News Briefs 19 October 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC threatens international action over Angola expulsions

The Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday threatened to take international action over Angola’s recent, and allegedly violent, expulsion of some 200 000 illegal migrants from its west African neighbour.

DRC invites the Angolan government “to carry out a thorough investigation in order to establish who was responsible for these reprehensible acts,” Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu told a press conference in the capital Kinshasa.

Unless this is done, the DRC government “would be obliged to take the matter to the relevant authorities,” he warned, adding that his country will not stoop to “brutally expelling” Angolans in any tit-for-tat response.


World Health Organisation warns that Congo Ebola outbreak is at a ‘tipping point’

AID agencies say the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo could be tipping into a wider crisis as the number of new cases spiked and violence grounded health workers for a second time.

The disease is believed to have infected 194 people and killed 122 since the outbreak started in eastern Congo in July, according to the health ministry. The number of new cases per day has more than doubled since September, partly because worsening security is hampering the response, said the International Rescue Committee.

The outbreak is centred in the city of Beni, where rebels killed at least 18 people in an attack last month, forcing health workers to suspend operations for several days.

An ebola outbreak in western Africa between 2016 and 2016 claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people, mainly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, according to World Health Organisation data. It was the worst ebola epidemic in history.

Geelong Advertiser


Eritrea, Ethiopia foreign ministers in Somalia for high-level talks

Foreign Affairs Ministers of Eritrea and Ethiopia have arrived in the Somali capital Mogadishu for high-level talks.

Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Isse Awad received his counterparts, Osman Saleh, Eritrea; and Workneh Gebeyehu, Ethiopia, on their arrival at the airport on Wednesday Oct 17.

Reports indicate that the meeting will culminate in the meeting of leaders of the respective countries. It is seen as the latest sign of strengthening of relations across the Horn of Africa.

Political watchers say it is a boost for regional cooperation, diplomacy and security. There has been no date announced with respect to when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki will be expected in town.

Khmer Times

Somalia: Deputy Minister of Commerce suspended over corruption and money laundering

The office of the Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire issued a degree suspending Mohamed Khalif Diiriye, deputy Minister of commerce and industries from work, following a request from the office of Somalia’s attorney General, SONNA reported.

Reasons behind the sacking of the Deputy Minister of Trade Mohamed Khalif has not been officially released, however sources from Somalia’s Intelligence office pointed the finger to money laundering and corruption, among other issues, putting the minister to be leading a black market of money laundering in Mogadishu.

On Oct 10, Somali National Intelligence Security Agency announced to have seized a network of money laundering and a bag of black dollar in Mogadishu. NISA also said it has arrested two people thus raising questions about the whereabouts of the other suspects involving the money laundering scandal.

Horn Observer

Central African Republic

EU to Boost Support for Central African Republic as Russia Expands Its Role

European foreign ministers agreed Monday to expand the bloc’s support for security and armed forces in the Central African Republic, part of an effort to counter what diplomats fear is a growing Russian role there.

European diplomats have voiced concerns in recent weeks about Russian activity in the country, with some saying Moscow could be seeking a foothold in the region where European countries, especially France, have historical links.

Since 2012, the Central African Republic has been locked in a bloody civil war that has taken increasingly religious dimensions. The country, which has a significant Muslim minority, is a former French colony.

Central African Republic is one of several fragile states in the middle of the continent destabilized in part by weapons and fighters that spilled out of Libya after the 2011 overthrow of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. France sent thousands of troops to Mali to end an uprising there and the European Union has tried to boost border security and bolster national militaries throughout the region.

Wall Street Journal

UNAIDS to work with uniformed forces in the Central African Republic to end sexual violence and abuse and stop new HIV infections

UNAIDS has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of National Defence and Reconstruction of the Army, the Ministry of Health and Population and the National AIDS Committee of the Central African Republic. The aim of the MoU is to reduce new HIV infections within the military and other uniformed personnel, reduce sexual violence and abuse by security and defence forces and increase uptake of HIV treatment, care and support services.

The MoU comes at a critical time. The Central African Republic has the second highest HIV prevalence in central Africa, estimated at 4% in 2017. However, among uniformed personnel, HIV prevalence is double, at an estimated 7.8%. Knowledge of HIV among uniformed personnel in the Central African Republic is particularly low and reports of sexual abuse and violence by military personnel are widespread.

“We have a responsibility to protect all our people from violence and HIV, especially women and girls, who are the most vulnerable. By focusing on uniformed personnel, we aim to transform the relationship between the new army and the population, as a key to reconstruction,” said Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic.



Sudan appoints new peace envoy to South Sudan

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir yesterday announced the appointment of Ambassador Jamal Al-Sheikh as peace envoy to follow up with the implementation of the peace agreement signed last month between rival South Sudanese parties in Addis Ababa under Khartoum’s auspices.

President Al-Bashir made the announcement as he spoke to a group of Sudanese diplomats following a meeting of the National Council for Foreign Policy.

He said South Sudan has become a failed state, therefore Khartoum intervened and sponsored negotiations to achieve a comprehensive peace.

“The State of South Sudan, was in the past, the largest sponsor, financier and engine of insurgency in the states of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. Therefore, peace in South Sudan is a big step to achieve peace in Sudan,” he said.

Middle East Monitor

UN, Sudanese Officials Visit Refugee Settlement in Khartoum

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator and the UN Refugee Agency Representative in Sudan have visited the South Sudanese refugee and host communities in Naivasha in Omdurman – which is the second largest “open area” refugee settlement in Khartoum state.

During their visit on October 9, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Gwi-Yeop Son and UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Representative Noriko Yoshida were accompanied by the head of the Sudanese Commission for Refugees (CoR), Hamad Morowa and Deputy Commisioner Dr Mohamed El Sinari from the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC).

The CoR Commissioner reassured that the refugees are welcome in Sudan, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan reported in a press release on Tuesday. “Until the time comes when you can return to South Sudan, we welcome you, and with our partners from the UN and other organizations we will continue to support you to the best of our abilities,” Morowa said.


South Sudan

Report: South Sudan armed opposition seized girls as ‘wives’

South Sudan’s armed opposition abducted women and girls as young as 12 and lined them up so commanders could choose “wives,” and those not selected were left to be raped repeatedly by other fighters, a new UN report said on Thursday.

The report, based on victim and witness accounts, gives new details on the surge in violence and abuses that occurred even as South Sudan’s rivals negotiated the latest agreement to end a five-year civil war.

“Most of the abducted civilians are, as far as we know, still being held captive,” new UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

The report focuses on the Western Equatorial region between April and August, saying 900 people were abducted and some 24 000 people forced to flee their homes as fighting surged after months of relative calm. It says opposition forces attacked at least 28 villages and a refugee camp, and abducted young men and boys were made to be fighters or porters.


Sweden to interrogate oil firm over human rights violation in South Sudan

The Swedish centre-left government Thursday approved the prosecutor’s application to question Lundin Petroleum’s chairman, Ian Lundin, and CEO, Alex Schneiter, for gross human rights violations in South Sudan.

In 2010, Swedish prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation into Lundin Petroleum’s activities in Sudan and South Sudan after a report by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) said the company was possibly complicit in human rights abuses in Block 5A between 1997 and 2003.

The prosecutor needs permission from the government to prosecute offences committed abroad by foreign nationals. In this case, there are suspicions against a Swedish citizen and a Swiss citizen.

Justice Minister Morgan Johansson welcomed the process due to the serious allegations as he said.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Four parties agree to Western Sahara talks

Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front have accepted a UN invitation to hold talks in December on ending the decades-old conflict in Western Sahara, according to UN officials.

The United Nations has repeatedly failed to broker a settlement over the north African territory, where Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario fought for control from 1975 to 1991.

Seeking to re-launch the political process, UN envoy Horst Koehler has invited the four parties to Geneva on December 5-6 for a first round of meetings that could pave the way to formal negotiations.

Koehler, a former German president and ex-director of the International Monetary Fund, last month sent letters of invitation to the talks and set an October 20 deadline to respond.


Algeria reaffirms Western Sahara “is decolonization issue between Frente POLISARIO, Morocco”

The Western Sahara conflict is a decolonization issue between the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco, affirmed Tuesday in New York Algeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Sabri Boukadoum.

“Western Sahara is a decolonization issue between the Frente POLISARIO and the Kingdom of Morocco on a territory on the list of non-autonomous territories, pending the implementation of the historic resolution 1514 of the General Assembly,” which establishes the right of colonized peoples to self-determination and independence,” stated Ambassador Boukadoum in his speech at the fourth United Nations Decolonization Committee.

In a vibrant plea for the self-determination of the Sahrawi people, Boukadoum recalled the legal basis of this conflict, stressing that the advisory opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1975 had unequivocally confirmed that it was up to the Sahrawi people to exercise their right to self-determination via a free and fair referendum.

Sahara Press Service


Reported Attempt to Re-Form Swaziland Police Union Rekindles Memories of Fight for Workers’ Rights

Police leaders in Swaziland / Eswatini are playing down reports that a trade union for junior officers has been re-formed in the kingdom.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, the kingdom’s absolute monarch, which has a long history of anti-trade unionism, was so keen to support the police management that it published the same comments from its spokesperson in separate editions more than two weeks apart.

Reports that the Swaziland Police Union (SWAPU) might be back in operation spread on social media during the kingdom’s discredited House of Assembly elections in September 2018. SWAPU was banned in 2008 after the High Court and the Supreme Court ruled it to be illegal.


Swaziland: AfDB convenes Public-Private Partnerships Workshop

The African Development Institute of the African Development Bank and the Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office will host a national workshop this week focusing on closing the skills gap between practitioners and policy-makers in Swaziland and across the region.


Titled ‘Enhancing Institutional Capacity to Implement Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the Energy Sector’, the workshop will focus on building the capacities of energy industry players on structuring Public-Private Partnerships.

According to the Bank, the legal and financial capabilities of over 33 participants from the public and private sectors will be addressed. Additionally, it will assist in developing a comprehensive understanding of the role of PPPs in delivering infrastructure services to meet demand.

The five-day course is in response to a request from Swaziland’s Ministry of Finance for capacity enhancement in PPP policy and operational development for its personnel, sister ministries and energy industry practitioners.

ESI Africa


Zimbabwean Reveals Chilling Encounter With Soldiers in Commission of Inquiry on August Killings

A Commission of Inquiry into the killing of six protesters in August this year started its work in Zimbabwe’s capital Tuesday with one of the witnesses giving a chilling description of his encounter with the country’s security forces, which resulted in him wetting his pants following gun shots fired by members of the Zimbabwe National Army.

Lawson Nyanhanda, who was in Harare on the fateful day from Karoi town, looking for his girlfriend from Bulawayo, told the commission led by former South African President Kgalame Mothlante, that soldiers had running battles with locals who seemed like ordinary citizens and some suspected political activists.

In media forums monitored from Washington, Nyanhanda said his first encounter with the soldiers was when they stopped him while he was driving in the city and ordered him to lie on the ground before the armed men were distracted by a group of people who were being chased by their colleagues.

Voice of America

Zimbabwe’s economic crisis will deepen without aid, ruling party warns

Zimbabwe will plunge further into economic crisis unless international lenders provide aid to the heavily indebted former British colony, senior officials from the Zanu-PF ruling party have said.

In recent days, some vital commodities have become scarce, with motorists in Harare, the capital, spending a night in their cars in queues outside petrol stations, supermarkets rationing purchases or shutting entirely, and chemists unable to provide some basic medicines. Food prices have soared.

The immediate cause of the crisis was the introduction of a new tax on electronic transactions, but its roots lie in the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe, Energy Mutodi, the deputy information minister, said.

The new 2% levy is intended to raise revenue from the vast informal sector that has mushroomed in recent decades.

The Guardian


Africa in General

Sudan’s FM to meet Deby, Touadéra over peace in Central African Republic

Sudan’s foreign minister will travel to Ndjamena and Bangui on Monday to discuss his government efforts to settle the armed conflict in the neighbouring Central African Republic.

Last month in a meeting held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the African Union integrated the Sudanese initiative to end the armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) between Muslim and Christian militias that continue to destabilize the country despite the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Sudanese foreign ministry said Minister El-Dirdeiry Ahmed will hand over a message from President Omer al-Bashir to President Idriss Deby of Chad and President Faustin-Archange Touadéra of CAR.

The Sudanese initiative, which involves Russia also, provides to bring together the leaders of the warring armed groups to discuss ways to end the conflict and build confidence between the different communities in the country in order to repair social fabric.

Sudan Tribune

Sub-Saharan Africa’s Big Economies Yet to Recover

Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic recovery will progress slowly into next year, as the continent’s biggest drivers struggle to move into higher gear despite a healthier global economy, a Reuters poll found on Friday.

Commodity prices have improved and the global economy is in good shape, but Nigeria and South Africa, the two economies that normally push the continent into faster growth, are struggling to reclaim their potential.

In a poll taken this week, median forecasts from economists and analysts showed Nigeria – Africa’s biggest economy – will grow 2.7% next year, 0.3 percentage points slower than forecast in July.

The west African economy recovered from its worst downturn in a quarter of a century last year but growth is still fragile. It dipped to 1.50% year on year between April and June.


Mabuza wants stakeholders committed to peace in South Sudan

South African Deputy President David Mabuza has on Monday called on all stakeholders to be committed in their efforts of implementing the peace agreement for the benefit of the people of South Sudan and the entire African continent, the presidency said.

He committed all role players to work together in achieving lasting peace, stability and development in the Republic of South Sudan.

Mabuza has concluded his working visit to the Republic of South Sudan where he held talks with President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

He expressed his confidence in the peace process and assured the president and the people of South Sudan, of South Africa’s continued and unwavering support.


DRC presidential hopeful says she was barred from travel

The sole woman candidate in Democratic Republic of Congo’s tense presidential race on Thursday accused the government of blocking her from travelling abroad, two months before elections to replace Joseph Kabila.

Marie-Josee Ifoku, whose candidacy was initially rejected by election authorities before the decision was overturned by the constitutional court, is one of 21 people standing for the December polls in the nation, which has not seen a peaceful transition of power since 1960.

She told AFP that she was stopped by authorities when she attempted to visit Brazzaville in neighbouring Republic of Congo earlier this week, adding that officials had detained her colleague.