Daily News Brief on ICGLR Member States compiled by LMRC (17th February 2020)

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.

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