Category Archives: East Africa

Mozambique: Renamo military presence accepted to permit voter registration

Mozambique News Reports/allAfrica

Nine registration posts are opening in Gorongosa district under the protection of the Renamo military, with no Mozambican police presence, the National Elections Commission confirmed at a press conference this morning (Thursday 24).

This follows an agreement last night between Renamo and the government, which will also permit the registration of Renamo president Afonso Dhlakama and of Renamo soldiers.

This also confirms the very unusual position of Renamo, which is the main opposition party in parliament and is participating in the electoral process, while having an armed force which controls part of a district and will only allow registration if there are no government police present.

The nine registration posts in Gorongosa district, Sofala, had never opened because of on-going fighting between Renamo and the government.

CNE spokesman Paulo Cuinica this morning said members of the National Elections Commission (in pairs of Renamo and Frelimo) are today going to Sofala to go with the registration teams, and that they would not be accompanied by members of the Mozambican police (PRM).

The nine registration brigades will be in Casa Banana, Vunduzi, Nhataca, Chionde, Tsikiri, Mussikazi, Piro and Mukodza. Cuinica also confirmed that the brigades would not stay overnight in these places, but would return to more secure areas each night.

Cuinica also confirmed that Renamo had made a request to delay the end of registration, now scheduled for Tuesday 29 April. Renamo alleges that there are regions where registration started late because of rains and others where there were constant breakdowns of equipment including generators and computers. Cuinca said that CNE and STAE had reinforced the capacity of brigades in problem locations and thus there was no need to an extension, but the request is being considered by the CNE. Any delay of more than a few days would create serious problems, because registration data is needed for subsequent processes, including party selection of candidates.

With just 6 days to go, registration under 78%

CNE announced this morning that 6,424,570 voters have been registered this year in Mozambique, 70.3% of the 9,143,923 unregistered voting age adults. Registration ends on Tuesday 29 April.

To this must be added the 3,059,804 voters registered last year for 2013 local elections, who need not register again. Thus total registration is 9,484,374, which is 77,7% of the estimated 12,203,727 people who will be over 18 years old on voting day, 15 October.

For the 2009 election, registration was over 90%.  allAfrica

South Sudan: how hate radio was used to incite Bentiu massacres

African Arguments

South Sudan: how hate radio was used to incite Bentiu massacres – By Keith Somerville

Bentiu

The spectre of ethnically-motivated killings, and the use of ethnic rivalry or hatred to mobilize and incite one community against another, hangs over the conflict in South Sudan. Coming just weeks after the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, which will forever be associated with the use of radio to incite hatred and help direct genocidal killings, the UNMISS report that a rebel commander in Bentiu used the local FM radio station to incite hatred against Dinkas, Darfuris and other non-Nuer, sent a shiver down my spine.

In a country with an estimated 80 per cent illiteracy rate, South Sudanese are particularly reliant on radio as a means of getting news and of communicating information.  It reaches those who cannot read or cannot access or afford to buy newspapers. It can be listened to throughout the day alone, or in groups and can have a mass effect if used to generate fear, mobilize support or, worst of all, incite hatred of others.

The Radio Bentiu FM station is a key source of news for the population.  UNMISS said that the rebels had taken over the station and at times “broadcast hate messages declaring that certain ethnic groups should not stay in Bentiu and even calling on men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community”.  The UN mission roundly condemned the use of the radio to incite hatred and encourage killings or rape, though it did note that some rebel SPLA commanders had broadcast messages calling for unity and an end to ‘tribalism’. While UN radio stations and the Netherlands-funded Radio Tamazuj can be heard in Unity state, the local FM station is the key local outlet and so has a wide listenership in Bentiu.

Several hundred civilians were killed after the rebel occupation of the key oil town and most of the dead are believed to be Dinkas, Darfuris and a number of other Sudanese, deliberately targeted by sections of the rebel force as ‘enemies’.  At times the rebels have claimed that members of the Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and other groups from Sudan have been fighting alongside the South Sudanese army.  UNMISS in its statement on the killings specifically referred to the targeting of Darfuris and to the killing of at least 200 and the wounding of 400 non-Nuer civilians in a mosque.  There were even reports, the UN said, of Nuer being killed for failing to show their support for the rebels. Among the targets for attacks were the mosque, the hospital and a World Food Programme compound.  The UNMISS personnel in Bentiu managed to rescue hundreds of civilians and it says it is now protecting 12,000 civilians at its base – part of an estimated total of 60,000 being guarded throughout South Sudan.

The use of radio to call on rebels and Nuer, in particular, to attack Dinkas and other groups does bring chilling echoes of Rwanda and of the use of local radio stations – especially vernacular ones in Kenya and the DRC – to incite fear, hatred or violence against particular groups. These include the Banyamulenge in eastern DRC or Kalenjin against Kikuyu and vice versa during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-8 (a Kenyan radio editor and presenter, Joshua arap Sang, is currently in trial at the ICC for using radio as part of the incitement of hatred and violence). The spokesperson for UNMISS, Joseph Contreras, said in an interview on UN Radio in South Sudan that the use of radio to fan the flames of hatred was to be deplored and made a direct reference to the role of hate radio in Rwanda.

But South Sudan is not Rwanda and the ethnic/linguistic picture is more diverse and blurred.  Political and ethnic allegiances shift according to time and expediency.  There is also a very different media environment with various church, UN or foreign-sponsored radio stations broadcasting – in addition to the national radio based in Juba and smaller government FM stations in the main towns of each state.  The local FM stations are the ones most likely to be seized by government or rebel forcers as they capture towns – UNMISS says it is already aware that some stations have been broadcasting hate speech.  Mr Contreras called on all sides “to prevent the airing of such messages”. He added, though, that it was impossible to say what effect the messages in Bentiu had had on the course of the violence there after the rebel take over.

The media in South Sudan is more varied than in Rwanda in 1994 – when the only stations broadcasting in Kinyarwanda were the Hutu government-controlled Radio Rwanda, the Hutu Power-owned Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) and the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s Radio Muhabura.  These were supplemented by international broadcasters like the BBC, Radio France International and Voice of America, but none of these transmitted in the local language. In South Sudan, in addition to the national radio service in Juba and state stations in nine provincial capitals, there are over 30 FM or AM stations broadcasting locally, including the UN’s Radio Miraya, Radio Tamazuj, the Catholic Bakhita FM, and the USAID-funded Sudan Radio Service. Most broadcast in English and basic Arabic, though the local stations also broadcast in a number of vernaculars, such as Zande, Madi, Muru, Bari and Kuhu.

Reporters without Borders (RWB) ranks South Sudan as 111th out of 179 countries in terms of press freedom, compared with 170 for Sudan. But the role of independent journalists, newspapers and radio stations in reporting corruption has not been popular with President Salva Kiir’s government and journalists have suffered periodic harassment.  One leading commentator and thorn in the side of the government, Diing Chan Awuol, was shot and killed outside his home in Juba in December 2012. Awuol wrote columns for the Sudan Tribune and Gurtong websites and the newspaper ‘Destiny’ under the pen-name of Isaias Abraham.  There have also been arrests of leading journalists, such as Ngor Aguot Garang, the editor of Destiny, and his deputy editor in November 2011 for a critical piece on Salva Kiir’s daughter.

This harassment has not yet made South Sudan’s media into a clone of the state-controlled and intimidated media of the north, but Reporters without Borders said that a South Sudanese media expert had told them that “The authorities in Juba were brought up in the Khartoum school and now they are getting ready to put what they learned about repression into practice…Listen to the information minister. He tells us: ‘Watch what you write. Be patriotic…Unlike what happens in the North, the repression is not concerted, but high-handed actions, harassment, impunity and brutality are nonetheless the rule.”

Harassment has increased since the start of the conflict between forces loyal to the Salva Kiir government and those backing Riek Machar.  In recent weeks, the South Sudanese Information Minister, Michael Makuei, has warned reporters in Juba not to interview opposition leaders or spokespeople or face arrest or expulsion from the country. Makuei said broadcast interviews with rebels are considered “hostile propaganda” and “in conflict with the law.”  The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the minister’s outburst followed a recent interview conducted by the Juba-based and independent Eye Radio with a rebel leader at the deadlocked peace negotiations taking place in Addis Ababa. Makuei said this sort of reporting was “disseminating poison”. The minister ordered journalists in South Sudan to convey “a neutral position that does not agitate against the government.”

There have been a number of cases of journalists being interrogated or arrested since the start of the conflict. On occasions the security services have seized newspapers such as the Juba Monitor and put pressure on Eye Radio to force the resignation of the editor, Beatrice Murail, who left Juba and returned to France as a result.  There have also been reports from the CPJ and the Inter Press Service that Nuer journalists are being viewed as potential enemies and supporters of Machar in government-controlled areas and similarly, as the conflict has ratcheted up ethnic tensions, journalists of Dinka origin are under threat in areas controlled by the rebels.

The well-known South Sudanese journalist Bonifacio Taban, who has himself been put under pressure by the government, told the CPJ in March that this situation is making it hard for journalists to report and dangerous, in particular, for those of Nuer origin to cover the story from the government side.  He said the tough stance of the government is making it more and more difficult for the local press to stay impartial. “The news in South Sudan is not balanced, it has become one-sided, the government side,” Taban told the CPJ.

In these circumstances, it is not surprising that when the rebels seize a town like Bentiu they quickly make sure they control the output of the local media, especially radio.  But as the conflict continues and killings escalate, along with the proliferation of both accurate or exaggerated/invented stories of atrocities, the chances of impartiality slipping into propaganda and then down the slope into hate broadcasting is very real.

Keith Somerville is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London; teaches at the Centre for Journalism, University of Kent; and edits the Africa – News and Analysis website (wwww.africajournalismtheworld.com).  His book Radio Propaganda and the Broadcasting of Hatred was published in 2012.

Kenya – car bomb kills four at Nairobi police station

Reuters

Car bomb kills four in Kenyan capital

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Four people killed when a car bomb exploded outside a police station in a poor neighbourhood of the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said.

Police officers had earlier stopped the saloon car at traffic lights and were taking the occupants for questioning when the bomb exploded, the ministry said.

Kenya’s security forces are struggling to contain a surge in bomb and gun attacks that the authorities blame on the Somali Islamist militants who killed at least 67 people when they laid siege to Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in September.

Kenyans are increasingly alarmed at the relative ease at which the militants and radicalised youths are able to carry out deadly strikes in the heart of Kenya, east Africa’s biggest economy.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

“At least 4 people dead after a saloon exploded at Pangani police station. Two of them are police officers,” the ministry said.

Pangani is located next to Nairobi’s Eastleigh district, an area populated by Somalis and targeted in past bomb and grenade attacks.

A second controlled detonation was carried out by bomb disposal officers shortly after the initial blast, a Reuters witness said.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta last month said the vital tourism industry was “on its knees” after attacks by al Qaeda-linked Islamist insurgents carried out in retaliation for the country’s troop deployment in neighbouring Somalia.

It is common for Kenyan police to demand a ride back to police stations in vehicles they have stopped. But some Kenyan and African Twitter expressed consternation that they should get into a suspicious car at a time of heightened insecurity.

“Crazy & unfortunate that #Kenya police officers would board a “suspicious” car. Not good protocol,” one Twitter user wrote.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Mukoya and Richard Lough,; Writing by Richard Lough,  Reuters

 

Standard

By CYRUS OMBATI

NAIROBI, KENYA: At least four people including two police officers were Wednesday night killed in a car explosion outside Pangani police station in Nairobi in an apparent suicide incident.

The explosion happened at the gate of the police station after an explosion that was in the car went off.

Police boss David Kimaiyo who visited the scene confirmed the deaths.

Other police officers said the blast went off killing two police officers and the apparent two bombers they had arrested earlier on without knowing they had the explosives.

The officers had intercepted a salon car at about 8 pm at the nearby Pangani roundabout in the area and decided to board it.

“They spotted the car and suspected it before boarding leading the driver to the station. The police car then trailed that of the terrorists to the station,” said Kimaiyo at the station.

It was at the entrance that it went off killing all the occupants including the officers.

The blast was so powerful that it was heard several kilometres away.

Some residents of Parklands and Ngara said they heard it.

Witnesses said when the blast went off other officers who were at the station took cover for several minutes before coming to check the car.

The car was extensively damaged following the blast as police said they were yet to know where it was to be used.

Kimaiyo said they will intensify their operations on terrorists in the country. Interior cabinet secretary Joseph ole Lenku also visited the scene. There was panic at the scene when another explosion went off as the dignitaries briefed the media.

Police have in the past days been rounding up suspects in a major swoop.  standard

 

 

 

South Sudan – Salva Kiir replaces army chief after loss of Bentiu

BBC

S Sudan conflict: President Salva Kiir sacks army chief

General James Hoth Mai No official reason was given for the removal of Gen James Hoth Mai

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has sacked the head of the army.

A decree read out on state television announced that Gen James Hoth Mai would be removed with immediate effect. No reason was given.

The country has been in turmoil since December. Last week rebels seized the oil hub of Bentiu.

Meanwhile the UN has accused the government of providing “erroneous information” regarding a massacre of hundreds of civilians in the town.

South Sudan Minister of Information Michael Lueth was wrong to tell reporters that residents seeking protection had been barred from entering a UN base, the UN mission said in a statement.

After rebel forces captured Bentiu on 15 and 16 April, they targeted hundreds of people who had taken refuge inside a mosque, a church and a hospital, and killed them because of their ethnicity, the UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) said.

“At no point did the mission ever turn away any civilians who came to its camp to seek protection and instead opened its gates to all unarmed civilians,” it added.

Setbacks

Correspondents say last week’s killings are among the most shocking since the conflict began.

South Sudanese fleeing an attack on the South Sudanese town of Renk, 19 April 2014 More than a million people have since been forced from their homes since the conflict began
Member of the "white army" which make up some of the rebel forces loyal to Riek Machar in South Sudan - Upper Nile State, 14 April 2014 There has been recent fighting in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states

The rebels say the retreating government forces were responsible.

While no official reason was given for the removal of Gen James Hoth Mai on Wednesday, analysts say the military has suffered several setbacks in the north of the country in recent days.

Gen Paul Malong was named as the new general head of staff.

Analysts note that the sacked army chief hails from the same tribe as that of rebel leader and former Vice-President Riek Machar.

The conflict pits Mr Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against Mr Machar, from the Nuer community.

A January ceasefire deal has failed to halt fighting that began in December after Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar of plotting to stage a coup.

More than a million people have since been forced from their homes since the violence started.

‘Cycle of violence’

Peace talks, which were due to resume on Wednesday in neighbouring Ethiopia, have been delayed until 27 April.

Herve Ladsous, the UN’s head of peacekeeping, accused both sides of failing to stop the “cycle of violence” on Wednesday.

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, he said: “Neither party is ready to in any way cease the hostilities. They do not give indication that they sincerely want to participate in the peace talks.”

Soldiers among burned-out items in Bentui The town of Bentiu has changed hands several times during the fighting

Bentiu, capital of the oil-rich Unity State, has changed hands several times during the conflict.

Control of the oilfields is crucial because South Sudan gets about 90% of its revenue from oil.

The UN expressed outrage at an attack last week on one of its camps in Bor in Jonglei State, saying it could “constitute a war crime”.

That attack by armed youths left at least 58 dead, including children.

Both Mr Kiir and Mr Machar have prominent supporters from various communities, but there have been numerous reports of rebels killing Dinkas and the army targeting Nuers.

The UN has about 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan, which became the world newest state after seceding from Sudan in 2011.

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.

BBC

 

Nation

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir sacked his army chief on Wednesday after rebels seized a major oil hub, unleashing two days of ethnic slaughter in which the UN says hundreds of civilians were massacred.

Rebels loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar seized Bentiu last week. The United Nations says they hunted down civilians sheltering in mosques, churches and a hospital, in a wave of ethnic killings.

The president gave no reason for removing general James Hoth Mai, a move announced on national television, but sources attributed the decision to recent military setbacks in the oil-rich north of the country. His successor was named as general Paul Malong.

Kiir also sacked his intelligence chief, General Paul Mach, replacing him with General Marial Nour Jok.

South Sudan’s army has been fighting the rebels since unrest broke out on December 15, but the conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, pitting Kiir’s Dinka tribe against militia forces from Machar’s Nuer people.

The conflict in South Sudan, which only won independence from Sudan in 2011 and is the world’s youngest nation, has left thousands dead and forced around a million people to flee their homes.

The insurgents recently launched a renewed offensive targeting the key oil fields and Bentiu is the first major settlement they have retaken.

The White House expressed horror at what it called the “abomination” of spiralling violence in the country, which has left thousands of people dead and forced around a million to flee their homes.

“We are horrified by reports out of South Sudan that fighters aligned with rebel leader Riek Machar massacred hundreds of innocent civilians last week in Bentiu,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

“These acts of violence are an abomination. They are a betrayal of the trust the South Sudanese people have put in their leaders,” he said.

The White House called on both men to “make clear that attacks on civilians are unacceptable, perpetrators of violence on both sides must be brought to justice, and the cycle of violence that has plagued South Sudan for too long must come to an end”.

Images released by the United Nations show piles of bloated, decomposing bodies strewn in several areas — a repeat of mass killings seen elsewhere in the country over the past four months.

The UN said the killings continued for almost two days after the rebels issued a statement boasting of victory in Bentiu, and that the rebels had used hate radio broadcasts to whip up violent ethnic sentiment.

On Wednesday, the US and France called on the UN Security Council to consider sanctions against South Sudan.

US ambassador Samantha Power relayed Washington’s position in a closed-door meeting of the 15-member Council, diplomats said, and France’s Gerard Araud told reporters before the session that it was time to think about sanctions against those responsible.

“I think we should consider sanctions because it is horrendous,” he said.

PILES OF BODIES

The rebels, however, have blamed retreating government troops for the atrocities.

“The government forces and their allies committed these heinous crimes while retreating,” rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said, adding that the rebel offensive targeting oil fields and the town of Bor, situated north of the capital Juba, was continuing.

The scale of killings in Bentiu is one of the worst atrocities in the four-month conflict, during which both sides have been implicated in massacres, rape and the recruitment of child soldiers.

Last week gunmen in the government-held town of Bor also attacked a UN base sheltering civilians, killing at least 58 people.

“The Bor and Bentiu attacks should be a wake-up call and commanders and leaders responsible for abuses on both sides have been let off the hook for too long,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Heavy fighting was also reported on Tuesday in the eastern state of Jonglei, and in Upper Nile in the northeast, with South Sudan army spokesman Philip Aguer boasting the army had repulsed the attacks and killed scores of rebels.

In Bentiu, some 23,000 terrified civilians have crowded into the cramped UN peacekeeping base for protection, where under both fierce heat and heavy rains — and little if any shelter — they are surviving on just a litre (quart) of water a day each.

Jonathan Veitch, the UN children’s agency chief in the country, warned of fatal water-borne diseases, saying that “children have endured unspeakable violence.”

The UN has said more than one million people are at risk of famine.

On Tuesday, 22 international aid agencies, including Oxfam, Care and the International Rescue Committee, issued a joint warning they were already witnessing “alarming rates of malnutrition”.

Peace talks between the two sides are due to restart in neighbouring Ethiopia later this month. nation

Uganda – LRA commander Okello captured in Central African Republic

VoA/allAfrica

Uganda: LRA Commander Captured in Central African Republic

 

Photo: Voxcom/IRIN

Lord’s Resistance Army soldiers (file photo).

Uganda’s military says troops have captured a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] and freed 10 people who were held captive by the rebel group.

A military spokesman said African troops hunting the LRA seized Charles Okello in the Central African Republic.

The spokesman said most of those rescued were children.

The LRA is notorious for attacking and looting villages, and also for its forced recruitment of child soldiers.

The rebel group formed in the mid-1980′s and battled the Ugandan government for 20 years before fleeing to nearby areas.

Ugandan troops have been leading a U.S.-backed African Union mission to capture LRA leader Joseph Kony and other LRA figures.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Authorities believe he is hiding in remote parts of the C.A.R.

China urges renewed peace effort in South Sudan

Reuters

BEIJING Wed Apr 23, 2014

Civilians flee from renewed attacks in Bentiu, Unity state of South Sudan April 20, 2014. REUTERS/Emre Rende

Civilians flee from renewed attacks in Bentiu, Unity state of South Sudan April 20, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Emre Rende

BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Wednesday urged renewed peace efforts in South Sudan after the United Nations said rebels slaughtered hundreds of civilians when they seized the South Sudan oil hub of Bentiu.

“We strongly condemn this and urge all sides in South Sudan, including the opposition and the authorities, to keep pushing political dialogue to resolve the relevant issues and achieve reconciliation, peace and development at the earliest date,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a daily briefing.

China has played an unusually active diplomatic role in South Sudan and is the biggest investor in its oil industry.

Bentiu is capital of South Sudan’s oil-producing Unity state. Oil firms in South Sudan, a country roughly the size of France, include China National Petroleum Corp, India’s ONGC Videsh and Malaysia’s Petronas.

“China has energy interests in South Sudan, so we hope even more that this country can maintain peace and stability,” Qin added.

“We also ask that the South Sudanese authorities provide protection to China’s reasonable rights in South Sudan and the safety of Chinese nationals,” he said.

China’s special envoy to Africa, Zhong Jianhua, told Reuters in February that China’s efforts to help resolve the conflict in South Sudan marked a “new chapter” in its foreign policy that would seek to engage more in Africa’s security.

The White House on Tuesday called the massacre an abomination and urged an end to the cycle of violence there.

The United Nations said rebels hunted down men, women and children who had sought refuge in a hospital, mosque and Catholic church.

Rebel troops overran Bentiu last week. Rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang denied responsibility for the slaughter, blaming government forces for the killings.

More than 1 million people have fled from their homes since December when fighting erupted in the world’s youngest country between troops backing President Salva Kiir and soldiers loyal to his sacked vice president, Riek Machar. Reuters

 

Rwanda – Kagame will not rule out trying for a third term

Reuters

Rwandan president says he is not ready to rule out third term

BOSTON Wed Apr 23, 2014

Rwanda President Paul Kagame attends a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 24, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Rwanda President Paul Kagame attends a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 24, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Ruben Sprich

BOSTON (Reuters) – Rwandan President Paul Kagame said on Tuesday it was too early to say whether he will seek a third term as head of the east African state, adding “whatever will happen, we’ll have an explanation.”

Articles in pro-government newspapers in recent years have raised the prospect of him staying on after his mandate expires in 2017, a move that would anger his critics and require a change to the constitution.

“I have been asked when or whether I am going to leave office right from the time when I started. It is as if I am here just to leave. I’m here to do business on behalf of Rwandans,” Kagame told students and faculty after a speech at Tufts University near Boston.

“I don’t know what else I can give you on that, but let’s wait and see what happens as we go. Whatever will happen, we’ll have an explanation.”

He was responding to a student’s question about how he imagined his political role in Rwanda after his term ends.

Kagame was touring universities around Boston to speak about the country’s recovery from its 1994 genocide, in which some 800,000 people were killed. Kagame believes European powers played a role in triggering the conflict and that the international community failed to intervene to stop it.

“What we learned is that people must be responsible for their own fate. If you wait for outsiders you will just perish,” Kagame, rail thin and wearing a sharp suit and dark-framed eyeglasses, told the audience.

He accused the “international community” of destabilizing neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo by allowing people who committed the Rwandan genocide to later escape into Congo’s eastern hills and giving them guns.

Millions have died in eastern Congo, home to myriad rebel groups, since the end of Rwanda’s genocide.

Kagame came to power in 2000 after leading the Rwandan Patriotic Front to overthrow the 1994 government. He won democratic elections in 2003 and 2010. The constitution currently limits presidents to two seven-year terms. Kagame has previously brushed off speculation he could seek to stay on for another term.

Critics accuse Kagame of being authoritarian and trampling on media and political freedoms. South Africa expelled three Rwandan envoys last month and accused them of being linked to attacks on Kagame’s dissidents in the country. Kigali has denied the accusations.

But Kagame has also won international praise for progress in his bid to transform Rwanda into a middle-income country by 2020. Rwanda was ranked 2nd in sub-Saharan Africa on the World Bank’s annual Doing Business report for 2014, overtaking economic heavyweight South Africa, after a series of economic reforms.  Reuters

 

South Sudan – rebels fighting army in Upper Nile and Jonglei

BBC

South Sudan rebels in ‘multiple attacks’

Member of the "white army" which make up some of the rebel forces loyal to Riek Machar in South Sudan - Upper Nile State, 14 April 2014 There has been recent fighting in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states

Rebels in South Sudan are involved in fierce fighting with the army in several areas of the country, the military spokesman has told the BBC.

There is ongoing fighting in the north-east of Upper Nile State and the east of Jonglei State, Philip Aguer said.

Earlier, the rebels denied a UN report that they killed hundreds of civilians after taking control last week of the oil hub, Bentiu, in Unity State.

A ceasefire deal in January has failed to halt the violence.

More than a million people have been forced from their homes since fighting broke out in December 2013.

Philip Aguer in Juba, South Sudan - January 2014

There is no war where you bombard residential areas indiscriminately at night”  Philip Aguer South Sudan’s army spokesman

The conflict pits President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against his former Vice-President, Riek Machar, from the Nuer community.

‘Temporary loss’

Mr Aguer said that the army had also been forced to withdraw from Mayom in Unity State in order to reorganise its forces following the loss of Bentiu.

“The victory that’s been achieved by the rebels is temporary, it’s just a matter of time [before] they will be out of Bentiu,” he told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

But he said there were several other fronts on which the rebels were active.

For the last week, the town of Renk in the north-east of Upper Nile State had come under attack from Mr Machar’s forces.

“That should be condemned internationally; there is no war where you bombard residential areas indiscriminately at night… [it has] caused havoc and fear.”

An army soldier on patrol in Malakal, South Sudan, in January 2014 More than one million have fled their homes in the four months since the conflict began
UN soldiers patrol in the UN camp in Malakal, South Sudan - 18 March 2014 Some have left to neighbouring countries many others have sought shelter at UN camps

“I have never seen a movement that have a desire in killing many people as possible as Riek Machar’s force.”

On Tuesday morning, there had also been “heavy fighting” in several places in Duk county in Jonglei which came under rebel attack, the army spokesman said.

But he said the army had repulsed them and was pursing the rebels.

‘Tribal war’

Correspondents say last week’s killings in Bentiu are among the most shocking since the conflict began.

The UN said that civilians were killed along ethnic lines at a mosque, a church and a hospital.

Both Mr Kiir and Mr Machar have prominent supporters from various communities, but there have been numerous reports of rebels killing Dinkas and the army targeting Nuers.

Rebel commander Brig Lul Ruai Koang told the BBC on Tuesday that the rebel soldiers had not killed any civilians in Bentiu.

He suggested that government forces and their allies could have been responsible in order to make the conflict appear as though it was “tribal war”.

Bentiu, capital of the oil-rich Unity State, has changed hands several times during the conflict.

Control of the oilfields is crucial because South Sudan gets about 90% of its revenue from oil.

A ceasefire was signed in January but there has been a recent upsurge in fighting.

Last week, the UN said an attack on one of its bases in the central town of Bor in which at least 58 people were killed could constitute a war crime.

Fighting broke out last year after Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar of plotting to stage a coup.

Mr Machar, who was sacked as vice-president earlier in 2013, denied the charges but launched a rebellion.

The UN has about 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan, which became the world newest state after seceding from Sudan in 2011.

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.

French troops in Central African Republic escort Muslims to safety

Reuters

French troops in Central African Republic escort Muslims to safety

BAMBARI, Central African Republic  (Reuters) – French peacekeepers in Central African Republic escorted a convoy of Muslims away from the threat of violence in the capital on Monday to a town effectively controlled by Muslim rebels.

A Reuters witness said 102 Muslims guarded by 150 French troops, supported by a helicopter patrolling overhead, left the northern suburb of PK-12 on Sunday in trucks for Bambari, about 300 km (190 miles) northeast of the capital.

Almost all Muslims have fled Bangui since the Muslim Seleka rebels, who seized power in March 2013, were forced to step aside in January. The United Nations has since reported a “cleansing” of Muslims from the country’s west.

Inter-communal violence has gripped Central African Republic since late 2012 when a battle for power degenerated into violence between Muslims and Christians that have forced about 1 million people from their homes.

Almost 200,000 people have fled the country since December with a further 160,000 are expected to this year.

There was no violence during the journey to Bambari, a town effectively controlled by Seleka in the centre of the country. But the fact that the Muslims went there is a sign of growing de facto partition of Central African Republic.

“I’m going to stay in Bambari. Once the country calms down I’ll go back (to Bangui) but if it doesn’t calm down I’ll remain here,” one girl in the convoy told Reuters.

The convoy passed through a Christian neighbourhood of the capital where anti-Balaka forces that have conducted much of the violence against Muslims are a powerful force.

“We don’t want the Muslims to stay in Bambari … They need to get out and go directly to Chad. That’s what we want,” said an anti-Balaka fighter who identified himself as Paterne.

The United Nations Security Council this month authorised a 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission to be deployed in September, recognition that the 6,000 African and 2,000 French peacekeepers already there have failed to stamp their authority on the country.

 

South Sudan – rebels deny massacres and call for federal form of government

Sudan Tribune

South Sudanese rebels call for federal state formation


April 21, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese rebels allied to the former vice president, Riek Machar, have officially launched the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM/SPLA) “armed resistance” and called for restructuring of all public sectors in the state of South Sudan to conform to the federal system of governance.

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South Sudan’s former vice-president Riek Machar (AFP/Getty)

The leadership of SPLM/SPLA and representatives of other political parties, faith based groups, civil society organizations, youth and women groups, traditional leaders, church leaders and eminent personalities, met from April 15th-18th, 2014 in Nasir, Upper Nile State, South Sudan, in a consultative conference which resolved on various matters in the newly launched armed struggle.

The conference “resolved to establish in South Sudan a democratic, just, transparent and people-driven political system-Federalism,” reads one of its resolutions.

The conference further agreed that a future interim government shall be based on a comprehensive peace agreement which shall address the structuring of the state on the basis of an interim federal constitution.

It also resolved to transform and sensitise the regular forces as well as ensure the transformation of the volunteer fighters into discipline soldiers under the SPLA command and control.

The conference also endorsed the former vice president, Riek Machar, as the chairperson and commander-in-chief of the new movement.

It also declared president Salva Kiir as “an illegitimate leader given his deeds” that have dragged the country into the current political, security and humanitarian crisis, and further called on the international community to do the same.

The rebel movement formed a provisional leadership structure with eight specialised committees, each to be headed by a chairperson. He or she will be deputised by a deputy and secretary, three of whom shall be appointed by the chairperson of the movement from able and competent members of the movement.

Each committee shall comprise of 15 members and assisted by a secretariat.

The conference resolved that such committees shall include peace and national reconciliation committee; political mobilisation committee; foreign affairs committees; justice and human rights committee; finance and resources mobilization committee; information and public relations committee; humanitarian and social services committee; and women and youth empowerment committee.

The conference reiterated the call for withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country, such as the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) that are fighting alongside Salva Kiir’s government.

It also renewed commitment to the peace processes mediated by the regional bloc –IGAD, but warned of intensifying the war into Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal regions to remove Kiir from power should the government in Juba not talk peace in good faith.

(ST)

BBC

South Sudan rebels deny Bentiu slaughter accusation

Rebel soldier in Bentiu Rebel fighters remain in control of Bentiu, capital of the oil-rich Unity State

Rebels in South Sudan have denied a UN report that they killed hundreds of civilians after taking control of the oil hub, Bentiu, last week.

Brig Lul Ruai Koang told the BBC there was a security vacuum after government forces left the town.

The UN said that civilians were killed along ethnic lines at a mosque, a church and a hospital.

More than a million people have been forced from their homes since fighting broke out in December 2013.

The conflict pits President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against his former Vice-President, Riek Machar, from the Nuer community.

Analysis

In a civil war marked by numerous human rights abuses, the reports from Bentiu are among the most shocking.

The rebels are accused of killing Dinkas (President Kiir’s ethnic group), Sudanese (because of the alleged support of Darfuri rebel groups for President Kiir) and Nuers who were not overtly cheering their fellow Nuer rebels.

The victims hid in hospitals and places of worship, but did not find sanctuary there.

Many of the rebels say they took up arms because of the murder of their relatives in Juba at the beginning of this conflict.

Both sides have committed terrible abuses.

However the scale of the killings carried out by rebel troops, including the feared White Army militia, in Bentiu, Bor and Malakal, has turned many people against the rebel leader, Riek Machar.

With the rainy season approaching, and negotiations set to resume in Addis Ababa, there is likely to be more fighting – and very likely more atrocities – in the next few weeks.

Although both men have prominent supporters from various communities, there have been numerous reports of rebels killing Dinkas and the army targeting Nuers.

But correspondents say that the killings in Bentiu are among the most shocking since the conflict began.

‘Piles of bodies’

The UN’s top humanitarian official in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that he had seen “piles of [the bodies of] people who had been slaughtered” last week.

He said they all appeared to be civilians.

Non-Nuer South Sudanese and foreign nationals were singled out and killed, the UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) said.

Some 200 civilians were reportedly killed at the town’s Kali-Ballee mosque where they had sought shelter.

At the hospital, Nuer men, women and children, who hid rather than cheer the rebel forces as they entered the town, were also killed, it said.

The statement also said that hate speech had been broadcast on local radio stations, urging men to rape women from certain communities.

Many of those killed were Sudanese traders, especially from Darfur, Mr Lanzer said.

South Sudan analyst James Copnall says they could have been targeted because rebel groups in Darfur are alleged to back President Kiir against the rebels.

But Brig Koang told the BBC’s Newsday programme: “Our forces are not responsible for killing civilians anywhere in Bentiu.”

He suggested that government forces and their allies could have been responsible in order to make the conflict appear as though it was “tribal war”.

Grab from UN video footage of bodies found in Bentiu
Video footage from the UN shows bodies lying in the streets of Bentiu

Upsurge in fighting

Bentiu, capital of the oil-rich Unity State, has changed hands several times during the conflict.

Control of the oilfields is crucial because South Sudan gets about 90% of its revenue from oil.

A ceasefire was signed in January but there has been a recent upsurge in fighting.

Last week, the UN said an attack on one of its bases in the central town of Bor in which at least 58 people were killed could constitute a war crime.

Fighting broke out last year after Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar of plotting to stage a coup.

Mr Machar, who was sacked as vice-president earlier in 2013, denied the charges but launched a rebellion.

The UN has about 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan, which became the world newest state after seceding from Sudan in 2011.

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.  BBC