Category Archives: Central Africa

South Sudan – SPLM rebels say they won’t re-unify while Kiir runs the party

Sudan Tribune

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

October 19, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s rebel faction, the SPLM in Opposition, led by former vice-president Riek Machar, said on Sunday it would not reunify with the ruling SPLM party unless president Salva Kiir steps down.

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South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (AFP)

Delegations from the rival SPLM factions met in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha where they held discussion from 12 to 18 October on holding intra-party dialogue aimed at reconciling the two groups.

However, rebel officials in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, ruled out possible reunification unless Kiir agrees to hand over the leadership of the party to Machar.

The officials said they remained pessimistic about the Tanzanian talks, saying they doubted the process would deliver any positive outcomes even if discussions centred on the same agenda.

They went on to say that the rebel delegation had agreed to take part in intra-party dialogue only to tell their side of story.

Their comments appear to contradict those of CCM secretary-general Abdulrahman Kinana, who said that the initial phase of dialogue was held in a frank, honest and cordial manner and that progress has been made on the establishment of a framework for the intra-SPLM dialogue, including shared principles, objectives and an agenda for ongoing talks.

The dialogue is being facilitated by Tanzania’s ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, (CCM), which means revolutionary party in Swahili, the official language of Tanzania.

Following the conclusion of the initial phase of dialogue, Tanzanian president Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete invited both Kiir and Machar to the official launching of the process, due to take place on Monday in Arusha.

According to a source at the talks, both rival parties had recognised the need for reconciliation and the reunification of the SPLM as the vehicle that will implement a comprehensive program of political reforms.

In an encouraging sign, he said participants at the talks had shown a willingness to be identified as one entity, rather then separate groups.

The ruling party in South Sudan split in mid-December last year following an internal political dispute, plunging the young nation into a deadly cycle of conflict that has increasingly divided communities along tribal lines.

The outcome of the latest talks remains unclear, with similar attempts by other ruling parties in South Africa and Ethiopia failing to bridge the gap between the warring SPLM factions.

Ongoing peace talks, which are being facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), have also failed to yield a lasting political settlement to the crisis.


DR Congo – gunmen free hundreds of prisoners in North Kivu


(Reuters) – Heavily armed gunmen freed some 300 inmates from a prison in eastern Congo on Saturday, the provincial minister of justice said, amid fears over deteriorating security in the mineral-rich region.

Christophe Ndibeche said the attackers easily overpowered the security guards, freeing all the prisoners from the central prison of Butembo, a town in North Kivu province.

By Sunday evening, authorities had recaptured about 30 of the fugitives, he added.

“These are enemies of peace who committed this attack to liberate the bandits in the prison. We are going to do everything to find them,” Ndibeche said.

The assault comes at a time of growing alarm in North Kivu, a mineral-rich province bordering Rwanda and Uganda that has long been plagued by dozens of armed militias.

Last week, suspected rebels from the Ugandan ADF-NALU group carried out two overnight raids near the town of Beni, 50 km (30 miles) north of Butembo, killing more than 50 people.

Ndibeche said that highway bandits were the most likely culprits in the prison break given that group’s strong representation among the prison population.


Sierra Leone – Koroma shakes up ebola system

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma has announced a major shake-up of the body in charge of fighting the Ebola outbreak in the country.

He said his defence minister would head a new national response centre and report directly to him. The previous team was headed by the health minister.

Mr Koroma said people were dying and quick decisions had to be taken.

The latest Ebola outbreak has killed about 1,200 people in Sierra Leone, and more than 4,500 across West Africa.

In the worst-affected countries – Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – 9,191 people have been found to have the virus, which kills 70% of those infected, according to the latest WHO figures.

Mr Koroma’s office said Sierra Leone’s new National Ebola Response Centre was replacing the previous body – the National Operations Centre – “with immediate effect”.

The statement said the new centre would be headed by Defence Minister Paolo Conteh, and would have full powers to combat the disease and ensure a more effective use of aid.

The World Health Organization is ramping up efforts to stop Ebola from spreading elsewhere in Africa
The latest crisis in West Africa is the worst-ever Ebola outbreak.

The virus was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.

It spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.

International donors have given almost $400m (£250m) to UN agencies and aid organisations, following an appeal launched in September for $988m.

“I’ve lost five members of my family”

On Friday, a damning internal report emerged from the UN’s health agency, the World Health Organization (WHO).

It found that the organisation had failed to respond in time to a “perfect storm”.

The report seen by AP states: “Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall. A perfect storm was brewing, ready to burst open in full force.”

It says that experts should have realised that traditional methods of containing infectious disease would not work in a region with porous borders and poor health systems.

Issues highlighted by unnamed WHO sources who spoke to Bloomberg news agency include

Delays in WHO experts in the field sending reports to headquarters in Geneva
Bureaucratic hurdles preventing $500,000 (£311,000) reaching the response effort in Guinea
Virus contact tracers (tasked with identifying people who may have come into contact with sufferers) refusing to work out of concern they would not get paid
The WHO said the document seen by AP was incomplete and had not been checked. A full analysis of its actions would only be completed once the outbreak was under control, it added.

The UN’s special envoy for Ebola, David Nabarro, told the BBC that plans were on course to provide 4,000 beds for Ebola patients by next month, compared with 300 at the end of August.

“We are putting in place the foundations of a very powerful response,” he said, in response to criticism of the UN’s work.

How not to catch Ebola:

Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
Wear goggles to protect eyes
Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months


South Sudan – Machar in Kenya for talks with Kenyatta

Sudan Tribune

October 17, 2014 (NAIROBI) – Former South Sudan’s vice-president, Riek Machar, who leads the opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-in-Opposition) is in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to meet president Uhuru Kenyatta.

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South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar gives a press conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 12 May 2014 (Photo: AFP/Zacharias Abubeker)

The rebel leader’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, confirmed to Sudan Tribune that Machar accompanied by a number of senior members of his opposition faction arrived on Friday.

“Yes, our chairman, Dr. Riek Machar, arrived in the Kenyan capital today, Friday,” Dak said on Friday.

He said the visit comes following an invitation by the Kenyan leadership for consultations with Machar on the peace process mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

This will be the second visit in four months following Machar’s meeting with president Uhuru Kenyatta in June.

Dak said the visit may take a number of days.


UN launches belated urgent aid appeal

Ban Ki-moon has launched another urgent appeal for funds to help fight Ebola after a United Nations drive for donations fell short of its target.

The UN chief said a $1bn trust fund he launched in September has received just $100,000 (£62,000) so far.

He joins a growing chorus of world leaders criticising the global effort to tackle the Ebola outbreak.

The disease has killed about 4,500 people so far, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Although several countries across the world have pledged to support the struggle to contain Ebola, few have matched their pledges with donations.

Donors have given almost $400m (£250m) to other UN agencies and aid organisations but the trust fund itself has received pledges of just $20m (£12m) and only Colombia has paid up so far.

The UN special envoy on Ebola, David Nabarro, said the fund was intended to offer “flexibility in responding to a crisis which every day brings new challenges”.

“It allows the areas of greatest need to be identified and funds to be directed accordingly,” he added.

Ban Ki-moon said it was time for counties who “have the capacity” to step up and help the response effort

The outbreak has caused hysteria in the US after one man died and two nurses got infected with the virus
Mr Ban said it was time for the countries “who really have capacity” to provide financial and other logistical support.

Similar calls have been made in recent days by US President Barack Obama, UK PM David Cameron, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has told the BBC he was “bitterly disappointed” with the international community’s response.

“If the crisis had hit some other region it probably would have been handled very differently,” he said in an interview with BBC Newsnight.

“In fact when you look at the evolution of the crisis, the international community really woke up when the disease got to America and Europe.”

Kofi Annan says he is “bitterly disappointed” by the international response
The World Health Organization has said it is “ramping up” efforts to prevent Ebola spreading beyond the three countries most affected by the deadly virus.

WHO official Isabelle Nuttall said 15 African countries are being prioritised for help in prevention and protection, with the four countries directly bordering the affected areas – Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau, Mali and Senegal – getting the most attention.

US reservists on standby

Meanwhile, President Obama has given the go-ahead for US military reservists to be deployed to West Africa if needed. They would join the 4,000 American troops already being sent to the region.

The president also said he was open to appointing someone to head the Ebola response in the US, a so-called czar.

Mr Obama’s senior health advisors have met scathing criticism after two nurses became infected at a Texas hospital by a patient who later died.

US officials now believe one of the nurses, Amber Vinson, may have been sick and contagious for four days and flown on two flights before being diagnosed with the disease.

Disease control specialists are being sent to Ohio to help monitor people she came into contact when she flew there from Dallas last week.

Liberians read about the death of an Ebola victim in the US on a chalkboard in the capital, Monrovia

How not to catch Ebola:

Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
Wear goggles to protect eyes
Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated





Natural resources governance in Africa


Time to rethink the governance of natural resources
14 October 2014

As the world’s economies jostle for increased access to Africa’s natural resources, there have been renewed concerns over how the continent can ensure maximum beneficiation, which will propel economic growth. Initiatives such as the 2007 Big Table themed ‘Managing Africa’s Natural Resources for Growth and Poverty Reduction,’ which was held in Addis Ababa, stress the need for frank discussions on the challenges to effectively managing Africa’s natural resources.

Although Africa is richly endowed with mineral resources, it is also characterised by widespread poverty and conflict. Africa’s minerals are largely exported in raw form, which means the continent does not benefit in the way it would have if it were to process these resources.

The East African Community has several mineral belts that produce, among others, tanzanite and gold, with Tanzania being the biggest regional gold producer. Burundi also has some gold reserves, along with copper, cobalt, nickel and uranium deposits. Exploration activity in western Kenya has also increased significantly over the past few years. East Africa, on the whole, is on the verge of discovering huge reserves of mineral resources, oil, and gas.

Do these discoveries actually give East African countries hope?

But do these discoveries give East African countries hope?

The outlook for Africa’s mining sector is bright, as huge tracts of East Africa remain largely unprospected. But for citizens, the hope that natural resources will be managed responsibly is waning rapidly. Recent oil, gas and mineral discoveries in the region, especially in Kenya and Uganda, have attracted substantial international interest. However, shortcomings in the way these resources are governed limit the extent to which these countries will be able to benefit from the discoveries.

In particular, local communities in resource-rich areas are excluded from decision- and policy-making processes. Out-of-date legislation further undermines the possibility of local communities benefiting from the discovery and extraction of natural resources, which may instead bring forth conflict. The principal legislation governing mining in Kenya, for example, is the 1940 Mining Act, which dates back to the colonial era.

Exploration of natural resources continues to grow. However, the region seems to be very slow in laying down legal structures to guide extraction in a way that benefits local communities, and the country’s citizens more generally.

The current mining bill in Kenya is a good example of how the state can make laws without duly consulting the citizens. The bill has technically excluded citizens from the management and governance of mineral resources; thereby enabling political elites and private extraction companies to enjoy massive benefits, while effectively diminishing any chances for citizens to enjoy the same.

Having been excluded from decision-making around grants and conditions of prospecting or mining licenses, citizens have no idea what mining near their communities will mean for the future generations. Questions such as potential harm to the environment, or whether there will be an increase in livelihood opportunities, remain unanswered.

Indeed, political elites seem to be more interested in collecting taxes and personal benefits than findings ways to ensure the resources will benefit future generations. The current crisis in South Sudan is arguably continuing, in part, due to access to natural resources.

Governments fail to reinvest these revenues into public services

In this country, oil provides about 98% of national revenue. Since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, billions of dollars from oil exports remain unaccounted for by the government. This has contributed to the unrest in the country, as communities in the oil- and mineral-rich states fear they will be abandoned once these resources are exhausted. There are no measures in place to prevent this from happening.

Concerns from local communities are increasing across East African states. The recent attacks in Lamu, Kenya, were partly a reaction to perceived injustices in natural resource governance. In Turkana, where there have been discoveries of huge oil deposits, conflict may also increase if benefits to local communities are not clearly planned and realised.

The role of county-level governance of natural resources management still remains unclear. In the past, communities would suddenly wake up to find private mining companies on sites near to them, without prior consultation or engagement. Often, the police are used to protect private companies at the expense of communities who are frustrated at being ignored.

Strong economic growth in most resource-rich African countries has failed to make a significant dent on their poverty levels. This is because governments and multinational companies fail to reinvest resource revenues into public services such as health or education, or to improve local employment or livelihood opportunities. Resource dependency often insulates national leaders from public pressure, since they do not rely on taxation of their populations for revenue. This enables public revenues to be diverted to patron-client networks, instead of being reinvested in the national economy.

There is an urgent need to rethink the governance of natural resources in East Africa if these countries want to maintain or promote growth, peace and stability. A major component of this would be to develop a set of guiding principles for the private sector in consultation with governments, civil society groups, citizens and global initiatives like the African Mining Vision.

Sebastian Gatimu, Researcher, Governance, Crime and Justice Division, ISS Nairobi  

South Sudan and Uganda sign long-term military agreement

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan and Uganda sign military cooperation deal

October 14, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government has signed a long-term agreement on military cooperation with Uganda, defence Minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk said on Monday.

south sudan
JPEG – 14.4 kbSouth Sudanese president Salva Kiir (left) watches an Independence Day parade in the capital, Juba, on 9 July 2014 with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni (right) (Photo: Mugume Davis Rwakaringi/VOA)
Full details of the agreement are yet to be made public, although it’s understood it will allow Uganda purchase weapons and technological support on behalf of South Sudan if required.

The announcement came after Juuk and his Ugandan counterpart, Crispus Kiyonga held a meeting at which they discussed military and weapons cooperation.

“We have signed the cooperation agreement in order to work together and support each other”, Juuk told the state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV).

The development follows the recent visit of president Salva Kiir to the Ugandan capital, Kampala, where he attended a summit on the Standard Gauge Railway, a regional developmental initiative aimed at fostering the movement of people, goods and services across the region.

According to the minister in the office of the president, Awan Guol Riak, Kiir was able to hold bilateral discussions with the heads of state and governments in the region, including the host, president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, with whom the former discussed issues connected to peace talks in Ethiopia.

The talks, which are being mediated by the regional bloc, the Intergovernmental authority on Development (IGAD), are part of attempts aimed at ending the 10-month-long conflict, but appear to have hit an apparent deadlock recently over what executive powers should be granted to the prime minister and the president.

Museveni is among the key players in the conflict and the talks, given the Ugandan’s army’s (UPDF) deployment to the country following the outbreak of violence to fight alongside government troops, who are battling to contain an armed rebellion led by former vice-president Riek Machar.

Uganda’s involvement in the conflict has irked some countries in the region and there have been calls for the Ugandan military to withdraw.

A senior military officer told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that the UPDF’s intervention, with its military hardware, had saved South Sudan’s leadership from being toppled.

“Out of record, I want to say that it would have taken us [a] much, much longer time to exert full control and to take back Juba, had Uganda not intervened in the last battle outside Bor (Jonglei state capital) around Jameza,” the officer said.

“The defectors and the White Army were advancing steadily towards Juba. Our soldiers were demoralised, some of them were defecting, and those who were fighting for the government were poorly equipped and hungry at the same time. It was a total mess and the leadership was disorganised,” he added.

The conflict in South Sudan initially erupted in Juba following a political dispute in the country’s ruling party (SPLM), before spreading to other key regions across the country.

The conflict took on an increasingly tribal dimension, leading to a cycle of violence between the country’s two main tribes: the Dinka, to which Kiir belongs and Machar’s Nuer group.

Thousands have been killed and more than 1.5 million displaced amid accusations of atrocities on both sides, with ongoing peace talks so far failing to yield a lasting political settlement to the crisis.