Friday 15 December 2017
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
A Dutch-Ethiopian man was sentenced to life in jail on Friday after Dutch judges found him guilty of war crimes committed during Ethiopia's bloody purges in the late 1970s, a period known as the "Red Terror". Eshetu Alemu, 63, was "guilty of war crimes and treated his fellow citizens in a cold and calculating manner... including robbing them of their right to life," presiding judge Mariette Renckens told the court in The Hague. The tribunal "sentences him to life in prison, because this is the only appropriate measure," the judge said. Alemu has been in jail in The Netherlands for the last two years awaiting trial, but neither he nor his lawyers were in court...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
The UN Security Council warned Thursday of "cost and consequences" for any side in South Sudan that blocks a new regional peace initiative set to open next week in Ethiopia. In a unanimous statement, the council said a high-level forum organized by the IGAD East African group "is a unique window of opportunity, but equally a last chance for the parties to achieve sustainable peace and stability in South Sudan." The so-called high-level revitalization forum will open in Addis Ababa on Monday, although it remains unclear who will attend. The council "strongly urges all parties to engage constructively in the process" and underlines that "there must be cost and consequences for those who undermine" the forum, said the statement. British...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
Zimbabwe's new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, drew a firm line under the 37-year reign of Robert Mugabe in a keynote speech to the ruling ZANU-PF party on Friday. Mnangagwa took office last month after Mugabe was forced to quit when the military took power and ZANU-PF lawmakers launched impeachment proceedings against their veteran leader. Until recently, the new president was one of Mugabe's closest allies and critics say he is another authoritarian hardliner. But Mnangagwa used his much-awaited speech to an extraordinary congress of the ZANU-PF to declare the party had been defiled, and was now on a "new trajectory." "The party ideology, rules and regulations were being desecrated daily," Mnangagwa...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
International war crimes judges on Friday awarded $10 million in landmark reparations to "hundreds or thousands" of former child soldiers left brutalised and stigmatised after being conscripted into a ruthless Congolese militia. Warlord Thomas Lubanga, 56, was jailed for 14 years after being convicted in 2012 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) of abducting boys and girls and press-ganging them into his Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) in the eastern Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The judges...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
A Nigerian military court on Friday sentenced a soldier to death for killing five civilians rescued from Boko Haram. The soldier, Lance Corporal John Godwin, was convicted by the General Court Martial in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State for killing the civilians in Yamteke town. "The civilians were earlier rescued by troops of the soldier's battalion and were taken for investigation at the time the soldier shot and killed five of them," army spokesman Kinsley Mfon Samuel said in a...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
A bill to revise Gabon's constitution, which opponents say risks letting President Ali Bongo retain power indefinitely, cleared a hurdle after the country's lower house overwhelmingly approved it, sources said Friday. State media made no mention of the development but two lawmakers present told AFP the bill was passed in a plenary session Thursday and an official source who declined to give his name confirmed as much. The national assembly is composed almost entirely of members of the ruling Gabonese...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
Liberia's ruling Unity Party has asked the Supreme Court to further delay the presidential runoff, which its candidate Vice President Joseph Boakai will contest on December 26. The party filed a request late Thursday in which it called for the country's legislature to be given responsibility for determining the election date. The move came just hours after Boakai was dealt a setback, when a major opposition party announced it would back his rival, former football star George Weah. "We request...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
Armed separatists in Cameroon's troubled anglophone region attacked a village before being repelled by soldiers, security officials said Friday. "A group of secessionists on Thursday attacked the locality of Dadi," a source said, referring to a village in the Mamfe area of Southwest Region -- one of two areas shaken by unrest in Cameroon's anglophone minority. "The army repelled the attack... inflicting fatalities among the assailants," a security official said. The account was confirmed by a military source. There was...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
A Liberian opposition party formally backed George Weah for president on Thursday despite mounting a prolonged legal fight with his opponent, Vice-President Joseph Boakai, against the country's electoral commission. Weah and Boakai are due to face each other in a December 26 run-off triggered when the two men took first and second spots respectively in an October 10 presidential election but failed to win more than 50 percent of ballots cast. The Liberty Party, whose standard bearer Charles Brumskine complained...
(Reuters (Eng) 12/15/17)
KAMPALA (Reuters) - South Sudan‘s president has given top jobs to three generals facing U.N. sanctions over alleged violations during a four-year-old civil war. Campaign group Human Rights Watch called the promotions “a slap in the face of justice” - but the presidency said the three men were good officers who had been falsely accused. In a decree read out on state radio late on Thursday, President Salva Kiir appointed Marial Chanuong as his new head of army operations, training...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
Cameroonian author Patrice Nganang was held in prison Thursday before a court appearance Friday for the alleged publication of an article critical of the country's president. His lawyer Emmanuel Simh confirmed his client was jailed at the capital Yaounde's central prison ahead of his first hearing at the Yaounde administrative centre. "I did not have access to his file, but he is prosecuted for apology for crime, contempt and assault threats," he told AFP, adding that the charge of "contempt...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
Togo's opposition on Thursday called on regional leaders to pressure the country's government to accept the reality of political change, as its supporters again protested against President Faure Gnassingbe. A coalition of 14 parties, which has led almost weekly demonstrations since August, appealed to heads of state and government attending Saturday's ECOWAS summit in Abuja to put pressure on the regime. Gnassingbe, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the Economic Community of West African States, has led Togo since 2005 after the death of his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema. The general himself was in charge for 38 years.
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
The African National Congress was lauded for its moral authority in the fight against apartheid in South Africa, but many veterans of that era are deeply disillusioned by the party's actions today. As delegates prepare to elect a new leader to succeed Jacob Zuma, the ANC faces falling public support, a reputation for corruption and the threat of a damaging split between rival factions. The celebrated activists who stood alongside ANC leader Nelson Mandela in the struggle against white-minority rule...
(AFP (eng) 12/15/17)
For migrants who escape torture and starvation at the hands of people traffickers, a "Safe House" in an oasis town offers a rare commodity in Libya: shelter and medical care. Bani Walid, on the edge of the desert 170 kilometres (110 miles) southeast of the capital Tripoli, is a transit point on the way to the coast and perilous boat journeys across the Mediterranean to Europe. With the old green flags of Moamer Kadhafi's regime fluttering in the wind, time...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
A US government delegation is visiting Chad, one of six mainly-Muslim countries affected by President Donald Trump's travel ban, in order to assess passport security, a foreign ministry official said Thursday. The Department of Homeland Security team "has been in Chad for the past week" to evaluate "relative weaknesses" in Chadian passports, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Their concern is that the Chadian passport is not biometric, even though it is secure," the source said. "Their report...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram were on Thursday put on high alert after four military vehicles went missing during a raid on a army post in the restive northeast. A message sent to all military bases across the region called for "all units and troops to remain at alert and not be taken by surprise". Two armoured cars and two all-terrain pick-up trucks were taken after the jihadists tried to take over a military base at the village of Mainok...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
Tanzania called on Thursday for an investigation into the killing of 14 soldiers serving as UN peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo by suspected Ugandan rebels. "The Tanzanian government is asking the United Nations to conduct a thorough, transparent and genuine investigation," Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said at a ceremony in Dar es Salaam in honour of the soldiers, whose bodies were repatriated on Monday. Tanzanian army chief General Venance Mabeyo said one soldier was still missing and 44 wounded troops were being treated in hospital. "We hope that the United Nations will do this quickly," Majaliwa added, speaking alongside UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
A suicide bomber from Somalia's Shabaab insurgents killed 18 police officers and wounded 15 others on Thursday when he blew himself up inside the country's main police academy, the force's chief said. Witnesses said the police were gathered in a square ahead of their early morning parade when the bomber attacked in the capital Mogadishu. "Eighteen members from the police were killed, and 15 others were wounded, after a suicide bomber blew himself inside the academy," acting police chief General...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
The United States on Wednesday imposed economic sanctions on two Africans accused of using the illegal ivory trade to funnel weapons and money to Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army. Washington blacklisted Kony and his rebel guerilla group last year, accusing them of targeting civilians in the Central African Republic, displacing populations and carrying out abductions. "Treasury will continue to target armed groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army and their support networks that rely on the global ivory trade and wildlife trafficking to finance their violent campaigns," John Smith, who administers the Treasury Department's sanctions office, said in a statement.
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
Eleven militiamen in eastern DR Congo were jailed for life Wednesday for raping about 40 children, including a baby, in what was judged a crime against humanity. The defendants were said to belong to a militia group called "Djeshi ya Yesu" -- meaning "Army of Jesus" in Swahili -- led by South Kivu provincial lawmaker Frederic Batumike. The children, ranging from babies aged just eight months to a 12-year-old girl, were kidnapped and raped between 2013 and 2016. A large...

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