Category Archives: East Africa

Dr Congo – Hutu women lynched as land shortages fuel conflict

Reuters

Congolese soldiers arrest a civilian protesting against the government’s failure to stop the killings and inter-ethnic tensions in the town of Butembo, in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe
By Kenny Katombe | BUTEMBO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Two Hutu women were dragged out of a minibus, lynched and their bodies set on fire by a crowd in eastern Congo, the local mayor said on Wednesday, as inter-ethnic tensions in the region surge in the wake of massacres that have killed hundreds of civilians.

The crowd in the town of Butembo, which is dominated by members of the Nande ethnic group, said the two ethnic Hutu women who were travelling by minibus in North Kivu province were militants, mayor Sikuli Uvasaka Makala told local radio.

Dozens have died in tit-for-tat killings by ethnic militia this year.

Ethnic rivalries, invasions by Rwanda and Uganda and competition for land and minerals among eastern Congo’s dozens of rebel groups have stoked conflict over the last two decades.

“I condemn the death of these two women,” Uvasaka said. “I insist: stop carrying out popular justice. Do you want to put the Nande community at risk?”

Migration by Hutu farmers from North Kivu through predominantly Nande areas towards Ituri province in search of more fertile land has fuelled tensions, Otto Bahizi, a Hutu tribal leader from nearby Rutshuru territory, told Reuters.

The government blames the massacres over the last two years that have killed more than 700 civilians on Ugandan Islamist rebels but independent analysts say other armed groups are involved and ethnic rivalries likely play a role.

About 50 civilians were hacked to death this month outside Beni, some 50 km (30 miles) north of Butembo.

Hundreds of young demonstrators again took to the streets of Butembo on Wednesday to protest against the government’s failure to stop the killings. The army fired into the air and arrested about 15 people, a Reuters witness said.

(Additional reporting and writing by Aaron Ross in Kinshasa; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Louise Ireland)

Kenya should start exporting oil in June 2017

Daily Nation

By PSCU
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President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes hands with Tullow Oil Chief Operating Officer Paul McDade during a briefing on the firm's exploration progress at State House, Nairobi on August 24, 2016. The firm said it will start oil production in June next year. PHOTO | PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes hands with Tullow Oil Chief Operating Officer Paul McDade during a briefing on the firm’s exploration progress at State House in Nairobi on August 24, 2016. The firm said it will start oil production in June next year. PHOTO | PSCU 

Tullow Oil on Thursday confirmed that it will start exporting oil in June 2017 following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to expedite drilling.

Briefing Mr Kenyatta at State House in Nairobi, Tullow Oil Chief Operating Officer Paul McDade said his company has made good progress on the Early Oil Pilot Scheme and will be ready to start oil exportation in June 2017.

The oil will be transported by road from Lokichar in Turkana County to Mombasa, where it will be exported.

He said initially 2,000 barrels will be produced per day, adding that Tullow Oil is committed to aggressive exploration that will see at least eight more wells drilled in the South Lokichar basin to scale up production.

“Tullow remains confident that the South Lokichar basin has the potential to see resources grow from the current 750 million barrels to around one billion of oil,” he said.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter said the development of the Lokichar-to-Lamu crude oil pipeline is still on course.

Mr Keter said the government and its partners — Tullow Oil, African Oil and Maersk Companies —have concluded a joint agreement for developing the pipeline.

President Kenyatta emphasised the need to move with speed in the implementation of the pipeline project.

“We have started and we are not moving back. We want to be at the top of the pile. So we have set a path and Kenya is going to be a major oil producer and exporter,” President Kenyatta said.

The meeting was also attended by Energy Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau, Tullow Oil Vice-President East Africa Gary Thompson, Tullow Kenya Chairman Ike Duker and Country Manager Martin Mbogo.

Mozambique – Renamo raids hospitals and health clinics

Human Rights Watch

(Johannesburg) – Armed men linked to Mozambique’s main opposition party, the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO), have raided at least two hospitals and two health clinics over the past month. The attacks on the medical facilities, which involved looting medicine and supplies and destroying medical equipment, threaten access to health care for tens of thousands of people in remote areas of the country.

Damaged medicine cabinet in Morrumbala District Hospital after the raid by RENAMO gunmen on August 12, 2016.
“RENAMO’s attacks on hospitals and health clinics are threatening the health of thousands people in Mozambique,” saidDaniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “RENAMO’s leadership needs to call off these attacks on health facilities immediately.”

In the most recent attack, on August 12, 2016, about a dozen gunmen who identified themselves as RENAMO entered the town of Morrumbala, in the central province of Zambezia, at about 4 a.m., several witnesses and local authorities told Human Rights Watch. The men first raided a police station, freeing about 23 men detained there, and then looted the local district hospital.

A nurse who was there said that the men opened fire at the building. “I was in the emergency room when they fired gunshots through the windows,” he said. “We were hiding beneath chairs, beds…anything we could find.”

The nurse and two Zambezia-based reporters who arrived at the hospital just after the attack said that the gunmen had looted medicine from the facility’s main pharmacy.

On July 30, a group of armed men who identified themselves as RENAMO entered the village of Mopeia, in Zambezia province, at about 3 a.m., two local residents said.

The armed men first raided the house of a local official of the governing FRELIMO party, who is the chief nurse at the local Centro 8 de Março health clinic. When they did not find him, they went to the clinic. A doctor who visited the clinic the following day said the gunmen burned patients’ medical records and stole vaccines, syringes, and medicines. The clinic stores essential medicines, including antiretroviral medicines for HIV/AIDS patients, for a population of over 8,000 people, he said.

Bullet hole in the window of Morrumbala District Hospital after the raid by RENAMO gunmen on August 12, 2016.

Bullet hole in the window of Morrumbala District Hospital after the raid by RENAMO gunmen on August 12, 2016.

The armed men then went to Mopeia’s main hospital, about eight kilometers from the clinic. A nurse at the hospital said that she saw about 15 men in dark green uniforms enter the main ward in the early morning, most of them armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles. They entered the ward where patients were sleeping, threatened patients and medical staff, ordering them to leave the hospital, and carried away medicines, serum bags, bed sheets, and mosquito nets. The nurse said none of the patients or medical staff were hurt.

Together, Mopeia district hospital and Mopeia village clinic serve over 100,000 people, local health authorities said.

On July 31, about a dozen armed men who identified themselves as RENAMO raided the village of Maiaca, Maúa district, in the northern province of Niassa. The administrator of Maúa, Joao Manguinje, told Human Rights Watch that the gunmen attacked the local health clinic and the police station. They took five kits of HIV tests, four boxes of syringes, and over 600 vials ofpenicillin, he said.

Manguinje also alleged that on July 24, RENAMO gunmen had raided the health clinic in the nearby village of Muapula, where they stole, among other things, five obstetric kits, over 200 tetanus vaccines, and over 300 vials of penicillin. Human Rights Watch was not able to verify this attack.

I was in the emergency room when they fired gunshots through the windows. We were hiding beneath chairs, beds…anything we could find.

A nurse who witnessed the hospital looting.

Mozambican authorities say that RENAMO gunmen have carried out similar attacks on health clinics over the past month in Sofala, Manica, and Tete provinces, in central Mozambique, but Human Rights Watch was not able to verify those reports.

The RENAMO party, which has offices in the capital, Maputo, has neither confirmed nor denied carrying out the attacks. However, the party leader, Afonso Dhalkama, who is believed to be hiding in the Gorongosa bush, in the central province of Sofala, told the Mozambican private television station, STV, on August 5 that he had given orders to attack some areas of Zambezia province. He did not specify the targets or mention medical facilities.

Dhlakama said the attacks were a “military strategy” aimed at dispersing government soldiers who are surrounding RENAMO positions in Gorongosa bush, about 200 kilometers south of the villages that were attacked. Several districts of Tete, Zambezia, Manica, Sofala, and Niassa provinces have had recent armed clashes between government forces and Renamo fighters.

“RENAMO’s raids on medical facilities seem part of a repugnant strategy to damage health facilities and loot medicines,” Bekele said. “What they are succeeding in doing is to deny crucial health services to Mozambicans who need them.”

Background Information
After the 1992 peace agreement that ended Mozambique’s 16-year civil war, RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama was allowed to keep a 300-man private armed guard. Successive failures to integrate other RENAMO fighters into the national army and civilian life have encouraged former fighters to join the private guards and to camp in old RENAMO training grounds. RENAMO, a political party that currently holds 89 seats in parliament, is now believed to have an armed force of more than double what it was permitted.

Over the past four years, tension has increased between RENAMO and the governing party, FRELIMO, including an increase in armed attacks by RENAMO and counterattacks by the government. The parties signed a new peace agreement in 2014, but RENAMO says the government has failed to integrate RENAMO fighters into the national army and police in accordance with the agreement. The government says RENAMO has refused to hand over a list of its militia to be integrated into the security forces because it wants to use them as leverage for political negotiations. FRELIMO won elections in October 2014, but RENAMO says it wants to govern the six provinces in which it claims it received more votes.

In February 2016, Human Rights Watch documented abuses committed by government forces in Tete province, where RENAMO enjoys support among the population, including alleged summary executions and sexual violence. At least 6,000 people fled the area for neighboring Malawi. The Malawi office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that most of these people have now returned home, following assurances of safety by the Mozambican government.

In May, Mozambican and international media reported the discovery of several unidentified bodies near Gorongoza, between the provinces of Manica and Sofala. Human Rights Watch called on the Mozambican authorities to investigate the gravesite thoroughly, to identify the victims, and to hold perpetrators to account. The government says it launched an investigation in June, but it has not yet announced any findings.

 

Is there is new era emerging of relations between Sudan and South Sudan?

Sudan Tribune


(KHARTOUM/JUBA) – Sudan and South Sudan appear to be on the verge of bringing their relations to a new level following the current visit of First-Vice President Taban Deng Gai to Khartoum which Juba hopes would normalize ties between the two nations particularly as it faces mounting international pressures.

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir (R) and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir look on during a photo opportunity at the state house in capital Juba January 6, 2014 (Reuters/James Akena)

On the one side, Gai and his senior economic and military delegation who arrived in the Sudanese capital on Sunday, have discussed outstanding issues between the two countries including security, border and oil issues.

However, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit seems to have sought to gain support of the Sudanese government in the face of the heavy international pressure that he encountered following the escape of his former First Vice-President Riek Machar which exacerbated the humanitarian and security situation in the newborn state.

Kiir had written a special letter to his Sudanese counterpart Omer al-Bashir expressing full commitment to implement all cooperation agreement signed between the two countries in 2012 before asking Khartoum to deal the same way with his government.

He also underscored his personal commitment to work to achieve a homegrown solution to stopping the war that brought his country to the brink of economic collapse.

“Let me be clear my brother, Omer al-Bashir and members of your government that we are not opposed to the regional support. We need support of the region, particularly countries like Sudan but this support should be supplementary. It should be a supplementary to our own so it is not rejected by the people. The region also needs to know that imported solutions aren’t the answer. We have many examples where external intervention had been short lived in other countries. Only a domestic solution realised from understanding people’s needs and aspirations that can be permanent”, Kiir explained in the special letter addressed to al-Bashir, copy of which Sudan Tribune obtained.

The South Sudanese government has declined to respond to a UN Security Council Resolution 2304 that authorized sending extra 4,000 troops to boost UN peacekeepers in country with a mandate to fight rival forces considering the move a violation to its sovereignty.

Washington is standing behind the resolution to send extra troops to South Sudan, saying it would participate to the protection of civilians in the country.

“It is absolutely indisputable that we need to push for the deployment of the regional force which has been approved by the UN Security Council” said US Secretary of State John Kerry during his meeting with five Foreign Ministers from the regional bloc IGAD on Monday in Nairobi.

“With respect to the protection force, let me make it clear: The protection force is limited by definition, not a response to the overall crisis within the country as a whole, because clearly, there are many people with weapons in many parts of the country, and a protection force of 4,000 people will not have the capacity to cover all those bases,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

“But the hope is that with a transitional government that is now committed to the full implementation of the peace agreement and that has already begun to implement that peace agreement, that a force with a presence in Juba itself, which is where most of the violence took place during the last round, will be able to guarantee access for everybody, and that includes people trying to prevent the violence,” he added.

Earlier this month Sudan declined a proposal by some international partners to conduct a solo mediation between the warring parties in South Sudan and also refused to send troops within the regional force, saying it doesn’t want to create any sensitivities with the conflicting parties.

“Sudan is sticking to its role within the IGAD only,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Garib Allah Khidir, told reporters on August 2.

In his special letter, Kiir further projected the future of South Sudan to be brighter, saying the country was now moving forward after the appointment of Gai as his new first deputy in unity government in place of armed opposition leader, his main political rival for top office in the country, Riek Machar.

“We are moving towards a brighter future and the international community should support and not weaken us, the letter adds in part. It further added that South Sudan doesn’t need lessons on human rights from the international community. “Respecting human rights is enshrined in our culture, heritage and it is part of our values system. We are more respectful of human rights in terms of commitment and action,” it added.

It was apparent from Kiir’s letter that Juba seeks to win the trust of Khartoum by sending clear signals to assure the latter that it intends to open a new chapter in relations.

Also, these signals were sent by Gai when he directly addressed Khartoum’s major concern about the security file between the two countries and particularly with regard to Juba’s support for the Sudanese rebels saying his country is keen to resolve the outstanding security issues within three weeks.

On Monday, Gai also sent amessage from Khartoum to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) demanding the rebel group to resort to the peaceful settlement with the Sudanese government.

He stressed that his country wouldn’t serve as a launching pad for any Sudanese who wants to continue the war against Khartoum, adding “we hope that Sudan wouldn’t serve as a launching pad for Machar”.

South Sudan’s First Vice President Gai also on Tuesday denied that Darfur movements and SPLM-N are currently present in South Sudan’s territory, saying mutual accusations between the two countries “would continue until we agree on a verification mechanism”.

“We would go to Addis Ababa and all places where these [rebel] movements have presence and tell them that appropriate time has come to achieve peace and we would render the necessary support and advise them in a kind manner” he said.

“We advise them [SPLM-N] that wartime is over, and we say to them that your brothers in South Sudan shouldn’t suffer because of you, for even if the South didn’t support you Sudan is making use of that [pretext]” he added.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9th 2011 following a referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should remain a part of the country or become independent. 99% of the southern Sudanese voters chose independence.

Relations between the two nations soured after South Sudan’s independence following a series of disputes over a number of issues.

(ST)

South Sudan – Machar in Khartoum for medical treatment

Reuters

South Sudan opposition leader in Khartoum for treatment, Sudan says

(This August 23 story has been corrected to change the date of the final peace deal from 1995 to 2005 in paragraph 9)

South Sudan opposition leader, Riek Machar, is in Khartoum for medical treatment, a Sudanese minister told the state news agency SUNA on Tuesday, after he left the country to escape government forces.

President Salva Kiir sacked Machar from his post as vice president after renewed fighting in South Sudan’s capital Juba last month between forces loyal to the long-time rivals. The clashes forced tens of thousands of people to flee.

Machar withdrew to the bush during the fighting in Juba and was picked up this month by U.N. peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo with a leg injury. His spokesman earlier said Machar had left South Sudan to evade Kiir’s forces and had said his injury was not serious enough to require medical attention.

However, on Tuesday, Sudan said he was receiving treatment.

“Sudan has received, lately, Dr. Riek Machar, for pure humanitarian reasons, especially his need for treatment and medical care,” Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said.

“Dr. Riek Machar’s health is stable currently and he will remain in the country under comprehensive healthcare until he leaves to a destination of his choice to complete his treatment,” he added.

Machar’s spokesman in Nairobi, James Gatdet Dak, could not immediately confirm he had travelled to Khartoum. He said Machar’s original plan had been to travel to Addis Ababa, which has previously hosted South Sudan’s troubled peace process.

Machar and Kiir have long been rivals, even before South Sudan’s independence in 2011 when they were both commanders in the SPLA force that fought Sudan’s Khartoum-based government.

Machar, at one point in the two-decade-long conflict, led a splinter group that signed a unilateral peace deal with the Khartoum government in 1997 that give him an official post in Sudan. Sudan’s government and the SPLA finally signed a peace deal in 2005, which led to South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

But by December 2013, the political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, had again boiled over into a civil conflict, which often followed ethnic lines.

The two men signed a peace deal in August 2015. Under that deal, Machar returned to Juba in April to resume his role as vice president. But fighting flared last month and he was then sacked.

During a visit to Kenya, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged South Sudan’s leaders to “get the job done” by fully implementing the peace deal or face a U.N. arms embargo and sanctions.

The U.N. Security Council voted on Friday to authorise sending an extra 4,000 troops to the country to bolster the existing U.N. mission, which South Sudan said it was considering.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Asma Alsharif and Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams)

Kenya – Uhuru Kenyatta says he supports an independent judiciary

Daily Nation

Attorney General Githu Muigai (right) and High

Attorney General Githu Muigai (right) and High Court Judge Justice Fred Ochieng share a word during a break at the Annual Judges’ Colloquium held at Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa in Mombasa on August 22, 2016. The AG delivered the President’s message to the judges. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 
By PHILIP MUYANGA

President Uhuru Kenyatta has refuted claims that the Executive does not support the independence of the Judiciary.

In a statement read on his behalf by Attorney-General Githu Muigai during a judges’ colloquium in Mombasa, Mr Kenyatta said his government supports an independent judiciary and the work done by judges.

The President said the Judiciary plays a critical role in securing peace in the country.

“All of us in public life appreciate and recognise that if the Judiciary is weakened, none of us is safe. We support the rule of law because it is good for us,” the President’s message read.

The AG delivered the President’s message to judges from across the country who are attending their week long annual colloquium at Sarova Whitesands Beach Hotel.

The AG added that the stability of the country depends on what the judges do.

“We would like to continue working with the Judiciary [and] to also send a message that it is not true that there is a crisis in the Judiciary,” said the President.

Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, as well as Employment and Labour Relations and Environment and Land judges are attending the conference whose theme is “Enhancing public confidence in the Judiciary”.

In his own message, the AG noted that there are many threats to judicial independence, among them being social media and other commentators.

CONSISTENT DECISIONS

“It is not possible to safeguard the rule of law by responding to the gallery,” Prof Muigai told the judges, adding that there was need for the Judiciary to be consistent in its decisions.

Prof Muigai said the government is concerned with various injunctive orders issued by courts stopping developments of various infrastructure projects being undertaken.

He said the orders by the judges have serious ramifications but was quick to add that he does not suggest that the orders are unlawful.

Last month, the construction of the Sh327 billion standard gauge railways was suspended by court following a dispute over compensation on a parcel of land in Mombasa.

The court later ruled that the construction will only continue after Sh995, 400,462, which was awarded to African Gas Oil Company Ltd and Miritni Free Port Ltd as compensation, is deposited in a joint escrow interest earning account.

The AG also took issue with the issuance of contempt orders against senior government officials saying there is need for conversations on how they can work together with the Judiciary.

“The power of contempt should not be used to coerce PS’s (Principal Secretaries) from getting money (meant for other activities) to pay to avoid going to jail,” said Prof Muigai.

The judges are meeting in the absence of a Chief Justice who usually presides over the opening ceremony. This follows the retirement of Dr Willy Mutunga in June.

The colloquium is usually organised by the Judiciary Training Institute, an institution which provides training for judges, magistrates and other judicial officers.

South Sudan – Kerry says appointment of Taban Deng legal under peace deal

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, said Monday in Nairobi that the appointment of South Sudanese First Vice President Taban Deng Gai to succeed Riek Machar was “legal” under the provisions of the 2015 peace agreement.

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President Salva Kiir with US secretary of state John Kerry as they hold a bilateral meeting at the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington on 5 August 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Jim Bourg)

Speaking to reporters after meeting five foreign ministers of Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia Kerry said the US backed protection force has limited definition and scope with respect to restoring peace in the country.

“With respect to Machar, it’s not up to the United States; it’s up to the leaders of South Sudan and the people of South Sudan and the political parties and the political process, and their neighbors, to weigh in on what is best or not best with respect to Machar,” said Kerry when asked by a reporter to comment on the controversial replacement of the armed opposition leader and former South Sudanese First Vice President, Riek Machar.

He said the process leading to Machar’s replacement with Gai has not broken any law.

“I think it’s quite clear that legally, under the agreement, there is allowance for the replacement in a transition of personnel, and that has been effected with the appointment of a new vice president. And what they decide to do is going to be dependent on them in the context of the implementation of the peace agreement,” he added.

Gai was appointed by section of the SPLM IO leaders in Juba in July after Machar fled the South Sudanese capital following four days of fighting between his forces and those loyal to President Salva Kiir.

The United Nations Security Council passed a U.S drafted resolution early this month to send a strong 4,000 protection force to Juba to boast UN peacekeepers in the country with a new mandate to response forcefully to any anti-peace elements in the government or armed opposition.

“With respect to the protection force, let me make it clear: The protection force is limited by definition, not a response to the overall crisis within the country as a whole, because clearly, there are many people with weapons in many parts of the country, and a protection force of 4,000 people will not have the capacity to cover all those bases,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

“But the hope is that with a transitional government that is now committed to the full implementation of the peace agreement and that has already begun to implement that peace agreement, that a force with a presence in Juba itself, which is where most of the violence took place during the last round, will be able to guarantee access for everybody, and that includes people trying to prevent the violence,” he added.

According to the UNSC, the protection force will be deployed in Juba by September 15. South Sudanese government said it has not made a decision to reject or accept the extra force that will increase UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to 17,000 troops.

(ST)