News Briefs 30 August 2019


Re-engagement goes off the rails

Last week’s damning statement by the United States, European Union and other members of the international community on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe after opposition protests scheduled for August 16 were banned has thrown President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s international re-engagement agenda into disarray.

The international community is consistently insisting on the implementation of far-reaching political and economic reforms in line with a roadmap unveiled by the government.

While Mnangagwa’s government insists that the re-engagement drive is on track, sentiments from foreign embassies point to a diplomatic rift.

The Independent

Zimbabwe human rights abuses rattle UN

Outgoing United Nations (UN) Resident Co-ordinator in Zimbabwe Bishow Parajuli says government must bring to justice perpetrators of human rights violations, as lack of action is hurting the country.

Parajuli said although the government has made promises to stop human rights abuses and bring to book perpetrators of atrocities on citizens, there was need for action to complement the words.

This follows a continuation of brutality and assault on citizens by the country’s security forces, after unarmed citizens who had gathered to peacefully protest in the capital a fortnight ago.

“They (government) condemn (the brutality), but sadly it has happened. I know there is concern and they agree for it to not happen et cetera, but there is a need to really challenge and to bring to justice those who have perpetrated and done these bad things, which is ultimately hurting the country broadly, and it is hurting bringing unity among the society and all these efforts for peaceful movements and progress being driven. We need to continue to hammer this,” Parajuli said at the sidelines of a briefing at the UN offices in Harare.

The Independent

Africa in General

Sudan urges UN to withdraw all peacekeepers by June 2020

Sudan has called on the United Nations Security Council to lift its suspension of troop withdrawals and ensure all peacekeepers leave Darfur by June 2020, but the African Union said overall security in the vast western region “remains volatile.”

Sudan’s UN Ambassador Omer Mohamed Siddig told the Council on Monday that it was time to shift from peacekeeping to peacebuilding in Darfur and to end restrictions on the government’s movement of arms and troops in and out of the region.

In late June, the Security Council voted unanimously to put the brakes on the withdrawal of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force from Darfur, as the country dealt with a political crisis.


Zambian opposition leader arrested for defaming president Lungu

Police arrested the leader of a small Zambian opposition party on Wednesday on charges of defaming President Edgar Lungu by describing the head of state as a dog, his lawyer said.

Chishimba Kambwili, leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), defended his comments as he was led by officers, telling journalists that his statement in an online video had been misunderstood.

Kambwili and other opposition politicians have accused Lungu of cracking down on dissent – a charge regularly dismissed by the government which says it protects free speech.


Japan PM warns Africa about debt as China grows presence

Japan’s prime minister on Thursday warned African leaders against accumulating too much debt, in an apparent reference to Chinese infrastructure projects that some blame for damaging the finances of developing nations.

Addressing leaders from several African nations at a development conference in Yokohama, Shinzo Abe stressed that Tokyo was promoting “quality” infrastructure exports and investments, supported by Japan’s government-backed institutions.

“What should the government do to encourage (entrepreneurs) to exercise their skills?” Abe asked the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).


Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC announces new government 7 months after president inaugurated

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has announced a new coalition government, seven months after the inauguration of President Felix Tshisekedi.

Announced on Monday by the president’s spokesperson, the power-sharing agreement saw 23 members of the executive drawn from Tshisekedi’s Direction For Change party, and the remaining 42 from former long-time president Joseph Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition.

Gilbert Malaba, a member of Tshisekedi’s party, was appointed minister of interior and security, while the defence ministry went to Ngoy Mukena, a close Kabila ally.


DRC ex-health minister questioned over use of Ebola funds

Oly Ilunga, who resigned as DR Congo health minister last month, was questioned on Tuesday as part of an inquiry into the use of public funds earmarked to tackle the Ebola epidemic, his lawyer said.

The former minister’s evidence was heard by the attorney general and “trusts in the justice system of his country,” lawyer Guy Kabeya told AFP.

A judicial source said Ilunga had left “freely”. Three of the minister’s former co-workers, including a doctor, were held in custody the source added, confirming a report by the Top Congo radio station.

The hearings were part of a preliminary inquiry “into the management of substantial funds provided by the government for the battle against the Ebola virus”, which has claimed almost 2 000 lives, another source said.



Six countries block UN sanctions against Somalia’s Al-Shabaab

Six UN Security Council members on Wednesday blocked a move to include Somali jihadist group Al-Shabaab on a list of organizations such as Al-Qaeda that are under international sanctions, diplomatic sources said.

Several NGOs and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recently stepped in to oppose the classification, which would have effectively kept humanitarian aid away from millions of Somalis living in Al-Shabaab-controlled areas.

Germany, Belgium, Poland, France, Kuwait and the United States were the six countries whose votes blocked the implementation of the new sanctions.

Kenya, on the other hand, has pushed for tightening sanctions against Al-Shabaab since late last year, and especially since an attack by the group at a Nairobi hotel in January left 21 people dead.

Yahoo! News

Severe hunger threatens millions in Somalia as climate emergency deepens

Somalia faces a new humanitarian crisis with more than 2 million people now threatened by severe hunger, aid agencies say.

A further 3 million people are uncertain of their next meal, latest assessments suggest.

The new emergency comes two years after the threat of a major disaster in the unstable east African state was averted by timely aid from the international community.

Experts describe the crisis as a “climate emergency” and say communities are still struggling to recover from the lengthy drought that ended in 2017.

The Guardian

Central African Republic

Africa’s most turbulent country – and the women trying to fix it

By creating vibrant economic networks, women in the Central African Republic are coming to terms with the violence they have suffered during their country’s civil war.

The bakers of Bamingui have lost loved ones to war. Rebel soldiers drive past their roadside bread ovens daily. A spectre of violence remains. Regardless, Yvette Abaka and her female baking collective make dough and roll with it.

In this impoverished, rebel-held corner of the Central African Republic (CAR), this group of mothers came together last year to better their lot. Since then, their loaves have become a hit in the wider community, promoting the women as their families’ breadwinners and promising further, quietly profound, change.

“This bakery makes us more powerful than before,” says Abaka, the group’s leader and a 50-year-old mother of two. “My husband respects my work. Now I am his equal.”

The Guardian

UN threatens sanctions over Central African Republic peace pact violations

The United Nations special envoy for the Central African Republic on Friday threatened sanctions for violations of a peace agreement signed by the government and rebel groups to end a war that has ravaged the country since 2013.

The CAR is experiencing relative calm since the accord was signed in February between the government and 14 military groups — the eighth deal since the conflict erupted — but clashes are still regular in the landlocked country.

“Sanctions will be strictly applied to all those who violate the provisions of the agreement,” UN envoy Mankeur N’Diaye told several leaders and representatives of armed groups in Bangui in a follow-up meeting on the peace agreement.

“All that has been tolerated will not be tolerated from today,” he said.



Sudan awaits new cabinet as premier mulls line-up

Sudan’s new prime minister was on Thursday locked in talks to form the first cabinet since the ouster of veteran leader Omar al-Bashir, as the country transitions from decades of autocratic rule.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok had been due to name his key picks on Wednesday, following last week’s swearing in of a joint civilian-military sovereign council.

The council is due to steer the country through a three-year transition to civilian rule.

On Thursday a source close to Hamdok said the prime minister was still considering nominees for the cabinet.


Sudanese face daunting challenges on path to democracy

For the first time in three decades, Sudan has charted a path out of military rule following the formation of a power-sharing government by the pro-democracy movement and the generals who overthrew longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

But the fragile transition will be tested as leaders confront a daunting array of challenges. Decades of war and corruption have left the economy in shambles, and a U.S. terror designation has hindered Sudan’s return from its longtime status as a global pariah.

The civilian and military leaders who now make up the military-led sovereign council only came together under intense international pressure after a crackdown on protests threatened to derail the transition and raised fears of civil war.


South Sudan

South Sudan’s bishops praise peace agreement for neighboring Sudan

Catholic bishops in South Sudan praised the recent peace agreement for neighboring Sudan, which has experienced political turmoil since April, when the military ousted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

“Our hearts went out for Sudan during the period under which the country was facing the turmoil. Actually, we are still Sudanese; we share the common border; our history is intertwined; our behavior is the same; ours is a scenario of two countries with one system,” South Sudan’s bishops said in a statement Aug. 23.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir witnessed the peace agreement, and bishops in both countries are part of the same episcopal conference. South Sudan attained independence from Sudan July 9, 2011.

National Catholic Report

Thousands missing because of conflict and violence

As the world marks the International Day of Missing Persons, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is following more than 4,000 cases of missing South Sudanese. Most of them went missing because they were forced to flee violence and lost contact with their loved ones.

“Each of these cases represents a family who is searching and living with the agony of not knowing what happened to their loved one,” said James Reynolds, ICRC’s Head of Delegation in South Sudan. “Some of these families haven’t heard from their relatives for years and can’t move on. They wait for a husband, a son, a sister and suffer social, economic and psychological consequences.”

In 2019, the ICRC registered 451 missing people in South Sudan, bringing the total caseload to 4,225. However, with about four million people displaced inside and outside of the country, and the challenges to access some areas or limited cellular networks, the number of missing people in South Sudan is probably higher.

Relief Web