South Sudan – Lam Akol forms new movement

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudan’s former minister of agriculture minister, Lam Akol, has formed a new rebel faction after spending several weeks of consultations with different unarmed and armed opposition parties in the country.

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Lam Akol, chairman of South Sudan’s main opposition party (AFP/Samir Bol Photo)

Akol, according to a statement issued over the weekend and extended to Sudan Tribune has named the new rebel group as National Democratic Movement (NDM) and said that his aim is to overthrow by all means the government of South Sudan under the leadership of President Salva Kiir.

“The National Democratic Movement was born to wage the struggle, together with others in the field, against the totalitarian, corrupt and ethnocentric regime in Juba that is bent on dragging our country into the abyss,” the statement reads in part.

Akol, who previously chaired the Democratic Change Party (DCP) said he resigned and left the party last month because the members and the other leaders of the DCP believed in peaceful dialogue and non-violence as the only means to bring about change in South Sudan.

He described his new rebel faction as a front bringing together the social and democratic political forces as well as civil society activists, who want the political discourse in the country to be centred on the “transformation of the centuries-old conditions of extreme poverty, ignorance, illiteracy and cultural backwardness of the masses of our people.”

The movement, it explained, is founded on the principles and concept of national democratic revolution based on the core values of freedom, equality, justice and fraternity, and solidarity anchored in historical and philosophical perspectives. These values, it stressed, translate into fundamental rights and freedoms as provided for in the UN Conventions of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The political statement of the NDM set out in details what the NDM stands for and how to rid the people of the totalitarian ethnocentric regime in Juba and replace it with a pro-people inclusive government.

“It must be clear from the outset, the NDM is not just for change of personalities in Juba to replace them with others of the same feathers; it is out for a radical change in the country that will bring about genuine state-building and nation-building,” it emphasized.

He also said his new faction will closely work with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) under the leadership of the former First Vice President, Riek Machar.

It is not clear from whether the prominent politician will get military forces for his new faction.

(ST)

Zimbabwe-Botswana – Mugabe attacks Khama over resignation comments

Al Jazeera

Botswana president called for Robert Mugabe to step down in comments that earned the wrath of the Zimbabwean government.

President Mugabe is under increasing pressure to step down as the country's economy worsens [AP]
President Mugabe is under increasing pressure to step down as the country’s economy worsens [AP]

Zimbabwe’s government has hit back at Botswana’s President Ian Khama following his comments asking President Robert Mugabe to step down.

Khama, in an interview with Reuters news agency on Wednesday, said Mugabe should step aside without delay for the sake of Zimbabwe and the region, comments that “shocked” officials in Zimbabwe.

“The government of Zimbabwe is shocked by this uncharacteristic behaviour on the part of President Khama. It is taboo in African etiquette and diplomacy,” Zimbabwe’s Information Minister Chris Mushohwe said in a statement on Friday.

“We sincerely hope that this will be the last time Botswana’s leader opens his mouth to bad-mouth President Mugabe and fellow African leaders. Why should President Mugabe be removed from office unconstitutionally as President Khama’s sentiments seem to suggest?”

Zimbabwe has been hit hard by anti-government protests as citizens express dissatisfaction over the economy [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]

Khama had said Zimbabwe needed new leadership to deal with a political and economic implosion that has dragged down the whole of Southern Africa since 2000.

“It is obvious that at his [Mugabe’s] age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he’s not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament,” Khama said.

“They have got plenty of people there who have got good leadership qualities who could take over.”

Botswana is home to an estimated 100,000 Zimbabweans – a fraction of the three million believed to be in South Africa – although this is still enough to strain public services in a nation of 2.3 million people.

It has felt the full effects of its neighbour’s economic collapse under the weight of political violence and hyperinflation.

Although Zimbabwe’s economy stabilised in 2009 with the scrapping of the Zimbabwe dollar, a slump in commodity prices over the last two years has triggered a cash crunch, raising discontent in the country.

Factions of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party are locked in a bitter struggle to succeed the only leader Zimbabwe has known, but no clear potential successor has emerged.

Zimbabwe has been hit hard by anti-government protests over the past month.

Protesters have been calling on Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, to step down.

Source: Agencies

How threatened are Africa’s elephants – BBC view

BBC

New report confirms grim outlook for elephants

Elephant (file image)
The illegal trade in ivory has seen elephant numbers plummet

Elephant populations in Africa have declined by around 111,000 over the past 10 years according to a new study.

The African Elephant Status report says that poaching is the main driver of the fall, the worst losses in 25 years.

However the authors say that long-term issues such as the loss of habitat also pose a significant threat.

The report has been presented at the Cites meeting which is considering new proposals on elephant protection.


War on elephants – Alastair Leithead, Africa correspondent

A dead elephant
The growing demand for ivory in Asian markets means the illegal trade continues to threaten the future of elephants in Africa
  • Every year in Africa between 30,000 and 40,000 elephants are poached for their ivory, and it’s thought there are only 400,000 left.
  • Even accounting for the newborns, this rate of killing calls into question whether these amazing creatures will still be around in a generation, especially as Africa’s ever-increasing population is reducing the space for them.
  • Organised crime runs the ivory industry.

Extract from The War on Elephants; article on how the very existence of Africa’s elephants is threatened by poachers

More from Alastair:

Why elephants are seeking refuge in Botswana

Shocking reduction in Africa’s elephant numbers


Wide range of sources

Figures published earlier this year in the Great Elephant Census indicated that African elephant populations had declined by around 30% over the past seven years.

This new study from conservation group IUCN incorporates this information but also uses data from elephant dung counts and individual observations amongst other sources.

The authors say the overall total for elephants in Africa is now around 415,000, although there may be an additional 117,000 to 135,000 in areas not systematically surveyed.

This represents a decline of some 111,000 from the report carried out in 2006.

Map
Image captionPercentage change estimates are per year for 2010-2014, so total losses are three or four times the percentages indicated on the graphic

Poaching is the main driver of the drop. East Africa, the region most affected by killings for ivory, has experienced around a 50% reduction in numbers.

However it is not the only cause of concern to the authors.

“We are particularly concerned about major infrastructure projects that are cutting up the elephant ranges, this is a particular problem for road development in central and east Africa,” said Dr Chris Thouless, one of the report’s authors.

“These are all major issues that will have to be dealt with once the poaching crisis is over.”

Community conservation

While report highlights the losses there are also some gains.

Elephant populations in South Africa, Namibia and Uganda have all increased. Elephant ranges have expanded in Kenya and Botswana, with community based conservation showing real success in Northern Kenya.

Map

While these are positives, the overall picture is one of dramatic decline, fuelled by criminal activity that would decimate these giant creatures, if continued.

“Larger quantities of illegal ivory are leaving Africa than ever before,” said Ginette Hemley from WWF.

“The transnational crime syndicates driving the slaughter must be dismantled, and consumer demand for ivory cannot persist if we hope to secure a safe future for elephants.”

The report comes as the Cites meeting here in Johannesburg is facing significant division on how to handle the poaching crisis.

Talks on extra protections for elephants will begin on Monday with a number of countries led by Kenya seeking extra protection.

Others, including Namibia and Zimbabwe, are seeking to liberalise the safeguards and open up a trade in ivory. Another proposal here, which might garner more support, is aimed at ending all domestic markets in ivory. The meeting continues until 5 October.

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc and on Facebook.

South Africa – ANCYL attacks Mantashe over student fees comments

News24

2016-09-26 08:08

ANC Youth League president Collen Maine (Amanda Khoza, News24)

ANC Youth League president Collen Maine (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Johannesburg – ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe must watch what he says when speaking on the current wave of fees must fall protests, ANC Youth League president Collen Maine warned on Sunday.

“His comments were reckless,” Maine told journalists at the ANC’s national headquarters in Johannesburg.

Maine along with other leaders addressed the media following a two day national executive committee meeting. The league discussed a number of matters, including students’ calls for free education.

The young lions rejected the proposed fee hikes announced by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, saying Mantashe needed to be careful on what he communicated.

The ANC SG was reported last week to have said that if he was in Nzimande’s position he would close institutions of higher learning.

“My first reaction would be to close them. For 16 months. And open them after six months, and close the residences for six months. After a year, people will know higher education will be important for their future. You are not doing anyone a favour by studying.”

But Maine, addressing Mantashe in his personal capacity, said he needed to appreciate the responsibility bestowed upon him by the ruling party.

“Once you are the SG of the ANC making such reckless statements, it can’t be. It’s lack of appreciation of implementation of the resolutions,” said Maine.

The ANC’s Zizi Kodwa said he would not respond to the league’s comments in public.

“The ANC Youth League shares the same building as the ANC. It’s a unit of the ANC, if they have any issue with the ANC instead of responding and attacking the leadership of the ANC in public, the doors of the ANC, including the SG, are always open. We are looking forward to meeting with them to understand exactly what it is they are saying,” he told News24.

Read more on:    anc  |  ancyl  |  gwede mantashe  |  collen maine  |  politics  |  university fees  |  university protests

Nigeria – man claiming to be Shekau releases video taunting military

Reuters

Man purporting to be Boko Haram leader taunts Nigerian military in video

By Ardo Abdullahi | BAUCHI, NIGERIA

The purported leader of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau appeared in a video posted on social media on Sunday in which he rejected statements by the country’s military that he had been seriously wounded.

In recent years, the Nigerian military has said it has killed or critically wounded Shekau on multiple occasions, often swiftly followed by video denials by someone who says he is Shekau. Last month Nigeria’s air force said it had killed senior Boko Haram members and that Shekau had been wounded.

While the ensuing videos all show someone sporting Shekau’s distinctive beard, the grainy quality of the footage means it is not always possible to confirm if the person is the same as in the previous videos.

“You broadcast the news and published it in your media outlets that you injured me and killed me and here I am,” said a man purporting to be Shekau in a video addressed to “tyrants of Nigeria in particular and the west of Africa in general”.

“I will not get killed until my time comes,” he added in the 40-minute video posted on YouTube and delivered in Arabic and Hausa, which is spoken widely in northern Nigeria.

A statement issued by army spokesman Sani Usman said the footage showed that the man purporting to be Shekau was “unstable” and came as “another sign that the end is near for him”.

“Boko Haram terrorism as it was known, is gone for good. We are just counting down to the day when all the few remnants will be totally wiped out or brought to justice,” he said.

The statement did not explicitly say whether the army considered the man in the video to be Shekau.

Last month’s announcement by the air force came days after Islamic State, to whom Boko Haram pledged allegiance last year, announced the appointment of a new leader of the West African group in an apparent rejection of Shekau.

That appointment was later dismissed in a 10-minute audio clip on social media by a man purporting to be Shekau, exposing divisions within the jihadist group that has plagued Nigeria and neighbours Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Boko Haram has killed about 15,000 people and displaced more than 2 million in a seven-year insurgency aimed at creating a state adhering to strict Islamic laws.

It controlled a swathe of land in northeast Nigeria around the size of Belgium at the end of 2014 but was pushed out by Nigerian troops, aided by soldiers from neighbouring countries, early last year.

In a sign the group remains capable of inflicting damage, Usman said four Nigerian soldiers were killed and 16 others were injured on Sunday when they were ambushed by Boko Haram fighters during a patrol in the northeastern state of Borno. He said three militants were killed.

It comes hours after two security sources told Reuters in Chad that suspected militants killed four Chadian troops and wounded six overnight in an attack near the town of Kaiga.

They added that seven of the Islamist militants had been killed in return fire.

(Additional reporting by Muath Freij in Jordan and Madjiasra Nako in N’Djamena and Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Tim Cocks; Editing by David Goodman and Sandra Maler)

Nigeria – transcript of Boko Haram leader Shekau

Premium Times

shekau-new-picture

In what is clearly a defiance to the Nigerian government, the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, vowed not to release the abducted Chibok girls unless his captured members were released by government agencies.

In the 39 minutes video posted on YouTube Saturday, Mr. Shekau also asked the Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to ‘repent’ and follow the ways of the Boko Haram.

Mr. Shekau, who spoke for 27 minutes in Arabic reading from a prepared script, called Mr. Buhari a cow worshiper and a liar.

He also said that until his captured members were released, parents of the Chibok girls should forget about their children.

In the speech, he criticized the use of National Anthem and the National pledge in schools claiming they were ways of making children unbelievers.

“You teach your children the National Anthem in schools morning and evening which is a way of making them unbelievers from school,” he said in Arabic, after which he recited the National Anthem in English. “So also the National Pledge, that also is done morning and evening. They are made to pledge to something other than Allah. And that is not Islam,” he added in Arabic after which he recited the National pledge in English.

He also accused the “West” of introducing secular education, sports and music as a way to deny Muslims time to read their Quran.

“The non-Believers studied the Quran and realized that if the Muslims of the world recite and understand the Quran they will be united. So they introduce some programmes so that they will not have time for the Quran. The programmes include secular education, sports and music. And as a result of that today, many Muslims lost their Islam while others who claim to be Muslims have lost traces of Islam in the name of being educated,” the terror group’s leader said.

The 27-minute Arabic speech basically involved a lot of quotes of the Quran and Hadith, which he interpreted to justify his groups actions and motives.

Speaking in Hausa after the long speech in Arabic, Mr. Shekau warned President Buhari of the likeliness of betrayal from Nigerians. He called Mr. Buhari an unbeliever and a liar.

Read the full text of his speech in Hausa below

“My brothers in Islam, what I want to tell you in Hausa is, all of you unbelievers in Nigeria, Buhari and your likes and Idris Deby ( the President of Chad) with his goat-like eyes and the people of Niger, Africa, and the entire world, listen to me now. I am alive and healthy. But you should know that were my days of living over, you wouldn’t have seen me here.

“So many people live even when they are wanted dead, and so also people die when they should have lived.

“Prophet Muhammad (SAW) have been tested with similar hatred because of the religion of Allah.

“Keep doing all your evil planning with Benjamin Netanyahu (Israeli Prime Minister), keep doing all your evil planning with John Kerry (U.S. Secretary of State), keep doing all your evil planning with Ban Ki Moon (UN Secretary General), keep doing all your evil planning with the people of Geneva. Anything you are planning is not up to one house of a spider. And that is what I believe and stand for and what I intend to tell the world.

“We are not sociologist, we are Quranists, and we follow the Hadith and those who came before us.

“We are fools as people but the Quran is what is guiding us and that is why you couldn’t defeat us and we are sure of that.

“Don’t think you can oppress us with your fighter jets. The Allah we worship lives above your jets and you think you can defeat us knowing fully that it that Allah we worship.

“So you think democracy is a religion. All of you the Hausa people in Nigeria, The Kanuri People in Nigeria and Miyetti Allah (A Fulani association of cattle rearers).

“Buhari you are worshiping cows, you better worship Allah. You think you are a general in the Army but you should know that Allah have said that you are not up the house of a spider in his eyes. What we believe in is the Quran and we do not know 2anything apart from that. Anytime we say Allah all of you will not live in peace.

It is Allah that we believe and trust that makes us live till this day and doing very well in our quest.

“Oh my brother, anywhere you are you should turn to the Quran, turn to the Hadith of the prophet, anywhere you are turn to Allah.

“Prophet Muhammad forbade us from using any plate used by a Jew without washing it first. He also forbade you from wearing the dress of the Jews.

“Buhari, all your actions are fake. You are lying to the people, collecting their money and saying you will free their children and you know you are lying.

“Buhari, Buhari, your people will soon betray you for all this lies.

“I am talking to you Buhari, sit back and think carefully. It is not this small Shekau that is disturbing you. No. It is Allah that is doing everything for us, continue and see.

“You deceived the people and you think you are doing the right thing.

“Continue and see, one day you will not even be able to go to the toilet and stool. But if you repent, then you are a brother. Repent and follow the Quran.

“Buhari let me advise you now, fear Allah.

“People of Chibok, let me tell you today, you still have to prepare for a longer Bring Back Our girls campaign.

“If you want your girls, bring back our brothers.

“(Bragging) This is the same Shekau and I am good and healthy.

“The people of Kano you are in trouble. The Sokoto people have betrayed Usman Danfodio and they must repent.

“People of Kaduna and El-Zakzaky (detained Shiite leader in Nigeria), you should repent. And all of you, the followers of Tijjaniya (a sect in Islam), you should repent.

Nigeria – Niger Delta Avengers attack despite ceasefire

Reuters

Niger Delta Avengers claim first attack in energy hub since ceasefire

Nigerian militant group the Niger Delta Avengers said on Saturday it had carried out its first oil pipeline attack in the country’s southern energy hub since declaring a break in hostilities in August to pursue talks with the government.

The Avengers have previously launched attacks that have reduced the OPEC member’s crude oil production by around a third from the 2.1 million barrels per day average at the start of the year.

The group said in a statement on its website that it had “brought down oil production activities at the Bonny 48 inches crude oil export line” in an attack on Friday night.

An Avengers spokesman said in an emailed statement later that the attack took place in the sea near Bonny island in Rivers State, the location of a number of oil facilities. Reuters was not immediately able to independently verify the details.

The group, which wants a greater share of the OPEC member’s wealth to go to the Niger Delta where most of the country’s crude is produced, said the attack was a “wake up call” for the government and accused it of intimidating young people in the region since the ceasefire began.

“While we were promised that the concerns of the Niger Delta will be addressed once a truce is declared, the activities of the government and her agents are not assuring enough, there has been no progress,” the group said.

But it added that it was still in favour of dialogue and negotiations. Earlier this month the Avengers told Reuters they had had no contact with the government since agreeing to halt hostilities.

An army offensive launched in late August against militant camps has raised tensions in the region amid claims, denied by the military, that troops have harassed locals.

Separately, the army said a soldier had been killed and two others were missing following an attack early on Saturday elsewhere in the region on troops by suspected militants from a different group.

Army spokesman Sani Usman said suspected militants linked to the Bakassi Strike Force attacked troops in Bakassi in Cross River State, about 100 miles (160 kilometres) away from the area in Rivers where the Avengers said they had carried out an attack.

“A soldier was killed in action, while two soldiers were missing in action,” said Usman.

(Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram and Tife Owolabi, in Yenagoa; Editing by Andrew Bolton and Hugh Lawson)