News Briefs 15 June 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo President Kabila Will Not Seek Third Term: DRC PM

Congo’s current President Joseph Kabila will not seek a third mandate in the Central African country’s upcoming December elections because of constitutional term limits that prevent him from running again, Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala said on Tuesday.

“The elections are going to take place without the participation of President Kabila who will abide by the spirit and the letter of the constitution,” Tshibala said in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum of the Americas, Conference of Montreal.

Tshibala’s comments follow signs in the mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo that Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father Laurent in 2001, is prepared to run for a third elected term.

Tshibala said the elections are still scheduled to take place on 23 December.


Belgium prepared to accept DRC’s Bemba after acquittal: official

Belgium is prepared to accept former Democratic Republic of Congo vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, after he was cleared of war crimes last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders said on Thursday.

“The Belgian authorities have responded favourably to the court’s request to allow Mr Bemba to stay in Belgium, where his family lives, following his release on bail,” Reynders said in a statement, adding that the handover would be finalised in the coming days.

Bemba left the detention centre of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday following his acquittal of war crimes after a decade behind bars, his lawyer said.



UN says 53 people killed by tropical cyclone in Somalia

At least 53 people were killed and some 229,000 others affected by tropical cyclone Sagar that caused heavy rains and flooding in Somaliland and Puntland in northern Somalia in May, the UN humanitarian agency said on Thursday.

Citing estimates from local disaster management authorities in the two regional states, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 50 people were killed in Somaliland while three lost their lives in Puntland.

“The subsequent floods and strong winds exacted a heavy toll on infrastructure and farmland, leaving many people dead and thousands of others displaced. Basic infrastructure, including water sources and communication equipment, collapsed in many areas,” OCHA said in its latest Flash Update.



Somalia’s Al Shabaab Claims Attack in Which Us Soldier Died

Somalia’s Islamist group al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for an attack in which a US commando was killed and four others were wounded when they came under fire in the country.

The US special operations forces were fighting alongside about 800 troops from the Somali National Security Forces and Kenyan Defence Forces when they were attacked late on Friday by mortars and small arms fire.

“We attacked a military base … killed one US soldier, two Kenyan soldiers and nine Somali soldiers from Jubbaland state. We also injured four US soldiers,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters on late Friday.

He said the attack was in the southern town of Kismayo.


Central African Republic

UN peacekeeper killed in Central African Republic

A Burundian soldier in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) was killed late on Sunday in a clash in the centre of the country, UN sources said.

The fighting occurred in the town of Bambari, according to UN sources there and in the capital Bangui. A CAR soldier was also injured.

The death came a week after a Tanzanian peacekeeper was killed and seven others were wounded when their patrol was ambushed in the village of Dilapoko in the southwest Mambere-Kadei prefecture.


US, France and Britain freeze sale of Chinese weaponry to Central African Republic

France, Britain and the United States on Thursday put on hold a request from the Central African Republic for UN Security Council approval of Chinese weapons deliveries for its national forces.

CAR’s defence minister asked a UN sanctions committee on June 5 to grant an exemption to an arms embargo and allow the shipments of Chinese-made armoured vehicles, machine guns, tear gas grenades and other weaponry for its army and police.

France said it had “concerns concerning some lethal equipment included in this exemption request,” citing anti-aircraft weapons and ammunitions, according to a document obtained by Agence France-Presse.

The French mission to the United Nations requested “additional justifications concerning this lethal equipment to be able to take a decision.”

South China Morning Post


Sudan’s security apparatus ban journalists from reporting

Sudanese security service Thursday enforced a new crackdown on journalists and the press as it withdrew the licence of a journalist reporting for a pan Arab newspaper and confiscated the entire print-runs of local newspapers.

Ahmed Younes, the correspondent of Asharq aA-Awast told Sudan Tribune that the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) withdrew his licence and stopped him from reporting to his London based newspaper.

He further said his suspension and the withdrawal of licence come as a continuation of the abuse he experienced from the NISS agents who had summoned him and threatened to remove his permit on 7 June.

NISS agents interrogated Younes on an article where he predicted a bloody purge (a Night of the Long Knives) within the National Congress Party, as he referred to a power struggle among the different factions of the ruling party.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s ruling party and opposition Umma reiterate commitment to peace roadmap

Sudan ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Thursday said they agreed to create a conducive environment for national dialogue and to commit themselves to the African Union roadmap as a mechanism to discuss national issues.

The agreement was announced in a joint statement signed by NUP leader Sadiq al-Mahdi and al-Hadi Abdallah who travelled to Cairo heading an NCP delegation to meet the self-exiled political leader.

“After mutual clarification of the views, it was agreed that creating the confidence-building measures and sticking to the roadmap should serve as a mechanism for discussing national issues,” reads the joint statement co-signed by the two political leaders.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

South Sudan’s cabinet passes $584 million budget for 2018-19

South Sudan’s cabinet adopted on Thursday a budget of 81.6 billion South Sudanese pounds ($584 million) for the 2018-19 fiscal year, an increase of 75 percent from the previous period, the government said.

More than four years of civil war have destroyed South Sudan’s economy. Inflation was at 161.2 percent in March, with hyperinflation persisting for several years due in part to its depreciating currency.

The government depends on crude oil, but output is less than half its pre-war level of 245,000 barrels per day.


South Sudan’s Kiir orders return of Muslim properties

The South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Monday directed that all properties that had earlier been confiscated from the Muslim communities be returned to them.

The president made these remarks during the annual Ramadan dinner with Muslim leaders at Freedom Hall in the capital, Juba.

The South Sudanese leader instructed the national security minister to work with the South Sudanese Islamic Council to retrieve back all the looted Muslims properties in the different parts of the country.

“The minister of national security is here with us in the hall, so I want him to go tomorrow morning [Tuesday] to visit the sites of the properties that have been grabbed. You will show him [minister] the stolen properties,” said Kiir.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Committee of 24: Participants call to speed up Western Sahara decolonization

The delegations of several countries participating in the annual session of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization, known as Committee of 24, called Monday to resume negotiations on Western Sahara to speed up its decolonization.

In a session devoted to the Sahrawi issue, the representative of the Ecuador Diego Fernando Morejon Pazmino said that it is important to focus on the resumption of the negotiations at the approach of the end of the Third International Decade of the eradication of colonialism, underlining that 30 years of failure is inacceptable.

For his part, East Timor’s representative Mautito called the Committee to intensify efforts to put an end to colonialism, pointing out that 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories provide shelter for nearly two million people.

Sahara Press Service

Cuba backs UN a just solution to Western Sahara question (PL)

The Permanent Representative of Cuba to the UN, Anayansi Rodríguez, has reaffirmed the support of her country for a just and definitive solution to the question of Western Sahara.

Speaking at a session of the United Nations Decolonization Committee, the diplomat expressed Cuba’s support for the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination, based on respect for the principles of the UN Charter and international law. .

In this regard, she highlighted the call of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union to initiate talks among the member states in order to establish a free and fair referendum.

“Cuba has repeatedly expressed its support for the efforts of the United Nations to find a definitive solution to this case, in such a way that the people of Western Sahara can exercise their right to self-determination.”

Sahara Press Service


Swaziland name change to eSwatini is now official

The change of name from Swaziland to eSwatini has been made official through a gazette signed by His Majesty King Mswati III.

The change was announced by King Mswati on April 19 during the double celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence and of his 50th birthday.

Mswati explained the change by highlighting the fact that his country needed a name his people could identify with. Swazis have in the past complained of being confused with Switzerland in international fora.

“In exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 64 (3) of the Constitution of Swaziland Act No. 1 of 2005, I, Mswati III, King and Ingwenyama of Eswatini makes the declaration that the name of the Kingdom of Swaziland is changed to Kingdom of Eswatini,” read the gazette.

Africa News

‘Police Beat Man Close to Death’

Community police officers in Swaziland / Eswatini attacked a man described as ‘mentally disturbed’ and beat him close to death, a newspaper in the kingdom reported.

The Swazi Observer on Tuesday (12 June 2018) said five officers at Ngoloweni in Sandleni were accused of beating a 44-yearod man after claims that he attempted to rape a girl aged six.

The newspaper reported police and local residents ‘pounced on him and without saying much, he was handcuffed and heavily assaulted with sticks. He was also slapped and kicked all over the body.’

The Observer described the man as ‘mentally disturbed’ with ‘speech challenges’.



Twenty-three (23) presidential candidates cleared for Zimbabwe’s vote

At least 23 presidential candidates were cleared on Thursday to run in Zimbabwe’s elections due on July 30, the electoral commission announced.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) published a provisional list of approved candidates that include President Emmerson Mnangagwa and a young opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa.

More applications were still being processed for the first election since Robert Mugabe was ousted following a brief military takeover in November last year.

“We will announce another batch once we are done with the rest of what is being processed,” Japhet Munjere, ZEC director of elections told reporters.

The Zimbabwean Mail

Zimbabwe opens candidate nomination ahead of July polls

Zimbabwe fired the starting pistol for election campaigning on Thursday when it formally opened the nomination process to presidential hopefuls ahead of polls due on July 30.

The election will be a key test for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded long-serving autocrat Robert Mugabe after a brief military takeover in November and remains untested at the ballot box.

Candidates seeking to contest next month’s presidential, parliamentary and local polls have just one day to submit their candidacy to one of several specially convened electoral courts across the country.

Mnangagwa, 75, of the ruling ZANU-PF party and Nelson Chamisa, 40, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party are the presidential front-runners.





Africa in General

US calls for crackdown on S Sudan war money invested in Kenya

The United States urged Kenya on Wednesday to investigate properties and assets owned by elite families from South Sudan, including its president and his rival, who have enriched themselves in their country’s civil war raging since 2013.

Sigal Mandelker, the US Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence on a tour of east Africa, said South Sudanese, some of them on a sanctions list, have continued to invest illicit money in Kenya’s real estate market.

“I wanna be very clear, those who profit from human rights violations and corruption, preying on the poor and innocent and mothers and children, must heed our warning,” Mandelker told a press conference in Nairobi.


AU welcomes Sudan’s proposal to host peace meeting on South Sudan

The African Union (AU) on Tuesday welcomed Sudan’s proposal to host a meeting between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar, the Sudanese Media Center reported.

“The AU welcomes any step that is likely to achieve peace in South Sudan,” said Wakil Amutingon, acting head of the AU Liaison Office in Khartoum.

In May, foreign ministers of the member states of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Africa agreed on holding a face-to-face meeting between Kiir and Machar.

The meeting is expected to revive the peace process in South Sudan and urge the parties to the conflict to implement the peace deal brokered by the IGAD in August 2015.


ICC court launches fund for CAR victims of Bemba militia

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched a $1.18m fund for victims of a militia once run by former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, it said on Wednesday.


The fund – announced after Bemba was acquitted on war-crimes charges – will be dispensed to people who suffered at the hands of Bemba militia in the Central African Republic (CAR), the ICC’s director in CAR, Mike Cole, told a press conference.

The serious crimes committed in CAR “have not been forgotten,” he said.

The violence took place over a timeframe of five months in 2002-2003, at a time when the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was in the grip of a war that sucked in neighbouring countries.

Bemba at that time was leader of a militia called the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) – a 1 500-strong force backed by neighbouring Uganda and opposed to DRC President Joseph Kabila.