News Briefs 12 October 2018

Central African Republic

Central African Republic: Rebels Executing Civilians

Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic captured and executed at least nine civilians, including seven women, on September 6, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today. The executions around the town of Bria in the Haute-Kotto province came almost two weeks after the same group killed 11 civilians after a clash with a rival militia.
“These executions and killings are brazen war crimes by fighters who feel free to kill at will, despite the presence of United Nations peacekeepers,” said Lewis Mudge, a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The peacekeepers are allowed to use force to protect civilians, and should seek to anticipate these attacks and to intervene early.”
Rebels from the Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic (Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique, FPRC), captured and executed the nine civilians, who had been working or going to their fields outside a displaced people’s camp. The same group killed at least 11 civilians fleeing the town’s Borno neighborhood, three kilometers from the camp, on August 25 after fighting between the FPRC and anti-balaka militia. Human Rights Watch found evidence that the group killed at least four more civilians around Bria on September 16.

Human Rights Watch

Central African Republic cardinal blames ‘foreign interests’ for ongoing conflict

Foreign interests are undermining the peace in the Central African Republic, according to the country’s top Catholic.
Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, the Archbishop of Bangui, cited the foreign mercenaries in the conflict-ridden country, which he said were brought in by “some brothers for political, economic, ethnic and selfish reasons.”
He was speaking at a Sept. 30 event marking 125 years of Catholic evangelization in the archdiocese.
The Central African Republic has experienced instability since 2013, when Seleka, a Muslim-majority militia movement, overthrew the government. The Christian-dominated Anti-Balaka militia then formed to fight the Seleka. French and African peacekeepers were deployed in January 2014 and drove the Seleka forces from the capital, Bangui.

Crux Now


UK special envoy urges progress in Sudan peace talks within African roadmap

The United Kingdom Special Representative for Sudan and South Sudan said his country is supportive for the resumption of political talks between Sudanese government and opposition groups within the framework of the African Union Roadmap.

Christopher Trott made his remarks Thursday following a meeting with the Sudanese Presidential Assistant Faisal Hassan Ibrahim to discuss the resumption of peace talks after a recent proposal by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and Chief Mediator Thabo Mbeki to amend a Roadmap signed in 2016.
“Pleased to have had the chance to discuss the latest AUHIP proposals with Dr Faisal. We want to see real progress in the Road Map framework,” said Trott in a Twit he released after the meeting.

Sudan Tribune

US ‘terror’ listing blocks Sudan’s economic revival

Sudanese businessman Samir Gasim was delighted when Washington dropped sanctions against Sudan a year ago, but since then, mounting losses have forced him to lay off dozens of workers at his Khartoum factory.
“We are now operating our factory for only eight hours, compared with 24 hours before,” said Gasim, a food and drinks manufacturer.
Many expected Sudan’s crisis-hit economy to recover after the US dropped a tranche of decades-old sanctions on October 12 last year.
But businessmen say Washington’s decision to keep Khartoum on its list of “state sponsors of terrorism” has doused those hopes.
“Our production costs increased and that forced us to lay off many employees,” Gasim said.


South Sudan

UN urges action on marking disputed Sudan-South Sudan border

The Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to extend the U.N. peacekeeping force in the disputed Abyei region on the Sudan-South Sudan border for the last time unless both countries demonstrate “measurable progress” on marking their border.
A resolution adopted by the U.N.’s most powerful body sets out seven specific measures that Sudan and South Sudan must take in the next six months for the force to remain, at a reduced level of just under 4,000 troops.
Both Sudan and South Sudan claim ownership of the oil-rich Abyei area. The 2005 peace deal that led to South Sudan’s independence from its northern neighbor in 2011 required both sides to work out the final status of the oil-rich Abyei region, but it is still unresolved.

Washing Post

South Sudan President meets visiting opposition leaders

President Salva Kiir met Thursday with two opposition leading members who are in Juba in a gesture of goodwill to show their commitment to the revitalized peace agreement signed on 12 September.
Next week the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) will hold its first meeting in Khartoum to discuss the implementation of the activities of the pre-transitional period.
The NPTC among others will discuss the protection of the opposition leaders when they return to Juba to take part in the transitional period activities.
However, against all odds, Deng Alor of the Former Detainees (FDs) group, Wednesday arrived in Juba where he was welcomed at the airport by a minister and met with presidential advisers.
On Thursday, President Kiir received him together with the Transport Minister and his friend John Luk Jok.
Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara



MINURSO: “Corner” report denounces Morocco’s obstacles to UN mission

Morocco continues to compromise the functioning of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) via “administrative conditions” which affect its mandate, concluded an independent review of the operations of the UN mission, commissioned by the United Nations.
The audit conducted by the independent expert Diane Corner expressed reservations concerning some administrative conditions imposed on the Mission by Morocco, said the UN report on Western Sahara.

UN report made public Wednesday evening on the occasion of the first discussions on the situation in Western Sahara, scheduled for Thursday, at the Security Council, indicates the results of this independent audit conducted by former special representative of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

Algeria Press Service

Spanish delegation at UN IV commission defends the decolonization of Western Sahara

Delegation formed by representatives of various Spanish Institutions and Organizations participates in the debates of the Commission for Special Policy and Decolonization (IV Commission) of the UN  has defended  the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and denounced the stagnation of the Peace Plan, as a consequence of the permanent obstruction of Morocco to its development.
The delegation will slam the Moroccan government  brutal repression against the Saharawi population in Western Sahara, illegally occupied by Morocco and the treatment given to the Saharawi political prisoners and Sahrawi activists who are being subjected to all kinds of harassment, ill-treatment and torture.
it will also denounce the decrease in humanitarian aid to the Saharawi refugee population camps, which is causing a dramatic situation, with unpredictable consequences.

Sahara Press Service


Despite record inequality, UK and EU won’t challenge Swaziland’s monarch

Swaziland held national elections on 21 September, but they were nothing more than a charade. As a recent study by journalist and former associate professor at the University of Swaziland, Richard Rooney, asserted before the election: “We can already name the winner—it will be the absolute monarch King Mswati III”.
In Swaziland, political parties are banned from taking part in elections. The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), widely recognised as the country’s largest opposition party, is proscribed under anti-terrorism legislation. Mswati III has huge influence over elections to the House of Assembly through his network of local chiefs, and the king directly appoints two-thirds of the Senate. Mswati III also appoints the prime minister and cabinet, as well as senior judges and civil servants. The king can veto legislation and criticising the monarch is against the law.
In addition to this lack of any political competition, Swazi political activists and human rights defenders regularly endure harassment, threats and violence. For example, meetings of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) were disrupted in February and March, and peaceful demonstrations organised by TUCOSWA were brutally suppressed by state security forces in April and June. The situation has become so bleak that the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Index of African Governance places Swaziland 50th out of 54 countries for “participation and human rights”. Women in particular suffer from marginalisation and human rights violations.

Open Global Rights

Swaziland Court Forces Teachers to Postpone Strike, Bans Public Servants’ Action

The Swaziland Industrial Court has forced teachers to postpone a strike planned to start on Tuesday and banned outright one by public service workers.
The rulings came days after police violently attacked legal protests by workers.
The court case was deemed so important to the state where King Mswati III rules as absolute monarch that Swaziland’s Attorney-General Sifiso Khumalo presented it himself. Government Press Secretary Percy Simelane was also in attendance.
On Sunday (23 September 2018) the Industrial Court heard two separate submissions; one from the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) and the other from the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU). Both unions are seeking pay increases, they have asked for 7.85 percent cost of living adjustments and the government which says it is broke has offered zero percent.



EU observers say Zimbabwe election ‘fell short’ on fairness

Zimbabwe’s first election since the ousting of Robert Mugabe did not meet international standards, European Union observers said on Wednesday in a report that raised a series of irregularities in the disputed vote.
The July 30 presidential poll saw Mugabe’s successor Emmerson Mnangagwa win with 50.8% of the votes, just enough to avoid a second round run-off.
Mnangagwa sought to present the election as marking a new chapter for Zimbabwe after years of repression and economic decline, but a deadly military crackdown on protesters and allegations of rigging marred the vote.
“The elections fell short of international standards,” Mark Stevens, deputy head of the EU mission, told a press conference in the capital Harare.


Zimbabwe arrests protest organisers as economy plunges

Lawyers say police in Zimbabwe arrested dozens of trade union members ahead of a planned protest in the capital Thursday over the worst economic crisis in a decade.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said police arrested Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions members in Harare and the cities of Mutare and Masvingo.
There was a heavy police presence in Harare after the government banned the protest, citing an ongoing cholera outbreak. The lawyers’ group said a magistrate dismissed a challenge of the ban.

Zimbabwe now has fuel lines snaking for hours, prices spiking and some food and medicines running out.






Africa in General

SA always ready to help Zimbabwe, but they have to ask, says Lindiwe Sisulu

South Africa is always willing and ready to assist Zimbabwe at any time that the authorities request assistance, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Thursday.
“Insofar as Zimbabwe is concerned, we stand very ready at all times to assist the people of Zimbabwe. We have had a very long standing relationship with the people of Zimbabwe from the time we were in the struggle,” said Sisulu.
“At any time they need our assistance, they are able to request our assistance.”

Sisulu, however, said Pretoria cannot play big brother to Harare, and waits for the neighbouring country bedevilled with massive economic challenges, cash shortages and food scarcity to ask for the specific aid.

Zim leader Mnangagwa’s cabinet ‘divided over new tax’ – report

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cabinet is reportedly divided over a new 2c per dollar tax which has been imposed on electronic transactions by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.
A currency crunch and a new tax on electronic transactions has spawned fears that Zimbabwe’s wrecked economy is about to endure a fresh bout of chaos, reported AFP.
Mnangagwa had campaigned on a pledge to revive the economy, attract foreign investment and create jobs.
But less than three months after the vote, the dire financial problems of former president Robert Mugabe era have returned to haunt the new leader.


Ruling party takes lead in Mozambique local elections

Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party took a clear lead in early results from local polls, official data shown Thursday, as the Renamo opposition looked to gain ground ahead of next year’s general election.
With 18 declared results in the 53 municipalities, Frelimo had secured 17 wins against just one for Renamo after Wednesday’s vote. Counting continued in many areas where the race was close.
Frelimo has ruled Mozambique since its independence from Portugal in 1975.
“These results are provisional and do not cover the whole country. We call on competitors and citizens to wait calmly for the final results,” said Paulo Cuinica, spokesman for the National Election Commission.




Democratic Republic of Congo

UN Security Council Head to DR Congo Ahead of Polls

The UN Security Council is heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo this week ahead of December elections, amid tensions between Congolese authorities and the UN and concerns over a risk of poll violence.
The UN wants “free, fair and peaceful elections,” Karel Van Oosterom, Dutch ambassador to the global organisation said Wednesday.
Van Oosterom will be among those in the Security Council delegation, joined by representatives from the United States, Bolivia, France and Equatorial Guinea.
The trip is planned Thursday to Monday and will be limited to Kinshasa.
The council hopes to meet with President Joseph Kabila, his prime minister and foreign minister, as well as the election commission and other stakeholders.


UN Warns Rights Violations Threaten Credibility of DRC Elections

The United Nations warns escalating human rights violations and restrictions to civil and political rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo are calling into question the credibility of upcoming presidential elections. The U.N. Human Rights Council held a special session in Geneva on the situation in the DRC.
The United Nations report highlights alarming trends of violations and repressive measures against people’s freedom of expression and peaceful assembly since June 2017.
Just three months ahead of crucial presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights notes a 35-percent increase in human rights violations linked to restrictions of democratic space, half perpetrated by the police.

Voice of America


UAE violating Somalia arms embargo: Report

A new report by a panel of experts from the UN Sanctions Committee seen by Al Jazeera reveals that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has continued to violate arms embargo imposed on Somalia.
The report, yet to be released, notes that the UAE has carried on with the construction of a military base in Berbera in Somalia’s Somaliland region, including the transfer of military equipment despite international resolutions against these arms shipments.
The UAE began construction of the base last year, under an agreement with officials in Somaliland, a northern region of Somalia that self-declared independence from the latter in 1991 following a civil war.


Somalia car bomb strikes EU convoy, no casualties – police

A suicide car bombing by Islamist group al Shabaab hit a European Union armoured convoy in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Monday, damaging one vehicle but causing no casualties, police and the Islamists said.
A Reuters witness saw men towing their damaged vehicle after the explosion hit its rear end. The armoured vehicles had Italian and EU flags on them. Police said the blast caused no casualties.
“We targeted officers of EU forces with (a) suicide car bomb. We shall give details of casualties later,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman told Reuters.
Al Shabaab frequently carries out attacks in the Horn of Africa country.