SALO Weekly News Briefs – 10 June 2020.

Central African Republic:

Source: Central African Republic court rejects bid to extend president’s mandate

Central African Republic’s constitutional court on Friday rejected changes to the constitution that would have allowed President Faustin-Archange Touadera to stay in power if an election in December is delayed due to the new coronavirus.

The government had argued the changes, which would have authorised Touadera and national lawmakers to remain in office for an amount of time to be determined by the constitutional court, were need to ensure continuity of government.

The country, still struggling to emerge from a prolonged civil war, has so far confirmed about 1,300 cases of COVID-19 and four deaths. But it has a weak health system that could easily be overrun if case numbers surge.

In its ruling, the country’s highest court said the proposed changes violated constitutional provisions forbidding modifications to the president’s term and providing for the speaker of parliament to take over on a three-month interim basis if an election must be delayed.

The Telegram 05 June 2020

Nine Militia Fighters Arrested in Central African Republic Killings

Nine fighters from an armed group that launched a week-long attack last week in south-eastern Central African Republic have been arrested.

The assailants belong to a branch of the CAR’s biggest armed group, the Unity for Peace in Central Africa (UPC), the country’s special criminal court said in a statement on Monday.

The court is responsible for trying cases of serious human rights violations in the country, which has been ravaged by conflict for more than 20 years. The UPC has committed “widespread and systematic attacks on the civilian population,” the court said.

During the attacks on the town of Obo last week, government forces backed by U.N. troops killed around 10 fighters from the rebel militia and captured others, a government spokesman had told AFP.

The Defence Post 27 May 2020


Zimbabwe army, police top list of rights violators

HUMAN rights lobby group, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has accused the government of fostering tyranny masked as enforcement of lockdown to curb the spread of COV1D-19 as human rights violation cases continue to increase.

The lobby group said State security agents topped the list of perpetrators of human rights violations. For the second time in the year, the police and army topped the list of perpetrators of human rights violations.

“Overall, the police contributed 41,21% of the human rights violations, while the army contributed 22,26% of the violations,” ZPP said in a statement yesterday.

The group said the law enforcement agents were often in violation of the arrest procedure.

“ZPP recorded cases of arrested citizens not being taken through the formal arrest procedure, but enduring harassment, intimidation and assault at the hands of law enforcement agents. Victims told horror stories of their experiences at the hands of law enforcement agents,” the statement read.

Bulawayo24 09 June 2020

Chamisa deploys Vanguard militia to protect party offices

PANIC has gripped the MDC in the Matabeleland region amid reports that the Nelson Chamisa camp has moved to beef up security at its regional offices here.

This comes after the Thokozani Khupe-led camp last Thursday took the ugly fight a notch up after she allegedly got the assistance of security forces to seize control of the hugely symbolic Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House.

The development has, however, further thrown panic among Chamisa supporters who have immediately moved to deploy youths to guard party offices in the region.

So desperate have been the panic-stricken officials that they have launched a fundraising exercise reportedly to take care of the welfare of the youths who guard the premises round the clock.

The Zimbabwe Mail 09 June 2020

U.S. Urges Strict World Bank Control of Planned Zimbabwe Grant

The U.S. asked the World Bank to impose stringent controls on a $7 million grant the Washington-based lender extended to Zimbabwe to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The request comes a week after U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien accused Zimbabwe of exploiting protests over the killing of George Floyd and identified the southern African nation as a “foreign adversary.”

U.S. Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to World Bank President David Malpass asking for “strict accountability and transparency measures” to ensure the funds aren’t misspent.

“I urge the World Bank to impose very strict benchmarks and transparency and accountability measures on the $7 million grant and any future programs for Zimbabwe to ensure that procurement processes are fair and transparent,” Risch said in the letter. The lender was also asked to ensure that contracts for goods and services are not awarded to Zimbabwean companies under U.S. sanctions or known to engage in corrupt practices.

Bloomberg 09 June 2020


U.S Embassy Pretoria Exchange Crucial PPE with U.S Embassy Eswatini personnel at No Man’s Land during border handover

U.S. Department of Defense personnel assigned to the United States embassies in South Africa and the Kingdom of Eswatini met at the Oshoek Border between the two nations to hand-off medical protective equipment earmarked for the Eswatini Ministry of Health.

The equipment includes 11,250 plastic face shields, 12,400 filtering facepiece masks, and 256 infrared thermometers.

The equipment was transferred from the embassy personnel in South Africa to the embassy personnel in Eswatini in order to comply with South African COVID-19 quarantine policies and law.

If the U.S. military personnel had left South Africa and returned, they would have to quarantine for 14 days. The transfer from one side of the border to the other avoided that.

Gvids Hub 30 May 2020

eSwatini cuts rates further in response to virus

The central bank of eSwatini has cut its main lending rate by 50 basis points to 4%, its latest reduction in recent months in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

In a statement on Friday, the bank cited the impact of the pandemic on its growth prospects, with the economy expected to shrink by 6.16% in 2020 under a pessimistic scenario.

Its rate decisions have also aligned with those in neighbouring South Africa, which also cut its main lending rate by 50 basis points on Thursday. eSwatini’s local currency is pegged to the South African rand.

Reuters 23 May 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN humanitarian chief releases $40M for DR Congo

The UN’s humanitarian chief on Monday released $40 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help tackle health emergencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“Today I’m releasing $40 million from UNCERF to tackle health emergencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said on Twitter.

“On top of Ebola and COVID-19, DRC is battling the world’s largest measles outbreak, massive internal displacement and insecurity,” he added.

An official statement released by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the announcement came shortly after the Government confirmed a new Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka, in the northwestern province of Equateur.

Anadolu Agency 09 June 2020

UN: 1,300 civilians killed in DRC violence, half a million flee

About 1,300 civilians have been killed in separate conflicts involving armed groups and government forces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) over the past eight months, with the violence forcing more than half a million people from their homes, the United Nations has said.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned on Friday some of the killings and displacement “may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes”.

The number of victims has soared in recent weeks as conflicts have spreadin three eastern provinces – Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu –  “with disastrous repercussions” for the civilian population, according to the UN.

“I am appalled by the increase in brutal attacks on innocent civilians by armed groups, and by the reaction of the military and security forces who have also committed grave violations, including killings and sexual violence,” Bachelet said in a statement.

Aljazeera 05 June 2020


Ex-Somalia presidents hold talks with parliament speaker

Former presidents of Somalia Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud are reportedly in a closed-door meeting with the speaker of the Lower House of the Federal Parliament of Somalia, Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman.

The two ex-presidents, who currently lead the opposition Forum for National Parties coalition, are expected to discuss the upcoming election and the creation of an enabling environment for the conduct of a free, fair and inclusive election.

The two leaders have been in recent months very critical of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s government, accusing it of plotting to delay the election and extend the terms of office for both the president and parliament.

Somali Affairs 07 June 2020

Somalia’s Senate calls for urgent meeting of political stakeholders to discuss 2020 polls

The speaker of Somalia’s Upper House of Parliament, Aabdi Hashi, has issued a press statement after a meeting of the standing committee of the House.

The press statement from the Standing Committee stressed that the Upper House has a constitutional role of bringing together the leaders of the federal government and those of the regional states in order to discuss and agree on the political transition process.

The Standing Committee of Somalia’s Upper House of Parliament said in its statement that the conduct of the upcoming elections requires urgent consultation between the leaders of the federal government, regional states and political stakeholders before 25th June.

The statement comes days after President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo said in an address to the two Houses of Parliament that his government was ready for a one person one vote election without giving any details of how the polls would be conducted with the many challenges facing the country.

Somali Affairs 10 June 2020


ICC: Sudanese Fugitive in Custody

The surrender of Ali Kosheib to the International Criminal Court is a major advance for justice for victims of atrocities in Darfur and their families, Human Rights Watch said today. Kosheib (also spelled Kushayb) had been a fugitive from the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by government-backed militias in Darfur since 2007.

Ali Kosheib voluntarily surrendered in the Central African Republic. On June 9, 2020, the ICC announced he was in court custody. The court indicated that the Central African Republic, Chad, France, Netherlands, and United Nations peacekeeping forces provided cooperation and assistance in his surrender.

“Ali Kosheib’s surrender is a landmark for justice for victims of atrocities committed across Darfur and their families,” said Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The world watched in horror as Sudan’s government carried out brutal attacks on Darfur civilians, killing, raping, burning, and looting in villages, starting in 2003. But after 13 years justice finally caught up with one major suspect, Ali Kosheib.” 

Human Rights Watch 09 June 2020

‘Hunger is worse than corona’: Sudanese demand end to lockdown

Like many Sudanese, car mechanic Mohamed Othman said the government must end its coronavirus lockdown so that he can get back to work because “me and my family have no other source of income”.

Sudan’s transitional civilian government, which runs the country under a power-sharing deal with the army, ordered most businesses, markets, schools and mosques to shut and imposed travel restrictions nearly two months ago.

But Sudan is facing growing demands to end the restrictions from a population mired in poverty and facing annual inflation of nearly 100 percent – as well as fielding complaints that promised aid for poorer Sudanese has failed to materialise.

“We demand that the lockdown is lifted immediately so that we can … get on with our lives, because hunger is worse than corona,” said Othman, who is a daily wage earner.

Aljazeera 08 June 2020

South Sudan

South Sudan: Soldiers Kill Civilians in Land Dispute

South Sudanese security forces killed at least five people in Juba on June 3, 2020 during a violent confrontation over a land dispute and subsequent peaceful protests, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should investigate thoroughly and promptly hold those responsible to account in a transparent civilian process.

“Government security forces are supposed to protect civilians, not kill them,” said Nyagoah Tut Pur, South Sudan researcher at Human Rights Watch, “The authorities should ensure that all the officers involved in these unlawful and unjustified killings are brought to justice, through prompt, effective investigations and prosecutions.”

Early in the morning of June 3, a violent dispute broke out in a public bus park in the Sherikat neighborhood of Juba between local residents and armed military officers led by Lieutenant Lual Akook Wol Kiir, a relative of President Salva Kiir. The dispute was over a public toilet allegedly built on private land. Media and witnesses reported that Lt. Lual and six of his officers, armed with pistols and AK-47s, opened fire randomly, killing two men and a woman on the spot, and injuring at least seven others. A fourth resident, injured by a gunshot, died on the way to a hospital.

Human Rights Watch 09 June 2020

Covid-19: South Sudan cases rise to 1,604

South Sudan’s coronavirus tally has risen to 1,604 after the National Taskforce on Covid-19 reported 67 new cases on Sunday.

The country has also reported four more fatalities, bringing the death toll to 19; while 15 people have recovered from the coronavirus.

Speaking to the press on Sunday, taskforce spokesman Makur Matur Koriom added that the country currently has “1,570 active cases.”

Among the fifteen people who recovered are First Vice President Riek Machar, his wife Angelina Teny (the Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs), Information Minister Michael Makuei, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Deng Dau Deng and the Minister of Environment and Forestry Josephine Napou.

The East African 08 June 2020

Western Sahara

Western Sahara: EU Donates €5.3mn to Sahrawi Refugees

The European Union (EU) has recently donated €5.3 million to the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) to meet the food needs of thousands of Sahrawi refugees, fight hunger and ensure their food security.

“The European Union stands with the Saharawi refugees who have been in exile for 44 years and should not be forgotten. Our support to WFP is vital as it allows thousands of the most vulnerable refugees to receive their required daily intake of calories. Preventing under nutrition, especially among the young children and mothers, demands continuous efforts and support,” said Patrick Barbier, Head of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) in Algiers.

The EU, through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO), is the largest donor to WFP’s work in support of Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. So far, the EU has covered over 30 percent of WFP’s funding requirements for this operation in 2020.

All Africa 08 May 2020

Self-determination referendum, sole guarantor of Sahrawis’ rights

Speeding up the implementation of the United Nations resolutions linked in particular to the organization of a self-determination referendum in Western Sahara is the sole guarantor of the respect of the Sahrawi people rights, said legal international experts.

In a declaration following a virtual training day organized by the Sahrawi representation in Europe and in the European Union (EU), entitled “Western Sahara and the role of international human rights mechanisms,” activists and experts under international law stressed that enlarging the MINURSO mandate to monitoring of human rights and the organization of a self-determination referendum in Western Sahara, is “the only guarantor of the respect of the human rights of the Sahrawi people and the end of their suffering which lasted more than 45 years due to the Moroccan military occupation.”

The authors of the Declaration called on the Moroccan government to respond to the appeal launched by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to release the Sahrawi prisoners, in particular those having health issues, prisoners of conscience and political prisoners who are daily exposed to Covid-19 without the benefit of care outside the prisons.

All Africa 08 June 2020