Daily News Brief on ICGLR Member States compiled by LMRC ( 12th June 2019)

1.       ANGOLA

a)      Angola Press Agency: Angola appeals for nomination of a Prime Minister in Guinea Bissau

Luanda - Angola urged on Tuesday the authorities of Guinea Bissau, in special the president of the republic, José Mário Vaz, to appoint a prime minister, in line with the results of the parliamentary elections.

In a message addressed to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, in Addis Ababa, Angolan Government underscore that according to Guinea Bissau’s Constitution, it is a prerogative of the President of the Republic to nominate a prime minister.

On March 10, 2019 Guinea Bissau held its parliamentary elections that were considered free and fair and won by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde (PAIGC).

The document highlights that the issue concerning the election of a Prime Minister and the need to schedule the presidential elections within the established deadlines, put Guinea Bissau at a true political crossroads to which the country’s immediate future may depend.

Angola notes with concern the growing wave of public contestation with popular marches and public vigils for not appointing the Prime Minister says the note from the Angola permanent Representation to the African Union.

Angola is in its third term at the helm of the African Union Peace and Security council  (2018/2020), jointly with Rwanda, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Guinea Equatorial, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, Serra Leone, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

b)      Angola Press Agency: International conference debates workplace inequality

Luanda - The fight against inequality in workplace is one of the themes that dominate the 108th session of the International Labor Conference (ITC), which takes place since Tuesday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the event which marks the centenary of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Angola takes over the vice presidency to be headed by the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, Margarida Izata.

More than 50 Heads of State and Government, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Ecuadorian Maria Fernanda Espinosa are attending the event.

The ILO is a multilateral institution of the United Nations, specialized in labor issues, particularly with regard to compliance with international standards, conventions and recommendations.

2.       CENTRAL AFRICA REPUBLIC

a)      Journaldu Cameroun: Central African Republic hosts 150 African MPs for APU session

The seventy-fourth session of the African Parliamentary Union (APU), will open Wednesday, at the National Assembly in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), where 150 lawmakers from the continent are expected, APA reports here.Uganda and Ethiopia are the first delegations to arrive in the country.

The Bangui meeting is devoted to reviewing the implementation of the decisions taken at the 73rd Session held last year in Abuja, Nigeria.

These decisions, whose implementation will be examined, include the fight against terrorism, drought and hunger in Africa, said Ernest Misedio, a Central African member of APU.

In addition to the recommendations, which are expected at the end of this session, participants will also designate the country that will host the 75th edition of the APU Session.

3.       KENYA

a)      Standard Digital: Uganda joins ban on Kenya notes

Students, forex bureaus, banks and Kenyan living in Uganda and Tanzania will only be allowed to change their currency in the country after Bank of Uganda joined Tanzania central bank in banning Kenyan currency conversion.

Bank of Uganda issued a notice barring currency conversion and repatriation to Kenya stating that all conversions would be done within Kenya.

Kenyan Central Bank Governor Dr Patrick Njoroge said he would work closely with sister central bankers to ensure illicit cash is not smuggled through East African hubs.

The Kenyan apex bank knows there are 218 pieces of Sh1,000 notes but cannot say where the currency is due to the nature of cash transactions.

Some are expected to have crossed the border as people exchange the currencies in banks and forex bureaus across the interdependent economic block.

However, CBK is cognizant of the risk that some money may be taken outside the country as holders of illicit cash try to circumvent the strict guidelines set to convert the withdrawn Sh1,000 note.

b)      Capital News: Spain lauds Kenya’s resolute war against corruption

MOMBASA, Kenya, June 12 – Spain has lauded President Uhuru Kenyatta over his unwavering war against corruption and economic crimes in the country.

Speaking when he paid the President a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi, Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Joseph Borrell Fontelles said the current determination to end graft will go a long way in building confidence among investors across the world.

The Minister further praised President Kenyatta for the historic handshake with opposition leader Raila Odinga, an initiative he said continues to ensure the country enjoys peace and stability.

“The handshake was a good example on how to overcome internal conflicts and disagreements,’ said Fontelles.

On the government’s Big 4 agenda, President Kenyatta and his guest agreed to explore a partnership on social housing for the low-income earners especially in urban areas.

The Minister said Spain is ready to engage and participate towards the achievement of the affordable housing pillar of the Big 4 Agenda.

“We have many firms that can be good partners in affordable housing,” said the visiting Minister.

Spain has a unique social housing model where construction, renovation and buying of houses are subsidized by the state through reduced interest loans to providers.

Houses developed under this scheme, dubbed ‘Vivienda de Proteccion Publica’ (publicly protected housing) are provided to the public almost entirely on owner-occupation terms, rather than for rent.

Under the affordable housing pillar of the Big 4 agenda, Kenya plans to put up at least 500,000 affordable houses by 2022.

The Spanish Minister welcomed Kenya’s continued efforts to improve operations at the Port of Mombasa saying his country welcomes the reforms the country has taken to enhance efficiency at the facility.

President Kenyatta assured Spain that Kenya is doing everything possible to streamline operations at Kenya’s Mombasa gateway besides de-congesting the port.

“The port was a big loophole for us. We are working on it and soon all the systems will be streamlined,” said the President.

“In about a month, we will be able to see great changes at the port. We are trying to ensure the importation of goods is streamlined, he stated”

President Kenyatta also welcomed Spain’s proposal for a partnership to develop Kenya’s tourist sites and enhance tourist experiences especially in scuba diving, a hobby that’s becoming a major tourist attraction in the country.

Kenya and Spain also agreed to pursue partnerships in the areas of renewable energy, particularly in solar and wind energy, to enable Kenya lower the cost of electricity especially in the nascent industrial parks that are aimed at building the country’s economic muscle.

The two countries further agreed to develop partnerships in sports especially in football and athletics. Spain is famed for its highly developed football while Kenya is an African powerhouse in athletics.

“We are keen on developing football academies across the country where we can start training our youth on the sport from early ages,” said President Kenyatta.

“Our objective is to tap and develop the football talents of young people and transform this potential into rewarding engagements,” he added.

President Kenyatta and the Spanish Minister underscored the importance of multilateral ism in the global war against terrorism and violent extremism.

“Terrorism is a great concern for us. We have suffered terrorism so we understand,” said President Kenyatta adding that it is through solidarity and commitment between nations that the threat of terrorism can be defeated.

4.       RWANDA

a)      The New Times: Lt. Mutabazi seeks bail from Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday analysed briefs by Lt. Joel Mutabazi who seeking bail as he challenges a 2014 verdict by the Military High Court that handed him a life sentence.

The court had found him guilty of crimes related to terrorism, setting up an armed group, spreading rumours with the intention of inciting the public to rise up against the state, murder, crimes against the state, illegal possession of a firearm and deserting the military.

Mutabazi and his two lawyers, Antoinette Mukamusoni and Jean de Dieu Amani, told court that he appealed against the sentence because he thought it was unfair.

He added that he was critically ill and his life was in danger because he was not accessing medicine regularly, not well fed and was being jailed in poor conditions.

“I challenged the ruling at the Court of Appeal because the Military High Court sentenced me for crimes I did not commit,” Mutabazi told the three-judge bench chaired by Aimé Kalimunda Muyoboke.

He said he suffered from Hepatitis, High Blood Pressure and eye disease among other conditions he said he could not mention in public.

For some diseases he said he is required to pay medication for himself which he said he could not afford such as the Rwf85,000 he needs to buy eyeglasses.

Mutabazi’s lawyer, Amani, said there was no reason to detain Mutabazi and keep him in poor condition as he appealed adding that he was innocent and deserved bail.

"As long as Mutabazi has not exhausted the legal procedures in his trial, much as the crimes he faces are serious. He remains eligible for bail and this should be motivated by his poor health,” he said.

However, the prosecution dismissed Mutabazi’s plea for bail saying that he committed serious crimes that attract a sentence beyond 5 years.

The military prosecutor said that Mutabazi receives medical treatment on daily basis and can access free medicine whenever he cannot afford it himself.  

As for a special diet, the prosecutor said that Mutabazi has never requested for it.

“It is his responsibility to request for a special diet and he has never done that,” said the prosecutor.

Kalimunda told prosecution to work with the concerned institutions to help Mutabazi get eyeglasses as soon as possible to be able to work with the lawyers in drafting submissions.

The president, therefore, ordered Mutabazi and his lawyers to submit their appeal by June 21 and the prosecution to react on appellant’s submission by June 26. The bail ruling is set for June 26.

Mutabazi was sentenced to life in jail together 13 others who were convicted various sentences including one, Joseph Nshimiyimana, a former member of Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) who was sentenced to life in jail as well.

13 other co-accused were sentenced to various prison terms, ranging from four months to 25 years for crimes related to terrorism and murder, some of those convicted also appealed against the sentences while two were acquitted.

b)      The New Time: President Kagame in Abuja for anti-corruption summit

During his address, Kagame stressed that corruption requires about four key principles: Culture, responsibility, accountability, and effectiveness.

President Kagame early on Tuesday arrived in the Nigerian capital Abuja, where he gave a keynote address at the opening of the National Democracy Day Anti-Corruption Summit, which was hosted by his counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari.

During his address, Kagame stressed that corruption requires about four key principles: Culture, responsibility, accountability, and effectiveness.

“We must discard the myth that corruption is endemic to particular cultures,” said Kagame.

Kagame demystified the myth that corruption is an African thing, saying that corruption is not part of the destiny for Africa as a continent.

“Corruption is a universal weakness, not an African one, and it is not part of our destiny as a continent. Indeed, research has shown that some of the biggest sources and beneficiaries of corruption are outside of Africa, and this has always been the case,” he said.

Held under the theme “Curbing Electoral Spending: A panacea to Public Corruption” the summit is organised by the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in collaboration with the Presidential Inauguration Planning Committee.

According a statement from the Office of the President, President Kagame was invited to speak about Rwanda's fight against corruption which has led to Rwanda emerging among the three less corrupted countries in Africa for the last two years by the global anti-corruption body, Transparency International.

Rwanda was also the first country in Africa to introduce the e-procurement system in 2016.

In 2018, President Buhari championed the African Union theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.

On the second day of his visit, President Kagame is expected to attend the official inauguration ceremony of President Buhari who was reelected in February of this year.

5.       SOUTH SUDAN

a)      VOA: South Sudanese Refugees in Uganda Hope to Return Home

Uganda hosts Africa’s largest refugee population – one and a quarter million people, with two thirds having fled conflict in South Sudan.  Last year’s peace deal raised hopes for some South Sudanese that they could soon return home.  But the fragile peace has discouraged many from leaving Uganda’s refugee camps, despite struggles for adequate aid.  Halima Athumani reports from Adjumani, Uganda.

b)      Sudan Tribune: South Sudan court sentences rights activist to two years in prison

June 11, 2019 (JUBA) - A South Sudanese court Tuesday sentenced for two years of imprisonment South Sudanese rights activist and vocal critic Peter Biar who is indicted of spying after giving interviews to a foreign media.

Biar who was arrested on 28 July 2018 was initially charged with national security-related offences after posting several tweets criticizing the peace process.

However in March 2019 he was accused with six others of orchestrating a riot at the National Security detention facility in Juba, the "Blue House" when armed inmates took two guards hostage on 7 October 2018.

The prosecution said Biar who at the time gave interview to Voice of America Radio from the prison disturbed peace and that his interviews amounted to espionage.

The court sided with prosecutors and sentenced Biar to two years in prison as the judge found him guilty of spying.

His lawyer, Ajak Mayol Bior, told reporters that his client was innocent and vowed to appeal the sentence. he further said the rule violates the constitutional right of freedom of expression.

During his interview from the Blue House with Voice of American Radio on 7 October 2018, the activist called on the government to negotiate with the detainees who organised the insurrection saying what they demand was to be tried or released.

6.       SUDAN

a)      Press Tv: Rights experts urge UN inquiry into Sudan 'abyss'

A group of five United Nations rights experts has urged the Human Rights Council to launch an investigation into possible violations committed by Sudanese security forces against "peaceful protesters."

Sudan is "sliding into a human rights abyss," a group of five UN experts said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The Sudanese military overthrew 75-year-old president Omar al-Bashir after some four months of widespread protests against him over dire economic conditions and the soaring prices of basic commodities on April 11.

Following Bashir’s ouster, the coup leaders established the so-called Transitional Military Council (TMC), presumably to run state affairs in the post-Bashir era. But the generals also moved to consolidate power and faced popular protests themselves.

Protesters camped outside the military headquarters in Khartoum for weeks to demand the ruling military council hand over power to a civilian government, before security and paramilitary forces dispersed them in a June 3 crackdown that killed tens of people.

The umbrella protest movement Alliance for Freedom and Change says 113 people were killed in the crackdown. The government puts the death toll at 61 people, including three security personnel.

The experts, who are independent and do not speak for the UN, urged an "independent investigation" to be set up by the UN Human Rights Council, whose new session will take place in Geneva on June 24.

Aristide Nononsi, who focuses on human rights in Sudan, as well as the special rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, and Agnes Callamard, the rapporteur on extrajudicial or summary executions, are among the signatories of the statement.

Launching such a probe requires a resolution that gains majority support in the council.

b)      Daily Mail: Amnesty, HRW warn UN against Sudan pullout

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have warned UN peacekeepers against withdrawing from Sudan at a time when the Janjaweed militia is not only keeping up war crimes in Darfur but also taking its "despicable brutality" to Khartoum.

"It´s hard to imagine a worse time to decide to close UNAMID," the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, said Jonathan Loeb, a senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International.

As a June 27 vote on whether to wind down UNAMID nears, Amnesty said it had "new evidence, including satellite imagery, showing that Sudanese government forces, including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied militias, have continued to commit war crimes... in Darfur".

"These have included the complete or partial destruction of at least 45 villages, unlawful killings, and sexual violence," the rights group said in a statement issued Tuesday.

The RSF, formed from the former Janjaweed militia, were also responsible for the June 3 crackdown on protesters in Khartoum that killed dozens, Amnesty said.

"In Darfur, as in Khartoum, we´ve witnessed the Rapid Support Forces´ despicable brutality against Sudanese civilians," it said.

New York-based Human Rights Watch, in a separate statement, said: "Instead of giving a green light to a continued drawdown of UNAMID, the (UN) Security Council should focus on preserving the mission´s capabilities to protect civilians and monitor human rights abuses."

Amnesty's secretary general, Kumi Naidoo, urged Sudan's ruling military council to "immediately withdraw the RSF from any policing and law enforcement operations, especially in Khartoum and Darfur".

A doctors committee linked to Sudan's protest movement said the Janjaweed had shot dead nine villagers in Central Darfur state on Monday.

The Janjaweed were first recruited when Khartoum trained and equipped Arab raiders to crush an ethnic minority rebellion in the vast western region of Darfur that erupted in 2003.

The United Nations says the conflict left more than 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced.

The violence in Darfur has substantially reduced over the years, and the Janjaweed have been absorbed in the RSF, headed by Mohamed Hamdan (Hemeti) Dagalo, the deputy chief of the military council which ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April.

"Sudan´s political instability inevitably has an impact on Darfur, especially given the rise of Hemeti and shocking news that (UNAMID) mission assets are going to his forces, despite the RSF´s long track record of abuses," said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at HRW.

"The RSF needs to be investigated for its abuses, not given tasks it´s unfit for," Henry said.

Following Bashir's removal, protesters camped outside military headquarters in central Khartoum for weeks to demand civilian rule before they were violently dispersed last week.

"The case against closing UNAMID has been made even stronger" by the crackdown in the capital, said Amnesty.

Loeb said: "A decision to remove the last remaining peacekeepers from Darfur at this time would reveal a shocking lack of understanding about the current reality in Sudan."

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