News Briefs 12 July 2019

African in General

How the glow of the historic accord between Ethiopia and Eritrea has faded

A year ago, Eritreans could hardly contain their joy as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed touched down in Asmara. The city had seen nothing like it in a generation that knew war rather than peace. Men and women lined the streets and waved Ethiopian flags as Abiy arrived to seal a peace deal.

Less than a week later Eritrea’s president Isaias Afwerki made a reciprocal visit, landing in Addis Ababa to an equally rapturous welcome. In September a formal treaty was signed between the two leaders in the Saudi capital, Jeddah, witnessed by King Salman and the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who described it as an “historic event.”

The treaty covered a number of things. It ended the state of war between Eritrea and Ethiopia; declaring a new era of peace, friendship and comprehensive cooperation.

Mail & Guardian

Botswana is Considering Overturning the Decision to Decriminalize Homosexuality

The Attorney General is challenging the court ruling citing that the presiding judges made an error of law.

Last month, Botswana’s High Court ruled that sections 164 and 167 of the country’s Penal Code were unconstitutional after they heard the case of a student with the advocacy group LEGABIBO admitted as a friend of the court. The colonial-era laws, which implicitly criminalize homosexuality, saw a person in contravention of them being sentenced to up to seven years in prison for “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.”

Attorney General Abraham Keetshabe is challenging the court’s June 11th ruling after reading the judgement as he feels that the presiding Judges Tafa, Leburu and Dube did not arrive at the correct conclusion in terms of the law. Keetshabe said, “I have thoroughly read the 132-page-long judgment and I am of the view that the High Court erred in arriving at this conclusion,” and went on to add that he would be appealing the decision at the Court of Appeal, according to the BBC.

Okay Africa

UN secretary-general hails Mozambique’s ‘moral authority’ after deadly cyclones

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has lauded what he describes as Mozambique’s “undeniable moral authority” following the deadly cyclones which wrought disaster on Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi earlier this year.

Mozambique bore the brunt of the death and destruction caused by cyclones Idai and Kenneth with more than two million Mozambicans affected. The overall death toll in all three countries surpassed 1 000 people.

According to Guterres this moral authority lay with the “extraordinarily courageous” people who had contributed nothing to the global warming inexorably linked to the cyclones but who, however, had been the main victims of the deadly weather, UN News reported.


Democratic Republic Congo

DR Congo president calls Ituri violence ‘attempted genocide’

President Felix Tshisekedi described interethnic bloodshed in DRC’s northeast as “attempted genocide” after scores of people were killed and tens of thousands displaced.

The leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the violence appeared to be a “plot” and vowed to “find out the truth” about who was behind the deadly unrest.

Fighting in Ituri province between militias connected to Lendu farmers and Hema herders has killed at least 160 civilians since June 10, Tshisekedi said on Tuesday at the end of a three-day visit there.


DR Congo: Police Fire on, Beat Protesters

Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo fired live ammunition, killing one person, in dispersing opposition protests on June 30, 2019. They also used teargas, beatings, and arbitrary arrests against protesters in Kinshasa, the capital, and the eastern city of Goma.

“Congolese authorities should thoroughly and impartially investigate the alleged excessive use of force by the police and hold those responsible to account,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Congo’s new administration should break from its past and show that abuse by the police will no longer be tolerated.”

The Lamuka (“wake up”) coalition, which backed Martin Fayulu in the December 2018 presidential elections, called for peaceful protests on June 30 – Congo’s Independence Day – against widespread corruption and election fraud. The country’s Constitutional Court recently invalidated the election of some 20 opposition members to parliament.

Human Rights Watch


Somalia Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Guinea

Somalia has cut diplomatic relations with Guinea after the head of the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland visited the West African country, the foreign ministry in Mogadishu has said.

Somaliland declared its independence in 1991 but is not recognised by the international community, which considers it an autonomous region of Somalia.

The foreign ministry in a statement Thursday said the government had cut all diplomatic ties after Guinea “accorded the protocol of head of state… to the leader of a separatist movement”.

The statement accused Guinea of “disregarding callously all the relevant resolutions of the UN and African consensus”.


Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed Moves to Settle Kenya-Somalia Maritime Border Dispute

The Horn of Africa should be grateful to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed; if not for anything, but for his role in ensuring peace in the region.

Dr. Ahmed has taken it upon himself to unify the entire region and he has been the brain box behind the peace agreements in countries across the region within the last year.

In his relentless effort to make sure peace reigns in the land, the Ethiopian Prime Minister has sent emissaries to Kenya and Somalia in a bid to resolve the unnecessary maritime border dispute that continues to worsen the fragile diplomatic ties in the entire region.

The African Exponent

Central African Republic

Armed Groups Risk CAR’s Peace Deal by Violating the Accord They Signed

An independent expert warns an agreement to restore peace and reconciliation in the Central African Republic is at risk because of violations by some of the signatories to the accord. The expert submitted her report Wednesday to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

CAR authorities view the agreement signed by the government and 14 armed groups on February 6 in the capital Bangui as a real opportunity to bring peace to this conflict-devastated country.

Independent expert, Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum says the deal allows for armed groups to participate in the running of the government. It highlights the importance of human rights and justice for the victims of years of conflict-inspired atrocities.

Relief Web

UN Human Rights Council 41: Central African Republic

The United Kingdom welcomes the Independent Expert’s report and her analysis of the human rights situation in Central African Republic.

The UK is deeply concerned that violence in CAR endures despite the promise of tangible change. We call on armed groups to cease all forms of violence, without which there can be no peaceful resolution to the current crisis in CAR.

The UK condemns the cruel and brutal attacks in villages near Paoua on 21 May in which 50 civilians were killed. These acts of violence were committed by armed group signatories to the Peace Agreement, demonstrating flagrant disregard to the integrity of the Peace Process.

UK Gov


Sudan’s ruling military council says coup attempt foiled

Sudan’s ruling military council (TMC) says it has foiled an attempted military coup and at least 16 officers have been arrested.

The development late on Thursday came as the TMC and protest movement leaders seeking a transition to democracy were in discussions over a power-sharing deal.

“Officers and soldiers from the army and National Intelligence and Security Service, some of them retired, were trying to carry out a coup,” General Jamal Omar of the TMC said in a statement broadcast live on state television.

“The regular forces were able to foil the attempt,” he said, but did not say when the attempt was made.


Sudan’s Crisis Puts the Country on The Brink of Disaster

Earlier this year, masses of protesters calling for a new era of prosperity and accountability in Sudan cheered as military forces ousted Omar al-Bashir, the country’s long-reigning dictator. But Bashir’s fall did not guarantee freedom or democracy, and Sudan and its 40 million people now risk falling into the grips of a crisis that threatens to destroy what demonstrators have achieved and sink the country into violent conflict.

In recent weeks, the hope of a transition to a civilian government has been replaced with the fear that security forces are willing to kill protesters in an attempt to hold on to power. Militias have committed horrific rights abuses; authorities have cut off internet access across the country in an attempt to stifle dissent and foreign powers seem intent on preserving military rule.

Huffington Post

South Sudan

South Sudan’s Machar Says Ready for Talks with Rival Kiir

South Sudan’s exiled opposition leader Riek Machar says he is ready to meet his rival President Salva Kiir to talk peace if certain conditions on his freedom were met.

In a letter to Kiir’s security adviser, seen by AFP Friday, Machar laid out a series of demands before the pair could sit down face-to-face in Juba.

South Sudan slid into war in 2013 just two years after gaining independence, when Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup.

But the rivals struck a peace deal in September and agreed to set up a unity government.


Embrace peace, our economy will thrive again: South Sudan president

South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir used the occasion of celebrating six years of independence to apologise for his government’s mistakes, including the failure to pay public workers because of an ongoing economic crisis.

Kiir, who has been president of the world’s youngest nation since its independence also appealed to his countrymen to “embrace peace”.

“My fellow citizens, I want all of us to encourage our sons and daughters to embrace peace and maintain the peace,” Kiir said in a speech on Tuesday.

Africa News

Western Sahara

AU Extraordinary Summit: Troika meeting on Western Sahara

A meeting on Western Sahara is scheduled in Niamey with a view to boosting direct negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front, and organizing a self-determination referendum, the AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Smail Chergui has said Thursday.

The meeting will be held on the sidelines of the 12th AU Extraordinary Summit, scheduled for 7 July in Niamey. It will bring together the troika made up of Rwanda, which had previously assumed the turning presidency of the AU, Egypt as current chairperson of the AU and South Africa, which will soon assume the presidency.

In a statement to the press of the 35th AU Extraordinary Council, Chergui said that the troika meeting came after the decision taken at the Nouakchott Summit to support the United Nations Envoy for Western Sahara and boost direct negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

Sahara Press Service

‘I’m being attacked for being a journalist’: Morocco criticised over press freedom in Western Sahara

A journalist has criticised Morocco over press freedom after being fined for allegedly not having the right media accreditation.

Nazha el-Khalidi said she was arrested last December while filming a pro-independence demonstration in Laayoune, a city in the Western Sahara region.

The protest coincided with the first round of UN-mediated negotiations in Geneva between those fighting over control of the region.

A former Spanish colony, Western Sahara is a disputed territory between Morocco and the Polisario Front — a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement that aims to end the Moroccan presence in Western Sahara.

A court in Morocco has now fined El-Khalidi 4,000 dirhams (€400) on the grounds that she did not have press accreditation to work as a journalist.

Euro News


Nearly One in Four in Swaziland Believe Prime Minister Is Corrupt, Transparency International Reports

Nearly one in four people (24 percent) surveyed in Swaziland / eSwatini believe their Prime Minister is corrupt, according to a report from Transparency International.

Nearly one in three (32 percent) think government officials are corrupt. Just over half (51 percent) think corruption increased in the previous 12 months.

Although the results show corruption is high in Swaziland the survey suggests that people think the situation has improved since 2015. Of those surveyed, 58 percent said the government was doing a ‘good’ job fighting corruption.

Nearly one in five (17 percent) users of public services reported they had paid a bribe in the past 12 months: 21 percent said they had paid a bribe to get an ID card; 10 percent said they had bribed the police.



Zimbabwe lawmaker remanded in custody for ‘subversion’

Deputy chairman of Zimbabwe’s MDC Alliance and lawmaker Job Sikhala has been remanded in custody until July 24. He has been charged with subversion.

Sikhala, 47, was initially expected to appear at a Harare court on Monday, but was transferred to a court in Bikita, a district in the Masvingo province, about 347km from the capital.

The charges emanate from utterances attributed to him at an MDC Alliance rally in Bikita at the weekend.

He allegedly said: “We are going to take the fight to the doorsteps of [President] Emmerson Mnangagwa, we are going to overthrow him before 2023, that is not a joke.”


Zimbabwe public sector workers reject R7m pay rise as a ‘waste of time’

Public sector workers in Zimbabwe on Tuesday rejected a government offer of 180 million Zimbabwe dollars (R7 million) in added pay for the July-December period as inadequate in the face of soaring inflation, a union official said.

Zimbabweans are angry as a year-on-year price jump of around 100% has eaten the value of their wages and savings, recalling the horrors of hyperinflation in 2008. Hopes that living standards would soon improve under President Emmerson Mnangagwa have not been realised.

Daily power cuts lasting up to 17 hours and severe shortages of U.S. dollars, fuel, bread, and medicines are bedevilling citizens who had hoped the end of Robert Mugabe’s rule after a 2017 coup would herald a new economic dawn.