1.    ANGOLA

a)    Angola Press Agency: Head of State plays down election model criticism

Luanda - The President of the Republic, João Lourenço,Thursday considered the criticism of the opposition to the model for the election of the Head of State to be a false problem.

The Angolan Head of State reacted to the opposition's calls for the revision of the country's Constitution, to introduce the model of direct election of the President of the Republic, instead of the current one, in which the head of list of the most voted party is elected president.

Before traveling to Gatuna / Katuna, near the border between Rwanda and Uganda, to participate in the summit on these two countries, João Lourenço recalled that the MPs were also elected through party lists submitted to the Constitutional Court.

President Joao Lourenço emphasized that "there is no MP who brags about running an electoral campaign, alone, without integrating any party list, and that, by his own merit, he has won the right to be a MP".

The Angolan statesman added that he does not remember seeing any ballot papers with individual names of MPs, giving voters the opportunity to choose.

"Voters choose political parties and do not choose people," he argued, recalling that the Constitution of the Republic was approved in 2010 by the National Assembly.

b)    Angola Press Agency: President Lourenço arrives in Kigali for quadripartite summit

Kigali - The Angolan President, João Lourenço, arrived in the early afternoon of Thursday in Kigali city, for a two-day mission in the framework of the peace efforts between neighbors Rwanda and Uganda.

João Lourenço will participate, Friday, in a Summit with the counterparts of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi.

One of the objectives of the meeting, to be held in the town of Gatuna / Katuna, near the border between Rwanda and Uganda, is to debate the reopening of the common border, closed since March 2019, due to reciprocal accusations of espionage and political meddling.

The Gatuna / Katuna summit, which is 80 kilometers from the Rwandan capital, is also devoted to analyzing ways to ease the tension between Rwanda and Uganda.

The exchange of prisoners between the two countries is also planned, with 13 Rwandans (including three women) and 17 Ugandans.

On the pretext of a border incident that resulted in the death of one person on each side, President Paul Kagame ordered the closure of the border between the two countries, blocking the essential trade route for the movement of people and goods.

At the time, the President of Rwanda accused the Ugandan counterpart of collaborating with the Rwandan opposition and with Hutu forces, to destabilize his country.

In his turn, Museveni accused Kagame of murdering political opponents in Ugandan territory.

Rwanda and Uganda, two landlocked East African countries, are part of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL), together with Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya and Zambia.

2.    BURUNDI

a)    UNHR: UN experts denounce jail terms given to journalists before elections

GENEVA (20 February 2020) - UN experts* have strongly criticised the two-and-a-half-year jail sentences handed down against four Burundian journalists who sought to cover violent clashes between the Burundi Defence Forces and members of the rebel group Red-Tabara in the north of the country.

“After a trial marred by irregularities, the sentencing of four journalists to jail for simply carrying out their jobs is not acceptable. Journalists must be able to conduct their work independently and must have unhindered access to sources of information,” the experts said. 

Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Térence Mpozenzi and Egide Harerimana, human rights defenders and journalists for the independent media outlet Iwacu, were arrested on 22 October 2019 on their way to Bubanza province to cover clashes in the region. On 30 January 2020, the Bubanza High Court sentenced them each to two and a half years in prison and fined them one million Burundian francs (about US$ 530) for "an ‘impossible attempt’ to undermine the internal security of the state" - an offence under article 16 of the Burundian criminal code.

The four journalists were arrested before they could begin their reporting and were held without charge for several days. They were then charged with “complicity in undermining the internal security of the state,” mainly on the basis of a private message sent by one of them to a colleague. Their trial lasted only two hours. According to the information received, the offence was reclassified as an "impossible attempt to undermine State security" without the accused being informed. They were reportedly not given the opportunity to defend themselves against this new charge.

“We are deeply concerned that the prison sentences of Ms. Kamikazi, Ms. Ndirubusa, Mr. Mpozenzi and Mr. Harerimana were handed down following proceedings that do not appear to have respected the right to a fair trial. The convictions appear to be directly related to their activities as journalists. If the right to a fair trial has not been respected, the journalists should be released,” the experts said.

Noting that this case takes place in a context where freedom of information is increasingly under threat, especially in the run-up to the presidential, parliamentary, municipal and colline (hill) elections scheduled between May and August 2020, the Special Rapporteurs called for the rights of journalists and the media to be respected.

“We are deeply concerned by the information we have received that this case is taking place against a backdrop of a shrinking democratic space, particularly with regards to freedom of information, in the run-up to the elections,” they added.

A new press law, enacted on 14 September 2018, requires journalists to present only information that is deemed "balanced,” or face sanctions. The National Communication Council has also imposed a “Code of Good Conduct for Media and Journalists in the Election Period for 2020,” which prohibits journalists from publishing certain information of public interest, such as polls or information about possible challenges to election results. In 2019, the Burundian authorities withdrew the licence of one international radio station and suspended the licence of another for an indefinite period.

“The fact that the journalists were convicted in the run-up to the elections and while working for Iwacu, one of the country's last independent media outlets, raises questions about the motives of the verdict,” concluded the UN experts, who are in contact with the Burundian authorities on this case.

ENDS

3.    CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

a)    UN News: Security Council reflects on peace deal anniversary

Ambassadors were briefed by Mankeur Ndiaye, UN Special Representative for the country, who presented the latest report of the Secretary-General focusing on progress and challenges since the authorities and 14 armed groups signed the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation last February in the capital, Bangui. 

It was negotiated under the auspices of the African Union (AU), which had brought the sides together for 10 days of talks in Khartoum. 

“Progress has also been made in establishing special joint security units, as provided for by the peace agreement,” said Mr. Ndiaye, before listing further achievements including in demobilization, fighting impunity and promoting transitional justice.

The peace deal is the latest attempt to stem a crisis which began in 2012 after fighting between the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia and a mainly Muslim rebel coalition known as Séléka killed thousands. 

But as Mr. Ndiaye told the Council, a peace agreement is not yet peace. “It is a step forward, a long process, which is sometimes fraught with pitfalls.” 

Although signatories have reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement, violations continue, including illegal tax collections and attempts to expand territorial influence. 

Despite improved overall security, pockets of instability remain, with clashes between armed groups in the north-east threatening civilians and humanitarian workers. 

Mr. Ndiaye informed the Council of mediation efforts currently underway by the UN integrated mission in the country, MINUSCA, following attempts by one group, known as the ‘Rebirth’ or the FPRC, to invade the village of Birao, capital of Vakaga province. 

The FPRC had also issued a call for violence against the UN mission in Ndele, another northeastern town, rallying local people to invade its camp. 

“This is particularly unacceptable because it is using women and children as human shields to besiege the MINUSCA camp and to obstruct its operations,” he said.  

AU Special Representative Matias Bertino Matondo was also concerned about the security situation. 

“The majority of the armed groups have not yet laid down their arms and continue to exploit natural resources to the detriment of the state,” he said, speaking via video conference from Khartoum. 

The peace deal anniversary aside, Mr. Ndiaye said 2020 represents “an important turning point” as the CAR will hold presidential and legislative elections starting in December. 

The return from exile of former Presidents François Bozizé and Michel Djotodia has been among the “new political dynamics” emerging in the run-up. 

“Both of them…want to contribute, and this is something we can welcome,” said Mr.  Ndiaye, who also commended the “spirit of openness” expressed by current President Faustin-Archange Touadéra. 

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) estimates the election will cost nearly $42 million, according to Ambassador Omar Hilale from the UN Peacebuilding Commission. 

Reiterating a point made by Mr. Ndiaye, he said the process must be inclusive, with women, youth, displaced people and refugees taking part. 

Ambassador Olaf Skoog, European Union representative, underlined support to the CAR. The regional bloc will foot nearly half the cost of the vote and also plans to deploy electoral experts. 

“Elections are essential to consolidate democracy and democratic institutions in the CAR,” he said.  “Postponement is not an option.  They must take place.” 

4.    KENYA

a)    Digital Standard: EAC to build Sh345 million headquarters in Kenya

The East African Community (EAC) member states will each contribute Sh57 million toward the construction of Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) headquarters in Kisumu.

EAC Chief Administrative Secretary Ken Obura and LVBC Executive Secretary Ali Matano confirmed that the project would cost Sh345 million.

"This will be one of the milestones EAC partner States projects and achievements by LVBC, as it positions to serve the Great Lakes region," Mr Obura said.

The national government donated 2.8ha to the institution in 2006 but plans to begin the construction stalled due to lack of funds.

But now it is set to kick off after the EAC member States mutually agreed to contribute Sh57.5 million each toward the proposed LVBC's project.

The EAC member states are Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Republic of South Sudan.

So far the countries have only contributed Sh22.5 million each, totaling to Sh135 million. This will be used to kick-start the project.

This is the only project that is 100 per cent funded by the EAC partner states since its launch 24 years ago, with a majority of other projects it has done being funded by donors.

LVBC advertised tenders last week and are now reviewing and processing bids for work to start.

"We now expect to review the tender bids and qualify the best firms to carry out the exercise, which is likely to take a month or two to review," said Dr Matano.

Yesterday Matano said they would review the tender bids between now and April. The construction will be done in two phases.

"Our first phase will include the construction of part of the administrative block to accommodate staff and the second staff quarters and another office block," Matano said.

He commended EAC member States for their fresh commitment to building the regional offices in Kisumu. Currently, LVBC is hosted at Prosperity House – a government premise where Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o's office is.

According to Prof Nyong’o, the LVBC headquarters will be a boon to the county, as it will also place it in a strategic position as the regional business hub.

5.    RWANDA

a)    The New Times: Kagame, Museveni meet at Gatuna border

The fourth Quadripartite Heads of State Summit in a bid to normalize ties between Rwanda and Uganda is scheduled for today, February 21 at Gatuna border.

Presidents Paul Kagame, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda will be joined by Angolan President João Lourenço and his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi.

The agenda of today’s meeting includes review and discussion of feedback from Uganda following a Note Verbale from Kigali dispatched on February 15.

The Note Verbale was sent after the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission on the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding between Uganda and Rwanda held in Kigali on February 14.

Uganda was meant to respond to the Note Verbale on February 20, which Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and EAC affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe acknowledged that it was done.

The reply will be subject to discussion at the border meet.

Among the concerns, Rwanda expected reactions to the verification of operations and fundraising activities of; Prossy Bonabaana, Sula Nuwamanya, Dr. Rukundo Rugali, Emerithe Gahongayire and Emmanuel Mutarambirwa.

The individuals are said to be part of the RNC leadership through an NGO called Self-Worth Initiative.

Uganda was also expected to file a response verifying Charlotte Mukankusi’s travel history to Uganda, especially during the month of January 2020 and the progress towards the withdrawal of her Ugandan passport. The passport bears the number A000199979.

Kigali was also anticipating the verification by Uganda of the presence of RUD-Urunana terrorist suspects who were involved in the October 2019 Kinigi attacks.

So far, Uganda has deported two suspects Kabayija Seleman and Nzabonimpa Fidel who are accused of being part of the deadly attack by RUD-Urunana militia on Kinigi, Musanze District on the night of October 3-4, 2019.

The duo – along with two others, Muganeza Eric and ‘Captain’ Nshimiye a.k.a Gavana, who led the attack on Kinigi – withdrew to Uganda after Rwanda’s security forces neutralised the assailants, killing 19 of them and capturing five others.

Rwanda has also demanded the arrest and deportation of both Nshimiye and Mugiraneza so they can stand trial for their actions.

Friday’s summit agenda will include a review of resolutions from the previous summit which included the release of nationals of each country held whereby lists were submitted to facilitate the objective.

Whereas no Ugandan is known to be in the custody of Rwanda illegally, hundreds of Rwandans have been held in Uganda without consular access or legal representation.

This week, Uganda released 13 nationals and deported two terror suspects.

Three such high-level summits have been held since the signing of the Luanda MoU in August, the latest of which took place earlier this month.

This week’s summit will be the first under the Luanda framework to be held outside of Angola.

b)    The New Times: Rwanda welcomes release of citizens, urges Uganda to honour commitments

The Government of Rwanda has welcomed the release of 13 nationals and deportation of two terrorist suspects by Uganda, it said in a statement released Wednesday.

Kigali has confirmed that Kabayija Seleman and Nzabonimpa Fidel were part of the deadly attack by RUD-Urunana militia on Kinigi, Musanze District on the night of October 3-4, 2019.

The duo – along with two others, Muganeza Eric and ‘Captain’ Nshimiye a.k.a Gavana, who led the attack on Kinigi – withdrew to Uganda after Rwanda’s security forces neutralised the assailants, killing 19 of them and capturing five others.

The attackers belonged to RUD-Urunana, a breakaway faction of FDLR terrorist organisation founded by extremists who fled Rwanda in 1994 after executing the Genocide against the Tutsi. At least a million people lost their lives during the Genocide.

Rwanda has also demanded the arrest and deportation of both Nshimiye and Mugiraneza so they can stand trial for their actions. At least 14 civilians lost their lives in the Kinigi attack.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation recalls in the statement that “a senior official of the Government of Uganda” had a direct hand in the attack on Kinigi.

Rwanda has previously said it had material evidence proving that Uganda’s state minister for regional cooperation Philemon Mateke was in contact with the assailants around the time of the attack. It cited call history of one of the phones recovered from the crime scene.

Uganda has been linked to several negative armed groups seeking to destabilise Rwanda (including RNC, RUD-Urunana, FDLR and FLN) – one of the factors behind Rwanda’s decision to issue a travel advisory to Uganda in March last year.

The Government of Rwanda noted in the statement that it has already terminated the prosecution of 17 Ugandan citizens and released three who have completed their sentences.

These developments are part of a broader effort to normalise ties between Rwanda and Uganda under a deal signed in August 2019 in Luanda under the facilitation of Angola and DR Congo.

Uganda’s handover of the Rwandan nationals on Tuesday was in line with commitments made when the Ad Hoc Commission between the two countries on the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding held its third meeting, in Kigali, last Friday.

It also came ahead of Friday’s talks between Presidents Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda due to be held at the Gatuna border crossing.

The fourth Quadripartite Heads of State Summit will also be attended by Angolan President João Lourenço and his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi. Three such high-level summits have been held since the signing of the Luanda MoU in August, the latest of which took place earlier this month. This week’s summit will be the first under the Luanda framework to be held outside of Angola.

But Rwanda said there are pending “urgent issues” that Kampala needs to do ahead of Friday’s summit.

“The Government of Rwanda reiterates that there are urgent issues that were agreed with Uganda during the last Ad Hoc Commission meeting held in Kigali, and officially transmitted on 15 February 2020 through Note Verbale No. 0692, that were to be responded to by 20 February 2020,” the statement reads in part.

Pending commitments include “verification of operations and fundraising activities of the following individuals; Prossy Bonabaana, Sula Nuwamanya, Dr Rukundo Rugali, Emerithe Gahongayire and Emmanuel Mutarambirwa, all part of the RNC leadership through an NGO called the Self-Worth Initiative.”

The meeting also agreed on the “verification of Charlotte Mukankusi’s travel history to Uganda, especially during the month of January 2020 and the withdrawal of her Ugandan passport number A000199979.”

During last week’s talks, Uganda also committed to verify the “presence of RUD-Urunana terrorist suspects who were involved in the October 2019 Kinigi attacks. Of the three issues communicated, only this one has been partially fulfilled as only two have been handed over to Rwanda,” the statement reads in parts.

“The Government of Rwanda hopes that these actions by the Government of Uganda will contribute to eliminating all forms of support by Uganda to anti-Rwanda destabilisation elements and terrorist groups and hold accountable officials of all groups operating from Uganda and their (supporters among) Ugandan officials,” Kigali says in the statement.

“The Government of Rwanda remains fully committed to meet its obligations in the implementation of the Luanda MoU,” it adds.

6.    SOUTH SUDAN

a)    Sudan Tribune: Sudanese Misseriya rejects Kiir’s decision establishing as South Sudanese area

February 21, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Misseriya tribe voiced their rejection of a recent decision by President Salva Kiir to declare Abyei as South Sudanese area.

Kiir established three administrative areas including Abyei, which is a disputed territory on the border between the two countries, raising interrogations in Khartoum.

Sudanese officials, however, did not comment on the decision.

But a Misseriya tribal leader Mukhtar Babo Nimir handed over a letter to the commissioner of Muglad locality of West Kordofan State pressing the Sudanese government to reject the move and called for peace negotiations between them and the Ngok Dinka.

According to the official news agency SUNA, Nimir affirmed their total rejection of Kiir’s decision. The tribal leader stressed that "Abyei is a Sudanese and a Misseriya (territory), declaring their readiness to protect it if necessary".

He further warned that they would resist this decision by all means including the closure of all the crossing points that pass through their land.

Sudanese and South Sudanese senior military officials signed a protocol on the deployment of checkpoints for weapons on the two sides of the border between.

The agreement is signed after a bloody attack by the Misseriya on 21 January killing 35 Ngok Dinka. While the Ethiopian peacekeeping force under the UN flag.

The tribal leader demanded to organize talks to end Abyei conflict in a neutral country and stop the delivery of Identity cards to Ngok Dinka, the UNISFA forces.

b)    Xinhua Net: South Sudan president to reappoint rebel leader Machar in unity gov't

JUBA, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan President Salva Kiir said on Thursday he will reappoint opposition leader Riek Machar on Friday as First Vice President.

Machar, leader of Sudan People's Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), will assume his position of First Vice President as stipulated in the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

Kiir disclosed that he had agreed with Machar to form the unity government on Saturday and continue with the implementation of the outstanding issues.

He said that the security of Juba will be his responsibility and will provide protection to all opposition leaders including Machar.

"My forces will be in charge of security of Juba until the training of all unified forces is completed," he told journalists in Juba.

Kiir also reiterated that he compromised on the former 32 states which were cut to 10 states for the sake of peace because people are tired of war.

He added that he will dissolve the government and form the transitional unity government on Feb. 22.

He called upon the refugees and internally displaced persons to return home as peace is already prevailing in the country.

"We met today and discussed the outstanding issues after reverting to 10 states. We agreed to form the government on time which is Feb. 22, and the rest of the outstanding issues will be solved after the formation of the unity government," said Machar.

The government and SPLM-IO had been in disagreement over the number of states and boundaries which eventually forced President Kiir to reduce the former 32 states he decreed in 2015 to the current 10 states favored by the opposition.

Machar's group, despite welcoming president Kiir's gesture on the current 10 states, protested the creation of additional three administrative units which include Abyei, Ruweng and Pibor areas.

The parties failed to form the unity government in May 2019, prompting an extension until Nov. 12, which also passed without progress, and they later on agreed to the Feb. 22 deadline.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar, leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to the respective leader.

A peace agreement signed in 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in July 2016, which forced Machar to flee the capital.

7.    SUDAN

a)    Sudan Tribune: Why a national court may be good option for Sudan’s al-Bashir

My friend on the Hill forwarded me a request to attend an event with Prime Minister of Sudan, Abdallah Hamdok. It was one of his several visits to DC and the purpose was clear: to get Sudan removed from the U.S. terrorism list. For the first time in more than three decades, Sudan’s leader was visiting Washington, D.C. and it was a big deal. Within months of the visit, the world welcomed with the announcement of Sudan’s transitional government agreed to hand over al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in the western Darfur province. However, I was not too convinced. The current situation in Sudan is far too complex and Sudan faces severe challenges.

When the revolution happened last year, many of us who have been following Sudan closely were surprised that Bashir was removed from power so quickly. During the revolution, the African Union quickly stepped in to address the crisis. And AU’s effort must be commended on the United Nations Security Council in order to get the UNSC to move on Sudan. However, when the UNSC failed to agree on a statement condemning the killing of civilians by Sudanese security forces, the African Union suspended Sudan’s membership. The AU went beyond and AU demanded that “the immediate resumption of negotiations, without preconditions, between all Sudanese stakeholders” required the military to hand in power otherwise, the AU would, “automatically impose punitive measures on individuals and entities obstructing the establishment” of a transitional authority. A few scholars have speculated that the reason the AU reacted so fast regarding Sudan because it could destabilize the region, especially, Chad. For those of us who follow or work on Africa, this was not surprising. Others have speculated that the AU did not want another Libya in hand. Even after the important role the AU played in Sudan, there was no announcement from the African Union on the matter related to the ICC. Some of the sceptics rose that there is also a possibility that the charges at the ICC may not stick.

Given the circumstances, one of the best things for Sudan would be carried out a hybrid or an independent court in Sudan. Both of these options will require assistance from the international community. An example could be drawn is the Special Court for Sierra Leone which was established by an agreement between the UN and the Sierra Leonean government on 16 January 2002 and the Court was located in Freetown and the US and the UK were the main backers of the court. The Court was limited to the Sierra Leonean context and International tribunals are extremely expensive. The international community may be reluctant to create a new standalone justice system to address the gross international human rights violations that took place in Sudan. The best option for Sudan would be to develop a court within the national system and ask the US and the UK to assist in setting the process to minimize the cost of the court and draw up an agreement to fund the court. While international courts are essential, establish domestic legal systems that can prosecute, and enforce international criminal law will be pivotal for Sudan’s success and Bashir gives the perfect reason as to why Sudan should move forward with this.

Ideally, international criminal law cases should be in the domestic courts in the impacted country itself and here, Sudan sits on the fertile land where it can demonstrate to the world that Sudan is well capable taking care of its business. On a practical level, these trials would allow easy access to evidence and victims. Given the current circumstances and Sudanese people’s desire for justice, the government of Sudan should think about is implementing universal jurisdiction, which relates to the ability and obligation of national courts to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and genocide.

Canada provides an excellent example of a State that provides domestic exercise of universal jurisdiction, in its Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act of 2000. While the concept of universal jurisdiction is different from the jurisdiction of the ICC, it could, theoretically, allow bypassing ratification of Rome Treaty should the Military Council and the Civilian government cannot come to an agreement while satisfying IIC’s requirement. The US War Crimes Act of 1996 is another great example of where national courts are empowered to prosecute “grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949 or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party.”

Sudan should also think about fund a victims trust fund for the victims and ask the international community to provide funding for the victims as soon as possible and start a commission of inquiry for Sudan. African Union can play a fundamental role in setting these two things for Sudan similar to the role it had taken on Chad where it allocated $5 million to the Trust Fund for reparations for victims. The trust fund should be voluntary and major economic powers and regional powers should be requested to contribute in order to make sure victims get reparations. There are wonderful options available to Sudan and Sudan should take full advantage of these options and lead the way in seeking justice for the victims while strengthening its legal system.

Iffat Rahman is a Representative of the African Bar Association, specialized in anti-terrorism with a focus on Libya and Cameroon. She was previously based at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

b)    Sudan Tribune: Sudanese police use force to disperse protesters gov’t pledges probe

February 20, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - For the first time during the transitional period, Sudanese police violently charged protesters in Khartoum on Thursday triggering calls to remove interior minister and to investigate the crackdown.

For its part, the government late pledged to probe the use of violence against the protesters and called for calm and restraint.

Thousands of Sudanese youth took the street on Thursday to protest peacefully against the sack of a military officer who was the first to join the popular uprising that led to the collapse of al-Bashir’s regime.

The police however fired tear gas and used batons to disperse the protesters who planned to hand over a petition calling to reintegrate him and his colleagues to the army.

While the protesters approaching the presidency, the police used tear gas against them and used batons to disperse them.

Over 19 people have been injured by the police and a journalist was beaten and his camera seized by the police officers who assaulted protesters for the first time after the ouster of the former regime.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) said that a protester was hit by a live bullet in his abdomen and another by a rubber bullet in his leg, while the others suffered injuries by tear gas grenades.

There were strong rumours about the death of protesters but the CCSD late during the night issued a statement to deny the fake report.

The Sudanese police for its part, released photos showing four police officers injured by the protesters, in a way to suggest that they acted in self-defence.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the spearhead of the pro-democracy protests, was the first to condemn the brutal crackdown on the peaceful protesters and called to remove the interior minister.

Also, the ruling coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) condemned the violence and called on the prime minister to investigate the issue.

"We also demand the Prime Ministers to urgently hold accountable the Minister of Interior and the Director of Police for the events that occurred today. Everyone should know that the people have the real authority and that the freedom of expression and assembly is one of the sanctities for which they sacrificed their soles," reads the FFC statement.

The FFC also called for self-restraint of the protesters and urged the vigilance of the transitional sovereign council and government for the threats facing the country.

The government spokesman Faisal Mohamed Saleh in a written statement reiterated the government attachment to the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

"We strongly condemn the use of excessive violence and will investigate what occurred and the wrongdoers will be held accountable," he further added.

The interior minister who is appointed by the military component did not issue a statement on the events that took place in the Sudanese capital.

8.    UGANDA

a)    Daily Monitor: Parliament rejects proposal to move all public holidays to weekdays

Parliament on Thursday voted against a proposal to have all Public holidays that fall on weekdays moved to weekends to give Ugandans enough time to feel the true meaning of public holiday.

Ms Juliet Kyinyamatama Suubi, the woman MP Rakai District had sought permission of the house to introduce a bill titled “The public holidays (amendment) bill, 2020” but this was out rightly rejected by the House when the Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga put the question to the MPs during plenary.

In her justification, Ms Kyinyamatama who had 10 minutes allocated to her to defend her Bill said Public holidays do not have meaning if they fall on weekends, as many people stay away from celebrating it and also prefer to rest on that day in preparation for work for the new week.

She cited the forth coming Women's Day of March 8 which falls on Sunday. She said it will not get the required attention it deserves as many people will be preparing for work on Sunday.

Ms Kyinyamata also said the proposal would give Ugandans actual rest days as weekends with no additional obligations.

"Given the fact that weekends are already designated days of rest Public holidays may not be given the deserved recognition, honour and visibility and some may even pass unnoticed. Convinced that in order to ensure a continued recognition, honour and visibility of public days, it's necessary to have public holidays observed on working days to avoid them interfere with the rest of the days coinciding with weekend activities like prayers, marriage celebrations and many others. This will not only improve the visibility but also enable participation of all and as a result build a strong sense of nationalism togetherness," the MP said.

However, before she could proceed, members interrupted her with many hesitant on the move.

When the Speaker Kadaga asked for seconders of the proposal, it took a minute before two members seconded Kyinyamatama’s motion.

When Ms Kadaga put the question forward, the MPs who responded “nay” in objection of the proposal were more than those who responded “aye” in support of the move.

The proposal stalled at that stage.

1.     ANGOLA

a)    Angola Press Agency: US reaffirms support to fight corruption

Luanda - The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, reaffirmed this Monday, in Luanda, the support to the Angolan Government's efforts to fight corruption and recover the funds illegally withdrawn from the country.

"We want to help make those who diverted money from Angola responsible, as we do with other countries," said the head of American diplomacy, at a press conference, at the end of bilateral talks with the Angolan counterpart, Manuel Augusto.

On the occasion, Mike Pompeo also underlined the need for financial transactions to be transparent.

The American Secretary of State considered President João Lourenço's work to be an excellent one, which aims to transform corruption into a "ghost of the past", increase transparency, help financial institutions organize their accounts and pursue "villains".

The American government official believes that if the proposed reforms are implemented faithfully, in addition to the investments already announced, more American companies will invest in Angola, in favor of economic growth, in the creation of wealth and jobs in the country.

During the press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mike Pompeo pledged to help publicize Angola's potential and, in this way, attract more US companies, to bet on the promotion and economic development of Angola.

He stressed that American investment may also focus on the diversification of the economy, the development of the agricultural sectors, as well as tourism and technology, with the involvement of women entrepreneurs.

He valued the existing cooperation between the two countries, which has helped to save women and children from the risk of contagion from tuberculosis, HIV / AIDS and in reducing the malaria mortality rate in recent years.

The American Secretary of State also highlighted the partnership in the field of security, with democratic institutions, civil society and churches. The American diplomat also highlighted the need for Angolans to remain optimistic.

Bilateral / multilateral relations

The heads of Angolan diplomacy, Manuel Augusto, and the United States of America (USA), Mike Pompeo, expressed their interest in strengthening cooperation between the two countries, as well as defending the need to raise the level of bilateral and multilateral relations.

2.     BURUNDI

a)    Morning Star: Burundi opposition warns of vote-rigging after candidiate

BURUNDI’S opposition party has selected chairman of the national assembly Agathon Rwasa as its candidate for May’s presidential election amid warnings of vote-rigging and potential violence.

Mr Rwasa is a former rebel leader from the same ethnic group, the Hutu, as current President Pierre Nkurunziza, who is not standing for re-election.

Last month Burundi’s parliament voted to award him a bumper £400,000 pay-off and a luxury mansion when he leaves office.

He is also set to be made Burundi’s “supreme eternal leader” and will draw a lifelong monthly salary.

Mr Nkurunziza sparked a crisis when he decided to stand for a third term of office in 2015, in conflict with Burundi’s constitution.

Hundreds of opposition supporters are believed to have been killed in subsequent clashes, with the United Nations warning of torture and gang rape by security forces.

It is feared the forthcoming vote will prompt more violence and Mr Rwasa has pointed to the possibility of vote-rigging by the ruling party.

“As we are approaching elections, it’s surprising to hear that there are people thinking about rigging elections … Burundians will not let them do it,” he told CNL party delegates.

3.     DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

a)    ABC News: Rebel attack in eastern Congo kills 12 civilians and soldier

BENI, Congo -- Rebels have killed 12 civilians and a soldier in the latest overnight attack on a village in eastern Congo, a local official said Tuesday.

“They surprised the people in their homes,” the administrator of Beni territory, Donat Kasereka Kibwana, told The Associated Press.

The attack by Allied Democratic Forces rebels on Alungupa village, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) outside the often-targeted city of Beni, occurred while the president of the National Assembly was visiting the city and meeting with survivors of past massacres.

Jeanine Mabunda during her visit vowed that the assembly would create laws to augment the Congolese military presence in the Beni region. Residents have long accused the government in faraway Kinshasa of neglect.

Dozens of armed groups are active in mineral-rich eastern Congo. Attacks have caused tens of thousands of people to flee their homes and complicated health workers’ efforts to contain an Ebola virus outbreak in the region.

A local civil society group known as CEPADHO says ADF rebels have killed more than 300 people in the Beni region since October alone.

Kibwana said Alungupa village is now under military control. The administrator appealed for calm and collaboration with authorities.

4.     KENYA

a)    KDRTV: Uhuru Breaks Silence Over Ruto’s Firearms Scandal

President Uhuru Kenyatta is waiting for the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to conclude its investigations in the multi-billion firearms scandal involving ex-Sports CS Rashid Echesa. Statehouse spokesperson Kanze Dena has said.

Deputy President William Ruto has been heavily mentioned in the Ksh 39 billion scandal after it emerged that Echesa had used his (Ruto’s) Harambee Annex office to strike the deal.

But Dena, who appeared on Milele FM on Tuesday morning. asked Kenyans not to speculate on the incident.

‘The President remains resolute in the fight against corruption which has intensified in recent months. So Kenyans should stop speculating and allow the DCI time to finish their assignment,” Kanze Dena said.

‘The President remains resolute in the fight against corruption which has intensified in recent months. So Kenyans should stop speculating and allow the DCI time to finish their assignment,” Kanze Dena said.

5.     RWANDA

a)    The New Times: Uganda sets free 13 more Rwandan nationals

The Ugandan government on Tuesday released 13 Rwandans previously illegally detained there.

The development comes four days after the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission on the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding between Uganda and Rwanda held in Kigali and ahead of Friday’s talks between the two countries’ presidents facilitated by Angola and Congolese leaders.

Last Friday’s meeting in Kigali was a follow-up on the Luanda MoU signed by both countries in August last year.

President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni will be meeting under the Quadripartite Heads of State Summit, which also includes the leaders of Angola and DR Congo and seeks to normalise ties between Kigali and Kampala.

The meeting will take place at the Gatuna border crossing between the two countries.

Also expected at the summit are Angolan President João Lourenço, and Félix Tshisekedi of DR Congo – who have been facilitating talks between the two neighbours since mid-last year.

In January, Uganda released nine Rwandans after three years of incarceration.

Three such summits have been held since the signing of the Luanda MoU in August 2019, the latest of which took place in February. This will be the first time the leaders meet under the Luanda framework outside of Angola.

The last summit resolved that Uganda and Rwanda would release nationals of each other.

The two countries were urged to “protect and respect the rights and freedoms of nationals of the other party residing or transiting in their national territory, and to refrain from engaging in actions that destabilize the other party (or actions perceived to) such as financing, training and infiltration of destabilizing forces.”

Rwanda has provided evidence pinning Uganda on efforts by armed negative groups to destabilise the former, and denounced arbitrarily arrests and detention, and torture of hundreds of its citizens in Uganda.

Last week’s meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission on the implementation of the Luanda MoU between Uganda and Rwanda in Kigali ended as with both parties committing to further verify the number and status of nationals detained in each other’s country and to report back through a note verbale in three weeks’ time.

They also committed to protect and respect the human rights of nationals of either party in observance of the rule of law and international humanitarian law and by ensuring due process.

The two countries also committed to finalising an extradition treaty with view to have it signed at the next Heads of State Summit on Friday.

It was also agreed that the Government of Rwanda would formally write to the Government of Uganda by February 15, notifying the latter about some specific issues related to destabilising activities carried out by Rwandan rebel groups from Ugandan territory.

The Ugandan delegation agreed that their government would undertake to verify and respond, by February 20, to some of the most pressing issues capable of immediately being addressed and further investigate and respond to the other issues.

Subject to the fulfilment of all these undertakings, the Ad Hoc commission, would recommend to the Quadripartite Summit to consider the issue of normalisation of the activities and mobility of people and goods across the common borders between the two countries, according to a joint communiqué released after the meting.

Kigali issued a travel advisory to Uganda early last year warning that it could not guarantee their safety in the neighbouring country.

6.     SOUTH SUDAN

a)    The East African: S. Sudan govt agrees to reduce states to 10 to maintain peace

South Sudan’s warring parties have reached a tentative agreement to revert to ten states, paving the way for the creation of a transitional government of national unity.

In an overnight about-turn, President Salva Kiir stood down from his stance on 32 states, saying he was compromising for the sake of the country’s peace.

A document released by the Presidency in Juba on Saturday indicated Kiir, his First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and Vice President James Wani Igga, who represented the incumbent government, agreed to go back to the original ten states South Sudan had at independence. They also added three administrative regions which they argued could be addressed during the transitional government expected to be formed with opposition leaders Riek Machar.

These regions include Abyei, whose border demarcation with Sudan is still a matter of discussion. They also included Ruweng and Greater Pibor Areas, usually seen as oil-rich.

Opposition groups welcomed President Kiir's move to revert to 10 states.

However, James Oryema, who represents the SPLM-IO in Kenya, said there was no justification to add the two, saying all parties were comfortable with Abyei because of the issue with Sudan.

“We accept the agreement to go back to 10 states and we welcome it. But the small problem is why they added two special areas. They weren’t an issue in our negotiations. They need not be special because they are within the original states,” he said on phone.

President Kiir, who had gathered the governors of 32 states in Juba on Thursday and insisted there will be no reduction, instead said he was compromising and that those who would be affected will be helped during the transition.

 “We recognised that this decision may not have been the best option for our people but for the sake of peace and unity in the country, the Presidency sees it as necessary,” Kiir said.

“This decision was reached by the presidency after weighing several options and we thought this compromise will preserve the unity of the country and move the people of South Sudan out of this imposed senseless conflict which has affected the livelihood for many of our citizens.”

The issue of the number of states had become a threat to the creation of the government of national unity whose deadline is February 22. Regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), which has midwifed the peace deal, had warned that there would be no further extensions as it was not “desirable”. Igad gave Kiir up to Saturday, February 15, to present a compromise proposal.

At the meetings in Juba, the sessions were largely conducted in Arabic and key donors known as Troika: UK, US and Norway were not represented. But it is thought that pressure from partners contributed to the compromise.

A meeting between President Kiir’s officials and 32 State governors in Juba on Thursday had recommended that South Sudan maintains the current number states, as well as an additional special region of Abyei.

But the outcome of the consultative meeting, where all 32 regional chiefs met with by Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth and voted for status quo, had meant further possibility that the opposition group would drift apart from Kiir’s position.

Edmund Yakani, the executive director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, praised Kiir for the compromise, saying will be a relief to the people of South Sudan.

When South Sudan gained Independence from Sudan in 2011, it had 10 states. In 2015, during peace talks in Ethiopia, the SPLM-IO proposed 21 federal states, based on the old districts created by the British colonial administration. The government strongly opposed this move.

And in August 2015, the parties signed the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (A-ARCSS), which acknowledged the initial 10 states.

However, in a surprise move in October 2015, President Salva Kiir issued a decree creating 28 states, saying it was a popular demand by the people.

He said it was meant to devolve power rather than centralise governance in Juba, a move that was condemned as unconstitutional by political parties, civil society organisations and members of the international community.

Gradually, the states have increased to the current 32.

7.     SUDAN

a)    Political Studies Association: Sudan after Omar Al Bashir’s overthrow

For the first time in 30 years Sudan is no longer governed by Omar Al-Bashir. He faces instead a war crimes tribunal for crimes against humanity, either in the Sudan itself, or in The Hague at the International Criminal Court.

Omar al-Bashir came into power in Sudan in 1989 following a military coup. President Bashir’s regime proceeded to introduce an Islamic legal code into Sudan’s governance structures and even hosted Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda group between 1991 and 1996. The president of the largest country in Africa, in a 2011 referendum South Sudan seceded and became independent state following a 2005 peace agreement which ended the country’s brutal 22-year civil war between the Arab north and non-Arab South.

Despite winning the 2010 and 2015 elections, Omar Al-Bashir has been an international pariah, accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and in 2009 an international arrest warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The first ever made against a sitting head of state by the court. A decade later his ouster in 2019 at the hands of a wave of popular protests offers Sudan a new beginning, and the families of his victims an opportunity for justice.

The nationwide protests started across Sudan in December 2018 after the government announced an increase in fuel and bread prices. Sudan’s economy has plummeted since South Sudan became independent as it took a majority of the country’s oil reserves. The popular discontent was further exacerbated by commodity shortages, corruption, unemployment and economic stagnation. This led the people to demand Omar Al-Bashir’s resignation and fresh elections.

In February 2019, Bashir declared a state of emergency followed by replacing all of the regional governors with members of the army and security forces loyal to him. Faced with rising discontent and rising civilian deaths Sudan’s military intervened in April removing Omar Al-Bashir from office and placing him and his allies under house arrest.

A transitional Military Council with army generals ruled Sudan immediately after Al-Bashir’s overthrow, desiring to retain power. However, the widespread protests continued, and following strikes and the Khartoum Massacre, a new body called the Sovereign Council was agreed upon. The Sovereign Council is a joint civilian-military transitional body, part of a three-year power sharing agreement in place until the 2022 national elections. In September 2019, a technocratic Cabinet took office under Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and 18 ministers.

8.     UGANDA

a)    The New Vision: Army Court withdraws charges against more Rwandans

This brings to a total of nine Rwandan nationals released by the Army Court this year, having released seven on January 7.

KAMPALA - The Makindye based General Court Martial (GCM) in Kampala has withdrawn charges of unlawful possession of firearms against more two Rwandan Nationals.

Selemani Kabayinja and Fidel Nzabonimpa have been discharged and freed by the GCM Chaired by Lt. Gen. Andrew Gutti after prosecution led by Cpt. Ambrose Baguma entreated to discharge the latter.

This brings to a total of nine Rwandan nationals released by the Army Court this year, having released seven on January 7.

Earlier released Rwandans included Rene Rutagungire, Bahati Pacifique Mugenga, Emmanuel Rwamucho, Augustine Rutayisire, Charles Byaruhanga, Etien Nsanzabahizi and Claude Lyakaremye.

These had been jointly charged with Ugandan senior police officers for allegedly in illegal possession of firearms, grenades and Kidnapping Jackson Kalemera alias Ndinga and (Lieutenant) Joel Mutabazi, a former bodyguard of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and delivered them to Rwanda without their consent.

Upon stepping in the dock for mention of the case, Baguma told the court that he had instructions to withdraw all charges against Kabayinja and Nzabonimpa.

“My Lord Chairman and honourable members of this court, the accused were on November 8, 2019, charged in this court with unlawful possession of a firearm but I have instructions to withdraw all charges against them,” Baguma said.

However, he did not tell the court the reasons why and who instructed him to withdraw charges against the duo.

This prompted Gutti to order for the immediate release of Kabayinja and Nzabonimpa.

“In reference to the state request of discharging you, Kabayinja and Nzabonimpa, this court sets you free, unless held with other unlawful charges,” Gutti ruled.

The prosecution contended that Kabayinja and Nzabonimpa on or around October 8, 2019 while in Kisoro district were found in unlawful possession of a firearm to wit SMG N34671, ordinarily a monopoly of the Defence Forces.

It was also asserted that the duo was in unlawful possession of seventy-seven (77) rounds of live ammunitions contravening sections 3 (1), and 2 (a) of the Firearms Act Cap 299.

The charges call for a maximum penalty of death on conviction.

1.    ANGOLA

a)    Angola Press Agency: USA State Secretary already in Luanda

At the International Airport 4 de Fevereiro, Mike Pompeo was welcomed by the Angolan minister of Foreign Affairs, Manuel Augusto, and high level staff of the US Embassy in Angola.

According to the schedule of the visit, to which ANGOP has had access, the agenda of the US diplomat starts at 10:00 Monday morning, at the presidential palace, where he is to have a meeting with the President of the Republic, João Lourenço.

An hour later, Mike Pompeo will visit the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX), for a working meeting with his Angolan counterpart, followed by a press conference at 11:40.

The head of the North American country’s diplomacy will continue his visit at 12:00, on the Museum of Coin (Museu da Moeda) where he will participate in a round table with business leaders.

The USA diplomat might also have a meeting with Angolan women entrepreneurs, as well as with the members of the diplomatic mission from his country.

Mike Pompeo's return is scheduled for mid-afternoon on Monday.

Angola and the United States of America have excellent and mutually beneficial cooperation relations in various fields. Politics and diplomacy, defence and security, business, industrial, oil and gas, health, education, technology and telecommunication are some of the main areas of the Angola-USA link.

Both countries signed in 2010, a treaty for the creation of a bilateral commission titled US-Strategic Partnership Dialogue.

Angola became the third African country in which the USA signed this Strategic Partnership. The others are South Africa and Nigeria.

On the bilateral cooperation framework, the United States of America admit that Angola occupies an important geographic location that gives access to Central and Southern Africa and also close to the Gulf of Guinea.

Angola exports to the USA crude-oil and its derivates, way before the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), having sent, in between 1985 and 2003, goods in a total value of USD 42, 9 billion.

After adhering to AGOA, in 2003, the Angolan exports to the USA almost tripled in quantity and amount, reaching USD 115.39 billion in the period of 2004-2014.

Angola exports to the United States of America are mainly oil and diamonds, while the North Americans sell food, equipment for the oil sector and various machinery to the country.

b)    Angola Press Agency: Angola marks restoration of Rwanda, Uganda confidence

Luanda - The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Manuel Domingos Augusto, considered the improvement of relations between the Republics of Rwanda and Uganda, as "a clear sign of the restoration of mutual trust", within the framework of the peace agreements signed last August, in Luanda.

The head of Angolan diplomacy expressed satisfaction at the 3rd Meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee for the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding between the Republics of Rwanda and Uganda, held last Friday in Kigali, Rwanda.

He said it was "an enormous honor" to witness the strides reached and that it demonstrates the political will of the two countries to improve bilateral relations, namely, the normalization of the free movement of people and goods on the common border.

He said that since the last meeting, important steps have been taken, such as the release of nationals from both countries, and the continued identification of individuals still in detention.

"We believe we are on the right path towards achieving peace, stability, good neighborliness and economic integration," he declared.

At the end of the work, a statement was issued that enshrines, among others, the commitment of the parties to protect the human rights of the citizens of both countries, in compliance with the rule of law and international humanitarian law.

The parties undertook to finalize the Extradition Treaty to be signed in the presence of the Heads of State at the 4th Quadripartite Summit to be held next February 21st at the common border of Gatuna / Katuna.

The Kigali meeting complies with the terms contained in the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding, signed on 21 August 2019, under the auspices of the Angolan Head of State, João Lourenço, and the counterpart of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshissekedi, in the presence of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, from Congo.

The III Quadripartite Summit of Heads of State and Government took place on 2 February, in Luanda.

Right after the summit, on his Twitter account, President João Lourenço informed that “another step was taken towards normalizing relations between Uganda and Rwanda, which had been in conflict for several decades”.

2.    BURUNDI

a)    Al Jazeera: Burundi opposition party picks Agathon Rwasa to run for president

Burundi's main opposition party has picked Agathon Rwasa as its candidate for the country's May 20 presidential election.

Members of the National Congress for Liberty, known by its French acronym CNL, approved the 56-year-old's nomination on Sunday, the party announced on Twitter.

A former rebel leader and longtime political opponent of outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza, Rwasa was the leading opposition candidate in two previous elections in 2010 and 2015 - but boycotted both of them.

In 2015, Nkurunziza's controversial decision to seek a third term plunged the country into its worst crisis since the end of a bloody civil war a decade earlier, with rights groups saying hundreds of people were killed in a crackdown by the security agencies on protesters in the months that followed the president's re-election.

At the time, the opposition had accused Nkurunziza of violating the constitution by seeking another term. The president cited a court ruling saying he could run again.

Rwasa will run in the upcoming polls against army General Evariste Ndayishimiye, an ally of Nkurunziza who was chosen last month by the ruling CNDD-FDD party to be its candidate. On Sunday, the opposition candidate denounced what he alleged were plans to rig the vote.

"As we are approaching elections, it's surprising to hear that there are people thinking about rigging elections," he told delegates of his party after his appointment was announced. "Burundians will not let them do it."

The United Nations has warned that human rights abuses might increase again before the elections.

Nkurunziza was widely expected to take advantage of recent constitutional changes adopted by a referendum to stand for re-election, raising concerns that Burundi would see a repeat of 2015's deadly unrest.

Last month, the country's parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill granting outgoing presidents lavish send-off perks including a luxury villa and a one-off sum equivalent to more than $500,000.

The amount is a fortune in Burundi where more than 65 percent live in poverty and where 50 percent of the country is food-insecure, according to the United Nations's World Food Programme.

3.    KENYA

a)    The East African: Kenya will be in breach of EAC, AfCFTA rules in proposed trade deal with America

Kenya’s proposed free trade deal with the US has put it in the crosshairs as critics say the planned bilateral agreement would be a breach of regional and continental trade protocols.

The proposed deal, if passed, would see Kenya open its borders for duty-free imports from the United States, while Nairobi would also get to export a range of goods tax-free to the US. The two countries share around $1 billion in trade annually.

Nairobi argues that the proposed deal is intended to replace the African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) agreement, which expires in 2025 and allowed duty-free access of a wide range of African goods to the US.

President Donald Trump’s administration has signalled its reluctance for multilateral trade deals such as Agoa, preferring instead to sign bilateral free trade agreements with individual countries. This deal between the two countries would be a first for US trade relations in sub-Saharan ­Africa.

EAC Trade officials in Arusha say the deal is potentially in breach of Section 37 of the East African Community Customs Union Protocol that requires a member state to inform its partners of its intentions before such a deal is signed.

Under the EAC’s first pillar, the Customs Union Protocol — of which Kenya is a signatory — an EAC member is expected to notify the partners of any intention to offer a third-party preferential market access since member states share a common Customs territory. Furthermore, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) once in force prohibits bilateral free trade negotiations with third parties.

The Kenyan government has however denied that it is in breach of both the EAC Customs Union Protocol and the AfCFTA agreement.

“Agoa, which allows countries to send goods to the United States duty free, is scheduled to expire in three years. The US has made it clear it will not renew it,” said Kenya’s former Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya who attended the trade talks in the US, adding, “Agoa is the only route for Kenyan goods to access the US market duty-free and once it is out of place, it is Kenya that is going to suffer as the other EAC partner States operate under the Least Developed Countries framework.”

b)    Standard Digital: Uhuru mourns Kenya’s ambassador to South Sudan

President Uhuru Kenyatta has sent condolences to the family, relatives and friends of Kenya’s Ambassador to South Sudan Chris Karumba Mburu.

Mburu died of heart attack on Sunday night in Juba.

In his message, the head of state described Mburu as an eminent public servant and a great citizen who was committed to building strong bilateral ties between Kenya and South Sudan.

“Death has robbed us of a great public servant who served his country with distinction. Since his appointment as our envoy to Juba, Ambassador Mburu has worked hard to ensure free flow of trade and investment between Kenya and South Sudan.”

“Kenya has lost a brilliant public servant whose star was shining bright and whose service shall be dearly missed," the President said.

He further sent his prayers of comfort to the family of the fallen diplomat.

“I deeply sympathize with each one of you as you mourn and pray that God will give you the grace to accept his will,” President Kenyatta wrote in his message to the family.

The president appointed the late Mburu as Kenya's Ambassador to South Sudan in 2018

Before being appointed as the ambassador, Mburu was the director at the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

4.    RWANDA

a)    The New Times: Work with right values, Kagame urges government officials

President Kagame cautioned Government officials against treating their jobs and institutions they run as if they own them.

President Paul Kagame on Sunday cautioned leaders who regularly fail to deliver on their responsibilities that it was fundamental to uphold the right values and character if they are to fulfil their duties.

He was speaking at the opening of the 17th edition of the National Leadership Retreat, also known as Umwiherero, at the Rwanda Defence Force Combat Training Centre in Gabiro, Gatsibo District.

The retreat brought together more than 400 leaders including the First Lady, central and local government, parastatals, private sector and youth representatives from different sectors.

The Head of State rejected the idea that everything the country has failed to achieve is a result of lack of skills or resources.

"The reason for not doing things right is having the wrong values. You have the skills and knowledge and you know what needs to get done but you have the wrong values," he told the leaders.

The President cautioned the government officials against treating their jobs and institutions they run, as if they own them. He reminded them that they are public servants and should work in the interest of Rwandans. And, if they feel, they can not deliver, they should be honest enough to admit they need to step down.

While the country has made a lot of progress over the last 17 years, Kagame said, there was a lot more that needs to get done to deliver the country’s transformation goals.

While the President strongly criticized leaders for repeated cases of misconduct and negligence, he urged the younger audience against following a similar path.

"It’s never too early to be responsible and mature to understand the strategic objectives of our country," he added.

Kagame highlighted scenarios where leaders failed to deliver on their responsibilities.

"When we experienced problems with our Ugandan neighbors, some of our people grieved. I learned that citizens had been driven to access basic services like health, education and other services from our neighbor," he said.

"The situation made us look at things in a different lens. But the truth is, we had not failed to have these services, we had just abandoned our people," Kagame pointed out.

5.    SOUTH SUDAN

a)    Radio Tamazuj: UN says Kiir offered ' important compromise'

The announcement by South Sudan’s government to return to 10 states is "an important compromise" to enable the timely formation of the unity government, a top UN official said.

President Kiir on Saturday made a compromise by cutting the 32 states back down to the original 10 -- a key opposition demand -- to pave the way for a unity government.

But Kiir also included on top of the 10 states, three administrative areas of Ruweng, Abyei and Pibor.

Opposition chief Riek Machar said he opposed those three administrative areas, calling upon President Kiir to reconsider the establishment of the three areas.

“Compromise is possible when the political will exists. We urge all parties to reach out and embrace each other’s positions so that the peace deal can be fully implemented,” said the Head of UNMISS, David Shearer.

In a statement today, Shearer said under a new transitional government, a process can be initiated so parties can work together to make a collective decision on the appropriate number of states, administrative areas, and demarcation of boundaries.

 “The formation of an inclusive transitional government will inspire greater trust and confidence amongst citizens that the peace process will succeed and that the parties will come together to make decisions collectively,” he said.

“The start of the transitional government will pave the way for elections in three years’ time. This will enable the people of South Sudan to fully participate in the democratic process – a right they have been looking forward to exercising since they won independence nine years ago,” he added.

David Shearer noted that the government’s decision may not be welcome everywhere and could cause short term disruption as local boundaries and administrations are determined.

“It may not be the preferred option of some people. However, they should also recognize it has been done in the spirit of compromise to secure durable peace for the whole country,” he said.

International pressure has been building on President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar to meet a February 22 deadline to establish a transitional government of national unity.

b)    Sudan Tribune: UNAMISS head praises Kiir’s acceptance of 10 states, urges to form new cabinet

February 17, 2020 (JUBA) – The head of UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) praised the acceptance by President Salva Kiir of the IGAD compromise of the 10 states and urged the peace parties to form a transitional government.

“The announcement by the Presidency of South Sudan to return to 10 states is an important compromise to enable the timely formation of the transitional government as promised to the citizens of South Sudan,” said David Shearer on Monday.

Shearer pointed out that once the government is formed, the peace partners can make a collective decision on the number of states, administrative areas, and demarcation of boundaries.

“Compromise is possible when the political will exists. We urge all parties to reach out and embrace each other’s positions so that the peace deal can be fully implemented,” he further stressed

SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar and NDM chairman Lam Akol voiced concern over the created three areas of Abyei Ruweng and Pibor as they practically make the 10 states 13 states.

The backers of the 32 states also said David Shearer said the government’s decision may not be welcome everywhere and could cause short term disruption as local boundaries and administrations are determined.

“It may not be the preferred option (for) some people. However, they should also recognize it has been done in the spirit of compromise to secure durable peace for the whole country,” he stressed.

6.    SUDAN

a)    Al Arabiya: Sudan peace talks extended three weeks after missing deal deadline

The Sudanese government and a coalition of rebel groups on Monday extended peace talks for another three weeks after missing a deadline for a final peace deal.

The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) – a coalition of nine rebel groups – and Khartoum representatives signed a deal to keep negotiations going after failing to wrap up talks by February 15.

“Hopefully this will be the last extension for these talks,” SRF deputy chair Yasir Arman told AFP.

Important steps have been made to “finalize a peace agreement,” Arman said.

The peace talks, which began in South Sudan in October, aim to end conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where rebels have fought bloody campaigns against marginalization by Khartoum under ousted president Omar al-Bashir.

Hopes of a peace deal were raised after Sudan’s transitional government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, made ending conflict in these areas a priority.

So far the parties have agreed on a ceasefire, humanitarian access, land issues and the resettlement of those displaced by the conflicts.

7.    UGANDA

a)    The New Vision: Museveni, Kagame to meet on Friday over conflict

Last week Uganda and Rwanda delegations held fruitful talks during which measures for ending the impasse between the two countries were agreed upon.

KAMPALA - Rwanda president Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni are scheduled to meet this Friday at the Katuna border point in what is highly expected to be the signing of the final peace agreement which will end the conflict between the two neighbouring countries.

There is excitement among residents at the Katuna border town ahead of the planned meeting. Sources in the area have revealed that construction works in the no man’s land are going on to ensure that by the meeting time the venue is well organised.

Last week, on Friday Uganda and Rwanda delegations held fruitful talks in Kigali during which measures for ending the impasse between the two countries were agreed upon.

The Rwanda delegation was led by the country’s State Minister for East African Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, while the Uganda delegation was led by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kutesa. 

The two countries agreed to resume collaboration among their security organs, which had been stopped when the relationship between the two countries collapsed at the beginning of last year.

The Kigali ad hoc committee meeting was a follow-up on the February 2, summit which transpired in Angola’s capital of Luanda.

Both parties committed to further verify the number and the status of nationals of either party detained in each other’s country and to report back in a three weeks’ time.

The two parties resolved to be committed to the need to protect and respect the human rights of nationals of either party in observance of the rule of law and international humanitarian law and by ensuring that the due process is followed. 

Both governments agreed on the need to finalise the extradition treaty to be signed in the presence of the Heads of State at the fourth Quadripartite Summit, which will be held on Friday.

In March last year Rwanda publicly accused Uganda of abducting its citizens and supporting rebels bent on overthrowing the Kigali government. The rebel groups Rwanda government accuses Uganda of supporting include the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Trouble started in February 2019 when Rwanda government closed its border with Uganda and even issued a travel advisory barring Rwandans from traveling to Uganda.

1.    ANGOLA

a)    Angola Press Agency: Angola may have biometric passport this year

Luanda - Angola should issue, by the end of the third quarter of this year, the biometric passport, internationally required, under the penalty of compromising the movement of national citizens abroad, said on Thursday the director of Migration and Foreigners Services (SME), João António da Costa Dias.

The director of the SME, was responding to concerns of deputies of the III Commission of the National Assembly for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Angolan Communities Abroad, during a visit to the institution's headquarters.

To the parliamentary delegation, headed by the commission's chairperson, Josefina Diakité, the SME director explained that the Angolan State is obliged to introduce biometric control, in the framework of the defense of its sovereignty and international security.

Asked about the lack of identification documents for nationals abroad, João António da Costa Dias replied that the demand has been met, pointing out as difficulties the fact that many of the applicants present false documents.

He explained that there are individuals with expired passports, but issued for several years with false ID cards or birth certificate, which hinders their renewal.

According to the director of the SME, verification of authenticity is under way, with the Directorate of Archives and Civil Identification, of processes originating from the diaspora, with emphasis on Germany, France and Belgium.

The main migration commissioner pointed out that the main challenges of the sector were border control, particularly with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in connection with Lundas (North and South), due to its extension of the common border.

He informed that citizens of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Rwanda have lost their status as exiles due to the political stability achieved in their respective countries, but those interested in staying may apply for residency.

2.    BURUNDI

a)    IOL: Call for 1972 Burundi massacres to be recognised as genocide

The Roman Catholic church in Burundi has called for the world to recognise the 1972 massacres, which targeted a group of the population who died in “atrocious conditions”, as genocide, said Bishop Simon Ntamwana, who heads the Gitega Catholic Diocese.

Burundi’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission chairperson Pierre Claver Ndayicariye said it had recorded around 4 700 mass graves around the country. He said most held the remains of Hutus citizens killed in different wars in the country.

In Karusi, central Burundi, near the border with Gitega, around 6 032 remains were discovered in six mass graves of the victims of the 1972 mass killings where President Micombero Government targeted intellectuals from Hutu backgrounds and monarchy supporters.

“They were arrested in various work places, homes and even at the church and they were brought in prison. The following day, military vans came to take them to the execution field.

“They were then thrown into mass graves and a Caterpillar was there to close the mass grave,” Ndayicariye said.

Among the victims are many Catholic priests and nuns. One of them, Father Michel Kayoya, was killed with six of his nuns.

In the mass graves, families recognised some of the belongings of their loved ones who disappeared.

“My husband was a military officer. He left in civilian clothes to the market. He wanted to get some information about what was happening. He never returned.

“I learned he was arrested with his two colleagues who were serving as military officers. Today, I recognised his coat, glasses and shoes,” Ruth Nyambere testified.

Baranyanka, one of the survivors who was in jail with many of the victims, says the crimes were planned because all the state officials and the ruling party, Union for National Progress (Uprona), were involved in the arrests, disappearances and assassinations of the elites from the Hutu ethnic group. He said that he survived because he had a Tutsi- looking face.

Burundi ethnic groups include the Hutu majority, Tutsi and Twa (pygmies). The two first ethnic groups fought several times, culminating in the assassination of president Melchior Ndadaye in October 1993, followed by a civil war that lasted more than a decade.

Ndadaye was the first Hutu democratically elected president and his assassination by the Tutsi-dominated army triggered a civil war that ended with talks led by Nelson Mandela that brought to power the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy - Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDDFDD), a Hutu-dominated party, since 2005.

The Tutsi community also claims that after 1993, Hutus killed Tutsis and said this could also be seen as genocide.

3.    CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

a)    UN News: Year-old peace agreement must be implemented for ‘lasting peace’ in Central African Republic

“The first anniversary of the Khartoum Peace Agreement, celebrated on 6 February, provided an opportunity for all parties to review its implementation, which will lead to a lasting peace”, Yao Agbetse, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, said on Thursday.

In pointing out that the agreement allowed armed groups to join the Government, he said it is considered “a symbol of the unification of the Republic”.

“But”, he maintained, “for the agreement to be effective, all parties must sincerely implement its provisions, and justice measures must be taken”.

During his visit, Mr. Agbetse took note of ongoing reform of the security sector as well as the beginning of the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation (DDRR) process whereby weapons are physically removed from ex-belligerents, armed groups are disbanded, and former combatants are reintegrated into civilian society.

He urged all involved to mobilize the necessary technical and financial resources to implement the nationwide process as early as possible.

Despite the steps already taken to improve the security situation, much remains to be done to prevent a resurgence of violence, keep young people at home, support the peace process, and punish Peace Agreement violations, according to the UN expert.

He observed that despite laudable efforts by local actors, school closures, especially in the countryside, forces children out of the education system, making them vulnerable to human trafficking and recruitment by armed groups.

Mr. Agbetse called on the National Assembly to promptly adopt several bills required by the Agreement, including on freedom of communication and the creation of a Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission.

Upon being informed of the establishment of transitional justice institutions, he underscored the importance that they be “provided with appropriate resources to carry out their mission”.

“Swift and substantial assistance from international partners is essential,” he said.

He upheld that the international community continue to support the organization of presidential elections within the constitutional time frame, saying “all actors, including political parties and the media, must refrain from any hate speech and avoid inciting hatred”.

“Necessary action for a peaceful election must be taken now," concluded the UN expert.

Mr. Agbetse will present his findings to the UN Human Rights Council during a high-level interactive dialogue scheduled for 18 March.

Independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

4.    KENYA

a)    Capital News: IEBC says ready for boundaries review from March, cautions budget constrains could delay process

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Friday said it was ready to begin a nationwide boundaries review process in March once National Treasury avails funds.

The poll agency is required in law to conclude the process by July 2021 – 12 months to the 2022 general election – for the changes in constituency and ward boundaries to apply.

In a statement to newsrooms, IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati noted that the exiting boundaries, having been gazette on March 7, 2012, were due for a review in March which marks the beginning of the eight years intervals provided for under Article 89 of the Constitution (2010).

“The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission shall review the names and boundaries of constituencies at intervals of not less than eight years, and not more than twelve years, but any review shall be completed at least twelve months before a general election of members of Parliament,” it reads.

IEBC said an elaborate plan had already been developed to ensure a seamless process once funds are availed.

“In preparation for the review, the Commission has developed a Boundaries Review Operations Plan (BROP) which provides a roadmap for the exercise. The Commission also initiated capacity building of its staff, procurement of requisite tools and conduct of a pilot boundaries review,” Chebukati said.

He however stressed that the process which will be guided by data from the 2019 national census from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), could only kick off once funds are availed.

KNBS is also yet to formally publish results of the 2019 census released by President Uhuru Kenyatta in November 2019.

IEBC can review “the number, names, and boundaries of wards periodically” but cannot add the number of constituencies or alter the boundaries of counties.

Article 89 (1) provides for only 290 constituencies “for the purposes of the election of the members of the National Assembly.”

Among factors to consider during a boundary review exercise are the population quota, geographical features and urban centres, community interest, historical and cultural ties.

The number of inhabitants in a constituency or ward is required to be as nearly, equal to, the population quota and “may be greater or lesser to the quota by a margin of not more than (a) forty per cent for cities and sparsely populated areas; and (b) thirty per cent for the other areas.”

The Constitution requires the poll agency to consult all interested parties during a review process before renaming constituencies and wards and publishing the same in the Gazette.

A citizen can move to the High Court to have the review of a boundary relooked at.

“An application for the review of a decision made under this Article shall be filed within thirty days of the publication of the decision in the Gazette and shall be heard and determined within three months of the date on which it is filed,” Article 89 (11) states.

b)    The Star: UN warns of famine if locust swarms aren't defeated

The UN has warned of the danger of famine in East Africa if huge swarms of locusts are not brought under control.

The insects have so far affected Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda devouring crops and pasture in regions that are already suffering food shortages.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is appealing for more funds for aerial spraying to contain the problem in the next few weeks.

Otherwise it says the locusts - already in the hundreds of billions - will multiply further, and massive humanitarian aid will be required.

"The good news is that we are in-between two cropping seasons, so we have a window of opportunity to reduce the burden of locusts ahead of the planting season that starts in March and April in most of the region", FAO Director of Emergencies Dominique Burgeon told BBC Newsday.

5.    RWANDA

a)    The New Times: Rwanda, Uganda officials to meet on Friday

The Ad Hoc Commission on the Implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding between Uganda and Rwanda is set to take place in Kigali on Friday, February 14, 2020— in an attempt to mend their strained relations.

The meeting that is bringing together ministers and officials from both countries is a follow up on the Luanda MoU signed by both countries in August last year, committing to resolving the poor relations between themselves.

The Luanda MoU was inked by President Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni, and witnessed by the host President João Lourenço, Félix Tshisekedi of DR Congo and Dennis Sassou Nguesso of Congo Brazaville.

Under the agreement, Rwanda and Uganda were among other things called upon: to protect and respect the rights and freedoms of nationals of the other party residing or transiting in their national territory, and to refrain from engaging in actions that destabilize the other party (or actions perceived to) such as financing, training and infiltration of destabilizing forces.

Rwanda has continuously blamed Uganda for arbitrarily imprisoning and torturing its citizens that are in Uganda’s territory, as well as harbouring anti-Rwandan elements.

 Speaking about Friday's meeting, Olivier Nduhungirehe the State Minister in Charge of East African Community urged that “The full implementation of our commitments is key to the success of this process.”  

Since the August 2019 Luanda Agreement, three Quadripartite summits have been held, the latest of which that happened in Angola in February this year resolved that Uganda and Rwanda would release nationals of each country held and lists were submitted to facilitate the objective.

The next quadripartite meeting is meant to take place on 21st this month, and it is forerun by the Ad Hoc commission meeting that is taking place today.

This will be the third time for the Ad Hoc commission meeting.

The previous one was held in Kampala in December last year – though it did not bring about tangible results.

6.    SOUTH SUDAN

a)    Radio Tamazuj: Activist receives ‘death threats over states dispute’

Prominent activist Edmund Yakani said he had received several phone calls with death threats this morning, after his invitation to participate in a consultative meeting in Juba.

The issue of states and their boundaries is a controversial issue that has yet to be addressed by rival leaders before a unity government can be formed by February 22.

President Salva Kiir has called for an expanded consultative meeting aimed at resolving the issue of states at Freedom Hall today morning. The president extended invitations to government officials and other stakeholders.

Edmund Yakani, the head of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), which advocates for peace and human rights, told Radio Tamazuj that he received five phone calls with death threats from anonymous callers in Juba this morning.

 “Three calls threatened me with death if I refused to support the current 32 states, while two calls threatened me with death if I called for a return to the original 10 states,” he explained.

The leading activist pointed out that he would open a case with the police over the matter.  Yakani stressed the vital need for South Sudan’s political leaders “to make the necessary compromise for peace”.

On Wednesday, 10 people including four journalists working for Radio Rumbek 98 FM were briefly detained by security agents for not attending pro-government demonstrations in Rumbek.

South Sudan had 10 states when it obtained independence from Sudan in 2011. But in 2015 President Salva Kiir unilaterally increased the number to 28 and then later 32.

The opposition argues that the constitution and the 2015 peace deal are explicit that South Sudan comprises only 10 states, insisting on a return to the original 10 states, or 23 states based on colonial boundaries.

  1. b)Daily Mail: S. Sudan 'unity' army not ready for peace as deadline looms

At a remote and spartan bush barracks in South Sudan, a motley collection of government soldiers and their rebel enemies chanted in unison, raising their mock wooden guns to the sky.

"South Sudan! Victory!" they cried out, as women ululated.

Troops from both sides of the battlefield broke into song and dance, sending up great clouds of dust as feet stomped in the dirt.

Away from the parade ground, however, optimism is in short supply.

This ragged band of war-weary troops is nowhere near ready to protect South Sudan, just days before a critical milestone in its tenuous peace process.

Under an accord meant to end six years of bloodshed, these adversaries were brought together in military camps for retraining to graduate as comrades in a new, unified army.

The foot soldiers, tired and beaten, seem eager to reconcile after a grinding war that's left 380,000 people dead, millions displaced and swathes of their young country in ruins.

"All we need is to unite the forces... Peace is around the corner," Edison Arkaingelo Musa, an opposition fighter, told AFP at the training site in Mapel, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Wau in the country's northwest.

But they are worryingly unprepared to take over security at a fragile moment in South Sudan, as a truce between its warring leaders is sorely tested.

Formal training hasn't even begun, and the tens of millions of dollars needed for it has not materialised, derailing any chance of deploying on time.

Thousands of soldiers are cooped up in camps without adequate food and water.

UN envoys this month described conditions at the camps as "abhorrent" and reported that women living nearby had been raped.

- Delays and disunity -

The disarray comes as President Salva Kiir and the rebel leader, Riek Machar, face intense pressure to form a coalition government by February 22, a major step in the transition to peace.

But the old foes have already missed two deadlines, and the latest talks are gridlocked again.

Both men have violated past accords, raising fears this ceasefire may also not hold.

Merging their fighters into a truly national force, one not beholden to ethnic and political allegiances, was a precondition of the pact they signed in September 2018 that halted the carnage.

Two years earlier, a separate armistice collapsed into all-out war when Machar's bodyguards and Kiir's presidential unit clashed in Juba.

This time, it was agreed that an 83,000-strong unified army would safeguard against this, and the risk of discord between Kiir and Machar again splintering into brutal violence along ethnic lines.

Eighteen months later, though, only 36,000 fighters have been garrisoned for training, said Augostino Njoroge, the interim chairman of the RJMEC, which monitors the implementation of the peace process.

"Screening, selection and actual joint training of the forces is yet to start", the retired Kenyan general said in sobering remarks on Tuesday.

- 'Bring us shoes' -

At Mapel, no drills or military exercises were observed by a visiting AFP team.

Hundreds of soldiers did attend a lecture, however, on rape and other war crimes led by a team from the UN Mission in South Sudan.

Latrines were not evident at the threadbare barracks, and men relieved themselves on trees. Sloping away from the camp was a hillside where the women and children of fighters slept.

"Sometimes there's no food at all," said rebel fighter Christo Gordon, as soldiers shared a pot of maize and beans, and passed around a jerrycan of murky drinking water.

7.    UGANDA

a)    The New Vision: Iranian President expected in Uganda next month

KAMPALA - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be in Uganda next month to attend the 3rd South Summit, an official has revealed.

A statement from the ministry of foreign affairs said an Iranian Special envoy had delivered the message of Rouhani's participation in the summit.

"The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam K. Kutesa today this morning met with the Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the brief statement said. 

"H.E.  Seyed Morteza Mortazavi, the Ambassador of  Iran to Uganda, accompanied the Special Envoy, who confirmed the participation of H.E Rouhani, President of  the Islamic Republic of Iran, at the 3rd South Summit scheduled to take place in Kampala in April 2020."

Last year, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda held a meeting with Rouhani on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and extended the invitation.

Uganda was confirmed as the host for Group of 77 (G77) Summit last year. The South Summit is the supreme decision-making body of the G77. 

The First and Second South Summit were held in Havana, Cuba, in 2000 and in Doha, Qatar, in 2005, respectively. 

The G77 was established in 1964 by 77 developing countries who are signatories of the “Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Developing Countries” issued at the end of the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva. 

Although the members of the G77 have increased to 134 countries, the original name was retained due to its historic significance.

The G77 is the largest intergovernmental organisation of developing countries in the United Nations, which provides the means for the countries of the south to articulate and promote their collective economic interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues within the United Nations system, and promote South-South cooperation for development.

It is not clear whether the summit will not be postponed in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus.

8.    ZAMBIA

a)    Anadolu Agency: Zambia, Turkey economic ties strengthened

Zambia and Turkey have held the first ministerial session of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) aimed at growing the economic bilateral relations, according a statement by the Zambian Embassy in Turkey.

At the meeting held in the capital Lusaka on Thursday, Zambia was represented by Foreign Minister Joseph Malanji while the Turkish government was represented by Zehra Zumrut Selcuk, the family, labour and social services minister, the statement said.

The JEC session provides an opportunity for the two countries to evaluate the progress made in the implementation of various agreed areas of cooperation between Zambia and Turkey.

Malanji said the two countries share good bilateral relations through Turkey-Africa partnership summit -- planned for April under the auspices of the Turkish Presidency -- and other platforms where they have supported each other's candidacy.

The agreed cooperation areas include the establishment of Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency liaison offices in Zambia and the establishment of a joint business council between two chambers of commerce, he added.

He also explained that the JEC is expected to further address the strategic areas of cooperation and agree on a number of joint activities.

There is a need to ensure that decisions made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Zambian counterpart Edgar Chagwa Lungu during their reciprocal visits in 2018 are materialized into actual projects and programs, Malanji said.

He stressed the need for both sides to remain committed to the joint decisions included in the signed minutes, while the Turkish minister praised Zambia for its commitment to strengthen the bilateral ties.

The two countries have continued to enjoy bilateral relations in key economic sectors for the benefit of the people both in Turkey and Zambia, added Selcuk.

She referred to various areas of cooperation and positive achievements, including launch of a Turkish direct flight from Istanbul to Lusaka, and rising interest of Turkish investors to invest in various sectors of the Zambian economy.

The investment flows should grow, Selcuk stressed, adding that Turkey is committed to establish a free trade area to enhance the economic cooperation.

Selcuk has also pledged Turkey’s support to Zambian development plans such as the Seventh National Development Plan, especially targeting agriculture, construction, tourism and small and medium enterprises.

The countries cooperate on various areas, including women empowerment, trade and investment promotion activities, enhancing the Turkey-Zambia joint business council, cooperation activities in agriculture, energy, mining, health, tourism and education, among others, the statement added.

According to the statement from Zambian Embassy in Turkey, the countries also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) after the joint economic commission to attract more investments in various sectors among them agriculture, energy, mining, health, tourism, and education.

Malanji said Turkish's investment in various sectors of the economy is timely as it will enhance trade and commerce between the two countries, adding that the MoU was as a result of the official visit President Edgar Lungu made to Turkey in 2018.

"Agreed areas of cooperation include the agreement signed in various areas such as the establishment of Turkish international cooperation and development agency liaison office in Zambia," he said.

Other cooperation included the establishment of a joint business council, cooperation between the chamber of commerce among others.

Malanji said the presidential decisions made in 2018 are being actualized now as evidenced by the signing of Statutory instruments to grant diplomatic immunities and privileges to the TIKA in Zambia.

He said the commencement of Turkish Airlines flights on the Ankara-Lusaka route has facilitated enhanced cooperation between the two countries that will enhance trade, investment, and tourism.

Malanji further said the signing of the MoU which was also witnessed by Minister of Gender and Child Development Elizabeth Phiri will foster benefits that will strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations which will improve the living standards of the people in the two countries.

For Turkey, Minister Selcuk said the bilateral relationship is poised to boost trade and investment opportunities between Zambia and Turkey.

"The number of Turkish investors has increased from 2018 when President Lungu made a visit to our country," she said.

Selcuk expressed his gratitude on the MoU, adding it would help support women empowerment programs and assured that more exchange programs will be conducted to benefit the two countries.

1.    ANGOLA

a)    Angola Press Agency: French President visits Angola in May

Luanda - The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, will visit Angola next May, announced today (Wednesday), in Luanda, the French ambassador to the country, Sylvain Itté.

The confirmation was given by the French diplomat, at the end of an audience that the Angolan Head of State, João Lourenço, granted to the Special Adviser to the French Presidency for Africa, Franck Paris.

Speaking to the press, Sylvain Itté did not advance the likely dates of the visit, but stressed that the matter was also raised in today's meeting.

The trip by the French statesman should take place a year after the Angolan counterpart paid an official visit to France in 2019.

France was the first European country that João Lourenço officially visited, after taking office as President of the Republic of Angola, on 26 September 2017.

Macron's Message

During today's meeting, Angolan statesman, João Lourenço, received a message from the French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, in which the strengthening of friendship and bilateral cooperation is emphasized.

The message was delivered by the special advisor, Franck Paris. Angola-France cooperation Diplomatic relations between the two states were established in February 1976.

The bases for bilateral cooperation were created in 1982, with the signing of the General Cooperation Agreement.

The two countries share diverse economic interests.

Bilateral trade reached 1.4 billion euros in 2013. In 2014, imports from France to Angola reached an estimated value of 770 million euros. Imports are basically made up of equipment for use in the oil industry, food products and various consumer goods.

Angola exports crude oil to France. The French company Total became the first oil operator in Angola, with a daily production of around 650,000 barrels per day.

The two countries have strong cultural and scientific cooperation, especially in the field of higher education.

This cooperation was reinforced by signing the agreement between the Government of Angola and France in the field of Higher Education and staff training, valid for five years, signed on 29 April 2014.

Statistical data indicate that the French community in Angola is estimated at three thousand residents, while the Angolan community in France is around fifteen thousand.

2.    BURUNDI

a)    Reuters: Burundi central bank bans foreign exchange bureaus for flouting official rates

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Burundi’s central bank has suspended the licenses of all foreign exchange bureaus in the central African nation, saying the move was aimed at weeding out those flouting official exchange rates.

Burundi has experienced a shortage of foreign exchange since 2015 after a political crisis that started when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April that year that he would seek a third term in office. He went on to win the election the following July.

The European Union suspended financial support to Burundi in 2016, saying Nkurunziza had not done enough to resolve the political and economic crisis.

Burundi’s central bank said in a statement late on Monday it had withdrawn licenses for foreign exchange bureaus for violating rules that allow them to trade currency within an 18% margin of the official exchange rate of 1850 Burundi francs per dollar.

“The licenses which were given to the foreign exchange offices are withdrawn,” the central bank said in the statement seen by Reuters on Tuesday, adding the ban would take effect on Feb.15. 

The bank said commercial banks would however be allowed continue exchanging currencies.

Police briefly detained more than 40 money traders in late 2019, accused of violating the foreign exchange trading margins.

Typically traders turn to limited dollar supplies from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, which they were selling on the black market.

The franc has appreciated to 2,500 per dollar from 2,900 in recent days, and traders said this would continue gaining ground due to traders slowing imports, in part due to travel restrictions to China due the coronavirus epidemic.

3.    CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

a)    Ministry of Foreign affairs China: Statement by Ambassador Wu Haitao at Security Council Meeting on the Central African Republic

Mr.president,

The current political and security situation in the Central African Republic is generally getting better. The CAR government is committed to implementing the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation and is actively making progress in the implementation of the benchmarks for the arms embargo assessment. China commends these efforts.

China has always believed that sanctions are not an end in themselves,, but rather the means to the end, which is to help the CAR restore national stability and normal social order at an early date. The Security Council should base itself on the actual situation on the ground in the CAR, especially the aspirations of the CAR government, and lift the arms embargo sanction measures against the CAR at an early date. This will help the CAR government enhance its capability to maintain national safety and security and facilitate the political settlement of the CAR issue.

China wishes to thank France, the pen holder, for its efforts. However, the draft resolution failed to fully respect the wishes of the CAR government regarding lifting the arms embargo, nor did it reflect the constructive ideas of some members of the Security Council, therefore, China had no choice but to abstain.

Thank you Mr. President.

4.    DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

a)    The Defense Post: DR Congo forces captured 40 ADF fighters near Makeke, UN says

The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) captured 40 Allied Democratic Forces fighters inn the restive east, the United Nations mission MONUSCO said on Wednesday.

At around 10:30 p.m. (2130 GMT) on Sunday, February 9, “a joint action launched against the ADF enabled the FARDC to apprehend 40 ADF fighters near Makeke and take them to the FARDC base in Mangina,” said MONUSCO military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Claude Raoul Djehoungo.

Senior FARDC officials did not confirm or deny the capture or detention of 40 ADF combatants.

The joint MONUSCO-FARDC operation came on the same day that at least seven civilians were killed in Makeke in an attack blamed on the ADF.

The main militia force operating in eastern DR Congo, the ADF has been carrying out reprisal attacks on civilians in response to an FARDC offensive against armed groups in North Kivu province launched on October 30.

More than 300 people have been killed in attacks attributed to the ADF since the army began its operations.

But it is only one of several militias operating in the area – a legacy of the two 1990s Congo wars that dragged in DR Congo’s neighbours into a regional conflict.

Beni territory, in North Kivu province which borders Uganda and Rwanda, has been particularly affected by militia violence.

Formed in 1995, the ADF is a Ugandan-led but DR Congo-based militant group that mainly operates in the border area of North Kivu province. It is thought to have killed hundreds of civilians and more than 20 U.N. peacekeepers, but although it is often blamed for killings, robberies and kidnappings, numerous armed groups operate in the region and it is often difficult to be certain who the true assailants are.

Last April, Islamic State formally recognized its Central Africa Province in Democratic Republic of Congo, when its centrally controlled media outlets began to attribute attacks to ISCAP, and during his first video appearance in five years, the late ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was seen viewing a document entitled “Wilayat Central Africa.”

There was earlier evidence that ISIS had ties to the Allied Democratic Forces, but it is unclear if the new ISIS affiliate is the ADF, a splinter group, or a different organization.

According to U.N. report published in February, several member states believe that the ISIS affiliate in Somalia’s Puntland state is now the command centre for “affiliates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique and is in charge of loose networks of supporters of the affiliates.”

“The ultimate goal is to consolidate a triad connection of the operations of ISIL [Islamic State] affiliates in Eastern, Southern and Central Africa,” the report said, adding that some member states reported that ISCAP “now comprises about 2,000 local recruits and a large contingent of foreign terrorist fighters.”

On February 6, the U.N. added Seka Baluku, also known as Musa Baluku, to its DR Congo sanctions list. Describing the Ugandan national as a longtime ADF member and previously second in command, the sanctions committee said that Baluku is now overall leader of the ADF, after he took over the group’s leadership from founder Jamil Mukulu in 2014. Mukulu was arrested in Tanzania in 2015 and extradited to Uganda.

The United States sanctioned Musa Baluku in December 2019, describing him as “the leader of the ADF, an entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse related to his tenure.” A further “five key ADF members who have materially assisted the ADF through recruitment, logistics, administration, financing, intelligence, and operations coordination” were also added to the U.S. sanctions list.

Neither sanctions listing mentioned a link to ISIS.

b)    Africa Business Communities: DRC Government and General Electric sign infrastructure agreement

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and General Electric have announced signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in infrastructure projects enabling the increase in the supply of electric energy and health modernization programs. The 3-year MoU seeks to accelerate the economic and social development of the country.

Under the MoU, GE will work with the government to explore power solutions that will increase electricity to the country’s grid to benefit thousands of households. GE will also work with the ministry of health for the modernization of the country’s health system at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels as well as the infrastructures and equipment for maternal and child health, cardiology, and oncology. The partnership will also focus on training and capacity building of local talent for the sustainability of the initiatives.

Speaking about the signing, GE Africa President and CEO Mr. Farid Fezoua said, “Partnership with governments and local companies form a very important part of GE’s growth in Africa, and  we are honoured today to collaborate with the government of the DRC as a key strategic partner for the country’s long-term development agenda. This gives us the opportunity to deliver innovative solutions to meet the unmet demand for the millions of citizens without electricity and those without access to quality healthcare.”

GE is currently involved in the rehabilitation of Inga IIB power plant and of Nseke Power Plant in the DRC and has successfully implemented renovation projects with the 1st interventional Cardiology and CT Scanner with 128 systems installed at the HJ Hospital and new imaging center of Camp Kokolo. In the past, GE Healthcare also led the installation of the Scanner 16 slices at Panzi Hospital, giving thousands of citizens access to the latest diagnostic solutions. 

GE first started operating in Sub-Saharan Africa over 120 years ago and in 2011 renewed its focus to meet Africa’s current and future needs. The company has signed MOUs with the Governments of several countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Ghana and now the DRC to develop infrastructure projects, including sustainable energy solutions as well as improving access to quality healthcare. These MOUs involve significant investments in creating jobs and human capital development.

5.    KENYA

a)    The Star: Mandera Governor Ali Roba fires three CECs and Health CEO

Mandera governor Ali Ibrahim Roba has sent home three County Executive Committees.

In his latest changes in the cabinet, Roba fires Trade CEC Abdiaziz Sheikh Maad, Ms Johora Abdi for Agriculture and gender CEC Shamsa Mohammed.

Also, Chief Officer Health Sevices Hassan Mohamed Ahmed was not spared.

The governor said on Thursday that the changes he made are aimed at improving service delivery and to strengthen his Administration's focus on legacy projects that impact the lives of Mandera people positively.

He has reinstated Mohamed Adan as CEC in charge of Health Services and will also act as Trade minister until new appointments are made.

Mohamed Omar aka Maqar has been appointed to act CEC for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation.

Public Service CEC Ahmed Sheikh will act as a minister in charge of Gender and Social Services as well as overseeing his docket.

The Agriculture Chief Officer Abukar Abdi Sheikh will act as Chief Officer Medical services.

Roba said the changes will take effect immediately and handing over and take over to take place presided over by County Secretary Abdinur Maalim Hussein.

6.    SOUTH SUDAN

a)    Associated Press: South Sudan buries reports on oil pollution, birth defects

PALOCH, South Sudan (AP) — The oil industry in South Sudan has left a landscape pocked with hundreds of open waste pits, the water and soil contaminated with toxic chemicals and heavy metals including mercury, manganese, and arsenic, according to four environmental reports obtained by The Associated Press.

The reports also contain accounts of “alarming” birth defects, miscarriages and other health problems among residents of the region and soldiers who have been stationed there. Residents describe women unable to get pregnant and having excessive numbers of miscarriages, and babies born with severe birth defects.

Abui Mou Kueth’s infant son, Ping, was born with six fingers on both hands, one stunted leg, a deformed foot and kidney swelling.

“I was shocked the first time I saw the baby,” she said, cradling him in her arms.

She said he was not able to breastfeed and needed special formula. “I am worried about his future.”

The AP obtained the reports and supporting documents from people with close knowledge of the oil operations, one of whom works in the industry. The reports have never been released publicly.

The reports, which date as far back as 2013, were presented to the oil companies and South Sudan’s ministry of petroleum but subsequently buried, according to four people with close knowledge of the oil operations and the documents. All spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of their safety.

“South Sudan is running one of the dirtiest and poorest managed oil operations on the planet,” said Egbert Wesselink, the former head of a European coalition of more than 50 non-profit organizations focused on the impacts of the country’s oil sector. He worked on the oil fields in South Sudan before the country gained independence in 2011, and now works with PAX, a Dutch-based human rights organization.

“I don’t think there’s a single major industrial operation on earth that’s getting away with this,” he said.

There’s been no clear link established between the pollution and the health problems.

But community leaders and lawmakers in the oil-rich areas in Upper Nile and Unity states -- in the northeast and north of the country bordering Ethiopia and Sudan -- accuse South Sudan’s government and the two main oil consortiums, the Chinese-led Dar Petroleum Operating Co. and the Greater Pioneer Operating Co., of neglecting the issue and trying to silence those who have tried to expose the problem.

7.    SUDAN

a)    The National: Sudan agrees to pay compensation over 'USS Cole' bombing

Sudan's transitional government said it has signed a deal with the families of the victims of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, meeting a key condition for removing the country from Washington's terrorism blacklist.

Sudan's justice ministry said a deal had been signed with the families of the victims of the attack, but it did not specify the amount of compensation agreed.

"As part of the transitional government's effort to remove Sudan from the terrorism list, a deal has been signed on February 7 with the families of the victims of the USS Cole incident," the ministry said.

"The deal clearly specifies that the government of Sudan was not responsible for the incident or any such terrorist incident and it is doing this deal only to ... fulfil the condition put by the American administration to remove Sudan from its terrorism list."

The United States has set certain benchmarks that Sudan has to meet to be removed from its state sponsor of terrorism list, which includes North Korea, Iran and Syria. Compensating the victims of the USS Cole attack had been a key condition imposed by the US administration.

On October 12, 2000, a rubber boat loaded with explosives blew up as it rounded the bow of the guided-missile destroyer, which had just pulled into Yemen's port of Aden for a refuelling stop.

Seventeen American sailors were killed as well as the two perpetrators of the attack claimed by Al Qaeda, in an early success for the terror group and its founder Osama bin Laden.

A US court ruled that Sudan, where the two bombers were trained, was responsible for the attack – a claim Khartoum always denied.

In 2012, a Washington judge ordered Sudan to pay more than $300 million (Dh1.1billion) to the victims' families. Other judges went on to order certain banks to make Sudanese assets available to start paying the sum.

But in March last year the US Supreme Court overturned on procedural grounds a lower court's ruling ordering Sudan to pay damages to the families of the victims.

Sudan's justice ministry did not specify the structure or any other details of the deal signed last week.

In 1993, Washington listed Sudan on its terrorism blacklist for its alleged support of Islamist groups. Bin Laden lived in Sudan from 1992 to 1996.

Sudan's new authorities have made it a key priority to get the country removed from the blacklist.

Officials in Khartoum say the country's economic revival has been stunted primarily due to its blacklisting, which deters global investors.

In October 2017, the US lifted its decades-old trade embargo imposed on Sudan, but kept the country on the terrorism blacklist.

Sudanese businessmen and officials complain that the blacklisting has restrained international banking and transfer of funds, severely affecting the country's economy.

Sudan's chronic economic troubles – led by high inflation as well as shortages of fuel and foreign currency – was the main trigger for nationwide protests that led to the military's removal of president Omar Al Bashir last April.

In another step restoring Sudan's international standing, the government said earlier this week that it had agreed to hand Al Bashir to the International Criminal Court to face trial on charges of war crimes and genocide during the fighting in the western Darfur region.

b)    Sudan Tribune: UN diplomat, Sudanese officials discuss political support operation

February 13, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - An United Nations official held talks in Khartoum on Wednesday with senior government officials to discuss international support for the transitional government in Sudan and the formation of a political support mission under Chapter VI.

Rosemary Anne DiCarlo United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs arrived in Khartoum days after the disclosure of a letter by Prime minister Abdallah Hamdok to the UN Security Council to establish an international mission to support Khartoum to achieve during the transitional period the implementation of peace agreements under negotiations with the armed groups in Juba.

DiCarlo met with the head of the Sovereign Council of Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to discuss the issues of the transitional period and ways that the UN can support in the implementation of the tasks of the transitional period.

During the meeting which was attended by the Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General Nicholas Haysom, she conveyed the commitment of the international organization to provide everything that would facilitate the completion of these plans.

The visiting international official was also by Prime Minister Hamdok who later confirmed in a press statement that the United Nations was keen to support Sudan and the transitional government.

Haysom said that the meeting touched on Sudan’s needs, the challenges facing the transitional government and the role of the international community as well as the United Nations in supporting Sudan to overcome these challenges.

In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DiCarlo met with the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Omer Gamar Eldin, who conveyed to international officials Sudan’s commitment to the success of the transitional period to achieve the goals of the Sudanese people in cooperation with the international and regional communities.

In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DiCarlo met with the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Omer Gamar Eldin, who conveyed to international officials Sudan’s commitment to the success of the transitional period to achieve the goals of the Sudanese people in cooperation with the international and regional communities.

According to a statement by the foreign ministry, the visiting international diplomat confirmed the UN commitment to support the transitional period until it achieved its goals.

"It was agreed on the future presence of the United Nations in Sudan through a special political mission aimed at assisting the government in building peace and supporting state institutions to achieve sustainable development in all parts of Sudan, provided that the period of the special mission ends with the end of the transitional period," said the statement.

On 9 February in the margins of the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, the Sudanese prime minister met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who pledged the United Nations’ full support to Sudan.

8.    TANZANIA

a)    Xinhua Net: Southern African Development Community ministers to meet in Tanzania over disaster risk management

DAR ES SALAAM, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers responsible for disaster risk management will meet in Tanzania's Zanzibar next week to address better ways of managing calamities in the wake of ongoing droughts and floods in the region.

Jenista Mhagama, Tanzania's Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled, said on Thursday the ministers will discuss ways of improving the necessary technical and financing capacities when member states faced droughts and floods.

"The objective of the meeting is to lessen diversion of budgets planned for implementation of development projects to funding programs in areas devastated by droughts or floods," she told a news conference in the capital Dodoma.

Mhagama said the meeting to be held from Feb. 18 to Feb. 21 will provide a platform for learning how the Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe coped after they were hit by Idai and Kenneth cyclones in 2019 that left the countries in devastation.

The official said 13 out of the 16 member countries of SADC were in 2016 hit by severe drought that affected about 40 million people in the region.

In November 2016, SADC ministers responsible for disaster risk management met in Mauritius and adopted the SADC Regional Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy which was expected to enhance coordinated interventions to disasters in the region.

The ministers noted that there were inadequate funds set aside at the regional level to coordinate disaster risk reduction issues, including responses to disasters.

Tanzania is the current chair of the 16 SADC member states established in 1992 to address regional integration and poverty eradication within southern Africa through economic development and ensuring peace and security. Enditem

1.     ANGOLA

a)    Angola Press Agency: Angola Supports UN to End Embargo on Car

Luanda — Angola defended last Friday, in New York, the suspension of the arms embargo against the Central African Republic (CAR), enacted by the UN in 2013 to avoid confrontations between the security forces of that country and armed groups.

Speaking at the UN Sanctions Committee, the Permanent Representative of Angola to the United Nations, Maria de Jesus Ferreira, said that the CAR government is the main victim of the embargo.

Cited by a press note from the Permanent Representation of Angola to the UN, the diplomat stressed that the rebels continue to have access to weapons and threaten the country's integrity. Maria de Jesus Ferreira requested the support of the Security Council to countries in the region that provide economic assistance and security to the Central African Republic. In New York, the ambassador expressed Angola's willingness to collaborate with the Sanctions Committee and the UN Security Council, making it clear that Angola has no secret agenda in CAR, other than "helping a brother country".

On the occasion, he encouraged the joint efforts of African countries and other players in the fight against terrorism, violent extremism, piracy and maritime insecurity in supporting the promotion of disarmament measures in the Central African Republic.

This path, the diplomat continued, would contribute to peaceful integration. The Permanent Representative of Angola to the United Nations reaffirmed the need to end impunity in that central African country and bring to justice those responsible for acts harmful to peace.

In her intervention at the Sanctions Committee, Maria de Jesus Ferreira recalled that Angola, as guarantor of the peace agreement in CAR, remains committed to working with the countries of the region for the "full implementation of this understanding".

The CAR government and 14 armed groups initialled in February 2019 in Khartoum, Sudan, a peace agreement to end the armed conflict in the country.

He specified that Angola is ready to transmit its experience in the fields of reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction. The diplomat hoped that preparations for the presidential, legislative and local elections in CAR will be successful, in a process planned for 2020/2021. Angola and the Central African Republic cooperate in several areas and are members of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

b)    Angola Press Agency: Quadripartite summit directs release of "prisoners"

Luanda - The quadripartite summit (Angola, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda) recommended on Sunday the release of national citizens of Uganda and Rwanda, duly identified and included in the lists exchanged for this purpose.

The decision is expressed in the final communiqué of the 3rd quadripartite summit held in Luanda which brought together the Heads of State Félix Tshisekedi of DR Congo, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and the host João Lourenço.

The document, read by Angolan Foreign minister Manuel Augusto, states that the parties (Rwanda and Uganda) must continue to protect and respect the human rights of national citizens on both sides.

It also recommends the two countries to refrain from all factors "that may create the perception of support, financing, training and infiltration of destabilising forces in their neighbour's territory".

The quadripartite summit also expressed the continuation of the activities of the Ad-Hoc Commission, as a mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the process.

In turn, Uganda and Rwanda pledged to continue to stick to the permanent dialogue between the two countries to ensure development and well-being of their peoples.

The president of Uganda Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame decided to take subsequent steps towards peace, stability, good neighborliness and restoring mutual trust.

The heads of State of Rwanda and Uganda welcomed the efforts of the presidents of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo focused on seeking a peaceful solution within the spirit of Pan-Africanism and regional integration to resolve the disagreement between the two countries.

The Heads of State of the four countries also exchanged views on strengthening their political, diplomatic, economic and cultural relations.

The next four-party summit will take place in Gatuna /Katuna city, on the border between Rwanda and Uganda on 21 February 2020.

The quadripartite summit, an initiative of the Angolan President, is the third event sponsored by João Lourenço, after having already done so on 12 July and 21 August 2019.

In addition to these four countries, ICGLR includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia, a total of 12 members.

2.     BURUNDI

a)    IWACU English: Iwacu journalists sentenced to two years and six months in prison

On Thursday 30 January, the long-awaited verdict for Agnès, Christine, Egide, Térence and their driver Adolphe, was rendered. These four media professionals were sentenced to two years and 6 months in prison.

Following a public hearing held in Bubanza High Court, only Adolphe, the driver who had been provisionally released for a month, obtained an acquittal. The materials seized from the defendants (vehicle, telephones, recorder, camera and notebooks) will be handed over to Iwacu newspaper. The four journalists from Iwacu who were absent during the hearing, have not yet received any notification of their judgment.

According to sources present on the spot, in rendering their verdict, the judges of Bubanza High Court relied on article 16 of the Penal Code which stipulates that “there is an impossible attempt when a potential offender did everything possible to commit an offense but the latter could not be carried out because of an impossibility which s/he was unaware of.”

On Tuesday October 22, around noon, Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Térence Mpozenzi, Egide Harerimana and their driver Adolphe Masabarakiza, go to Bubanza to investigate reported clashes in Bubanza province. Such information had been circulating on social media since the morning of that Tuesday.

When they arrive on the field, they are apprehended before they have even started their work. Their work equipment and mobile telephones get seized.

They will spend their first three nights in the dungeon of the provincial police station in Bubanza before being transported to the municipal police station. They will spend there a sleepless night in cramped cells where it’s impossible to move. No charges have so far been brought against them.

On Saturday, October 26, four days since they got arrested, after they are heard by the investigating judge at the Bubanza prosecutor’s office, the prosecutor indicted them for “complicity in undermining the internal security of the state.” They will be immediately transferred to Bubanza prison.

Thursday, October 31, the Bubanza Prosecutor’s Office announces the continued pre-trial detention of Agnès, Christine, Egide, Térence and Adolphe.
Wednesday, November 20, the Ntahangwa Court of Appeal decides to uphold the decision of the Bubanza prosecution: the four journalists are to be kept in preventive detention. Only the driver will be provisionally released.

On December 30, during a public hearing held at Bubanza High Court, the public prosecutor requests that the four journalists of Iwacu newspaper and their driver be incarcerated for 15 years for “complicity attempt in undermining the internal security of the State”.

A WhatsApp message from Agnès to a colleague had particularly caught the attention of the judges. She had written: “We are going to Musigati ‘to support the rebels.”
“This is a material element proving the complicity of four Iwacu journalists and their driver with the rebels,” said the Bubanza prosecutor.

Agnès Ndirubusa, a graduate in law, a senior journalist and head of the political service at Iwacu, explained that this message sent to one of her colleagues is to be placed within the register of black humor to de-stress.

“We have our own language. This message should not be dissociated from its context and it should not be taken word by word. If a mother tells her child that she is going to kill him, everyone knows that she will not do it,” she defends herself.

She continued to say that “the public prosecution only referred to this message by omitting another one in which I say that ” we are going to fight these people who want to disturb peace and elections ” (Tugiye gutuza abo bantu bashaka guhungabanya amahoro n’ugutoba amatora).

3.     KENYA

a)    Financial Times: US and Kenya to start talks on ‘model’ trade deal for Africa

The US will this week hold talks with Kenya aimed at clinching a bilateral trade agreement as the Trump administration turns its back on what has been a traditionally multilateral approach to trade with Africa.

The US president has said he wants to conclude bilateral deals with African countries to replace the 20-year-old African Growth and Opportunity Act that expires in 2025, overriding the wish of most African states for a new multilateral deal.  Agoa, which gives nearly 40 African states tariff-free access to the US for 6,500 products, has come under increasing criticism in Washington, which wants fast-growing African economies to open up to US goods and services.  Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, has long sought an African country willing to negotiate a “model” trade agreement with Washington that could be replicated by other African states. 

Many African governments have expressed a preference for a multilateral deal, particularly as they move towards a 54-nation African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which comes into force in July.  “The Trump administration has been flailing around trying to find an African country that will sign this free trade agreement,” said Aubrey Hruby, co-founder of the Africa Expert Network. “Their position is they want to do bilateral deals, not multilateral deals.”  Ms Hruby said other African governments, particularly in the East African Community, a regional trade bloc, might criticise Kenya for “breaking rank”. 

Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s president, is expected to announce the start of negotiations for a bilateral deal, first reported by Bloomberg, in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, according to people familiar with his plans.  Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s principal secretary for foreign affairs, confirmed that talks would begin in Washington this week and expressed hope for rapid negotiations. “We are trying to figure out which is going to be the path forward for our arrangement with the US post-Agoa,” he said, adding that the Trump administration was seeking to “re-engineer its relationship with the continent”. 

However, Mr Kamau said that Kenya would move cautiously in terms of reciprocity, since it needed to protect infant industries and services, including its airline. “They could easily swamp our markets into oblivion,” he said. Any deal “cannot be at the expense of our local capabilities, which are nascent at best”.  Mr Kamau said that Nairobi was sensitive to the concerns of neighbours in east Africa where many goods transit tariff-free and which would therefore be affected by US goods coming into Kenya.

His government, he said, would “proceed with supreme caution in renegotiating a free trade agreement”. According to US statistics, two-way trade between Kenya and the US was about $1bn in 2018, with a $280m surplus in Kenya’s favour. In the same year, Kenya’s total trade with China, its biggest partner, was more than $5bn, with almost all of that going from China to Kenya.  Kenya, which has borrowed heavily from China in recent years, including for its controversial $3.2bn Mombasa to Nairobi railway, is keen to bolster relations with western democracies, according to Ms Hruby. With the trade deal, Nairobi wanted to send a message, she said, that “we’re not just in China’s pocket, we’re a global player”. 

Witney Schneidman, a former US deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa, said the US should be encouraging African integration by making a continent-wide post-Agoa deal. “Africans are saying, we are trying an integrated approach, but you are proposing a single bilateral deal. It doesn’t make any sense.” However, Mr Schneidman added, any post-Agoa agreement must provide better access for US goods and services. The same refrigerator exported to South Africa from Frankfurt with a 2 per cent tariff would attract an 18 per cent tariff if it were shipped from Atlanta, he said. “Africa has 1.2bn people today and that’s going to double in the next 20 years,” he said. “If we don’t structure our trade relationship for the next 20 years we are going to miss out.”

b)    The East African: Coronavirus fears: 3 quarantined in Kenya

Two people with a high fever were on Sunday quarantined in Kenya's capital Nairobi while a third person was isolated in a hospital in the coastal region over coronavirus fears.

The precautionary measure was taken as a deadly coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, has left more than 300 people dead so far and thousands infected.

One of the travellers quarantined in Nairobi was from Beijing and took a Kenya Airways flight in Dubai, while the other arrived from China aboard a China Southern Airlines plane.

Early Sunday, a female medical student from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou was admitted at the Coast General Hospital after she exhibited signs of the virus infection.

The student, who arrived on Thursday, is in a private room at the Rehemtullah Ward, Mombasa County Chief Health Officer Khadija Shikely said.

Last week, Kenya reported its first suspected case of coronavirus infection in a student who travelled via Kenya Airways.

The unnamed student, in his early 20s, left Wuhan for Zhangjiajie City on January 20, travelled to Nairobi through Guangzhou in China and Bangkok in Thailand on January 27 and landed at the JKIA in Nairobi on January 28.

He was put in isolation at KNH. Health Cabinet Secretary reported on January 31 that tests validated in South Africa showed the student did not have the virus.

Since emerging out of the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, the coronavirus has infected nearly 14,500 people across China and reached 24 countries.

Many of the infections overseas have been of people who had travelled from Wuhan, an industrial hub of 11 million people, or surrounding areas of Hubei province.

Meanwhile, China's central bank said Sunday it would pump 1.2 trillion yuan ($173 bln) into the economy as it ramps up support for a nationwide fight against a deadly virus that is expected to hit growth.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement it would launch a 1.2 trillion yuan reverse repurchase operation on Monday to maintain "reasonable and abundant liquidity" in the banking system, as well as a stable currency market, during the epidemic.

4.     RWANDA

a)    The New Times: Rwanda to host regional centre of excellence on vaccines

The University of Rwanda is set to host the headquarters of the East African Community Regional Center of Excellence for vaccines, Immunization and Health supply chain management (EAC RCE- VIHSCM).

The centre, whose construction works are expected to commence not later than June 2020, will be built at University of Rwanda, Remera Campus.

This regional center of excellence (RCE) was operationalized by the first EAC regional steering committee for the EAC regional centers of excellence for higher medical education, health services and research that convened last year in February.

Established in 2015, this RCE’s mandate is to address challenges related to vaccines and other health commodities supply chain management through the strengthening of the human resource capacity function.

However, “prior to the construction, a competition for the architectural design of the facility was launched where four companies qualified out of six that had applied and were invited to tender for architectural design competition,” said Jean d’Amour Habagusenga, one of the facilitators of the competition and operation coordinator at Regional Centre of Excellence of Health Supply Chain.

One of the four companies that had prequalified dropped out leaving three which were: GITEC-IGIP GmbH-MASS Design LLC, Consortium SWECO-LANDMARK, and Consortium HYDROPLAN- TECOS.

The grand prize is 10,000 Euros as well as 6,000 and 3,000 Euros for the runner up.

This competition was held at the School of Architecture and Built Environment (SABE) where the judges visited different stands of the bidding companies and evaluated the participants basing on various parameters.

“These parameters that were considered are: building standards, functionality, accessibility and sustainability as well as social impact. The winner is to be announced soon,” Joe Diogene Maniraguha, one of the jury experts from Rwanda Housing Authority said during the presentation.

The RCE’s funds have come from the Federal Republic of Germany through the German Development Bank-KfW which amounts to 10 million Euros of which 4 million Euros will be used for the construction of the facility.

The facility will include a library, seminars and conference room, research space and a cafeteria.

5.     SOUTH SUDAN

a)    Radio Tamazuj: US embassy in Juba warns its citizens of possible attack

The United States warned its citizens in South Sudan on Friday that "recent information indicates Westerners may be targeted by terrorists".

The US embassy in Juba said the terrorists may conduct attacks with little or no warning, targeting hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, and other areas where large crowds gather and westerners frequent.

"Recent information suggests terrorists continue to actively plot attacks against the U.S. Embassy and U.S. government personnel," the statement said.

The embassy has urged its citizens to always have their travel documents up to date and review their personal security plans.

This warning comes as South Sudan’s government and opposition groups struggle to implement the 2018 peace agreement that has largely stopped fighting in the country.

But the peace deal is already behind schedule and there are worries that the rival parties may not meet a February 22 deadline to form a unity government.

The United States is among the countries pressuring South Sudan's leaders to form a coalition government by February 22.

b)    Sudan Tribune: SSOMA welcomes appointment of new U.S. special envoy for South Sudan

January 2, 2020 (JUBA) - The South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) welcomed the appointment of W. Stuart Symington IV, as the United States’ Special Envoy for South Sudan.

On 31 January the Department appointed W. Stuart Symington IV as Special Envoy for South Sudan saying he "will lead U.S. efforts to support the peace process and a successful political transition in South Sudan".

"This appointment has come at the right time when the people of South Sudan are yearning for sustainable peace, which has so far, become elusive," said the alliance of the armed groups that reject the revitalized peace agreement.

The alliance, nonetheless, expressed willingness to work with the new US special envoy to achieve lasting peace in the country.

The opposition groups of the opposition alliance and the government will resume talks for peace in South Sudan in Roma on 12 February. The talks are brokered by the religious community of Sant’Egidio.

The is SSOMA looking forward to working with the Special Envoy in order to achieve a just and permanent peace in South Sudan.

Speaking in a social media forum recently Pagan Amum, an SSOMA leadership council member said the revitalized peace pact failed to address the root causes of the conflict.

He further said it was backed by Sudan and Uganda to serve their own interests.

6.     SUDAN

a)    Sudan Tribune: Sudan arrests South Sudanese rebels for purchasing military uniform

February 2, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s paramilitary force of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Sunday arrested four members of the South Sudanese armed opposition group National Salvation Movement (NAS).

In a statement issued about their arrest, the RSF said the four members of the rebel group were involved in the procurement of 150 military uniforms.

The four NAS members are indicted of "disturbing security and safety, purchasing uniforms and military insignia, stirring up war against the state, transnational organized crime, sabotage and war, disturbing relations with South Sudan and working to create tensions between the two countries (...)," further said the RSF spokesman Jamal Juma.

Juma said they had intelligence reports that they were in Khartoum to buy military uniforms of the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces and to smuggle it overland to South Sudan.

The statement quoted Sabit Kwang Gai, who was identified as a major general in the armed opposition group saying that he was assigned to obtain 300 military uniforms of the Sudanese regular forces for their fighters who are based in the Upper Nile region, close to the Sudanese border.

Thomas Cirilo NAS’s chairman and other holdout opposition leaders have agreed to resume peace talks with the South Sudanese government under the meditation of Sant’ Egidio Catholic peace organization.

NAS which is mainly active in the Greater Equatoria region of South Sudan, in August 2019 formed On August 30 the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), a large alliance gathering groups that reject the revitalized peace agreement.

7.     TANZANIA

a)    Tanzania Daily News: Tz Boasts Enough Fuel Stock – Minister

TANZANIA has enough fuel in storage to sustain the local demand for up to two months, thanks to reforms that among other measures resulted in the establishment of Petroleum bulk procurement system.

This is among key achievements attained by the Ministry of Energy within the first four years of the fifth-phase government under President John Magufuli, according to the Minister for Energy, Dr Medard Kalemani.

"As we are speaking now, the country has a surplus of 197 million litres of diesel to sustain local consumers' demand for 26 days, 97.2 million litres of petrol that can meet the demand for 38 days and some 130 million litres of jet fuel for 58 days," revealed Dr Kalemani in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.

The Energy minister said that the country has a capacity of handling 255,000 tonnes at once through three ports of Dar es Salaam (165,000 tonnes), Tanga (45,000 tonnes) and Mtwara (45,000 tonnes).

In addition, he said the reserve for kerosene is 600,000 litres just down from 800,000 liters that were used to be stored in the past because the demand has gone down as most of people in rural areas have been connected to electricity through Rural Energy Agency (REA). Many more rural dwellers are using solar energy.

Addressing fuel dealers in PUMA Energy Tanzania award ceremony in Dar es Salaam, Dr Kalemani assured the public that there will never be fuel shortage for their businesses.

"The government has 50 per cent share in PUMA Energy Tanzania, and I would like to assure the business community especially industrialists and motorists that the fifthphase government of President John Magufuli has set a favourable environment where fuel shortage will never be felt in the country," he bluffed.

"The only concern is that the company should think of penetrating upcountry hinterlands to open filling stations in Katavi, Mara and Simiyu regions among others, because that is where most Tanzanians live in order to add more revenue to the company, and add more taxes and dividends to the government," urged the minister.

"When you reach villages, that are moving fuel services closer to Tanzanians who need fuel services to enhance development," he added.

While commending the company for paying 9bn/- in dividends to the government, Dr Medard noted that their contribution in the public especially educating masses on road safety has been minimising road crashes.

On his part, PUMA Energy Managing Director, Mr Dominic Dhanah said they organised the ceremony to honour their fuel dealers in the country, who see into it that their clients are served with professionalism.

"This award ceremony is the first of its kind to be organised here in Tanzania, where the company recognises contribution of its dealers and presents awards, prizes and gifts to the best performers.

The aim is to motivate and challenge our dealers to provide their better services to our customers throughout the year.

Today (Saturday evening) we issue prizes preceded by all week training geared towards enabling the dealers to work effectively and safely while providing top class and quality services to customers visiting PUMA Energy Tanzania Service Stations across the country," said Mr Dhanah.

He further pointed out that the company supports the government's efforts to create jobs for the locals especially as pump attendants, shopkeepers, and security personnel among others.

The managing director said the suppliers were awarded as being the overall of the year, pump attendant of the year, best dealer of the year for nonfuel services and best forecourt innovation among others.

He noted that PUMA Energy Tanzania with a storage capacity of 94 million litres and operates 52 Petrol Stations across the country, besides servicing eight airports, is a local registered oil company owned jointly by the government via the Treasury Registrar and the Ministry of Finance known for domestic large storage and distribution of petroleum products.

8.     UGANDA

a)    ABC News: Israel's Netanyahu in Uganda to strengthen African ties

KAMPALA, Uganda -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Uganda on Monday, saying his country is” returning to Africa in a big way.”

Before departing Israel, Netanyahu spoke of “very important diplomatic, economic and security ties that will yet be told about." He said that at the end of his visit to the East African nation he hopes to “have very good news” for Israel.

The Israeli leader was welcomed by Uganda's prime minister at the international airport in Entebbe, where Netanyahu's brother Yonatan was fatally struck by a bullet as he led Israeli commandos in a daring mission to rescue hijacked Israeli passengers in 1976. Israel's success in the raid humiliated then-Ugandan President Idi Amin.

Netanyahu was set to meet with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and other officials. Ugandan authorities did not immediately give details.

Israel has long courted African support. In exchange for its expertise in security and other fields, Israel wants African states to side with it at the U.N. General Assembly, which overwhelmingly recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state in 2012.

Reports in Israel in recent years have suggested it might normalize diplomatic relations with several Muslim countries in Africa. Israel renewed diplomatic relations with Guinea in 2016. After Netanyahu visited Chad for a renewal of ties in 2019, it was reported that Israel was working to formalize ties with Sudan.

Yoweri Museveni, Uganda's longtime leader, has repeatedly said his government supports a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue. During Netanyahu's trip to Uganda in 2016, Museveni urged both sides to live “side by side in two states ... in peace and with recognized borders.”

9.     ZAMBIA

a)    Lusaka Times: Civil Society demands for 2021 diaspora vote

A Consortium of Civil Society Organisations has demanded that Zambians living in the Diaspora must be accorded their Constitutional right to vote in 2021 General Elections.

Constitution Reform and Education Coalition (CRECO) Chairperson Hyde Haguta, who is also Media Institute for Southern Africa Chairperson – Zambia Chapter, said the Zambian Constitution protects the right of every citizen, whether in prison or living abroad, the right to vote.

“We want to be clear that voting in an election by either prisoners or citizens of Zambia living in different parts of the world is a right protected by Article 46 of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia which must be respected by all institutions, including the Electoral Commission,” said Haguta.

Mr Haguta has therefore charged that Zambian citizens who are in the Diaspora must never be disenfranchised and denied enjoyment of their right as protected by the Constitution.

CRECO has therefore encouraged ECZ to conduct voter registration encompassing registration of voters who live in the diaspora.

He said ECZ must never wait for parties to petition the courts for them to allow citizens enjoy their right to vote.

Meanwhile, CRECO has commended ECZ for taking steps to facilitate enforcement of the Constitutional Court Judgment, allowing prisoners to vote in the 2021 General Elections.

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