Daily News Brief on ICGLR Member States compiled by LMRC (18th February 2020)

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Monday, in Luanda, the support to the Angolan Government's efforts to fight corruption and recover the funds illegally withdrawn from the country.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.


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.


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.

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