French claim killing of jihadist leaders in Mali


Two jihadist leaders killed in Mali, says FranceThis file picture dated on January 2, 2015 shows French helicopters stationed at a base in Goa, 320 km east southeast of Timbuktu, as part of the Barkhane Operation

Hundreds of French troops are in the region as part of a counter-terrorism operation

French special forces have killed four jihadists, including two leaders, in a raid in north Mali, the French defence ministry says.

One of those killed was Amada Ag Hama, suspected of the kidnapping and murder of two French journalists in 2013.

He is said to be a commander of in al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

France sent troops into Mali two years ago when Islamist militants threatened the capital Bamako. Some 3,000 remain in the region combating terrorism.

The other leader killed was named as Ibrahim Ag Inawalen, from another al-Qaeda linked militant group, Ansar Dine.

Aside from the murders of Radio France International journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, Amada Ag Hama was also said to be involved in the death of aid worker Michel Germaneau and the abduction of four French nationals in Niger, both in 2010.

“France has a long memory,” said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Mali suffered a coup in 2012. In the chaos that followed, Tuareg rebels seized control of the north, declaring independence, before being supplanted by Islamist militants.

Instability remains, despite the French intervention and the presence of the 11,000-strong UN peacekeeping force known as Minusma.

On Wednesday, an attacker opened fire on a UN residence in Bamako, injuring a guard.

Angola – trial of journalist Rafael Marques de Morais


Angola: Power Fights Truth in Angola

New York — If the world’s awareness about diamonds and their tarnished journey to the west has grown, it is, in part, because of the fierce and fearless work of journalists like the Angolan Rafael Marques de Morais. As the story of blood diamonds is turning into celebrated Hollywood productions, the fate of the storyteller himself hangs in the balance. Rafael is on trial in Angola for exposing murder and abuse in the mining industry. His accusers, the generals and companies who bear responsibility for these alleged crimes, were willing to settle this case before trial on condition that Rafael retract his claims.

In good conscience, Rafael refused to give them the exoneration they demanded. Instead, he offered only to admit that it is possible that they did not know about or order the abuses. As a journalist, Rafael is concerned with the facts, not with making legal judgments, which is actually what his accusers were demanding.

Without a settlement, the case against Rafael is proceeding and will now likely require the court to judge whether or not he was right in pointing a finger at those who were and are in a position to stop the abuses. That is what this case is about and law is clearly on Rafael’s side.

Since Nuremberg, international justice has held that those who know about, or should have known about, the actions of their subordinates or others whom they control, bear responsibility for the crimes that result. This principle is now codified in the statute of the International Criminal Court. Nevertheless, many in positions of power, continue to insist that a lack of actual knowledge absolves them of any responsibility from their actions. Thanks to journalists like Rafael, excuses like that are no longer tenable.

Governments, Angola’s included, bear an even greater responsibility to investigate and prosecute those who would abuse fundamental rights, which all states are obligated to protect. They cannot, as many have tried, escape this obligation by simply denying any involvement. Due diligence to protect human rights requires concerted efforts to hold abusers to account.

The tide has turned on those who would seek to silence journalists by threatening them with imprisonment. In a case against Burkina Faso, Africa’s highest human rights court recently ruled that it is no longer permissible for a state to imprison someone for defamation. Coming as just its second decision on the merits of any case, this decision signals the Court’s early recognition of the urgent need to protect those who would expose corruption and abuse on the continent.

Instead of prosecuting Rafael for doing what was courageous and right, Angola’s government must investigate and prosecute the generals and companies who bear ultimate responsibility for the murder and abuse he has exposed. Journalists who speak truth to power do all of us a great service. They deserve our appreciation and support, not unfair trial and punishment.

Garth Meintjes is the  Executive Director of the  International Senior Lawyers Project

China fishing illegally off the west coast of Africa



China illegally fishing off W Africa – Greenpeace

Fishing pirogues in Kayar, Senegal

There is an absence of efficient fisheries management in some West African states

More than 70 Chinese vessels have been found fishing illegally off the coast of West Africa, Greenpeace says.

Using information gathered from 2000 to 2014, Greenpeace said Chinese companies had fished in prohibited grounds or under-declared their catches.

Boats either turned off their identification systems or transmitted false location data, it added.

One company’s fishing capacity off the coast of Guinea Bissau is said to have exceeded its authorised limit by 61%.

The absence of efficient fisheries management in some West African states allows rogue companies to plunder marine resources, the BBC’s Thomas Fessy reports from Dakar in Senegal.


A bottom trawler fishing boat

Bottom trawlers are considered the most destructive fishing vessel in the industry

In less than a month, Greenpeace documented an average of one new case of illegal practice by a Chinese-owned boat every two days, but the report’s authors say they think that is only the “tip of the iceberg.”

Chinese companies were “unlawfully exploiting West Africa’s marine environment,” said Rashid King, head of Greenpeace East Asia’s China Ocean Campaign, in a statement.

“They were taking advantage of weak enforcement from local and Chinese authorities to the detriment of local fisherman and the environment.”


Mr Kang said unless the Chinese government controlled rogue fishermen, it would “seriously jeopardise” its mutually beneficial partnership with West Africa.

China came to West Africa’s aid during the Ebola outbreak, Mr Kang said, but Chinese companies were “exploiting” West Africa’s marine environment.

In the most recent cases, the Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza, which sailed off Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea last autumn, documented 16 illegal fishing activities by 12 Chinese vessels.


Woman at a West Africa fish market

Chinese companies are escaping licensing fees and plundering West Africa’s fishing resources, Greenpeace says

Over the last 15 years, Greenpeace has also investigated illegal fishing practices by EU, Korean and Russian fishing vessels in Africa.

From 1985 to 2013, China expanded its Africa fishing operations from 13 to 462 vessels.

The vessels were mostly bottom trawlers, which Greenpeace calls “one of the most destructive fishing vessels in the industry”.

Zambia – Green party questions lifting of lion and leopard hunting ban

Times of Zambia

By Hildah Lumba

GREEN Party president Peter Sinkamba has expressed concern over the decision by Government to lift the ban on big cat hunting in the country.
Tourism and Arts Minister Jean Kapata last week announced the lifting of the ban on cat hunting in the country on account that it greatly affected the wildlife resource livelihoods of local authorities in game management Areas.
But Mr Sinkamba said in a statement in Kitwe yesterday that the decision by Government to lift the ban on hunting lions and leopards was wrong.
He said the ban was initiated when conservationists warned that a wildlife population, especially in the cat family, was facing a greater threat than at any time since the 1980s.
“We all know that the number of lions and other big cat species in Zambia’s major parks is depleted and limited due to poaching and other anthropogenic activities,” Mr Sinkamba said.
He said the total population of lions in the country as at 2013 was estimated to be between 2,500 and 4,700.
These, he said, were unreliable estimates since successive governments after UNIP, have not sustained a continuous wildlife census system.
He urged Government to reverse lifting of the ban and instead come up with other revenue generating schemes.
But the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) commended Government for lifting the ban which was enforced two years ago.
ZAWA public relations officer Sakabilo Kalembwe said the lifting of the ban on hunting of big cats will ensure a great improvement in Government revenue.
Kalembwe said ZAWA will make sure that hunting of cats was carried out according to statutory regulations.
Government lifted the ban on cat hunting on condition that the guidelines were grafted into a statutory instrument so that they become part of the wildlife law.
Ms Kapata explained that lion hunting should only resume in the 2016/2017 hunting season and not this year.
She, however, said leopard hunting could resume this year 2015/2016 but with very precautionary quotas.
The two-year hunting ban was among others, necessitated by the weak regulatory mechanisms, declining lion populations in some areas due to over-harvesting, hunting of underage lions and depletion of habitats for lion.
Other reasons were the increased lion deaths in human-lion conflicts and lack of solid statistics upon which to base quotas.
The leopard ban was effected due to lack of serious monitoring lapses by ZAWA, which had since been rectified.

Nigeria – PDP National Chairman resigns


PDP National Chairman Mu’azu resigns, Secondus takes over

Alhaji Adamu Mu'azu


The Deputy National Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Uche Secondus, has taken over as the acting National Chairman of the party.

This followed the resignation of the party Chairman, Adamu Muazu, who threw in the towel on Wednesday on health grounds.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, who confirmed this to journalists at the Wadata Plaza secretariat of the party, commended Muazu for his services to the PDP and love for the nation.

He said, “I can confirm that we have received the resignation of the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu. I can confirm that the chairman, who had health challenges, stayed on for the primaries, for the campaigns and the elections and after consultations with his family, and in his personal interest, he had decided to resign.

“This party commends him for his services to the party and for his love for the nation. We wish him well. We will not forget him. In line with the constitution, the  Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has taken charge of the affairs of the party as acting national chairman of the party. The constitution does not recognise a vacuum.”

Metuh said Secondus would be in charge pending when a replacement would be appointed from the North-East.


Embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, on Wednesday resigned from his position.

This was confirmed to The PUNCH by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo, in a telephone interview.

Jalo said, “It is true, Mu’azu has resigned. I can confirm this to you, he resigned today.”

He however declined further comments.

Burundi – police shoot dead soldier during protests


A policeman shouts as he holds his rifle during a clashes with demonstrators during a protest against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term in Bujumbura
Burundi police have clashed with protesters as demonstrations continue

A soldier in Burundi has been shot dead by a policeman during a demonstration in the capital, Bujumbura.

A witness told the BBC the soldier was hit by accident after police starting shooting at demonstrators.

Protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third-term bid have continued despite a ban.

There have been weeks of tension in Burundi after Mr Nkurunziza said he would be a candidate in June’s election.

The shooting happened in the Nyakabiga district of Bujumbura. Police eventually withdrew from parts of the neighbourhood leaving the army to restore order, the BBC’s Andrew Harding reports from the city.

There has not been an easy relationship between the army and the police, with the police resenting the army’s tolerant attitude towards the protests, our correspondent says.

Last week, there was a failed coup against Mr Nkurunziza – senior officials from both the army and police have been arrested and accused of involvement.

President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi speaking to journalists in Bujumbura, 17 May 2015
President Pierre Nkurunziza is seeking a third term which opponents say is unconstitutional

Earlier, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza postponed parliamentary elections due on 26 May for 10 days.

He made the decision after a recommendation from the electoral commission, a spokesman said.

Mr Nkrunziza has been under pressure to delay June’s presidential election, but there has been no mention of that.

The African Union and the EU have called for a postponement of the presidential vote and said there should be dialogue to ease the tension.

Mr Nkurunziza has so far rejected that demand, saying the election will go ahead as planned.

Policemen stand in front of demonstrators during a protest against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 20
Protests against the third-term bid have been taking place since April

Mr Nkurunziza’s critics say the third term contravenes the constitution, which requires him to step down after two terms.

They reject a ruling of Burundi’s Constitutional Court that Mr Nkurunziza’s first term does not count because he was elected by parliament and not voters.

The UN refugee agency says that more than 105,000 people have fled Burundi into neighbouring countries since the conflict started.

Mr Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, has been president since 2005.

Burundi: Key facts

The country is facing its worst turmoil since the 12-year civil war ended in 2005

  • 10.4m population
  • 50 years – life expectancy for a man
  • 2nd poorest country in the world
  • 85% are Hutu, 14% Tutsi
  • 300,000 died in civil war

Zimbabwe – Information Minister says Mnangagwa not odds on to succeed Mugabe

Moyo could be taking his life in his hands baiting the old crocodile.  KS


VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s backers have reacted angrily to Information minister Jonathan Moyo’s statements that the Midlands strongman is not guaranteed to succeed President Robert Mugabe.


Moyo on Monday told BBC’s HardTalk programme that Mnangwagwa was handpicked by Mugabe to merely assist the 91-year-old leader fulfil his mandate — not to succeed him.

The statements have been interpreted to mean that Moyo is not backing Mnangwagwa to succeed Mugabe.

Zanu PF insiders yesterday said the political scientist had touched a raw nerve at a time the ruling party is battling a new wave of infighting blamed on Mugabe’s undecided succession issue.

A Zanu PF politburo member speaking on condition of anonymity said Moyo had crossed the line and should be made to account for his statements.

“Is Moyo the spokesperson for the VP? Is he also Zanu PF spokesperson to talk of succession?

“We are also looking at what motivated the interview in the first place because that has torched a storm in the party,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Moyo was believed to be aligned to a faction that pushed for Vice-President Mujuru’s ouster ahead of the Zanu PF congress last December.

The faction had the blessings of First Lady Grace Mugabe, who led the onslaught against Mujuru through nationwide rallies where Moyo’s ministry was a vital cog.

However, the fluid battle to succeed the long-time ruler appears to have taken a new turn in the post-Mujuru era with a faction backing Mnangwagwa and another one believed to be made up of the so-called Young Turks.

The politburo member — believed to be in Mnangagwa’s camp — said Moyo, who was once suspended from the ruling party for allegedly plotting against Mujuru’s ascendancy, was now a marked man in Zanu PF.

“He (Moyo) seemed too emotional while responding to the question on Mnangagwa (during the interview),” the source said.
“What are his interests? Does he want to compete against Mnangagwa? He must be clear.”

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo refused to comment on the interview and referred questions to Moyo. Moyo was not available for comment yesterday. But former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said Moyo’s statements showed that the battle to succeed Mugabe was turning vicious.

“The utterances show infighting and contradictions within that party. It shows that there is no clear plan of succession,” said Gumbo, who calls himself spokesperson of the “genuine and original” Zanu PF.

“All we want is a guaranteed smooth transition and if what is happening in Zanu PF is anything to go by, we are heading for something else, which I and others were kicked out for. We wanted to ensure stability and continuity in the party. Vultures and people with no history thought otherwise.”

Gumbo’s assertion was backed by political analysts who said Mugabe’s succession was threatening to end badly.

“It will be a nasty period and that is why those who are strategically poised to succeed him are busy strategising for nomination when the time comes,” said University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure. “This is way the struggles are vicious both in the public and private arena.”

Academic Ibbo Mandaza said Zanu PF was at war and Moyo was just parading the internal situation where infighting is incurable.
“Zanu PF as a party is now at war with each other and that is what Professor Moyo was just telling the world,” he said.

“It shows that someone outside Mnangagwa is eyeing Mugabe’s post, but in politics it’s normal.

“It’s going to be a game of who has the muscle and best strategy.”

Mandaza said Moyo’s statements that Mnangwagwa was not guaranteed of succeeding Mugabe were not new, but could be an indication something was brewing.

“It’s significant what he said. He is just repeating what he has said before and if among them someone can say that, it shows something is happening,” he said.

“But I don’t know if it means Mnangagwa will not take over — that is too early to read or analyse.”

Political analyst Alexandra Rusero said Moyo’s statements were a reflection of Mugabe’s thinking that “being a Vice-President is another thing and being a successor is totally different”.

“Moyo is just spelling out what Mugabe might be thinking and making those views public for all to know,” Rusero said.

“It is very simple: What the President is communicating is that you can be a Vice-President and still not be a successor. Look at Mujuru and how she lost it at the 11th hour. So it’s not yet clear on who will take over from the old man. If you don’t take what Moyo said seriously, you are doing yourself a disservice.”

Mugabe has refused to publicly anoint a successor leading to speculation that he wants his wife to take over. The First Lady has since taken a backseat after her stormy entry into politics last year.