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UN says South Sudan lukewarm about new peace push

Posted AFP

on  Tuesday, October 17   2017 at  20:21

South Sudan's government has shown little interest in a new regional peace initiative that the US has described as a final chance to end the war, the UN peacekeeping chief said Tuesday.

The UN Security Council has thrown its weight behind the drive by the regional Igad group to kick-start the peace process through its "revitalisation forum" of a 2015 deal that has failed to take hold.

"With regard to the revitalisation forum announced by Igad, the government has only given a lukewarm response," Mr Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping, told the Security Council.

Led by Ethiopia, Foreign ministers of the seven-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) met with President Salva Kiir this month and exiled rebel leader Riek Machar in South Africa.

Killed thousands

President Kiir "reportedly committed to support the forum while asking a series of clarifications on its objectives that Igad agreed to address in writing," said Mr Lacroix.

Dr Machar and other opposition leaders have "declared cautious support to the process," he added.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley is expected to travel to South Sudan this month to press for progress in ending the war that has killed thousands and driven nearly four million people from their homes.

The US is South Sudan's biggest aid provider and a key supporter of its 2011 independence from Sudan.

South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 when President Kiir accused Dr Machar, his former deputy, of plotting a coup.

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Kagame critic's mother denies genocide charges

Posted IVAN R. MUGISHA in Kigali

on  Tuesday, October 17   2017 at  19:32

Rwandan government critic Diane Shima Rwigara’s mother has denied spreading a genocide ideology.

Mrs Adeline Rwigara said in court on Monday that she was a survivor of the 1994 massacre in which members of her family were also slaughtered.

She is charged with inciting insurrection together with her two daughters, Diane and Anne Rwigara.

The prosecutor, Mr Michele Nshimiyamana, played video and audio clips in which Mrs Rwigara was recorded accusing security officers of killing Rwandans when they raided her house in late August.

“In the video, you can clearly see that she dwelt on genocide ideology by referring to law enforcers as “Interahamwe,” Mr Nshimiyamana told the court.

The Interahamwe was a militia that spearheaded the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

“What I meant in the video is that we survived the genocide and should not suffer the way we are suffering now. Our house was destroyed and my private conversations with my sisters were leaked to the press,” she said in her defence.

The prosecution also told the court that it had evidence that Diane, who was barred from contesting in the August elections, had faked signatures during a presidential bid. She is also facing forgery charges.

Mr Nshimiyamana told the court that some of the signatures belonged to dead people.

But she denied the charges saying she was being prosecuted due to her political ambitions and that some of her supporters were being threatened with imprisonment and torture.

In an emotional defence, Diane's younger sister Anne Rwigara said she had been “angry and frustrated” when the Rwanda Revenue Authority official refused talks with the family over reopening of their tobacco firm.

That was after the prosecution played an audio clip in which she was recorded as referring to the country as a “mafia state”.

The trial will resume on Wednesday.

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Medical aid rushed to stricken Somalia after bombing

Posted MUSTAFA HAJI ABDINUR in Mogadishu

on  Tuesday, October 17   2017 at  17:11

Somalia's allies sent planes carrying medical supplies and doctors Tuesday, while the diaspora rallied to donate blood to help the country cope with the crushing aftermath of its worst ever bombing.

At least 276 people were killed and 300 injured on Saturday when a truck packed with explosives blew up in a busy commercial district, according to the government, however medical sources suggest the death toll could be over 300.

The disaster quickly overwhelmed the fragile health system of a country which has experienced nearly three decades of civil war and anarchy and is heavily dependent on foreign aid.

Planes from the US, Kenya and Qatar landed in Mogadishu on Tuesday.

"We have received today three aircraft carrying medical supplies from the USA, Qatar and Kenya and apart from the one from USA government, the other two will carry back wounded people, about 35 victims," Mogadishu mayor Tabid Abdi Mohamed told reporters.

On Monday Turkey — a leading donor and investor in Somalia — ferried 35 wounded people to Ankara after its Health minister, Mr Ahmet Demircan, accompanied a plane carrying supplies, medics and disaster experts to the country.

Djibouti's Health minister Djama Elmi Okieh accompanied a team of specialist doctors and paramedics in a military aircraft to assist the wounded, according to state media.

On Tuesday Kenyan Foreign minister Amina Mohamed announced that the country would evacuate 31 injured Somalis for specialised treatment in Nairobi, and send 11 tonnes of medicine to the neighbouring country.

In addition, the Kenyan Red Cross launched a fundraising drive for victims of the attack.

"This is a very good sign, for the fact that we are getting medical assistance because we cannot handle such a massive disaster," said Dr Abdukadir Haji Adem who runs Mogadishu's only free ambulance service AMIN.

According to his count, the death toll stood at 302. Death tolls are notoriously difficult to establish in Mogadishu, with families often quickly taking victims away to be buried.

"When the tragedy happened, the telephone network was down and our coordination was very bad because we don't have walkie talkies, our equipment is insufficient to deal with a terrible incident like the one," he said.

A GoFundMe page started by a Somali living in Sweden has raised $17,000 for the ambulance service — which operates a fleet of 10 second-hand vehicles — in only two days.

Somalia's years of conflict, which began when Siad Barre's military regime collapsed in 1991, has created a diaspora of about two million people.

The largest population of Somalis abroad is in Kenya, where hundreds lined up Wednesday in Nairobi's Eastleigh neighbourhood — often dubbed Little Mogadishu — to donate blood to be airlifted to their countrymen.

"Quite a number of the casualties what they need at the moment is blood ... the turnout is massive, we have a lot of donors, we are really overwhelmed," said Abdi Nasir Dahir of Kenya's national blood transfusion services.

The blast occurred in Hodan, destroying some 20 buildings in a bustling commercial district, leaving scores of victims burned beyond recognition.
Several experts told AFP the truck was probably carrying at least 500 kilos (1,100 pounds) of explosives.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Al-Shabaab, a militant group aligned with Al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia's internationally-backed government.

The group has a history of not claiming attacks whose scale provokes massive public outrage.

Already more than 100 unidentified people have been buried who were burned beyond recognition.

While the rapid burial is partly due to Islamic culture, the Somali government also has no proper morgue nor the capability to carry out forensic tests to identify the victims.

"The government exhausted every effort to identify these dead bodies ... but it became so difficult that it decided to bury them all together," said local government official Muhidin Ali.

The devastating attack is a blow to Somalia's fledgling government, coming eight months after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was elected to great fanfare in a limited voting process that was nevertheless seen as the most democratic yet in the notorious failed state.

He came into office declaring war on the Al-Shabaab, which has carried out regular attacks on Mogadishu since African Union and Somali troops drove them out of the capital in 2011.

According to the Nairobi-based Sahan thinktank, at least 723 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in bomb attacks in 2016 in Somalia. (AFP)

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SA ruling alliance rattled after Zuma sacks minister

Posted PETER DUBE in Pretoria

on  Tuesday, October 17   2017 at  16:21

The rift in the governing tripartite alliance has widened following the dropping of the South African Communist Party’s (SACP) leader, Mr Blade Nzimande, in President Jacob Zuma’s latest Cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Nzimande was in charge of Higher Education.

SACP said it had learnt of what it described as a “factional removal” with shock.

SACP is an alliance partner with President Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) and the removal of its general-secretary has been met with widespread criticism.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the removal of Mr Nzimande was “a pity” as he had done well in Education. He said the reshuffle was likely to have a negative impact on the alliance.

“It is a pity that Comrade Blade has resigned, we are hoping he doesn’t resign from parliament,” Mr Mantashe said.

SACP issued a statement following the announcement and called a press conference in Johannesburg.

“We emphatically reject these manoeuvres that place the alliance on the brink of disintegration. Our view is that this is not a reshuffle but the targeted removal of Comrade Nzimande as a direct attack on the SACP,” SACP said in a statement.

The Democratic Alliance's (DA) Mmusi Maimane said the move was aimed at cleaning up Cabinet of all ministers “who have failed to toe the Zuma line”.

“The SACP has been dealt an insulting blow and they must now decide how long they will put up with this abuse, or if they will now do what they know is right and begin to work outside the ANC,” Mr Maimane said.

Mr Nzimande was replaced by Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize‚ who was minister for Home Affairs. Mr Nzimande’s deputy‚ Mr Mduduzi Manana‚ was replaced by Mr Buti Manamela‚ the former deputy minister for Planning and Monitoring.

Mr Manana resigned earlier this year after he admitted to assaulting a woman.

Prof Mkhize was replaced at Home Affairs by Ayanda Dlodlo‚ whose position as minister for Communications will be taken over by Mr Mmamoloko Kubayi, previously minister for Energy.

Political analyst Thulani Ndlovu said President Zuma’s shock move would inevitably place severe strain on relations between ANC and other members of the tri-partite alliance.

“This could signal the end of the alliance. For a long time, the SACP has been complaining that its members are axed from their positions without any consultations. This time, President Zuma has fired their leader. I doubt this will end well,” Mr Ndlovu said.

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UN tells of shocking abuse of migrants in Libya hub

Posted NINA LARSON in Geneva

on  Tuesday, October 17   2017 at  15:00

More than 20,000 migrants, including pregnant women and babies, are being held either in detention centres or by traffickers in Libya's people-smuggling hub Sabratha, the UN said Tuesday, warning of abuse "on a shocking scale".

The UN refugee agency said Libyan authorities were holding more than 14,500 migrants who had previously been kept captive by smugglers in and around Sabratha, to the west of Tripoli.

The migrants were discovered in farms, houses and warehouses in and around the coastal city after a force allied with Libya's UN-backed unity government drove out a rival militia earlier this month.

They have been taken to a hangar in the city and are gradually being transferred to official detention centres where aid organisations are providing assistance, UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said.

Authorities also estimate that another 6,000 people are still being held by smugglers, bringing the total number held to around 20,500, Mr Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.

Following the ouster and killing of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a Nato-backed 2011 revolution, Sabratha became a major hub for migrants seeking a chance to head to Europe.

Taking advantage of a security vacuum, some local smugglers took control of whole sections of the city and even built their own landing piers, equipped to launch dozens of migrant boats a day.

Mr Mahecic said UNHCR staff working on the ground with those previously held by the people smugglers had described a "picture of human suffering and abuse on a shocking scale".

"Amongst the refugees and migrants who suffered abuse at the hands of smugglers, there are pregnant women and new-born babies," he said, adding that hundreds of people were found without clothes or shoes while hundreds said they had not eaten for days when they were found.

Many of them require urgent medical care, Mr Mahecic said, adding that some had suffered bullet wounds while most said they had been subject to abuse, including sexual violence and forced labour.

UNHCR also warned there was "a worrying number of unaccompanied and separated children, many under the age of six".

The agency said the official detention centres and assembly points were overflowing, and often lacked water tanks and sanitation facilities.

Many people, including children, are being forced to sleep out in the open.

While smugglers had committed the worst abuse against the migrants, the UN has previously warned of "extremely bad" conditions in Libyan detention centres.

Until recently, Libya has been a major launching off point for migrants, most of them from African countries, trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

But the number of attempted crossings has dropped off dramatically, since Libya's coastguard received European Union funding and training to stop smugglers taking migrants to the water. (AFP)

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Cameroon PM visits restive Anglophone region

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Tuesday, October 17   2017 at  12:47

Cameroonian Prime Minister Philemon Yang continues holding talks with professional groups in the Northwest in an attempt to calm tensions among the minority English speakers.

Mr Yang, who started a week-long ‘dialogue and peace mission’ on Monday, held separate consultations with the representatives of trade unions in the transport, education and shopping sectors in the regional capital Bamenda.

The state radio reported that Mr Yang, who is accompanied by some influential local politicians, delivered President Paul Biya’s message of peace and a return to normalcy.

The latest peace mission comes after the symbolic declaration of independence on October 1.

A similar delegation headed by former prime minister and the chairman of the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, Mr Peter Mafany Musonge, was expected in the Southwest.

Cameroon’s Anglophones have held grudges against their Francophone brothers for duping them in a post-independence reunification deal, where they expected to be equal partners. They often complain of being treated as second-class citizens.

The crisis that resurfaced last year, reached a new low earlier this month, when over 20 people were shot dead by security forces, tens of others were injured and over 500 more detained, according to Amnesty International.

The government puts the number of the dead at between 10 and 12.

The London-based rights group said troops fired teargas canisters and live ammunition at protesters across the Northwest and Southwest upon the symbolic declaration of independence.

Barrister Felix Nkongho Agbor Balla, who heads the outlawed Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC), lashed out at the visits as a "provocation" given the scale of the crackdown.

“We strongly condemn, reject and dissociate ourselves from these visits. Killings, arrests and violence of September 22 and October 1 would have been avoided in fundamental rights of peaceful protests were respected and if the government showed goodwill to dialogue and listen to the population,” Mr Balla said.

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Tests confirm three monkey pox deaths in Nigeria

Posted MOHAMMED MOMOH in Abuja

on  Tuesday, October 17   2017 at  11:13

Laboratory tests have confirmed three deaths from the monkey pox outbreak in Nigeria.

The Abuja government said an analysis conducted at the WHO Regional Laboratory in Dakar in Senegal, confirmed that monkey pox disease had killed three people out of the 21 reported cases.

The Nigerian Commissioner for Health, Prof Ebititula Embu, said that one other patient committed suicide.

"It is, however, important to note that the patient was recovering and had improved significantly like other patients.

In isolation

"His medical history did not suggest any mental illness or features of depression,” he said.

The patient, who was in isolation at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), was reported to have committed suicide on Sunday without getting the confirmation that he was one of the confirmed cases.
Eleven people were suspected to have contracted monkey pox on October 4 in the Niger Delta State. The federal government sent samples of 21 cases to Dakar for analysis.

Health minister Isaac Adele has advised Nigerians to avoid stigmatising those infected with monkey pox.

He confirmed that the government had received 19 results, and was awaiting two more from Dakar.

A greater risk

Prof Adele said four cases from Lagos and 12 from Bayelsa were negative, while three others from the latter turned positive.

The minister said that on September 22, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) received a report of a suspected case of monkey pox virus from NDUTH.

He explained that since the initial announcement of the outbreak, a total of 43 other suspected cases had been reported from Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ekiti, Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa and Rivers states.

NCDC Chief Executive Officer Chike Ihekwazu said all the suspected cases reported were doing well, adding that the agency had established an emergency centre to coordinate the response across the states.

He listed the preventive measures as including avoiding contact with squirrels, rats and other wild animals, pointing out that catching the animals posed a greater risk than eating them.

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Africa today at a glance

Posted AFRICAREVIEW.COM and Agencies

on  Tuesday, October 17   2017 at  10:23

UN discusses S. Sudan

UN Security Council discusses South Sudan's three-year-old war in New York.

Liberia run-off poll

Liberia begins preparations to hold a runoff presidential election between former footballer George Weah and incumbent vice-president Joseph Boakai following first-round results.

Angolan opposition's take

Angolan main opposition parties Unita and Casa-Ce dismiss as exaggerated the pledges by President João Lourenço in his Monday inaugural address to the nation.

Morocco protests trial

Hearing takes place in Casablanca in the trial of activists over a protest movement that swept northern Morocco.

EU envoy in Tunisia

European Union counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove visits Tunisia.

Cape Verde meeting

Delegates from more than 80 countries begin the fourth World Forum for Local Development meeting in Praia, Cape Verde.

Libya talks in Tunis

Libya's rival political leaders hold talks in Tunisia on amending a UN-brokered 2015 accord aimed at resolving the political and security chaos in their country.

Somalia in mourning

Third day of the three-day national mourning in Somalia following a massive truck bomb in Mogadishu, in which nearly 600 people were either killed or wounded.

Biafra leader on trial

Trial resumes of Nigeria's pro-Biafran secession leader Nnamdi Kanu, who has not been seen in public since troops were deployed to the southeast city of Umuahia last month.

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Form Four student shot dead in Kenya poll protests

Posted RUSHDIE OUDIA in Kisumu, Kenya

on  Monday, October 16   2017 at  19:45

A Form Four student was shot dead in Kenya's western city of Kisumu on Monday as hundreds of opposition supporters defied a government order to cease anti-poll agency demonstrations.

Thousands of the opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance (Nasa), took to the streets demanding reforms ahead of the October 26 presidential election.

Police, responding to an order by Security minister Fred Matiang'i, tear-gassed a large crowd of protesters in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold, who set tyres alight, blocked roads and pelted the security agents with rocks.

Monday marked the first day of the daily protests, just 10 days ahead of the election.

According to the boy's mother, Ms Caroline Okello, the student said he was going to buy ice cream from a nearby vendor as protests swept through the city.

“I told him not to go out today because of the protests but he insisted on going to buy ice cream,” said the mother.

The boy was a student at Vihiga High School, but had been sent home for school fees, the mother said.
RELATED CONTENT: Two rights groups blame police for 33 Kenya poll deaths

One protester, Mr Michael Odhiambo, 21, said he had seen police gun down a young man.

"He was running to hide himself from police. A police man just pointed a gun at him and shot him from a distance. He was shot in the neck," he said.

Kisumu police boss Titus Yoma could not confirm if the the boy died from bullet wounds or if he was shot at all, "because the body was taken to the mortuary by local residents," he said.

On Friday two protesters were shot dead by police in Bondo town, west of Kisumu, which is the rural home of opposition leader Raila Odinga.

"For how long will these senseless killings by police (go on)? Police cannot be shooting at protesters every other time. Is it a crime to protest?," asked Ms Margaret Akinyi, a vegetable vendor in Kisumu.

She said the young protester killed Monday was "felled by a bullet just next to me and we had to run, all of us. He is dead".

In Nairobi, a small crowd of protesters was swiftly dispersed.

A local human rights group said 37 people died in the immediate aftermath of the August 8 election that was later annulled by the Supreme Court which ordered a re-run.

A joint report by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released Monday said it had confirmed 33 deaths at the hands of police.

Kenya's police chief Joseph Boinnet said the report was "totally misleading and based on falsehoods", adding police were only aware of 12 deaths which they were investigating.

Kenya is mired in confusion over the fresh presidential election after the Supreme court on September 1 nullified the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

It directed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to conduct a fresh election within 60 days.

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Tunisia top African rankings for first time since 2002



on  Monday, October 16   2017 at  18:55

Tunisia return to top spot in Africa for the first time since 2002

Tunisia have moved top of Fifa's African rankings for the first time in 15 years.

The last time the North Africans were ranked the best team on the continent was back in January 2002, a position the Carthage Eagles had assumed the previous July.

Lowest spot

Managed by Nabil Maaloul, Tunisia - who need just a point at home to Libya next month to qualify for the World Cup - replace Egypt at the top of the African standings.

Earlier this month, Egypt reached the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Meanwhile, fellow African sides Eritrea and Somalia share the lowest spot in the rankings - 206th - with four other nations.

Africa's top 10 on October's Fifa rankings - global ranking in brackets:

  1. Tunisia (28)
  2. Egypt (30)
  3. Senegal (32)
  4. DR Congo (35)
  5. Nigeria (41)
  6. Cameroon (42)
  7. Morocco (48)
  8. Ghana (52)
  9. Burkina Faso (55)
  10. Cote d'Ivoire (61)