Category Archives: East Africa

Mozambique budgets for huge deficit after loss of aid


Thu Dec 8, 2016
Fishing boats sit beneath the skyline of Mozambique's capital Maputo, April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Grant Lee Neuenburg/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Mozambique plans state spending of a third more than budgeted revenue in 2017 and to cover the shortfall with domestic and foreign loans, state news agency AIM quoted Finance Minister Adriano Maleiane as saying on Wednesday.

The country budgeted for a deficit of 11 percent of GDP this year, high by international standards, at a time when it had the financial support of the International Monetary Fund.

But the Fund and other donors suspended assistance earlier this year after the emergence of more than $2 billion in loans that were not approved by parliament or disclosed publicly, sending the metical currency into freefall.

That, and steep declines in commodity prices, have sharply slowed growth in one of Africa’s poorest economies.

Maleiane said next year’s spending would total 272 billion meticais ($3.74 billion).

He pegged state revenue at $2.5 billion, which indicated the deficit would narrow next year. Mozambican economic output totalled $15.6 billion in 2013, according to the latest available World Bank figures.

An IMF official said last month the Fund might agree a new aid programme early next year if the government renegotiated loans with creditors and allowed an independent debt audit. [nL8N1D32D5]

Maleiane said spending on education would account for 23 percent of next year’s budget while infrastructure, which was ravaged by a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992, would cover 18 percent, AIM reported.

Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, emerged from that war to become one of Africa’s best-performing economies, with annual growth averaging around 8 percent between 1996 and 2008.

Uganda and ICC – LRA’s Ongwen on trial for rape, abduction and crimes against humanity

Star (Nairobi)

Dec. 06, 2016, 6:00 pm

Dominic Ongwen, a senior commander in the Lord's Resistance Army, whose fugitive leader Kony is one of the world's most-wanted war crimes suspects, is flanked by two security guards as he sits in the court room of the International Court in The Hague, Netherlands, December 6, 2016. /REUTERS
Dominic Ongwen, a senior commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, whose fugitive leader Kony is one of the world’s most-wanted war crimes suspects, is flanked by two security guards as he sits in the court room of the International Court in The Hague, Netherlands, December 6, 2016. /REUTERS

An alleged senior commander in the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army was notorious among his fellow soldiers for enslaving and raping particularly young girls, beating those who resisted, the International Criminal Court was told on Tuesday.

Addressing judges at the start of the trial, the court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the fact that Dominic Ongwen was himself a victim of LRA leader Joseph Kony’s campaign of child kidnapping was at most a mitigating circumstance.

Describing harrowing acts of sexual violence, Bensouda said Ongwen had raped one child victim vaginally and anally.

“To quiet her when she wept and screamed he threatened her with his bayonet,” Bensouda told the court, citing the witness’s statement.

The prosecutor quoted another witness describing children as young as six receiving military training, so small “that the muzzles of their AK-47 rifles dragged along the ground”.

Bensouda also played extracts from intercepted radio traffic in which a rebel she identified as Ongwen confirmed massacring a group of civilians.

Ongwen, who says he was abducted as a teenager and pressed into service in the late 1980s, faces 70 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in northern Uganda.

He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

“It was the LRA who abducted and killed people in northern Uganda, and I am one of the people against whom the LRA committed atrocities,” he said in his native Acholi, speaking through an interpreter.

Dressed in a sober suit, Ongwen appeared unsure of his surroundings. Asked to stand, he rose only after the guards surrounding him interpreted the order with hand gestures.

He was indicted by the global court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2005 alongside Kony, who is still at large, and three other commanders now believed dead.

Waging a rebellion against Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the LRA earned a reputation for massacres, mutilating civilians and mass kidnapping of children to serve as fighters and sex slaves from the late 1980s onwards.

Ongwen gave himself up last year after a decade on the run. Prosecutors accuse him of being the commander of the LRA’s Sinia Brigade and being responsible for a series of attacks on civilians from October 2003 to June 2004.

The LRA left Uganda after a military offensive by Kampala and has since roamed across lawless parts of Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic, eluding international efforts to defeat it.

UN says South Sudan conflict has given rise to horrific sexual violence


By Katharine Houreld | NAIROBI

South Sudanese soldiers brutally raped an elderly woman and a pregnant woman lost her baby after being gang-raped by seven soldiers, according to United Nations investigators.

The U.N. human rights investigators presented the testimonies on Friday, saying increasingly brutal attacks on women are an integral part of spreading ethnic cleansing. They said the violence could spill into genocide.

“The scale of gang rape of civilian women as well as the horrendous nature of the rapes by armed men belonging to all groups is utterly repugnant,” said the chairwoman of the U.N. independent commission on human rights, Yasmin Sooka.

“Women are bearing the brunt of this war along with their children … rape is one of the tools being used for ethnic cleansing.”

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011 and had a brief period of celebration before ethnic tensions erupted amid allegations of widespread corruption.

In December 2013, fighting broke out months after President Salva Kiir, from the Dinka ethnic group, sacked vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer.

The sporadic fighting has increasingly taken on ethnic dimensions. Many of the smaller tribes accuse the Dinka of targeting them. Rebels have also targeted Dinka.

Women across the country were being subjected to sexual slavery, tied to trees and gang-raped or passed from house to house by soldiers, said Sooka, who said rebels were also committing atrocities.

Three in five women in U.N.-administered “protection of civilian” sites around the capital Juba experienced rape or sexual assault, according to a 2016 report by the U.N. Population Fund. The sites are meant to offer safe shelter for civilians.

Government officials and commanders on all sides had a legal duty to prevent their soldiers from preying on civilians, said Sooka’s colleague Kenneth Scott, a former prosecutor.

“Commanders, officers will be held accountable for failing to exercise command and control,” he said, warning failure to prevent atrocities could result in prosecution.

The shaky 2015 peace agreement that was supposed to end the latest round of fighting provided for a hybrid court to be set up with responsibilities divided between the African Union and South Sudan, but progress on setting it up was “very slow”, Scott said.

South Sudanese officials were not available to comment on the investigators’ findings, but on Thursday, Kiir told Reuters that no ethnic cleansing was taking place in South Sudan. The military has repeatedly denied targeting civilians.

Scott said the government had had almost “no reaction” to the commission’s findings.

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

UN warns over ethnic cleansing in South Sudan

Al Jazeera

Fighting between government and rebels has seen deliberate starvation, gang rape, and the burning of villages.

A UN commission on human rights in South Sudan has said a steady process of ethnic cleansing is under way in the country, involving massacres, starvation, gang rape and the destruction of villages.

On Wednesday, three commission members who had travelled around South Sudan for 10 days said they observed deepening divisions in a country with 64 ethnic groups.

“There is already a steady process of ethnic cleansing under way in several areas of South Sudan using starvation, gang rape and the burning of villages,” commission chairwoman Yasmin Sooka told a press conference.

“The stage is being set for a repeat of what happened in Rwanda and the international community is under an obligation to prevent it.”

The alleged ethnic cleansing comes after almost three years of fighting between government forces, rebel troops and allied militias. A political split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated into a military conflict in December 2013.

The conflict – which has killed tens of thousands, caused widespread hunger and forced three million people from their homes – has pitted Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group and other groups suspected of supporting the rebels.

“You have so many different groups of armed actors, including the military who are talking about dealing with a rebellion and putting it down,” Sooka told Al Jazeera in a separate interview.

“You have ethnic tensions because people have been displaced from their land based on ethnicity. Everybody believes that a military conflict is almost inevitable in different parts of the country.”

Adama Dieng, UN special advisor on the prevention of genocide, has called on the Security Council to impose an arms embargo to prevent the ethnic violence from escalating into full-on genocide.

In the northern Upper Nile region, the commission “heard numerous accounts of corpses being found along the main roads,” the UN’s Godfrey Musila said.

The ethnic attacks have spread even to the southern Equatoria region, which had not experienced much violence until now, he said.

“The commissioner said that armed conflict could be averted if targeted sanctions, arms embargo and a hybrid court is set up to hold those accountable for crimes committed,” Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said, reporting from Juba.

“The UN Security Council is expected to vote on targeted sanctions and an arms embargo this week, but the hybrid court… seems far from becoming a reality.”

South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar’s fighters have battled those loyal to the president [File: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters]

Separately, the UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan said he was “deeply concerned” about bureaucratic impediments and access constraints to humanitarian agencies trying to help people in need.

The statement said 91 such incidents had been recorded in November alone.

“Humanitarian organisations in South Sudan are striving every day to save lives and alleviate suffering across this country,” humanitarian coordinator Eugene Owusu said. “Yet, they continue to face obstacles and challenges which hamper their efforts.”

‘Potential for genocide’

The United States on Wednesday also warned of escalating violence.

“We have credible information that the South Sudanese government is currently targeting civilians in Central Equatoria and preparing for large scale attacks in the coming days or weeks,” Keith Harper, the US representative at the UN Human Rights Council, said in Geneva.

“In the last two weeks, the government has mobilised at least 4,000 militia from other areas of South Sudan and is staging these fighters in Equatoria to begin conducting attacks,” Harper said.

Earlier this month the UN’s Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, told the Security Council there was a risk of “outright ethnic war” and the “potential for genocide”.

The UN rights experts are expected to publish a report on their findings in March.

Source: Al Jazeera News and Agencies

Uganda – Rwenzururu: King Charles Mumbere charged with murder


Charles Wesley Mumbere, the king of RwenzururuKing Charles Mumbere (pictured) is accused of separatism by the government

The king of a region in Uganda has been charged with murder after clashes with security forces over the weekend in which at least 87 people were killed.

Charles Mumbere was detained after government forces raided his palace in the Rwenzururu region on Saturday.

The authorities accuse him of launching a secessionist movement to create a new state, to be called Yiira.

The murder charges relate to the killing of a police officer in March, not to the unrest over the weekend.

King Charles has denied any involvement in the violence.

At least 16 police officers and 46 royal guards were killed in the clashes in Kasese district, according to official figures.

Map showing Kasese district straddling Uganda and DR Congo borders

Human rights campaigners are urging an independent investigation into the violence after pictures emerged of bodies dumped with hands tied behind their backs.

The government denies carrying out extrajudicial killings in the region.

Questioned about the raid, Gen Jeje Odong, Uganda’s minister for internal affairs, said: “What happened is a situation of self-defence.

“What do you do if I come to you, wanting to pierce you with a knife? Do you allow me to do it? Or you try to protect yourself?”

Analysis: Rachael Akidi, BBC Africa

The Rwenzururu kingdom is around the mountains of Rwenzori, about 340km (210 miles) west of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

Its people, the Bakonzo, straddle both Uganda and neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tension has been high in the kingdom in recent years, with issues ranging from land disputes, to bitter divisions over plans to divide up Kasese – one of the seven districts in the Rwenzori region.

The king and some of his supporters have been accused of launching a secessionist movement, which authorities blame for a recent spate of attacks on security forces in the area.

Traditional kingdoms, which are barred constitutionally from taking part in national politics, were abolished in 1966 but then restored by President Yoweri Museveni in the 1990s.

President Museveni did not officially recognise the Rwenzururu kingdom until 2009, though this has not brought an end to the periodic unrest.

Before becoming king, Mr Mumbere spent many years living in the US, where he worked in a Pennsylvania nursing home.

Bomb kills four Somali soldiers; forces plan attack on Islamic State


Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:56am GMT
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A Somali soldier patrols a street following a suicide car bomb and gun attack on Tuesday that killed 11 people in Afgoye, Somalia, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
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By Abdiqani Hassan

BOSASSO, Somalia (Reuters) – Islamist insurgents killed four pro-government Somali soldiers and injured 11 others when a roadside bomb destroyed a military pickup in the north of the country on Tuesday, the military said.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in the Galgala hills, an insurgent stronghold about 30 km (20 miles) to the southwest of Bosasso, the largest city in the region.

“A roadside bomb destroyed our pickup as we drove from Galgala hills today. We lost four soldiers, including a female soldier, and 11 men from our forces were injured,” Major Mohamed Ibrahim, a military officer in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, told Reuters.

Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman told Reuters by telephone: “We completely destroyed the military pickup outside Bosasso – none escaped – all 17 soldiers on board perished.”

The insurgency routinely exaggerates the number of casualties killed in its attacks.

The deaths come as hundreds of forces allied to the Western-backed government prepare to retake the northern port town of Qandala from a group that has splintered from al Shabaab and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Qandala is about 70 km to the east of Bosasso and has been under the control of Abdiqadir Mumin, a Somali insurgent leader, for about a month.

“We are also evaluating the situation and we shall attack the IS as soon as possible,” Jamac Mohamed Khurshe, the mayor of Qandala told Reuters on Tuesday. Hundreds of pro-government militia began moving towards Qandala on Monday.

Somalia has been riven by civil war for more than 25 years. Al Shabaab, which has ties to al Qaeda, is fighting the government to impose their own strict version of Islamic law but has lost much of the territory they used to control.

Mumin’s group, which renounced al Shabaab in favour of Islamic State, is not thought to number more than a couple of hundred fighters. It has no publicly known operational links to Islamic State in the Middle East.

(Additional reporting by Feisal Omar and Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alison Williams)

Burundi – president’s aide survives assassination attempt


Tue Nov 29, 2016 9:31am GMT
Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza addresses a news conference attended by the visiting United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (not seen in picture) in the capital Bujumbura February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana

NAIROBI (Reuters) – A senior aide to Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza was injured in an attack on Monday night that also killed one of his bodyguards, officials said.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) says at least 450 people have been killed in the central African nation since Nkurunziza’s announcement early last year that he planned to seek a third term triggered a surge in violence.

Monday’s assassination attempt on Willy Nyamitwe, a senior communications officer for Nkurunziza, occurred in the Kajaga suburb of the capital Bujumbura, according to a security official who requested anonymity.

“Nyamitwe was slightly wounded on his arm during the attack. He is receiving treatment,” the official told Reuters, adding that the incident took place near Nyamitwe’s home at about 7:30 p.m. (1630 GMT).

“One of his bodyguards died on the spot, while another was seriously injured,” the source said.

Nkurunziza was re-elected in July 2015 in a poll largely boycotted by the opposition, which says his extended presidency violates the constitution and the terms of a deal that ended a previous rebellion. Some opponents have taken up arms against his government.

On his Twitter account, Foreign Minister Alain Aimé Nyamitwe said the aide, who is also his brother, had “survived another assassination attempt”.

The instability has raised ethnic tensions in Burundi, whose Hutu-Tutsi ethnic mix is similar to that of neighbouring Rwanda, which suffered a genocide in 1994.

(Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Aaron Maasho and Catherine Evans)