Friday 15 December 2017
(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...
(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 to hear the verdict, a...
(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)
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) 12/14/17)
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)
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...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe, 93, who was ousted from power last month, has flown to Singapore for a medical check-up, his ex-spokesman said Thursday. Mugabe and his wife Grace have not been seen in public since he was forced to resign after a military takeover brought a sudden end to his authoritarian 37-year reign. "He is in Singapore. It's part of his package as a retired president to travel overseas. He routinely goes to Singapore to meet with his...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
Guinea-Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz has proposed fresh talks on the country's grinding political crisis days before the issue was to be raised at a regional summit, but opposition parties have rejected the plan, both sides revealed on Wednesday. The tiny west African state has been in the grip of a power struggle since August 2015, when the president sacked then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, leader of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Talks mediated by Guinean President Alpha Conde in October 2016 had envisaged naming a new prime minister and assembling a unity government including PAIGC lawmakers.
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
The United States, Britain and France on Wednesday asked that a Russian request to send light arms to the Central African Republic be put on hold as they seek more information on the shipments, diplomats said. Russia has asked the UN Security Council for an exemption to an arms embargo on the Central African Republic (CAR) to allow the arms to be shipped to its armed forces. The first delivery of pistols, automatic rifles and ammunition is scheduled for next week. CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the weaponry...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
South Africa's jovial leader Jacob Zuma is a former herdboy who fought in the anti-apartheid struggle and has held onto the presidency despite a plethora of scandals. Now aged 75, he has survived by building a network of loyal African National Congress (ANC) lawmakers and officials, and by trading on the party's legacy as the organisation that ended white-minority rule. Among the stains on his presidency have been allegedly fostering a culture of government corruption and leading the country into...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a front-runner in the race for South Africa's ruling party leadership, faces difficulty distancing herself from her tarnished ex-husband President Jacob Zuma. Dlamini-Zuma is an African National Congress (ANC) veteran and an experienced technocrat who has served as a minister under every leader since the end of white minority rule in 1994. She became one of the most experienced ministers of the democratic post-apartheid era, holding the home affairs, health and foreign affairs portfolios. She was also chair of the African Union Commission until earlier this year, but running for the ANC top job is her biggest challenge yet, with victory putting her in line to become the next president...

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