Category Archives: East Africa

South Sudan – Kiir announces ceasefire and prisoner release but no hint of talks with Machar

Reuters

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir delivers a speech during the launch of the National Dialogue committee in Juba, South Sudan May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jok Solomun

JUBA The president of war-ravaged South Sudan declared a unilateral ceasefire on Monday and promised to release political prisoners, but with no sign of a political deal with rebels it was not clear whether a truce would take hold.

South Sudan has been mired in a civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kiir fired his deputy, Riek Machar. The conflict, fanned by ethnic rivalries, has sparked Africa’s worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide and plunged part of the country into famine.

“I directed the prosecutor general to immediately review the cases of those who have committed crime against the state, commonly known as political prisoners, and ensure the necessary steps taken are taken to lead their release,” Kiir said in a speech in the capital, Juba.

“I am also declaring unilateral ceasefire effective from today.”

South Sudan analysts expressed scepticism that Kiir’s announcement would lead to long-lasting peace.

Kiir has declared ceasefires before and he has yet to release any political prisoners, said Alan Boswell, a South Sudan expert who authored a paper for the Small Arms Survey on the most recent failed peace deal in 2016.

Kiir’s speech offered no hint that he was willing to negotiate with the disparate rebel groups, the largest of which is led by Machar, Boswell said. Machar is an ethnic Nuer while Kiir is a Dinka.

In April 2016 the United States and other Western nations backed a peace accord that saw Machar return to the capital and again share power with Kiir. But the deal fell apart less than three months later and Machar and his supporters fled the capital, pursued by helicopter gunships.

Since then, the conflict has become increasingly fractured, with a patchwork of ethnic militias fighting in different parts of the oil-producing country.

“There’s no good incentive for the opposition movements to put down their guns because they’re not being offered any political settlement,” Boswell said.

The U.N. has warned the ethnic violence spill into genocide.

(Reporting by Denis Dumo; editing by Richard Lough)

Sudan – Minni Minnawi groups claims to have killed over 200 troops in Darfur

Sudan Tribune

Darfur groups say they killed 214 government troops in recent clashes

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May 21, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudan Liberation Movement – Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and a splinter group from the SLM- Abdel Wahid said they killed 214 government troops in recent clashes in North and East Darfur states on Friday 19 May.

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In this handout photo provided by the SLM-MM, Minni Minnawi (L) and Nimir Abdel Rahman sign a coordination agreement between the two SLM factions in undisclosed area on 20 February 2015 (ST Photo)

In a joint statement, the SLM-MM and the SLM-Transitional Council said the enemy suffered heavy losses in lives and equipment in the battles that extended from the far north of Darfur to south and east Darfur.

The enemy lost 214 people of different ranks including the Rapid Support Forces Deputy Commander Hamdan al-Samih, who is also the cousin of SRF commander. he was killed in East Darfur Wadi Hawar battle, added the statement.

The joint statement issued 24 hours after the clashes indicate for the first time the participation of the SLM Transitional Council in the fighting. The group is led by Nimir Abdel Raman a former spokesperson of SLM-AW faction.

The SLM-MM and Transitional Council which is not part of any political process signed a coordination agreement in early 2015 but this is the major joint operation against the Sudanese government.

The government and SLM-MM traded accusation following Friday’s clashes of breaching a cessation of hostilities declared unilaterally by the two sides.

The government says the rebels who came from Libya attacked its forces on the border with the north African troubled country. It also says they attacked its forces in East Darfur.

However, the SLM-MM called to condemn the Sudanese government stressing it aggressed its fighters, pointing that RSF spokesperson said that their attack on the armed groups “was designed to curtail any move of the rebel forces including administrative or whatsoever”.

The UNAMID, the only neutral observer on the ground, did not issue a statement on who launched the attack.

(ST)

Africa’s growth will be boosted by recovery in commodity prices

Reuters

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NEW DELHI Africa will see a lift-off in economic growth this year and next on the back of a rebound in global commodity prices, an annual report predicted on Monday.

The African Economic Outlook, co-authored by the African Development Bank, the OECD and the United Nations Development Programme, expects the continent’s economy to grow by 3.4 percent in 2017 and 4.3 percent in 2018, up from an estimated 2.2 percent last year.

The report was released as the African Development Bank began its annual meeting, this year being hosted by India in the capital of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

Modi invited African leaders to a summit in 2015 and has sought to promote ‘south-south’ economic ties with a continent that has a large Indian diaspora but has seen far larger inward investment from China.

The report said that a decline in commodity prices starting in mid-2014 had a devastating impact on several commodity-exporting African economies. Nigeria, for example, which has the biggest share in Africa’s GDP, slipped into recession.

Africa has been worryingly dependent on commodities to power economic growth. The fall in raw materials prices inflicted a significant shock on sub-Saharan Africa as fuels, ore and metals account for more than 60 percent of the region’s exports.

However, commodities have staged a comeback since late last year, buoyed by an improvement in the world economic outlook together with the return of risk appetite among global investors.

If the rise in commodity prices is sustained, the report said, it would trim the continent’s current account deficit to 5 percent of GDP this year from 6.5 percent in 2016.

Africa is expected to witness a marginal improvement in external inflows that are estimated to inch up to $179.7 billion in 2017 from $177.7 billion a year ago.

The report urged the countries in the region to diversify their exports to reduce their exposure to commodity-price shocks and take measures to boost trade within Africa.

(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Douglas Busvine)

UN specialist worried about human rights and press freedom in Sudan

Sudan Tribune



May 21, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi Sunday has expressed concern over detentions of civil society activists and continued the crackdown on the press and religious minorities.

The UN expert is visiting Sudan from 11-21 May to carry out his fourth mission to the country so as to continue his engagement with the Sudanese authorities and discuss the implementation of his recommendations

In a press release held at the end of his visit in Sunday, Nononsi said he is still “concerned about a number of human rights issues in the country that have not been dealt with very much”, adding “I am aware of incidents that appear to be harassment and arrests targeting representatives of civil society organizations.”

“I’d like to urge the Sudanese authorities to release Dr Mudawi Ibrahim and Hafez Idris, whom I believe have been held solely for legitimate actions to protect and promote human rights in Sudan,” he added

Ibrahim, university professor and Chair of the non-governmental organisation Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO) was arrested on 7 December 2016 by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

Nononsi pointed out that the suspension of Al-Jareeda newspaper in December 2016 by the NISS contradicts the interim national constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Sudan, saying “I raised this issue with the Sudanese authorities.”

The UN expert added that he urged the authorities to make the necessary amendments to the Voluntary and Human Work Organization Act of 2006 to bring it into line with the constitution and international human rights standards and to repeal all provisions of this law that adversely affect the work of civil society organizations and allow civil society actors to carry out their activities in an open, safe and sound environment.

He stressed the need to ensure the protection of freedom of religion, saying “I refer here to the destruction of churches and places of worship by the NISS, which was also used to intimidate, detain and arrest Christian religious leaders.”

He pointed out that he discussed this issue with government officials, describing it as “legitimate concerns” that the Sudanese government should address them, given the importance of freedom of religion in any democratic society.

Earlier this month, Khartoum State authorities demolished a church in Soba Al-Aradi suburb, 19 km from Khartoum, despite pledges by Sudanese government officials to stop Churches’ demolition.

Sudanese authorities earlier this year delayed a plan to demolish some 27 churches including Soba Al Aradi church, pointing they are not officially recognised as churches.

However, church leaders say the authorities refuse to give them building permits when they submit an application for the construction of a church. They stress this situation force them to resort to these houses of prayer in the far suburbs of Khartoum.

Nononsi noted that the unilateral cease-fire from government and armed movements in Darfur is largely holding, but pointed to “continuing threats of violence and attacks against civilians in other forms, including inter-communal violence, sexual violence and the abduction of civilians.”

He called on the government to focus on implementing provisions of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) pertaining to dissolution and disarmament of militias so that protection issues can be addressed in the region.

The UN expert pointed to some positive developments made by the Sudanese government in the human rights file compared to his previous visit in February, welcoming the decision of the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir issued on March 8 granting amnesty to 259 members of armed movements who were captured during the fighting with government forces in Darfur.

He also praised al-Bashir’s decision to appoint the head of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on May 16, stressing the importance of the role that an independent national human rights institution can play.

Nononsi appealed to the Sudanese authorities to fill the remaining vacant posts of the commissioners in a transparent and representative manner and to support national human rights institutions with the necessary funding to enable them to carry out their functions effectively.

He further thanked the Sudanese government for its cooperation and for giving him access to all the places, persons and institutions to which he requested to meet.

The independent expert is expected to present his findings and recommendations to the U.N Human Rights Council in September 2017.

(ST)

South Sudanese forces killed 114 civilians in Yei

Reuters

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (C) attends a ceremony marking the thirty fourth anniversary of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) at the military headquarters in Juba, South Sudan May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jok Solomun/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir(L) and newly appointed army chief General James Ajongo(R) attends a ceremony marking the thirty fourth anniversary of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) at the military headquarters in Juba, South Sudan May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jok Solomun/File Photo
By Tom Miles | GENEVA

GENEVA South Sudanese pro-government forces killed at least 114 civilians in and around Yei town from July 2016 to January 2017, the U.N. human rights office said in a report on Friday that the army dismissed as “baseless”.

The most recent round of fighting in oil-rich South Sudan’s civil war flared up last July when the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir chased his rival and former deputy Riek Machar and a small band of followers from the capital Juba southwest through Yei and into neighbouring Congo.

The SPLA also committed an unknown number of rapes and incidents of torture and looting, the U.N. said in the report.

Another 45 people were killed by the SPLA in attacks in other towns this April, the monitors of a failed ceasefire said in a separate report on Friday.

“Attacks were committed with an alarming degree of brutality and, like elsewhere in the country, appeared to have an ethnic dimension,” the U.N. said in the report, adding that the incidents may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.

“These cases included attacks on funerals and indiscriminate shelling of civilians; cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls, including those fleeing fighting; often committed in front of the victims’ families.”

The SPLA’s chase of Machar and his men led to fighting across South Sudan’s Equatorias region, particularly in the southwestern town of Yei.

SPLA spokesperson Col. Santo Domic Chol told Reuters on Friday that the report was “baseless”.

“This is not the first time the U.N. has accused the SPLA and tried to portray us as enemies of the people,” he said.

“The SPLA is one of the biggest military institutions in the country and it accommodates people from different background and the whole SPLA cannot go out and rape citizens… so it has to be specific that we have seen two or three SPLA soldiers in such location committing such crimes,” he said.

U.N. investigators have described gang rape on an “epic” scale as well as suspected ethnic cleansing during the fighting.

Kiir and Machar’s rivalry first plunged South Sudan into civil war in December 2013, only two years after the country won independence from Sudan to the north.

But Yei, traditionally an ethnically diverse area, had been largely peaceful before Machar fled the capital again last July.

The town had an estimated population of 300,000 before the July crisis began, but 60-70 percent of the population had fled by September.

Civilians from Yei and other areas poured into Uganda, with 320,000 arriving as refugees by the end of 2016, 80 percent of them women and children. About 180,000 more were registered in Uganda by the first week of February 2017.

Many people were trapped by the fighting, and others were attacked on the road as they fled. But the SPLA helped ethnic Dinka civilians – the same ethnicity as President Kiir – to move to the capital, providing military and civilian vehicles to transport them, the report said.

Citing data from South Sudan’s Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, the report said 46,000 Dinka civilians, mainly from Yei, had registered in Juba from July to December 2016.

The violence has continued in Yei, with rebel forces attacking the town and killing at least four government soldiers this week.

In other areas, government forces killed civilians last month, according to an international team monitoring the failed ceasefire. The team released five reports on Friday.

One report said men in military uniform and plainclothes killed at least 29 people this April in the northwestern town of Wau after targeting non-Dinka residents.

In the border town of Pajok, “Government Forces had indeed deliberately and in cold blood killed a number of civilians,” another report said. The death toll was likely to be much higher than the official toll of 16, the report said.

Domic dismissed the suggestion that government troops had killed civilians.

“The SPLA doesn’t target citizens and the report …is biased because it didn’t take the other aspect of rebel commanders who become tribal commanders mobilising their own youth, give them weapons to come and fight against the government,” he said.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Suspect in Kenya’s ranch raids found dead

BBCThomas MinitoImage copyright The Star

Image caption Thomas Minito was reported missing earlier this week

A Kenyan politician being investigated for the raids in private farms in the Laikipia region has been found dead.

Thomas Minito’s body was found floating in a river in Machakos, 50km (30 miles) from the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi.

Police say he was also being investigated for possible involvement in the shooting of Italian-born conservationist Kuki Gallman.

The army has been deployed to the region to quell months of unrest.

A biting drought in the Laikipia region had forced herders to invade private farms to get fresh grass for their animals.

However, some analysts say local politicians incited pastoralists communities to invade private farms.

Minito was a member of the Baringo county assembly in the Rift Valley and had been reported missing earlier this week, according to media reports.

After examining the body, police said they suspect that he was murdered because he had a head wound.

His family is however yet to verify his identity.

Security forces have been conducting an operation in Laikipia county in central Kenya after a series of attacks on private lodges.

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Tristan Voorspuy, an ex-British army officer, was killed in March when he went to inspect his lodge.

Pastoralists have accused police of killing hundreds of their animals in an attempt to drive them out of the farms.

The privately-owned Star newspaper reports that Minito was arrested last month and freed on bond for allegedly planning violence in Laikipia and neighbouring Baringo county in which several people were killed or injured and livestock were either stolen or killed.

Kenya – Wetang’ula attacks William Ruto as an illiterate

Star (Kenya)

Wetang’ula attacks Ruto, says he went to school but acts illiterate

May. 19, 2017, 3:00 pm

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula with Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi during a meeting in Kanduyi with Ford Kenya aspirants who lost the primaries, May 19, 2017. /JOHN NALIANYA
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula with Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi during a meeting in Kanduyi with Ford Kenya aspirants who lost the primaries, May 19, 2017. /JOHN NALIANYA

Deputy President William Ruto is educated yet behaves like an illiterate man, NASA principal Moses Wetang’ula has said.

Wetang’ula said Ruto’s arguments on Kenya’s pertinent issues were not any different from those of a person who has never stepped into a classroom.

“I wonder what he was doing in class…was he just planning when his grabbing spree would start?” he said in Kanduyi, Bungoma county, where he met Ford Kenya aspirants who lost the primaries.

In November last year, Ruto defended himself against accusations of land grabbing, involvement in extrajudicial killings and the murder of anti-government whistle-blower Jacob Juma.

More on Ruto’s response: Corrupt? Not me, says DP Ruto

Wetang’ula, who is Bungoma Senator, singled out Ruto’s argument on World bank and IMF’s advisory on foreign lending, saying his dismissal of the report showed he could not grasp the obvious.

He said the country’s over-borrowing was risky and that the National Super Alliance will review borrowing when it takes over.

“How can a person who went to school rubbish bodies like World Bank and IMF?” he asked, adding corruption by the Jubilee regime “can only be by one illiterate person”.

Economists at the International Monetary Fund and its sister company, the World Bank, have led a growing chorus for review of the the Banking (Amendment) Act, 2016 since January.

The amended law, enforced on September 14, capped loan charges at four percentage points above the prevailing 10 per cent Central Bank Rate and put a floor of 70 per cent of the CBR on interest paid on term deposits. It was meant to help micro- and small-sized enterprises – the drivers of Kenya’s growth – access affordable credit, but has largely been seen as counterproductive.

Ruto trashed the recommendations and ruled out a review of the law in the near-term.

Read: Ruto tells off IMF, World Bank over review of interest cap law

Wetang’ula further said the DP lacked the moral authority to speak about NASA leaders as his source of wealth is questionable.

“Let him stop telling lies about us because we are going to tell Kenyans lots of truth about them,” he said.

Others in the Opposition coalition are flag bear Raila Odinga (ODM), DP candidate Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Bomet Governor Issac Rutto (CCM) and Musalia Mudavadi (ANC).

In October 2016, the DP fought a bid to declare his wealth. Activist Boniface Mwagi had asked the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission for Ruto’s tax returns and wealth declaration forms.

More on this: Ruto fights bid to reveal his wealth

Wetang’ula said the Jubilee government has failed and only works under pressure and protests.

The Ford Kenya boss also said NASA’s decision to run a parallel tallying centre was not up for debate because they were not doing anything illegal .

Wetang’ula added that Jubilee’s opposition to this only shows they are planning to rig the August 8 election.

He noted NASA had laid down proper strategies to ensure its 10 million votes are protected.
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