News Briefs: 12 May 2017


Democratic Republic of Congo

Thousands Flee Congo Conflict, Swelling Villages Over Border in Angola

Thousands of people have fled fighting in Democratic Republic of Congo over the past month and sought refuge in neighbouring Angola, a provincial governor said, an exodus that is straining resources in villages along the border.

Ernesto Muangala said officials had counted more than 20,000 refugees in his Lunda Norte province, almost double the number recorded a month ago.

All had fled clashes between Congolese government and militia forces that erupted in Congo’s Kasai-Central province in July, then spread to four other provinces.


Kabila names new Cabinet of more than 50

Democratic Republic of Congo’s president has named a new government that doesn’t include any main opposition figures among more than 50 officials.

President Joseph Kabila announced the members of Cabinet on Tuesday, about a month after a new prime minister was put in place.

The new Cabinet will serve under Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala, a key player in the opposition coalition known as the Rassemblement that signed a political agreement reached in December.



Farmajo calls for arms’ embargo end to defeat al-Shabab

Somalia’s president has called on the international community to lift an arms embargo on his country as government soldiers battle to regain territory from the armed group al-Shabab.

Speaking on Thursday at a Somalia conference held in London and attended by world leaders, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, said government forces would defeat the al-Qaeda-linked group in “a few years” – but troops had to be better equipped.

“For far too long, our security forces and terrorist groups have been fighting using the same type of light weapons – mostly AK-47s. The long-standing arms embargo on Somalia severely restricts our ability to procure heavy weapons,” Farmajo said.


Somalia And Its Backers Sign Security Pact to Beef Up Army

Somalia’s government and its foreign backers on Thursday signed a security pact which they presented as a road map towards building a functional national army capable of taking on the fight against al Shabaab militants.

The al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group has lost much of the territory it once controlled in Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu, but its deadly attacks remain one of the main obstacles to stability in the chaotic Horn of Africa country.


A London conference on Somalia also heard that the United Nations was increasing its appeal for the country by $900 million to a total of $1.5 billion to allow aid agencies to cope with a severe drought that is causing a humanitarian crisis.


Central African Republic

Latest fighting kills 37 people in Central African Republic

A local Central African Republic branch of the Red Cross says that days of clashes in the central region have left at least 37 people dead and many displaced.

The group said violence flared in Alindao, some 100km east of Bambari on Saturday and Sunday as a faction of the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel group fought with the Christian rebel group known as anti-Balaka.

Alindao priest Severin Ngoumango said no shots have been heard for more than 24 hours.

Central African Republic descended into sectarian conflict in 2013 when the Seleka rebels overthrew the Christian president. The Christian militia retaliated with a backlash against Muslim civilians.


UN releases new funding to support critical aid operations in Central African Republic

Against the backdrop of a continuingly complex humanitarian scenario in the Central African Republic (CAR) – marked by multiplication of hotspots, increased displacement and growing needs – the head of United Nations humanitarian operations in the country today released $9 million for the most urgent and critical relief operations.

However, even with this new funding, overall resources in the country remains a mere 14 per cent, said the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a news release today.

“An adequate level of funding of humanitarian activities remains an absolute priority, otherwise, CAR risks relapsing into an acute crisis,” warned the UN humanitarian wing.

In the news release, Najat Rochdi, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, who released the funds thanked the donors who haves supported response and reiterated her call for increased resources.

UN News


Sudan’s PM reshuffles cabinet, replaces economic ministers

Sudanese Prime Minister Hassan Saleh announced a new government on Thursday, with changes to economic ministers including the oil, investment and finance chiefs.

Sudan’s constitution was amended in December to introduce the position of prime minister, a demand of opposition parties that took part in a national dialogue with the government, with the aim of redistributing some of the president’s extensive powers.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s long war against various rebel groups has coincided with a severe economic downturn. This year’s budget foresees a growing deficit and slower growth.


EU announces a new phase in relations with Sudan

The European Union has expressed optimism about a new era of improved relations with Sudan. It has, however, urged Khartoum to continue the process of dialogue to end wars and bring about peace, the Sudan’s Media Centre (SMC) reported Wednesday.

Speaking in Khartoum on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties and Europe Day, Jean-Michel Dumond, the EU Ambassador to Khartoum, said that Sudan was vitally important to Europe and that the EU fully supports the peace efforts in the country.

Also at the gathering was the Sudan government representative, Minister of International Cooperation, Osman Ahmed Fadl. He said the EU has to put more pressure on armed movements that reject dialogue and to take advantage of, what he called “the positive atmosphere” in Sudan.

Middle East Monitor

South Sudan

The ‘cycle of revenge’ in South Sudan will hurt everyone – UN envoy

Deteriorating security in parts of South Sudan coupled with increased displacement could worsen the humanitarian suffering in the country through outbreaks of diseases such as diarrhoea and even cholera, the United Nations envoy for the country has warned.

The situation in Bor-Pibor area is particularly concerning with fears of violent clashes between youths from the Dinka Bor and Murle communities, David Shearer, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan, told journalists at a press conference today.

“We are worried that might spark more widespread fighting between those two communities [and] hence the reason we are providing support to the peace efforts on the ground,” he added, noting also the work that is being done with the Government to ease the situation.

UN News

Sacked South Sudan army chief quits Juba

South Sudan’s sacked army chief Paul Malong has left the capital for his home state, the defence minister said, raising concerns over his next move as civil war drags on.

Malong’s removal followed resignations by senior generals in recent months alleging tribal bias and war crimes. Some departed officers subsequently said they might join the revolt against President Salva Kiir.

Malong left Juba in a convoy for Aweil state in the country’s north-west shortly after his dismissal was announced on Tuesday, Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk said.




Western Sahara

US Renews Support for Autonomy under Morocco’s Sovereignty

Morocco’s foreign ministry voiced satisfaction with the support expressed by the US for a political solution to the Sahara issue based on the autonomy proposal under the Kingdom’s sovereignty.

In a statement issued Friday following the adoption by the Congress of the US 2017 appropriation bill, the foreign ministry “welcomed the provisions relating to the Moroccan Sahara in the 2017 appropriations bill.”

The bill, adopted by the Congress and promulgated by the American President Friday, provides for the use of funds allocated to Morocco in all the national territory including the Saharan provinces, underscores the statement.

North Africa Post

Polisario says ready for Western Sahara talks with Rabat

The Algiers-backed Polisario Front independence movement said on Monday it was prepared to embark on negotiations with Morocco on the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

The Polisario is “ready to hold negotiations with Morocco on the basis of the right of Sahrawis to self-determination”, senior official Mhamed Khadad told a news conference in the Algerian capital.

He said the African Union and United Nations should both be involved in the peace process in which the Polisario would aim for “freedom and national independence”.



SADC should not ignore the situation in Swaziland

The chairman of Southern African Development Community (SADC) King Mswati III was in Botswana for a two-day tour of the Secretariat and to inform himself of progress made in implementation of policies and resolutions of the regional bloc.

The King brought atleast two of his wives, and family in addition to his entourage. He was welcomed to the country by the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and was accorded the red carpet.

Previously, in 2015, Zimbabwean President was not accorded the red carpet, as Venson-Moitoi would then argue that his was not a state visit.

King Mswati III is not different from Mugabe and he is an oppressor who does not allow press freedom, multiparty democracy, trade unionism and any dissenting voices are crushed with a disproportionate force.

It would seem that SADC is becoming comfortable with what is happening in Swaziland, yet its past immediate chairman President Ian Khama spoke openly against Mugabe to a point that Botswana took a stance not to recognise his Presidency at some point.



Investigate ‘Police Brutality’ – Court

A senior magistrate in Swaziland has called for an investigation into alleged brutality at one of the kingdom’s police stations.

Sindisile Zwane said she has noted that there have been a lot of complaints by suspects who were brought in to her court from Matsapha Sigodvweni Police Station.

She made her comment after a suspect appeared before her with a bandaged head. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Tuesday (2 May 2017) the woman suspect, ‘was beaten by police officers based at Sigodvweni Police Station [and] suffered severe injuries to the head and as a result had to be stitched in hospital before she was taken to custody.’ She had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The newspaper reported the magistrate said it was ‘becoming the norm’ for suspects to complain of being assaulted by police officers at Sigodvweni.


Zimbabwe’s ‘odd couple’ seeking to oust Mugabe

One is a female former teenage guerrilla fighter who became President Robert Mugabe’s closest ally, the other is a battle-hardened opposition leader often dismissed as a busted flush.

But, despite their differences, Joice Mujuru and Morgan Tsvangirai are in talks to lead a united opposition alliance to try to unseat Mugabe in Zimbabwe’s much-anticipated election next year.

The president, 93 and increasingly frail, has vowed to stand again to extend his rule, which began in 1980 and has been dominated by economic collapse and political repression.


Zimbabwe Defends Mugabe’s Trip to Singapore For Medical Check-Up

President Robert Mugabe is in Singapore for medical treatment, once more raising questions about his health and prompting criticism over his decision to get treated abroad.

Mugabe’s spokesman says he’s only getting specialised treatment for his eyes that isn’t available in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba says the president is attended to by a black Zimbabwean physician in Zimbabwe for everything but his eyes.

He says Mugabe’s eyes need advanced detection that isn’t available at home.







Africa in General

African countries need unity to prosper: Zuma

Africa can achieve its developmental goals and objectives if the countries on the continent work together, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

“We must work together to establish linkages that will allow for effective and efficient intra-Africa trade… In fact, our visit to Tanzania seeks to actualise the same sentiments that the two countries should work together more than ever,” Zuma said in a speech for delivery at the state banquet hosted by Tanzanian President John Magufuli during a visit to Dar es Salaam.

“Unity is the key to prosperity for the African continent and for all our peoples.”

Zuma said that as the countries worked together to fight apartheid, South African and Tanzania should use their natural resources strategically to combat unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Jacaranda FM

Lesotho ready to hold ‘peaceful’ election

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator, has reportedly expressed confidence that Lesotho will hold a peaceful and democratic election in June.

Ramaphosa said this following his visit to the mountain kingdom on Tuesday.

Lesotho was set to hold its general election on June 3.

According to SABC, Ramaphosa said that he was confident that security issues would be properly handled during the vote.

“My visit here was to come and examine the state of preparedness of Lesotho, political parties for elections and my discussions with a number of stakeholders told me that indeed they are ready and prepared to roll out the democratic process once again,” Ramaphosa was quoted as saying.


Libya intercepts almost 500 migrants after sea duel

Libya’s coastguard on Wednesday intercepted a wooden boat packed with almost 500 migrants after duelling with a German rescue ship and coming under fire from traffickers, the navy said.

The migrants, who were bound for Italy, were picked up off the western city of Sabratha, said navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem.

The German non-governmental organisation “Sea-Watch tried to disrupt the coastguard operation… inside Libyan waters and wanted to take the migrants, on the pretext that Libya wasn’t safe,” Qassem told AFP.