News Briefs – 10 November 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN Watchdog Tells Congo To Hold Election, Clean Up Human Rights

The UN Human Rights Committee on Thursday gave the Democratic Republic of Congo a year to report on actions it has taken to hold free and fair elections and clean up its rights record.

The United Nations watchdog, whose 18 independent experts monitor countries’ compliance with a global human rights treaty, said Congo should come back with an explanation by 10 November 2018, rather than after the regular four years between reviews.

Congo should “cooperate with all stakeholders to establish an agreed electoral calendar for the holding of free, peaceful and honest elections as soon as possible”, the committee said in its report on the central African country.


Congo Election Set for Dec 2018 – Electoral Commission Chief

Congo’s electoral commission president announced on Sunday that long-awaited presidential elections to replace President Joseph Kabila would take place in December 2018.

Speaking at a news conference in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, Corneille Nangaa said around 43 million voters had so far been registered for the vote.

Repeated delays to the poll, originally scheduled for late 2016, have triggered unrest and raised fears the central African nation could slip back into the conflicts that killed millions around the turn of the century, mostly from hunger and disease.



Somalia fires security chiefs as attack toll hits 27

The death toll from a deadly attack on a hotel in Mogadishu rose to 27 on Sunday, prompting the Somali government to sack its police and intelligence chiefs.

The move came after Al-Qaeda aligned Shabaab gunmen staged coordinated bomb attacks Saturday outside the Nasa Hablod Hotel 2 before storming the building.

Two weeks ago, Mogadishu was hit by a massive truck bombing that killed 358 people in the troubled country’s worst-ever attack.

Saturday’s carnage was unleashed when a car bomb exploded outside the hotel entrance followed by a minibus loaded with explosives going off at a nearby intersection.


US kills ‘several militants’ in Somalia air strike

The US military announced Thursday it had killed “several militants” in an airstrike against Al-Shabaab jihadists in Somalia.

The attack took place early Thursday in the Bay region in the center of the country, about 160km west of Mogadishu.

The strike was carried out “in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia,” the US Africa Command said in a statement.

“Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and is dedicated to providing safe haven for terrorist attacks throughout the world,” it said.


Central African Republic

UN considers sending 900 extra peacekeepers to Central African Republic

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution that would bolster the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic with 900 extra troops to help protect civilians, according to the text obtained by AFP on Tuesday.

The measure follows a request from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who has warned of a risk of ethnic cleansing in parts of the impoverished African country.

The French-drafted resolution would extend the mission known as MINUSCA until November 2018 and increase the number of uniformed peacekeepers by 900, to a ceiling of 11,650, along with 2,080 police and 480 military observers.

The Guardian

UN releases Central African Republic war crimes suspects

The UN mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) released rebel fighters accused of shooting a UN peacekeeper, confidential documents seen by the BBC show.

The two men were handed back to their commander in 2015 despite injuring the UN peacekeeper – a war crime under international law.

Because the incident happened shortly before crucial elections, UN officials chose to “appease the electoral process” by “set[ing] the alleged war criminals free, handing them over”, a UN report says.

This revelation is the latest blow for a peacekeeping mission beset by problems.





UNAMID to help Sudan gather illegal weapons in Darfur

The head of the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Jeremiah Mamabolo, announced yesterday that the mission is ready to provide support for Sudan’s campaign to collect illegal firearms in Darfur.

The remarks came during a meeting with Sudanese Vice President Hasabo Abdul Rahman yesterday at the Republican Palace in Khartoum, the Sudanese news agency reported.

The agency did not give details on the nature of the support.

“The mission welcomes the arms collection campaign in Darfur,” Mamabolo said, adding that collecting the illegal weapons is the strongest guarantee to preserve peace, stability and security and will enable the people to exercise their normal lives.

Middle East Monitor

Sudan editor convicted after Bashirs accused of graft

A Sudanese court on Monday sentenced a prominent newspaper editor to six months in jail for publishing an article accusing President Omar al-Bashir’s family of corruption, the journalist told AFP.

The court also handed down a three-year suspended jail term against the writer of the piece which was published in 2012.

“The court has ordered me to pay 10,000 Sudanese pounds ($1,428) or go to jail for six months,” Osman Mirgani, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Tayar, said.

“I have decided not to pay the money, and am waiting for the authorities to take me to jail.”


South Sudan

UN mission says ready to assist in solving S. Sudan’s standoff if requested

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on Thursday that it is willing to provide assistance when requested in solving the ongoing standoff between the government and the former Army (SPLA) Chief of General Staff Paul Malong.

UNMISS spokesperson Daniel Dickinson told Xinhua that the world body considers this standoff an internal matter for the South Sudanese, but UNMISS is ready to provide assistance if requested by both sides.

“UNMISS considers this an internal matter for the South Sudanese. The Mission is calling on all involved parties to resolve the situation peacefully.UNMISS is ready to provide assistance if requested by both sides,” Dickinson, who did not disclose further details, said in Juba.


Former South Sudan Army Chief of Staff Released from House Arrest

South Sudan’s former army chief of staff, General Paul Malong, who has been held under house arrest by the Kiir administration since May, has been freed.

His wife, Lucy Ayak, told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus program that Malong was released Thursday. “My husband has been released and has been allowed to go for a medical checkup in east Africa,” she said.

Recently, dozens of tanks and troops were deployed along the road leading to Malong’s home in Juba after Malong refused a presidential order to release a platoon of 30 soldiers guarding him. Ayak told VOA on Monday that some of the men deployed to her husband’s home were police while some were from military intelligence.

Voice of America

Western Sahara

Ould Salek calls on UN, AU and France to assume their responsibilities

Sahrawi Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek on Wednesday called on all stakeholders in the Western Sahara conflict, namely the United Nations, the African Union and mainly France, to assume their responsibilities and find a lasting solution.

He also denounced the complicity between Paris and Morocco and their desire to undermine and block the peace process in Western Sahara.

Following the speech of Morocco’s King Mohamed VI marking the anniversary of Moroccan military invasion of the Sahrawi territories, Ould Salek said that the King of Morocco has reneged on the commitments made by his country under the auspices of the UN and the AU, regarding the referendum on self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Sahara Press Service

Polisario condemns Morocco king speech on Western Sahara

The Polisario Front on Wednesday condemned a speech by Moroccan King Mohammed VI ruling out independence for the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

The speech on Monday “contradicts the commitments of Morocco”, said a senior official of the pro-independence movement, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, quoted by the Algerian news agency APS.

He said the king’s stand ran contrary to commitments to the African Union banning occupation of the territory of a fellow member country.





Two months after picking 14th wife, Swazi King visits Zambia with wife number 13

His visit to Zambia with the former beauty pageant finalist comes two months after picking his 14th wife – 19-year-old Siphele Mashwama – from the about 40,000 maidens who danced for him during the traditional chastity rite.

The latest wife and daughter of Swaziland’s cabinet minister, Jabulile Mashwama, travelled with him to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly held in New York recently.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu was King Mswati’s guest at the 2017 Reed Dance ceremony where he donned traditional Swazi outfit and joined the King and his regiment of Swazi men during the kudlalisela session which is a procession around the dancing arena to appreciate the maidens.

African News

Swaziland Rail Link project to create more jobs

More than 9 000 direct jobs are set to be created in South Africa and Swaziland during the construction of the Swaziland Rail Link project.

“Approximately 3000 and 6500 jobs will be created in South Africa and Swaziland individually during the construction of the Swaziland Railway line,” said Transnet Rail Freight Chief Executive Officer Ravi Nair.

The Swaziland Rail Link entails the construction of a 150 kilometre new railway line from Lothair in South Africa to Sidvokodvo in Swaziland and the revamping of two existing lines in both countries. “This line has been designed to carry 150 general freight wagons at a time and will be operated as a seamless service without stopping at any of the boarders either into Swaziland or out of Swaziland,” Nair said.



Sacking of Mnangagwa moves Zim to ‘unchartered territories’

President Robert Mugabe has exerted almost total authority over Zimbabwean politics for decades — but the sacking of his most senior long-time confidante could spark repercussions beyond his control.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was dismissed and humiliated on Monday after clashing with Mugabe’s wife Grace, who is now in prime position to succeed her husband.

The removal of Mnangagwa, who has powerful military connections, has laid bare the rivalries inside Zimbabwe’s political establishment as Mugabe, 93, shows increasing signs of old age.

“The situation reflects an enormous amount of unpredictability,” said Piers Pigou of the International Crisis Group. “We are moving into unchartered territories.”


Sacked Zimbabwe VP in exile, vows to defy Mugabe

Zimbabwe’s sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday he had fled the country as he issued a direct challenge to long-ruling President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.

The ruling Zanu-PF “is not personal property of you and your wife to do as you please,” Mnangagwa said in an angry five-page statement, vowing he would return to Zimbabwe to lead party members.

“This is now a party controlled by undisciplined, egotistical and self-serving minnows who derive their power not from the people and party but from only two individuals in the form of the First Family,” he said.




Africa in General

ICC to probe politically motivated crimes in Burundi

The judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have authorised the Prosecutor of the court to investigate the crimes allegedly committed in Burundi since the outbreak of the political crisis in 2015, it said on Thursday.

In a statement, the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber III of the ICC granted Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda permission to extend her investigation to crimes which were committed before April 26, 2015 and continued after October 26.

Burundi announced its withdrawal from the ICC a year ago, and the withdrawal became official on October 27. Burundian authorities have declared that the ICC was no longer allowed to open investigations against Burundi.


Uganda to Deploy 5,000 Troops in Somalia Outside AU, UN Mandate

The Ugandan military on Thursday said it is ready to deploy 5,000 troops in Somalia outside the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) mandate for all-out offensive operations against the Al-Shabaab militants.

Brig. Richard Karemire, the military and defense spokesperson, told Xinhua that Uganda as a Pan-Africanist country is ready to send the troops as long as the international community commits resources for the operation.

“We are always ready to deploy such a number and even more as a country and Pan-Africanists. We need some support somewhere,” said Karemire.