SALO News Briefs – 25 Sept 2020:

Western Sahara.

Is Western Sahara a no-go for trademark protection?

Western Sahara is an Atlantic-coastal desert area of 266,000km2, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. A former Spanish colony, it has been on the the United Nations (UN) list of non-self-governing territories since 1965 along with 17 other territories.

‘Non-self-governing territories’ are defined as “territories whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government” according to Chapter XI of the UN Charter.

The reasons for a region to be declared a non-self-governing vary and are specific to each territory. In the case of Western Sahara, this is mainly due to the fact that it is a disputed territory between the Saharawi people, led by the Polisario Front, which self-proclaimed it the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1976, and Morocco, which annexed two-thirds of the country in 1975 after the withdrawal of Spain.

Many governments recognise the SADR and it is a full member of the African Union. However, Morocco sees Western Sahara as part of its historic territory and continues to claim control of the region. This contradiction of positions resulted in an armed conflict, which ceased after UN intervention in the 2000s. At that moment, Morocco agreed to hold a referendum on Western Saharan independence, but this is yet to take place. As a result, the legal status of the territory and the question of its sovereignty remain unresolved.

World Trade Mark Review 24 September 2020

Namibia continues supporting Western Sahara right to self-determination and freedom

The President of the Republic of Namibia, H.E. Dr. Hage Geingob, expressed his country’s continued support to the freedom of Western Sahara from Moroccan occupation, in his speech yesterday before the 75th UN General Assembly.

“The 17 interconnected Sustainable Development Goals and their promise to leave no one behind by 2030, ring hollow for the peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara, who still remain under occupation. They are left behind,” Dr. Geingob regretted.

“As a nation that has experienced the outpouring of international solidarity during the dark days of our struggle for independence, we wish to express our continued support for the right to self-determination and freedom of the peoples of Palestine and of Western Sahara,” he further stressed.

Sahara Press Service 24 September 2020


Zim leader tells UN that sanctions hurt development

Zimbabwe’s leader on Thursday appealed at the United Nations for support to end Western sanctions, saying that they set back development goals.

In an address to the UN General Assembly, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pointed to a recent UN report that found a negative impact from sanctions on Zimbabwe as a whole.

“These are a breach of international law and compromise Zimbabwe’s capacity to implement and achieve Sustainable Development Goals,” including eradication of hunger, he said.

“We therefore call on the General Assembly to strongly pronounce itself against these unilateral illegal sanctions,” he said.

eNCA 25 September 2020

Creeping clampdown on dissent: Beware Zimbabwe’s cybersecurity bill

Criminalising dissenting voices like politician Jacob Ngarivhume and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono would have been possible had the Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill already been enacted.

Since the proposed legislation is still a bill, awaiting enactment, the State charged them with inciting public violence instead.

Ngarivhume and Chin’ono’s alleged crimes were committed in Zimbabwean cyberspace on their Twitter accounts. Authorities say their social media accounts were used to call for a nationwide demonstration under the hashtag #31stJuly.

As part of their stringent bail conditions, Chin’ono and Ngarivhume were prohibited from posting anything on Twitter.

However, Section 164 of the Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill states:

“Any person who unlawfully by means of a computer or information system makes available, transmits, broadcasts or distributes a data message to any person, group of persons or to the public with intent to incite such persons to commit acts of violence against any person or persons or to cause damage to any property shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 10 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.”

Daily Maverick 24 September 2020


eSwatini Govt Says New Cybercrime Bill Won’t Limit Press Freedom

eSwatini government leaders on Thursday said that there was no reason for the media to be concerned over a new bill that dealt with cybercrimes and which criminalised what it said was “fake news that is damaging to the country”.

The bill is expected to be tabled in parliament soon.

Child pornography, identity theft, cyber terrorism, and stalking will all explicitly be criminalised once the Computer Crime and Cybercrime bill is passed by eSwatini’s lawmakers.

But the bill also seeks to outlaw posting fake news that is damaging to the country’s image, which could see online news sites targeted and even Facebook users.

eSwatini’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo, said that the Kingdom was just catching up with the rest of the world because up to now the country never had laws governing cybersecurity and data protection.

EWN 04 September 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo

We learnt lessons from the Ebola outbreak; DR Congo President says country moved swiftly to curb coronavirus spread

Addressing, via a pre-recorded video, President Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi said that quick action by the Government brought down the mortality rate in the DRC from 10 per cent in the first days of the pandemic to 2.5 per cent today.

Acknowledging the role of the UN, including the World Health Organization (WHO), in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, President Tshisekedi urged greater support in the areas of capacity-building and technical assistance.

He also called for international efforts, including cancellation of debts and “no-strings-attached financing” to help developing countries recover from the pandemic and to build back better.  

The President also informed the Assembly of his Government’s efforts to promote human rights, while acknowledging that much remains to be done to combat sexual and gender-based violence. 

He also called for the Security Council to be reformed to make it more transparent, democratic and representative of the Organization’s make-up.

UN News 23 September 2020

Five Killed in Rebel Attack in Restive DR Congo Province

Five people were killed overnight in the eastern DR Congo region of Beni by rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a notorious militia blamed for hundreds of deaths, local sources said Thursday.

“In the morning, five bodies were found in Mutuanga after an ADF attack at night. This afternoon the death toll rose to 11,” Donat Kibwana, the top official in Beni, in North Kivu province, told AFP.

But the Kivu Security Tracker and a local civil society official put the toll at five.

The civil society official, Paluku Batoleni, said the attack in Kibuana — about 60 kilometers (40 miles) from the Ugandan border — took place at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Wednesday.

Twelve civilians and a soldier were killed in a weekend attack also blamed on the ADF rebels also in an area of North Kivu near neighboring Uganda dubbed the “Triangle of Death.”

The Defence Post 25 September 2020

Central Africa Republic

Meeting between Central African Republic Ex-President Arch Enemies

Bangui saw an unexpected half-hour private meeting on Friday between former Central African Republic President François Bozizé and his longtime arch enemy Michel Djotodia — who assumed his position after ousting him from power seven years ago by way of the Muslim-majority militia coalition Seléka.

Bozizé had been in exile and also placed under United Nations (UN) sanctions on suspicion of supporting anti-balaka self-defence groups dominated by Christians and animists.

The 2013 putsch spiralled now one of the poorest nations in Africa into massacre filled clashes of ethnic communities. The violence which – according to the UN who has also accused both coalitions of war crimes, has since taken between 3,000 and 6,000 mostly civilian lives.

Africa News 12 September 2020

CAR President calls for better representation of Africa on the Security Council

In an address to the UN General Assembly’s, annual debate, via a pre-recorded video, President Touadera asked the international community to find common solutions to eradicate the coronavirus.

Humankind is confronted by various challenges, he said, and as such, the theme of the 75th General Assembly session reaffirms a “collective commitment” to multilateralism, which he declared is the best instrument to combat challenges that respect no boundaries.

At this seventy?fifth anniversary, it is essential to keep in mind the goals and principles that have guided the Organization as outlined in its Charter, said President Touadera.

UN News 24 September 2020


Somalia committed to promoting democracy, accountability despite COVID-19 challenge

“Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we are still working hard to undertake inclusive national elections where the Somali people can determine their future,” he said.

“We are firmly committed to promoting and instilling a strong tradition of democracy and accountable governance which serves the Somali people first and foremost.”

Like nations worldwide, Somalia has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Mohamed reported on the “painful” contraction of the economy and job losses, as well as the need to continue investing in basic public services to protect citizens against the virus.

“You can all appreciate this is a huge task for a recovering post-conflict State like Somalia,” he said, “but our Government has and will remain steadfast in rising and responding to the diverse challenges that lie ahead.”

UN News 24 September 2020

Somalia Parliament Approves New Prime Minister?

Political newcomer Mohamed Hussein Roble became Somalia’s prime minister Wednesday after getting unanimous approval from lawmakers.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was in attendance when all 215 members of parliament cast their votes in favor of his appointee. 

Roble is promising to create an effective government that addresses some of the key issues facing the country, including having fair presidential and parliamentary elections.

Roble’s predecessor, Hassan Ali Khaire, was ousted by parliament in July in a no confidence vote tied directly to his failure to present a roadmap to holding democratic elections due before February 2021.

Voice of America 24 September 2020


US Seeks Breakthrough on Sudan Before Election

With weeks to go before US elections, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is racing to make a breakthrough with Sudan that he hopes could also benefit Israel.

Sudan’s new civilian-led government is urgently seeking to be removed from the US blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, and is seen by Washington as open to becoming the latest Arab state to recognise Israel – a major cause for President Donald Trump’s electoral base.

“The United States has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that compensation is finally provided to victims of the 1998 al-Qaeda-backed terrorist attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania,” Pompeo wrote in a letter to senators that was confirmed by congressional sources.

“We also have a unique and narrow window to support the civilian-led transitional government in Sudan that has finally rid itself of the Islamist dictatorship that previously led that country.”

EWN 23 September 2020

Almost 830,000 People Affected by Sudan Floods – UN

Nearly 830,000 people across Sudan have been affected by months of severe flooding, the United Nations said Thursday, days after the Nile river waters had started to recede.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan, nearly 166,000 dwellings were destroyed or damaged in the floodwaters that have swept the northeast African country since mid-July.

Over half of those affected by the floods were in five of Sudan’s 18 states – North Darfur, Khartoum, Blue Nile, West Darfur, and Sennar – the UN agency said in a report.

EWN 25 September 2020

South Sudan

South Sudan government figures embezzled $36m: UN panel

High-ranking politicians and bureaucrats in South Sudan have siphoned off at least $36m in public funds, sometimes with the connivance of international corporations and banks, a United Nations commission has said.

Wednesday’s report by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan came six days after President Salva Kiir fired the country’s finance minister, the head of the tax-gathering National Revenue Authority, as well as the director of the state-owned oil company.

“Our Commission has uncovered brazen embezzlement by senior politicians and government officials, together with a number of entities linked to the government,” the panel’s chairperson, Yasmin Sooka, said.

“We can reveal the misappropriation of a staggering $36m since 2016. It is worth noting this is just what we were able to trace and may not reflect the whole picture.”

Aljazeera 23 September 2020

The U.S. Announces New Humanitarian Assistance for Crisis Response

Today, at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting, “A Dialogue with the World’s Top Ten Donors on Global Humanitarian Needs,” hosted by the United States, we announced nearly $108 million in humanitarian assistance for the people South Sudan, including South Sudanese in neighboring countries.  This funding includes nearly $97 million from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and more than $11 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.  It brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance for the response, including refugees and those affected by conflict and natural disasters, to nearly $907 million in Fiscal Year 2020 alone and nearly $5.5 billion since the start of the crisis in 2014, including more than $64 million in supplemental humanitarian assistance to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

AllAfrica 25 September 2020