Category Archives: East Africa

Sudanese woman in apostasy case arrives in Italy; audience with pope

Mail and Guardian

Meriam Ibrahim, whose death sentence was overturned after international outcry, has arrived with her husband and two children in Italy.

Meriam Ibrahim and her family have successfully arrived in Italy in their second attempt to leave Sudan. (AFP)

Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian Sudanese woman spared a death sentence for apostasy after an international outcry, has arrived in Italy.

Italian television showed the 27-year-old leaving an aircraft at Rome’s Ciampino airport accompanied by her husband, two children and Italy’s vice minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli.

Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to death for apostasy in May, sparking an international campaign to lift the death sentence. More than a million people backed an Amnesty International campaign to get her released, with British prime minister David Cameron and US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson among world leaders who clamoured for her release.

While on death row, Ibrahim, a graduate of Sudan University’s school of medicine, gave birth in shackles in May. It was a difficult birth as her legs were in chains and Ibrahim is worried that her daughter may need support to walk.

Because of the baby, Ibrahim was told that her death sentence would be deferred for two years to allow her to nurse.

International outrage
Under the Sudanese penal code, Muslims are forbidden from changing faith, and Muslim women are not permitted to marry Christian men.

During her trial in Khartoum, she told the court that she had been brought up as a Christian, and refused to renounce her faith. She and Daniel Wani – an American citizen – married in 2011. The court ruled that the union was invalid and that Ibrahim was guilty of adultery.

Her convictions, sentences and detention in Omdurman women’s prison while heavily pregnant and with her toddler son incarcerated alongside her caused international outrage.

After an appeal court overturned the death sentence, Ibrahim, Wani, and their two children tried to leave the country in June, but were turned back. The Sudanese government accused her of trying to leave the country with false papers, preventing her departure for the US.

Her lawyer, Mohaned Mostafa, said he had not been told of her departure on Thursday.

“I don’t know anything about such news but so far the complaint that was filed against Meriam and which prevents her from travelling from Sudan has not been cancelled,” Mostafa told Reuters.

Ibrahim and her family had been staying at the US embassy in Khartoum. – © Guardian News & Media 2014

BBC

Sudan ‘apostasy’ woman Meriam Yahia Ibrahim meets Pope

A Sudanese woman who fled to Italy after being spared a death sentence for renouncing Islam has met the Pope.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag flew to Rome with her family after more than a month in the US embassy in Khartoum.

There was global condemnation when she was sentenced to hang for apostasy by a Sudanese court.

Mrs Ibrahim’s father is Muslim so according to Sudan’s version of Islamic law she is also Muslim and cannot convert.

She was raised by her Christian mother and says she has never been Muslim.

Welcoming her at the airport, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said: “Today is a day of celebration.”

Meriam Ibrahim looked relieved as she arrived at Rome airport

Mrs Ibrahim met Pope Francis at his Santa Marta residence at the Vatican soon after her arrival.

“The Pope thanked her for her witness to faith,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi was quoted as saying.

The meeting, which lasted around half an hour, was intended to show “closeness and solidarity for all those who suffer for their faith,” he added.

‘Mission accomplished’

The BBC’s Alan Johnston in Rome says there was no prior indication of Italy’s involvement in the case.

Lapo Pistelli, Italy’s vice-minister for foreign affairs, accompanied her on the flight from Khartoum and posted a photo of himself with Mrs Ibrahim and her children on his Facebook account as they were about to land in Rome.

“Mission accomplished,” he wrote.

A senior Sudanese official told Reuters news agency that the government in Khartoum had approved her departure in advance.

Mrs Ibrahim’s lawyer Mohamed Mostafa Nour told BBC Focus on Africa that she travelled on a Sudanese passport she received at the last minute.

“She is unhappy to leave Sudan. She loves Sudan very much. It’s the country she was born and grew up in,” he said.

Daniel Wani in Rome airport Mrs Ibrahim travelled with her husband Daniel Wani

“But her life is in danger so she feels she has to leave. Just two days ago a group called Hamza made a statement that they would kill her and everyone who helps her,” he added.

Mrs Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, also a Christian, is from South Sudan and has US nationality.

Their daughter Maya was born in prison in May, shortly after Mrs Ibrahim was sentenced to hang for apostasy – renouncing one’s faith.

Under intense international pressure, her conviction was quashed and she was freed in June.

In June, Meriam spoke to the BBC as she entered the US embassy, as Reeta Chakrabarti reports

She was given South Sudanese travel documents but was arrested at Khartoum airport, with Sudanese officials saying the travel documents were fake.

These new charges meant she was not allowed to leave the country but she was released into the custody of the US embassy in Khartoum.

Last week, her father’s family filed a lawsuit trying to have her marriage annulled, on the basis that a Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim.  bbc

DR Congo and Rwanda – will Hutu FDLR give up or fight on ?

ISS

Surrender or tactical deceit – has the FDLR really given up the fight?
24 July 2014

Is the UN’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), which famously routed the M23 rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last year, now snatching defeat from the jaws of a complete victory against all disruptive forces in the region?

This is what many analysts fear after a controversial decision by regional leaders in Luanda earlier this month to give the other most troublesome armed group in the region, the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), six months’ grace to surrender and disarm.

The FDLR, in one or other guise, has been at the very heart of the instability and conflict in the eastern DRC for 20 years. It was originally established by members of the Interahamwe – an ethnic militia composed of Hutus, Rwanda’s ethnic majority – who fled their homeland in 1994 after participating in the genocide against the minority Tutsis.

The FDLR’s presence in eastern DRC has been a two-fold agent of instability and conflict. It has itself preyed on the local population like so many other armed groups and warlords, and it has developed entrenched economic interests in the area. But its presence in eastern DRC has been even more destructive in terms of regional stability, because it has been the reason – or perhaps pretext – for Rwanda to intervene militarily in the area several times, supposedly to safeguard its own security against a group dedicated to the overthrow of President Paul Kagame’s government.

Kagame lost the argument as the FDLR were given a further six months to disarm 

The Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), a 3 000-strong South African, Tanzanian and Malawian force, was set up under the wider United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in the DRC, MONUSCO, but with a more robust mandate to go after the armed groups terrorising the eastern DRC.

Late last year it helped the DRC army (the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, or FARDC) to defeat the feared ethnic Tutsi-led M23 rebels, whom the UN had accused Rwanda of supporting. Then, earlier this year, the FIB and FARDC also defeated the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group, dislodging it from its redoubts in the eastern DRC.

The next armed group in the cross hairs was the FDLR. But then in April, FDLR interim president, Victor Byiringiro, wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, DRC President Joseph Kabila and other regional leaders announcing that the FDLR had decided to lay down its weapons and henceforth fight Kagame’s government politically instead.

A deadline of 31 May was set for the voluntary surrender of the FDLR. But only approximately 200 of its estimated strength of 1 500 to 2 000 surrendered during May and June and handed in their weapons. Rwanda is convinced the surrender was a ruse intended to buy time for the FDLR to regroup and reinforce itself for battle with the FIB and FARDC later, when it feels stronger.

At a joint ministerial meeting in Luanda on 2 July of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Kagame lost the argument as a decision was taken to give the FDLR a further six months to surrender and disarm – with an interim progress check after three months – or face ‘military consequences.’

Stephanie Wolters, head of the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis division at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, shares some of Rwanda’s scepticism about the sincerity of the FDLR’s surrender. One of the reasons for her doubts is the UN Expert Group’s June report, which said the FDLR was still recruiting and training combatants.

She finds it inexplicable that the Luanda meeting apparently ignored the UN group’s findings and effectively took the FDLR at its word. Official sources say that South Africa was one of those pushing hardest for the FDLR to be given six months’ grace. One source said that South Africa, as one of the nations that would be on the frontline if fighting broke out with the FDLR, argued that it was entitled to demand that peace first be given a chance.

South African officials also say the FDLR did not surrender ‘out of goodwill,’ but was forced to do so because it saw what had happened to the M23 and feared suffering the same fate. However, this logic does not exclude the possibility that the FDLR might indeed have balked at engaging the FIB and FARDC now – but chose to ‘surrender’ so it could fight another day.

South African officials acknowledge that the demobilisation and disarming of the FDLR is a ‘work in progress,’ much complicated by the fact that demobilised soldiers would mostly have to return to Rwanda, where they fear what awaits them.

The FDLR has been weakened but still remains a formidable force

All of this, though, has left Rwanda feeling suspicious and resentful – not a happy mood for anyone in the region. Under the framework for peace agreement signed by the international community, regional countries and the DRC in February 2013, the FDLR was clearly identified as one of the ‘negative forces’ that would have to be eliminated.

There was general agreement that the FARDC and the FIB would go after the M23 first, because it posed the most immediate challenge to the government and to stability. But removing the FDLR was supposed to be the quid pro quo for eliminating the M23, as Wolters observes.

She notes that the FDLR and the FARDC have collaborated in the past to fight the M23, and might still be collaborating locally, raising Rwandan concerns about the DRC’s real determination to go after the FDLR. She says that Kagame’s suspicions were further inflamed when it emerged in June that international envoys to the Great Lakes had met with FDLR officials in Italy at peace talks organised by the Catholic NGO, Sant’Egidio (which had helped broker an end to the Mozambican civil war).

Byiringiro has been demanding that Kagame engage in political dialogue about the future of Rwanda in exchange for the FDLR laying down arms. But Kagame remains adamantly opposed to talking with ‘genocidaires,’ and in any case seems allergic to any kind of talk of greater democracy back home.

‘I don’t think it’s a good development,’ Wolters concludes of the decision to give the FDLR six months to lay down arms. ‘It slows everything down and opens the door to let Rwanda back in.’

She acknowledges, though, that the FDLR’s offer to surrender has complicated matters for regional and international actors such as the ICGLR and SADC, as well as MONUSCO, and this may be a tribute to Byiringiro’s shrewdness. ‘Because how would it have looked if the FIB attacked people waving a white flag?’

Wolters agrees with other analysts that the FDLR has been weakened over the years but still remains a formidable force – in some ways more so than the M23, which was a more conventional army while the FDLR is more of a guerrilla operation that has insinuated itself into the civilian community. That would make any attempt to defeat it messy, with a higher probability of civilian casualties. And, in any case, if a strong FDLR offers Rwanda a reason for intervention, even a weak one serves as a convenient pretext for doing so.

The ICGLR and SADC will have to sharpen their monitoring skills – perhaps with the help of US surveillance drones – to ensure that the FDLR does not exploit the respite it has been given to re-gird itself for battle early next year. At the very least they must ensure that by the end of three-month interim review period, 2 October, they have a pretty clear picture of what the FDLR is up to.

Peter Fabricius, Foreign Editor, Independent Newspapers, South Africa  ISS

CAR peace talks suspended as Seleka absent

VoA/allAfrica

Photo: Marcus Bleasdale/VII for Human Rights Watch

Seleka rebels in Bossangoa.

Peace talks between the government of the Central African Republic and rebels have been suspended, after the main rebel group failed to show up for the second day of the session.

The talks, in the neighboring Republic of Congo, were put on hold Tuesday due to the absence of former Seleka rebels.

A former C.A.R. minister, Abacar Sabone, who now represents the MLCJ (Movement of the Central African Liberators for Justice) rebel group, told VOA’s French to Africa Service that mediators went to the hotel where Seleka representatives are staying to try to get them to return.

By late Tuesday afternoon, there was no word on whether the delegates will return for the third and final day of the talks on Wednesday.

On Monday, Seleka leader Moussa Daffane said a partition is needed in the Central African Republic before the mostly Muslim Seleka can hold talks with mostly Christian anti-balaka militants.

He called for the C.A.R. to be divided into a Muslim north and a Christian south.

Relief organizations estimate at least 2,000 people have been killed in the C.A.R.’s unrest and more than one million have been forced to flee from their homes.

The unrest began last year when Seleka toppled President Francois Bozize. Subsequent attacks and looting by Seleka forces sparked retaliatory attacks by the anti-balaka.

On Tuesday, the U.N. refugee agency issued a new appeal for aid to help the more than 350,000 C.A.R. residents who are now refugees in neighboring countries.

Spokesman Babar Baloch said many of the new refugees are malnourished, after having spent weeks walking through forests with little food or water. allAfrica

Somalia – musician and MP Saado Ali Warsame shot dead

BBC

File photo of Saado Ali Warsame Saado Ali Warsame spent much of the civil war in the US

Popular Somali musician and member of parliament Saado Ali Warsame has been shot dead by Islamist militants.

She was killed along with her bodyguard in a drive-by shooting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

A spokesman for the Islamist al-Shabab group, Abdulaziz Abu Musab, told the BBC that she was targeted for her politics and not her music.

The BBC’s Mohammed Moalimu in Mogadishu says she is the fourth MP to be killed this year.

The al-Qaeda-aligned al-Shabab group advocates the strict Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam and is battling the UN-backed government to create an Islamic state.

Daring career

Ms Warsame rose to fame during the time of former President Siad Barre, who was overthrown in 1991, with her songs which were critical of his rule.

She spent much of the civil war in the US and returned home in 2012 to represent her clan in the new Somali parliament.

The car in which Saado Ali Warsame was shot dead, Mogadishu, Somalia - Wednesday 23 July 2014 Saado Ali Warsame’s vehicle was targeted as it travelled along a main road in the capital

BBC Somali Service’s Abdullahi Abdi says Ms Warsame will be remembered most for her daring musical career.

She was one of the few Somali female musicians to go on stage without covering her head and she sometimes wore trousers, which is highly unusual for women in Somalia, he says.

Somalia has been a largely lawless state since the fall of Mr Barre, with warlords, religious groups and clans fighting for control of the country.

But since al-Shabab lost control of Mogadishu in 2011, some Somalis in the diaspora have started to return home to start businesses and take up political positions.

The militants have continued to carry out attacks in Mogadishu – and attacked the parliament building and presidential palace this month.

Some 22,000 African Union troops are helping the government to try and win back territory from the group.

They have taken back several key cities over the last three years, but al-Shabab still controls many smaller towns and rural areas of the country where it has imposed Sharia and banned music which it regards as un-Islamic.

Tanzania – arrest over dumped bags of body parts

BBC

Tanzania arrests over Dar es Salaam body parts dump

Bags containing body parts The bags were dumped in a landfill site

Eight people from a Tanzanian medical institute have been arrested after 85 bags containing body parts were found in the port city of Dar es Salaam.

A police officer told the BBC that human limbs, fingers, ribs and skulls were in the bags, discovered in a landfill site in the Bunju suburb.

Some of the bags contained surgical instruments and used disposable gloves.

The BBC’s Aboubakar Famau in Dar es Salaam says the find has shocked the usually quiet city.

Dar es Salaam police chief Suleiman Kova said those arrested have links to the city’s Institute of Medical and Training University (IMTU).

Residents said they became suspicious after a truck repeatedly dumped black plastic bags weighing approximately 25kg (55lb) each.  BBC

UN accuses South Sudan rebels of attacking Nasir

UN News Service

UN condemns attack in South Sudan, calls for political negotiations to resume

A family sitting inside a makeshift shelter at the UN compound in Malakal, Upper Nile State, South Sudan. Photo: OCHA

6

20 July 2014 – Following today’s attack by opposition forces in South Sudan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the top United Nations official in the country are calling for all offensive operations to immediately end and for both sides to resume suspended peace talks.

In an emailed statement, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) confirmed that armed youth and defected soldiers (SPLA in Opposition) loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar attacked Nassir Town in the Upper Nile State.

The attack is “the most serious resumption of hostilities” since President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Mr. Machar met on 9 May in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and recommitted to compliance with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement they had signed earlier on 23 January, the Mission said.

Mr. Ban voiced concern that the attack “undermines ongoing intense regional and international political engagement toward a resumption of political negotiations and a peaceful resolution” of the conflict, according to his spokesperson.

He called on Mr. Machar to cease immediately all offensive operations on Nassir and other points, and on the Government of South Sudan to desist from launching a counter-offensive.

In the statement, Mr. Ban warned the SPLM in Opposition leadership of “the consequences” should any innocent civilian or UN peacekeepers be harmed by the forces.

The Mission called the timing of the attack “deplorable” given the intensive efforts underway by mediators of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to convince all parties to resume negotiations in Addis Ababa.

“It is also worrying that the attack was launched in total disrespect of the presence of the IGAD Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring and Verification Team who deployed in Nassir last month,” said the acting head of UNMISS, Raisedon Zenenga.

In mid-December 2013, political infighting between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar turned into a full-fledged conflict that has since then uprooted some 1.5 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease.

The conflict also sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to UNMISS bases around the country. UN

 

BBC

South Sudan rebels break ceasefire – Unmiss

South Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier patrols in Malakal on 21 January 2014 Rebel and government forces have been fighting since December in the world’s newest state

The United Nations (UN) has accused South Sudanese rebels of violating a ceasefire by launching an offensive to recapture its former headquarters.

The attack on Nasir town was the “most serious resumption of hostilities” since May, the UN said.

The rebels said they had seized the town in an act of “self-defence”. The government denied the town had fallen.

Fighting between government and rebel forces broke out in December, leaving more than a million homeless.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar met in May and recommitted themselves to a ceasefire negotiated in January by regional leaders.

‘Major attack’

Rebel spokesman Lul Kuang said they launched an offensive because of several attempts by government forces to arrest their commander.

A South Sudanese child displaced by recent fighting cleans utensils at the Bor camp in Jonglei state on 29 April  2014 Hundreds of thousands of people are living in refugee camps

“The fall of Nasir now paves the way for military resources to be refocused on Poloich Oil Fields, Maban and Malakal,” Mr Kuang said in a statement.

South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer denied Nasir had fallen following clashes between the two sides.

“It is deplorable that this major attack comes at a time when intensive efforts are under way by mediators of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to convince all parties to resume the suspended peace talks in Addis Ababa,” Unmiss acting head Raisedon Zenenga said in the statement.

“The attack is a clear violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement,” he added.

South Sudan is the world’s newest state and became independent in 2011.

Conflict erupted in December after Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar, his sacked deputy, of plotting a coup.

Mr Machar denied the allegation, but then marshalled a rebel army to fight the government.

The UN has about 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan. They have struggled to contain the conflict.

Map of South Sudan states affected by conflict Fighting erupted in the South Sudan capital, Juba, in mid-December. It followed a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar. The squabble has taken on an ethnic dimension as politicians’ political bases are often ethnic.
News graphic showing the ethnic groups of South Sudan Sudan’s arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.
Map showing the location of oil fields in South Sudan Both Sudan and the South are reliant on oil revenue, which accounts for 98% of South Sudan’s budget. They have fiercely disagreed over how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state – at one time production was shutdown for more than a year. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north.
Map showing the geography of South Sudan The two Sudans are very different geographically. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.
Map showing access to water in South Sudan After gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan is the world’s newest country – and one of its poorest. Figures from 2010 show some 69% of households now have access to clean water – up from 48% in 2006. However, just 2% of households have water on the premises.
Map showing education levels in South Sudan Just 29% of children attend primary school in South Sudan – however, this is also an improvement on the 16% recorded in 2006. About 32% of primary-age boys attend, while just 25% of girls do. Overall, 64% of children who begin primary school reach the last grade.
Map showing food insecurity rates in South Sudan Almost 28% of children under the age of five in South Sudan are moderately or severely underweight. This compares with the 33% recorded in 2006. Unity state has the highest proportion of children suffering malnourishment (46%), while Central Equatoria has the lowest (17%).

BBC

South Sudan – army and rebels both claim to control Nasir, Upper Nile

Sudan Tribune

July 20, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese rival forces on Sunday traded accusations over violations of the ceasefire deal with both sides claiming to control Nasir, a strategic Upper Nile state town.

JPEG - 48.2 kb
SPLA spokesperson Phillip Aguer (Reuters)

South Sudanese army (SPLA) spokesperson Col. Philip Aguer told Sudan Tribune that government forces were still in control of their positions in the town, although rebel forces penetrated some parts before getting sustained military engagement.

“The SPLA forces remained in control of their positions and the fighting is continuing”, Aguer said Sunday.

The military officer pointed out that the positions of the government forces were subjected to bombardments by the rival forces since Saturday, but never responded as they were acting in self defense in order not to be seen as having violated the cessation of hostilities agreement which rival leaders signed in May.

“The rebels of Riek Machar are in it again. In the face of international community, they have violated the cessation of hostilities agreement by launching attacks on the positions of the SPLA at Nasir airport this morning with mortar rounds, rockets and tank fire,” Aguer told Sudan Tribune.

Upper Nile state information minister, Philip Jiden Ogal, confirmed that heavy gun battle locked the main airport, with reports alleging that at least 230 several fighters were killed in the fighting.

He said shelling of the town started on Saturday and resumed at Nasir airport on Sunday, after several attempts at a ceasefire failed. Rockets and tanks were allegedly used.

“The rebels have been planning the attack and so the fighting began last week when they (rebels) started moving closure to the town and commenced bombing the town”, said Ogal.

South Sudan has been spellbound by instability when fighting within the presidential guard force erupted in December 2013, prior extending to other areas and leaving swathes of the country control of the rebel fighters allied to the former vice president Riek Machar.

Repeated attempts by government forces to contain the conflict remain futile despite the signing of the cessation of hostilities agreements. Rebel forces claimed they were acting in self defense as the latter attempted to assassinate their appointed military governor.

The military spokesperson for the rebels, Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang earlier said their forces had for the last three days been fighting in self-defense in order to “protect and prevent unlawfully arrest of the top military commander”.

IGAD CONDEMNS ATTACK

The special envoys from the regional bloc (IGAD) have strongly condemn this attack in Nasir by forces of the SPLM/A–In Opposition, describing it a blatant violation of Cessation of Hostilities (COH) Agreement, signed between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the rebels on 23 January.

“While the casualties of this attack are yet to be assessed, the mediation team is saddened by the continued loss of lives not only of combatants, but of vulnerable groups like women and children,” IGAD said in a statement.

Both warring parties, the regional bloc said, had on 10 June pledged to “end the war now” and establish a transitional government within 60 days.

“In view of the above and of reports of rising tensions in other areas, the IGAD Special Envoys appeal to the Parties to remain committed to the Agreements signed and to exercise maximum restraints and desist from any further violations,” IGAD further observed.

Talks between the two parties, currently on hold, is seen as the best alternative to the country’s seven-month old conflict that has killed thousands and displaced nearly 1.5 million people.

(ST)

Kenya – four killed in Mombasa shooting

BBC

Gunmen in Kenya kill four in Mombasa

Kenya soldiers on patrol in the streets of the coastal city of Mombasa - 10 June 2014 Kenya has seen a wave of deadly attacks across the country in recent months

Gunmen on a motorcycle have killed at least four people and injured several others in the Kenyan city of Mombasa.

Police were quoted by local media as saying that the gunmen had fired indiscriminately at passers-by.

The port city has seen a wave of violence in recent months, with a number of bombings and gun attacks.

The violence has largely been attributed to Somali al-Shabab militants but many say local political rifts are to blame.

Witnesses said the gunmen rampaged through the streets of Kenya’s second-largest city.

‘Shooting carelessly’

Peter Musyoki, a resident in Mombasa’s Likoni area who saw the shooting, said the two masked men were armed with a rifle and a pistol.

“I saw two men dressed in black with a red ribbon around their heads,” he said. “They walked on foot and were just shooting carelessly at anyone they saw.”

Kenyan police officers walk past a fire on a street in Mpeketoni after an attack by gunmen - 17 June 2014 The gunmen reportedly said the attack was revenge for violence against ethnic Kikuyus in Mpeketoni

The Reuters news agency say the gunmen also handed out leaflets saying the attack was retribution for last month’s violence in Mpeketoni, a town about 300km (185 miles) north of Mombasa.

More than 60 people were killed in two days of violence there in June and President Uhuru Kenyatta blamed “local political networks” for the attacks.

Ethnic tension

Most of the dead were ethnic Kikuyus, like the president.

Critics said Mr Kenyatta was trying to put the blame on his rival Raila Odinga, an ethnic Luo, whom he defeated in last year’s presidential election.

The leaflets distributed by the gunmen on Sunday said the attack was “revenge for our brothers who were killed in Mpeketoni”.

It continued: “You Luos, you wont stay in peace, and you Raila [Odinga], if you have anything to do, just do, we are not fearing you at all.”

Correspondents say political allegiances in Kenya tend to follow ethnic lines and inter-ethnic tensions have led to bloody violence in the past.

A disputed poll in 2007 sparked weeks of ethnic violence that left more than 1,200 people dead and badly damaged the economy.

map

Kenya – and Mombasa in particular – was once a popular tourist destination but it has suffered from a wave of attacks in recent years.

Several foreign governments, including the US and Britain, have issued travel warnings advising their citizens to avoid Mombasa.

As well as political tension, Somalia’s Islamist militia al-Shabab say they have been behind several of the recent attacks in Kenya.

On Friday, they said they were responsible for an attack near the town of Witu, some 50km (30 miles) from the resort island of Lamu, in which seven people were killed, including four police officers.  BBC

South Sudan – many killed in new wave of fighting

VoA/allAfrica

South Sudan: Death Toll Rises in New South Sudan Fighting

Photo: Human Rigths Watch

A home burns in Malakal, South Sudan

Officials in Northern Bahr el Ghazal in South Sudan said Thursday that five more bodies have been found in Aweil Centre County, bringing the toll in fighting between soldiers who deserted the SPLA and government troops to 35.

Northern Bahr el Ghazal State spokeswoman Jackline Nyibol Benjamin Ajonga said it was impossible to identify the new victims of the fighting.

She said scores of civilians have fled their homes because of the fighting, which shattered a fragile peace in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. The state has until now remained largely peaceful, even as fighting has engulfed other parts of the country.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Aweil West County Commissioner Garang Kuach Ariath said 29 people had been killed in the fighting, all of them members of a military division that deserted from the South Sudan army. Four government soldiers were wounded.

Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk confirmed that soldiers who deserted two weeks ago from the SPLA’s Fifth Division in neighboring Western Bahr al Ghazal state were responsible for the fighting. He said the deserters have been roaming around the northwestern part of South Sudan, trying to get to Sudan, and have been attacking villages and towns to get food.

Santino Mayuat Ngong, who represents Aweil Centre County in the state legislature, said the deserters also looted a medical clinic in the area last week, killing one person and taking two others hostage.

SPLM-in-Opposition military spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said Wednesday he has not received any reports of fighting in Northern Bahr al Ghazal state. He also expressed doubt that opposition forces were responsible for looting the clinic or for the alleged abductions.

“Looting and abducting people is not part of our culture,” he said, blaming the alleged abductions on nomads.

Looting has been widely documented during the seven-month conflict, particularly in states that have been hard hit by the conflict, such as in Upper Nile and Unity.

Abductions are not unheard of either, and have in the past been blamed on now- disbanded rebel groups, the Lord’s Resistance Army and cattle raiders. allAfrica

Kenya – Raila putting together new ODM leadership

Nation

In Summary
Those in Mr Odinga’s inner circle say he is keen to put his ODM house in order as he takes on the ruling Jubilee Alliance with his push for a referendum.
Suna East MP Junet Mohammed, a close confidant of Mr Odinga, confirmed that the return of Prof Nyong’o is official as the party was unable to file returns after the NDC failed.
The fresh squabbles over the party positions could trigger internal strife in ODM even as Mr Odinga seeks to reconcile the warring party members.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has intensified his plans to strike consensus in picking new party officials months after goons violently disrupted the party’s internal elections.

Bruised by the botched National Delegates Convention in Nairobi on February 28, Mr Odinga’s party has enjoyed relative peace under an interim “team of rivals” bringing together two competing factions.

One group is led by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba. The other revolves around nominated Senator Agnes Zani and Funyula MP Paul Otuoma.

But things could explode again after it emerged some party stalwarts are pushing for the installation of Kisumu Senator Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o to continue as Secretary-General in the new line-up.

The Sunday Nation has established that though there was a previous agreement that the firebrand Mr Namwamba be allowed to take over the position, there has been a change of heart following the Budalang’i MP’s perceived opposition to Saba Saba rally and the referendum calls, even though he insists his loyalty to the party is intact.

Mr Odinga has heightened political activity in the Opposition – Cord where ODM is the largest party, after his return from the US where he stayed for almost three months, culminating in the July 7 rally that resolved to push for a referendum to address issues facing the country.

Those in Mr Odinga’s inner circle say he is keen to put his ODM house in order as he takes on the ruling Jubilee Alliance with his push for a referendum.

The leader is said not to want any distractions in ODM as he leads a more aggressive Cord.

“He believes the coalition will suffer if ODM remains divided. That is why he wants the positions to facilitate stability in ODM,” said one MP.

On Thursday, Mr Odinga received crucial support for the Cord agenda from ODM legislators at a Parliamentary Group Meeting at Orange House.

NYONG’O REINSTATED

Meanwhile, despite not being a member of the caretaker committee installed by Mr Odinga in March, Prof Nyong’o has continued to play critical functions in the party, sometimes dispatching press statements, to which he signs off as Secretary-General.

Prof Nyong’o resigned from the powerful position on February 28 at the party’s NDC, which was later disrupted by hired hooligans, now infamous for the tag “Men in Black”.

But Saturday Mr Namwamba told the Sunday Nation that although he was not aware of Prof Nyong’o’s proposed reinstatement as Secretary-General, he was not opposed to it on a temporary basis while the party top brass works a way out of the leadership crisis.

“We have been having top-level consultations on this matter. We had a retreat in Mombasa where I was asked, alongside Dr Agnes Zani, to create room for compromise. We believe that this matter will be resolved so that our party can stand again,” Mr Namwamba said.

Mr Namwamba also denied disengaging himself from party affairs confirming his loyalty and support for party programmes, including calls for referendum.

Saturday, Suna East MP Junet Mohammed, a close confidant of Mr Odinga, confirmed that the return of Prof Nyong’o is official as the party was unable to file returns after the NDC failed.

“Nyong’o is the official caretaker — he is the Secretary-General and no changes have been made at the Registrar of Political parties,” Mr Mohammed said, adding that the Kisumu Senator’s recent high-profile role in party meetings was not by accident. Sources say Mr Odinga is crafting a new leadership line-up that will include Prof Nyong’o as the Secretary-General.

NAMWAMBA OUT

The list is said to be taking shape with ODM insiders intimating that Mr Namwamba may be missing in the picture. There is a strong push from some party members who doubt his loyalty, a charge the MP vehemently denies.

An earlier list had proposed that Mr Namwamba be proclaimed secretary-general while Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok and Eldas MP Aden Keynan, who were in his camp during the botched NDC, become deputy vice chairmen.

READ: ODM rivals in fresh demands

Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang’ was proposed for the position of party chairman and Mr Joho Deputy party leader.

Senators Zani and Elizabeth Ongoro, sources revealed, were to become deputy secretaries-general.

But the new line-up appears to include Mr Joho as deputy party leader, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya as co-deputy party leader, Funyula MP Paul Otuoma as chairman and Mr Kajwang’ as vice chairman. Prof Nyong’o is listed as secretary-general with Dr Zani as his deputy.

Others include Imbalambala MP Abdikadir Adan for the organising secretary, replacing Mr Keynan, who is also accused of having slowed down support for the party.

Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire is to become the treasurer.

ODM Executive Director Magerer Langat told Sunday Nation that the teams coalescing around Mr Namwamba and Dr Zani, bitter rivals for the position of secretary-general in the aborted February elections, have each given Mr Odinga a list with names of individuals and the positions they want them considered for.

“As we speak, there are two separate lists with the party leader from the transitional interim executive committee. All this is in the spirit of give-and-take and even possible merger so that at the end of the day, it is the ODM party that wins,” he said.

He added that once all the hurdles were cleared, a special NDC will be convened before the year ends to unveil the new officials.

“It will be a special NDC because the party Constitution only allows one NDC in a year. We will then be able then to dispense with agenda six electing party officials. We will only call it when we are sure that it will not be antagonistic,” Mr Langat said.

Party members who spoke to us said Mr Odinga is not keen to see a repeat of what happened at Kasarani when the infamous “Men in Black” stormed the arena, scattering the voting materials.

“Kasarani Two is out of question, our boss is not ready for another divisive elections, which is why he is working on a plan that will satisfy all party members,” said an MP from Nyanza.

But Saturday Mr Keynan, who is a top-level member of Mr Namwamba’s team, said he was not privy to the new developments in the party in regard to the sharing of positions.

“As far as we are concerned, we are waiting for the party leader to offer guidance so that the matter can be resolved once and for all,” Mr Keynan said.

INTERNAL STRIFE

The fresh squabbles over the party positions could trigger internal strife in ODM even as Mr Odinga seeks to reconcile the warring party members.

In May, Mr Odinga held talks with both Mr Namwamba and Dr Zani’s teams at the South Coast where they agreed on a way to get the party out of the leadership crisis.

On July 5, Mr Odinga was hosted at the home of Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura for a luncheon. The two had differed ahead of the elections. Mr Odinga has also visited Nairobi Governor Dr Evans following differences between them.

It is only Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno who appears to have been sidelined following his recent declaration that he is setting up a new party to counter ODM in Nyanza.

Political analyst Adams Oloo says Mr Odinga is keen to regain what he calls the “lost one year’. “Cord lost an opportunity to be an alternative government; I see him moving fast to fill this void,” Dr Oloo said.

ODM party leader Raila Odinga (Centre) flanked by Paul Otuoma, Hassan Joho, Irshad Sumra, Agnes Zani, Ababu Namwamba, Wycliffe Oparanya and Isaac Mwaura at a past press conference. Raila Odinga has intensified his plans to strike consensus in picking new party officials months after goons violently disrupted the party’s internal elections. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI | NAIROBI.

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