Sunday 18 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 01/29/18)
A Pakistani UN peacekeeper was killed by "members of an armed group" in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, a United Nations spokesman said. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres "condemns the killing of a peacekeeper from Pakistan... following an ambush" in the troubled eastern province of South Kivu, a UN spokesman said. He reaffirmed the UN's willingness to continue to address the country's security challenges, despite tensions with the government. On Friday Congolese President Joseph Kabila claimed the UN's peacekeeping mission in the country MONUSCO had "eradicated" no armed group in nearly 20 years. He warned the mission not to consider the country "under the care of the United Nations" and said he would "clarify in the coming days...
(AFP (eng) 01/29/18)
President Donald Trump said the United States "deeply respects" Africans and will dispatch its top diplomat to the continent, in a letter to African leaders seen by AFP on Sunday. The letter sent last week comes after Trump provoked a firestorm of indignation among African nations earlier in January when he reportedly called them "shithole countries" during a meeting with lawmakers in Washington. While Trump has denied the remarks, they are expected to be formally condemned by the 55 member states of the African Union during their ongoing summit in the Ethiopian capital. "I want to underscore that the United States deeply respects the people of Africa, and my commitment to strong and respectful relationships...
(AFP (eng) 01/26/18)
Laden with mattresses, suitcases, solar panels, chairs and plastic buckets, thousands of refugees have crossed into Burundi in the past three days to flee fierce fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi police said Friday. Nearly 7,000 Congolese have crossed Lake Tanganyika and taken refuge in Burundi since Wednesday as clashes raged between DR Congo government forces and rebels in the troubled eastern province of South Kivu. "Yesterday, Lake Tanganyika seemed to be completely covered by hundreds of boats of all sizes, packed with refugees and their property, it was quite sight," one rights activist told AFP. Burundi police said a total of 6,692 people had registered as refugees since Wednesday to escape fighting between the army and the...
(AFP (eng) 01/26/18)
DR Congo President Joseph Kabila on Friday stood by the timetable for delayed elections despite demands that he step down ahead of the poll. "We have to have elections as scheduled," Kabila said at his first press conference since 2012, referring to the date of December 23, 2018 announced last year. "I note that, on our side, there is a roadmap, and what other people are proposing is nothing, zero, a jump into the void, a leap into the unknown." "I would like us to have peaceful elections. Is that what the opposition wants -- question mark?" he said rhetorically. At the rare two-hour press conference, Kabila made an opening statement and followed it with a question-and-answer session. But he...
(AFP (eng) 01/26/18)
US President Donald Trump on Friday asked the African Union chairman to pass on his "warmest regards" to other regional leaders at a summit this weekend, after sparking outrage with a reported slur against Africans. Trump met Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where some African business leaders say they are planning to boycott Trump's closing speech later Friday. The outspoken US leader congratulated Kagame on taking over as chair of the 55-nation African bloc, which Trump said was a "great honour". "I know you're going to your first meeting shortly. Please give my warmest regards," Trump told Kagame after they held a one-on-one meeting at the forum.
(AFP (eng) 01/26/18)
The oldest remains of a modern human outside Africa have been dug up in Israel, offering evidence of what genetic studies have already suggested -- that humans migrated out of Africa some 50,000 years earlier than previously thought. Facial fragments, including a jawbone and several teeth, were found at a site called Misliya Cave in Israel, one of several prehistoric cave sites located on Mount Carmel. The bones date to between 174,000 and 188,000 years old, said the report in Thursday's edition of the US journal Science. Until now, the earliest modern human fossils found outside of Africa were estimated to be between 90,000 to 120,000 years old. "Misliya is an exciting discovery," said co-author Rolf Quam, an anthropology professor...
(AFP (eng) 01/25/18)
The Democratic Republic of Congo has told Belgium to close its new development agency in the country and shutter an EU visa-processing centre, in the latest spat between the DRC and its former colonial power. The move comes on the heels of Belgian and EU protests over a crackdown on rallies against President Joseph Kabila. In a press statement issued late Wednesday, the foreign ministry said the government wanted the "dismantling" of a consular arrangement in Kinshasa. Under it, Belgium handles visa requests for the European Union's border-free Schengen zone. The government also wants the "immediate cessation" of activities...
(AFP (eng) 01/25/18)
The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday reported a surge in summary "executions" in the country, notably in the southern Kasai region. In 2017, "state agents" carried out 1,176 extra-judicial killings, "including at least 89 women and 213 children," the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) said in an annual report on human rights violations in the DRC. Such killings have tripled over the past two years, MONUSCO said, adding that it condemned the increase. The armed forces accounted for nearly two-thirds -- 64 percent -- of extra-judicial killings by state agents, it said.
(AFP (eng) 01/25/18)
A cholera outbreak in the DR Congo capital Kinshasa is stabilising and moving in a downward trend, the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Wednesday. The latest outbreak has affected 23 of the 26 provinces in the vast central African country since 2017, with "55,000 people falling ill... and around 1,190 deaths", according to MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders. "The situation (in Kinshasa) is stable with a downward trend, but it does not exclude vigilance, because the epidemic is not yet eliminated," said Jean Liyolongo, MSF emergency coordinator. Since the end of November, MSF has recorded a total of 826 cholera cases and 32 deaths. "We reached the peak in week one (first week of January) when we...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/25/18)
KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo’s new proposed mining code, which the industry has warned will stifle investment in the copper and cobalt-rich nation, sailed through the Senate without opposition late on Wednesday. A version passed by the National Assembly - Congo’s lower house of parliament - last month would increase taxes and royalties, including potentially more than doubling royalties on cobalt, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s cobalt comes from Congo. Demand for the metal has surged due to expected growth in the electric vehicle sector, causing the price on the London Metal Exchange to triple over the last two years. The process of revising Congo’s 2002 mining code has dragged on for...
(AFP (eng) 01/24/18)
Pope Francis on Wednesday made a fresh appeal for calm in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a bloody crackdown on anti-government marches organised by the country's powerful Catholic Church. Six people were killed, scores injured and dozens arrested, according to the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO, when security forces opened fire on Catholic-organised rallies against President Joseph Kabila on Sunday. The government has put the death toll at two. "Unfortunately, worrying information continues to reach us" from DR Congo, the pope said at the end of his weekly audience to a crowd in St. Peter's Square. "I renew my call for everyone to work to avoid any form of violence," he said.
(AFP (eng) 01/23/18)
DR Congo's minister for human rights on Tuesday called for the prosecution of police who opened fire on anti-government protestors at the weekend, in a crackdown condemned by the EU and UN. Six people were killed, scores injured and dozens arrested, according to the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO, when security forces opened fire on Catholic-organised rallies against President Joseph Kabila on Sunday. The government has put the death toll at two. "Those responsible for these acts must be punished and prosecuted by Congolese justice," Human Rights Minister Marie-Ange Mushobekwa said in an interview with the French station Radio France Internationale (RFI) while on a visit to Paris.
(AFP (eng) 01/23/18)
The UN's Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for "credible investigations" after at least six people were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a crackdown on a protest against President Joseph Kabila. Guterres said the government should "hold those responsible accountable" in a statement issued by his spokesman in New York after live rounds and tear gas were fired to disperse demonstrators in Kinshasa. The country's powerful Catholic Church, one of the few institutions to enjoy broad credibility nationally, had called for the rallies despite a government ban on all demonstrations. Guterres "urges the Congolese security forces to exercise restraint", his spokesman said in the statement, and "called upon all concerned to ensure full respect for places of...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/23/18)
GENEVA (Reuters) - U.N. monitors were among the targets of violence by Congolese security agents who used deadly force to disperse protests organized by the Catholic Church on Sunday, a U.N. human rights spokeswoman said. Congolese security forces shot dead at least six people and wounded dozens more as they fired tear gas to disperse a protest in Kinshasa against President Joseph Kabila. U.N. rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a U.N. briefing in Geneva on Tuesday that 68 people were wounded and 121 arrested, and the United Nations had information about “a number of other killings” in protests elsewhere in the country. One of those injured was a U.N. human rights monitor who was punched and kicked by security forces,...
(AFP (eng) 01/22/18)
Six people were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, the UN said, as the authorities cracked down on a banned protest against President Joseph Kabila. Witnesses said security forces fired live rounds and tear gas in Kinshasa to disperse demonstrators who had gathered after Catholic church leaders called for a mass peaceful demonstration against Kabila's 17-year rule. The UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO said six people were killed in Kinshasa and 57 injured nationwide in the rallies. "The defence and security forces did not apply the principles of necessity, proportionality and legality in accordance with international standards,"...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/22/18)
KINSHASA (Reuters) - Congolese security forces shot dead at least six people and wounded dozens more as they fired tear gas to disperse a protest against President Joseph Kabila organized by the Catholic Church on Sunday, a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country said. Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in December 2016 has triggered a series of street protests in which scores have been killed in Kinshasa. It has also emboldened armed rebel groups in different parts of the country. A Reuters witness saw police and paramilitary troops fire volleys of tear gas and shoot into the air on Sunday outside the Notre Dame cathedral in the capital Kinshasa. Florence Marchal, spokeswoman for the...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/22/18)
PARIS (Reuters) - France on Monday blamed Congolese security forces for the shooting dead of at least six people and wounding of dozens during a protest against President Joseph Kabila organized by the Catholic Church. “France strongly condemns the violence perpetrated by the security forces during the demonstrations organized on 21 January 2018,” a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement. “It reiterates its call for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, starting with the right to protest.” Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in December 2016 has triggered a series of street protests in which scores have been killed in Kinshasa. It has also emboldened armed rebel groups in different parts of the...
(AFP (eng) 01/22/18)
Suspected Ugandan Islamist rebels killed three civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, despite an offensive by government troops, sources said on Monday. The deaths occurred on Sunday in the Beni region of North Kivu province, where government forces launched a campaign against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia on January 13. "There was an incursion by the ADF yesterday (Sunday) in Kokola. Three people -- a motorcycle taxi driver and his two customers -- were killed before the army intervened," the administrator of Beni district, Bernard Amisi Kalonda, told AFP. The incident was confirmed by Jonas Mbusa, a community leader. The army's spokesman in the region, Captain Mak Hazukay...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/22/18)
KLEINARL, Austria (Reuters) - The chilly conditions on an Austrian mountainside belied the warm reception given to people from 15 African countries who took part in an annual luge race aimed at helping migrants integrate into European society. The event over the weekend, dubbed the African Winter Sports Cup, is a luge race contested by people with little or no experience of winter sports. Its aim, over the six years it has been held, is to promote social integration through sport, organizers said. The countries represented included Nigeria, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan. Some of the people taking part had come to Europe as asylum seekers while others were born on the continent. “We are all human, we have...
(AFP (eng) 01/19/18)
A general commanding military operations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was ambushed, army sources said on Friday, as rebels launched fresh attacks in the troubled region. A convoy that included General Philemon Yav, in charge of forces in the region, came under fire by the Yakutumba militia in Fizi district in South Kivu province late Thursday, a source said. At least one soldier was killed and three were injured. The attack came two days after gunmen in South Kivu abducted two members of the country's powerful domestic intelligence agency, the National Information Agency (ANR), an army officer said. One of the two escaped. In neighbouring North Kivu province, two army positions came under attack on Friday by suspected members...

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