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Somali teenager declines state appointment

Posted ABDULKADIR KHALIF in Mogadishu

on  Tuesday, March 20  2018 at  17:42

A sixteen-year-old Somali student has declined an appointment as deputy commissioner.

Faysal Abdullahi Omar was last week appointed by Hirshabelle State Interior minister Mohamed Ali Adle to the role in Jowhar region.

Jowhar is the headquarters of the south-eastern state of Hirshabelle.

The teenager told the media that taking up the role would make him a target for the Al-Shabaab militants, who continue to reign terror in the Horn of Africa state.

The insecurity

“I am still a student at Sheikh Hassan Barsane School in Jowhar. The minister of Interior Affairs sent  me an appointment letter,” Omar told journalists.

“I want to resign from that post because I can’t manage it,” he added.

“I am making it clear that I am unable to perform that responsibility because you have seen the insecurity in the country.”

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Tongues wag as Biya heads to China

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Tuesday, March 20  2018 at  17:04

Cameroon’s long serving President Paul Biya is expected to use his latest visit to China to review all aspects of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

The Cameroonian leader left Yaoundé on Sunday for a three-day state visit that officially begins on Thursday.

According the Cameroon State House, President Biya will, among other things, hold talks in Beijing with his host Xi Jinping.

The Cameroonian leader is accompanied by the Frist Lady, Chantal, and a 13-man official delegation..

Giant projects

Though Beijing and Yaoundé have enjoyed diplomatic relations for the past 47 years, the Sino-Cameroon links have grown rapidly in the last two decades, with China now Cameroon’s top economic partner.

China plays a key role in Cameroon's economic development with the total or partial financing of giant projects, including in agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, telecommunications, culture and sports.

The construction of the Lom Pangar, Memve’ele and Mekin hydroelectric dams by China stands tall amongst others. The Memve’ele dam, which will go into production no later than October, will have a capacity of 211 megawatts and will produce 1,140 gigawatts of electricity annually. The Mekin dam is mainly intended to supply electricity to the eight districts of President Biya’s native Dja and Lobo division with a production capacity of 15 megawatts.

President Biya will commission some of the giant projects this year and he could use his visit to China to invite some top political and business leaders in the country for the events.

President Biya, 85, will be seeking a seventh term of office this year after tinkering with the constitution in 2008, scrapping term limits and effectively positioning himself as president for life. His tour comes less than two weeks after the Chinese parliament; also approved a constitutional amendment to abolish presidential term limits, making it possible for President Xi to stay in power indefinitely.

Prior to leaving Yaoundé, President Biya sent an official message to Beijing, congratulating President Xi on his recent re-election.

Before the poll

With the deteriorating ties with the Western governments, including former colonial power France, President Biya has seemingly been very comfortable with China, a country that falls almost on the same scale with Cameroon in the areas of human rights and democratic reforms.

The last time President Biya sought re-election in 2011, he visited China a few months before the poll and a state TV reporter expressly said the tour was clearly a political one and Beijing authorities had thrown their weight behind Biya.

Evidence of it was later to be seen at President Biya's party meeting in Yaoundé when the Chinese communist party representative declared its support for the Cameroonian leader, forcing the French ruling party of then President Nicolas Sarkozy to follow suit.

It was reported that President Biya’s governing Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) party campaign materials were produced in China and the visit could just be an opportunity to meet with the suppliers ahead of a crucial election.

The latest is President Biya’s sixth official tour of the Asian giant since coming to power in 1982. The Cameroon president has previously toured China in March 1987, October 1993, September 2003, November 2006 and July 2011.

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On temporary islands in CAR, hundreds flee militia torture


on  Tuesday, March 20  2018 at  15:05

For a few months each year, the Ubangi, a tributary of the mighty River Congo, dries up and a cluster of ephemeral islands emerge from its torrents before the skies darken and seasonal downpours return.

The river, also spelled Oubangui, marks the border between Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and most of the islands are barren and deserted.

But a handful host temporary communities, with dozens of makeshift straw huts and tarpaulins stretched out along their sandy banks, as villagers, displaced from their homes in CAR, take refuge on their isolated, transient shores.

Fisherman Matthias Kongba is one of the hundreds to have sought sanctuary.

He comes from the Satema region 300km upstream but he moved to one of the temporary islands three months ago, tending to his nets and his battered wooden canoe because, he says, "the evil came back".

The evil he speaks of is a militia called the anti-Balaka, a band of Christian and traditionalist fighters that rose up after mostly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew the government of President Francois Bozize, a Christian, in 2013.

Military intervention

The Seleka's short-lived but brutal rule ended in 2014 after intense international pressure and a military intervention led by France, leaving the Muslim population to face bloody reprisals from the anti-Balaka.

Since then CAR has descended into further turmoil and thousands have been killed in inter-communal violence. Amid murder, rape and retaliatory attacks, the conflict has forced a million people to leave their homes, and more than half the population is in dire need of assistance.

"The anti-Balaka were robbing, torturing, committing crimes. We fled to Congo, it's a disaster," says Mr Kongba, who left his wife and nine children in the DRC and now represents displaced fishermen on the island.

His family are among the almost 200,000 people from CAR who have registered as refugees in DRC, according to UN refugee agency figures.

The racketeering

Nearly 500 people have settled on the river islet, which faces the village of Bagobolong 2 (80km east of the capital, Bangui), to escape the anti-Balaka.

"They gradually arrived between December and January. They settled between here and Zawara," says Francois Kokayeke, village head of Bagobolong 2, noting it is the first time fishermen have lived on the island.

Along the Ubangi, traders and fishermen are routinely subjected to the racketeering of the anti-Balaka militia, that has posts along the length of its banks.

Many fishermen have stories of friends or family who have been kidnapped or ransomed. Others have been forced to join the militia, through a bloody scarification ritual that they call "vaccination".

The process involves scarring several parts of the body during a ceremony that can involve whipping and cutting — it's supposed to make a person invincible to bullets.

"Anti-Balaka catch the fishing boats. They want to 'vaccinate' us. If you refuse, they 'vaccinate' you by force," says Mr Kongba, his voice full of anger.

Another fisherman, Mr Aran Bambindo, who is also living on the island after anti-Balaka forces looted and burned the houses of his village, Satema, says family members have been scarred.

"The anti-Balaka take our fish, they whip us and force us to be 'vaccinated'. It is to force us to fight with them," Mr Bambindo says.

"Before the 'vaccination', they tie you down and give you hemp. This lasts three hours. Some people agree to fight with them and they are 'vaccinated' with their children."

"Others refuse and flee," he adds.

Dozens of scars

Mr Bambindo points to his nephew, who does not speak, his eyes staring at the ground.

He has dozens of scars that have cut into the flesh on his arms, chest and back.

As the numbers of displaced on the islands have grown, so too have the problems, including food shortages.

Village chief Kokayeke returns from a fishing trip but his nets are almost empty.

"The fishing is not good because there are too many fishermen now," explains Mr Kokayeke.

"Some are using the small mesh nets that catch the small fish, so it reduces the reserves even further," he adds.

Temporary homes

The local fishermen association says it has tried to distribute unused nets to new arrivals but that there are too many people.

In the dry season, the Ubangi runs at about five metres, but during the rains its swollen waters can rise up to 12 metres.

Unable to fish, the island inhabitants hang around the tiny entrances to their straw huts, aware that their temporary homes will submerge under the river once the rainy season returns in May.

"It's (because of) poverty," says Mr Kongba, in a torn blue T-shirt.

"We can not eat well, we have no drinking water, no care, not enough fishing equipment," he says, before returning to his fishing net. (AFP)

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South Sudan opposition rejects talks venue change

Posted JOSEPH ODUHA in Juba

on  Tuesday, March 20  2018 at  13:14

South Sudan’s main opposition armed group has opposed the Juba government's push for the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (Igad) peace talks to be moved from Addis Ababa.

The group led by former Vice-President Riek Machar claimed the push would expose its delegates to risks.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) deputy envoy to Tanzania, Mr Peter Oyoyo Kleta, claimed that the Juba demand was a plot to assassinate, arrest, deport and manipulate the opposition.

The South Sudan government wants the regional bloc mediating the peace process to change the venue, citing political instability in Ethiopia as a threat.

The delegates

Juba also said the instability in Ethiopia could compromise the security of the delegates and disrupt the peace talks.

Ethiopia is struggling with an unrest in the Oromia region and other parts and the last month resignation of Prime Minister Desalegn Hailemariam.

Mr Kleta said the unrest was never a threat to the South Sudan peace talks in Addis Ababa.

“I don’t’ agree with the idea of changing the venue from Addis Ababa to elsewhere.

“The government in Juba wants to spoil the peace process by claiming that there is political instability in Ethiopia. First of all, Ethiopia is more stable and safer than the countries Juba proposed. The demonstration in Oromia region and other parts of Ethiopia is never a threat at all,” he told the Africareview.

“Even if it were true that Ethiopia is not stable, then the African Union and the UN should take over the mediation file,” he said.

The envoy accused Juba of planning to eliminate influential opposition leaders by transferring the peace talks to a country unsafe for them.

Mr Kleta further asserted that Juba was aiming to have an upper hand through secret deals with its friends in the region to dictate to the opposition in the peace process.

People lost lives

He cautioned Igad to reject the Juba demand and maintain Addis Ababa as the venue for the peace talks.

“I call upon Igad not to accept this crazy idea since the regime tactics are well known,” he claimed.

South Sudan became independent in 2011 but entered into war in December 2013 after political differences between President Salva Kiir and Dr Machar turned violent.

Over 100,000 people lost lives, according to the International Crisis Group.

The UN said over 2 million South Sudanese became refugees in neighbouring countries and another 1.9 million more remains internally displaced.

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South Africa's tax chief suspended

Posted AFP

on  Tuesday, March 20  2018 at  11:58

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended the head of the tax service ahead of "disciplinary proceedings" as he vows to fight graft following his predecessor Jacob Zuma's ousting.

In a statement released late Monday, President Ramaphosa announced that Mr Tom Moyane had refused to resign as the South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner and had then been suspended.

President Ramaphosa has replaced his Finance minister and several other senior officials since coming to power last month, when graft-tainted Zuma was pushed out of office by the ruling African National Congress party.

Public confidence

In his letter to Moyane, Ramaphosa said "developments at the SARS under your leadership have resulted in a deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised".

"For the sake of the country and the economy, this situation cannot be allowed to continue, or to worsen."

The tax service — crucial for raising funds for public services — has been a battleground of political rivalries in recent years.

Corruption scandals

Prosecutors announced on Friday that Mr Zuma would face corruption charges on allegations of accepting bribes over an arms deal before he became president. He has always denied the accusations.

During Mr Zuma's nine-year tenure, South Africa grappled with state corruption scandals, weak growth and record unemployment.

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Africa today at a glance

Posted AFRICAREVIEW.COM and Agencies

on  Tuesday, March 20  2018 at  10:27

Last male white rhino dies

The last male northern white rhino, Sudan, dies at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Influenza talks in Antananarivo

The three-days 6th international conference of African Network for Influenza Surveillance and Epidemiology (ANISE) enters the second day at the Carlton Hotel in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

Violence up in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone reports a spike in violence ahead of a presidential run-off on March 27, after Opposition Sierra Leone People's Party's Julius Maada Bio garnered 43.3 per cent of votes in the March 7 election, against the ruling All Peoples Congress's Samura Kamara's 42.7 per cent.

Flight to delivery in US

Ms Jéssica Lorena Dias Lourenço, the first daughter of Angolan President Joao Lourenço, charters a $200,000 private plane to deliver a baby in Washington, private media report.

Zambia probes blackout

Zambia's President Edgar Lungu orders an inquiry into a power blackout that affected the country's biggest referral hospital, the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka.


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Abducted Cameroon examinations board boss set free

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Monday, March 19  2018 at  19:57

A Cameroon national examinations board chief who was abducted in the restive English-speaking Southwest Cameroon, been set free.

Douala-based Equinoxe TV Monday evening reported that Prof Ivo Leke Tambo, the chairman of the Cameroon General Certificate of Education (GCE) board, had been released from captivity.

Prof Tambo was seized by suspected armed separatists on Saturday in his native Lebialem Division.

Lebialem-based journalist Jude Njinjuh also said Prof Tamboa had been set free.

Ransom demanded

"Yes; Prof Tambo has been released and he is now in Dschang," Mr Njinjuh told the Africareview on phone.

Dschang is a township in western Cameroon.

Mr Njinjuh, the manager of Alou Community Radio, said he did not know whether the $188,000 ransom demanded by the abductors had been paid.

The GCE boss's capture added to the linguistic difference crisis that has rocked Cameroon since late 2016.

A welfare officer of the Ministry of Social Affairs and regional delegate of the ministry for Northwest, Mr Nimbom Aaron Yong, was last month kidnapped in the town of Batibo.

It was the second abduction in the locality within three weeks, coming after that of the Batibo divisional officer who was sized on February 11.

Momo Senior Divisional Officer (SDO) Absalom Monono Woloa, said the regional delegate was abducted and his service vehicle set on fire.

The leader of the Ambazonia Governing Council (AGC), Mr Lucas Cho Ayaba, later said forces loyal to the separatist movement; the Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF), carried out the abduction of the regional delegate.

A federal system

“We got him,” Mr Ayaba wrote on social media following the abduction of Mr Yong.

The anglophone Cameroonians are agitating for secession after the predominantly francophone Yaoundé government reneged on a pre-unification deal.

On February 11, 1961 a plebiscite was held on whether Southern Cameroons (today's English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions) which had already obtained independence from Britain would join Nigeria or the Republic of Cameroon, which had obtained independence from France.

Voters elected to become part of French speaking Cameroon under a federal system. The plebiscite day was henceforth celebrated in Southern Cameroons as “Empire Day” until five years later when the government turned it into a National Youth Day in what historians say was a distortion of facts.

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Abducted Cameroon examinations boss set free

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Monday, March 19  2018 at  19:52

A state official in charge of national examinations who was abducted in the restive English-speaking Southwest Cameroon, has reportedly been set free.

Douala-based Equinoxe TV Tuesday evening reported that Prof Ivo Leke Tambo, the chairman of the Cameroon General Certificate of Education (GCE) board, had been released from captivity.


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State impunity costs Kenyans $504,000

Posted SAM KIPLAGAT in Nairobi

on  Monday, March 19  2018 at  18:26

The Kenya government’s failure to honour a court order to pay 12 people who were forcibly taken to Somalia on claims of having ties with Al-Qaeda will cost the taxpayer more than $504,000 (Sh51.3m).

Justice George Odunga in 2014 directed the government to pay them $504,000 plus interest for the four years the award has been outstanding.

The group successfully sued the government in 2013 and the court ordered that they be paid between $20,000 and $40,000.

They moved back to court after the government failed to compensate them.

Different dates

The 12, among them eight Kenyans, were rounded up on different dates in January 2007, detained for various periods, forcibly taken to Somalia, and later to Ethiopia.

The Kenyans are Salim Awadh Salim, Saidi Hamisi Mohamed, Bashir Hussein Chirag, Mohamed Sader, Hassan Shabani Mwazume, Swaleh Ali Tunza, Abdallah Halfan Tondwe, Kasim Musa Mwarusi and Ali Musa Mwarusi.

Others are Fatma Ahmed Chande and Mohamed Abushir Salim, who are Tanzanians, and Clement Ibrahim Muhibitabo, a Rwandese.

Some of the victims told the court that at the time of their arrest, they had just crossed into Kenya from Somalia, running away from a raging war and the should have been treated as refugees.

Were tortured

They also wanted the court to order the Interior principal secretary to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be commenced against him for failing to pay the amount.

They argued that their arrest was unlawful and unconstitutional and that they were tortured during the detention.

They told the court that they had made numerous follow-ups for settlement but their efforts have been met with resolute muteness.

They said they were held in crowded cells and sometimes in solitary confinement while handcuffed and blindfolded for days.

Found innocent

They also claimed that they would be taken in turns for interrogation in a centre run by the American Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

The detectives tortured and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, they said.

The 12 were also interrogated by British and Israeli officers who also accused them of being Al-Qaeda terrorists who had gone to Somalia to assist the Islamic Court Union (ICU).

After the interrogations, the 12 were found innocent and later allowed back to Kenya.

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President threatens to prosecute Zimbabwe forex culprits

Posted AFP

on  Monday, March 19  2018 at  17:58

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday named hundreds of mines, Chinese businesses and individuals who had illegally transferred foreign currency abroad during Robert Mugabe's rule and warned they would be prosecuted.

The announcement came after the expiry of a three month amnesty for the return of funds including export proceeds, payments for phantom imports and "funds transferred to foreign banks in cash or under spurious circumstances".

Authorities say Zimbabwe lost at least $1.4 billion in revenue as a result.

When Mnangagwa took over as president in November following Mr Mugabe's ouster, he issued a three-month ultimatum urging those who had illegally taken money out of the country to either bring it back or account for it.

"Despite concerted efforts by authorities and banks to request these entities and individuals to account for the externalised funds, the entities or individuals failed, ignored or neglected to respond to the amnesty," he said in a statement.

He also released a list of 1,403 offenders.

"The authorities have no other recourse but to cause these entities and individuals to respond and, where necessary, to ensure that those responsible for such illicit flows are brought to justice."

The deadline saw $591 million being returned while another $826 million remained outstanding, officials said.

According to the list, mining companies were the major offenders with African Associated Mines said to have sent out $62 million; Marange, a joint venture state-Chinese diamond miner spiriting out $54.2 million, Mbada Diamonds $14.7 million, Jinan Mining,

another joint-venture with the Chinese, $11 million and Canadile $41.3 million.

The list also included the national indigenisation board which oversaw the implementation of the country's controversial equity law, several Chinese businesses, and individuals such as Elias Musakwa, a music recording company executive who is also a ruling Zanu-PF party parliamentary aspirant.

Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn for over a decade with high unemployment and a cash crunch which has seen banks limiting cash withdrawals.