News Briefs 29 September 2017


Al Bashir extends helping hand to South Sudan

Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir has extended a helping hand to South Sudan saying his government will pull out all the stops to ensure that there is a lasting peace and stability in their neighbouring state.

Al Bashir gave the keynote address at the opening of the Intelligence and Security Services Conference underway in the capital Khartoum.

He says Sudan’s national security will not be complete unless there is stability in South Sudan. Intelligence, security officials and experts from across the continent are trying to find lasting solutions to threats facing Africa.

They have been looking into how they could combat terrorism, human trafficking and other forms of organised crime. The conference was opened by Sudanese President, Omar Al Bashir.

“I would like to affirm through this conference that we will spare no efforts in giving all the assistance possible for our refugees from our neighbouring country South Sudan, despite the absence of the assistance coming from the international community,” says Bashir.


FM Meets President of International Crisis Group

Foreign Minister, Professor Ibrahim Ghandour met at Sudan UN Mission and on the sideline of the 72nd session of UN General Assembly with President of International Crisis Group, Jean Marie Guéhenno.

The meeting discussed national dialogue initiative, negotiations over the Two Areas and progress of Sudan-US relations.

The meeting also talked the situations in Libya and the South Sudan crisis and the role of Sudan within IGAD efforts to resolve the conflict in addition to Gulf crisis.


South Sudan

U.S. urges South Sudan to seize last chance to save peace deal

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged South Sudan’s leaders to seize “the last chance” to salvage the 2015 peace agreement and end the worsening violence that has forced 4 million people to flee their homes and left 7.6 million in desperate need of aid.

Haley told the U.N. Security Council that “the people of South Sudan are suffering and the promise of their hard-fought independence is slipping away.”

She said opposing parties in the world’s newest nation must commit themselves to the revitalization process put forward by the eight-nation East African regional group known as IGAD “to resuscitate the peace agreement — and to do so quickly for time is running short.”

The Philadelphia Tribune

 South Sudan’s Kiir, UN envoy differ over regional forces

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and the head of the United Nations Mission in the country (UNMISS) have each differed over the deployment of regional protection forces.

President Kiir on Wednesday directed all the country’s security organs to extend full cooperation to regional protection force, saying initial differences over the airport had finally been resolved.

“There is no dispute. What happened when they [regional force] came has resolved. They wanted to deploy at the airport, but we said that if they have gone to the airport, we will leave them to stay there but we stop cooperation with them. There will be no force coming in and we are not going to give any clearance,” said Kiir.

Sudan Tribune

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN mission deploys ‘blue helmets’ to protect civilians and refugees

Responding to the worsening security situation near a major town in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations mission in the country has deployed peacekeepers to deter any attacks on the city and to prevent escalation in clashes.

According to the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym MONUSCO, clashes had occurred in the area of Uvira, in South Kivu province, between presumed armed groups and the Congolese national army (FARDC).

Noting that the response is guided by the Mission’s mandate, Maman Sidikou, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO, said: “[We are] strongly committed to the protection of civilians, including vulnerable groups such as refugees and displaced people.”

He called on the armed groups to immediately cease this hostility including all forms of violence against constituted authority and innocent civilians.

UN News

Refugees Reaching Zambia Accuse DRC Troops of Killing Civilians

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government forces have been killing civilians in an insurgency-hit region, prompting the latest influx of refugees into northern Zambia, a senior UN official said, citing accounts of asylum seekers.

Zambia fears a looming humanitarian crisis after more than 6,000 refugees fleeing turmoil in the DRC entered its territory in one month.

Pierrine Aylara, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) chief representative in Zambia, told Reuters that the latest asylum seekers had said they were fleeing Congolese government forces.

“It is the government of the DRC that is said to be persecuting its own people by killing, maiming and torching houses, as well as committing rape and looting food stored in granaries,” Aylara said.



Human Rights Improve in Somalia, Big Challenges Remain

A report finds significant improvement is being made in human rights in Somalia, but it notes huge challenges to continued progress, compounded by conflict, drought and poverty, remain to be overcome.

The report, which has been submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, says both natural and man-made factors are to blame for ongoing human rights abuses in Somalia. A major concern is the violation of the right to life. The report says Al-Shabab militants are killing military personnel and civilians through improvised explosives, ambushes, assassinations and other random attacks.

It also blames fighting between clan militias for civilian casualties. And the report notes severe drought conditions in the country are contributing to a dire situation.

Voice of America

Al-Shabab launches deadly attack on army base

Al-Shabab fighters in Somalia attacked a military base outside the capital Mogadishu with car bombs and gunfire on Friday, killing at least eight soldiers before looting the outpost.

“There was heavy fighting this morning,” said Mohamed Haji Ali, a Somali military commander, confirming the attack to local media without providing details of casualties.

Residents said the attack left bodies of government soldiers scattered on the ground while al-Shabab fighters looted the base, stealing vehicles and weapons.


Central African Republic

The Country Must Combat Impunity to Achieve Peace, President Says

In a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the president of Central African Republic told the 47-member body the road to peace for his embattled country lies in combating impunity and making people accountable for their crimes.

CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera says those who have caused the deaths of more than 4,000 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands since conflict erupted in 2013 must be punished. Fighting started when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital, Bangui. Anti-Balaka militias, mostly Christians, fought back.


Security risks push humanitarians out of Central African Republic, even as need grows

A deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic is threatening to undermine an already frail and underfunded aid response to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Attacks against humanitarian workers and ongoing violence have pushed relief organizations out of key regions, despite 52 percent of the country’s population needing immediate assistance.

Eleven aid workers have lost their lives in CAR since the beginning of 2017, and the International NGO Safety Organisation has recorded 232 instances targeting humanitarians, including attacks on NGO premises and convoys and during assessment missions. Aid workers have also been held temporarily by various armed factions, and in some cases, tortured, Joseph Inganji, head of office for U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in CAR, told Devex

“Instances perpetrated against humanitarians represent 30 percent of the global incidents against humanitarians, which means Central African Republic is the most dangerous place for humanitarians to work,” Inganji told Devex.



Western Sahara

Western Sahara independence emissary refuses to leave Lima airport

An emissary of an independence movement in the Western Sahara has spent two weeks in Lima airport and refuses to leave, after she was denied entry to Peru for alleged political activities on a prior visit, Peru’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Jadiyetu El Mohtar is a Spanish citizen who describes herself as the ambassador to Peru for a disputed area in the Western Sahara known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

Peru is one of a few dozen countries that has recognized the self-declared SADR, which the Polisario independence movement claims is a separate state from Morocco. SADR is not recognized as a state by the United Nations and Peru suspended diplomatic ties with SADR in 1996.


Bahrain reiterates support for Morocco dominance in Western Sahara

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa has given his country’s full backing for a final solution to the Western Sahara issue under full Moroccan sovereignty.

Addressing the UN General Assembly convening in New York, Al Khalifa stressed “the need to support the negotiations aimed at achieving a consensual and final political solution to this problem in the context of Moroccan national sovereignty.”

The Bahraini official argued that the final solution should also be based on “relevant Security Council resolutions that confirm the seriousness of Morocco’s self-government initiative” and urged “all parties to fully cooperate with the United Nations in this respect.”

Middle East Monitor


King Misleads UN On Swazi Freedom

Only days after it was learnt that people who criticise King Mswati of Swaziland face two years’ jail, the King misled the UN General Assembly saying that ‘all citizens’ have the opportunity to air their views.

King Mswati was speaking at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday (20 September 2017).

The King who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch in a kingdom where political parties are banned from contesting elections and prodemocracy campaigners are prosecuted under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, said, ‘The kingdom of eSwatini [Swaziland] is committed to peace and a decent life for all. We are also firm believers in the principle of consultative decision-making. This involves a transparent and all-inclusive undertaking that grants every citizen an opportunity to voice their views in order to constructively contribute to the social, economic, cultural and political development of the country.’


School Children ‘Face Starvation’

Children in Swaziland must ‘brace themselves for starvation’, according to a head teacher as once again the government has failed to deliver food to schools.

This is part of a long-running problem where government has not paid its bills to suppliers.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, reported on Monday (11 September 2017) that as the third school term opened food promised by the government had not been delivered.



Zimbabwe court orders release of activist pastor

A Zimbabwean court on Tuesday ordered the release of an activist pastor and government critic who was detained over a video on social media lamenting the country’s worsening economic crisis.

A Harare magistrate ruled that Evan Mawarire be freed immediately after the prosecution delayed taking him to court.

Elisha Singano said the prosecution “were in breach of the 48 hours mandatory time that an accused person must be brought to court” and ordered the cleric’s release without conditions.


Zimbabwe threatens to crack down on social media

The Zimbabwean government has warned that it will crack down on social media after accusing it of spreading false rumours of shortages and causing panic buying of fuel and other goods, Reuters reported.

Amid a mounting economic crisis, which has included most service stations in Harare running out of fuel since Monday and long queues outside those that are still selling, Harare has placed the blame on social media and said it would take unspecified measures.

“The trigger to the artificial shortages that was created was most unexpected. In fact, it was like a bombshell because there were no shortages in the market”, said Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa.




Africa in General

Kenya’s talks collapse on how to conduct a fresh election

Kenya’s officials say talks have collapsed between the electoral commission, ruling party and opposition on how to conduct fresh presidential elections.

Senator James Orengo, opposition candidate Raila Odinga’s representative, on Thursday said the talks failed because the ruling party has introduced changes in the electoral law and is using its majority in parliament to remove a requirement that results be transmitted electronically, a measure introduced to curb electoral fraud following the 2007 flawed poll.

Kenya’s electoral commission set October 26 to rerun the presidential elections after the Supreme Court nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s August re-election citing irregularities and illegalities in the vote-counting.


Boko Haram: UN warning over school closures in NE Nigeria

Most schools in the state worst-hit by the Boko Haram conflict remain shut, the UN said on Friday, blaming the jihadists for deliberating targeting education.

Unicef, the UN children’s agency, said at least 57% of schools in Borno state were closed as the new academic year began this month, with teacher numbers as well as buildings badly hit by the violence.

More than 2 295 teachers have been killed and 19 000 displaced, while nearly 1 400 schools have been destroyed in eight years of fighting, it added in a statement.


Mugabe expected in SA next week

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is expected in South Africa on Tuesday next week on an official visit, the presidency has said in a statement.

“President Jacob Zuma will on Tuesday, 03 October 2017, host the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency President Robert Mugabe, during his official visit to South Africa to attend the 2nd Session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC) scheduled to take place in Pretoria,” read part of the statement.

The BNC session, which will be co-chaired by both Zuma and Mugabe, will afford an opportunity to review the state of the bilateral relationship between the two neighbouring countries.