News Briefs 16 November 2018

Africa in General

Zimbabwe must be supported, Ramaphosa tells EU hosts

Zimbabwe was on the agenda in talks President Cyril Ramaphosa had with European Union (EU) leaders on Thursday.

During a media briefing, Ramaphosa said he discussed the importance of Zimbabwe and the lifting of any sanctions still in place against that country.

“Zimbabwe is on a path of great reforms. This needs to be supported, as Zimbabwe has turned a corner,” Ramaphosa said during the briefing.

He further noted that accelerating investment, focusing on climate change and women’s rights all formed part of global matters he discussed with his EU hosts.

“The EU is SA’s largest trading partner. Exploring opportunities for further investment and the investment climate, especially in SA, is of great importance,” said Ramaphosa.


UN lifts sanctions on Eritrea, keeps arms embargo on Somalia

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to lift sanctions against Eritrea following its thaw in relations with Ethiopia and other neighbouring countries – but it kept an arms embargo on Somalia and a ban on trade in charcoal, a key source of funds for al-Shabaab militants.

The resolution approved by the UN’s most powerful body commended “efforts toward peace, stability and reconciliation in the region” sparked by Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in April and accepted an international commission’s border decision that favoured Eritrea.

Ethiopia is the regional power and actions by the country’s leader set off several diplomatic thaws, including one between Eritrea and Somalia. Leaders of Djibouti and Eritrea, which also had a turbulent relationship after multiple border clashes, met with the help of Ethiopia, though there has been no breakthrough.


Somalia lauds lifting of UN sanctions on Eritrea

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on Thursday welcomed the UN Security Council’s decision to lift the arms embargo and targeted sanctions imposed on Eritrea nearly nine years ago.

Farmajo, who thanked the council for its decision to lift the sanctions, said the move came because of the unity efforts spearheaded by regional countries.

“We welcome the arms and other targeted embargoes on Eritrea been lifted with our collective request. Thanks to the UN Security Council for this helpful and timely intervention,” said Farmajo said in a statement.

The Somali president said the Horn of Africa region is swiftly progressing towards partnership and economic cooperation.

His remarks came after the UN Security Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to lift arms embargoes, travel bans, asset freezes and targeted sanctions against Eritrea following its good relations with Ethiopia and other neighboring countries.


Democratic Republic of Congo

Seven peacekeepers killed, 10 wounded in DRC fighting: UN

Seven peacekeepers were killed and 10 others were wounded during a joint military operation with troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo against rebels in the east of the country, a UN spokesperson said on Thursday.

Another UN peacekeeper is missing from the fighting near the city of Beni in North Kivu, said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the killing in a statement and called on armed groups to disarm immediately.

Six peacekeepers from Malawi and one from Tanzania were killed during the operation on Wednesday against rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group blamed for a series of attacks.


DRC candidate pleads for opposition unity after bust-up

A Democratic Republic of Congo legislator chosen by opposition leaders to be their champion in next month’s presidential election pleaded for unity on Tuesday after their historic deal was shot down by party activists.

Martin Fayulu, a little-known MP unexpectedly selected as unity candidate in talks in Geneva, insisted the accord was not dead, and urged dissenting leaders to return to it.

“The agreement is still alive,” Fayulu said on the television channel TV5Monde after two other party leaders backed away from the accord just a day after signing it.

“I urge my brothers to overcome partisan considerations and to give priority to the nation’s higher interests,” he said later in a tweet. “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”



Somalia hosts its first National Economic Policy Forum

Somalia has hosted its first high level National Economic Policy Forum this week in Mogadishu, which saw participants discuss a national investment strategy, financial governance, tackling corruption and how to enhance regional economic cooperation with other East African countries.

The day-long forum was hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia, Mr. Mahdi Mohamed Guled, as well as the Executive Director of a newly established National Economic Council (NEC) for Somalia, Dr. Ali Issa Abdi, and facilitated by the Ministry of Planning. It was attended by Federal and Members State Government representatives, UN officials, and private sector, academia and civil society members. The Federal Minister of Finance, Dr. Abdirahman Dualeh Beileh, and the Federal Minister of Planning, Mr. Gamal Hassan, also attended the event. The forum was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In his key remarks at the opening session, Deputy Prime Minister Guled said the Federal Government had made tangible progress on public financial management reforms and in increasing domestic revenue to deliver services to the Somali people, adding: “The government is committed to enacting policies and developing strategies to revive the economy, and the National Economic Council, and this Forum, plays a key role in these efforts,” he said.

Relief Web

Toll rises to 53 dead from bomb blasts in Somalia’s capital

Somali hospital and police sources say the death toll from Friday’s bombings outside a hotel in Mogadishu has risen to 53 with over 100 injured.

Captain Mohamed Hussein, a senior Somali police officer, said many of the injured suffered horrific wounds, raising fears that death toll could rise further. The figure given by Hussein is consistent with submissions from hospitals.

Ahmed Yusuf, a nurse at Madina hospital, said that Mogadishu’s hospitals are coping to treat the influx of wounded victims who continued to come in Saturday.

Four car bombs by Islamic extremists exploded outside a hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, on Friday afternoon. After the three explosions in front of the hotel, a fourth blast hit as medics attempted to rescue the injured.


Central African Republic

France, Russia, US wrangle at UN over CAR

France, Russia and the United States were locked in negotiations on Wednesday to overcome differences over peace efforts in the Central African Republic ahead of a deadline for renewing the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission there.

The Security Council must vote on prolonging the 12 000-strong MINUSCA mission in the Central African Republic by midnight on Thursday, when the mission’s mandate expires.

Russia and the United States have raised objections to a French-drafted text presented last week that would see UN peacekeepers offer support to newly-trained national troops as they deploy across the country.

The draft resolution, seen by AFP, also takes aim at recent Russian efforts to broker peace deals in CAR by specifying that an African-led initiative is “the only framework” for a solution.


Sudanese president slams plots to cripple peace efforts for Central African Republic

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday blasted plots to cripple his country’s efforts to achieve peace in Central African Republic (CAR).

“Many envy Sudan over its endeavors to achieve peace in the region and tend to cripple its efforts to achieve it in the CAR,” said al-Bashir during his address to the conference of the Islamic Movement in Khartoum.

“All the conflicting parties in the CAR are convinced that Sudan can achieve peace in their country,” especially after it has succeeded in doing so in South Sudan, he added.

Sudan has become a refuge for those who seek peace and safety, the Sudanese president noted.

In August, Khartoum hosted a session of talks between the CAR’s Seleka armed opposition and the Anti-Balaka militia group under a Russian initiative and the patronage of al-Bashir.



Sudan issues arrest warrant against opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi

Sudan’s state security prosecutor on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Sadiq al-Mahdi and others, as he plans to return to the country on 19 November.

Al-Mahdi who left Khartoum in February 2018 was residing in Cairo until the first of July when the Egyptian authorities declared him persona non grata and prevented him from entering into the country. He is now living in the British capital London.

A short notice extended by the security service to media outlets in Khartoum on Thursday announced that the State Security Prosecution issued on Thursday an arrest warrants for “Sadiq al-Mahdi and others”, citing several articles of the Criminal Code related to subversive activities to undermine the constitutional order, incitement against the state, publishing false news.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan: Exiled Activist Surfaces in Detention

Sudanese authorities have confirmed that they are holding a vocal critic of the government who was forcibly disappeared in Egypt in October, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today. Sudan’s national security authorities refused to provide information for weeks about the detention of the activist, Mohamed Boshi, but announced charges against him on November 8.

“Egyptian and Sudanese authorities cooperated in forcibly disappearing and returning an asylum-seeker to Sudan, in clear violation of international norms and the prohibitions on enforced disappearances, persecution, and torture,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Having unlawfully detained him for weeks, Sudan has now charged him with serious crimes that carry the death penalty. They should drop the charges and release him immediately.”


Boshi, 35, was reported missing in Cairo on October 10, after five armed men believed to be Egyptian security agents arrived at his apartment building and searched his apartment, witnesses in Cairo told Human Rights Watch. News of Boshi’s disappearance surfaced on social media the next day, amid activists’ fears that Egyptian authorities had returned him to Sudan. Boshi’s family members in Sudan told Human Rights Watch that Sudanese security officials contacted them on October 13 to say he was in their custody but would not say where.

Human Rights Watch

South Sudan

UN report finds violations of South Sudan arms embargo

A UN panel of experts has found violations of the arms embargo imposed on South Sudan, reporting to the Security Council that there are “alarming levels” of sexual violence, hunger and human rights abuses in the war-scarred country.

The panel’s 29-page report seen by AFP on Monday was the first to be released since the arms embargo was narrowly adopted by the Security Council in July, under strong pressure from the United States.

The panel said it was too early to assess the full impact of the embargo, which seeks to cut off the flow of weapons after nearly five years of brutal war in South Sudan.

The report said “a number of violations have been noted by the panel”, which is also investigating foreign private security firms providing training in Juba to the national police and the army.


South Sudan Says Inflation Slowing as War-Torn Economy Improves

Inflation in South Sudan slowed to 49 percent in September, after soaring to eight times that in the previous two years, as increased oil output boosts the war-torn nation’s economy, the central bank governor said.

“The resumption of oil production in Bentiu and the current upward movement of prices of oil has made our foreign reserves much better than a year or two ago,” Dier Tong Ngor told reporters Thursday in the capital, Juba, referring to crude facilities in the country’s north.

A civil war in Africa’s youngest nation has claimed tens of thousands of lives since it erupted in December 2013, with temporary declines in oil production and crude prices fuelling economic chaos. South Sudan’s national statistics bureau stopped publishing inflation data after July 2017, when the figure was about 155 percent, down from 362 percent the month before.

he central bank now “has the capacity to meet market needs for foreign exchange for the importation of fuel and food items,” Ngor said. The inflation figure he gave covers prices in Juba and Wau, a north western city.



Western Sahara

Minister of African Affairs Received At Ugandan Foreign Ministry

A delegation led by the Minister Delegate in Charge of African Affairs, Hamdi Alkhalil Mayara, was received at the Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Ugandan Minister of State for International Relations Henry Oryem Okello, who stressed the strength of his country’s relations with Sahrawi Republic and its support for the Sahrawi people’s just struggle.

The Sahrawi minister conveyed salutation of the President of the Republic, Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and expressed his satisfaction with the level of relations and cooperation between the two countries.

For his part, the Ugandan minister welcomed the visit of the Saharawi delegation and conveyed the greetings of President Museveni to his Saharawi counterpart and through him to the people and the government of the Sahrawi Republic. He also reiterated the continuation of his country’s support for the completion of the decolonization of Western Sahara and the development of bilateral relations and coordination of their positions within the African Union.


Polisario Front willing to cooperate with UN for Western Sahara decolonization

The Polisario Front on Friday reaffirmed its willingness to cooperate with the United Nations for the decolonization of Western Sahara, and called the Security Council to bring the Kingdom of Morocco back to unconditioned negotiations.

The Polisario Front made this statement at the meeting of the Permanent Bureau of the national secretariat of the front, chaired by Sahrawi President Brahim Ghali.

The meeting focused on the Security Council resolution 2440 (2018) on a sixth-month extension (31 April 2019) of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the resumption of negotiations under the UN aegis to find a just, sustainable and mutually acceptable solution based on the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination.

In this connection, the Polisario Front reiterated the position of the Sahrawi party in favour of cooperation with the efforts made by the UN Secretary General and its personal envoy to complete the decolonization process of Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa.

Sahara Press Service


Zimbabwean generals deny troops shot and killed 6 protesters

Zimbabweans have reacted with stunned disbelief to the testimony by two generals who denied troops killed six people in August when the military was called in to crush protests following the country’s disputed elections.

The generals suggested that Zimbabwe’s opposition was responsible for the killings.


Zimbabweans and opposition leaders on Tuesday expressed outrage at the denials and the lack of a serious investigation by police into the killings.

On August 1, armed soldiers were deployed in the capital, Harare, to suppress a protest against delays in announcing results of the country’s first elections without former ruler Robert Mugabe.

Gunfire erupted and six people died. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa set up a commission of inquiry, headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, to probe the killings.


Zimbabwe Police Chief Says Mnangagwa Deployed Army Linked to Killing of Six Civilians

Zimbabwe’s police chief Godwin Matanga says President Emmerson Mnangagwa deployed the country’s national army to maintain law and order in Harare on August 1st this year during protests staged by suspected opposition supporters, demanding the release of presidential election results of the July 30 poll.

Police Commissioner Matanga said this when he testified before the Kgalema Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry into the killing of about six people by the army, which opened fire on civilians, mostly minding their own business in the city’s central business district.

But the Zimbabwe National Army denies that it killed the people despite video evidence showing some soldiers firing at civilians.

He said Mnangagwa deployed the army following a request by the police that had inadequate manpower as some of them were in various parts of the country monitoring the election process.

Voice of America