SALO Weekly News Briefs 3 June 2020:


Source: Sudan’s Prime Minister promises justice on anniversary of sit-in killings

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok pledged justice on Wednesday for scores of pro-democracy protesters killed a year ago when security forces broke up a sit-in outside the defence ministry.

The demonstration was the culmination of weeks of protests that led the army to overthrow veteran leader Omar al-Bashir and ushered in a power-sharing agreement last year.

The military – including a powerful paramilitary force that witnesses and activists said played a leading role in the raid – is now in a fragile, three-year pact with civilians.

Hamdok, an economist and former senior United Nations official, leads a transitional government and named a commission in October to investigate the raid.

“I assure you all, that achieving comprehensive justice and retribution for the souls of our hero martyrs … and for the wounded and missing is an inevitable and irreversible step,” Hamdok said in a televised speech.

CGTN 03 June 2020

Sudan appoints new defense chief amid tensions with Ethiopia

Sudan on Tuesday swore in a new defense minister more than two months after the death of the former defense chief and amid tensions with neighboring Ethiopia.

Maj. Gen. Yassin Ibrahim Yassin was sworn in before Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, according to a statement from the council. Yassin came out of retirement to take the position.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the country’s chief judge Neamat Abdullah attended the ceremony, the statement said.

The ceremony was held in the capital Khartoum. Attendees were seen in a video posted online by the sovereign council wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus, which has further weakened Sudan’s health system.

Yassin replaced Gen. Gamal al-Din Omar, who died in March of a heart attack in neighboring South Sudan, while taking part in peace talks between his country’s transitional government and rebel groups.

Defence News 02 June 2020

South Sudan

South Sudan’s Salva Kiir sacks Presidential Affairs minis

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Tuesday sacked a minister through presidential decree.

He let go of Minister of Presidential Affairs Mayiik Ayii Deng and replaced him with Nhial Deng Nhial.

Mr Nhial is a former minister of Foreign Affairs, who was relieved of his duties in 2019 ahead of the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity. He had served in that position for more than a year.

Mr Nhial was replaced by Awut Deng Achuil—the first woman Minister of Foreign Affairs—who had previously served in the Gender, Child and Social Welfare Ministry for a number of years.

Mr Nhial is currently a member of the ruling South Sudan Liberation Movement (SPLM).

The East African 03 June 2020

Return pressure builds as COVID-19 hits South Sudan displacement camps

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in two of the six UN-protected displacement camps in South Sudan have led to renewed calls for the 190,000 residents to return to their homes, despite safety concerns as new waves of violence grip the country.

The UN’s peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, “strongly encouraged” residents in March to leave the overcrowded sites – a call repeated last month after two cases of the virus emerged in a camp in the capital, Juba.

UN police officers have withdrawn from the camps to protect themselves from COVID-19, while government security forces have intermittently blocked entry to some sites, ostensibly to stop the spread of the disease.

The camps – known as Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites – were set up at the beginning of South Sudan’s civil war, in 2013, when civilians fled to UNMISS bases to escape ethnic violence. Protected by UN peacekeepers, they have nonetheless been targeted by armed groups, and UNMISS has struggled to control violent crime inside the sites.

The New Humanitarian 01 June 2020


Zimbabwe government views Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to loot new donor funds

Because of state capture, it would be a grave mistake for any entity to lend money to the Zimbabwean government right now as it would go straight to the pockets of the ruling elite as well as to funding repression and terrorist acts against the people of Zimbabwe.

For the longest time, the Zimbabwean Government has been fighting to have sanctions removed. They blame all our problems on sanctions they say were imposed on us by white imperialist states who are bitter that our government took land and gave it back to “the people”. This narrative is fed the people of Zimbabwe at political rallies and on state media. 

In the past, national disasters such as the cholera outbreaks of 2008 and 2018 and Cyclone Idai in 2019 have given the Zimbabwean government foreign currency from benevolent nations. When the US donated $2.5-million to help mitigate cyclone Idai Emmerson Mnangagwa was beside himself with happiness announcing that Trump had donated real money and not these useless Zimbabwean bond notes. He went on to explain that due to the donations, the national disaster was in fact turning out to be a blessing in disguise.  

Daily Maverick 03 June 2020

Zimbabwe tightens lockdown as virus cases spike

Zimbabwe has tightened restrictions in a bid to curtail spread of the coronavirus as cases spike.

On Tuesday, security forces cleared Harare’s city centre as they turned back commuters and motorists.

“They are searching the cars and if you do not have a permit or letter you are not allowed to pass. So it’s now difficult to give a lift to someone who is not in possession of a letter’‘, Tawanda Chinohamba, a cab driver said.

In a statement, the police said only essential services workers are allowed outdoors, while the rest of the population must stay home.

COVID-19 cases spiked from 34 to 203 from early May, with most of the cases being citizens returning from abroad.

Africa News 03 June 2020


AfDB finances feasibility studies for several dams in the Kingdom

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is financing the Mkondvo-Ngwavuma Water Resources Enhancement Programme (MNWAP) in Eswatini to the tune of US$ 1.67 million. This programme will enable the construction of several dams in this southern African kingdom.

In Eswatini, the Mkondvo-Ngwavuma Water Resources Enhancement Programme (MNWAP) is supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB). The board of directors of the pan-African bank is financing feasibility studies for the implementation of the MNWAP to the tune of US$1.67 million. Its objective is to contribute to food security, poverty reduction and climate change resilience by supporting the development of water and irrigation infrastructure in Eswatini.

Within this framework, the AfDB support will enable feasibility studies to be carried out for several water reservoirs, notably that of Mahamba Gorge. Geographically, Mahamba Gorge is a deep cleft in the rocky ridge, dotted with aloe, where the Mkondvo River crosses the mountainous border with South Africa. The AfDB financing will also help launch feasibility studies for the construction of the Ethemba Dam.

Afrik21 15 May 2020

Eswatini Students Forced to Work in Factory Is the Latest in Series of Similar Incidents

Reports that 40 exchange students from Eswatini studying in Taiwan were forced to work in a refrigerated factory skinning chickens should be highly concerning. Namely, there have been a number of similar incidents in past years involving students from non-western countries forced to work in factories for low wages by their universities under the auspices of work-study programs or internships.

In 2018, a similar incident involved student at the University of Kang Ning in Tainan sent to work in a slaughterhouse. This was followed in 2019 by reports of Indonesian students at the Hsing Wu University in New Taipei being forced to make contact lenses in a factory and students at the Yu Da University of Science and Technology in Miaoli from the Philippines being forced to work in a tile manufacturing factory.

News of the most recent incident, involving the students from Eswatini, broke earlier this month. The students in question were studying at the MingDao University in Changhua. Students were forced to work forty hours a week and were reportedly not being paid the wages they were owed, with the factories instead providing “donations” to the university.

New Bloom 02 June 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo

In Dr Congo, Denial Becomes Major Obstacle for Virus Campaign

“Corona is a reality. Protect yourself and protect others,” Mamie Batata, a worker with the Catholic charity Caritas, warns through a megaphone as she proceeds through Kimbanseke, a rundown part of Kinshasa.

The reactions are blunt. “Get out of here.” “Leave us in peace.” “The disease doesn’t exist.”

Indifference or disbelief towards COVID-19 runs deep in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital — a response that strikes fear into watchdogs battling the disease.

On May 20, the official committee to fight the coronavirus said three of its workers were threatened at knifepoint, part of what the government last Friday described as “rising cases” of abuse of virus campaigners.

EWN 02 June 2020

New Ebola outbreak declared in northwest DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Monday declared an eleventh outbreak of the Ebola virus disease.

Minister of Health Eteni Longondo said the new outbreak is in the city of Mbandaka, in Equateur Province in northwestern DRC.

“The samples taken in Mbandaka and sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Research in Kinshasa were positive,” he said at a press conference in Kinshasa.

The Ebola response team is already in place at the provincial level and another team will be deployed from Kinshasa to strengthen the response.

A few days ago, the authorities in the city of Mbandaka reported four suspicious deaths.

World Health OrganiSation (WHO) Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter that there are six confirmed Ebola cases, including the four people who died.

CGTN 02 June 2020


UN warns of looming humanitarian crisis in Somalia

The UN on Tuesday called on the international community to help Somalia avert a major humanitarian crisis due to the combined effect of devastating floods, desert locusts and the widespread impact of Covid-19.

Justin Brady, head of Office for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Somalia warned that the political and security gains made by Somalia over recent years could be at risk of reversal if swift action is not taken to avert the crisis.

“We have a situation of the two problems of floods and Covid-19 converging and reinforcing the impact on the population, and then we have the locusts,” Brady said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

“We expect to see a portion of the crops this year lost to the locust infestation, which will compound the food security and nutrition situation for many Somalis,” he added.

Somali Affairs 02 June 2020

Somalia working on improving the economy

Somalia’s Planning, Investment and Economic Development Minister Gamal Hassan spoke with Aggrey Mutambo on the country’s economy and fighting corruption.

Somalia relies almost entirely on remittances. How is the government making it easier for diaspora investments, and how what is the effect on the economy?

Remittances only account for less than a quarter of our GDP. Its importance is not in its volume but in the way it is used. Remittances account for up to 50 per cent of household incomes for the majority of the poor in Somalia, and the funds are usually used for essential household expenses. Remittances have provided a stable source of foreign direct investment for the economy and remain a strong vehicle for poverty alleviation in Somalia.

Our government has undertaken substantive reforms to regulate, maintain and expand remittance flows in Somalia. The passing of the Anti-Money Laundering legislation will increase transparency and accountability of remittance companies. We are also in the process of linking bank accounts and remittance operations to eliminate the risk of terrorist financing. The banking sector in Somalia is also becoming more integrated with international financial systems.

The East African 03 June 2020

Central African Republic

Report Released: Peace and security in the Central African Republic

After several failed peace processes, a peace accord was signed in 2019 by the Central African Republic government and 14 armed groups. With the country now preparing for elections in December 2020, this research looks to understand the views of local communities in Bossangoa and the Western Border Zones, in order to inform effective, proactive policy during this crucial period and beyond.

Smart Peace is a four-year UK Department for International Development (DFID)-funded programme (2018-2022) for strategic conflict resolution. Smart Peace is implemented by a specialist consortium, led by Conciliation Resources, in partnership with International Crisis Group, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, the Asia Foundation, ETH Zurich, Behavioural Insights Team and Chatham House. The Smart Peace consortium combines expertise in confict analysis, community dialogue, elite mediation, evaluation, policy infuence and behavioural science to deliver targeted and adaptive confict resolution interventions in CAR, Myanmar and Nigeria. Smart Peace will share learning from practical experience to improve global policy and practice.

Conciliation Recourses 02 June 2020

Five Years Later, More Efforts to Be Done to Get Special Criminal Court Fully Operational

Marking the five-year anniversary of the establishment of the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in Central African Republic (CAR), Tity Agbahey, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Campaigner said today:

“In a country where civilians have paid a heavy price in the face of atrocities by armed groups and all parties in conflict, the establishment of this court was a major positive step.

“Seen as a symbol of hope for many victims, the establishment of the SCC was a response to an unanimous call for justice and accountability. But more efforts must be made to get the court fully operational and ensure victims of the heinous crimes that have taken place will soon see the first trials.

“This includes increased and sustainable financial support from international partners, and a better coordination with national criminal courts and the International Criminal Court.

All Africa 03 June 2020

Western Sahara

Polisario Representative to the UN: The Decolonisation of Western Sahara is a UN Pending Mission

Polisario Front’s Representative to the UN, Dr Sidi M. Omar, issued a statement on the occasion of the Annual Decolonization Week, which also coincides with the Africa Day, May 25, recalling the UN pending mission of decolonisation of the occupied parts of Western Sahara, still under Moroccan illegal occupation.

The Sahrawi diplomat further stressed the responsibility of Spain, as Western Sahara’s administrating force under international law, even if it abandoned its responsibilities of completing the decolonization of the occupied parts of Western Sahara.

Following is the full text of the statement of which SPS received a copy:

The Decolonisation of Western Sahara: The UN Pending Mission

The UN observes these days the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories in accordance with General Assembly resolution 54/91 of 6 December 1999, by which the General Assembly decided to observe annually the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories, beginning on 25 May. The General Assembly also affirmed once again that the existence of colonialism in any form or manifestation is incompatible with the UN Charter, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Sahara Press Service 26 May 2020

Lesotho Kingdom maintains support to Saharawi rights and denies alleged change of position

The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho reiterated in an official statement by its Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations, the Hon ‘Matšepo Ramakoae, “principled position on Western Sahara”, denying previous unilateral misrepresentations of that position last year.

In a filmed statement published yesterday by Lesotho Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its official page on Facebook, the Minister stressed that “the Kingdom of Lesotho and Western Sahara maintain a cordial bilateral relations, and successive governments of Lesotho have maintained their support to Western Sahara, these relations have been maintained throughout the years and they continue to grow stronger.”

The statement recalled that a previous note sent by the Ministry on the 4th of October 2019 to the Kingdom of Morocco purportedly “signaled change of position by Lesotho government on the issue of Western Sahara”.

Sahara Press Service 29 May 2020