Daily News Brief on ICGLR Member States compiled by LMRC (14th February 2020)

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.

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