News Briefs 31 August 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

World Bank Project Aims to Tackle Gender-Based Violence in DRC by Focusing on Prevention

The World Bank is committing US$100 million in International Development Association (IDA)* financing to help prevent Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The project will provide help to survivors but also aim to shift social norms by promoting gender equality and behavioral change through strong partnerships with civil society organizations. In DRC—where 75 percent of women and 60 percent of men believe that wife beating is justified—involving men and boys in the process will demonstrate that violence is an issue that must be tackled at the community level and not just a “private matter.”

“In a country like DRC with a vibrant civil society, empowering community-based organizations and mobilizing them in the fight against gender-based violence is of crucial importance,” said Jean-Christophe Carret, the World Bank Country Director for the Democratic Republic of Congo. “As the lack of economic autonomy can be a driver of gender-based violence, the project will also build livelihoods and provide economic opportunities through savings and income-generating activities at the community level.”

Relief Web

DRC opposition leader barred from return

The Democratic Republic of Congo has barred Moise Katumbi from returning home on Friday to file a bid to run in the volatile country’s presidential elections.

Katumbi, a wealthy businessman and former governor of the province of Katanga, was forbidden to enter the DRC and charged with offences against state security, officials said.

The opposition leader who is 53, has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since May 2016 after falling out with President Joseph Kabila.

He had planned to fly by private jet from Johannesburg, South AFrica to Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga province, to lodge his application to stand in long-delayed elections in December — a move that would heap pressure on Kabila.

But the city’s mayor said on Thursday that Katumbi was refused entry, while the public prosecutor’s office said Katumbi had been charged with “harming the state’s domestic and external security” and would be immediately arrested if he returned.



New UK support to boost long-term stability in Somalia

The international community must do more to help the African Union lead the fight against al-Shabaab as Somalia takes on greater responsibility for its own security, Theresa May will say today.

The UK has a strong track record both in supporting the African Union and helping Somalia rebuild its police and military forces after decades of insecurity.

On a visit to a UK-backed Counter-IED training centre in Nairobi the Prime Minister will see British troops helping prepare soldiers from Kenya and the region to deploy as part of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).

British instructors and their Kenyan counterparts are training troops in the tactics and techniques needed to identify and destroy the home-made bombs which are increasingly the weapon of choice for terrorists in the region.

Government of UK

China pledges to support the government of SOMALIA

China has always supported Somalia in preserving its national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday, pledging China’s support for Somalia’s development.

President Xi made the remarks when meeting with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, who is in Beijing to attend the upcoming 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

China and Somalia enjoy a long history of friendship, Xi said, adding that Somalia was the first country in East Africa to establish diplomatic relations with China and was also one of the countries supporting the People’s Republic of China in restoring its lawful seat in the United Nations.

Horseed Media

Central African Republic

Human rights campaigners oppose general amnesty for Central African Republic armed groups

The armed groups have presented dozens of demands, including a general amnesty, to an African Union expert panel seeking to broker peace in the country, a dialogue that is scheduled to resume on August 27 in the western town of Bouar, when the armed groups will seek to “harmonize” their demands in meetings with the A.U. panel, before submitting a final list to the government.

RJDH reported that the general amnesty is one of 12 demands which are “non-negotiable.” According to RJDH, other demands include provision for a national dialogue to be held in a neutral negotiating country that eventually leads to constitutional change, that the groups be consulted on the choice of prime minister, and a process for the transformation of armed groups into political organizations.

In a joint statement published on Thursday, August 24, the Central African Human Rights League (LCDH), Central African Human Rights Observatory (OCDH), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said a general amnesty “would be incompatible with the government’s duty to bring those responsible for grave international crimes to justice and with victims’ rights to accountability.”

The Defense Post

UN condemns attack that leaves one ‘blue helmet’ dead in Central African Republic

In a statement issued by his Spokesman, Mr. Guterres offered his deepest condolences to the family of the deceased peacekeeper, as well as to the Government of Burundi.

The UN chief also recalled that intentionally directing attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and that sanctions can be applied against the perpetrators.

“He urges the Central African Republic (CAR) authorities to investigate them and swiftly bring those responsible to justice,” said the statement.

Fighting between the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia and the mainly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition has plunged the CAR into civil conflict since 2012. A peace agreement was reached in January 2013, but rebels seized the capital, Bangui, in March of that year, forcing President François Bozizé to flee.

Concerned with the security, humanitarian, human rights and political crisis in the CAR and its regional implications, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of MINUSCA in 2014 with the protection of civilians as its utmost priority.

UN News


Sudan ruling party chooses Bashir as candidate for third term in 2020 poll

Sudan’s ruling party said on Friday it has chosen President Omar al-Bashir to run for a third elected term in 2020, despite the constitution only allowing two five-year terms.

The National Congress Party’s (NCP) advisory council said it had chosen Bashir, 74, as its candidate after an overnight meeting in Khartoum, the official SUNA news agency reported.

Council chief Kabashor Koko said the decision to opt for Bashir – who has been in power since a 1989 military coup – was taken by the party at all levels.

“We have decided to adopt all necessary procedures for him to run in the 2020 election,” he told reporters after the meeting.

The veteran leader faced his first multi-party election in 2010 – after a new constitution came into effect – and won comfortably that year.


Defiant Sudan activist faces mounting legal woes

Prominent Sudanese activist Wini Omer is determined to keep campaigning for women’s rights, despite mounting legal woes she says are aimed at silencing her.

Omer, 30, was with another woman and two men in February when police raided the suburban Khartoum apartment where they were meeting.

She was later charged with prostitution under a controversial public order law.

“We tried to tell them that it was a house and it was a normal meeting,” she said.

“We told them there is no reason for policemen to break through a window suddenly and accuse us of things like this.”

Despite her protests, officers confiscated Omer’s laptop and detained her for five days.


South Sudan

After Delay, Rebel Leader Inks South Sudan Peace Deal

Rebel leader Riek Machar and leaders of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance have signed a final, revitalized peace deal aimed at ending the country’s nearly five-year civil war.

Machar signed the deal Thursday night in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, after refusing to sign two days earlier.

The deal leaves the contentious issue of South Sudan’s number of states and their boundaries to be worked out later by the heads of state in the East African regional bloc IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development).

Regional leaders, the international community, and the people of South Sudan are hoping the agreement will finally end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 4 million South Sudanese from their homes, with at least 2 million fleeing the country.

Voice of America

Oil-rich South Sudan to resume production in war-hit region

Emboldened by a new peace deal, civil war-torn South Sudan says it will resume oil production in a key region next month to make up for more than $4bn of revenue lost during years of fighting.

South Sudan, with Africa’s third-largest oil reserves, will renew drilling in northern Unity State for the first time since the fields were destroyed when the conflict began in late 2013, oil ministry officials told The Associated Press.

The goal is to have all five locations there operational by the end of the year and working alongside the oil fields in Upper Nile State, which operated throughout the civil war.

South Sudan’s economy is almost entirely dependent on exports of oil from its 3.5 billion barrels of reserves. Most of the oil rigs were shut down or destroyed by the civil war. The fighting that killed tens of thousands of people has also devastated the economy and sent prices for everyday items soaring.


Western Sahara

How the latest AU decision on Western Sahara could affect other crises

At its 31st summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania the African Union (AU) decided to limit its own peace efforts in the Western Sahara in order to support the process led by the United Nations (UN). This support will be through a troika of heads of state, together with the AU Commission (AUC) chairperson. The move is a big win for Morocco, which believes the AU-led efforts are biased. However, it could set a precedent for other AU member states that disapprove of AU interventions.

Morocco’s return to the AU and subsequent election to the Peace and Security Council (PSC) in January 2018 has brought a new dimension to the AU’s approach to the crisis in Western Sahara. In the past, the AU usually described this as a ‘decolonisation’ issue and accepted the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a member. This membership is still seen by Morocco as proof that the organisation is not impartial.

Morocco has often objected to the way the PSC – at the level of ambassadors in Addis Ababa – continues to call for the territory’s independence.

The AU’s decision in July 2018 to fully support the UN process in order to resolve tensions between member states could therefore be seen as a victory for Morocco. The assembly appealed to the parties in the conflict ‘to urgently resume negotiations without pre-conditions and in good faith under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the UN, whose Security Council is seized of the matter’.

Relief Web

SA and Algeria ink 33 agreements, reaffirm support for Western Sahara

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says South Africa and Algeria remain firm in their support for the independence of Western Sahara.

The Minister said this during a media briefing after bilateral talks with Abdelkader Messahel, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, who is on a working visit to South Africa.

Sisulu and her Algerian counterpart exchanged views on the political, security and development on the African continent.

“In this regard, we noted with concern the continued instability in some of our sister countries and regions. We have thus agreed to continue working together to advance peace, security, stability, unity and economic development of the continent.

“On Western Sahara, we have reaffirmed our position which is the attainment of the right for self-determination and decolonization of the Saharawi people and the rapid resolution of the conflict within the framework of international legality.

Dev Discourse


Swaziland’s Teachers Wage Struggle Against Police Brutality

A teachers’ union leader, Maxwell Musa Myeni, who resisted a gun-wielding police officer from firing at a meeting of teachers in Swaziland’s Manzini city has been arrested by the branch of the royal police called ‘Lukhozi’ on Sunday. The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), which is currently in exile as political parties are banned in the kingdom, said Maxwell had been picked up by six heavily armed members of the royal Lukhozi branch, who came in two white vans and bulldozed their way into his house at Lavumisa.

On August 24, under the banner of The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the teacher’s meeting was demanding a pay rise to keep up with the increasing cost of living over the last two years.

Police stopped the teachers from entering their union office and fired on them using live ammunition.“Teachers started by singing freedom songs within the confines of teachers’ centre, which is situated in Manzini where the meeting was happening,” said Njabulo Dlamini, a branch leader of SNAT and International Organiser of CPS told Peoples Dispatch.

News Click

Report Says Swaziland Police Spying on Legal Protests

Police in Swaziland / Eswatini are video recording and keeping data of protest marches by political parties and labour federations. They then use the information to deprive people of college scholarships, jobs in the army, police, and correctional services or promotions in government departments, an online newspaper reported.

The protestors who are usually seeking democratic reforms or workers’ rights are seen as ‘a major threat to the state’. Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as one of the world’s last absolute monarchs. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and people campaigning for democracy are prosecuted under the Suppression of terrorism Act.

The Swaziland News reported (25 July 2018) the Police Intelligence Unit had been captured filming a protest march organised by the Trade Congress Union of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) in June 2018. It said this was a common practice.



Mnangagwa ‘faces tough time’ as Zimbabwe awaits new cabinet

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is reportedly under pressure to appoint his new cabinet after being sworn-in last weekend.

According to NewsDay, Mnangagwa was now racing against time, as reports suggested that government was virtually at a standstill.

The report said that Mnangagwa had met outgoing speaker of parliament Jacob Mudenda to discuss the processes and procedures to take place, as the country awaited the appointment of cabinet ministers.

A Daily News report said that some ruling Zanu-PF officials were already scrambling for positions while Mnangagwa was under tremendous pressure to appoint a young, dynamic and small cabinet which could be capable of bringing a new lease of life to the country.


Kgalema Motlanthe to lead probe into Zimbabwe post-election violence

Former president of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe will lead a seven-member delegation to investigate post-election violence in Zimbabwe that resulted in at least six deaths on August 1 when the army opened fire on protesting MDC Alliance supporters.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a statement that as per his earlier promise the commission would “inquire into the circumstances leading to the August 1 post-election violence” as well as “investigate circumstances which necessitated the involvement of the military”.

After the August 1 disturbances‚ the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) initially said the law enforcement agency had asked the army to help with policing duties since it was constrained with police officers occupied with election business countrywide. However, Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo‚ a retired general‚ later told journalists that it was not soldiers but rogue elements that took to the streets.


Africa in General

UK’s May ready to step up trade with Africa as Euro exit looms

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday agreed to strengthen economic partnerships as the UK prepares to leave the European Union next year.

May kicked off her three-country tour of Africa in Cape Town on Tuesday, where she held a bilateral meeting with Ramaphosa.

“The UK is one of South Africa’s largest trading partners with trade of over 9 billion pounds last year and we’ve agreed that as the UK prepares to leave the EU we must then think about how to grow that trade for the future,” said May, as she and Ramaphosa addressed the media following the bilateral.

May reiterated her ambition that the UK becomes Africa’s biggest G7 investor by 2022, starting with negotiations to conclude an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the Southern African Customs Union, its member states and Mozambique once the EU-SADC EPA no longer applies to the UK.


Merkel to meet Ghana’s president on second leg of Africa trip focused on migration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra on Thursday, the second leg of a three-day Africa trip focusing on strengthening economic development and containing illegal migration.

The chancellor is also scheduled to take part in a German business-organized roundtable that will focus on private investment linked to the Group of 20 industrialized “Compact with Africa” initiative.

Strengthening Africa’s economic development is high on Germany’s foreign policy agenda, with Merkel saying in a recent video podcast that it is “crucial for most African countries because there are so many young people who need jobs and training.”

The diplomatic offensive on the continent, which has included trips to Mali, Niger, Ethiopia and Egypt for the German chancellor in 2016, may be pivotal for Merkel’s political future as it forms the basis of her strategy to “combat the causes for migration and flight.”


Russia, Sudan foster deal among Central African Republic militia

Russia and Sudan have hosted talks in Khartoum among some of the Central African Republic’s rival militias, CAR officials said on Wednesday, while documents showed the groups had signed a preliminary agreement.

The meeting in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday unfolded in parallel to an official mediation effort in the troubled CAR led by the African Union (AU).

Russia and Sudan “took the step of holding a meeting in Khartoum with the heads of armed groups,” Communications Minister Ange-Maxime Kazagui said in a statement read on national radio.

The CAR exploded into violence following the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize, a Christian, by majority-Muslim militias in a coalition called the Seleka.

Daily Nation

UN extends sanctions regime in Mali

The UN Security Council extended for a year on Thursday a general sanctions regime against Mali, but stopped short of imposing individual sanctions against leaders of armed groups accused of violating a 2015 peace accord.

The extension was approved unanimously by the council’s 15 members.

“The progress made remains insufficient,” France’s deputy UN ambassador Anne Gueguen said. Her British counterpart, Jonathan Allen, stressed, “We need to see progress from all parties.”

Gueguen said France is proposing that mid-level leaders of armed groups who undermine the peace accord through criminal or terrorist activities also be sanctioned.