Burkina Faso – pro-Compaore coup plot reportedly foiled


ousted Burkina Faso leader, Blaise CompaoreAFP Former President Compaore fled Burkina Faso in 2014 following a mass uprising against his rule

Burkina Faso has foiled a coup plot by forces loyal to ousted President Blaise Compaore, the interior minster says.

At least 10 of the plotters had been arrested, but the top suspects were still on the run, the minister said.

The coup was to have been staged on 8 October, with an attack on the presidential palace, he added.

Forces loyal to the ex-president staged a coup in September 2015, but surrendered a week later after protests and opposition from top generals.

French-educated banker Roch Marc Kabore was elected president in November, ending a turbulent period since Mr Compaore’s overthrow in a popular uprising in 2014.

The latest coup plotters had also planned to attack a prison to free those held over last year’s coup, Interior Minister Simon Compaore said at a press conference in the capital, Ouagadougou.

A man gestures as he stands in front of burning tyres on 19 September 2015 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital.AFP Street protests followed the September 2015 coup

Gen Gilbert Diendere, the head of Blaise Comapore’s presidential guard, was detained for seizing power in September 2015.

He has been charged with 11 crimes including threatening state security, murder, collusion with foreign forces, voluntary assault and wilful destruction of property.

Blaise Compaore, no relation to the interior minister, is exiled in neighbouring Ivory Coast.

He was driven out of power by crowds opposed to his bid to change the constitution to extend his 27-year rule.

He was accused of committing widespread abuses during his rule.

DR Congo – security forces killed at least 48 anti-Kabila protestors


Congolese opposition supporters chant slogans during a march to press President Joseph Kabila to step down in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe/File Photo
By Aaron Ross | KINSHASA

Congolese security services shot, burnt, beat and hacked to death at least 48 civilians and reportedly hired thugs to attack protests last month against the extension of President Joseph Kabila’s mandate, the United Nations said on Friday.

The death toll came from two days of violence in the capital Kinshasa and included four police officers killed by protesters and one other civilian. It was higher than during the 2011 electoral process, the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office in Congo (UNJHRO) said in a report.

Kabila’s chief diplomatic adviser Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi conceded errors by Democratic Republic of Congo’s police and armed forces but said that both were confronted by “looters and stealers and rapists”.

“The reaction was not commensurate to what can be considered acceptable by international standards for a police force,” he told Reuters. “But the fact of the matter is that these policemen and these army officers were in a position of self-defence.”

However, the interior minister denied last week that on-duty security forces opened fire on protesters, who authorities say were conducting an armed insurrection. A government report said 32 people, including three police officers, were killed by protesters or private security guards, or in accidents.

Congo’s main opposition alliance had called for a march on Sept. 19 to demand that Kabila, who has ruled the vast central African country since 2001, step down in December as required by constitutional term limits.

The governing coalition and other smaller parties agreed last week to postpone elections planned for November until April 2018, citing logistical woes registering millions of voters, but most major opposition parties rejected the accord.

Congo has never experienced a peaceful transition of power and international donors fear that the impasse over Kabila’s plans to stay on will lead to widespread bloodletting.

In total, UNJHRO said, there were at least 422 victims of human rights abuses by state agents in Kinshasa between Sept. 19 and 21. “This is clearly outrageous and serves to fuel an already explosive situation in the country,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.

Of the civilians killed, 38 were shot by the police, army and presidential guard and seven were burnt to death by members of the presidential guard, including during an attack on the headquarters of the main opposition party, the report said.

Four police officers were burnt alive or beaten to death by protesters who also looted the headquarters of ruling coalition political parties, according to UNJHRO.

The death toll could be much higher due to the authorities’ restrictions on access to morgues and other facilities, it said.

UNJHRO also said it had received “concordant reports about the distribution by the authorities of machetes and money to about a hundred young men, with a view to disturbing the demonstration.”

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor sent a delegation to Congo this week to urge restraint by all parties in the coming months and warned that human rights abuses could be prosecuted by the court.

Nigeria – EFCC opens fraud case against former air force chief

Premium Times

N22.8 billion fraud: EFCC opens case against ex-Nigeria Air Force chief

The prosecution on Thursday opened the trial of the alleged N22.8 billion fraud against a former Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu, and 10 others in a Federal High Court, Lagos.

Mr. Amosun is charged alongside two other officers of the Air Force, AVM Jacob Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Olugbenga.

Also charged were some companies: Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil and Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd, Trapezites BDC, and Fonds and Pricey Ltd.

The accused are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Mohammed Idris.

They were arraigned on June 26 and had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The judge had granted them bail in the sum of N500 million each with two sureties each in like sum.

At the resumed proceedings, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, called his first witness, Mojeed Olatunji, a compliance officer with Skye bank.

Mr. Olatunji told the court that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) had an account numbered 1750013097 with Skye Bank.

He said the account had as its signatories as at January 28, 2014, Air Commodore J. Adigun, Air Commodore O. Gbadebo and Group Capt. B. Ifeobu

He said that Messrs Adigun, Gbadebo and Ifeobu were those who had the mandate on the account and on whose instruction monies were withdrawn.

Armed with the statement of the said NAF’s account with Skye Bank, Mr. Olatunji took the court through a number of inflow and outflow of cash transactions carried out on the account.

For example, he told the court how N2.4 billion was credited into the account on September 11, 2014 and how this was followed by a debit transaction of N959.7 million, N893.2 million and N556.3 million, respectively.

The witness said that the debit was in favour of the NAF Special Emergency Operation account.

Justice Idris further adjourned trial till October 21.

The charges against the accused border on conspiracy, stealing and money laundering.

In one of the counts, the accused were said to have indirectly converted N3.6 billion belonging to the Nigerian Air force to their own use.

In another instance, the EFCC alleged that Mr. Amosun and the others stole over N323 million from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force between March 21, 2014 and March 12, 2015.

The commission said the alleged theft was for the purpose of purchasing for themselves a property situated at No.1, River Street, Wuse II, Abuja.

The alleged offences contravened Section18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.


South Africa starting process of withdrawing from International Criminal Court

Mail and Guardian

A begins process to withdraw from International Criminal Court

International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

South Africa is withdrawing from the International Criminal Court, according to a document seen by Reuters on Thursday, a move which would take effect one year after notice is formally received by United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

A UN spokesperson declined to confirm receipt of the document, which is signed by Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and dated October 19.

“The Republic of South Africa has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court,” according to the document.

The South African mission to the United Nations was not immediately available to comment on the document.

The International Criminal Court, which opened in July 2002 and has 124 member states, is the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Burundi appeared set to become the first state to withdraw from the Rome Statute, the 1998 treaty establishing the global court, after its parliament voted last week to leave. President Pierre Nkurunziza signed a decree on Tuesday, but the United Nations has not yet been officially notified.

South Africa said a year ago that it planned to leave the International Criminal Court after its government faced criticism for ignoring a court order to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is accused of genocide and war crimes, when he visited the country last year.

Several African countries have expressed concern that the focus of The Hague-based court has been on Africa rather than elsewhere in the world.

“The Republic of South Africa is committed to fight impunity and to bring those who commit atrocities and international crimes to justice and as a founding member of the African Union promotes international human rights and the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the African continent,” the document said.

“In complex and multi-faceted peace negotiations and sensitive post-conflict situations, peace and justice must be viewed as complementary and not mutually exclusive,” the South African document said.  – Reuters


South Africa ‘to withdraw from war crimes court’

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Photo: 11 October 2016AFP/GETTY IMAGES Omar al-Bashir was in South Africa for a meeting of African Union leaders in 2015

South Africa has formally begun the process of withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), media reports say.

They say diplomats have notified the UN of the move, accusing the ICC of bias against African countries.

Last year, South Africa refused to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide and war crimes.

He was attending an African Union summit in Johannesburg.

Mr Bashir denies allegations he committed atrocities in Sudan’s troubled western Darfur region.

Several media outlets say they have obtained a copy of the “Instrument of Withdrawal”, signed by South Africa’s foreign minister.

“The Republic of South Africa has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court,” the document says.

Neither South Africa nor the UN have officially confirmed the media reports.

There are also conflicting legal opinions as to whether South Africa can leave the ICC without parliamentary approval.

‘Runaway train’

Human Rights Watch criticised the reported move.

“South Africa’s proposed withdrawal from the International Criminal Court shows startling disregard for justice from a country long seen as a global leader on accountability for victims of the gravest crimes,” said Dewa Mavhinga, the NGO’s Africa division senior researcher.

“It’s important both for South Africa and the region that this runaway train be slowed down and South Africa’s hard-won legacy of standing with victims of mass atrocities be restored,” Mr Mavhinga said.

South African President Jacob Zuma and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta - 11 OctoberEPA Last week President Zuma met his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, against whom an ICC prosecution failed

Last year, South African warned it might leave the ICC.

The reported move to leave comes a week after the South African President Jacob Zuma visited Kenya, a country that has been highly critical of the ICC ever since the prosecutor charged its President Uhuru Kenyatta with crimes against humanity.

He denied the charges, and the trial later collapsed due to lack of evidence.

Two weeks ago Burundi became the first country to express its intent to pull out of the ICC – a decision described by the court as “a setback in the fight against impunity”.

Previously, the African Union has urged member states not to co-operate with the ICC, accusing it of bias against Africa.

The 124-member ICC opened in 2002. It is the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

South Africa’s foreign policy priorities – it’s the economy and looking east

Institute for Security Studies (Tshwane)

National economic interests are, according to the president, the country’s most pressing foreign policy imperatives.

Every two years, South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) summons its ambassadors and high commissioners from all over the world to Pretoria for the Heads of Mission Conference. This is more than just a chance for the country’s top diplomats to network and renew acquaintances; it is also an opportunity for the department to set South Africa’s international agenda for the next two years.

This is also where diplomats are instructed how the country should be represented abroad, and what South Africa’s foreign policy priorities really are. Given that it is not always easy to independently establish those priorities, it is a unique opportunity to peek behind South Africa’s diplomatic curtain.

The conference comes at an important time. With President Jacob Zuma under huge domestic pressure – facing corruption scandals and allegations of ‘state capture’ – the job of ambassadors is becoming tougher than ever.

‘South Africa used to be the poster child for constitutional democracy. But it’s getting harder for South African diplomats to sell a positive story about the country. Zuma is our biggest embarrassment, but there are many others,’ said Anton du Plessis, Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies.

‘South Africa is losing the moral legitimacy that enabled it to punch above its weight in recent years. This reputational damage makes it much trickier for South Africa to continue to shape global governance, and influence key security and human rights decisions.

‘It also makes us less attractive on the economic investment front because of the unpredictability of our foreign policy and political leadership. Brand SA is in tatters,’ Du Plessis said.

Zuma delivered a rather different message in his keynote address at the conference, which veered off the prepared text. He painted a picture of South Africa as a moral and political heavyweight on the international stage, and a role model for other African nations. ‘There is a good story to tell about this country… The African countries look up to South Africa. And that is not a theory, that is what they say, and correctly so, because South Africa is the biggest economy on the continent.’

Economic concerns were far and away the major focus of Zuma’s speech. His message was unequivocal: when it comes to South Africa’s relations with the rest of the globe, it’s all about the money.

Referring to diplomats as ‘our foremost marketing and promotion officers,’ Zuma said several times that economic diplomacy is South Africa’s ‘apex priority.’ For ambassadors, this means that their most important role is to promote the country as an attractive investment destination.

‘You need to continue to position our country positively, and help us to grow the economy through global economic partnerships. Keep our country brand alive and visible everywhere you are… Our heads of mission need to promote various sectors of our economy to host countries.’

This represents a more hard-nosed foreign policy than that espoused by either Nelson Mandela or Thabo Mbeki, who publicly framed South Africa’s diplomatic engagements in the context of its international and moral obligations. They concentrated more on peace and security, pan-Africanism and human rights rather than national economic interests (this was the discourse, anyway; the reality may have been somewhat different).

In fact, Zuma did not mention a single current peace and security issue, and framed South Africa’s engagement in Africa in almost exclusively economic terms, despite the country’s active presence in several peacekeeping missions.

Zuma emphasised, however, that economic growth must be inclusive, and told diplomats to ensure that potential investors were aware of South Africa’s transformation goals. He praised China as a model of economic inclusivity, speaking at length about how China has raised 80 million people out of poverty (that’s Zuma’s figure. According to the World Bank, the number is much larger: 800 million people since 1978). The sub-text of this was unmistakeable: that South Africa should look east rather than west for policy inspiration.

When it comes to multilateral relations, Zuma reiterated the importance of two institutions: BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and the G20. In both, South Africa is the only African member state. This represents a subtle but nonetheless important policy shift away from broader organisations such as the African Union and United Nations, and towards smaller, more nimble institutions in which South Africa can play a more major role.

‘Therefore, for SA to be part of [these groupings] is absolutely an important thing. [They] take very serious decisions that are beginning to influence the world. As a representative, it’s important to know this – not to boast about it, but to discuss when asked,’ said Zuma.

Judging from the president’s emphases, these are South Africa’s most pressing foreign policy imperatives: attracting foreign investment, cosying up to China, and maintaining its position as the sole African representative in BRICS and the G20.

But of course, Zuma could not escape his own domestic issues and was forced to address both the recent student protests and criticism of his own leadership.

On the former, Zuma argued that the government supported the students’ aims, but not the violence employed by some factions, and is in the process of finding a solution to their demand for free tertiary education. On the latter, Zuma told his diplomats that they should use the contested political space to highlight South Africa’s strength as a democracy.

‘You make mistakes, you are punished for it. You learn how not to make mistakes so that you’ll never lose one day. That’s democracy. I can’t explain it in any other way, that’s life. As a representative of this country that is highly praised, tell people that that is what democracy is all about,’ the president said.

He’s not wrong. South Africa’s vibrant, noisy democracy has long made the country a beacon of democratic progress in the world, even if – especially if – it eventually forces Zuma out of office. While Zuma wants the country’s diplomats to talk up its economic potential, democracy may still be South Africa’s biggest selling point.

Simon Allison, ISS consultant

South Sudan – President Kiir set to establish more states

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, will soon issue another controversial order to increase the number of states from 28 states to undisclosed number, according to his second deputy and longtime ally.

JPEG - 38.2 kb
South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, delivers a speech in the capital, Juba, on 10 June 2013 (Reuters)

Speaking after Tuesday’s meeting, Vice President, James Wani Igga, flanked by the controversially newly appointed First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, said the presidency has agreed to increase the number of states but will soon start with the issue of Malakal and Lol state as the first priority.

Malakal, is a contested capital between West Nile and East Nile states, but which was given to the East Nile by the presidential decree in October last year. Lol is another controversial state in Bahr el Ghazal region.

The two places, according to the Vice President in a statement broadcast by the state owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC), are where communities have protested either splits, asserting the order had divided their communities or have been annexed to communities with whom they share nothing in common in that they would prefer to remain alone.

“We have resolved and agreed to increase the number of states but the first thing is the issue of Raja and Malakal. A committee has been formed under the First Vice President and this committee will have to complete their work and report back to the President within seven days,” revealed Vice President, Igga.

He did not say how many more states will be added to the already controversial 28 states.

The two issues the presidency had discussed and resolved, he further added, were the reinstatement of the civil servants who either abandoned their positions or rebelled, either in Juba or in the states, when the conflict erupted in 2013.

The other issue was the issue of cantonment sites for the opposition forces of the SPLA-IO. Two cantonment sites, he said, will be in central Equatoria, one in Eastern Equatoria and another in Western Equatoria.


Dr Congo-ICC – Bemba and associates

Bemba Trial Website/allAfrica

Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba alongside four associates, who include two of his former defense lawyers, have been convicted in the witness bribery trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Their sentences will be announced at a later date.

Upon conviction for offenses against the administration of justice covered by Article 70 of the court’s Rome Statute, judges may impose a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, a fine, or both. Today judges ordered that those convicted, besides Bemba, would remain on conditional release pending the determination of their penalties.

Bemba and his former lawyers Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo were found guilty of corruptly influencing 14 witnesses – D-2, D-3, D-4, D-6, D-13, D-15, D-23, D-25, D-26, D-29, D-54, D-55, D-57, and D-64 – and presenting their false evidence before the court.

Furthermore, Kilolo was found guilty of inducing the giving of false testimony by the 14 witnesses, while Bemba was additionally convicted for soliciting the giving of false testimony. The judges also determined that Mangenda aided in the giving of false testimony by two witnesses and abetted the giving of false testimony by seven witnesses. Mangenda was acquitted of charges of aiding the giving of false testimony by five witnesses.

Congolese Member of Parliament Fidèle Babala Wandu, who is Bemba’s close confidante, was found guilty of aiding in corruptly influencing two witnesses but acquitted of similar charges in relation to 12 witnesses. Babala was also acquitted of charges of aiding in giving false evidence and presenting false evidence.

Meanwhile, Narcisse Arido, a former soldier in the Central African Republic (CAR), was found guilty of corruptly influencing three witnesses but acquitted on charges of aiding in presentation of false evidence and in aiding the giving of false testimony.

 The false testimony mostly related to claims by witnesses that they served in the army of the CAR, or in rebel forces, during 2002-2003 when Bemba’s troops were in that country helping the government to fight back a coup attempt. These witnesses claimed Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) troops were not responsible for the crimes committed during the conflict and that the Congolese troops fell under command of Central African generals.

Judges determined that Bemba, Kilolo, and Mangenda jointly agreed to illicitly interfere with defense witnesses to ensure they would provide evidence in favor of Bemba. They “adopted a series of measures with a view to concealing their illicit activities, such as the abuse of the Registry’s privileged line in the ICC Detention Center, or money transfers to defense witnesses through third persons or to persons close to the defense.”

They said Kilolo and Mangenda secretly distributed new telephones to defense witnesses without the knowledge of the Registry and in breach of the cut-off date for contacts imposed by judges so that Kilolo could stay in contact with them. “They also used coded language when speaking on the telephone, making reference to persons by using codes, or using particular expressions… signifying the bribing or illicit coaching of witnesses,” states the summary judgement issued today.

Today’s ruling brings to eight the number of individuals convicted by the court since its founding in 2002. Those previously convicted are Thomas Lubanga, Germain Katanga, Ahmed Al Faqi Al Mahdi, and Bemba. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, a former leader of a Congolese militia group, has hitherto been the only person acquitted by the ICC.