News Briefs 24 January 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo

Tshisekedi Declared Congo’s President, but Runner-Up Revolts

Congo’s election crisis deepened early Sunday when the Constitutional Court confirmed the win of Felix Tshisekedi, rejecting claims of fraud, and runner-up Martin Fayulu promptly declared himself the country’s “only legitimate president.”

Fayulu’s supporters have alleged an extraordinary backroom deal by outgoing President Joseph Kabila to rig the vote in favor of the opposition after the ruling party’s candidate did so poorly that a Plan B was needed. Neither side has acknowledged the accusations.

The court, however, said Fayulu offered no proof to back his assertions that he had won easily based on leaked data attributed to the electoral commission.

Voice of America

DRC presidential inauguration set for Thursday

Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi will be sworn in on Thursday as Democratic Republic of Congo’s next president, sources said in Kinshasa, ending uncertainty about when the ceremony would take place.

The inauguration will take place at the Palace of the Nation, the seat of the presidency, starting at noon (1100 GMT), aides to Tshisekedi and outgoing President Joseph Kabila said on Wednesday.

It will be the first peaceful transition of power in the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Tshisekedi, 55, will be taking the helm from Kabila who at only 47 has ruled the vast country for 18 years, succeeding his father Laurent-Desire, who was assassinated in 2001.



Somalia declares UN envoy persona non grata

Somalia’s government has ordered the United Nations envoy to the country to leave, amid questions over the arrest of the al-Shabab extremist group’s former deputy leader who had run for a regional presidency.

A foreign ministry statement late Tuesday accuses Nicholas Haysom of diplomatic overreach that violated the Horn of Africa nation’s sovereignty, declaring him “persona non grata.” He arrived as envoy a few months ago.

Haysom had questioned the legal basis used in the arrest last month of Mukhtar Robow, a former al-Shabab spokesman who defected from the group in 2017, and whether U.N.-funded regional police in the Southwest were involved.


Ethiopian troops who are part of the African Union force in Somalia and Somali police arrested Robow days before the regional election in which Robow had been a leading candidate. Deadly protests followed. Ethiopia has not commented.

Associated Press

Ex-Somalia President Sheikh Sharif sets eye on Presidency

Sheikh Sharif served as the Head of State in 2009-11. He said the inability of the current leadership to restore peace and security in the Horn of Africa country has compelled him to make a come-back to politics.

Speaking during an interview with The Standard, the ex-President said during his tenure he successfully waged a war against Al Shabaab militants, noting that after he left office, the members of the extremist group made a resurgence.

“When I was the President, we managed to restore security in Somalia. We brought back peace and the country was united.”

Sheikh Sharif spoke a week after the 14 Riverside Drive terror attack, explaining that if he is elected to office, he will lobby the international community to strengthen the capacity of his country’s security forces.

Standard Media

Central African Republic

Central African Republic’s warring factions to hold peace talks

Mediated by the African Union, the Central African Republic (CAR) government will hold peace talks with 14 militia groups today in Khartoum, Sudan.

Frustrated by the CAR’s high unemployment, a 37% literacy rate and a corrupt ruling class, Islamic militias toppled CAR President Francois Bozize six years ago. Since then, sectarian human rights violations led by Christian and Muslim militias has engulfed the country.

Under pressure from human rights groups, the government is unlikely to concede to the militias’ demands for amnesty.

With 80% of CAR controlled by militias competing for its wealth of gold, uranium and diamonds, 1.2 million people have either fled the country or are internally displaced. Just this month Muslim militias invaded Bakouma, a uranium-rich town, burning 90% of homes. Instead of CAR’s natural resources offering economic opportunity for African countries, the country presents a huge refugee burden, especially for neighbouring Chad.

Foreign Brief

Aid group warns of Central African Republic ‘catastrophe’

The leader of an international aid group says Central African Republic “is steering toward a catastrophe” unless a new round of peace talks in Sudan this week succeed.


Jan Egeland, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s secretary general, says repeated cycles of violence in one of the world’s poorest nations “have pushed people*s resistance to breaking point.”

Egeland said on Wednesday in a statement that a majority of Central African Republic’s 2.9 million people “urgently need humanitarian support.”

The country has faced interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, and violence has intensified and spread in recent months.



Sudan’s al-Bashir returns from Qatar without immediate pledge of financial support

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday ended a two-day visit to Qatar, during which he briefed the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani about the challenges facing his government.

Al-Bashir who is facing nationwide protests that began on 19 December arrived in Doha Tuesday hoping to receive financial support for his government.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Qatari Emiri Diwan said the meeting discussed various developments in Sudan, and that the Emir was briefed on the latest developments and challenges facing Sudan.

“The Emir affirmed Qatar’s firm stance on Sudan’s unity and stability,” said the statement without speaking about an immediate pledge of financial support to the visiting president.

Sudan Tribune

Omar al-Bashir launches media crackdown as Sudan protests continue

The government of Omar al-Bashir in Sudan has launched an “alarming” crackdown on journalists covering weeks of protests against the regime.

At least five reporters have been detained by the national intelligence security services and are being held at undisclosed locations. Dozens of others have been arrested and held before being released.

Khartoum has also revoked the work permits of correspondents working for two Arab-language regional news networks preventing them from working in the country.

“We expect the blackout to get worse and more violations by the authorities against the media as the protests continue,” said Khalid Ahmed of the Sudanese Journalists’ Network.

The Guardian

South Sudan

South Sudan pursues fragile peace, but people remain wary

South Sudan opposition commander Moses Lokujo flipped through his notes, explaining international humanitarian law to an attentive group of senior officers.

“Soldiers are not supposed to kill someone who’s not an enemy,” he said. “And if a civilian is walking with a goat it doesn’t mean you can steal it just because you have a gun.”

Just months ago, such training seemed implausible in a country that was embroiled in a five-year civil war that killed almost 400 000 people and displaced millions. Since a fragile peace deal was signed in September, however, South Sudan’s previously warring parties have been trying to rebuild trust in some of the areas hardest-hit by the war.

On a trip this month to government and opposition-held territories in Kajo Keji in Central Equatoria state, The Associated Press met with both sides who said the reconciliation of former rivals President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar was the reason peace efforts appear to be working on the ground.


JMEC urges South Sudan peace partners to accelerate implementation of security arrangements

The unification of armed forces will be “a decisive milestone” for the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement said the acting head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) who called to speed up the process.

During the past four months, the signatories of the revitalized peace pact made little progress on the implementation of the security arrangements. The discussions were mainly focusing on troops cantonment, their sustainment and the subsequent reintegration.

Since the signing of the peace agreement, experts and military observers warned many points related to these three aspects were flawed and require more discussion during the implementation phase.

Also, the lack of funding becomes an additional challenge because the unification process is costly and require a lot of money.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

OOTT and Abroad Communities Ministry slams Moroccan authorities repression against Sahrawi masses in the occupied parts of Western Sahara

The Ministry of the Occupied Territories and Abroad Communities has strongly criticized  of the Moroccan authorities’ repression and harassment against the Sahrawi people  the occupied parts of Western Sahara, in communiqué issued by it  on the horizon of theThe King of Spain’s upcoming visit to Morocco, a copy of which obtained by SPS

“The ministry expressed vigorous condemnation of the Moroccan occupation authority’s repression, harassment and siege of the masses of our people in the occupied territories and southern Morocco and Sahrawi political prisoners in Moroccan Jails” the Ministry statement confirms

The communiqué reiterated its strong condemnation of the Spanish government’s complicity with the Moroccan occupation, the last example of which was the handover of the activist Hussein Ould Bechir Ould Brahim to the Moroccan authorities on 17/01/2019.

It appealed all Conscientious people of the organizations and associations of the international community, especially Spanish and French, to reveal the complicity of their governments and their continued support for the Moroccan occupation regime.

Sahara Press Service

Calls to detain vessel carrying fish cargo from disputed Western Sahara

An organisation working to preserve the resources of the occupied Western Sahara has asked the Port of Cape Town to detain a vessel that is due to land in Cape Town on Saturday.

The vessel is alleged to contain about 5,500 tonnes of fish, caught in the exclusive economic zone waters of occupied Western Sahara between December last year and early this year.

The Western Sahara Resource Watch has called for the detention of the vessel. The organisation is relying on a precedent set by the high court in Port Elizabeth in June 2017 and February 2018, following the detention of the vessel NM Cherry Blossom, which carried phosphate rock illegally exported from the Western Sahara when it entered the Port Elizabeth Harbour in May 2017. The phosphate was designated for a company in New Zealand.



Civil Servants In Swaziland Set To Strike Over Salary Hikes

Civil servants in Swaziland are set to go on a countrywide strike on January 28, The international organizer for the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), Njabulo Dlamini, said that the main demand of the strike was the a cost of living adjustment (CoLA) of 6.55%, which translates into a salary increment. Workers had gone on strike for the same demand in August/September last year but it was not accepted by the regime of king Mswati. The Public Sector Associations of Swaziland (PSAS) has also released a statement supporting the demand. Employees across all kinds of government offices, ministries, departments, schools, colleges, clinics, hospitals, transport departments and others will be taking part in the national strike. Swaziland is the last remaining absolute monarchy in the sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Dlamini, the percentage of the CoLA is now double that of last year. The CPS, in their statement, accused the autocratic Mswati regime of trying to recently disrupt a teachers’ preparatory meeting by arresting the two leaders. The CPS also reiterated its call for “Maximum Defiance in the Maximum Number of Sites” against the brutal regime of King Mswati, on behalf of the struggling masses of Swaziland, resolving to respond with “direct decisive force” against the oppressive actions of the regime.

News Click



‘Don’t Join That Strike’

These were the words of the Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, yesterday as he issued a press statement informing public sector associations (PSAs) not to engage in the strike action scheduled for Monday.

He said partaking in the strike action would be at the expense of the education of pupils and the health of the citizenry.

Instead, he said the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) shall continue to engage unions to encourage them to join the effort to find ways of reducing government expenditures, improving service delivery and improving the economy.

Through Government Press Statement No.1 of 2019, Dlamini expressed concern over the proposed strike action by PSAs.

Times of Swaziland


Zimbabwe troops accused of ‘systematic torture’ of protesters

A government-appointed human rights group in Zimbabwe has accused soldiers of using “systematic torture” in a crackdown on protests.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission strongly criticised authorities for using troops to quell demonstrations.

Unrest broke out more than a week ago following a sharp rise in fuel prices

A government spokesman defended the crackdown, telling the BBC: “When things get out of hand, a bit of firmness is needed.”

Reports have emerged of assaults allegedly carried out by the military in various parts of the capital, Harare.

News Day

Zim High Court rules internet shutdown illegal, orders govt to restore full internet to the country

Zimbabwe’s High Court has ordered the government to restore full internet to the country. The court ruled that the government’s shutdown of the internet was illegal because the Minister of State for Security, who ordered the internet closure, does not have powers to issue such a directive.

The court said only President Emmerson Mnangagwa has the authority to make such an order.

Zimbabwe’s government closed the internet for much of last week. Over the weekend it restored partial internet, but kept a blackout on social media apps like Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter.

A spokesperson for Zimbabwe’s largest trade union said police have arrested the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Japhet Moyo.


Africa in General

EU, AU urge DRC leader to unite country after tense polls

The European Union and African Union on Tuesday committed to work closely with Democratic Republic of Congo’s president-elect Felix Tshisekedi, backing off reservations about the disputed vote.

Speaking after a meeting of EU-AU government ministers, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Tshisekedi, the son of the late opposition leader Etienne, to help heal divisions in the turbulent central African country. He faces inauguration on Thursday.

“The task facing the new president contains major challenges, in several sectors, on the security, social, economic and governance levels,” Mogherini told reporters in Brussels. “All of this requires that the president be a unifier; that he engages in a dialogue inside the country as well as abroad.”


Central African Republic war crimes suspect sent to court

A war crime suspects who is also head of Central African Republic’s soccer federation has been sent to the International Criminal Court, where he faces allegations of leading a mainly Christian militia that targeted Muslims in deadly interreligious fighting.

The court says in a statement that Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona was transferred to the court on Wednesday from France, where he was arrested last month on an ICC warrant.

Prosecutors say Ngaissona was the most senior leader of a militia known as anti-Balaka in 2014 when it was accused of crimes including murder and rape of Muslims in fighting that broke out the previous year when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui.


Zimbabwe’s civil servants to strike on Friday over salaries

Zimbabwe faces a new wave of unrest as the group representing government workers announced on Wednesday that civil servants across the country will go on strike after salary negotiations failed.

David Dzatsunga, secretary of the Civil Service Apex Council, said the strike by some 500,000 civil servants will begin on Friday as the southern African nation’s economic collapse deepens and frustration with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government grows.

A crackdown on last week’s protests over a sharp rise in fuel prices continued in the courts and on the streets, where witnesses and rights groups reported abuses by the military, police and ruling party youth gangs. Mnangagwa’s call for national dialogue has been met with skepticism.