News Briefs 16 August 2019

Africa in General

Sudan, South Sudan police sign cooperation deal

Sudan and South Sudan police chiefs on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at expanding cooperation between both sides, Anadolu Agency reports.

Director General of Sudan’s Police Gen. Adil Mohamed and his delegation held meetings with the South Sudan team led by Inspector General of Police Gen. Majak Akec Malok in Juba.

Speaking to reporters after the signing, Malok said both sides signed a bilateral agreement after thorough discussions.

He pointed out that plans are underway to reopen border crossings between Sudan and South Sudan.

Middle East Monitor

Mozambique government, rebels seal final peace deal

Mozambique’s government and the ex-rebel group Renamo completed a long-awaited peace pact on Tuesday, inking a final deal aimed at ending years of conflict.

The deal was signed by President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade in Maputo’s Peace Square and witnessed by former presidents and regional and continental leaders.

Thousands of people applauded as the two leaders showed the signed document, an AFP correspondent said.

The pact brought the curtain down on marathon negotiations initiated by Afonso Dhlakama, the historic leader of the Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo), who died in May last year.


Uganda’s Bobi Wine charged with ‘annoying’ president

A Ugandan court on Tuesday charged pop star turned leading opposition figure Bobi Wine with “annoying” President Yoweri Museveni, his lawyer told AFP.

The singer, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, appeared in court on a prior treason charge after he and other opposition politicians allegedly stoned Museveni’s convoy during a campaign rally in August last year.

“He was charged with annoying the president” in relation to the same case, his lawyer Asuman Basalirwa told AFP.


Zimbabwe opposition party Zapu to establish government in exile

Zimbabwe opposition group, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu), intends to establish a government in exile as an alternative to the current Zanu-PF-led government, Pindula News reported on Monday.

Mark Mbayiwa, treasurer-general of the party made the assertions during a rally in Johannesburg last week.

“We are going to form a government in exile and present it to the people of Zimbabwe and the international community as an alternative to the incompetence currently taking place back home,” said Mbayiwa.


Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo rivals forge government pact 7 months after polls

The two rival political camps in DR Congo Friday forged a pact on forming a government, six months after President Felix Tshisekedi took power from veteran ruler Joseph Kabila, officials said.

Tshisekedi was elected in December to replace Kabila who presided over sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country for nearly two decades.

He took power at the end of January but has struggled to form a government as Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition won comfortable majorities in both houses of parliament as well as provincial assemblies.

Kabila’s supporters also dominated elections for governorships across the country.


Rwanda, Congolese health ministers meet over Ebola crisis

Congolese interim health minister Pierre Kangudia on Tuesday arrived in Rwanda for discussions on strategies to prevent Ebola.

Mr Kangudia is expected to hold private talks with Rwanda’s minister of health, Diane Gashumba, at Serena Hotel in Rwanda’s border town of Gisenyi.

An official confirmed that the ministers are expected to discuss how to improve screening at the border, preparedness and how to strengthen health services.

“The ministers will discuss methods on how to co-operate better in managing this Ebola epidemic in Goma and further assess mechanisms to prevent it from spreading into Rwanda,” Zacharie Gahungu, adviser to Ms Gashumba, told The EastAfrican.

Relief Web


Somali and AU Forces Repel an Attack Outside Mogadishu

Somali forces backed by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has foiled al-Shabaab attack on the outskirts of Somali capital Mogadishu.

Heavily armed al-Shabaab on Sunday night attempted to storm a military base manned by Somali forces in Elasha-biyaha locality, prompting brief gunfire between the sides.

According to the sources, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have dispatched reinforcement to the base. After firing several motor shells on a base of Somali National Army (SNA), al-Shabaab reportedly retreated.


Mayor of Mogadishu dies as result of al-Shabaab attack

The mayor of Mogadishu has died after being badly wounded in an al-Shabaab extremist attack in his office last week, the government of Somalia has announced.

Abdirahman Omar Osman was a naturalised Briton who returned to Somalia to help rebuild the war-torn country. He spent 17 years in the UK including a stint as housing manager at Ealing council in west London.

He died on Thursday in Qatar, where he had been airlifted for treatment after the attack on 24 July. Officials said he had been in a coma.

His son, Mohamed Omar, a student at London’s Queen Mary University, said: “Today the people of Mogadishu lose their mayor; but I lost my father. May Allah grant him the highest rank of paradise.”

The Guardian

Central African Republic

Integrated Armed Group Leader Increases Civilian Deaths in Central African Republic

Was the African Union-mediated Peace accord signed in February 2018 after a lengthy 18 months talk between 14 armed groups and the central governments to prevent civilian attacks a regrettable step or a commendable action? This remains questionable as one of the three armed-group leaders given a key government position seems to abuse his power.

Since 2002, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been experiencing deadly internal conflicts causing over 1.1 million in a country of five million to either become internally displaced or become refugees in neighbouring countries, mostly in Cameroon. The major causes of the conflict have been related to religious identities, ethnic differences and historical antagonism between the Muslim Séléka rebel fighters and the Christian Anti-balaka militias.

Based on Human Rights Watch’s recent HR findings, Abass, nicknamed as Bi Sidi Souleymane, leader of the 3R armed group, Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation, might still be a threat to the civilian population in CAR. The now General Sidiki Abass, appointed by presidential decree as the military adviser to the prime minister on special mixed units in the northwest zone killed at least 46 civilians on May 21, 2019 in the Ouham Pendé province.



Hemetti regrets bloody attack on Sudan’s pro-democracy sit-in

Two months after the brutal attack on the pro-democracy sit-in Khartoum, the Deputy Chairman of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) Mohamed Hamdan Hemetti, wished they did not decide to clean the area of Colombia, which was a pretext to the implementation of a plan to break the protest site and kill over a hundred protesters on 3 June.

The TMC has always denied ordering the attack on the main site protest site outside the army headquarters in Khartoum. They stress they decided to break up an area nearby the sit-in called Colombia infested by drug dealers after consulting the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice.

Addressing a graduation ceremony of the “Rapid Support Forces” officers at Khartoum’s Intelligence Institute on Monday, Hemetti confessed that there was someone who planned to break up the sit-in and should be identified.

“We would not have decided to clean up the Colombia area, and if we knew it would be a gateway to a plan to be implemented. We would not have approached it and kept it despite its drug and other inconveniences,” he said.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan Deal Defuses Threat Of ‘Slide into Chaos’

A hard-won deal between Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders has averted a slide into chaos or even civil war but many questions remain about its implementation, analysts say.

Under the accord, signed Sunday after mediation by the African Union and Ethiopia, a civilian-majority sovereign council will lead Sudan through a transitional period of three years.

“The agreement is not the most ideal but it is better than no deal at all,” said Khaled al-Tijani, a Sudanese analyst and editor-in-chief of the Elaf newspaper.

“Sudan could have slid into chaos or maybe a civil war which makes this deal balanced and rational.”


South Sudan

28,000 people facing starvation in South Sudan: minister

An estimated 28,000 people are facing serious starvation in South Sudan’s Aweil State, a minister said Monday.

According to state minister for agriculture, John Amar Akook, the majority of those at risk of starvation are within the rural areas.

Akook, Juba Monitor reported, said the food gap has contributed to looming poverty and hunger in rural areas after seasonal rains caused flooding, adding that people living in lowlands are most affected and unable to cultivate their farms due to floods.

Some 275,000, a recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification assessment report indicated, have been facing food crisis between May and July in the same area.

Sudan Tribune

Somewhat peaceful South Sudan expecting FDI of $1bn this year

Ten months of relative peace in South Sudan has triggered a rush of investment, raising inflows four-fold this fiscal year to an expected $1bn.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) for the nation that’s been in the throes of civil war was about $250m in 2016/2017, according to South Sudan Investment Authority’s secretary-general, Abraham Maliet Mamer. Statistics for 2017/2018 are still being compiled.

“I am optimistic in 2019/2020 we will go beyond $1bn if this peace prevails,” Mamer said in an interview in the capital, Juba, on Friday.

About 400 investors from Africa, Asia and Europe are looking at the country’s oil, mineral and agriculture industries, Mamer said. SA plans to invest $1bn partly for oil exploration, and MTN will spend $30m on its telecommunications network in the country, Mamer said. Investors from Dubai and Egypt have also expressed interest, he said.

Business Day

Western Sahara

Morocco/Western Sahara: Investigate brutal crackdown on Sahrawi protesters

The Moroccan authorities must impartially and effectively investigate the use of excessive force by the security forces against Sahrawi protesters in Laayoune who were celebrating Algeria’s football victory in the Africa Cup of Nations on 19 July, said Amnesty International today.

The organization has verified video footage and gathered witness testimony indicating that security forces, who were heavily present on the streets and in cafés during the football match, used excessive force, throwing rocks to disperse the crowds of demonstrators and sparking clashes. According to two eyewitnesses, Sabah Njourni a 24-year-old woman, was killed after she was mowed down by two Moroccan auxiliary force cars

“There is clear evidence to suggest that the Moroccan security forces’ initial response to the Sahrawi protests, which began peacefully, was excessive, and provoked violent clashes which could and should have been avoided. The authorities must impartially and effectively investigate the attacks on protesters and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible in fair trials,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International

Aminatou Haidar, the ‘Gandhi of Western Sahara’

Aminatou Haidar, Sahrawi human rights defense icon was paid a glowing tribute by an American newspaper, labeling her the “Gandhi of Western Sahara” in a long portrait of her career and fight for peace.

In its Saturday issue, the newspaper “OZY” dedicated a long article to Aminatou Haidar, president of the Association of Human Rights of Sahrawis (CODESA).

“Late one night in 1987, Moroccan policemen arrived at a house in the occupied city of Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara, and demanded to speak to Aminatou Haidar. It would only take 10 minutes, they told her panic-stricken family; but those minutes stretched into days, weeks, months and then years,” wrote journalist Ruairi Casey.

“The 20-year-old was disappeared without trial to a secret facility not far from her home, where guards tortured her, subjecting her to starvation and threats of rape — the price for painting graffiti and circulating leaflets calling for a free Western Sahara.”



Swaziland Industrial Court Paves Way for Public Servants to Strike Legally

The Industrial Court in Swaziland has ruled that public service workers must make a new application before they can legally strike.

Unions have been in dispute with government over cost of living salary rises. A planned strike in January 2019 was halted because the Government of absolute monarch King Mswati III said it was political and threatened the national interest.

In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections and groups advocating for democracy are outlawed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Four public service unions calling themselves the Public Services Associations (PSA) had joined forces to strike. They were the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA) and the Swaziland Government Accountants Personnel (SNAGAP).


Six Children Die as Diarrhoea Once Again Strikes Swaziland

Six children died from diarrhoea in four days in Swaziland / eSwatini and about another 1,000 others have been treated for the infection caused by the rota virus, a senior official said on Monday.

Deaths from this preventable disease occur in the kingdom every year. But the government, ruled by King Mswati III as the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, is broke and continually fails to tackle to problem.

The latest round of deaths was announced by Director of Health Services Vusi Magagula on Monday (5 August 2019), the APA news agency reported.

‘These fatal cases are a result of delayed treatment,’ he said. The deaths occurred at two health centers in the south of the kingdom.



UN launches new Zimbabwe appeal as millions face food crisis

The UN food agency on Tuesday launched a $331-million appeal for aid donations to feed millions of people in crisis-hit Zimbabwe, which is reeling from a drought and the high cost of food.

Around five million people, or a third of the 16 million Zimbabweans, are in need of aid and at least half of them are on the cusp of “starvation”, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

Speaking at the launch of the appeal, WFP executive director David Beasley said 2.5 million Zimbabweans were “in crisis emergency mode… marching towards starvation”.

He added that by early next year 5.5 million in all, will be in a similar position.


Zimbabwe’s main opposition plans protest over economic crisis

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party said it will hold a protest next week over dire economic conditions in the country.

The demonstration will be held in the capital, Harare, on August 16, Movement for Democratic Change National Organising Secretary Amos Chibaya said in an application filed to the police August 5.

The party listed 12 reasons it said protest action is necessary, including state corruption and shortages of power and fuel.

Zimbabwe has recently suffered load shedding – where there are power cuts of up to 18 hours and shortages of everything from bread to motor fuel.