Category Archives: Central Africa

Rwanda – Supreme Court clears the way for referendum on Kagame third term


Rwanda’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Paul Kagame could run for a third seven-year term, rejecting an attempt by the main opposition party to block changes to the country’s constitution.

In the latest instance of an African leader seeking to extend his days in power, the Kagame-controlled parliament backed a motion in July to let him run again as leader of the east African state.

The constitutional changes must pass a referendum although there is little chance of them failing due to Kagame’s control over the media and many aspects of public life, as well as his popularity as a nation-builder after a 1994 genocide.

“All depends on the opinions of the people,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling.

The opposition Democratic Green Party, which brought the case before the Supreme Court, said it would continue to push for protection of existing constitutional term limits, a hot topic in Africa after similar moves by regional leaders.

“We are not happy but we’ve not given up. We are going to appeal to the president,” Green party leader Frank Habineza told Reuters after the decision.

Kagame has not said explicitly that he wants to run again but has made clear he is open to persuasion.

The Kigali court ruling is likely to attract attention in other African nations where term limits are under similar pressure.

Congo Republic is holding a referendum this month on constitutional changes that would allow 71-year-old President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his decades-long rule.

In neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, opposition parties have accused President Joseph Kabila, who has been in charge for 14 years, of plotting to extend his time in office via violence and manipulation of a packed electoral calendar.

In Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza sparked months of protests and a failed coup in April when he decided to run for a third term after a controversial court ruling that the first of his two terms did not count because he was not directly elected.

Former rebel leader Kagame won international and domestic praise for rebuilding Rwanda after the genocide, in which 800,000 people, most of them Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were massacred.

But international donors have criticised his suppression of dissent and any move to change the constitution. Washington said this month it “opposed those in positions of power changing constitutions solely for their political self-interest”.

Burundi expels Rwandan diplomat


Burundi has expelled a senior Rwandan diplomat, officials said on Wednesday, the latest sign of tension between the central African neighbours that share a history of ethnic conflict.

Burundi was plunged into crisis six months ago, when President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement he would seek a third term ignited weeks of protests and a failed coup. Nkurunziza went on to win a July 21 vote, but opposition groups have accused his government of a violent crackdown against them.

Rwanda, which endured a genocide in 1994, has expressed alarm about the situation in Burundi and its regional implications.

Salvator Ntacobamaze, permanent secretary in Burundi’s Ministry of External Relations and International Cooperation, said the diplomat, Desire Nyaruhirira, had been expelled but declined to give any further explanation.

Government spokesman Phillipe Nzobonariba said the expulsion was most likely due to the diplomat’s alleged contacts “with putschists hosted in Rwanda”.

“It is not a problem with a country but a problem with an individual since he is reported to be in permanent contact with coup plotters,” he said.

Rwanda had no immediate comment.

Opposition groups have accused Burundi’s government of launching a crackdown since May, when crowds first took to the streets saying Nkurunziza’s bid for a third presidential term was unconstitutional.

Burundian security personnel have been accused of conducting frequent raids in parts of the capital Bujumbura that are known to be opposition strongholds.

A row broke out this week at a prison in central Burundi after police tried to move 28 prisoners tied to efforts to topple Nkurunziza into isolation. Inmates blocked the police from entering, while opposition leaders said they feared for the prisoners’ lives.

The police on Wednesday succeeded in isolating the 28 prisoners, prison officials said, with no deaths reported.

South Sudan – EU condemns Kiir unilateral creation of 28 states

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – European Union (EU) has issued a strong-worded statement condemning the Friday’s unilateral decree issued by South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir which created 28 new states, saying this was a violation of the peace agreement he signed with the former vice president and armed opposition leader, Riek Machar.

JPEG - 19.6 kb
European flags are seen outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels (Reuters Photo)

“The announcement by President Salva Kiir of the presidential order to replace the 10 existing states with 28 new states goes against the spirit and the letter of the Peace agreement signed by the Government of South Sudan on August 26,” partly reads the statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

EU, which is composed of powerful and influential European countries, urged president Kiir to suspend his decree until when the parties to the agreement handle the matter during the constitutional making process in accordance with the peace deal.

“The agreement provides for decisions on the structure of the country to be addressed during the permanent constitution-making process under the oversight of the Transitional Government of National Unity and in consultation with the people of South Sudan. The European Union therefore urges the President and Government of South Sudan to refrain from proceeding on this fundamental matter,” it said.

The statement decried the shift in mind by the government, reminding that the peace agreement was also endorsed by the top South Sudanese leaders during the recent high-level summit of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

It also urged the parties to work out an agreement on the security arrangements which the parties have been discussing at a workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The joint statement was signed by both the EU’s vice-president, Federica Mogherini, and commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides, on South Sudan. The statement in condemnation of the presidential order is the first which has publicly come out from the international community.

EU warned that there will be consequences for those who attempt to derail the peace agreement, reminding of the previous initiated actions against peace spoilers.

“The international community has consistently said that there will be consequences for those who obstruct the implementation of the Peace agreement. The EU welcomes in that respect the African Union’s decision to publish the commission of inquiry’s report and to move ahead with the establishment of the hybrid court,” it further stated.

South Sudanese government on Monday also came under heavy criticism from foreign diplomats when senior government officials gathered representatives of the foreign nations for a briefing at parliamentary building in Juba which aimed to explain the genesis of the unilateral presidential decree over 28 new states.

Officials close to the meeting told Sudan Tribune on Monday that the diplomats questioned the timing and rationale behind the government’s decision to unilaterally decree the new states, urging Juba to respect the peace agreement and suspend the creation of the states to be handled during the transitional period by the would-be formed government of national unity.

The reaction by the ambassadors accredited to South Sudan is seen as a reflection of what would be response from their home nations before a position can be taken by the IGAD Plus mediation body and the United Nations.

However, the source said government officials at the briefing defended the decision of the president in decreeing the new states, saying it would help accommodate officials during the transitional period.

Minister of information and broadcasting, Michael Makuei Lueth, told the diplomats that the president had the right to do “whatever” he wanted as a representative of the people in the sovereign country, South Sudan.

He said the creation of the states was not a violation of the peace agreement as said by the opposition faction led by former vice president, Machar, adding that the opposition group should have instead appreciated it so that the expanded states could accommodate them more.

He revealed that according to the new states the opposition leader will nominate six governors for the new six states which were curbed from the two oil-rich states of Unity and Upper Nile.

“They (opposition) should have instead appreciated the decision because this will help them. It will solve the problem of accommodation which they have,” Lueth told the diplomats.

Lueth also explained that the power sharing agreed in the peace deal will also apply in the new states in which the opposition will get 15% of state ministerial positions from the other 18 states in greater Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria and 40% from the 10 states created from greater Upper Nile.

He did not however explain how members of the new state legislative assemblies will be shared between the parties as the peace agreement maintained the current elected members of the state parliaments. He did not also talk about how the national legislature will be affected in the new representation.

The new proposed states isolated the Nuer community, the second largest in South Sudan, from the rest of the tribes, giving them 5 states enclaves without mixing them with any of the other tribe in the country. The Dinka community, the largest in the country, however was mixed with other minority tribes in greater Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal.

Earlier, Lueth on Friday also said the order of the president which created the 28 states did not need to go to the national parliament for approval, arguing that it was an executive order and should be implemented without any questions by the national legislature.

However, president Salva Kiir’s legal advisor, Lawrence Korbandy, who also attended the Monday’s briefing of the diplomats, contradicted Lueth’s interpretations, saying the order must go to the parliament for endorsement.

“We have 30 working days during which the order will be presented to the parliament. If this is not done I will be the first to speak against this order,” he said.

Korbandy however defended the order, saying it was in the interest of the people and that local resources will be mobilized to cater for the 28 states.

The opposition faction earlier warned that the new 28 states will alter provisions of the peace agreement which was based on the current 10 states and open up the deal for further negotiations, calling on the international community to step in and stop the government from violating the agreement.

The peace agreement, signed in August by the parties, deferred the establishment of federal system of governance and creation of more states to the constitutional making process during the transitional period of 30 months.

EU warned that only a genuine and concerted effort by the leaders of South Sudan will bring an end to the suffering of the people of the world’s youngest nation, renew their hope for a peaceful future and avert an “even greater humanitarian tragedy.”


South Sudan conflict- Red cross says scale of sexual violence unprecedented


LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Women in South Sudan have suffered unprecedented levels of sexual violence in the last two years, including abduction, rape, forced marriage and murder as civilians became targets of merciless ethnic warfare, the head of the Red Cross mission there has said.

“We went to one village to distribute aid and (our teams) were told they had been attacked some days earlier and 90 women had been abducted. After several days only about 60 of them came back,” said Franz Rauchenstein, the outgoing head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation.

The latest turbulent chapter in South Sudan’s four years of independence erupted in December 2013, after a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, revived tensions between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer people.

The tensions led to a civil war that has threatened to spill over into the wider East African region, despite successive ceasefires.

Rauchenstein, 53, who began his posting in April 2014, said he had been shocked by the intensity of the looting and violence that have put traditional livestock herding at risk and driven millions to the brink of starvation in the drought-prone region.

“Civilians have been directly targeted. The people are collateral damage of the attacks. Houses are burnt, properties destroyed and so the people are literally running for their lives,” Rauchenstein said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London.

“What is new in this conflict is that women have been attacked while they have been seeking refuge on the islands,” said Rauchenstein, referring to the remote hideouts in swamps where traumatised civilians hide during attacks.

“Those who are abducted may be forcefully married, enslaved or killed,” Rauchenstein said.

Both parties to the conflict have committed violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights abuses, including mass killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence, Amnesty International reported in August.

Human rights groups have also pointed to cases of gang rape, of pregnant women being cut open and of women being raped using wooden sticks or plastic bottles.


The ICRC, a neutral actor in conflict zones, has not commented on who is to blame, preferring to train the warring sides in humanitarian law, urging them to halt attacks on civilian populations to allow aid distribution to continue.

“The danger is that when you gather 1,000 families for a food distribution, people move with their cattle. This risks attracting the warring parties, so it’s a race against time – we have to ensure we are not adding to the problem,” said Rauchenstein, who has also led ICRC missions to Liberia, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“After a (cattle) raid we have asked the population ‘were we to blame?’ and they said no, the looters would have come anyway.”

Reaching civilians is hampered by the way feared rebel factions, such as the White Army – made up largely of Nuer youths who dust their bodies with ash – merge with the communities, farming by day and fighting by night, aid workers have reported.

Rebel spokesmen have denied in the past that the White Army was controlled by Machar.

Kiir and Machar signed an internationally brokered peace accord in August, in a bid to end the violence, with Machar due to become First Vice President as part of the deal, but it has not halted the atrocities.

In the northern town of Leer, in oil-producing Unity State, armed robberies forced the ICRC and medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to suspend activities earlier this week.

“It is lucky nothing happened to our team,” said Rauchenstein.

He said the crisis had affected his staff in other areas too.

“In May, two of our staff were hiding with their families in the swamps. When we finally managed to evacuate them in July they were totally emaciated and must have lost 10 kilogrammes. It was very shocking,” Rauchenstein said.

Gathering testimony from victims is difficult, with women fearing they will be stigmatised if they admit to being raped, said Rauchenstein, who has now completed his South Sudan mission.

“The challenge is to get women to come to sexual violence support services in clinics and hospitals where they can feel supported,” he said.

China promises to build 100 hospitals or clinics in Africa

Mail and Guardian

Chinese and African health ministers have adopted a declaration to increase access to facilities, medication, health workers and training in Africa.

The ministers pledged to

China-Africa co-operation on health strengthened when health ministers from South Africa, China and other African countries adopted a declaration on Tuesday at the conclusion of the second Ministerial Forum of China-Africa Health Development held in Cape Town this week.

“One of the offers made by China was to build 100 hospitals and clinics on the continent. This was welcomed by African health ministers because many of our countries have poor facilities,” said Yogan Pillay, a deputy director general at the national health department.

“Other areas discussed were access to good quality medication at lower prices and collaboration of human resources. Some of the points raised were possible bursaries for health workers, training of health professionals in China and China sending some staff to Africa,” he said.

In the declaration, the ministers pledge to “support a new, well-funded and functional international response system to manage future pandemics” such as the Ebola outbreak that hit West Africa last year. The document reaffirms the outcome of the first such forum of health ministers, held in Beijing in 2013, to formally include health development in the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

Earlier this year, health leaders from Africa and China published a set of Beijing policy recommendations outlining that intercontinental co-operation can “be strengthened to drive sustainable impact”.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), China has been playing a “growing role as a worldwide supplier of vaccines” and recently made a $5-million commitment to Gavi, a global vaccine alliance.

“The Ebola outbreak provided context for conversations on health systems and building African health capacity. China provided $120-million in Ebola aid and deployed nearly 1 000 medical workers to affected areas,” the WHO said in an earlier press release on China-Africa collaboration.

IMF cuts global growth forecast – falls for South Africa and Nigeria


IMF cuts forecast for global growth

Worker on an oil platform in Niger DeltaAFP Oil exporters such as Nigeria have been hit by the fall in commodity prices

The International Monetary Fund has downgraded its forecast for global economic growth this year.

It has reduced its figure to 3.1% from the 3.3% it predicted in July. The 2016 forecast is down to 3.6% from 3.8%.

“A return to robust and synchronized global expansion remains elusive,” the IMF says.

The report also warns that the risks of an outcome worse than its forecasts are more pronounced than they were just a few months ago.

The sharpest downgrades are for emerging economies, especially Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa and Russia.

So the IMF is still predicting growth, but it is distinctly lacklustre growth, especially for the current year.

Modest recovery

The developed economies are expected to manage slightly stronger growth than before, reflecting the modest recovery in the eurozone and the return of growth in Japan, though that looks tentative at best.

Receding legacies from the financial crisis are elements in that story, as is the long-lasting support from central bank policies – low and zero interest rates and also quantitative easing, which continues in the eurozone and Japan.

The emerging and developing economies still account for what the IMF calls the lion’s share of global growth, but they are slowing, in 2015 for the fifth consecutive year.

One important factor is China’s economic transition – from very rapid growth driven by investment and industrial exports to moderate expansion based to a greater extent on Chinese consumer spending increasingly on services.

The IMF mentions that shift as one direct factor behind the emerging world slowdown. But China is also a key element behind other forces,

Commodity prices

Oil producers have been hit by the decline in the price of their exports. Nigeria and Russia are striking examples. China’s slowdown is one of the underlying forces, along with abundant supplies of crude oil.

The report also mentions the declines of other commodity prices as a factor, especially in Latin America. Some countries also have domestic political issues that have encroached onto economic performance; Brazil for example.

The other downbeat element in this report is the view of risks – how the global economy might perform differently from this forecast.

Financial market volatility is a possible danger, if interest rate rises in the US encourage investors to move funds out of emerging economies more rapidly than they have done already.

Increased debt in the emerging economies, lower commodity prices and slower growth could undermine their financial stability, which could in turn hit wider economic performance.

China’s slowdown is another possible trouble spot, if it does not manage its economic transition reasonably smoothly.

There is also the possibility of lower potential growth – that’s a wide-ranging term for factors that govern the maximum capacity of an economy to grow if nothing much goes wrong. Weak investment (though not in China) and the effect of longer-term unemployment on workers’ skills are examples of forces that could do further damage.

And there’s one more risk we have heard about before: Greece. In terms of the international economic impact the situation has calmed greatly. But the IMF warns there is the potential for renewed financial stress in Europe if there is fresh political uncertainty there.

Still, the IMF’s main forecast is for growth to pick up somewhat next year – globally and in the emerging economies. It’s just that it is still not all that convincing a recovery.

An gola’s Marques and Kenya’s Githongo win Allard prize for integrity

Star (Nairobi)

Githongo, Angolan get Sh10.5m award

Prize recepients de Morais and Githongo in Canada on Thursday last week.

Prize recepients de Morais and Githongo in Canada on Thursday last week.


October 5, 2015

Former Ethics PS John Githongo and Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais have been awarded $100,000 (Sh10.5 million) for their work in fighting corruption.

They received their awards at a ceremony in Vancouver, Canada, last Thursday.

The two were awarded $50,000 each after they were named joint recipients of the 2015 Allard Prize for International Integrity.

The Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, Canada, presented Githongo and de Morais with the prize.

Established in 2012, the Allard Prize is awarded every two years to an individual or organisation “that has shown exceptional courage and leadership in combating corruption, especially through promoting transparency and accountability”.

Githongo said, “it is a singular honour and a humbling experience to be selected for the Allard Prize.”

“This recognition serves as an encouragement and as an important recognition that there is, across the world, a partnership between all people who care about human dignity to fight corruption.”

In 2004, Githongo exposed the Anglo Leasing scandal and his current work involves creating an informed citizenry.

– See more at:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,299 other followers