army began an offensive last Friday against a notorious militia called the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) operating in the gold-rich North-Eastern province of Ituri.

The campaign is part of a wider operation launched in October.

“More than 200 militiamen from CODECO have surrendered since Jan. 3 to government forces, but the army remains determined to continue its operations to neutralize this militia accused of atrocities,” General Chiviri Hamuli, the army’s provincial commander in Ituri, told a news briefing.

Anadolu Agency

DRC child labour: Mining companies accused of exploitation

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, many children working in mines say they are physically and sexually abused.

They’re forced to mine cobalt, a metal used to make telephones and computers.

Now, in a landmark lawsuit, a non-profit organisation is accusing five of the world’s largest tech companies of exploiting child labour and being complicit in the deaths of some.



‘Zim should brace for long, painful road to recovery’

The United Nations, World Bank Group and the African Development Bank (AfDB) say Zimbabwe should brace for a long, arduous road to full recovery, with studies indicating that the ongoing economic and political transition could take up to 20 years.

While President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2017 promised to implement far-reaching economic and political reforms, the Joint Needs Assessment on Zimbabwe by the World Bank, AfDB and the UN indicates there will be no quick fixes to the country’s woes.

The report was produced after the Mnangagwa administration enlisted the technical support of the AfDB, the World Bank and the UN to assess the scope of challenges and needs in Zimbabwe in a move meant to smoothen the transition following the 2017 military coup that toppled the late former president Robert Mugabe.

The Independent

Mnangagwa Not Keen on Dialogue

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has confided in some cabinet ministers and senior Zanu PF officials close to him that he is not too keen on negotiating a power-sharing deal with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

Highly placed sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that following last December’s visit to Harare by former South African president Thabo Mbeki on a Sadc-initiated mission to nudge the two protagonists to the negotiating table, Mnangagwa briefed some senior government officials, including cabinet ministers and top Zanu PF members, that he would rather go it alone for the duration of his five-year term, considering he won the mandate to do so in the 2018 general election, than allow the opposition into government.

The term expires in 2023 when the next general election is due. Mnangagwa and Chamisa have adopted hardline stances on the talks, each insisting dialogue can only happen on their terms.



Five detained Swaziland political leaders released

Five political and trade union leaders in Swaziland who were arrested during a sting operation by the Swazi police have been freed from jail.

One of the arrested leaders was the chairperson of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) Dumisani Fakudze, who was the first to be arrested on Friday, following a warrant for his arrest which his party claimed was authorised by King Mswati III.

Other leaders who were freed included Wandile Dludlu of the People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo); Sibongile Mazibuko, president of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress; Sikelela Dlamini, general secretary of the teachers’ union, as well as trade unionist Jan Sithole.


Swaziland Democracy Leaders Call on Absolute Monarch to Arrange Talks for Political Change

Prodemocracy leaders in Swaziland (eSwatini) who had their homes raided by police are calling on the absolute monarch King Mswati III to allow people to talk openly about the political future of the kingdom.

Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and groups that advocate for democracy are outlawed by the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Six political groups have formed the Political Parties Assembly (PPA) to advocate for change. Leaders of these groups had their homes raided by police on Friday (20 December 2019). They were interrogated by police and had laptops, phones, tablets and other gadgets taken.



AU urges world to support Somalia to tackle terrorism

The African Union on Thursday appealed to the international community to increase its assistance and support to Somalia to help Mogadishu fight global terrorism and extremism amid increased terror attacks.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission also condemned a car bomb attack at Sayidka Junction checkpoint in Mogadishu on Wednesday in which at least five people were killed and 11 others injured.

“The perpetrators of yesterday’s (Wednesday) murderous act shall be pursued until justice is done,” Mahamat said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

Security officials said al-Shabab suicide bomber was trying to pass through the checkpoint but detonated the explosive device when he was unable to do so.


UN Expresses Support for Dialogue Between Somaliland And Somalia

The United Nations is pushing for renewed talks between Somalia and Somaliland to improve security and promote economic growth.

The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Ambassador James Swan visited Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa with a special message to the country’s President Muse Bihi on its (UN) support towards initiatives aimed at building mutual confidence and fostering dialogue between Hargeisa and Mogadishu.

“The United Nations welcomes initiatives aimed at building mutual confidence and fostering dialogue between Hargeisa and Mogadishu.


Central African Republic

Former Central African Republic Leader Returns After Six-Year Exile

Former Central African Republic rebel leader and president Michel Djotodia returned to Bangui on Friday, exactly six years after he quit as head of state.

Djotodia, 71, who resigned 10 months after seizing the presidency at the head of a Muslim rebellion in March 2013, landed on board a Royal Air Maroc flight from Casablanca via Douala in Cameroon. He had been living in exile in Benin.

He was welcomed at a hotel in the capital by about 30 of his supporters, an AFP journalist said.


Central African Republic: Warning of humanitarian disaster

Aid agencies are warning that a humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic will get even worse this year.

They say continuing violence and last year’s devastating floods have forced thousands of people from their homes.

That is on top of the more than a million people already displaced in and outside the country.



Sudan opens up gold market in bid to raise revenue

Sudan has begun allowing private traders to export gold, a measure designed to crack down on smuggling and attract foreign currency into the country’s cash-strapped treasury.

Until now Sudan’s central bank has been the sole body legally allowed to buy and export gold and set up centers to buy the metal from small-scale miners.

Acting central bank governor Badr al-Din Abdel Rahim Ibrahim said on Jan. 1 the bank would end its gold purchases entirely.


Sudan’s new leader embarks on peace mission to rebel stronghold

Sudan’s prime minister, accompanied by United Nations officials, embarked on a peace mission Thursday to a rebel stronghold, in a major step toward government efforts to end the country’s long-running civil conflicts.

A crowd of tens of thousands, including thousands of armed rebels, welcomed Abdalla Hamdok to the Nuba Mountain’s town of Kauda, about 1,000 km (620 miles) south of the capital Khartoum, for a meeting with Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu, who leads the powerful faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement-North. Al-Hilu’s movement is Sudan’s single largest rebel group and is active in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan provinces, where it controls significant chunks of territory.

The SLM-N slaughtered two livestock as a sign of welcoming, and Hamdok crossed over one of them to “be blessed.”

Japan Times

South Sudan

US sanctions South Sudan vice president over human rights abuse

The United States Treasury Department in a statement on Wednesday said it has imposed sanctions on Taban Teng Gai, South Sudan’s first vice president, in Washington’s latest move to pressure the country’s politicians to form a unity government.

The Treasury Department said Gai arranged and directed the alleged killings of opposition politician Aggrey Idri Ezibon and human rights lawyer Dong Samuel Luak in a move to solidify his position in the government and intimidate members of the opposition.

South Sudan’s presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny, told Reuters News Agency after the sanctions were announced that Washington’s move will worsen the situation in the country.


Diplomat calls for regional pressure on South Sudan leaders

A senior United States diplomat has called on IGAD countries to put pressure on the two main peace partners in South Sudan if they are to move forward with the formation of a Government of National Unity. This is according to a report published by the ‘Sudan Tribune,’ online.

Both President Salva Kiir and his main rival, Riek Machar were supposed to have formed a unity government by 12 November 2019. They asked for 100 days extension, which was granted.

There are growing echoes for more pressure to be exerted on the two leaders to make progress on negotiations and enter into a power-sharing arrangement.

Vatican News

Western Sahara

SADR Government: “unilateral Moroccan act to claim Western Sahara maritime zones is null and void”

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) has considered the unilateral Moroccan act to claim Western Sahara maritime zones as null and void, in a communique made public today.

“It is noted that Morocco’s enabling legislation to claim what can be called a “Saharan maritime area” is not yet in force.  Should it be purported to be brought into effect, the legislation would violate peremptory norms of international law.  Such legislation, being the nature of a territorial claim, would also be a clear breach of the 1991 Settlement Plan to which the United Nations, Morocco and the Frente Polisario as the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people are parties, said the communique.

“This Moroccan act of expansionism will not affect the nature of Western Sahara as a Non-Self-Governing Territory entitle to a proper decolonization process and full independence.”

Sahara Press Service

SADC does not accept continuation of colonialism in Western Sahara

The Representative of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mr.  Jevin Pillay, has stressed that the illegal colonialism in Western Sahara cannot continue.

In a speech before the participants of the 15th Congress of the Polisario Front, Mr. Pillay said that the SADC countries does not accept the continuation of colonialism in Western Sahara, reiterating the countries’ support for the Sahrawi people’s inalienable right to freedom and independence in line with the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

He added that the SADC countries will remain unequivocally committed to the issue of Western Sahara until an appropriate and peaceful solution is reached that meets the aspirations of the Sahrawi people and embodies its will.

Sahara Press Service