News Briefs 15 September 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo: Children’s access to education under threat from ongoing violence in Kasai region

A large campaign to get 150,000 primary school-aged children back to the classroom has kicked off in the volatile Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following months of clashes between militias and security forces that have displaced thousands of families and left 850,000 children without access to essential services like education and healthcare.

UNICEF estimates that in the five provinces hit hardest by the crisis – Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental, Sankuru and Lomami – 440,000 children were prevented from finishing the previous school year because of insecurity. Since the start of the crisis, more than 400 schools have been attacked, and the fear of violence means that parents are reluctant to send their children to school.

“It is crucial for children to return to school to restore a sense of normalcy in their lives after months of fear and uncertainty,” said Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, Acting Representative of UNICEF in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Civil society coalition in DRC announce dates for elections

Congolese civil society coalition has drawn up its own electoral calendar, urging the electoral authorities to set up

dates in order to get the Democratic Republic of Congo out of the crisis arising from President Joseph Kabila’s stay in power.

According to the timetable presented at a press conference, the presidential election would take place on the 31st of December

with voter registration scheduled for the 1st of October 2017 and an electoral campaign from the 1st of december to the 30th.

African News


Somalia in world’s top 10 countries affected by terrorism – Global Terrorism Index

Somalia has been identified as among the world’s top 10 countries affected by terrorism, according to the Global Terrorism Index.

The East-African country has battled with conflict since the overthrow of Major General Muhammad Siad Barre during a civil war 1991.

Terrorist group al-Shabab continues to contribute to conflict and instability in the country.

Every year since 2007, al-Shabab, in its attempt to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, has been responsible for attacks on civilians, the government and its allies.

In 2013, the number of estimated al-Shabab fighters was estimated to vary between 3000 to more than 7000, according to Global Security.


Al-Shabab fighters storm military base in Somalia

The al-Shabab militants rammed the base in Beled Hawa town with an explosives-packed vehicle, and then stormed it on foot, Mohamud Hayd Osman added.

Al-Shabab said it had killed 30 soldiers in the hit-and-run attack.

It has carried out a spate of attacks in Somalia and Kenya since launching an insurgency more than a decade ago.

The African Union has an 18,000-strong force helping the UN-backed Somali government tackle the militants. The militants also blew up the police station and a phone mast, before retreating, Mr Osman added.


Central African Republic

Central African Republic Risks Return to Major Conflict – UN Report

Deadly ethnic fighting in the Central African Republic could descend into a much larger-scale conflict if nothing is done to disarm combatants and defuse tensions, a UN report said on Friday.

With a fifth of the population displaced since the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted the president in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias, UN peacekeepers are struggling to contain simmering violence.

The UN human rights working group on mercenaries and foreign fighters said it “strongly senses that the possibility of another armed conflict is likely, if foreign armed actors, along with local armed groups, are not effectively dismantled and suppressed.”


Central African Republic defence minister sacked

Central African Republic president Faustin-Archange Touadera sacked his defense minister on Tuesday evening, according to a state radio broadcast, amid growing violence that threatens to spin the country out of control.

The dismissal of Levy Yakete, who was blacklisted by a United Nations Security Council committee in 2014 for his role in a bloody 2013 civil war, was part of a wider Cabinet reshuffle. The statement did not say if his dismissal was related directly to growing violence.

Thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have fled a conflict that broke out after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.



Rebel leader welcomes tension in Sudan

A power struggle between President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the leader of Sudan’s ruling party marks the beginning of the end of the Islamist regime that took power in a 1989 coup, the main Sudanese rebel faction says.

John Garang, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), said he welcomed the recent events in Khartoum, not because they would bring a change in policy but because they had paralysed the government.

Bashir imposed a three-month state of emergency last Sunday and dissolved parliament in a bid to sideline his former ally Hassan al-Turabi, speaker of parliament and secretary-general of the ruling National Congress Party.


Sudan extends deadline for southerners

Sudan on Thursday extended a deadline for the return of thousands of South Sudanese to their country until May 20, a government news agency reported.

The Sudan Media Centre said there are up to 15 000 South Sudanese stranded in Sudan’s White Nile State along the border of the two feuding neighbours.

Khartoum’s decision came after the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said this month that it cannot meet an earlier deadline for South Sudanese to leave the north.


South Sudan

UN hails South Sudan over improved security

The South Sudanese authorities have received rare praise from the UN for an improvement in the security situation in Wau province in South Sudan which has allowed fleeing refugees to return.

“I am pleased to see that the local authorities, the police and national security have worked to improve the security environment,” said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to South Sudan, David Shearer, according to a Thursday press release.

On a visit to the world’s newest country Shearer pointed out that Wau could serve as a role model for other parts of the country where displacement rose so far this year.


African leaders urged to push for end to S. Sudan war

A senior United States diplomat has urged leader of the various African countries to put pressure on South Sudan’s political leaders to enable them end the ongoing civil war.

“We think there is more our African colleagues can and should be doing at this point, especially in terms of focusing on leadership, that from our point of view is behaving in a way that is very irresponsible,” Reuters quoted Tom Shannon, U.S. under-secretary for political affairs at the State Department while speaking at the sidelines of a U.S-African Partnerships event at the U.S. Institute of Peace on Thursday.

The conflict in South Sudan broke out in December 2013 following political disagreements within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). The civil war has displaced over 2 million people.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

UN shuns Western Sahara rights plea

The United Nations Security Council voted on Tuesday to keep peacekeepers in Western Sahara for six more months, but shunned a plea that Morocco do more to safeguard human rights in the territory after France objected.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council proposed no new substantive steps for resolving Africa’s oldest territorial dispute, instead simply reaffirming the UN body’s support for a solution that would “provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”.

Diplomats said France alone had initially objected to a Danish proposal that the resolution express concern about human rights violations by Morocco in the north-west African territory of 260 000 people


Moroccan Rep. Calls to Remove Western Sahara from United Nations Decolonization Agenda

Speaking during the Committee’s meeting on Monday during which the question of Western Sahara was examined, Omar Hilale said that the issue should no longer remain on the Committee’s agenda because it goes against the UN’s charter.

The Moroccan representative suggested that the issue of Western Sahara should have ceased to be on the Committee’s agenda since 1988, when the UN Security Council took over in dealing with this question.

Hilale pointed to paragraph 1, article 12 of the UN’s charter. The paragraph says that “While the Security Council is exercising in respect of any dispute or situation the functions assigned to it in the present Charter, the General Assembly shall not make any recommendation with regard to that dispute or situation unless the Security Council so requests.”

Morocco World News



Swaziland seeks freelance hangman

The small southern Africa kingdom of Swaziland has resumed its search for a hangman after six churchgoers were sentenced to death this week, according to a press report on Sunday.

High Court Judge Stanley Maphalala on Wednesday sentenced six members of the Red Gown Zionist religious sect to hang, prompting a new search for an executioner by the Swazi authorities, the Sunday World newspaper said.

The six, five men and a woman aged between 26 and 34, were found guilty of butchering a priest from another church and his wife in March 1997, after accusing the couple of bewitching them, the Johannesburg paper said.


Queen quashes hopes of reform in Swaziland

One of Swaziland’s 11 queens has poured cold water on hopes for democratic reform in sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy, saying King Mswati III would remain fully in charge under a new constitution.

Queen LaMbikiza, in a rare interview with a Swazi newspaper on Thursday, warned Swazis not to expect opposition parties or a change in the status of her husband’s absolute monarchy.

“The draft (constitution) does not allow the existence of political parties. If it was meant to allow political parties, it would have said so expressly,” LaMbikiza told the Swazi Observer newspaper.

Mswati, 36, who frequently makes headlines for his 11 wives and lavish spending, is under increasing domestic and international pressure to introduce democracy in his small country, tucked between South Africa and Mozambique.




Zimbabwe opposition warns over 2018 polls voter registration

Zimbabwe’s longserving President Robert Mugabe unveiled a new biometric voter registration programme on Thursday ahead of next year’s elections, drawing criticism from opponents who claim the system could be manipulated.

Registration will open nationwide on Monday and continue until January 15 for the polls in which 93-year-old Mugabe will seek to extend his 37-year-long stranglehold on power.

But opposition parties have warned that registration authorities are not ready for the process, creating a risk of errors on the voter roll that could leave the ballot open to rigging.


Mugabe Launches Zimbabwe Biometric Voter Registration Exercise

Zimbabwe on Thursday officially kicked off its election registration process, though no election date has been set.

President Robert Mugabe was among the first to register with the newly acquired Biometric Voter Registration kits or BVR, together with his wife, Grace, and other officials, in full view of the media at his residence.

“On the advice of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, I duly proclaimed today as the first day upon which the biometric voter registration will officially commence.”

This is the first time Zimbabwe is using the BVR kits, provided by a Chinese company Laxton Group Limited. The country is expected to receive a total of 3,000 kits by the end of the year, in preparation for the elections scheduled sometime in 2018.

Voice of America



Africa in General

Kenyan foreign minister calls for UN, WTO reform

Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, has called on the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other international institutions to reform themselves, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported on Friday.

Mohamed told the Athens Democracy Forum in Greece that if these organisations wanted to operate effectively they had to improve their legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness.

She added that these reforms could help reverse the trend in which international solidarity has been overtaken by national interests, creating a recipe for chaos and conflict.

The importance of international institutions to global peace, order and development was highlighted by Mohamed.


War vets vow to rid Zanu-PF of Mugabe’s G40

Zimbabwean war veterans fired from the ruling Zanu-PF party have vowed they will campaign against President Robert Mugabe’s preferred successors as long as they were rooted in the G40 faction angling to succeed the 93-year-old leader.

The Christopher Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association made the declaration on Wednesday at a press conference in the capital, saying the G40 faction was anti-development, hence: “These people are not going to see the light of power in Zimbabwe. We declare (it) here, the war veterans.”

G40 is a faction reportedly fronted by defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, said to have the backing of Zanu-PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, First Lady Grace Mugabe, home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, youth, indigenisation and economic empowerment minister Patrick Zhuwao as well as higher and tertiary education minister Jonathan Moyo.


Lesotho ex-minister slapped with graft charge

Lesotho Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) has slapped former minister of finance ‘Mamphono Khaketla with a corruption charge for the alleged solicitation of M4 million ($302 000) bribe in exchange for a government fleet tender.

According to the anti-corruption body, Khaketla, together with her co-accused, Thabo Napo solicited the bribe from Lebelonyane Fleet Solutions Joint Venture on March 17, 2016.

According to the charge sheet, Khaketla in common purpose with her “friend and/or partner” Napo attempted to solicit a bribe of about M4 million from Lebelonyane in exchange for a government fleet tender, also known as Lesotho fleet-gate which was eventually awarded to South African based Bidvest Bank Limited.

African Independent

Kenya, Ethiopia could overtake Africa’s economic heavy weights in attracting investment

A report released by a global risk consultancy, Control Risks, on Thursday shows that Kenya and Ethiopia might soon outshine Africa’s economic giants, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt in the competition for investment.

The report Africa Risk-Reward Index, developed by Control Risks, was released in Johannesburg.

The report noted that while Nigeria and South Africa have recovered, there are still some risks.

Ethiopia, which is one of the fastest growing countries in the continent, outperformed all African countries in the survey.

African Independent