Category Archives: Central Africa

Sudan becomes arms producer

Radio Dabanga/allAfrica

Abu Dhabi / Khartoum — A wide range of Sudanese weapons and military equipment are currently on display at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex) in Abu Dhabi.

All the weapons are produced by the state-owned Military Industry Corporation (MIC). Since its establishment in 1993, MIC has strongly expanded its production, making Sudan the third largest weapons producer in Africa, after Egypt and South Africa.

President Omar Al Bashir attended the Idex opening ceremony on Sunday. He arrived at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday, accompanied by a an 11-member delegation, comprised of Ministers of the Presidency, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Investments, Electricity, Minerals, Livestock and Fisheries, Labour, the director of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and the head of police.

It is Al Bashir’s first official trip to the UAE since 2008. MIC spokesman, Ali Osman Mahmoud, said that the visit represents an effort on the part of the Sudanese government to improve ties with the UAE, Khaleeej Times reported on Monday.


An international arms embargo was imposed on Sudan in the early 1990’s. “We ourselves had to meet the needs of our armed forces and reach self-sufficiency,” Mahmoud explained. “We have reached a level in which we are producing genuine, highly-efficient products. We now hope that we can compete with other countries.”

He said that all Sudanese weapons systems are battle-proven, and have been tested in the field. “Our army is already using these very same products.”

“We would like to pursue new technologies and get up to date, in the area of electro-optics, for example. We now have enough technologies that we are able to computerise, and upgrade all our systems,” the MIC spokesman added.

On display

The MIC presented the Khalifa-1, a self-propelled D-30 howitzer, capable of sending a 122-mm projectile to strike targets up to 20km away; the Khatim-2, which has been identified as the Sudanese version of the Iranian Boraq-2 IFV, which is similar to the Russian BMP-2; a mobile version of the Taka 107 mm multiple rocket launcher, as well as the Nimir long-range patrol vehicle; an unarmoured Tamal tactical vehicle, and the Sarsar-2 armoured reconnaissance vehicle, that is listed as being armoured to the Russian CEN level BR6.

A stabilised remote weapon station called the Ateed appeared to be identical to the ARIO-H762, which is made by an Iranian company.

Other new products on the main stand appeared to be of Chinese origin, among them the Sarib anti-tank guided missile, which strongly resembles the Chinese HJ-8 optically tracked, wire-guided system on the lightweight launcher. Another Chinese weapon, the 35 mm QLZ-87 automatic grenade launcher, of which the MIC says it produces under the name Ahmed was not on display.

Among the Sudanese-produced vehicles on display are self-propelled mortar and rocket-launching systems, and smaller vehicles for use on long-range patrols over rough terrain. Many of the MIC vehicles are designed to operate on long-distances in remote areas.

Sudan participated at the Idex for the first time in 2013.

(Sources: Khaleej Times, Sudan Tribune, Sudan Vision Daily)

UN’s Ladsous laments lack of political will in South Sudan peace process

Sudan Tribune

February 24, 2015 (NEW YORK) – The ongoing violence between South Sudan’s warring parties, despite the cessation of hostilities agreement, could escalate the conflict, a top United Nations official warned.

JPEG - 18.4 kb
UN peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous (second right) on a visit to the UNMISS base in Tomping, which has been sheltering civilians since conflict erupted in the country (Photo: UNMISS/Isaac Billy)

Herve Ladsous, the UN undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations said on Tuesday that “the volatile security environment is a direct illustration of the parties’ continued lack of political will”.

“The government [of South Sudan] and opposition do not seem to take the political negotiations seriously and appear unwilling to make the necessary compromises,” he told the UN Security Council (USC).

Thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced by the conflict that hit the country following disagreements within South Sudan’s governing party.

The more than 14-month-long conflict has had devastating a impact on the country, with the UN estimating 2.5 million people remain at risk of starvation.

Ladsous has accused South Sudanese leaders of paying little attention to the suffering of the people in the country.

“In the light of the fragile security environment, the ongoing round of peace talks is not likely to achieve much progress,” he said.

According to the top UN official, the current talks mediated by East African regional leaders have remained shaky due to the proposed power-sharing, security arrangements and constitutional reforms.

“There is now an urgent need to reinforce the mediation efforts, as well as to impose consequences on the parties if they fail to show willingness to compromise and continue engaging in a conflict that will result in further loss of innocent lives,” said Ladsous.

He urged the UNSC to consider issuing a strong presidential statement calling on the parties to immediately cease all military operations and make the necessary compromises to reach a comprehensive peace agreement during this round of talks “or face the consequences”.

Meanwhile, UN assistant secretary-general for human rights Ivan Simonovic gave a distressing account of the situation I South Sudan weeks after he visited the country.

“Many government officials told me that the people of South Sudan fought for decades for their dignity, independence, and human rights. What I saw on my mission was certainly not what they have been fighting for,” Simonovic told the 15-member council.

“After decades of killing and other violations, there is a need for cultural change based on respect for human life and human rights. It takes two leaders to end a war in South Sudan, but it takes many for the peace to become sustainable,” he added.

However, the official stressed that justice and accountability measures needed to be put in place to break the cycle of impunity.

“It is of the utmost importance that this Council remains seized of the question of accountability for past and present violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in South Sudan,” he said.


DR Congo army starts offensive against Rwandan Hutu rebels


DR Congo launches operation against Rwandan Hutu rebels

Democratic Republic of Congo regular army soldiers stand guard in the Nakabumbi area of Kimbumba, 20kms from Goma, near the border with Rwanda, on June 14, 201Eastern DR Congo has been plagued by violence for years

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has launched an attack against Rwandan Hutu rebels in the east of the country.

Ministers had previously pledged to target the FDLR militants after they failed to meet a deadline to disarm last month.

Hutu rebels were involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

UN peacekeepers in DR Congo withdrew an offer to support the operation because two government generals are suspected of human rights abuses.

Tuesday’s attack took place in the eastern South Kivu province, about 10km (six miles) from the border with Burundi, the military said.

Speaking as army chiefs launched their assault, the outgoing US special envoy to the region said the government “owes it to its people” to end the threat posed by Rwandan Hutu rebels, reported the AFP news agency.

Russ Feingold said extinguishing the threat was an “international responsibility”, according to the agency.

The presence of hundreds of Hutu rebels in eastern DR Congo has been a source of instability for the country.

Many of the rebels were involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people – mainly from the Tutsi minority – were killed.

A Tutsi-led government subsequently took power in Rwanda, while Hutu rebel leaders fled across the border into DR Congo.

Their presence has been used by the Rwandan government as a reason for military interventions against its neighbour.

Dr Congo – army starts offensive against Rwandan Hutu rebel group


Congo army launches first strike against Rwandan rebels

By Aaron Ross

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Government forces launched strikes against Rwandan Hutu rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday, military officials said, in the first combat since last month’s announcement of a campaign to stamp out the group.

The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), whose ranks include former soldiers and Hutu militiamen responsible for Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, have been at the centre of nearly two decades of violence in eastern Congo.

Tuesday’s fighting took place in South Kivu province in the hills inland from the lakeside town of Uvira, which sits some 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the border with Burundi, Espérant Masudi, the provincial commander of operations, told Reuters.

Another officer with the army, known as the FARDC, said the assault, launched early in the morning, had captured all the FDLR’s strongholds in the area.

“The FARDC launched a large attack in the Moyen Plateau of Mulengem … It was a well-planned operation,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He added that no casualty count was yet available but said the army had met only light resistance from the FDLR, whose fighters can melt into eastern Congo’s rugged landscape when confronted.

A spokesman for Congo’s United Nations peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, said that he was unaware of any combat.

While the FDLR has a presence in South Kivu, the bulk of its estimated 1,400 fighters are believed to operate in neighbouring North Kivu province.

The army announced on Jan. 29 the start of the long-awaited campaign against rebels, whose presence in Congo was used as a pretext for military interventions by Rwanda that helped spark successive wars in Congo, killing millions.

The FARDC is carrying out the operation alone after rejecting support from MONUSCO. The decision followed a row over two generals involved in the campaign whom the United Nations suspects of human rights abuses.

South Sudan – Kiir not attending next round of talks with Machar

Sudan Tribune

February 22, 2015 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir will not take part in direct talks with rebel leader, Riek Machar, when the next round of negotiations resume in Addis Ababa, officials said.

JPEG - 31.2 kb
South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (Photo: Reuters)

The country’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said Kiir will not take part in the talks, but will be present at the signing of a reached agreement.

“Leaders will come to the final signing ceremony but the negotiations will be between the negotiating teams,” Lueth, a spokesperson for the government delegation at the talks, told Anadolu news agency.

The next round of negotiations, due on Monday, was to commence on Friday in Addis Ababa, but the regional bloc (IGAD) delayed the process after delegations from both sides arrived for the peace talks.

President Kiir, his spokesperson told Sudan Tribune, delegated his deputy, James Wani Igga to represent him at the Addis Ababa talks.

Analysts, however, argued that the new arrangement could be an attempt by the South Sudanese government not to portray direct negotiations involving the president and his former deputy as a deal seeking to settle political and ethnic differences between the two main rival tribes, but rather be seen as a national issue, involving the participation of the vice president and other prominent figures from different regions.

“They want to avoid characterization of the conflict as a fight between the Dinka and the Nuer by involving other people, especially James Wani Igga,” said Anthony Sebit.

“The president wants to avoid interpretations that would portray or suggest that the current peace talks in Ethiopia and the reunification dialogue in Tanzania are attempts to settle differences between the two tribes,” he stressed.


But cabinet affairs minister, Martin Lomuro said Kiir’s initial involvement in direct negotiations with Machar helped to build confidence in the negotiations and to demonstrate the level of commitment of his government towards resolving governance and political differences through peaceful dialogue instead of violence.

“Peace talks to resolve political differences around the world are not necessarily resolved by the direct involvement of the president in the negotiations,” Lomuro said on Sunday.

“The differences are negotiated by the representatives and this is what the government has done,” he added.

Early this month, president Kiir and opposition leader Machar partially signed a symbolic power-sharing agreement proposed by IGAD recommitting themselves to further negotiations on outstanding issues.

According to the new power ratios, the South Sudanese government will take up 53%, the SPLM-factions 33%, while other political parties will share the remaining slots.

The parliament will now be expanded to 548 members and shall be dissolved and reconstituted according to the power ratios.

This means the government will comprise 290 members, while the breakaway SPLM factions and other political parties will make up 181 and 77 members respectively.


South Sudan – gunmen seize 89 boys from IDP camp in Malakal



Gunmen seize 89 boys from South Sudan camp

Child soldiers sit with their rifles at a ceremony of the child soldiers disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration in Pibor overseen by UNICEF and partners on 10 February 2015 It is believed the boys may have been taken to be used as child soldiers

Armed men have abducted at least 89 boys in South Sudan, the United Nations children’s agency has said.

The incident happened in a camp in the northern city of Malakal that hosts thousands of people displaced by fighting between the army and rebels.

Unicef says the unidentified gunmen went from house to house and seized boys over the age of 12.

Last week, Human Rights Watch accused both sides of using child soldiers, a charge denied by the government.

The South Sudan conflict began in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his sacked deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

Mr Machar denied the allegation, but then raised a rebel force to fight the government.

The UN believes 12,000 children were used as child soldiers across South Sudan last year.

About 1.5 million people have been displaced by the fighting and 2.5 million are facing severe food shortages.

South Sudan is the world’s newest state, gaining independence from Sudan in 2011.

New MA Course at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies – decolonization


Institute of Commonwealth Studies

How has the decline of European empires in the extra-European world shaped the 20th century – and beyond?

The Master’s degree in The Making of the Modern World is an innovative programme which addresses the legacies of decolonisation on contemporary nation and state-building around the world. Students are introduced to debates about decolonisation and its relationship with modernity, addressing the question of how the end of empire has shaped the modern world.

This MA examines the nature of decolonisation in comparative perspective, looking at the British, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Belgian empires, rather than limiting the study of empire to a few case studies or to a single colonial power. The MA examines the differences in colonial governance and decolonisation processes, and how this has impacted the development of successor colonial states and the processes of decolonisation, nation-building, and the strengthening of the state which these states experienced.

Upon graduating, students will receive a degree awarded by the University of London.

Students will:

• Learn about and analyse the political, developmental, institutional and social legacies of the decolonisation process;
• Understand the connectivity between domestic politics and society and international diplomacy and policymaking;
• Develop skills in understanding and analysing archival sources and undertaking archival and oral research;
• Understand the ways in which the decline of the European empires in the extra-European world has shaped the 20th century.

This advanced degree provides an excellent foundation for students who wish to expand their knowledge of international history, politics and society prior to working for international organisations, the media, or in other professional capacities. It also provides the base for those wishing to do further research in African, Asian or European studies.

In addition to the knowledge gained over the course of the MA, the skills students develop – including the ability to analyse material in detail, process quantitative and qualitative data to reach informed conclusions, critique existing knowledge and conduct independent research – will be relevant to a wide variety of careers and will broaden students’ appeal to a range of employers.