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Amnesty condemns Ethiopia journalist's conviction

Posted CHARLES OMONDI in Nairobi

on  Wednesday, May 24   2017 at  19:02

Human rights lobby group Amnesty International (AI) has condemned the conviction by Ethiopia’s Federal High Court of journalist Getachew Shiferaw.

AI's Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Muthoni Wanyeki described the guilty of “provocation of revolt” verdict as a further slap in the face for justice

“Today’s groundless ruling is a further slap in the face for justice in Ethiopia and proof of the authorities’ continued willingness - despite its stated commitment to reform - to misuse the criminal justice system to silence dissent', Ms Wanyeki said in a press release.

Online newspaper

“Getachew did nothing but share publicly-available information – to convict him of provoking revolt with the risk of a 10-year jail term, away from his loved ones, is cruel and unacceptable.”

Getachew, 33, was the editor-in-chief of Negere Ethiopia, an online newspaper linked to the opposition Semayawi (Blue Party).

He was arrested on December 25, 2015.

Getachew faces a maximum of 10 years in jail.

Years in jail

Last week, the same court convicted former Blue Party spokesman Yonatan Tesfaye of “encouragement of terrorism” for his sentiments on Facebook.

He faces up to 20 years in jail.

Getachew will be sentenced on Friday.

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Mugabe appoints daughter to censorship board


on  Wednesday, May 24   2017 at  17:35

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s daughter has been appointed to a top post in the country’s censorship board.

Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo announced on Wednesday that the president’s 27-year-old daughter, Bona Chikore, was part of the new 11-member board chaired by a former Cabinet minister.

One of Ms Chikore's responsibilities will be to monitor social media, the minister said.

Certain measures

The board’s main responsibilities, explained Mr Chombo, include ensuring that citizens do not abuse their rights to freedom of artistic expression, cultural beliefs and association.

He said President Mugabe gave the board a five-year term instead of the normal three years because he wanted it to craft certain measures.

“Our current Act limits the tenure of the board to three years, it is the wish of His Excellency that we change that and that this board will serve for a period of five years so that they are able to really craft issues and implement them,” Mr Chombo said.

“Three years is a little bit too short for cultural issues and related matters.”

The minister said the law must also be revised to deal with new technology.

“In today’s environment where there is heightened scrutiny by members of the public, internet and social media use, you are going to be faced by many challenges in administering the Act,” Mr Chombo said.

Last year, the board ordered an edit of the popular movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, saying some of the scenes were too explicit.

The movie

The order forced most of the movie houses in Zimbabwe to stop showing the film as they felt that the edits had taken away most of the story.

President Mugabe’s government last year threatened to clampdown on Zimbabweans using social media to protest against the 93-year-old ruler’s continued stay in office.

A pastor who led a social media campaign against corruption that culminated in the biggest job boycott in over a decade was arrested for treason in July 2016.

A top job

Pastor Evan Mawarire was freed by the courts and briefly went to exile in the US.

He was arrested when he returned home towards the end of the year on similar charges.

Ms Chikore's husband was last year appointed to a top job at the struggling Air Zimbabwe under controversial circumstances.

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Ministers in Angola for regional security talks

Posted ARNALDO VIEIRA in Luanda

on  Wednesday, May 24   2017 at  16:31

Defence ministers of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) gathered in Angola Wednesday for a meeting.

The meeting at the Hotel Convenções de Talatona in Luanda, was expected to discuss the the political and military situation in Burundi, the Central African Republic(CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.

Angola holds the presidency of ICGLR, a 12-states bloc whose other members are Burundi, the CAR, Congo-Brazzaville, DRC, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.

Inclusive security

On Tuesday, the regional military chiefs also met in Luanda and agreed that their priority be the fight against local rebellion.

They also reiterated the need to fortify the regional bloc to guarantee a more just and inclusive security.

The meeting's recommendations will be submitted to the Defence ministers gathering.

The situation

Last Friday, the Angolan capital hosted a meeting to analyse the situation in the DRC.

Angolan deputy President Manuel Domingos, DRC deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs minister Okitundu Leornard attended the discussions.

Angolan authorities say there were some 30,000 DRC refuges in the country, courtesy of the violence in DRC's Kasai Province.

The border

The violence erupted when government forces killed a tribal chief and militia leader Kamwina Nsapu.

Nsapu was leading a rebellion against President Joseph Kabila, whose stay in power beyond the mandatory two five-year term limit has been contested by other parties.

The Kasai violence has added to the DR Congo's woes, whose eastern side has been wracked by conflict since 1994, when Hutu militias fled across the border from Rwanda after carrying out a genocide against Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

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Unicef: 400,000 children risk dying from hunger in DRC

Posted AFP

on  Wednesday, May 24   2017 at  16:15

Almost 400,000 children risk dying of hunger in DR Congo's troubled Kasai region where months of violence has driven over a million people from their homes, Unicef said Wednesday.

The UN children's agency said the conflict in central Kasai has disrupted food supplies and undermined medical facilities.

Acute malnutrition

The crisis has left almost 400,000 children "at risk of severe acute malnutrition", a statement said, meaning they could die without immediate aid.

Unicef "needs $40.2 million for its urgent response" to the situation, the statement added.

"Without adequate medical help, without access to food and drinking water, the lives of hundreds of thousands of children are under threat."

Tribal militias

Spiralling violence between government troops and tribal militias in the region has forced 1.27 million people from their homes since September.

The fighting erupted after government troops last August killed tribal chief Jean Pierre Mpandi, also known as Kamwina Nsapu, who had launched an uprising against President Joseph Kabila.

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Call to speak with one voice on South Sudan peace

Posted JOSEPH ODUHA in Juba

on  Wednesday, May 24   2017 at  14:44

The African Union team overseeing the implementation of peace in South Sudan has called on regional leaders to speak with one voice on the process.

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) leader and former Botswana President Festus Mogae said he had consulted all the leaders in region to unify their approach to the peace in South Sudan.

Mr Mogae made the remarks Wednesday in Juba at his team's monthly briefing.

JMEC presents its report every month to the board members, including the representatives of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) and the South Sudanese Stakeholders.

Their messages

The board also includes the Igad member states, the UN, the Troika (US, UK and Norway), China, the European Union and the International Partners Forum and Friends of South Sudan.

“I have continued with my diplomatic engagements in the region, specifically in line with our ‘One Voice’ initiative, and I consulted with regional leaders in the pursuit of peace in South Sudan,” Mr Mogae said.

“During the month of May, I have met with the Chairperson of the AU Commission, the Chairperson of Igad and Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the presidents of Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. I appealed for us all to adopt “one voice” in our engagement with the leaders of South Sudan, and stressed the need for the regional leaders to align their messages and actions to prevent the situation in South Sudan from further deterioration,” he said.

He also met with Dr Lam Akol, the representative of the Former Detainees, and other key South Sudanese stakeholders.

“My message to all of them was that those who are still fighting should stop immediately for the sake of this country and that all serious parties should pursue a political path to return to the peace process,” he said.

Mr Mogae condemned the continuation of violence and the resulting loss of civilian lives in South Sudan, adding that the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country was at its peak.

“The current figures of displaced people and refugees are staggering and continue to illustrate the scale of the impact of the ongoing conflict. Civilians are routinely and forcefully removed from their villages and have their lives uprooted and livelihoods dismantled,” he said.

Mr Mogae welcomed the recent official launching of the National Dialogue, describing it as a “timely and welcome development”.

Conducive environment

“I am encouraged by the declaration that the National Dialogue will be inclusive, transparent and conducted with integrity. The National Dialogue does not replace the implementation of the Peace Agreement; it is complementary to it.

"Let us all give peace and dialogue a chance in order to create a conducive environment for the full implementation of the agreement," he said.

JMEC was established under Chapter Seven of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS), signed on August 17, 2015 in Addis Ababa.

JMEC is responsible for monitoring, overseeing and supporting the implementation of the agreement and the mandate and tasks of the TGoNU, including adherence to the agreed timelines and schedules; and in the event of non-compliance, shall recommend appropriate corrective action to the TGoNU.

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Should candidates with integrity issues be barred from Kenya's August elections?


on  Wednesday, May 24   2017 at  12:59

Should candidates with integrity issues be barred from Kenya's August elections?

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Rights activists want 20 barred from Kenya poll


on  Wednesday, May 24   2017 at  12:47

Civil society watchdogs have flagged 20 politicians they say should not be allowed to contest in Kenya's upcoming elections over integrity issues.

The Kenya Integrity Alliance on Wednesday said the politicians have unanswered questions on corruption and unethical conduct.

The alliance named no presidential aspirant, but gave red cards to Kirinyaga Jubilee governor nominee Anne Waiguru and governors Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Evans Kidero (Nairobi), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Kenneth Lusaka (Bungoma), Okoth Obado (Migori), Mwangi Wa Iria (Murang’a) and Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay).

Audit queries

It also named Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, Uasin Gishu Jubilee woman rep nominee Gladys Boss Shollei, Elizabeth Ongoro, George Ochilo Ayako and Mathew Lempurkel.

Others are Moses Luria, Oscar Kipchumba Sudi, Samwel Kazungu Kambi and Stephen Murathi Kambi.

The allegations range from abuse of office to audit queries about finances and participation in violence.

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Five killed in first IS suicide attack in Somalia

Posted AFP

on  Wednesday, May 24   2017 at  12:13

The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed its first suicide attack in Somalia, which police said Wednesday killed five people at a checkpoint in the northeastern port city of Bossaso.

The group's self-styled news agency Amaq claimed the "martyrdom-seeking operation with an explosive vest" in a statement carried by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives vest at a checkpoint late Tuesday in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

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Nigeria and Cameroon in joint tourism deal

Posted MOHAMMED MOMOH in Abuja

on  Wednesday, May 24   2017 at  11:49

Nigeria and Cameroon have entered into a partnership to establish three Trans-boundary Protected Areas to serve as tourism centres.

The centres are to be located at the Cross River-Korub and Takamanda; the Gashaka – Gumti-Faro and Tchabal Mbabo; and the Chad Basin- Waze trans-boundary parks.

The parks are expected to contribute significantly to reducing threats to key wildlife populations and biodiversity values through tourism revenue,

Nigeria’s Environment minister Ibrahim Jibril said in Abuja that the country was committed to the achieving the Bonn Challenge, the New York Declaration and other global initiatives for forest and landscape restoration.

Degraded ecosystems

“To this end, the Federal Government will continue to address the degraded ecosystems nationwide in the 2017 to 2018 development years through the ministry’s collaborative initiative with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

“This will not only restore our degraded ecosystems but also enhance our tourism and cultural values as well as build ecosystem resilience against the impact of climate change,” he said.

The world on Monday commemorated the International Day for Biodiversity (IDB).

Human existence

IDB is proclaimed to increase the awareness of the importance of biodiversity to human existence and the need to conserve it.

This year’s commemoration coincided with the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Mr Jibril said Nigeria was committed to implementing the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP).

The threats

The plan, he explained, has been reviewed in line with the Global Strategy for Biodiversity Conservation 2011 to 2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Target.

“Our NBSAP is an embodiment of how synergy within the environment sector and linkages with other economic sectors can be profitable in addressing the threats to our biodiversity and halting its loss.

He recalled that in December 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Endangered Species (Control of International Trade and Traffic) Amendment Act, 2016.

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Khartoum accuses Egypt and S. Sudan of backing rebels

Posted MOHAMMED AMIN in Khartoum

on  Wednesday, May 24   2017 at  11:05

Tensions between Sudan and Egypt and south Sudan seemed headed for an escalation with Khartoum accusing the two of supporting the Darfur rebels.

President Omar al-Bashir Tuesday said Egypt and South Sudan were arming the rebel movements in the troubled Darfur region.

In an address at the Defence ministry in Khartoum, President Bashir emphasised that the Sudanese army had captured Egyptian-made weapons from the rebels during the recent clashes.

‘’They came with 64 military vehicles but we defeated them, destroying 59 of them and we captured Egyptian tanks and armoured vehicles in the hands of the rebels,’’ he stressed.

One bullet

‘’The Egyptians never supported us with even one bullet while we were fighting in the past 17 years, under the excuses that they would not intervene in a domestic issue,’’ he stated.

The media have recently reported clashes between the government and rebel forces around the disputed Halaybe on the Red Sea border.

Cairo and Juba were yet to react to the accusations.

Egypt and Sudan last month agreed to ease the diplomatic tensions and stop the media war between the two sides.

Recent clashes

President Bashir further described the recent clashes with the rebels as a big conspiracy against Sudan, adding that the insurgents penetrated Darfur in two convoys through South Sudan and Libya.

One of the main Darfur rebel movements Tuesday admitted the arrest of its force commander in battles against the government troops on Monday.

Sudanese armed forces, backed by the militias of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), clashed with the rebels of the Sudan Liberation Movement/ Mini Arko Minawi (SLM/MM) faction in Darfur on Saturday, two days after the African Union confirmed that the security situation in the region had improved.

Both sides have claimed victory, but without giving the casualty figures.

Last month, the UN said that Darfur rebel movements had a presence in Libya, a claim the latter denied.