News Briefs 19 April 2019


Swaziland’s King Appoints 28 Members of His Family to Kingdom’s Committees and Boards

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland / eSwatini, has appointed seventeen members of his own family to the kingdom’s two most influential advisory committees.

This is in addition to the eight members of the Royal Family he previously appointed to the Swazi Senate and six to the House of Assembly.

The announcement of the appointments was made in a statement from the King’s Office.

King Mswati appointed 10 princes and princesses to the 23-member Liqoqo, a supreme traditional advisory body which is also known as the Swazi National Council Standing Committee. This group rules on matters relating to Swazi traditional law and customs.


Democratic Republic of Congo

150 people feared missing after passenger boat sinks in Congo

As many as 150 people are missing after a passenger boat sank on Lake Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, President Felix Tshisekedi said.

The disaster happened Monday evening, but details of the incident were only just emerging Wednesday.

President Tshisekedi said he was “very saddened” by the news and extended his condolences to the families of the missing.

“I am very saddened by the shipwreck of a pirogue on (Monday) April 15 on Lake Kivu. The provisional toll is 150 people missing,” Tshisekedi said on his official Twitter account.


‘Massive and protracted’ humanitarian crisis in DR Congo can be ‘beaten back’ if donors step up

Following on from a fact-finding mission to DRC this week, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and the UN’s top Humanitarian Affairs official (OCHA), Mark Lowcock, said the funds were urgently needed to meet the needs of children, families and vulnerable communities, including people with disabilities.

“The relatively peaceful political transition taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is an opportunity that we must seize on,” the top officials said in a statement, referring to the first peaceful transfer of power following elections on 30 December.

“We can beat back the massive and protracted humanitarian crisis. But we urgently need donors to provide further generous funding as needs continue to outpace resources,” said Mr. Lowcock, adding that the DRC needs sustained international engagement to create the conditions for peace, security and long-term development.

UN News


US airstrike kills ISIS-Somalia’s ‘second in command’

The US military conducted an airstrike Sunday that killed Abdulhakim Dhuqub, a high ranking ISIS-Somalia official.

US Africa Command, which oversees US military operations on the continent, said in a statement Monday that the strike targeted a vehicle near Xiriiro, Bari Region.

The statement refers to Dhuqub as the terror affiliate’s “second in command,” saying he “was responsible for the daily operations of the extremist group, attack planning, and resource procurement.”

ISIS’ Somalia branch is a relatively small affiliate of the terror group, commanding fewer than 150 fighters according to US defense officials. It is much smaller than the al Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab militant group which commands more than 5,000.


US military mission in Somalia could take seven years to complete

This week President Donald Trump signed an executive order extending a presidential declaration of a national emergency concerning Somalia for another year, calling the Islamist insurgency plaguing that country an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the US.

But even if that is the last extension of the declaration, US defense officials say the mission in the country is likely to take years to complete.

The fight there hinges on US Special Operations Forces being able to train an elite Somali army unit capable of defeating al Qaeda-linked militants on the ground. The commitment to the East African nation comes after the President has signaled a desire to reduce US troop levels across the globe and as the administration is in the process of withdrawing forces from Syria.


Central African Republic

Six armed groups sign peace agreement in Bria

Six armed groups (the UPC, MPC, RPRC, MLCJ, Anti-Balaka (Mokom faction) and the FPRC)* signed an important peace agreement Tuesday 9 April in Bria, in the Central African Republic (CAR), which is expected to put an end to more than six years of violent conflict in the eastern region of Haute-Kotto.

The Accord is the result of talks convened by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) between the groups from 1-9 April 2019 in Bria. It also marks the culmination of months of intensive local mediation efforts led by HD to bring an end to violence across the Haute-Kotto region. Repeated attacks by the groups in the area since 2013 have led to the loss of many lives, widespread destruction of property and the displacement of thousands of people. The violence has also increased the divide between the Christian and Muslim communities which has been instrumentalised by the armed groups.

The Bria Agreement builds on the Accord for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR (APPR), which was signed on 6 February 2019 between the Government and fourteen armed groups, including the six Bria Agreement signatories.

Relief Web

Russia to Send Soldiers to Central African Republic as Part of UN Force – Decree

Russia will send up to 30 military personnel to the Central African Republic as part of a UN mission to help stabilise the country, according to a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

The decree said the Russian contingent would include military observers, staff officers and military communications specialists.

Moscow has already sent military equipment to CAR and Russian instructors are on the ground helping train the country’s armed forces.



Former president Omar al-Bashir moved to prison

Deposed ex-Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been moved to Khartoum’s grim high-security Kobar prison from the presidential residence, family sources said on Wednesday, as military rulers announced steps to crack down on corruption.

Bashir, 75, had been detained under heavy guard in the presidential residence inside the compound that also houses the defence ministry, before being transferred to Kobar prison late on Tuesday, the sources said. He was being held in solitary confinement at Kobar, a prison source said.

Kobar, just north of central Khartoum adjacent to the Blue Nile river, housed thousands of political prisoners under Bashir’s nearly 30-year rule and is Sudan’s most notorious jail.

The Guardian

Sudan military arrests Bashir’s brothers, ‘tame’ militia groups

The Transitional Military Council in Sudan has arrested two brothers of ousted leader Omar al-Bashir. It is not known over exactly what charges they are being held.

A military spokesperson said the move was part of efforts to uproot symbols of the former regime. HE added that militia and armed groups loyal to Bashir had been brought under police or military control.

Bashir was arrested after his overthrow last week and transferred to prison custody earlier this week. The military is under pressure from protesters and the diplomatic community to hand over power to a civilian transition team.

Meanwhile, neighbouring South Sudan on Wednesday (April 17) offered to mediate in the crisis. The government has sent a delegation to Khartoum to meet interested parties.

Africa News

South Sudan

South Sudan offers to mediate political transition in Sudan

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has offered to help mediate a political transition in Sudan after the fall of autocratic president Omar al-Bashir to weeks of popular protests, Kiir’s office said on Wednesday.

His move came seven months after Bashir helped mediate a shaky peace deal between Kiir and the main opposition rebel group in South Sudan, which won independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of conflict.

Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 coup, was himself toppled last week by the military, which has vowed free elections within two years, though protesters remain in the streets, demanding an immediate handover to an interim civilian authority.


Opposition in South Sudan urges delay to unity government

South Sudan opposition leader Riek Machar is not ready to return to Juba and wants to postpone the formation of a unity government until security issues are resolved, an official from his party said on Wednesday.

Machar was meant to return to South Sudan in May and join a power-sharing government as vice president with President Salva Kiir after the signing of a peace deal in September last year.

The deal is the latest effort to end almost six years of conflict which erupted due to a fallout between the two men in 2013. Observers, though, have been warning that implementation of the deal has stalled.


Western Sahara

Western Sahara still waiting as peace talks ‘in danger of becoming a show’

Mansour Mohamed Moloud’s life revolves around reading and activism. This week, after breakfast, the 26-year-old has been reading William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in English.

In the evening he meets with friends in a secret location to review and edit video footage and photographs captured that day.

Armed police try to stop a demonstration to mark the anniversary of an activist who allegedly died at their hands. The arrest of a media activist. Women dressed in bright abayas prevented from raising a banned flag.

These are not scenes from a modern-day Shakespearean tragedy, but the reality of life in what is dubbed “Africa’s last colony” – Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara.

Middle East Eye

The Polisario addresses the UN Security Council

After holding a meeting in the camps, the Polisaro Front addressed, Sunday, the UN Security Council, calling it to adopt «emergency measures» against Morocco.

According to the press agency of the separatist movement, the Front’s General Secretariat referred to the violations committed by Morocco, and which were mentioned by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his draft report on Western Sahara, published on April the 1st.

This is an opportunity to highlight the dangerous repercussions of Morocco’s policies in the province and those aimed at restoring peace and security, in the Sahara, the same source said.

Brahim Ghali’s movement also denounced the obstacles put by Morocco to stop the process of settling the issue.



Putin, Trump congratulate Zimbabwe

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Wednesday congratulated Zimbabwe for attaining 39 years of independence, African Daily Voice has learnt.

According to The Herald, the solidarity messages came ahead of today’s 39th independence anniversary celebrations being held under the theme, “Zimbabwe @39—Embracing Devolution for Vision 2030.”

In a letter to President Mnangagwa seen by The Herald yesterday, President Putin congratulated Zimbabwe on the commemoration of the attainment of Independence from Britain, commended the cordial relations between the countries.

“Dear Mr President, please accept my sincere congratulations on the occasion of the National Holiday of your country — the Independence Day,” said Putin

African Daily Voice

Zimbabwe leader says compensation only for elderly white farmers

The Zimbabwe government will give priority to elderly white farmers when it starts compensating those who lost their properties during the controversial land reforms, the president said in an interview published on Sunday.

The finance and agriculture ministries last week said they had budgeted 53 million Zimbabwean dollars ($18-million) in payments to white commercial farmers whose properties were seized nearly 20 years ago under Robert Mugabe.

The government pledged to target those in “financial distress”.

In an interview with the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper, Emmerson Mnangagwa said the estimated value of the improvements on the farms would be three billion Zimbabwe dollars ($1-billion) and that government was not under pressure to pay all farmers.


Africa in General

Grace faces extradition to South Africa

South African lobby group AfriForum says the neighbouring country’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has applied for the extradition of former First Lady Grace Mugabe to face trial for assaulting a model, Gabriella Engels, in August 2017.

The extradition application comes after the Gauteng High Court last year stripped Grace of her diplomatic immunity granted to her by former International Relations and Co-operation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

Although the NPA refused to comment on the issue, AfriForum head of private prosecutions Gerrie Nel said Grace’s prosecution would start soon, and the lobby group would be monitoring the case.

News Day

Mali MPs submit no-confidence motion in government

Lawmakers from the majority party and opposition in Mali submitted a motion of no confidence Wednesday against the government they blame for failing to stop violence in the country’s centre.

A parliamentary vote, of which the outcome is unsure, will take place Friday.

“We are a number of MPs from the opposition and from the majority. We are hereby submitting a motion of no confidence against the government,” Sory Kouriba, president of the parliamentary group Rally for Mali (RPM) — the party of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita — told the National Assembly.

He was accompanied by Amadou Maiga of the URD, one of Mali’s main opposition parties.


African Union threatens to suspend Sudan over coup

The African Union on Monday threatened to suspend Sudan following last week’s coup that saw Omar al-Bashir ousted by the military after nearly three decades in power.

If the junta fails to hand power to civilians within 15 days, the AU will suspend “the participation of the Sudan in all AU’s activities until the restoration of constitutional order,” the body’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) said in a statement.

Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years before he was deposed last week following mass protests that have rocked the country since December.


Amnesty slams attack on Zimbabwe news site as an attempt to ‘muzzle media’

Amnesty International on Thursday called a police raid on the newsroom of a Zimbabwe online news site, 263 Chat, in the capital city a blatant assault on the right to freedom of expression and media freedom.

The police chased reporter Lovejoy Mtongwiza to the website’s offices after he was seen filming them removing vendors from the streets in Harare, Amnesty said in a statement. It said the reporter ran into the offices and that the police, who had followed him, fired teargas into the newsroom.

“Today’s attack on the 263 Chat offices was designed to send a chilling message to journalists and shows the lengths the Zimbabwean police are prepared to go to muzzle media freedom,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa.