News Briefs 18 September 2020


Somalia’s president appoints new prime minister

Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo appointed Mohamed Hussein Roble as the country’s new prime minister early Friday, hours after regional leaders agreed on a revised model for presidential and parliamentary elections. 

The Somali presidency made the announcement on Twitter.

The president wishes him to perform his duties effectively and efficiently, it added in the statement.

Roble is a humanitarian worker and newcomer to Somalia’s political landscape.

He will replace former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, who was voted out of office by parliament in July.

Anadolu Agency 18 September 2020

Farmaajo, Somalia federal state leaders reach polls deal

Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmaajo and five federal state leaders have reached a deal which effectively retains the clan-based system of delegate voting in the upcoming elections.

The new deal, which was reached after a five-day meeting in Mogadishu, revises the one reached last month between Farmaajo and three of the five states which chose to have 303 delegates voting for each of the 275 MPs of the Lower House.

The new arrangement, which must be endorsed by parliament, means Somalia’s next elections will see 101 delegates voting to choose each of the 275 MPs who in turn will elect the federal president.

The new arrangement, endorsed by federal state presidents of Jubaland, Hirshabelle, Puntland, South West and Galmudug, also means that Somalia has shelved earlier plans to have universal suffrage for the first time in 50 years.

The Nation 17 September 2020


Zimbabwe War Veterans Oppose White Farmer Compensation

A group of Zimbabwean liberation war veterans has filed a legal challenge against the government’s plans to compensate former white farmers whose properties were seized during controversial land reforms two decades ago.

Zimbabwe’s late ex-president Robert Mugabe launched land reforms in 2000, grabbing white-owned farms to reverse a historical land ownership imbalance that favoured the white minority population.

More than 4,000 of Zimbabwe’s 4,500 white commercial farmers were evicted from their properties, which were given to black tenants.

Zimbabwe’s current President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed a $3.5 billion (three billion euros) agreement with white farmers in July this year as compensation for their losses.

Under the deal, they won’t be compensated for the lost land, but for the infrastructure and developments they made on their former farms

EWN 17 September 2020

Zimbabwean police arrest ailing politician in hospital

Zimbabwean police on Tuesday arrested a hospitalised Member of Parliament of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance party after she failed to attend court to answer to charges that she and two others had published falsehoods concerning their alleged abduction and torture this year.

The arrest of Harare West MP Joanna Mamombe came shortly after a Harare magistrate issued an arrest warrant after her lawyers had told the court that their client was receiving treatment for psychiatric problems.

The prosecution says Mamombe, with two other activists from her party, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, lied when they said they had been abducted and subsequently tortured by state agents after a demonstration in Harare’s Warren Park suburb in May.

Daily Maverick 16 September 2020

Zim takes sanctions fight to UN

Zimbabwe will next week use the opening of the 75th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), that will be held virtually because of Covid-19, to reiterate its call for the unconditional removal of illegal and unilateral sanctions imposed against it and other states.

The opening session will be held in virtual format from September 22 to 26. Global leaders will not meet in New York as had become a yearly tradition. President Mnangagwa will participate in the meetings via pre-recorded statements.

Illegal sanctions and other coercive measures imposed on Zimbabwe by the West 20 years ago have damaged the economy and slowed down development.

Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme of 2000 led the United States to impose illegal and unjustified sanctions under its Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) of 2001 along with an Executive Order 13288 of March 2003 that has been renewed yearly.

The Herald 18 September 2020


Eswatini Govt Says New Cybercrime Bill Won’t Limit Press Freedom

eSwatini government leaders on Thursday said that there was no reason for the media to be concerned over a new bill that dealt with cybercrimes and which criminalised what it said was “fake news that is damaging to the country”.

The bill is expected to be tabled in parliament soon.

Child pornography, identity theft, cyber terrorism, and stalking will all explicitly be criminalised once the Computer Crime and Cybercrime bill is passed by eSwatini’s lawmakers.

But the bill also seeks to outlaw posting fake news that is damaging to the country’s image, which could see online news sites targeted and even Facebook users.

eSwatini’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo, said that the Kingdom was just catching up with the rest of the world because up to now the country never had laws governing cybersecurity and data protection.

EWN 04 September 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo

IMF urges DR Congo to make transparent all mining contracts

The Democratic Republic of Congo was warned by the International Monetary Fund to make its mining contracts fully transparent if it wanted to gain access any new aid programme.

The comments were made by the IMF’s representative in Kinshasa Philippe Egoume as a years-long disagreement over the mineral-rich country’s mining industry continues.

“We have a disagreement with the authorities, who prefer to publish recent contracts but not the old ones,” Egoume said.

The DR Congo’s mining industry, which is beset by corruption, is managed by Gécamines, the state-owned miner.

The IMF has previously suspended its programme with the DR Congo due to what it said was a lack of transparency in Gécamines’ contracts.

CGTN Africa 15 September 2020

70 armed groups agree to end hostilities in DR Congo

About 70 armed groups active in South Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have pledged to end hostilities in areas under their control, local media reported on Thursday.

The announcement came on Wednesday at the end of a two-day dialogue held in Muresa, near the city of Bukavu, under the auspices of the Interprovincial Commission to Support the Awareness, Disarmament, Demobilization, and Community Reintegration Process (CIAP-DDRC).

The CIAP-DRRC is an initiative of the Congolese government for the stabilization of the conflict-torn North Kivu and South Kivu provinces.

It was formed after the visit of President Felix Tshisekedi to Bukavu in October 2019.

The disarmament initiative is also backed by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Anadolu Agency 17 September 2020

Central African Republic

Central African Republic Bishops Denounce ‘Warlords’ Ahead of Election

The bishops of Central African Republic denounced the armed groups fighting in the country in an open letter published Sunday, ahead of December’s presidential elections.

“The warlords are profiting from the political agreement for peace and reconciliation in Central African Republic,” they wrote, referring to a February 2019 agreement.

The rebel leaders were enjoying full freedom of movement and impunity despite the fact that they were continuing their operations on the ground, they added.

The February 2019 peace accord between the government and 14 rebel groups has failed to bring security back to most of the country.

The country is still prey to the activities of rebel groups since a coalition of armed groups overthrew president Francois Bozize’s regime in 2013.

EWN 07 September 2020

Rebels abduct 2 policemen in Central African Republic

A notorious rebel group has abducted two police officers in the Central African Republic, local media reported.

The abduction occurred in the wee hours of Monday at the Ngaoundaye police station in the town of Bang, northwestern part of the country that is close to Chad-Cameroon border

Local authorities said they do not know the reasons for kidnapping.

However, according to a local security source, the 3R (Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation) would have acted in retaliation to the arrest of three members of the group during a counter operation carried out jointly by the country’s army and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), said news website Corbeaunews-Centrafrique.

In July, the UN mission said an attack that killed a Rwandan UN peacekeeper was carried out by the 3R insurgent group.

Anadolu Agency 07 September 2020


Staple food prices rise by 50% in Sudan amid economic strife, floods and Covid

Millions of people in Sudan are facing hardship as the cost of food and transport soars amid economic turmoil in the country.

The cost of some staple foods like bread and sugar has increased by 50% over the past few weeks, driving inflation to a record high of 167%, up from 144% in July.

The government declared a state of economic emergency last week after a sharp fall in currency. Reuters reported on Tuesday that the Sudanese pound had dropped to 234 against the dollar, from 140 the previous month.

Dozens of Sudanese currency dealers have been arrested in Khartoum over the past two weeks as the government tries to crack down on the black-market trade in dollars.

The Guardian 17 September 2020

Sudan Security Forces Seize Explosives, Bomb-making Materials

Sudanese security forces targeted a suspected terrorist cell in Khartoum and seized massive amounts of explosives, including TNT and ammonium nitrate, authorities announced Wednesday. At least 41 people were arrested and are being investigated, according to Sudan Attorney General Taj Alsir Alhibir.

Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) carried out the operation under the supervision of the attorney general’s office, according to Brigadier General Jamal Juma Adam, RSF’s spokesperson.

“We monitored the activities of these people who were trading in explosives throughout the tri-capital,” said Adam. “Between August 19 and September 3, we carried out the raids and seized the explosives and arrested those involved.”

In March, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok survived an apparent assassination attempt that targeted his motorcade while en route to his office. The attackers used explosives that Adam said were similar to what RSF forces captured. A number of suspects were arrested in connection with the attack, but the results of an investigation — which Sudanese officials say includes the FBI — have yet to be made public.

Voice of America 17 September 2020

South Sudan

Salva Kiir Sacks Finance Minister Amid Economic Crisis

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit on Wednesday sacked his Finance and Economic Planning minister, as well as top officials in the country’s revenue and oil management offices, in sweeping changes that followed an economic crisis.

In a presidential decree read on state-run TV SSBC, Mr Kiir sacked Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, who was reappointed to serve in the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity only last February.

Mr Mabiordit was replaced by his undersecretary, Mr Athian Ding Athian, who had served for years in that position.

In a separate order, President Kiir also sacked the acting commissioner-general of the National Revenue Authority, Mr Erjok Bullen Geu, who had been interim boss after Ghanaian, Dr Olympio Attipoe, who led the NRA, was sacked in 2019.

 AllAfrica 17 September 2020

Progress on South Sudan peace agreement ‘limps along’

Progress on implementing the South Sudan peace agreement is halting partially due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a special representative of the UN secretary-general.

David Shearer, who heads the UN mission in South Sudan, made the remarks on Wednesday while briefing members of the Security Council on the situation in the African nation.

The conflict in South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, began when President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar in 2013. A civil war broke out with many people joining the fighting.

A peace deal was signed on Sept. 12, 2018 and a unity government formed in February 2020. However, some opposition groups refused to cease fire, and are continuing with the fighting.?

AllAfrica 17 September 2020

Western Sahara

UN must set date for self-determination referendum in occupied Western Sahara

The Polisario Front declared on Thursday in Geneva that the referendum on self-determination in occupied Western Sahara was urgently needed, calling on the UN General Assembly to set a date for the holding of this vote, which has so far been adjourned.

“Any delay in the implementation of the settlement plan, UN/OUA to allow the Sahrawi people to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination and independence will only complicate the situation on the ground and risk destabilizing the region,” the Polisario Front warned in a Memorandum signed by its representative in Switzerland, Omaima Abdesalam.

“It is therefore imperative that the UN General Assembly sets a date for the holding of the self-determination referendum in accordance with the United Nations Charter on decolonization”, insisted the Sahrawi diplomat.

Since its invasion of Western Sahara in 1975, Morocco has acted in defiance of the Charter of the United Nations, the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the fundamental principles of international law, as well as the opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which had ruled the same year that Rabat had no sovereign over the territory of Western Sahara, recalled the Sahrawi Representation.

Sahara Press Service 12 September 2020

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Reported Moroccan Harassment Against Saharawi Human Rights Defenders

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, informed the UN Human Rights Council about harassment and reprisal of Saharawi human rights defenders by Moroccan authorities, in the annual report of UN Commissioner, her Office and the UN Secretary General.

The report that comes within the framework of Human Rights Council’s resolution 12/2, in which the Council expressed concern over continued reports of intimidation and reprisals against individuals and groups having cooperated with the UN, evokes the cases of Ms. Aminatou Haidar, the imminent human rights defender, in addition to Ennaama Asfari, actually in prisoner since 2010 in reprisal of his human rights activism, and Ms. Naziha El Khalidi, the Saharawi Medias activist, who was victims to various harassment last year.

On the case of Ms. Aminatou Haidar, the report indicated that she “was the subject of threats, physical attacks and online stigmatization in connection with her ongoing engagement with the UN (see also MAR 6/2005; 5/2009). On 29 November 2019, Ms. Haidar met with the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, the photos of which were posted on social media, and on 2 January 2020 returned to her place of residence after receiving a human rights prize in a ceremony with the Deputy High Commissioner. During her stay abroad, several on-line articles were published reportedly vilifying Ms. Haidar’s work.”

AllAfrica 14 September 2020