Thursday, 30 January 2014

South Sudan coup plot charges baseless, says Machar

Mr Machar, who is on the run, said he hoped mediators in the crisis would ensure the release of four of his imprisoned allies.
Analysts say the issue threatens a ceasefire signed last week.
Officials announced earlier that seven politicians were being charged over an alleged coup attempt in December.
It was initially a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Mr Machar on 15 December.
Since then, violence has spread into a full-scale conflict, with reports of ethnic killing.

Eleven officials, who are prominent political figures from a faction of the governing SPLM party, were arrested at the time of the alleged coup.
Four have been charged with treason and seven have now been released to the authorities in Kenya, where they appeared at a news conference on Wednesday with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

                                                                   Fragile ceasefire
On Tuesday evening, South Sudan's justice minister said the treason charges would be brought against four men who were already in custody, plus three men on the run.
"I personally have not planned a coup and my colleagues who are under detention have not planned a coup with me so I see no reason why we would face such charges, Mr Machar said.
The government should differentiate between the alleged coup and the current rebellion.
With peace talks expected to begin in February, Mr Machar said he hoped the regional mediators would live to their commitment and free the four men still in detention.
These comrades are important in the peace process,Mr Machar said.

Mr Machar, who was sacked as Mr Kiir's deputy last July, has been on the run since 15 December and has refused to say where he is hiding.
Before Thursday's ceasefire, he said he had come under attack several times from South Sudanese and Ugandan soldiers, who are fighting alongside government forces.
Both sides say they are committed to the ceasefire, but there is still fighting in some areas, and the United Nations has described the situation as fragile.
                                       More than 646,000 people have been displaced since the fighting began in mid-December

Aid groups say up to 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
The UN says more than 646,000 people have been displaced inside South Sudan and more than 123,400 people have fled to neighbouring countries.
The UN's aid chief Valerie Amos has wrapped up a three-day visit to the country with a trip to Malakal, where she said some people were afraid to return home despite the truce and had "completely lost faith'' and wanted to be relocated to other parts of South Sudan, or even out of the country.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Uganda doubts LRA's Joseph Kony serious about talks

                                              Joseph Kony is wanted on war crimes charges
 Uganda's government says it doubts rebel leader Joseph Kony is serious about peace after he purportedly sent a letter asking for forgiveness and calling for talks.
Government official Henry Okello-Oryem said a telephone conversation arranged with Mr Kony had failed to materialise.
The letter reportedly saw Mr Kony say his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group was committed to "end this war".
It has waged an insurgency for more than 20 years.
It is notorious for abducting children to serve as sex slaves and child soldiers.
                                                        Peace envoy
  Mr Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes.

                                              The LRA is accused of forcibly recruiting fighters

Several thousand African troops, backed by 100 US special forces, have been hunting him and other fighters of the LRA across the region.
The US has offered up to $5m (£3.3m) for leads resulting in his arrest.
Talks between the government and LRA collapsed in 2008 after the ICC refused to yield to Mr Kony's demand to drop the arrest warrant.
"I want to assure the people of Uganda that, we are committed to a sustainable peaceful political settlement of our long war with the government of [President Yoweri] Museveni," Mr Kony is quoted as saying in the purported letter,
 We are willing and ready to forgive and seek forgiveness, and continue to seek peaceful means to end this war which has cut across a swathe of Africa for the people of the Great Lakes and the Nile-Congo Basin to find peace.
Mr Okello-Oryem, Uganda's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told the BBC that Mission Okello, a man claiming to represent the rebel leader, was behind the latest initiative.
He had agreed to a time and date to hold a telephone conversation with Mr Kony, but it never happened, Mr Okello-Oryem said.
Mr Okello told him Mr Kony was worried that US satellites operating in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) and the region would locate him, the minister said.
Mr Okello told that the conversation had not taken place because of technical problems.
But Mr Okello-Oryem said he was not sure whether Mr Okello was a genuine representative of Mr Kony, and if the LRA leader was serious about peace the two of them would have already spoken.
The LRA was forced out of Uganda in 2005 and since then has wreaked havoc in CAR and other neighbouring states.
Mr Kony claims the LRA's mission is to install a government in Uganda based on the Biblical Ten Commandments.
In November, then-CAR ruler Michel Djotodia said his government was in talks with him about his surrender.
However, African diplomats cast doubts on Mr Djotodia's claim.
Mr Djotodia resigned as CAR interim president earlier this month.

Paul Kagame ex-guard Joel Mutabazi rejects Rwanda trial

                                        Joel Mutabazi fled to Uganda in 2011 and says he was illegally extradited

One of the Rwandan president's former bodyguards, Joel Mutabazi, is refusing to be tried for alleged terrorism.
He told the court he has no faith in Rwanda's justice and that he had been illegally extradited from Uganda.
Mr Mutabazi and 15 others are accused of plotting attacks and could face life sentences. Most deny the charges.
Meanwhile, UN special rapporteur Maina Kiai told  that most politicians who are openly critical of the government end up in legal trouble.
Paul Kagame's government has denied persecuting its opponents.
But earlier this year, following the apparent murder of a prominent dissident in South Africa, the president warned. "There are consequences for betraying your country."

                                       Patrick Karegeya was found dead in his hotel room earlier this month

Mr Mutabazi is facing eight charges including terrorism, formation of an armed group, murder and illegal possession of firearms.
Among the other accused are several members of the opposition Rwandan National Congress (RNC) and eight students.
 Many in Rwanda feel this is a political trial, even though it is not clear whether Mr Mutabazi himself is linked to an opposition party.
Mr Mutabazi fled to Uganda in 2011, claiming his life was in danger in Rwanda, but the Ugandan authorities transferred him back to Kigali at the end of last year.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has condemned Kampala's decision to extradite him as a "clear violation of the asylum principle".
Appearing in court, he pleaded not guilty and said he would not take part in the trial.
''I'm not ready to give an explanation to the court on the charges against me because I'm not convinced of the legality of my transfer to Rwanda," he told the judges.
"I was a refugee. I don't have faith in Rwanda's justice."
One of the founders of the RNC, Patrick Karegeya, was found dead in his Johannesburg hotel room earlier this month.
His supporters say he was killed by government agents - charges denied by Kigali.
On Monday, the UN special rapporteur to Rwanda said the prosecution of politicians who disagreed with Mr Kagame's "consensus politics" sent a "chilling and unacceptable message that peaceful public disagreement with the government is equivalent to criminality".
He noted that they had been charged with links to violence or corruption, reports the Reuters news agency.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Central African Republic: UN 'may need 10,000 troops'

The UN believes at least 10,000 troops will be required in any force sent to end unrest in Central African Republic, the French UN envoy says.
Ambassador Gerard Araud described the situation in CAR as "very, very dire".
His comment comes after the UN Security Council approved a resolution allowing European troops to use force in CAR.
About a million people - 20% of the population - have fled their homes during months of religious violence, after rebels seized power last March.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Araud said the African Union force in the country, intending to reach 6,000 troops, "is considered now too low because frankly the situation is very, very dire and the country is huge".
Threat of sanctions.
The UN Security Council resolution, which was passed unanimously, allows reinforcements to use "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in the country, which has been in near anarchy since its president was overthrown 10 months ago.

In addition to the use of force, the resolution allows for sanctions against the ringleaders of groups blamed for massacres and human rights abuses.
Security Council members have been alarmed by the vicious cycle of vengeance between Muslim and Christian militias in the Central African Republic.
There is concern that without a stronger international response - the situation will degenerate into a countrywide religious divide and spiral out of control, she adds.
The EU has agreed to send up to 600 troops to help African and French troops already deployed in the country to prevent further bloodshed.
France, the former colonial power, has 1,600 troops in CAR, working with some 4,000 from African countries.

On Monday, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said the situation was getting even worse despite the inauguration of a new leader last week.
She called for more international help, saying Muslim civilians were being targeted.
Many Christian communities set up vigilante groups, accusing the mainly Muslim rebels of attacking them.
Also on Monday, Christian and Muslims leaders asked UK Prime Minister David Cameron for more assistance.
CAR is rich in gold and diamonds but years of unrest and poor governance have left most of its 4.6 million people in poverty.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014


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Sunday, 19 January 2014

Tributes paid to the BBC's Komla Dumor

BBC TV presenter Komla Dumor has died suddenly at his home in London at the age of 41, it has been announced.
Ghana-born Dumor was a presenter for BBC World News and its Focus on Africa programme.
One of Ghana's best-known journalists, he joined the BBC as a radio broadcaster in 2007 after a decade of journalism in Ghana.
Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama said on Twitter that his country had lost one of its finest ambassadors.
BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks called Dumor a leading light of African journalism who would be deeply missed.

"Africa's energy and enthusiasm seemed to shine through every story Komla told".
"Komla's many friends and colleagues across Africa and the world will be as devastated as we are by this shocking news."
The BBC understands he had suffered a heart attack.
Komla Dumor featured in New African magazine's November 2013 list of 100 most influential Africans. It said he had "established himself as one of the emerging African faces of global broadcasting", who had "considerable influence on how the continent is covered".
James Harding, BBC Director of News and Current Affairs, spoke of Komla Dumor's "singular role in transforming the coverage of Africa". "He brought a depth of understanding, a great deal of courage, a joyous charm and boundless charisma to his work," Mr Harding said.