News Briefs 24 August 2018


Democratic Republic of Congo

Kabila slams foreign ‘blackmail’ ahead of DRC vote

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, who last week ended speculation by signalling he would not seek re-election, on Friday warned outsiders against using “blackmail’ in DRC’s politics.

He had faced mounting Western pressure not to seek a third term after clinging to power when his second and supposedly final stint in office ended in 2016.

“What we have rejected over these past two years is any kind of imposition, or any kind of blackmail as far as the electoral process is concerned,” Kabila said in a speech to the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

“We will continue to be steadfast and be very much alert on this particular issue as we prepare for the upcoming elections by the end of this year,” Kabila said. He gave no further details.


Kabila Rejects Appointment of Thabo Mbeki As Special Envoy to DRC

President Joseph Kabila’s rejected the appointment of Thabo Mbeki as South Africa’s special envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Congolese leader has closed that door having had a bad experience with other special envoys deployed to his country.

The refusal came as a shock after DRC spokesperson Lambert Mende appeared to welcome the appointment by President Cyril Ramaphosa of former South African President Mbeki as special envoy to Kampala.

Kabila, who says he’s stepping down ahead of elections in the DRC scheduled for December, isn’t accrediting any more special envoys.



Somalia Hires US Lobbyists to Help Get More Aid

The government of Somalia is paying a US lobbying firm Sh40 million ($400,000) through the end of this year to help it gain renewed funding for the country’s army and to lift the Trump administration’s ban on Somalis’ travel to the US.

The agreement with the Sonoran Policy Group (SPG) was signed earlier this month by Somalia’s United Nations Ambassador Abukar Osman and by Christian Bourge, executive director of the lobbying firm based in the state of Arizona.

SPG, which previously lobbied in Washington on behalf of the Kenyan government, includes principals who have held posts in the Trump administration.

In a disclosure form recently filed with the US Justice Department, SPG says it is “delighted to have the opportunity to leverage our disruptive global diplomacy, marketing, branding and communications as well as public affairs subject matter expertise on behalf of the Federal Government of Somalia.”


2 car bomb blasts kill 6 in Somalia

Two car bombs hit Somalia on Sunday, killing six people.

Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels claimed responsibility for the first suicide car bomb blast that that killed four people when it exploded near the gate of a military base in Afgoye town, 30km northwest of Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab has claimed the responsibility for the attack, according to the group’s radio arm, Andalus.

Two of the dead were soldiers and fatalities could increase from the 10 injured in the blast which was close to the former national water agency’s offices, said Somali police officer Col. Ahmed Ali.


Central African Republic

Bar Amnesty for Atrocity Crimes

A general amnesty as part of the political dialogue in the Central African Republic would be incompatible with the government’s duty to bring those responsible for grave international crimes to justice and with victims’ rights to accountability, five Central African and international human rights organizations said today. The groups are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Central African Human Rights League (LCDH), and Central African Human Rights Observatory (OCDH).

A political dialogue between the African Union and armed groups is scheduled to resume on August 27, 2018. The dialogue aims to reach a political agreement to end ongoing violence. None of the agreements signed since 2012 have taken hold, as evidenced by recent violence in the Nana-Gribizi province near Mbres.

Several of the proposals formulated by various armed groups for the dialogue foresee the possibility of a general amnesty. A working paper of the African Union and the Central African authorities, however, provides as a guiding principle “the recognition that impunity has never constituted a durable solution to the recurrent crises.”

Human Rights Watch

CAR Armed Groups Present Peace Demands to AU Panel

Armed groups in the Central African Republic have presented nearly 100 demands, including a general amnesty, to an African Union expert panel seeking to broker peace in the country.

An AU document, seen by AFP, lists 97 demands by the armed groups in return for peace, with a government of national unity required along with the amnesty and a restructuring of the army.

The African Union has been leading a peace process in the Central African Republic but there has been little progress.

One of Africa’s poorest countries, the CAR descended into violence in 2013 following the ouster of the majority-Christian country’s president, Francois Bozize, by a coalition of Muslim-majority rebel groups called the Seleka.



Sudan’s child refugees stuck in Palabek camp

Figures from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) indicate a reduction in the daily entry of refugees from South Sudan to Uganda. But officials are not certain whether this is a result of the recently signed peace agreement.

However, unaccompanied children still populate Palabek refugee settlement. One of the children, Dominic Lokara, tearfully recounted to Arthur Matsiko the bloody episodes that forced him out of the world’s youngest republic.

At least 12 signposts for various non-government organisations, NGOs, welcome you to Palabek refugee settlement in the northern Uganda district of Lamwo. Various huge tents branded with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) logo are erected to accommodate the asylum seekers.

Established in April 2017, Palabek is home to at least 39,000 refugees, most of whom are children and women.

The Observer

Sudan teen who killed rapist husband faces new calls for death penalty

State prosecutors in Sudan are calling for the death penalty to be reinstated for a young woman who was sentenced to five years in jail for killing her abusive husband.

Noura Hussein, 19, was found guilty of premeditated murder in May and had faced execution. But a month later, after a high-profile campaign, the verdict was quashed and she was given a jail sentence and fined for manslaughter.

However, it has emerged that prosecutors are seeking to overturn the latest ruling and reinstate the death penalty.

Hussein was forced to marry at 16. She fled the marriage, but was tricked into returning to her husband by family members. She stabbed him as he tried to rape her.

Judy Gitau, a human rights lawyer at Equality Now, which is campaigning on Hussein’s behalf, said the development was extremely concerning. “We reiterate our calls to the Sudanese authorities to ensure that the rule of law is observed,” said Gitau. “The Sudanese government took a positive step forward for women’s and girls’ rights by overturning Noura’s death sentence. There should be no regression on this.”

The Guardian

South Sudan

South Sudan conflicting parties to sign final peace deal in Khartoum next week

South Sudan’s conflicting parties have reached consensus on a final peace deal draft expected to be signed in Khartoum on August 27

“We are expected to sign with initial letters on a comprehensive peace agreement next Monday,” South Sudan’s Information Minister and government spokesman Michael Makuei told Xinhua news agency on Wednesday.

“The parties have overcome most of the issues of differences which we discussed during the third round of South Sudan’s peace talks starting in Khartoum on August 13,” he noted.

He said the current round of talks discussed issues that were not resolved in the framework and the power-sharing and security arrangements agreements.

“We have discussed issues relating to powers of the vice presidents, formation of the committees responsible for formulating the constitution, the judiciary committee and the number of the states and their borders,” said Makuei.

CGTN Africa

Mogae quits as head of South Sudan peace monitoring commission

Former Botswana President Festus Mogae has resigned as the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) in South Sudan effective end of September 2018.

Mogae was appointed on 19 October 2015 to head a commission tasked with monitoring the implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement.

In a statement released by his office, Mogae said he is satisfied with the process of peace building in so far and wanted to leave it in new hands, although he did promise to explain his decision in detail later. Sudan

“As the process to revitalise the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan draws to a close, I have adjudged it appropriate to allow for the new phase of the transition period for South Sudan to be in fresh hands,” he said in a statement.

Reports indicate that JMEC was formed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the regional bloc that had been ‘midwifing’ peace in South Sudan since December 2013.

The Southern Times

Western Sahara

UN plans Western Sahara talks after decade-long deadlock

he UN envoy for Western Sahara is planning to convene talks before the end of the year between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front on ending their decades-old conflict, the Security Council president said on Wednesday.

Horst Koehler, a former German president and ex-director of the International Monetary Fund, briefed the council behind closed doors on his efforts to restart talks after a 10-year break.

“There is a lot of support from the council for his approach and for his proposal to see if he can try to bring the parties together by the end of the year,” said British Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen, whose country holds the council presidency this month.

Koehler will be holding consultations with “all the parties involved” on “modalities, format and everything else,” Allen told reporters after the meeting.

The New Arab

King Mohammed VI Thanks AU for Leaving Western Sahara to UN

King Mohammed VI has thanked the UN and the AU for their resolve to find a political settlement in Western Sahara.

Speaking last night in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People, King Mohammed VI highlighted his resolve to invest more efforts and resources to solve Morocco’s youth issues, especially the quality of education and job opportunities.

Despite the speech’s focus on a domestic agenda, the King also made a special mention of the recent international developments in the territorial dispute in Western Sahara.

The King pointed out Morocco’s readiness to “confidently and responsibly” engage with the UN Security Council and the international community in the search of an agreed upon and mutually acceptable solution to the territorial dispute between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

Morocco World News


Taiwan’s last Africa ally tells China ‘no desire’ to switch ties

Taiwan’s last diplomatically in Africa, the Kingdom of eSwatini, said on Wednesday it had no intention of switching ties to China, after a Chinese diplomat said he expected it to ditch Taipei soon amid a bitter diplomatic dispute.

Taiwan, which China claims as a wayward province with no right to state-to-state relations, now has formal ties with only 17 countries, almost all small, less developed nations in Central America and the Pacific, like Belize and Nauru.

It lost its latest ally, El Salvador, on Tuesday, the third country to fall to China this year. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has vowed to fight China’s “increasingly out of control” behaviour after the move.

Ahead of a summit next month between China and African leaders in Beijing, China has been upping the pressure on Taiwan’s last remaining ally on the continent, eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, to come over to China’s side, diplomatic sources say.


Swaziland People Not Allowed to Elect Government

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) in Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini) is deliberately misleading voters into believing they are voting for a government when they are not.

It is spreading false messages on social media platforms urging people to go to the polls so they can determine their own future and that of their families. The first round of voting takes place on 25 August 2018.

It is spreading false messages on social media platforms urging people to go to the polls so they can determine their own future and that of their families. The first round of voting takes place on 25 August 2018.



Regional leaders call for calm ahead of Zimbabwe poll ruling

Southern African leaders on Saturday called for calm in Zimbabwe as the country awaits a Constitutional Court hearing on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s disputed election victory.

The main opposition the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused the ruling Zanu-PF party and the election commission of fraud in the July 30 vote, the first in Zimbabwe since Robert Mugabe’s ouster in November.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) in a statement at the close of its two-day summit in Namibia, urged Zimbabweans to “remain calm while the legal processes regarding the outcome of the elections are being considered by the courts and to respect the will of the people”.

The Constitutional Court hearing is set to open on Wednesday and the court has 14 days from August 10 to rule on the case.


Zimbabwe drops charges against Mnangagwa Facebook critic

Zimbabwe police on Thursday dropped charges against a man who allegedly insulted President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Robert Mugabe’s successor, in a Facebook post, lawyers said.

Munyaradzi Shoko, a well-known critic of Mnangagwa, was held after he posted statements on Facebook saying the president’s name was “generally associated with evil and devilish deeds.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda said Shoko was detained at Harare central police station on Wednesday and charged with criminal nuisance.

Shoko, who heads the pressure group Children of Zimbabwe War Veterans Association, was also charged with public violence for allegedly taking part in protests by opposition supporters after July 30 elections.




Africa in General

Rebel soldiers rejoin South Sudanese army

A group of rebel soldiers is rejoining the South Sudanese army in the wake of last month’s peace deal between rebel factions and the government.

Brigadier General Chan Garang told reporters in South Sudan’s capital Juba that he and more than 300 officers and soldiers are coming back to the government. Army spokesman Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang confirmed the development.

This weekend will see a follow up to the revitalised 2015 peace deal with the government and rebel faction representatives expected to sign a follow-up agreement in Sudan’s capital Khartoum.


Ugandan security forces attack and detain journalists covering protests

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned Uganda security forces who beat and detained at least four journalists covering protests in the capital, Kampala.

The journalists were arrested while covering protests demanding the release of lawmakers, including opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine. They were arrested last week in connection to unrest in the northern town of Arua during which President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy was stoned.

“President Museveni’s public disdain for the news media is especially alarming given the ongoing crackdown by police and military personnel on journalists working to keep Uganda’s public informed,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative.


Security tight as Zimbabwe ConCourt hears MDC’s election challenge

Zimbabwe’s capital was under tight security Wednesday as the Constitutional Court began to hear the main opposition party’s challenge to the results of last month’s historic presidential election.

Police barricaded the streets around the court in central Harare amid high tensions over the crucial case which will decide if the election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is valid.

The opposition claims the vote had “gross mathematical errors” and it seeks a fresh election or a declaration that its candidate Nelson Chamisa is the winner of the July 30 vote.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared Mnangagwa narrowly won with 50.8 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff. Chamisa received 44.3 percent, the commission said.


Sudan, South Sudan committee to meet after al-Eid holiday: Ambassador

The Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) between Sudan and South Sudan will meet after Eid al-Adha holiday, said South Sudan’s Ambassador to Khartoum Mayan Dut Waal.

Waal, who congratulated President Omer al-Bashir on Eid al-Adha at the Republican Palace Wednesday, praised Sudan’s efforts that led to reaching a peace agreement among South Sudan’s warring parties.

He added relations between the two countries have witnessed significant development during the previous period, pointing to Khartoum hosting of South Sudan peace talks.

The South Sudanese envoy further said border crossing points between the two countries would be re-opened soon.

Sudan Tribune