Daily News Brief on ICGLR Member States compiled by LMRC (28th October 2019)

1.     ANGOLA

a)    Lusaka Times: Five billion dollars for Angola-Zambia oil pipeline

At least US$5 billion is available for the construction of an oil pipeline to connect Angola and Zambia, aiming to make operational the Lobito corridor.

This information was advanced last Thursday, in Luanda, by the Zambian Ambassador to Angola, Lawrence Chalungumana, who was talking at the celebration ceremony of the 55th anniversary of Zambia’s independence, which was marked on 24 October, highlighting that the works shall start from the refinery of Lobito (Angola’s western end) to Zambia.

According to Mr Chalungumana, this project created by the Angolan and Zambian governments will have five years duration and will be handled by the Zambian company Baseli Balisel Resources (BBLR) with the Angolan company Sonangol.

“The conclusion of these works will facilitate the construction of roads and railways to connect neighbouring countries,” he said.
Mr. Chalungumana also reiterated that besides the project, Unitel is launching in Zambia mobile telecommunications project of over 350 million dollars.

According to the Ambassador, the bilateral relations between Angola and Zambia continue to grow, referring that the Permanent Joint Committee on Defence and Security of both countries met in 2018 and its 32nd session is scheduled for November this year.

He said many high-level meetings involving both government and private sector entrepreneurs have been held with focus on agriculture, oil, finance and economy, trade and Provincial Administration.

He also highlighted that Zambia keeps on playing a decisive role in International Organizations, mentioning that last August it became the host of the Southern Africa Sub-Regional Centre for Sustainable Development Goals, in addition to the international organizations already working in Zambia.

Angola and Zambia share a border of about 1,300 kilometres.

b)    Angola Press Agency: Akz 15.8 bln 2020-budget proposal discussed

Luanda - Angolan Government analysed Saturday (26 October) Draft Law on State General Budget (OGE) for 2020, estimated at AKZ 15.8 billion.

The document sets the amount to be collected in 2020, the spending limits, basic rules for its execution and carries expenses in the same amount for the same period.

According to the statement, emerged from the Cabinet Council's session chaired by the President João Lourenço, the expenditure are those with the main priorities in the country's economic, social, institutional and infrastructure development areas.

This is part of the goals defined in the National Development Plan (PND) 2018-2022.

The document predicts a growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 1.8 percent, with stress to the sectors of the oil, agriculture and industry as well as social, education, health sectors and the fight against poverty.

As for the public finance management area, the Cabinet reviewed the State General Account for 2018.

The Saturday's session communiqué indicates that there was an improvement in the description of financial information on state holdings in state-owned enterprises, direct and indirect government funds and the National Institute of Social Security.

The proposal will be forwarded to National Assembly (Parliament) for approval.

2.     BURUNDI

a)    IOL: Burundi charges four journalists with undermining national security

Johannesburg – Media organisations are calling for the release of four Burundian journalists who have been charged with undermining national security after they were arrested while covering fighting with rebels from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Judicial sources on Sunday confirmed the arrests of the reporters, who work for the Iwacu newspaper, after the reporters were arrested last week while trying to speak to residents who were fleeing the fighting between rebels and the army in Bubanza in north-west Rwanda, the East African reported.

At least 14 members of the RED-Tabara, an organisation based in eastern DRC, and headed by a Burundian opposition figure, have been killed in the violence the first of its kind in Burundi since 2017.

The reporters are currently incarcerated in Bubanza’s central prison and face the possibility of five to 10 years imprisonment if convicted.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Human Rights Watch have called for the journalists' immediate release.

3.     CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

a)    Kma updates: Central African Republic ‘considers Russian military base’

The president of the Central African Republic, Francois Faustin-Archange Touadera told the Russian state-run news agency RIA that his country is considering hosting a Russian military base, Reuters news agency reports.

Mr Touadera, who took office in 2016 and was seen as crucial to turning the page on the country’s years of sectarian conflict, added that he would like Moscow to supply CAR with new weapons.

Reuters reports that he made the comments in an interview with RIA a day after more than 40 African leaders attended a summit in southern Russia.

The meeting was aimed at expanding Russian influence on the African continent.

4.     DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

a)    The New Times: Regional military chiefs agree on plan to eradicate armed groups in DR Congo

Military officers from DR Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania who met in the eastern DR Congo city of Goma on Thursday and Friday eventually agreed on a joint plan to track and eradicate foreign and Congolese armed groups in the vast country.

The meeting was a follow up to the one held mid-September in which senior military officers from the five African Great Lakes countries looked into the possibility of establishing a joint plan to get rid of foreign and Congolese armed groups in eastern DR Congo.

The final plan of the meeting which was also attended by the commanders of the UN Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) and those from the United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM), which oversees American troops on the African continent, does not involve joint military operations on Congolese soil as has happened in the past.

Congolese army (FARDC) spokesperson, Gen. Léon-Richard Kasonga, said: “The final report commits the participants to [consider] a number of actions notably the pooling together of efforts and logistics to bring peace to the east of the country and within the sub-region. We will pool resources and means. This does not mean calling on [military] forces that will come to operate on Congolese territory. Far from it.

“We are pooling [efforts] to track these people on our borders. These people cross all the borders of many countries and wreak havoc, and we must be on the alert, we must organize ourselves in order to do this job.”

The armed groups in question include a myriad of militias from Congo’s neighbours, including Rwanda. Some of them have made deadly incursions into Rwanda in the recent past but were repulsed and many captured.

DR Congo’s new President, Félix Tshisekedi, has made it clear he is determined to deal with the issues slowing down his country’s development, including war and insecurity, especially in the vast country’s east.

Negative Rwandan elements likely to be targeted include the genocidal FDLR, formed and led by perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and RNC, a terrorist organisation blamed for a spate of deadly grenade attacks in Rwanda in recent years.

Even after the regional military officers met and established a working plan, it remains to be seen how the countries can work together considering that some of them are heavily linked with some of the armed groups.

Kigali accuses Kampala of backing and propping up groups hostile to Rwanda, including RNC and FLDR.

A UN report released in December 2018 confirmed that Uganda is a major source of recruits for Rwandan rebel outfits based in eastern DR Congo.

Uganda has also been linked to P5, an umbrella of five groups bent on the violent overthrow of the Kigali government.

Both RNC and FDLR are members of P5, which is led by wanted Rwandan dissident Kayumba Nyamwasa.

Two senior leaders of the FDLR militia arrested by Congolese authorities last year and later transferred to Kigali have since confessed in court that they were seized as they returned from a meeting with Uganda and RNC officials in Kampala.

The meeting in Goma came just weeks after the Congolese army killed FDLR’s overall commander Sylvestre Mudacumura as it stepped up operations against the armed groups in which many P5/RNC fighters have since been killed or captured.

Mudacumura was, until his death, the Supreme Commander of FDLR’s military wing – Forces Combattantes Abacunguzi (FOCA).

5.     KENYA

a)    Daily Nation: Russia's Vladimir Putin Woos Kenya with Military Kit and Energy

Russian President Vladimir Putin pitched infrastructure, energy and military hardware opportunities to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Moscow when he met African leaders on the last day of the Russia-Africa Economic Forum.

Mr Putin who engaged Mr Kenyatta and other African leaders during the meeting in Sochi said Moscow is ready to support African countries to beef up trade and investment deals with Moscow.

Mr Putin said the current level of trade between Moscow and the continent was "not enough".

"We currently export to Africa $25 billion worth of food -- which is more than we export in arms, at $15 billion. In the next four to five years, I think we should be able to double this trade, at least," he said.

During the conference, The Roscongress Foundation, the co-organiser of the conference signed co-operation agreements to establish effective communication between the expert and business communities of the Russian Federation and Kenya. Other organisers were Afreximbank and the Russian Federation.

The agreement was signed with the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce headed by Richard Ngatia.

Mr Ngatia said the Kenyan Chamber would help Russian businesses to explore "abundant" trade and business opportunities in Kenya as teh local firms also tour Russia.

East African Community Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko said that the EAC economies were virgin and quite endowed with massive natural resources that Russians could explore.

"One potential area where the EAC is deficient is the provision of critical services for business and investment in areas like transport, logistics and technicians. Both parties need to explore the existing gaps," he said.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau earlier said Kenya will be eyeing deals across various sectors, including medicine, blue economy, aeronautical and space engineering.

International relations experts said earlier that Moscow was keen to re-establish its old Soviet ties with African States as it presents itself as the alternative to perceived "self-interested" colonial powers.

"Russian President Vladmir Putin seems to have new aspirations in Africa to restore his country to strong power status, spurred by concerns that China, India, Brazil and especially the United States are intensifying their involvement in Africa," said Aruuke Uran Kyzy, a researcher at the TRT World Research Centre.

Kenya buys a significant amount of Russian arms and has been exploring its market for its bulk tea.

Russian imports to Kenya jumped 8.16 percent to Sh22.37 billion in 2018, up from Sh20.68 billion in 2017, according to the Russian Export Centre.

Conversely, Kenya's exports to Russia stood at Sh12.85 billion last year. In 2017, one of Russia's largest privately owned banks, Promsvyazbank, said it was considering expanding into Kenya.

Alexander Meshcheryakov, head of transaction and international business at Promsvyazbank told Reuters the lender was studying Kenya and other African countries.

6.     RWANDA

a)    The observer: Rwanda joins Uganda, Egypt in signing nuclear deals with Russia

Rwanda is the latest African country to sign a nuclear deal with Russian state atomic company Rosatom.  But the deals between Russia and several African countries are raising concerns from environmentalists who say nuclear energy is not always clean and does not come free.

A Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, Russia, last week brought together the heads of state and government representatives from 55 countries. Speaking at the forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his government was offering African countries an opportunity to use nuclear technology.

"Rosatom is prepared to help our African partners in creating a nuclear industry,” with “the construction of research centers based on multifunctional reactors," he said.

Rosatom is building a $29 billion nuclear plant for Egypt. The same company is helping Uganda, the Republic of Congo and Rwanda establish nuclear facilities. Right now, South Africa is the only country on the continent with a nuclear power plant.

In Rwanda, Rosatom will construct the Center of Nuclear Science and Technologies.  In Nigeria, a planned Rosatom nuclear reactor may provide the West African nation with electricity.

Environmental activists are wary of these deals. Jakpor Philip of Nigeria's Environment Rights Action said, “We continue to hear, for instance, that nuclear energy is clean, but in truth, it is not clean because you need a lot of water to keep the nuclear plant cool. You need an independent power to keep powering 24/7. If you need that much power to keep that plant running, then it shows it's not clean."  

Most African countries have needs that could be met by nuclear energy. According to the International Energy Agency, 57 per cent of Africa's population does not have easy access to electricity, and those who have it must deal with frequent power outages. 

Michael Gatari, the head of nuclear science and technology at the University of Nairobi, said African countries can pursue nuclear technology but must get their own people to manage the nuclear reactors. 

"We should have in-country, competent, well-trained manpower not depending on expatriates’ support, because that would be very expensive in long run,” he said. “Manpower development for nuclear energy is very critical." 

Gatari also said Russia was seeking business in Africa, not giving away gifts. 

"Africa is not going to get a free reactor,” he said. “They are selling their technology. So the issue of helping does not come in.  Of course, there is a component of 'we will train your people, we'll do this,' but still if you calculate the cost, it's we who cough. So the African countries should move into it with a business vision." 

And in Sochi where Putin rolled out the red carpet for African leaders, he reminded them Russia was open for business. 

b)    The New Times: Rwandans should make own choices, says Kagame

President Paul Kagame has said that Rwandans have a right to make their own choices in life and chart ways they believe are in their best interest.

He was presiding over the closing ceremony of the 12th annual forum of Unity Club Intwararumuri, an association of current and former cabinet ministers and their spouses.

The Head of State cautioned those who attempt to destablise Rwanda against doing so, saying no one can impose their own way of doing things on Rwandans.

“Those who claim they want to fight for the country, I don’t see what they want to fight for. Their intentions are simply to destroy what we have built. What’s more interesting is that Rwandans know what they want,” he said.

Kagame said that Rwandans need, among other things, security to conduct their businesses, access to electricity, healthcare services, education and the right to choose their leaders from the bottom to the top.

“Those who think they can fight to impose on Rwandans the life they want better than what Rwandans themselves want or what they have that they obtained through the right ways, you can’t win that fight,” he said.

“As a human being, you have the right to live the way you want. If it’s bad, it will have an impact on you, and if it’s good, it will be in your own interest. What politics does, however, it makes a distinction between which choices are made. That cannot be a basis to choose for other people,” he added.

Kagame told the leaders that people should “oppose anything that is wrong; if you oppose something that is right then you must have a problem.”

During the closing ceremony, three individuals who did outstanding work in society were awarded, with the Abarinzi b’Igihango.

These are Daphrose Mukarutamu, Serge Gasore, and Carl Wilkens.

Daphrose Mukarutamu established an association called Duhozanye as a platform that brings together genocide widows to chart ways for their development. In 1996 she collaborated with the Government to construct 60 houses for genocide widows with each house accommodating three survivors.

Mukarutamu created unity and reconciliation groups that essentially promoted unity. She was also one of the women representatives from Rwanda who attended the Beijing Conference on Gender Equality.

Gasore, a resident of Ntarama, built a daycare for street children, those left by their parents and others after the Genocide. He established a hospital that provides free medical care. He put up a centre that trains women in tailoring, handcraft and others.

He also formed an annual cycling competition which seeks to raise awareness about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and went ahead to set up a counselling centre.

Wilkens, is an American aid worker who refused to be evacuated during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, even when his family, relatives and other thousands of expatriates were leaving Rwanda.

He is the only known American who stayed in Rwanda during the Genocide.

The then head of ADRA in Rwanda offered money to Interahamwe militias to not kill the Tutsis he was hiding during the Genocide. He later adopted a kid whose parents had been shot during the Genocide. That kid is now a doctor.

President Kagame pledged Rwf10 million to each awardee, including previous recipients. So far, 40 individuals have received similar awards since 2016. 

c)    No bail for 25 RNC terror suspects

The Military Tribunal has denied bail to the 25 terror suspects captured and extradited from DR Congo, where they had formed a militia group that aimed at attacking Rwanda.

All the suspects pleaded guilty to being part of an irregular armed group but had asked for bail to be able to stand trial out of custody.

They include foreign nationals: Ugandans, Burundians and Malawians.

They each face four charges of; formation of an irregular armed group or joining it, conspiracy against the established Government or the President of the Republic, maintaining relations with a foreign government with the intent to wage a war and formation of or joining a criminal group.

According to Lt Col Charles Madudu, the presiding judge, the accused cannot be released on bail due to the weight their crimes carry.

“Court finds all the crimes against the accused compelling and is remanding them to prison for the next 30 days. They have five days to appeal this decision,” he said.

The prosecution had requested that the suspects be kept in custody pending the substantive trial, saying that there was no guarantee that they would not jump bail, once freed.

All the suspects joined the terror group from foreign countries, with many saying that they joined from Uganda where they were then processed to travel to DR Congo through Tanzania then Burundi.

Even those that said they had an address in Rwanda, they had long left their families to join the militia group.

Among the suspects – who are all men – is Maj (rtd) Habib Mudathiru who was formerly with Rwanda Defence Force before he retired in 2013.

During the pre-trial hearings, all the other 24 suspects pinned him on being a key architect in the criminal enterprise and many said that he directly recruited them into the outfit.

Mudathiru, who was injured during the operation in which the group was captured, was in charge of the training base for the outfit, which calls itself P5 – an outfit created out of a merger of different anti-Rwanda negative forces that include RNC and FDLR among others.

All suspects have applied for bail despite some not having an established address in Rwanda.

The Burundians particularly requested that they be granted asylum in Rwanda, saying that they would face backlash if at all they are to go back to their country.

During the pre-trial hearing, the prosecution said that all the suspects were facilitated mainly by Uganda and Burundi to join the outfit whose activities are detailed in a report by the UN Group of Experts published in December last year.

Led by South Africa-based fugitive Kayumba Nyamwasa, RNC is a terrorist organisation blamed for a spate of grenade attacks in Rwanda between 2010 and 2014 that killed at least 17 people and injured over 400 others.

Kayumba is a fugitive from the Rwandan justice, having been tried in absentia, convicted and sentenced to 24 years in prison.

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