News Briefs 30 June 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo violence fuels fears of return to 90s bloodbath

Thousands of people have been killed and more than a million displaced in the most severe outbreak of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent years, raising fears of a return to the bloody civil wars of the 1990s and increasing pressure on President Joseph Kabila to step down or hold elections.

The violence in the vast, resource-rich central African country has been concentrated in the central Kasai region, where local communities formed a militia in support of a local leader who opposed the government and was killed by the police last summer.

The authorities have been battling insurgents ever since, and there have been reports of dozens of massacres, ambushes and attacks on villagers. On Monday local officials announced the discovery of 10 mass graves, bringing the total found in Kasai since the outbreak of violence to about 50.

The Guardian

Zuma Urges Kabila’s DRC to Engage in Dialogue Rather Than Conflict

President Jacob Zuma says the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) needs negotiations and dialogue rather than conflict to chart its future.

He was speaking to his counterpart Joseph Kabila in Pretoria on Sunday at the end of the 13th meeting of South Africa’s oldest binational commission with any country.

Zuma notes that South Africa and the DRC have been working together for the past 20 years.

South Africa’s helped in the training of the DRC national army, police, diplomats; providing technical electoral support; as well as conducting the important public service census.



Militants blocking aid to starving children in Somalia, charity says

Lack of access to hungry parts of Somalia controlled by Islamist militants is threatening the lives of tens of thousands of malnourished children, a charity said on Thursday, as the war-torn nation risks falling back into famine.

Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), often fatal without medical care, has “skyrocketed” to more than three times the emergency threshold of two percent in Hiraan region’s Mataban District, a survey by Save the Children found.

“Scaling up to provide services to everyone affected is a challenge because we have around two million people living in al Shabaab controlled areas,” said Hassan Noor Saadi, Save the Children’s Somalia country director.

Thomson Reuters Foundation

20 000 children in Somalia risk starvation, aid group says

An aid group is warning that more than 20 000 children in drought-hit Somalia could starve to death in the coming months without continued international assistance.

Save the Children said on Thursday that the number of cases of severe acute malnutrition has “skyrocketed” in several of the nine Somali districts assessed.

The new survey warns of “famine-like conditions” in parts of the Horn of Africa nation.

The aid group says that without $1.5bn in assistance, Somalia could face a hunger crisis as severe as the one in 2011, when famine killed more than a quarter-million people. Half of the victims were children.


Central African Republic

At least 100 dead in Central African Republic town, mayor says

Clashes between armed groups in the Central African Republic town of Bria have left at least 100 people dead in the wake of a peace agreement signed this week in Rome that called for an immediate cease-fire, officials said on Wednesday.

Security remained so precarious that Red Cross teams could not venture into the streets to collect bodies for burial.

“For the moment, no one dares to go out as everything suggests that fighting can resume at any time,” said the Reverend Gildas Gbeni of the St Louis Catholic mission in Bria.


Red Cross Worker Shot Dead in Central African Republic


An unidentified armed group in Central African Republic shot and killed a Red Cross worker in a town where more than 100 people have died in militia attacks in recent weeks, the Red Cross said on Monday.

Joachim Ali, a Red Cross volunteer in the diamond-mining town of Bangassou in the southeast of the country, was killed on Friday evening while on duty at the organization’s compound, according to a spokesman.

He is the second Red Cross worker to be killed during the conflict, after a driver died in 2014. The Central African Red Cross Society is investigating Ali’s death, a statement said.

Thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have fled their homes in the conflict that broke out after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.

Voice of America


UN Approves Drawdown of Peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur Region

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday approved a phased drawdown of peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur region that could almost halve the number of troops over the next year if conditions are conducive and the government is cooperative.

UN chief Antonio Guterres and the African Union (AU) had recommended the move to the 15-member Security Council in a report last month. The council unanimously adopted a resolution on Thursday that could also cut police by more than a quarter.

Conflict in Darfur began in 2003 when mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms against Sudan’s Arab-led government. A joint AU/UN peacekeeping operation, known as UNAMID, has been on the ground for the past decade.


Sudan hopes US travel ban won’t harm sanctions bid

Sudan expressed hopes on Tuesday that a US court’s decision to partially reinstate a travel ban that includes its citizens will not harm its bid to have American sanctions lifted.

The US Supreme Court on Monday partially reinstated President Donald Trump’s travel ban imposing restrictions on citizens from Sudan, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

The ruling comes just weeks ahead of an expected decision by Trump on whether to permanently lift the United States’ 20-year-old trade embargo on the North African country.

“Sudan hopes the decision on sanctions should not be impacted by this latest decision,” senior foreign ministry official Abdelghani Elnaim said in a statement.


South Sudan

  1. Sudan national dialogue officials in S. Africa for talks with rebel leader

The National Dialogue Committee Co-Chairman Angelo Beda, flanked by several senior officials, Wednesday arrived in South Africa to consult with the exiled former First Vice President turned rebel leader, Riek Machar.

The delegation is yet to arrange how and when it will meet Machar in coordination with authorities of the host country.

Machar has been under solitary confinement since he left Sudan for South Africa. His departure was decided by the IGAD leader and backed by the American administration. However, South Sudanese officials say his accommodations are paid by Juba.

Officials in Juba, in the past months, said they do not want to involve the rebel leader personally in any negotiated settlement and suggested that he can designate any of his aides to represent him.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan cancels Independence Day for second year

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation gripped by civil war, has cancelled its official Independence Day celebrations for the second year running.


“We are not celebrating… because our situation does not require us to celebrate at a time when there are people in need of these funds,” explained government spokesman Michael Makuei of the cancellation.

South Sudan split with Sudan on July 9, 2011 but has been engulfed by civil war since 2013.

Violence and subsequent famine have killed tens of thousands and forced 3.7 million people from their homes.


Western Sahara

Committee of 24 reaffirms its mandate of decolonization of Western Sahara

The UN Special Committee on Decolonization, known as the Committee of 24, reaffirmed its mandate for the decolonization of the territory of Western Sahara, disavowing formally Morocco which wanted to question it.

In its report sanctioning the work of its substantive session which ended on Friday evening in New York, the Committee of 24 unanimously reaffirmed its commitment to the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.

The Committee issued a scathing response to the Ambassador of Morocco to the United Nations, Omar Hilal, who tried, in vain, to call into question this mandate, by claiming falsely that the settlement of the conflict in Western Sahara was the exclusive prerogative of the Security Council alone.

Sahara Press Service

Pierre Galand denounces an attempt to present Western Sahara as Moroccan territory

The President of the European Coordination of Committees in support of the Saharawi people, Pierre Galand, protested Friday against the way French television channel France2 presented documentary “Morocco seen from the sky “, denouncing an attempt to make Western Sahara  as a Moroccan territory.

“I would like to express my total disapproval of the way in which your channel France 2 presented the documentary of Pascal Plisson and Ali Baddou, on 22 June 2017, in the evening: ‘Morocco seen from the sky,'” he wrote in a letter to the French Television Mediator, Gora Patel.

Pierre Galand considered that even if the images captured by Yann Arthus-Bertrand are “superb”, the channel should not “authorize” the diffusion of a so-called “documentary” which is not more than “a propaganda film of the Moroccan government that attempts to present Western Sahara as Moroccan territory, map and interventions of the supporting journalist “.

Sahara Press Service


Swaziland’s economy to grow by 1% – IMF

Swaziland’s economy is likely to grow by not more than one percent, if projections made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are anything to go by, APA can report here on Tuesday. IMF Mission Chief for Swaziland Geremia Palomba said this to local media during the article IV visit convened at the Ministry of Finance boardroom on Tuesday.

“In 2016, a prolonged drought and a sharp decline in revenue from Southern African Customs Union (SACU) severely hit the economy. An expansionary fiscal policy weakened the fiscal accounts and led to the accumulation of domestic arrears,” he said during the media briefing.

Journal du

Zuma concludes Swaziland visit, calls for intra-trade relations

President Jacob Zuma concluded his visit to the Kingdom of Swaziland on Friday, where he attended the fifth Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) Summit Heads of State and Government.

Zuma appealed to the member states of SACU to advance intra-trade relations in the region.

Zuma said it would “help ease the burden of poverty and unemployment facing many people across the countries that are part of the union”.

“I would like to like to also thank the Council of Ministers for having laid the foundation to facilitate the development of SACU economies, SACU needs to move beyond its colonial history and architecture into an arrangement that facilitate growth of the region” Zuma said in a statement.

The Citizen


Proposed Zimbabwe coalition failing to take off

One by one candidates for Zimbabwe’s 2018 general elections are coming out in the open as a possible grand coalition to face President Robert Mugabe is failing to take off due to different interests among political parties.

The first to toy with the idea of going into politics full swing was #thisflag campaigner Pastor Evan Mawarire in February this year. On Monday‚ his lawyer Fadzai Mahere declared interest in running for the Mount Pleasant parliamentary seat as an independent. The seat is currently under Zanu PF.

But the biggest announcement came Thursday from a former minister in President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet. Dr Nkosana Moyo told journalists that he would face his former boss for the presidency.


Zimbabwe’s Mawarire Arrested For ‘Promoting Public Violence’

The leader of the ThisFlag protest movement is now facing a charge of promoting public violence.

Evan Mawarire was arrested on Monday while addressing protesting medical students at the University of Zimbabwe. Defence lawyer Harrison Nkomo says Mawarire will likely appear in court on Wednesday.

He’s been charged with taking part in a public gathering for the purpose of committing public violence.

Mawarire denies the charge, he says he was invited to address University of Zimbabwe medical students who are angry over recent fees hike.


Africa in General

SA, DRC consolidate bilateral relations

South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo are looking to consolidate their relations. Delegations from both nations are attending the 10th Session of the Bi-National Commission in Pretoria.

South Africa and the DRC launched the Bi-National Commission in 2004 leading to the signing of the General Cooperation Agreement – which enjoins the two countries to promote political, economic and social cooperation.

After two decades of bilateral cooperation, the two countries have re-committed to working together to improve their partnership in various fields.


UN ends peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast after 13 years

The UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast comes to an end Friday, 13 years after it intervened to implement a peace agreement as the West African economic powerhouse was split in two by civil war.

While many praise the mission’s success in stabilising the country after years of conflict and post-electoral violence, others point to a recent series of army mutinies as a sign that peace remains tentative.

“The departure of UNOCI shows the remarkable progress that has been accomplished in Ivory Coast on the path to peace, lasting stability and economic prosperity,” said Aichatou Mindaoudou, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for the country.


Mbeki: Masire’s leadership ‘made us proud to call ourselves Africans’

Former president Thabo Mbeki has paid tribute to ex-Botswana leader Sir Ketumile Masire, who was laid to rest in his home village, Kanye, outside the capital Gaborone.

Masire died in hospital last week at the age of 91.

He was buried on Thursday, next to his wife.

Said Mbeki: “We can proclaim to all humanity that from this small acre of Africa was born a son Ketumile Masire, whose quality of leadership made us proud to call ourselves African.”

Mbeki also paid tribute to the role that Masire played during the liberation struggles of the southern region and the rest of Africa.