- Africa Weekly
- Oct 31 2017
All Africa launches information initiative for non-communicable diseases
AllAfrica's global platform to provide information on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) debuted on October 20 at the World Health Organization's Global Conference on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), hosted by the government of Uruguay. The information portal is a project of AllAfrica Global Media, the only independent, comprehensive pan-African news source – of, by and about Africa – with unrivaled reach and reputation. More people rely on allAfrica.com for news and information from all over Africa than on any other source.
NCDs represent the greatest challenge in public health today, accounting for over 70% of deaths worldwide. Communities around the world are mobilizing to fight back against cardio vascular diseases, cancer, type-two diabetes, obesity and mental health – to stop the massive burden caused by these life-threatening illnesses. In some African countries, NCDs are responsible for more than seven out of every ten fatalities, and in most countries, the proportion of deaths due to NCDs is rising. Principal causes include unhealthy diets, tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, pollution and chemical products. Those affected are children, middle-aged people and elderly - both rich and poor.
Attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), spearheaded by the United Nations and adopted in September 2015 by world leaders, aim "to transform the world" by 2030, through improving lives and protecting the planet. Achieving them will require putting the fight against NCDs at the center of public health policies, particularly in Africa, with its youthful and fast-rising population. Governments alone cannot win the fight. Participation by the private sector, including media, is essential to the campaign against NCDs.
The new NCD platform - in English and French – aims to be a primary source for both news and contextual information. Surveys show that reliable, health-related data and developments is at the top of what the public wants from news sources. "AllAfrica has always been there when it matters the most for Africans", said Amadou Mahtar Ba, AllAfrica's co-founder and Executive Chair. "Information is power, and that is particularly true when it comes to combatting diseases". Surveys show that reliable, health-related data and developments are at the top of what people want to learn from news sources.
"That is why AllAfrica is committing resources to create this public information tool to provide policy makers and citizens at large the news and information needed to win the fight against NCDs. We invite the WHO, research institutions, foundations, civil society groups and the private sector to engage with us to disseminate as much information as possible on this topic", Ba said.
Trump envoy Nikki Haley on first Africa trip
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is one of the highest-ranking officials in the Trump administration to visit the African continent. Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are on her itinerary. Haley told reporters she hoped this was the beginning of "a stronger relationship with the AU and our African partners," following a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on October 23. "The United States very much sees Africa as a very important part of the world. We see great opportunities in Africa, we see challenges in Africa, but we want to support and help in those situations." Haley also plans to take a critical look at the UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan and the DRC, both of which are among the biggest missions in the world. The operation in DRC, for instance, costs $1.14 billion (970 million euros). The US pays a large a portion of the UN peacekeeping budget.
Both the Trump administration and Haley in particular have been known to speak out against what they see as the inefficiency of the UN. In an op-ed published by CNN shortly before her trip, Haley lauded the UN for its efforts to avert a full blown famine in South Sudan. However, she wrote: "The UN's track record of long-term success is not good. Neither South Sudan nor the DRC has shown any real progress toward political solutions that would stop the violence." In June this year, Haley tweeted about a budget proposal to cut funding to the UN by $500 million (425 million euros). She was heavily criticized for the proposal. For the time being, though, Haley has struck more of a conciliatory tone with the UN and its work on the continent. In her op-ed, she wrote of the need to provide humanitarian aid and help the displaced. "The president is sending me because we want to build (our Africa policy) back up to what it was under (former President George W. Bush). It has fallen and our African friends feel that," Haley said at a George W. Bush Institute event in New York last week.
Indeed, Africa hasn't featured much in US foreign policy over the last few years. The initial enthusiasm and hopes in African countries that things would change under the Obama administration had ebbed. In mid-September, President Donald Trump for the first time turned his attention toward Africa, hosting a lunch meeting with the leaders of Ghana, South Africa and Senegal amongst others. At the meeting, Trump spoke of the continent's opportunities and the US interest in creating jobs and investing in Africa. For many political analysts, however, Trump's actual policy toward Africa is an unwritten chapter.
"It remains difficult to assess the Trump administration's policies on African issues because they have failed to get in place key political appointees," explains Paul Williams, associate professor at the Security Policy Studies program at George Washington University in the US. "So far, it appears the key decisions on operational issues related to African affairs are being made by Ambassador Nikki Haley and the US AFRICOM commander, General Thomas Waldhauser. None of Trump's senior political appointees have given a detailed or coherent statement defining how they see US interests across Africa." Phil Clark, a central Africa expert at the SOAS, University of London, agrees. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has shown little interest in Africa, he says, adding that a lot of the decision-making has, in a sense, been outsourced to US ambassadors on the ground. Washington itself has no clear strategy on Africa.
After almost 10 months of silence, the sudden interest in Africa has therefore come as a surprise to some. It's no coincidence, says Hady Amr, a senior fellow with the US-based Brookings Institution, that this attention has come after the death of four US soldiers in Niger. "After the killings of US service members in Niger, Trump's nativist base is asking itself -- what are we doing over there? How does this square with what Trump told us he would do?" What people need to have in mind when it comes to US policy, Amr says, is that "Trump has tried to sound very tough to his nativist based and tried to fulfill campaign promises, while trying not to turn the world into a big mess." We've seen this with his stance on his threat to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, or in the health care sector, he adds.
Much like the other analysts, Amr believes that the US currently has no clear stance on its role on the continent. "I think that neither President Trump nor Nikki Haley have experience working in Africa. I really think what is going on is a reflection, a fact-finding mission," he said. "This could go in two different directions. I could see her realizing that there is some really important work that's being done on the ground and we need to do more of that, or it could go the other direction." Some African diplomats are hoping Haley's visit is a sign of Washington's intention to engage more broadly with governments in Africa.
"We hope that after this trip the administration will sit down and maybe before the end of the year we can hear their Africa strategy," a senior African diplomat at the UN told the Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity. "We would have wished it was earlier, but it's never too late." As has been the case with several Trump administration strategies, Amr says, many political analysts are at a loss. "It's a little scary but also very different, because people who are used to analyzing what the US has done in the past, are getting it wrong."
One thing, however, that seems to be on the minds of US officials is a sense of business opportunity, as Trump emphasized during his lunch meeting with African leaders earlier in the year. Anti-terror operations are another point of concern. Clark at the SOAS in London believes African countries are worried about "whether the US simply sees Africa as a huge goldmine that the US can exploit." Secondly, he adds, the work of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) appears to be increasingly important, with the attack in Niger providing the possibility of shedding light on its operations. "Africom has always been a very shadowy entity," Clark said. "It operates in more countries than many people realize. It's often unclear, even to those African states themselves, exactly what AFRICOM is doing."
AFRICOM, which has its base in Germany, is tasked with peace-building, anti-terrorist operations and combatting illicit activities in Africa. A few days after the attack in Niger, the command published a statement explaining that its role was to secure US bases and assist and train the Nigerien army. After the attack, a number of US senators came out to say that they weren't aware that the US had up to 800 soldiers in Niger, while US media was suddenly tasked with coming up to speed with what US troops were up to in the Sahel region, Some of the command's main focus areas include the fight against al-Shabab in Somalia, as well as Islamist militants in the Sahel.
Source: Deutsche, Welle
Africa on verge of eradicating polio
Africa is on the verge of eradicating polio if the current momentum is sustained through improved surveillance, vaccination and public awareness, a WHO official said on October 24. WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said the majority of African countries are likely to be declared polio free by 2019 if they step up prevention of and treatment interventions for the disease. "The African region had made tremendous progress towards polio eradication, from accounting for almost half of the global polio burden with 128 cases in 2012, to four cases in 2016," Moeti said in a statement released in Nairobi. She warned that complacency may trigger new infections in remote corners of the African continent where surveillance is weak.
Africa witnessed a recurrence of polio in 2016 when four cases were recorded in northern Nigeria, where the risks of an outbreak are higher due to insecurity and unregulated cross-border movement. Moeti noted that timely response that included vaccination of children coupled with public education on improved hygiene options averted deaths in northern Nigeria and a large swathe of Lake Chad basin. "In an example of best practice, political and community leaders were engaged to ensure the success of the largest ever polio campaign in Africa. "Over 190,000 polio vaccinators simultaneously immunized more than 116 million children under five in 13 countries in coordinated effort in west and central Africa," said Moeti. She noted that African countries that are prone to polio outbreaks are yet to put in place globally recognised surveillance measures while insecurity and poverty could worsen their vulnerability to the disease.
Moeti said: "as a region, our surveillance efforts are presently not meeting the mark. A number of countries have sub-optimal surveillance in both secure and insecure areas. "They should recommit to strengthen surveillance urgently." In January, African leaders endorsed a comprehensive pact to promote immunization against debilitating diseases like polio. Moeti said the international community will rally behind African-led interventions aimed at eradicating polio by 2019.
Source: The Guardian
Conditions in CAR continue to deteriorate, says UN
The United Nations reports conditions in Central African Republic have continued to deteriorate since a serious outbreak of inter-communal violence in mid-May between the Muslim Seleka and largely Christian anti-Balaka armed groups. Fighting in some parts of Central African Republic has become so intense that United Nations and private aid agencies have had to suspend their activities. The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the C.A.R., Najat Rochdi, says security has become so bad in the East, agencies have had to change their mode of operations. "We cannot do it anymore business as usual having bases, you know, here and there, but rather strengthening some hubs actually, around a number of cities where the security is much more important and from there fly in special emergency teams, a kind of surge teams," she said.
Since January, the United Nations reports a 50 percent increase in the number of internally displaced people to 600,000. Refugee numbers also have increased to nearly one-half million. Rochdi says humanitarian operations in the country are suffering from severe under-funding. She says only 39 percent of the nearly $500 million appeal for this year has been received. Because of the lack of funding, she says food rations have been cut in half. "And that there are places where actually we have stopped the food distribution. We already had very serious worsening of the malnutrition situation. For example, unfortunately, in the southeast, we started already seeing children dying from severe malnutrition," said Rochdi.
Humanitarian coordinator Rochdi says there are unconfirmed reports that 10 children have died from malnutrition-related causes in the town of Zemio in southeastern C.A.R. She says shelter and protection concerns also are growing. Another cause for alarm is education. She says 400,000 children are not going to school. She warns nearly a whole generation of children who have lost out on education may not have a viable future. And this, she says, will spell disaster for the whole country.
Source: Voice of America
In Burundi, wife of President Ndadaye demands justice for her assassinated husband
On the occasion of the commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye, his wife accuses the then judiciary of rendering a parody of justice. She asks the prosecutor to conduct thorough investigations into the murder of her husband. On 21 October each year, Burundi commemorates the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye, 3 months after his election in 1993. He was the first democratically elected president of Burundi. He is also known as the hero of democracy in Burundi.
His wife, Laurence Ndadaye accuses the judiciary of the time of rendering a parody of justice. "After his assassination, 79 defendants were arrested. 50 of them were released, 15 fled and 14 were imprisoned. Among those in detention, one dared to denounce that the trial that had just been rendered was a travesty of justice. Assassins of President Ndadaye have not been tried. Only the rank and file were tried while senior army officers were not," she says.
Mrs Ndadaye says she has lodged a file in the Court of Cassation and she is still waiting for justice to be rendered. "Ndadaye's family is waiting for the end of the trial, which has just lasted 18 years," she says. She requests the Court of Cassation to ask the Attorney General to resume investigations into the assassination of President Ndadaye. She also asks that the trial of her husband's assassination should not be transferred to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission [CVR]. "This trial is advanced," she says.
CVR was implemented by the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in 2000 to end the civil war that erupted in 1993 after the assassination of President Ndadaye . The mission of CVR is to investigate crimes and human rights violation committed in Burundi from 1962 to December 2008. "The goal to fight for human rights pursued by President Ndadaye has not been achieved since he got killed shortly after his election," says Mrs Ndadaye adding that she regrets that human rights are not sufficiently respected in Burundi."
African leaders call for strengthened military intervention in DRC
The Eighth High-Level Meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has recommended strengthening of MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade. Heads of State and government who met at Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo have come with such a proposal for MONUSCO (The United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) with a view to adapting it to the new challenges in the fight against the negative forces operating in eastern DRC.
A communique released on October 21 by Ambassador Innocent Shiyo from the Department of Regional Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the leaders are after maintenance of military pressure and enhancement of operations against the armed groups, including in particular the ADF, FDLR,Kamuina Nsapu and other armed and terrorist groups that destabilise the DRC.
Under chairmanship of Republic of Congo President, Mr Denis Sassou Nguesso, the high-level meeting sent a strong and unequivocal message to all foreign disarmed combatants in the DRC, including FDLR and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), that there is no other option than to return to their countries of origin.
"The leaders called for completion of repatriation without pre-conditions of the FDLR disarmed combatants that are in the DRC transit camps of Kanyabayonga, Kisangani and Walungu, as well as the M23 former combatants that are still in Uganda and Rwanda, within the shortest time frame possible and not later than 20 October 2018 ... in this regard, direct that the follow-up mechanism, comprising the governments of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, MONUSCO and the guarantors of the PSC (Peace, Security and Cooperation) Framework, be reactivated and propose modalities to accelerate the repatriation of the disarmed combatants and their dependents," Ambassador Shiyo said in the final communique of the meeting.
The meeting that President John Magufuli was represented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Augustine Mahiga, called upon parties to ensure the situation of women and children in the FDLR transit camps in eastern DRC is addressed as a matter of urgency, including through encouraging UNHCR, UNICEF and other humanitarian actors to explore measures aimed at expediting their repatriation to Rwanda.
They called for action to be taken against those responsible for crimes against humanity, through investigations so that they are later brought to justice in line with the PSC Framework, the ICGLR Protocol on Judicial Cooperation and international law. They noted that despite delays in its implementation, the 31 December 2016 political agreement remains the viable framework for ending the political crisis in the DRC and stressed the need to pursue the implementation of confidence building measures to create conditions conducive for the good conduct of the electoral process.
Ambassador Shiyo unveiled that the heads commended significant progress achieved in the voter registration process (42 million voters, out of the 45 million estimated, registered so far) and stressed the need for the early publication of a consensual electoral calendar and a budget as per the 31 December 2016 agreement and encouraged the government to ensure the passing of requisite electoral legislation.
It further condemned acts of violence against State agents, security forces and civilians, as well as human rights violations in the Kasaїs, took note of the DRC Government's efforts to investigate reports of human rights violations and to prosecute the alleged perpetrators, with the support of the United Nations team of international experts on the Kasaїs. The move comes after three Tanzanian soldiers serving with MONUSCO were killed between September and October, this year.
The slain Tanzanian UN peacekeepers include Private Mussa Jumanne Muryery who was killed by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in September and Corporal Maselino Paschal Fabusi and Private Venance Moses Chimboni who were killed this month after they were attacked by a group of rebels 24km from the town of Beni. Tanzania has contributed uniformed UN peacekeepers in various parts of the world since 1995. It currently contributes peacekeepers in six UN missions in Africa and United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Angola leaves peaceful resolution of conflict as legacy for ICGLR
Luanda — Angola leaves as legacy of its mandate at the helm of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) the experience of peaceful resolution of conflicts, through peaceful negotiations and without resorting to firearms, said on October 23 the Angolan political analyst Almeida Mendes Henriques. The political analyst was speaking to ANGOP in the ambit of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the ICGLR, held last week in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. He said Angola left an example of how to help a country and, at the same time, help the region to find negotiated solutions to guarantee political economic and social stability of a state.
"Angola did its part, now it depends on the political will of the region states, since they are sovereign states and there are limitations for the intervention of other member states, including Angola (...)", Almeida Henriques clarified. He went on to explain that during its mandate, Angola paid special attention to the long and still unstable process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. He then deemed Angola's mandate positive, since it mobilised organisations and states, such as the United Nations (U.N), European Union (E.U) and France to tackle hotbeds of instability in the region, principally in DRC, Central African Republic (CAR), Burundi, South Sudan and Sudan. He also stressed that Angola's mandate, which started in 2014, was marked by many diplomatic, bilateral and multilateral interventions.
In last week's ICGLR Summit of Heads of State and Government, the Angolan Head of State, João Lourenço, made clear his intention to continue to help the countries of this region and reaffirmed Angola's compromise with the promotion of peace, stability and regional development. Created in the year 1994, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) comprises Angola, Congo Brazzaville, DR Congo, Zambia, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania.
Source: Angola Press
Morocco, China to set up economic zone to boost bilateral cooperation
Rabat — Morocco and China have agreed to set up an economic zone in Morocco's northern city of Fez, offering a platform for boosting bilateral cooperation in various industries, local media reported on October 16. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Fes-Meknes Regional Investment Center and the China Industrial Cooperation Association, the financial daily L'Economiste reported. The deal aims to establish an economic zone as a platform to attract Chinese investments in the fields of automobile, aviation, agriculture, health and renewable energy, the report said.
Bilateral economic cooperation between Morocco and China has been growing steadily since the establishment of a strategic partnership during the Moroccan king's visit to China in May 2016. Since then, Morocco has witnessed a wave of Chinese investment in the country, especially in the areas of infrastructure construction and industrialization. In June 2016, Morocco granted Chinese citizens visa-free entry to the North African kingdom.
In Zimbabwe, Mangoma named CODE President candidate
The Coalition of Democrats (CODE) on October 19 selected former MDC-T deputy treasurer general and leader of the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) Elton Mangoma to be their 2018 Presidential candidate. Mangoma, who is being deputized by Barbara Nyagomo of the Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe (PDZ), will be contesting against President Robert Mugabe of Zanu PF and his former boss Morgan Tsvangirai who is fronting the MDC Alliance.
Speaking at his inauguration at the CODE's Tanganyika offices in central Harare, Mangoma said his initial and important task was to fight for a level political platform through pressing for electoral reforms. "We do not believe that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is independent and that it has the capacity to preside over a free and fair election and as such we have to take it to the mast so that we begin to see clear deliverables that give confidence to the people," said Mangoma.
"In fact is not about ZEC but the issue is about Zanu PF who control ZEC and we want to make that abundantly clear that we are not going to be fooled by the little games that are being played by ZEC to make us think that they are doing something transparent when they are not. We know that there are serious issues that must be addressed to give the right to the people to vote which is in the constitution and not to administratively take away those rights from the people. "So we are going to be talking about these issues, and if they require action, we will follow them up with action," he said.
CODE also established a board which supervises the presidium, the Supreme council and appointed Zapu Leader Dumiso Dabengwa to spearhead it. Dabengwa said their political arrangement was different from Zanu PF which has one centre of power. "Even now before he ascends to power after victory wherever he misbehaves the supreme council has the right to call him and be able to tell him that we think what you are doing is not in accordance with the principles of CODE. Even when he is in government similarly, even if it means re-calling him the supreme council will be able to re-call him and discipline him accordingly," Dabengwa said.
Mavambo President Simba Makoni, Marceline Chikasha, the leader of the African Democratic Party, and ZimFirst's Maxwell Shumba were made the CODE Supreme council executive members. Another CODE member, Gilbert Dzikiti of the Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment, defected to the National People's Party on the eve of the coalition's leadership announcement saying he had found wisdom in the former Vice President Joice Mujuru leadership.
Mujuru snubbed CODE after Dabengwa and others ignored her demands that she be declared the automatic leader of the coalition. She is expected to launch a parallel opposition Coalition with the other faction of the former Finance minister Tendai Biti's fragmented People's Democratic Party which is being led by Lucia Matibenga.
Zuma's integrity under spotlight at state capture review application
President Jacob Zuma's integrity as a leader took centre stage during the court hearing of his application to review the remedial action contained in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report on October 24. Judge President Dunstan Mlambo on October 24 asked Zuma's lawyer, legal heavyweight Advocate Ishmael Semenya, why Zuma had not acted on allegations of state capture as early as 2016.
"In April 2016, Zuma receives a letter from the public protector where serious allegations were made against him. He does nothing. "In August the public protector tells the president that she is going to issue a report, he tries to stop it...He has done nothing than to inform Parliament that he intends to institute an inquiry. "Is that the action of a reasonable president in the context of the Constitution?" asked Mlambo, who questioned Zuma's integrity for not standing by his word of establishing a commission of inquiry as he has repeatedly promised.
Zuma's legal team told the court earlier that Madonsela's remedial actions should be reviewed and set aside. Madonsela was looking into allegations of an improper relationship between the president and the influential Gupta family in relation to key appointments in Zuma's Cabinet and the awarding of contracts at state-owned enterprises. She said she did not have the necessary resources to finish her investigation into state capture and recommended a judicial inquiry, which was to be appointed by the president.
Mlambo grilled Semenya on his submissions again. 'Why did he not act?' Semenya, who had earlier argued before Judge President Mlambo and High Court Judges Phillip Boruchowitz and Wendy Hughes, said that it was unlawful for Madonsela to dictate to the president that he should establish a commission of inquiry. Mlambo asked Semenya: "He (Zuma) holds the view that no one can tell him how to act. Then why did he not act?"
Semenya came to Zuma's defence and said: "The president could not act until the review application was heard." An unrelenting Mlambo then asked Semenya how the public should view Zuma's statements on the establishment of a commission of inquiry when he (Zuma) says: "Yes, I will do it, but no one is going to tell me how to do it." Semenya accused the former public protector of having held a certain view about current public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane saying that she had rushed to complete her investigation because "Mkhwebane was only a senior investigator in the office of the public protector". Semenya told the court that it would be understandable if the court was hearing a matter in which Zuma had declined to establish a commission of inquiry. "This application would be an entirely different matter," he said.
Charging back at Semenya, advocate Vincent Maleka SC, representing the Office of the Public Protector, said: "Even the president agrees to the need of the establishment of a commission of inquiry." Maleka said Zuma had previously conceded that he understood that the establishment of a commission of inquiry was in "public interest". Mlambo asked Maleka if the public protector did what she was expected to do by the Constitution to which Maleka responded: "The public protector has the powers to investigate, and she did do that. "What she did not do was to make conclusive findings to support her report because she did not have the resources and the funding."
Maleka told the court that, if Madonsela had the necessary funding and resources, including investigators, she would have concluded her investigation before her term ended. "The question becomes vital in the bigger scheme of things because she does not have the luxury to waste time and the public needed to know the outcomes of the investigation and that is why she asked the president to appoint a commission of inquiry." Maleka said any responsible president would have dealt with the matter speedily instead of resorting to delaying tactics. He asked the court to uphold the remedial actions made by Madonsela in her report.
In Uganda, Besigye arrested in Kabale over charges of attempted murder
Kabale — Former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye has been arrested. Dr Besigye, FDC presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat and the party secretary for mobilization Ingrid Turinawe were on October 19 evening arrested in Burambira village Bubaare Sub county in Rubanda on their way to Kabale District from Rukungiri.
The Regional Police Commander Mr Denis Namuwoza said Dr Besigye is wanted in Rukungiri where he allegedly committed several offences on October 18. "He is wanted in Rukungiri on charges of attempted murder of policemen and holding unlawful assembly," said Mr Namuwoza. He added that Dr Besigye commanded people who pelted stones at the police officers as they tried to disperse FDC supporters who had gathered to listen to Mr Amuriat who was in the district to solicit for votes.
On their way to Kabale they encountered a police road block at Burambira, about 4 kilometers to Kabale town around 5pm. When Mr Amuriat got out of his vehicle to engage police, he was arrested and locked into police double cabin. Policemen surrounded the vehicles in which Dr Besigye and Ms Turinawe were travelling. The politicians remained locked in their vehicles and were by the time of filing this story (at 7pm) still surrounded by police. "We are still persuading him to get out of the vehicle so that we take him to Rukungiri," Mr Namuwoza said.
Source: The Monitor
Sudan backs Mugabe cabinet reshuffle, banks on Mzembi
President Robert Mugabe's most recent Cabinet reshuffle has been roundly panned by critics, who believe it will not arrest the accelerating economic slide, but the move has been cheered by an unlikely source - Sudan. The northern African nation, which recently had its two-decades long economic and trade sanctions lifted by the United States, believes the appointment of Walter Mzembi as Minister of Foreign Affairs would help strengthen economic ties between Sudan and Zimbabwe.
"We have been trying to reach out to Zimbabwe for the past few years to no avail," Sudan's deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe, Rida Osman, told The Financial Gazette. "There are five bilateral agreements that we sent out to the Foreign Affairs Ministry on political consultation, mining, justice, information and cultural exchanges, but we did not get any responses," he said.
Osman noted that had the agreements been operationalised, the Sudan, with a gross domestic product of nearly US$100 billion, would have assisted Zimbabwe during last year's drought with food. "It is our hope that the recent Cabinet reshuffle will result in a review of the two countries' relations," he said. He said Zimbabwe and Sudan shared a long history dating back to the liberation struggle.
Market watchers say Zimbabwe/Sudan engagement is fundamental in that it does not only promote diplomatic relations but creates an interdependent system between the two countries with massive potential for economic development. Given the recent lifting of the majority of sanctions and with the impending lifting of the remaining sanctions, Sudan offers unique investment opportunities and a welcoming business climate for the resources sector and the agricultural industry among many other sectors.
Sudan is an emerging investment opportunity offering access to one of the few internationally untouched markets. Sudan embassy counsellor Nasreldin Omran said the country, which is expected by the International Monetary Fund to register a 3,6 percent annual growth rate until 2020, has always been known for its abundant natural resources such as gold, oil, gas, chrome, manganese, zinc, aluminium, cobalt, and nickel. Gold production in Sudan reached 22,3 tonnes in 2016, ranking as one of the top producers in Africa.
With the majestic Nile River running through it, Sudan has more than 150 million hectares of arable land. The climate is suitable for all types of crops, and water irrigation is readily available. The country specialises in cereal production -- sorghum, millet, wheat, corn and rice -- and also grows cotton, sugar, peanuts, sesame, gum Arabic and tropical fruits and vegetables. "As Africa's third-largest country and bordering seven countries, Sudan offers great opportunities for investment in the transport sector," Omran said. Several economic giants such as China, India, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have invested heavily in Sudan.
Meanwhile, Osman said Mzembi was better placed to negotiate with the West for the re-integration of Zimbabwe into the international system. "Zimbabwe should initiate talks with the United States. This is the only way the sanctions imposed on your country can be lifted. Without transparent discussions between the two nations, Zimbabwe will not be able to create a normal and constructive relationship with the United State of America," he said.
United States President Donald Trump administration's recently lifted an embargo on Sudan after a 16-month diplomatic effort. The United States first imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, including a trade embargo, for alleged human rights violations and terrorism. Washington added more sanctions in 2006 for what it said was complicity in the violence in Sudan's Darfur region.
Source: Financial Gazette (Harare)
Mogadishu shows resilience, starts rebuilding site of deadly bombing
Residents of Somalia's capital have developed an exceptional state of resilience over the years. They had to, given how often Mogadishu sees deadly warfare involving Islamist militants, troops from five African countries, and assorted government forces. That resilience was on display again this week, just three days after a massive truck bomb that killed nearly 300 people and wounded more than 400 others
on October 14. By October 17, hundreds of young volunteers who had helped rescue survivors from the debris of demolished cars and buildings, cleaned up the rubble.
On October 19, the city began construction at the blast site to defy what authorities have described as a terrorist message meant to demoralize the city’s recent revival. “You see we are rebuilding the road at the blast site. Since it is a very important for the city’s movement, we are making it ready for the traffic to begin soon,” said Mogadishu Mayor Tabit Abdu Mohamed. The road construction began as the charred buildings around the scene of the blast were sealed off with corrugated iron sheets to prepare them for immediate rebuilding. “We have to show that the city would never be dead because of a brutal terrorist attack,” Mohamed said. “I hope this would be the terrorists’ last outrageous attack against our city.”
Among Mogadishu officials and diplomats who visited the site on October 19 was EU Ambassador to Somalia Veronique Lorenzo, who said the extent of the destruction caused by the October 14 blast left her speechless. “I wanted to see with my own eyes the scale of the destruction. I must say I am quite speechless by the scale and the barbarity of this attack,” said Lorenzo. “I am also impressed by how quickly the mayor, his team and the young people of Mogadishu have gotten up to work, to reconstruct the roads, to clean up the site and to reconstruct this part of the city.”
At the city’s new National Emergency Management Center, only half a mile away from the site, grieving families gathered in search of information about their missing loved ones. Although the government officially recorded the death of 281 people and nearly 400 injured, the whereabouts of dozens of the city's residents are still unknown. Their family members say they were at the blast zone the last time they heard from them.
Government officials said some people were burned beyond recognition and others might have been turned to ashes by the flames. Deqa Aden Mohamed, a mother of three children, was there to find out information about her husband, Abdi Yusuf. “My husband was wheelbarrow porter. He left us the morning of Saturday, Oct. 14. Then he called us from his cellphone. That was the last time we heard from him,” she said. Another woman told VOA, “The last time I saw my son was on Saturday Oct. 14. He went to college and since, we haven't heard from him.”
Source: Voice of America
Five church leaders detained in Sudan capital
Five leading members of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCC) were detained after saying prayers at a church building in Omdurman on afternoon. The priests were summoned after prayers in the church in El Sawra block 29 by the district police, and held on charges of disturbing the public order. SCC legal consultant Dimas Marajan told Radio Dabanga that the head of the SCC Rev. Salian Tutu, pastors Ali Hakim and Imberatour Hammad, evangelist Habeel Ibrahim, and member of the Church's Executive Committee Sheikh Abdelbagi Tutu were released on bail at midnight.
"On Sunday morning, when the priests and worshippers went to the church in the El Sawra district block 29 for the mass on yes morning, they found the church doors locked," the lawyer recounted. "The church guard informed them that an unidentified group of men closed the church at night. Not much later, a large force of policemen appeared. They told the people in front of the church that the Sudanese Ministry of Endowments decided to appoint a new church administration that will supervise anyone who wants to pray at the churches of the SCC.
"The worshippers rejected the decision saying the Ministry of Endowments has no right to intervene in internal church matters. The SCC administration is to be chosen by the church only. The people then tore the locks, entered the church, and began their prayers. After the mass, the police of the district immediately summoned the five priests and detained them."
The National Umma Party (NUP), chaired by El Sadig El Mahdi, strongly condemned the detention of the priests. In a statement on October 23, the NUP called the closure of the church building and the detention of the clerics "an attack on religious freedoms that may lead to a sectarian strife in the country. "The continued violation of religious, media, and political freedoms is another proof that the lifting of the US sanctions was only a means of granting an umbrella for the regime to continue its oppression [of the people] in all its forms," the statement reads. The opposition party called on "all political forces, unions, civil society and pressure groups to condemn this brutal attack against our Christian brethren".
Source: Radio Dabanga (Amsterdam)
AU, UN and Somalia hold crisis meeting on Mogadishu bombing
A crisis meeting bringing together the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN), the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and other key stakeholders to review the recent bomb attack in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on October 25 agreed on key measures aimed at deterring future attacks. The Joint Crisis Management Team meeting, organized by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), was attended by senior UN officials led by the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga, and top FGS security chiefs, including the new Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Maj. Gen. Abdiweli Jama Hussein.
Speaking after the meeting, the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) for Somalia, Simon Mulongo, noted that the consultation was meant to avert and mitigate future incidents, through improved security and enhanced coordination. "The meeting has agreed on putting in place some mitigating measures of better response in future. We have a technical team that is going to work out more details in terms of sequence and form of response and how quickly that response can be, and secondly, we shall have our efforts coordinated in a manner that is more orderly and ensure that command and control issues are properly fleshed out," Mr. Mulongo explained, adding that the meeting also agreed to have a standby team to respond to future incidents. The DSRCC added that the meeting had agreed on measures to ensure the enemy, Al-Shabaab, is denied the freedom of organizing and instigating attacks against innocent civilians.
On October 14, 2017, terrorists detonated a huge Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) at a busy junction in Mogadishu, killing more than 300 people and injuring many more. AMISOM and UN joined hands in organizing a search and rescue operation and also offering other forms of aid to the Federal Government of Somalia. In his remarks, DSRSG Zenenga observed that though the meeting will take stock of the incident, there is need to focus on post blast initiatives. "Now that the recovery operations are over and we are in the period of reconstruction and rebuilding, the main task falls on our UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services) colleagues who are helping the government to assess the structural damage to the remaining buildings and what can be done to reconstruct the buildings and also to build the capacity that has been lost in the adjacent ministries," the DSRSG observed.
Going forward, Mr. Zenenga said, there was need to help build the capacity of the Federal Government to effectively respond to crisis caused by acts of terror and other factors. The CDF of the Somali National Army (SNA), Maj. Gen. Abdiweli Jama Hussein, who represented the Minister of Defence, hailed the international community for the swift response in the aftermath of the incident but noted that a lot still remains to be done and appealed for more support. "There are a lot of challenges that need to be addressed at the moment which requires us to be united. We have to move forward and that means you have to do your part. We need the support of the international community to find solutions to these issues," Maj. Gen. Abdiweli stated.
The United Nations Security Council in the Sahel
Under the French presidency, the Security Council will visit the G5 Sahel States this week. That is a regional grouping composed of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. Countries that are experiencing a security crisis since 2005, the year of the first major Western hostage-taking and the year of major armed attacks against the national security forces. The Sahel is also a transit area where various trafficking, especially in drugs, cigarettes and human beings, has gradually become widespread.
It is frequent for the Security Council, the UN most important body, to undertake fields' visits to learn more about a crisis before returning to New York with more ideas for possible solutions. Specifically, at the beginning of the 2,000 decade, the Council had made well publicized trips to countries ravaged by violent civil wars: Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone. All are countries where the United Nations had invested massively for peace through the deployment of peacekeeping troupes and humanitarian assistance. Countries that are now rather stable, which gives hope for the Sahel.
Marked by a newly imported political culture, where acute suspicion explains almost everything, the Sahel is experiencing several simultaneous several crises. The most publicized, and the most deadly but not necessarily the most profound one, is the security crisis. A crisis resulting from attacks by the jihadist movements most of whom are increasingly "indigenous». That means that both recruits and leaderships hail from or are close to the local populations. Secondly, there is also an internal crisis that fuels the previous one. While the danger is real, the presence and usefulness of public authorities are often not seen or even felt by the citizen. Still, governments behave as if the situation was normal and efforts to strengthen and broaden their political bases were neither necessary nor useful.
To these two deficits should be added a third much more serious one: the denial of realities. That denial is reinforced by an insidious and quasi-official political campaign that attributes the source and the seriousness of the crisis to external forces. A euphemism to designate those governments that came to the rescue of our countries! In the capital cities streets and in private talks, as well as in schools, the populations are brainwashed to believe in a plot fomented by our partners. A pervasive xenophobia, whose ravages would certainly be worse in the future, is taking roots in the region.
There is no call for solidarity with the allies fighting a common enemy and helping to increase the effectiveness of national and international troops. But xenophobic campaigns, conducted across several states, try to demonstrate that connivance between jihadists and political rebellions on the one hand and bilateral and multilateral forces on the other. As unbelievable as it may seem, it is in this environment of suspicion that the Security Council delegation will visit the G 5 Sahel. In this context, how to help address the region tragedy? The UN's second secretary-general, the Swedish Dag Hammarskjöld, liked to say "the United Nations was not created to lead humanity to Paradise but to prevent it from going to Hell".
Criticizing United Nations is quite legitimate and remains an easy and frequent exercise even before General de Gaulle's famous qualification of the Organization as " a machin" or "something" . But that is not the point. For countries affected by a multidimensional crisis and for their external allies, the priority should be to establish strong internal fronts able to overcome a determined enemy that is constantly gaining more room and weight in the region. Open or insidious, the demonization of bilateral or international allies is unfair, but above all it is an escape that serves only short political interests. National governments cannot use external partners to exonerate themselves from their own responsibilities. The rewriting of history is a dangerous exercise that has often led to terrible disasters that the Sahel nations would be well inspired to avoid.
Ultimately, the G5 Sahel states and their allies must strive to explain to the Security Council delegation their priorities and how they plan to implement them through wise policies and decisions. In that connection, the first step is to put an end to insecurity. That requires several measures of which military action is an essential component that should not be minimized and let alone demonized. To ensure its effectiveness, it needs the moral and political support of governments and especially national public opinions.
Then there is the question of acting simultaneously on several fronts starting with restoring the visibility and usefulness of the State as well as safeguarding what remains of its authority. Ending the tribalization of public service and security forces should be one of the first steps the concerned countries should take. That should help to stop the process of the "deconstruction" of the post-colonial state. That deconstruction / regression reinforces the ethnic and regional bases of the rebellions.
The Security Council knows that there are wars of choice. That is when external actors intervene to help an ally, exert pressure or assert their power. In a region where, despite a significant progress in freedom of expression, the Council should remind the governments visited that, as a wise approach and in all the parties' mutual interests, it is vital to form a common front rather than exposing allies to popular vindictiveness. In this connection, and beyond historical truth, the continued mentions of the Sahel external partners' secret agendas and resistance to colonization, more than a century ago, do not serve the current priorities i.e. the fight against terrorism. It does not either to the development agenda. And it will not be sufficient enough to avoid additional governance efforts required by a more demanding citizenry.
As usual, the Security Council delegation will listen and discuss with national authorities and may meet with civil society representatives and key figures from the countries visited. It will find the manner and style to encourage its interlocutors to act in a way that the Sahel governments and their external partners work together to achieve a common ambition that is the return to stability and development. Silences and questions will be the answers to out of context statements that may be served to them. However, the Security Council message will be friendly and therefore sincere. That is precisely what it takes to marginalize an increasingly confident adversary that is more and more openly present in the region.
For the governments visited, the meetings with the Security Council are important opportunities not for internal political considerations but to present convincing and implementable policies. Policies that are credible to a preeminent political body whose influence cannot be underestimated. The financing of the G5 Sahel forces, of United Nations troops and accompanying economic measures will undoubtedly be discussed during this visit. Familiar with the Sahel and its problems, the French Presidency of the Security Council can help the countries visited or at least, according to the enshrined formula, keep the item on the Council's Agenda.
In Togo, at least four dead in anti-Government protests
At least four people have been killed across the small West African nation of Togo in clashes between security forces and protesters demanding an end to the rule of President Faure Gnassingbe. Security Minister Colonel Damehame Yark said on October 18 that one person was shot dead in the capital, Lome, while three others were killed in Togo's second-largest city of Sokode, more than 300 kilometers north of Lome. Yark says 60 demonstrators were arrested in the October 18 clashes.
Opposition leaders have planned two days of demonstrations against Gnassingbe, who has been in power since 2005, succeeding his late father President Gnassingbé Eyadema. Protests have broken out across Togo since August over the current president's proposal to amend the constitution by removing presidential term limits, which could potentially allow him to stay in office until at least 2030. The elder Gnassingbe himself served as president of Togo from 1968 until his death.
Source: Voice of America
In Nigeria, soldiers, police intensify search for kidnapped missionaries
Warri — The Delta State Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Zanna, has said that a combined team of soldiers and policemen are intensifying efforts to rescue the four kidnapped foreign missionaries abducted at Enekorogha community in Burutu Local Council of the state. Zanna said intelligence revealed that the kidnap might not be unconnected with the present onslaught on militant activities embarked upon by the military under the Operation Crocodile Smile II. However, the Delta State Police Command said it had apprehended the five-man gang of militants who kidnapped the four white missionaries.
The Police Commissioner, who said that the arrested suspects had been giving vital information and manhunt for the leader of the Karowei militants and kidnapping gang had also been heightened, said the leader of the Karowei gang was also the mastermind of the kidnap plot of the mother of the Majority Whip of Delta State House of Assembly. Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has urged the suspected militants to release the missionaries without delay.
The IYC in a statement on October 19 by its president, Eric Omare, appealed to the abductors to release the Britons with immediate effect, adding that there is no justification for this unGodly action. He said the IYC would collaborate with security agencies, Ijaw traditional and community leaders in and around Enekorogha and other Ijaw communities in Burutu Local Council to fish out the perpetrators of the criminal act. He said the IYC clan and community structures in Esembiri, Oporomor and Mein clans had been instructed to take actions towards the release of the kidnapped missionaries, adding that criminal conducts, such as kidnapping and killing of innocent people, are neither part and parcel of the Ijaw culture nor the Ijaw struggle for freedom.
Omare said: "It is criminal and highly condemnable for foreign missionaries who were offering free medical services and preaching the gospel of God in the riverine areas of western Ijaw to be kidnapped. There is no justification whatsoever for this ungodly action. It has nothing to do with the Ijaw or Niger Delta agitation hence it must be condemned by all well-meaning people. "We also call on Ijaw traditional and community leaders to be vigilant so as not to allow criminal element the freedom to operate. Criminal conducts are bringing disrepute to the communities involved and driving away development from the communities concerned.
Source: The Guardian
Nigeria wants single currency for Ecowas region slowed down
President Muhammadu Buhari on October 24 in Niamey, Niger, urged members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to tread carefully in pushing for a single currency in the sub-region by 2020, drawing attention to the challenges faced by the European Union (EU) in realising the same goal. In his speech at the fourth meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Currency Programme, President Buhari said the necessary economic fundamentals among countries continue to differ over the years, making it more difficult to pull through with the project by 2020.
"Nigeria advises that we proceed cautiously with the integration agenda, taking into consideration the above concerns and the lessons currently unfolding in the EU. To that end, Nigeria will caution against any position that pushes for a fast-track approach to monetary union, while neglecting fundamentals and other pertinent issues," he said.
President Buhari, according to Premium Times, noted that some of the obstacles to realising the roadmap for the implementation of a single currency include diverse and uncertain macro-economic fundamentals of many countries, unrealistic inflation targeting based on flexible exchange rate regime and inconsistency with the African Monetary Co-operation Programme. The president said domestic issues in ECOWAS member countries relating to their constitutions and dependence on aid continue to affect the framework for implementing the single currency in the sub-region.
The President said: "Although the ECOWAS Commission has anchored its pursuit of the new impetus to monetary integration on "the information presented to the Heads of State which were the basis for their recommendations," we are concerned that we have not properly articulated and analysed a comprehensive picture of the state of preparedness of individual countries for monetary integration in ECOWAS by 2020.
"In previous meetings, we had specifically raised observations on the state of preparedness of the member states, the credibility of the union if anchored on watered down criteria, and the continuing disparities between macroeconomic conditions in ECOWAS countries, amongst others. And I would like to reiterate this concerns."
The president told the Heads of State that the conditions that pushed Nigeria into withdrawing from the process in the past had not changed.
"Nigeria had earlier withdrawn from the process because its key questions and concerns were ignored and till date, none of the issues has come up as an agenda issue to be considered by the taskforce. Consequently, the Roadmap which did not involve widespread consultation with national stakeholders is not sufficiently inclusive," he added.
Going forward with the project, President Buhari suggested a thorough review of the convergence roadmap and the constitution of an expert committee on each of the subject areas to come up with acceptable time frame, defined cost and funding sources identified.
"This should also consider stakeholders such as the Ministries of Finance, customs, parliamentary groups, tax authorities, immigration authorities to achieve comprehensiveness," he said.
The president said there should be a push towards ratification and domestication of legal instruments and related protocols, while fiscal, trade and monetary policies and statistical systems, which had not gone far, could be harmonised.
Buhari noted that the West African Economic and Monetary Union, UEMOA, countries should make a presentation on a clear roadmap towards delinking from the French Treasury.
He also advised an examination of the African Union position on the same issue, which the African Central Bank Governors, in line with the African Union programme of monetary convergence, recommended a convergence deadline of 2034 for the establishment of Regional Central Banks in all sub-regions.
In his remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, said the single currency for the West African sub-region was a laudable and historical project, but regretted that it had taken too long to be actualised.
The president said the creation of a Central Bank for the West Coast would accelerate the process.
He noted that Nigeria constitutes more than 70 per cent of the GDP of the West African region, with a population of 180 million, and would play a significant role in facilitating the process of realising a single currency for the sub-region.
Source: This Day
This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi