Category Archives: P

DRC AND RWANDA AGREE ON CEASEFIRE

By Paul Ndiho

Rwanda and Congo agreed to reduce tensions following a day of talks between their presidents mediated by Angola, Congo’s presidency announced on Wednesday.

According to the statement, the two countries will revive a Congo-Rwanda commission which will resume activities on July 12 in the Angolan capital, Luanda.

Unconfirmed reports say the Congolese rebel group M23 says that talks between Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Democratic Republic of Congo counterpart Félix Tshisekedi will not stop the fighting and withdraw from its positions in eastern DR Congo. The voice of America has not been able to verify this report independently, but the M23 spokesperson Major Willy Ngoma was quoted as saying that.

“Withdrawing to go where?” “We are Congolese. Do you want us to live without a country?”

But the talks’ mediator, Angolan President Joao Lourenco, went further, announcing a “ceasefire” — although giving no details. The DRC has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the M23, a charge the small central African country always denied. 

“We had positive progress, from our point of view. We agreed on a ceasefire. Among other measures contained in the roadmap that has just been presented, we decided on creating a mechanism of observation adhoc, in addition to the one already existing at the level of the International Conference of Great Lakes region.”

Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi says he hopes talks at a mini-summit in Angola will lead to “an immediate ceasefire and a “roadmap” towards normalizing diplomatic ties, including through ending hostilities involving the M23 militia in eastern DRC.

“I hope this process will bring an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of that group M23 and hoping the implementation of the roadmap that could lead us to a process of peace, stability, and mutual trust.”

Rwanda and Congo had traded angry statements stemming from allegations that Rwanda backs the M23, primarily consisting of Tutsi fighters from Congo. But Rwanda has denied it is backing the rebels. Rwanda, in turn, accuses Congo of supporting a group of insurgents with members who allegedly took part in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

“I also thank President Tshisekedi for his contributions that adding to which we are also to make our contribution to move things forward and we are looking forward to creating a normalization between our two countries by also resolving issues that are on the ground that have led us to this point.”

After mainly lying dormant for years, the M23 resumed fighting last November after accusing the Congolese government of failing to honor an agreement to incorporate its fighters into the army. As a result, the M23 previous month seized a Congolese town near the Uganda border.

The African Union earlier this year asked Angola to mediate between Congo and Rwanda under the auspices of a regional body known as the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. About 170,000 people have been displaced since M23 resurfaced in eastern Congo.

KEEPING KIDS IN SCHOOL IN NAIROBI’S MATHARE SLUMS

A recent study by UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2021 found that in Kenya, there were at least 1.1 million primary school-aged children out of the classroom – Especially in rural communities and crowded urban slums like Mathare. 

Inspired by his struggles growing up in the Mathare slums of Nairobi, Douglas Mwangi A-K-A DUKE of Mathare wanted to change that image and founded Oasis Mathare. A youth-led organization allows young people lacking internet access to join educational courses using innovative technology.

SUDAN’S MILITARY LEADER PAVING THE WAY FOR A TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT

By Paul Ndiho

Sudanese military leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan says the army is stepping back from political talks, paving the way for political and revolutionary groups to form a transitional government. 

Sudan’s military leader Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan has announced that the army will make way for a civilian government and would “not participate” in national talks facilitated by the United Nations and regional blocs. 

Al-Burhan says the decision was taken “to make room for political and revolutionary forces and other national factions” to form a civilian government.  The move comes months after the October coup ousted civilians from a transitional administration. 

“First, the non-participation of the military institution in the current negotiations, which are facilitated by the tripartite mechanism, makes room for political and revolutionary forces and other national factions to form a civilian government of independent national competencies.” 

Widespread international condemnation and aid cuts followed the overthrow, the latest in the impoverished northeastern African country. 

Burhan’s televised announcement surprised anti-coup demonstrators, hundreds of whom were on the fifth day of sit-in protests after last Thursday’s violence.

“Second, after the formation of the executive government, the Sovereignty Council will be dissolved, and a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of the Armed Forces and Rapid Support will be formed to assume the supreme command of the regular forces and be responsible for security and defense tasks.” 

Pro-democracy medics say nine demonstrators lost their lives, bringing to 114 the number killed in the crackdown against anti-coup protesters since October.  And the U. N’s human rights commissioner says some 335 have been arrested. 

In the weeks following the coup, the military and civilian leaders promised to hold general elections in July 2023.  Sudan’s leading civilian players had boycotted the talks with military leaders launched under international auspices last month to restore the transition. The United Nations, the African Union, and the regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development facilitated the dialogue. 

Burhan did not clarify the scope of the military’s role in politics, but he says it will be committed to implementing the outcomes of the talks, which the U.N. and the African Union support. 

ECOWAS LIFTS ALL ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON MALI AND BURKINA FASO

By Paul Ndiho

West African leaders have lifted economic sanctions on Mali. The move on Sunday by the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States came after Mali’s military leaders submitted a proposal for a transition to democracy within 24 months and published a new electoral law. 

ECOWAS resolved to lift all economic and financial sanctions imposed on Mali and Burkina Faso.  However, those countries will remain suspended from the regional bloc, according to Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, an Ivorian politician who has been serving as president of the ECOWAS Commission.

“(ECOWAS heads of states) Decided to lift all the economic and financial sanctions taken on January 9, 2022, which meant the closure of the border and the freeze of the financial asset. So, those sanctions are lifted. In addition, they also decided that the sanctions, in terms of recalling the ambassadors of ECOWAS member countries, this sanction is also removed.”

In lifting the sanctions against Mali and Burkina Faso, leaders attending the summit in Accra, accepted transition plans presented by military authorities in those countries. Mali’s junta proposed scheduling a presidential election by March 2024.  Burkina Faso also proposed a 24-month transition leading to polls. 

“Authority of Burkina Faso has made a new proposal, which is now to have the transition in Burkina last for 24 months starting July 1 (2022) to this is, the progress that has been made. And as I said, with the freedom of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore the heads of states now decided to take the following decision: First is to remove the economic and financial sanctions imposed on Burkina Faso on March 25, 2022.”

Mali was severely sanctioned by ECOWAS in January, shutting down most commerce with the country and closing its land and air borders with other countries in the bloc. The measures have crippled Mali’s economy, raising humanitarian concerns amid widespread suffering.

The wave of military coups in West Africa began in August 2020, when Colonel Assimi Gotta and other soldiers overthrew Mali’s democratically elected president.  Nine months later, he carried out a second coup, dismissing the country’s civilian transitional leader and assuming the presidency himself. 

Guinea, the third country under sanctions, received no reprieve because it did not submit a positive roadmap toward elections, adding that the suspension of all three nations from ECOWAS remains in force until they hold elections.

ECOWAS named a new mediator for Guinea, Benin’s former president Yayi Boni, and it is expected to receive a new timetable for its elections by the end of the month.

Mutinous soldiers deposed Guinea’s president in September 2021, and Burkina Faso leader Roch Marc Christian Kabore was ousted in a January 2022. 

The political upheaval came as many observers started to think that military power grabs were a thing of the past in West Africa, an increasingly restive region that also faces growing danger from Islamic extremist fighters.

DRC SECURITY SITUATION

By Paul Ndiho

A United Nations envoy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is warning that the M23 rebel group activities in Eastern DRC are threatening to reverse hard-won progress in security and stability in the region. 

Public pressure is mounting, and Congolese citizens are calling their government to act. They accuse Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels that wreaked havoc in the eastern part of the country.  Rwanda is denying those accusations.

DRC GOMA

Briefing the Security Council on Wednesday, Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the DRC, and head of MONUSCO, said that the security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is getting out of control.

“Sadly, the security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo deteriorated a lot, notably in reason of the intensification of the March 23 Movement (M23) attacks against the civilian population, the national security forces, and the peacekeepers of the MONUSCO, as well as attacks by ADF, CODECO, and other armed groups’ attacks in Ituri and North Kivu.”

During the most recent attacks, Keita said that the M23 “behaved more like a conventional army than an armed group.  The M23 has increasingly sophisticated firepower and equipment, especially in terms of long-range mortar and machine gun firing capabilities, as well as precision fire on aircraft.  The threat this represents for the population and the blue helmets mandated to protect it is obvious.

“The intensification of M23 attacks and the resulting regional tensions have unfortunately called into question the positive dynamics recorded in recent years between the DRC and Rwanda.”

Also speaking at the Security Council was Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, the DRC Permanent Representative to the United Nations, he says “Congolese citizens are not convinced that MONUSCO’s highest priority is civilian protection.

“The most important thing to ensure in a war situation under Chapter Seven of the UN charter is civilian protection. In DRC, Congolese citizens are not convinced that MONUSCO’s highest priority is civilian protection. So, MONUSCO must work on this aspect. A strong offensive position is also called for. If MONUSCO cannot impose itself as a dissuasive force on the ground, it will struggle to carry out its mission and civilian protection mandate.”

Earlier this month, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the current Chairman of the East African Community, welcomed the leaders of the seven nations to discuss the security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s violence-torn east.  The meeting was attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the President of Burundi, Evariste Ndayishimiye, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

23 AFRICAN MIGRANTS DIE IN MOROCCO

By Paul Ndiho

Moroccan authorities have decided to prosecute 65 migrants who joined Friday’s mass attempt to cross into a Spanish enclave by storming a border post.

Black African migrants with their hands tied behind their backs

Video footage circulating on social media sites released by the Moroccan Association of Human Rights organization shows the brutal treatment of Black African migrants with their hands tied behind their backs, pleading for mercy at the hand of the Moroccan authorities. However, The Voice of America has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of this video.  Various media outlets are reporting that at least 29 migrants have died, citing unnamed hospital sources.

Moroccan authorities are denying those accusations and say the deaths resulted from a crush, after what they called, a stampede and from migrants falling from a high fence.  Scores more were injured, along with dozens of Moroccan security personnel.  But this cellphone footage released by the Moroccan Association of Human Rights purportedly shot at the exact locations tells a different story.

A massive attempt by migrants to storm the barrier between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla resulted in the killings of at least 29 sub-Saharan Africans and sparking worse fears.

Many migrants, often from different parts of Africa, have spent months or even years under precarious, dangerous conditions in the nearby forest of Gourougou, braving beatings and arrests in multiple attempts to reach better lives in Spain.

Melilla and Ceuta, Spain’s other tiny North African enclave, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa, making them a magnet for migrants.

Nearly 2,000 migrants made their way to the border at dawn, and over 500 managed to enter the border control area after cutting a fence with shears, the Spanish government’s local delegation said in a statement.

Images on Spanish media showed exhausted migrants lying on the sidewalk in Melilla, some with bloodied hands and torn clothes.

In March, Spain ended a year-long diplomatic crisis by backing Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara, returning to its decades-long neutrality stance.

Meanwhile, Hundreds of protesters rallied in Madrid on Sunday to condemn the death of black African migrants by the Moroccan border fence in the aftermath of an attempted mass crossing into Spain.

Demonstrators lay on the ground in a staged performance emulating videos that have emerged in the last two days showing dozens of migrants lying on the ground, some bleeding and many lifeless.

PATRICE LUMUMBA’S REMAINS RETURNED TO D.R.C.

By Paul Ndiho

The coffin carrying the remains of slain Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba has returned to his home for an emotionally charged tour and burial more than six decades after his assassination. 

Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba’s remains have been returned to his home more than 60 years after his assassination.  A carrying Lumumba’s remains — a tooth that ex-colonial power Belgium handed over to his family last week — from Brussels to Kinshasa for a nine-day trip around the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The coffin and an accompanying delegation then flew to the central province of Sankuru, where the country’s first post-independence leader was born in the village of Onalua in 1925.

Jean Jacques Lumumba, an activist and recipient of the International Award for Fighting Corruption, is the grandson of Patrice Lumumba and was among the family that received the remains. He spoke to VOA from Paris about the significance of the remains and the family’s quest for justice.  Jean Jacques Lumumba, is a great grandson of Lumumba.

“Lumumba family suffered repression in the name of the brother. We would have all wanted to see this day while in grief the emotions. Still, it’s so for the Congolese people for whom the death of Lumumba and its comrades represent the beginning of this cycle of impunity, of the dawn of our focus to independence until today.” 

After resting in his native village, the coffin of the former Belgian Congo’s first post-independence prime minister began its memorial pilgrimage to the northeastern city of Kisangani.

A single tooth is all that remains of the young scholar and nationalist politician whose life and career was cut short in a dark struggle for leadership and control of resources in the central African country.

Lumumba’s body was dissolved in acid after being killed, but a Belgian police officer kept the tooth as a trophy.

In 1958, Lumumba launched a political party, the Congolese National Movement, which won national elections in May 1960, a month before independence.

“Justice is the only practical option to a bright future. You know the memorial for millions of victims of yesterday and today who was to be respected and honored Congolese life justice and Lumumba family-like justice. “

From Kisangani, the coffin will be taken to Katanga in the southeast, where a secessionist movement raged after independence and Lumumba and his aides were tortured.

The burial ceremony is planned for June 30th in Kinshasa, which is D-R-C Independence Day.

GLENCORE PLEADS GUILTY TO CORRUPTION IN AFRICA

By Paul Ndiho

A Glencore subsidiary has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of bribery after admitting to giving inducements to African officials. The mining conglomerate anticipates paying over one-billion dollars to settle corruption and market manipulation violations.  

A subsidiary of British mining and trading giant Glencore formally pleaded guilty to seven counts of bribery concerning oil operations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and South Sudan. The Swiss-based multinational company expects to pay up to $1.5 billion dollars to settle bribery and market manipulation wrongdoings.  Subsidiaries in the U.S., Brazil, and Britain subsidiaries have now pleaded guilty to criminal offenses. 

Glencore CEO Gary Nagle said in a statement issued to reporters.  “We recognize there has been misconduct in this company historically. We’ve worked hard to correct that,”

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in May said that a $1.1 billion agreement with the U.S. will resolve a decade-long scheme to bribe foreign officials across seven countries.  And separate criminal and civil charges alleging one of the company’s trading arms manipulated oil prices at two of the largest U.S. shipping ports.

“The company has agreed to plead guilty in each case. With the first plea, Glencore has agreed to pay approximately $700 million in penalties for its decade-long scheme to bribe foreign officials in seven different countries. The second plea involves Glencore’s U.S. commodities trading arm, Glencore Limited, which used a scheme to manipulate fuel oil prices at two of the busiest commercial shipping ports in the United States over eight years. As a result, Glencore has agreed to pay approximately $485 million in penalties.”

Leonce Ndikumana, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts and co-author of the book “On the Trail of Capital Flight from Africa:  the takers and the enablers” says in the last five decades, Africa has lost more than $60 Billion dollars, which is more than the continent has received in foreign aid, foreign direct investments and remittances to corruption.

“In the case of Angola, about one hundred and three billion dollars have evaporated from nineteen eighty-six to twenty eighteen through capital flight for Cote d’Ivoire. Over 50 billion dollars have left the country unaccounted for. And those represent resources that could have been used for development. So and what we find is that in these countries, there are institutional and economic factors that drive capital flight. In the case of South Africa, we profiled a phenomenon that is under scrutiny in the case, which is the state of the subject of state capture.

Ndikumana argues that African citizens should be concerned because the capital flight is funded and fueled by money from minerals and oil resources that belong to the African people, but end up enriching private individuals embezzling those funds.

“You find private individuals who are very powerful and. Connected with the party, the government was able to enrich themselves by leveraging corruption and bribery and networking with key individuals.”

Glencore Energy is to be sentenced in November after admitting to paying more than $28 million in bribes to secure preferential access to oil and generate illicit profits between 2011 and 2016.

The company still faces Swiss and Dutch investigations.  But after sweeping changes that culminated in the exit of CEO and top shareholder Ivan Glasenberg in 2021, the November sentencing will likely wrap up a multi-national inquiry. 

FEMALE CODERS IN MOMBASA, INSPIRE OTHER YOUNG WOMEN

Are you looking for what job you can get with solid coding and computer skills? In Kenya and elsewhere in Africa, these are some of the fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs. Female coders in Mombasa, fascinated with the intricacies of computer coding, want to inspire other young women to consider careers in this field.
For more, I am joined by Ruth Kaveke, Co-Founder and Executive Director of PwaniTeknowgalz, currently pursuing her master’s in technology, innovation, management, and entrepreneurship at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.

TUNISIA NATIONWIDE STRIKE

By Paul Ndiho

Tunisians took part in a demonstration organized by the National Salvation Front, a coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups, to protest President Kais Saied and an upcoming July 25 constitutional referendum. Paul Ndiho has more.

Hundreds protested in Tunis Sunday on day two of protests against a constitutional referendum called by President Kais Saied that his opponents say is likely to cement his hold on power.

The Salvation Front, a coalition including the moderate Islamist Ennahda, the largest party in a parliament that Saied dissolved in March, organized the demonstration.

It followed a similar protest on Saturday, called by the Free Constitutional Party over the referendum, and a strike on Thursday by a powerful labor union over government economic reform plans, which brought much of the county to a standstill.

The president’s supporters say he is standing up to elite forces whose bungling and corruption have condemned Tunisia to a decade of political paralysis and economic stagnation.

The country’s main political parties say they will boycott the referendum. But, opposition to Saied remains fragmented, as shown by the separate demonstrations at the weekend.

Protesters on Sunday marched through central Tunis, watched by a heavy police presence. Meanwhile, on Saturday, the judges in Tunisia extended their national strike for a third week in protest against a decision by Saied to sack 57 judges on June 1.

President Saied accused them of corruption and protecting terrorists – charges that the Tunisian Judges’ Association says were mainly politically motivated.

Saied’s moves have heightened accusations at home and abroad that he has consolidated one-person rule after assuming executive powers last summer and setting aside the 2014 constitution to rule by decree.

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