News Briefs 22 November 2019


Move to Call Textile Workers’ Pay Strike in Swaziland As Firms Give Gifts to King

A trade union representing textile workers in Swaziland (eSwatini) is planning a strike before Christmas, accusing Taiwanese-owned businesses in the kingdom of colluding with the government to underpay employees.

They say the money the companies save will be presented to absolute monarch King Mswati III as tetfulo (gifts).

The Swaziland News, an online newspaper, reported on Tuesday that such gifts were normally given by people who wanted favours from the King.


Swaziland Govt Minister Is Far from Truth When She Praises Media Freedom in Kingdom

Princess Sikhanyiso, the Minister of Information, Communication and Technology in Swaziland (eSwatini), was just plain misleading when she told a meeting of editors in the kingdom, ‘A free media is not an optional extra. Therefore, it is our duty to protect media freedom.’

There is very little media freedom in Swaziland, where one of the only two daily newspapers is owned by King Mswati who rules the kingdom as an absolute monarch.

All broadcast news is controlled by the government, whose members are handpicked by the King.

Princess Sikhanyiso is a daughter of the King and was not elected by the people. In Swaziland, all political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King appoints all government ministers. He also appoints top public servants and senior judges.



EU worried about recent political developments in Zimbabwe: memo

The European Union is concerned that the democratic space in Zimbabwe has deteriorated since it opened talks with Harare in June for the first time since 2001 in a bid to turn the page on years of hostile relations.

An EU memo prepared for its diplomats ahead of talks in Harare on Thursday said the arrests and abductions of several political activists had “reinforced the impression that the democratic space is being curtained again”.

The memo, seen by Reuters, also said the EU was worried by Harare’s slow pace of political reforms, including the alignment of laws to the constitution that was adopted in 2013.


MDC’S Biti Urges Ramaphosa To Intervene in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s opposition party the MDC has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the neighbouring country’s crisis before it gets out of control.

MDC supporters gathered outside the party’s headquarters in Harare on Wednesday, where they were dispersed by police using teargas and water cannons. More than 40 people were injured while eight others were arrested.

There’s been growing public discontent with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has struggled to fulfil promises of economic prosperity and greater political freedom.


Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC army kills 7 militia after attacks

Congolese troops killed seven members of a militia who attacked its positions in two villages in the country’s conflict-ridden east, the army said on on Thursday.

Dozens of rival militia operate in Democratic Republic of Congo’s North and South-Kivu provinces, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist-rooted group blamed for killing hundreds.

The area has been torn for more than two decades by armed conflicts fed by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of a wealth of mineral resources and regional rivalries.


Suspected Islamist militants kill 19, burn church in eastern DR Congo

Islamist militiamen killed at least 19 people overnight in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, stepping up attacks on civilians in response to a military campaign against them in border areas with Uganda, local officials said on Wednesday.

The assailants, who the officials said belong to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, also kidnapped several people and torched a Catholic church during two separate attacks about 35 km (22 miles) apart.

The Congolese army began an offensive three weeks ago near the Ugandan border. The ADF has been operating there for more than two decades and is one of dozens of rebel groups active in the mineral-rich areas where civil wars resulted in millions of deaths around the turn of the century.


Central African Republic

Increased Commitments for Children Amid High Level of Grave Violations

Important advances were achieved by the Central African Republic Government as well as by some of the armed groups in a context of persistent challenges to end and prevent grave violations against children, highlighted the fourth Secretary-General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) covering the period from January 2016 to June 2019.

Such advances include the Accord politique pour la paix et la reconciliation en République centrafricaine signed between the Government and 14 armed groups on 6 February 2019 which prohibits inter alia, grave violations against children; the ratification by the Government of the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC) in September 2017; and the signatures of Action Plans to end and prevent grave violations against children by three ex-Seleka groups*.

Relief Web

Council agrees on a future CSDP mission to support security sector reform

The Council adopted a crisis management concept for a new civilian CSDP Advisory Mission in the Central African Republic (EUAM RCA).

The mission will support the reform of the internal security forces to enable the CAR authorities to mitigate the current security challenges in the country. EU experts will support the Ministry of the Interior and the internal security forces, the police and the gendarmerie, with the aim of helping in their deployment throughout the country.

The mission will provide advice to the CAR authorities at the strategic level to support the sustainable transformation of CAR internal security forces into a coherent and accountable security provider operating under national ownership. The mission will coordinate closely with the military EU Training Mission (EUTM RCA), the UN MINUSCA mission and the international community.

Council of the European Union


Peace activist killed by ‘stray bullet’ in Somalia

A prominent rights activist was shot dead in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, with security officials suggesting she had been hit by a stray bullet.

Almaas Elman Ali, who came from a leading family of peace campaigners, was travelling by car inside the heavily fortified airport compound when she was hit.

“She was riding in a car along a road inside the airport,” said Mohamed Omar, a Somali security official. “A stray bullet hit her, and she died within a few minutes.”

Gunfire is a regular occurence in Mogadishu, although the levels of violence are far lower than in past years of heavy conflict.


Chinese envoy urges global community to help Somalia improve governance capacity

A Chinese envoy on Thursday called on the international community to help Somalia improve its governance capacity.

The international community should continue to pay close attention to the situation in Somalia and focus its constructive assistance on areas including “helping Somalia improve governance capacity and strengthening Somali’s security capacity building and support,” Wu Haitao, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told a Security Council meeting on the situation in Somalia.

“The Security Council and the international community should adhere to the principle of Somali leadership and Somali ownership, and on the basis of respecting the Somali government’s leadership, help the country advance its political process, enhance federal institutions, and improve the relations between the Federal Government and member states’ governments so as to create favorable conditions for the next year’s elections to be peaceful and smooth, and further consolidate the sound momentum of the Somali peace process,” said the Chinese envoy.



Sudan’s top Islamist politician sent to prison holding Bashir

Sudan’s most prominent Islamist politician was arrested on Wednesday after being summoned for questioning over former leader Omar al-Bashir’s rise to power in a 1989 coup, a senior official from his party said.

The investigation into Ali al-Haj, secretary general of the Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP), is a significant step against the Islamist political networks that supported Bashir, who was overthrown in April.

The official, who declined to be named, told Reuters Haj reported to investigators on Wednesday evening after the public prosecution summoned him and was then arrested and transferred to Khartoum’s Kobar prison, where Bashir is also being held.


Supporters of Sudan’s ousted president accuse authorities of discrimination

Hundreds of supporters of Omar al-Bashir gathered in central Khartoum on Wednesday, calling for justice for the ousted Sudanese president and other former officials in his government, in the first pro-Bashir demonstration since his overthrow in April.

Protesters gathered in the capital’s University Street pleaded the case for 23 senior officials, all members of Islamist parties which supported Bashir, who have been arrested since Bashir’s fall, saying they should be freed or brought to trial.

In stark contrast to their role when Bashir was in power, those who organised Wednesday’s protests have now taken on the role previously occupied by the opposition.

Middle East Eye

South Sudan

UN urges for patience on South Sudan parties to implement outstanding issues

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on Tuesday that warring parties need to be given a benefit of patience to complete the outstanding issues within the signed revitalized peace agreement.

David Shearer, head of UNMISS, told journalists that both President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar need the 100 days to resolve the outstanding issues and that the international community and African Union should give them a benefit of patience.

“If you look at all the things that they need to do with the demobilization, who knows how many thousand people in their re-integration, will it happen in 100 days? We know that it’s impossible it has never happened in any other country in the world but the start is there and if the momentum continues and the political will continues that’s very possible that by the end of 100 days, we will have enough momentum that we can get forward,” said Shearer during a press conference in Juba.

South Sudan opposition appeals to Church for help in peace process

Members of one of South Sudan’s main opposition coalitions met in Rome earlier this week, thanking Pope Francis for his continued support for the country and appealing to a politically influential Rome-based Catholic group to lend a hand in negotiations.

At the close of a three-day meeting at the Rome headquarters of the Sant’Egidio community, the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance called the meeting “constructive” and appealed for an end to the current impasse in the peace process.

The alliance has been opposed to the terms of a new peace deal between the government and other rebel groups aimed at ending nearly six years of civil conflict.


Western Sahara

‘Europe should remain neutral in the Western Sahara conflict’

As a new European Parliament has been elected, several experts believe that the eventual creation within this parliament of a ‘’Polisario or Western Sahara intergroup’’ would be ‘’untimely political’’ and ‘’dangerous’’ for the balance and peace in the Saharan and Sahelian region confronted with terrorist attacks that multiply in recent months and where terrorist groups abound. ‘’We must do everything to calm the game and avoid jeopardising the peace process in the Sahara conflict which is now revived under the auspices of the United Nations,’’ they underline.

Morocco is a strong ally and neighbour to the European Union on important issues such as illegal immigration and the war against terrorism.  The country has sought to position itself as a bridgehead between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa in recent years as it became one of the major political players within the African Union.

European Jewish Press

#WesternSahara – ‘This is a question that should be left to the United Nations’

While UN negotiations to find a mutually acceptable political solution for all parties involved continue, MEPs have suggested the reformation of an Intergroup on Western Sahara. There was a similar Intergroup in the previous mandate of the European Parliament, but other MEPs are resisting the creation of an Intergroup for the current mandate to make it clear that the EU is not partisan in the resolution of the conflict and respects the UN to lead the negotiations.

The Parliament’s intergroups do not wield real powers and do not represent the Parliament’s position as a whole. Nevertheless, the creation of a Western Sahara intergroup could be perceived as a sign that the parliament was taking sides with those who support independence. Given that actors are working towards a political solution this could give the appearance of a parliament that is partisan in any negotiations aimed at finding a resolution to this vexed territorial dispute.

EU Report

Other African News

Pandor: Solutions to Zim crisis will come from Zimbabweans but SA ready to help

International Relations Minister, Naledi Pandor, on Monday, said Pretoria strongly believes that Zimbabwe’s challenges can only be fixed by the country’s millions of citizens, aided by friendly neighbours like South Africa and countries in the region.

Delivering a keynote address at a symposium hosted by the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, under the theme: “Best path to prosperous Zimbabwe”, Pandor said South Africa is ready to assist but without imposing on Harare.

“I think it’s important to begin by saying the social, political and economic situation that is confronting Zimbabwe is one of the most challenging facing us in this southern Africa region. I think this is a stark fact, a reality that all of us can agree upon. This symposium, we regard it as our modest contribution to [the] beginning of a process of finding solutions to the many complex challenges which we believe will be resolved primarily by the people of Zimbabwe with the assistance of all the countries in the [Southern African Development Community] SADC


Ethiopia PM praises referendum for new state as votes tallied

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday praised the conduct of a referendum in the ethnic Sidama region, that many expect will approve the creation of a new federal state.

Abiy’s comments came as votes were tallied a day after the ballot seen as a critical test in a nation already struggling with community tensions.

With apparently overwhelming support among Sidamas to form their own state, the backing of Abiy is an important indication of the central government response ahead of the official release of results.


Sudan protesters who drove the ousting of Bashir now want more

Standing on the platform where he and other protesters packed a train to Khartoum in April to pressure Sudan’s military to share power with civilians, Abdelaziz Abdallah made clear the revolution driven by their city has much further to go.

A veteran railway worker-turned union leader, Abdallah was among the first to take to the streets in this labour stronghold in December, sparking a national uprising that toppled long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir almost four months later.

It took another four months for the military, which had ousted Bashir, to formally agree to a three-year power sharing deal with a civilian-led transitional government.


UN demands urgent action as violence in Africa’s Sahel region continues

As the security situation in Africa’s Sahel region – which runs from west to east across the continent from Senegal to Sudan – continues to deteriorate with numerous attacks carried out by militants over the last six months, Bintou Keita, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, has warned that urgent action is needed.

Speaking to the UN Security Council (UNSC) in New York on Wednesday Keita drew attention to a surge in militancy against security forces and civilians and the mounting death toll, stating that in 2019 the number of security incidences had risen three-fold as compared to previous years, specifically in Burkina Faso and Niger.