Democratic Republic of Congo
Ethnic strife in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed dozens of lives in recent days, according to officials.
Local civil society leader Jean Bosco Lalu told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that at least 40 people had been killed in ethnic violence between Hema herders and Lendu farmers in Ituri province in the last 48 hours.
A government official said they had recorded 30 deaths, AFP news agency said.
“There are certainly other bodies out in the bush. A search is under way,” a government official told AFP.
Exiled Congolese opposition leader Moise Katumbi launched a campaign Monday to be elected president in polls scheduled for December, unveiling his new “Together for Change” party in South Africa.
“We will fight the battle to take power – and we will win,” said Katumbi at a meeting of several hundred supporters at a hotel outside Johannesburg.
“This fight and the successful transfer of power are national issues… so we have decided to establish a political movement known as ‘Together for Change’.”
Democratic Republic of Congo’s election was originally scheduled for late 2016, but has been twice delayed, leading to unrest in the vast mineral-rich country.
The Gambia and Somalia were up for praise during a recent address to the Human Rights Council delivered by the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zei Ra’ad Al Hussein.
In his March 7, 2018 address, Hussein bemoaned how over a dozen Africa countries were flagrantly violating rights of citizens – be it the media, opposition groups, activists etc.
He however reserved praise for The Gambia in the wake of a freeze on death penalty and Somalia for government’s efforts to protect rights of citizens.
“I commend The Gambia for its announcement of a moratorium on the death penalty last month.
Somalia’s lower house of parliament on Monday backed the federal government’s rejection of the Berbera port deal entered into by semi-autonomous Somaliland, Ethiopia and DP World.
A Voice of America journalist, Harun Maruf, reported that the lower house had voted to reject the deal through a landslide with 168 of the 170 lawmakers nullifying all agreements between the United Arab Emirates-based company and Somaliland.
DP World have reached agreements with Somaliland over the Berbera and Bosaso ports but with the Monday vote – both deals are “null and void.” If the Upper House reaches a similar decision the President will sign it into law.
Central African Republic
Militia fighters attacked, kidnapped and then raped en masse a large group of women in an isolated area of Central African Republic last month, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Thursday.
The medical charity treated 10 survivors of the Feb. 17 violence near Kiriwiri, a village in the country’s northwest. Fearing further attacks if they tried to reach a hospital, the women were unable to seek medical treatment until about two weeks later, it said.
Many other victims remained behind, fearing that, as rape victims, they would be stigmatised in their community.
“Some were totally in shock, others paralysed by fear or unable to talk about the incident. Some of the women had open wounds caused by blades,” said Soulemane Amoin, a midwife at the hospital in the town of Bossangoa where the women were treated.
A Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic accused U.N. peacekeeping troops of sexual abuse in his diocese and warned they could be guilty of crimes against humanity.
“Women are selling their bodies to the Blue Helmets out of desperation,” said Bishop Juan Aguirre Munoz of Bangassou.
“Many are doing this to avoid dying of hunger, and some of the abused are minors. When I asked their mothers what happened, they sank their heads.”
The bishop spoke while staying in his native Spain on U.N. advice after his diocesan vicar general narrowly survived a machete attack.
In an interview with Madrid’s Alfa y Omega Catholic weekly, he said up to 2,000 Muslims had been sheltering in the seminary adjoining Bangassou’s Catholic cathedral, protected by peacekeepers, since a wave of anti-Muslim violence in May 2017 left dozens dead.
National Catholic Reporter
The United Arab Emirates has offered $1.4 billion to Sudan’s central bank to help Khartoum tackle an acute foreign exchange crisis, the official Sudanese news agency reported Tuesday.
The Sudanese pound has weakened against the dollar in recent months on the black market amid a shortage of hard foreign currency, in turn forcing the central bank to devalue the pound this year.
“President Omar al-Bashir has been informed by the UAE that it is giving Sudan 4 billion dirhams… as a central bank deposit to help support the country’s foreign currency reserves,” the official SUNA news agency reported.
The report did not provide further details on the aid.
Following a meeting between Egyptian and Sudanese intelligence, Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has directed the country’s newspapers to stop their hostile media campaign against Egypt, the Sudan Tribune reported.
The NISS media department circulated a memo directing newspaper editors to avoid raising controversial issues affecting the relationship between the two countries.
Egyptian-Sudanese relations have been strained over various issues including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the dispute on the border area of Halayeb, and mutual recriminations of supporting terrorism by the other side.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) must boost efforts to protect civilians against the senseless violence that has plagued the country for over four years and publicly report on the human rights situation, Amnesty International said.
The UN mission in South Sudan plays a crucial role in providing much-needed civilian protection, and timely public reporting on the human rights situation in the country.
“With the continuing conflict and associated human rights violations in South Sudan, the possibility of civilians returning to their homes or being resettled remains remote. The Protection of Civilians (POC) sites are truly life-saving for hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of protection,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
South Sudan has run out of cash and the economy will not be fixed unless the ongoing civil war is brought to a halt.
President Salva Kiir openly admitted as much on Wednesday and acknowledged that peace and stability had to return to the country in order for investors and other money-generating activities to resume.
The South Sudanese leader attributed the cause of being a cash-strapped nation to the war sparked by the power struggle which has ended in a more than four-year conflict with no resolution in sight despite global and regional efforts to salvage the situation, the Sudan Tribune reported.
Kiir made his comments during the swearing-in process of new finance minister following the sacking of predecessor Stephen Dhieu Dau earlier in the week.
he President of the Republic, Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO, Mr. Brahim Gali, called on the United Nations to stop the organization of the so-called Crans Montana Forum in occupied Dakhla, calling this act a provocation that would undermine the efforts of the United Nations led by it Personal Envoy President Horst Koehler in his letter to His Excellency ,Secretary General of the United Nation, Mr. Antonio Guterres
“I am writing to draw the attention of your Excellency to the Moroccan state’s insistence to organize, yet again, another so-called Forum of Crans Montana, from the 15th to the 20th of March, in the occupied city of Dakhla, Western Sahara.” Gali says in his letter to UNSG
President Brahim Gali also went on saying that “The Frente Polisario strongly condemns this new provocative act and calls for your urgent intervention to convince Morocco stop this provocation that undermines the efforts of the United Nations led by your Personal Envoy, President Horst Kohler.”
Sahara Press Service
US Western Sahara Foundation welcomed Friday the European Court of Justice’s ruling on the European Union’s fishing agreement with Morocco, stating that it does not apply to Western Sahara and reaffirming Saharawi people’s inalienable right to self-determination.
“US Western Sahara Foundation welcomes European Court of Justice’s recent ruling on the EU-Morocco’s fishing agreement,” the foundation’s chairwoman Suzanne Scholte said, adding that “Once again, we see courts reaffirming the October 16, 1975 ruling by the International Court of Justice which denies Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.”
Scholte said the United States does not recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara, noting that the occupied Saharawi territories are excluded from US-Moroccan free trade agreement signed in 2004.
Sahara Press Service
Democracy advocates in Swaziland should put forward policies that would attract people to support political parties, the US Ambassador to the kingdom said.
Explaining why political parties were needed was not enough, Lisa Peterson told a meeting on multiparty democracy, good governance and human rights at the Happy Valley Hotel, Ezulwini, on Saturday (10 March 2018).
Peterson said a poll conducted in 2015 by Afrobarometer had suggested about 36 percent of those questioned supported political parties in Swaziland.
King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the Prime Minister and senior ministers. Advocates for democracy continue to be arrested under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Members of parliament have blocked funding to state-controlled radio in Swaziland because they say they are not being allowed on air.
One said the stations under the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS) were being used for ‘character assassination’.
Nkwene MP Sikhumbuzo Dlamini told the House of Assembly SBIS had been used to assassinate his character as a member of parliament.
The Swazi Observer newspaper, which is itself in effect owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported on Tuesday (13 March 2018), ‘He said the national radio station was used to tell people how he was evil and disrespectful. The message was sent to the people in a way to de-campaign him. He strongly blamed the editors at SBIS for disseminating news meant to humiliate him.’
Dozens of Zimbabweans protested Friday as Harare-based Western diplomats called on the new government to investigate the abduction three years ago of a rights activist and firebrand critic of ex-ruler Robert Mugabe.
Itai Dzamara, who was also a journalist, was kidnapped by five men as he left a barbershop near his home in Harare in 2015. He has not been seen since then.
In a statement, European Union and top US diplomats encouraged “the new administration to ensure that human rights violations are tackled decisively and transparently, to shed light on Mr Dzamara’s fate and to serve justice”.
“His disappearance remains a dark shadow on the new horizon for Zimbabwe,” they said on the anniversary of Dzamara’s abduction
He had led anti-government protests in a public park in the capital, overlooking parliament, vowing to not stop until Mugabe stepped down.
A retired Zimbabwean general and acolyte of ex-president Robert Mugabe has formed a political party to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the polls later this year, the new grouping said on Monday.
Mugabe, 94, was forced to step down last November following a de facto military coup. Sources close to the former leader say he is bitter over his departure after 37 years in office and has given his support to the New Patriotic Front (NFP) party.
Ambrose Mutinhiri, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war, quit the ruling ZANU-PF party and gave up his parliamentary seat last Friday, then met Mugabe on Sunday to brief him about the latest developments, an NPF statement said.
Africa in General
Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir in the capital, Juba, on Monday to encourage an end to the country’s civil war and to give assistance in health and education.
South Sudan is well into its fifth year of fighting and the conflict, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, shows no signs of ending.
“Egypt has been a steadfast supporter of the people of South Sudan in their darkest of hours,” said Mayiik Ayii Deng, South Sudanese Cabinet minister in the president’s office.
Ethiopia recently signed an agreement with Russia to set up nuclear technology to help power the Horn of Africa country.
The agreement was signed last week during the visit of the Russian foreign affairs minister, Sergey Lavrov who met Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu in Addis Ababa.
“We agreed to strengthen economic, trade and investment relations between the two countries. We have also discussed ways to cooperate on various sectors, including in setting up nuclear technology centre, education, science, and technology,” said Workneh.
He was quick to indicate that the nuclear development program which will be launched after the conclusion of the agreement will be used for “peaceful purpose”, reports local media FANA Broadcasting Corporation.
Russia is deepening its military cooperation with the Central African Republic, donating small arms to the country’s military and holding diplomatic talks with its leader as it seeks to strengthen its influence on the continent.
The Central African Republic (CAR) has been struggling with serious turmoil, civil war and brutal regime shifts in the past decade. Following conflict between government forces and the Seleka rebel coalition in 2012-2013, an arms embargo was implemented by the UN in December 2013.
Elections held in March 2016 established a new constitution and brought President Faustin Archange Touadéra to power. He made reconciliation, disarmament and demobilization of non-governmental armed forces his priorities. But these groups remain active, causing much violence across the country and making the redeployment of governmental authority a very difficult task.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been insincere in its commitment to holding a free, fair and credible elections, MDC-T president Nelson Chamisa, told Sadc envoys Tuesday.
The seven-member Sadc Electoral Advisory Council, chaired by Advocate Leshele Thoahlane, is currently on a week-long fact finding mission in Zimbabwe which is preparing for crucial polls between July and August this year.
Chamisa headed a mine member delegation that included secretary general Douglas Mwonzora, vice president Elias Mudzuri and youth assembly leader Happymore Chidziva among others.