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Wednesday, 28th October 2020
11:15:54am

Central Africa

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Congolese soldiers have forced fighters from the main Burundian rebel force from their stronghold in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) near the two countries’ border, an army statement said on Monday.

Troops “dislodged and recovered the headquarters of the Burundi FNL rebels [National Forces of Liberation] after three days of intense fighting”, said Dieudonne Kasereka, the army’s South Kivu spokesman.

The FNL, led by Aloise Nzabampema, is considered to be the main Burundian rebel force active in eastern DRC.

The statement said soldiers had also fought members of the CNRD (National Resistance Council for Democracy), another group active in South Kivu.

Troops killed 27 rebels, seizing arms and ammunition, while three soldiers died in the fighting, with another four wounded, the statement said.

The army said the rebels were now fleeing toward the forests of Muranvia, Nyaburunda and Kashongo as well as the Nyanzale Rudaga valley. 

In September, the DRC army launched a large-scale operation against three rebel groups active in the east – the FNL, the CNRD and Red Tabara. Several deadly cross-border raids into Burundi in September were claimed by the Red Tabara.

Early in October, DRC Foreign Minister Marie Tumba Nzeza visited Burundi for talks with President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

Burundi boycotted an October 7 regional security summit in Goma, the capital of DRC’s North Kivu province, preferring to discuss such issues directly with Kinshasa.

DRC’s relations with its eastern neighbours Rwanda and Burundi are complicated by the presence of both refugees and armed rebel groups inside its mineral-rich eastern territories.

All three countries have suffered from multiple conflicts over the past 30 years.

-Aljazeera

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has invited neighbours to a regional meeting in the eastern part of the country to discuss peace and security.

President Tshisekedi's office said he has invited Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Burundi's Evariste Ndayishimiye and Angola's Joao Lurenço to a summit in Goma, North Kivu Province, some 1500 km east of the capital Kinshasa.

Jolino Makelele, the Minister of Communication and spokesperson for the Congolese government, said the meeting will focus on peace and security but also discuss relations among those countries.

"This high-impact mini-summit will look at three themes - peace and security in the region, diplomatic and political relations among the states and the revival of economic activities in the current context of the fight against covid-19," he said at the weekend.

A meeting date has not been set but officials have rushed to finalise logistics as they await the leaders' confirmation of attendance. The meeting is, however, expected to take place this week.

-Daily Nation

 

Deposed former Central African Republic President Francois Bozize announced on Saturday his candidacy for the December presidential vote despite being under U.N. sanctions and subject to an arrest warrant for alleged crimes against humanity.

He made the expected announcement in a speech to a large crowd of supporters at a congress of his party Kwa na Kwa (Work, Nothing But Work) in the capital Bangui.

The 73-year-old former general and army chief was overthrown in a 2013 rebellion by a coalition of mainly Muslim rebels from the north, plunging the majority Christian nation into a violent civil war and an acute and ongoing humanitarian crisis. 

“The country needs a man of experience, peace and conviction,” Bozize said in the speech that criticised the tenure of current president, Faustin-Archange Touadera.

Bozize first took power after a 2003 coup and served 10 years as president, before fleeing the country in 2013. The new administration sought his arrest for alleged crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide, but has not moved to detain him since he returned from exile late last year.

It is not clear how the warrant or foreign sanctions will affect his candidacy. In January, Bozize said he would ask the United Nations to lift the sanctions imposed in 2014 over his alleged support for ‘anti-balaka’ Christian militias. 

Touadera, who was elected in 2016, is expected to seek a second term in the election but has not yet confirmed he will run. The first round of the race is scheduled for December 27.

Most of the diamond-rich country remains beyond government control as rival militias continue to clash. The violence has forced more than 1.5 million people to flee their homes.

-Reuters 

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on the leader of a Central African Republic-based militia group, the Treasury Department said, accusing the leader, Sidiki Abass, of human rights abuse, including directly participating in torture.

The Treasury Department in a statement said it had blacklisted Abass, leader of the Central African Republic-based militia group Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation, or 3R, which it said “has killed, tortured, raped, or displaced thousands of people since 2015.”

The U.S. sanctions come after the United Nations Security Council Central African Republic sanctions committee imposed sanctions on the militia leader on Wednesday. 

Friday’s action freezes any of Abass’ U.S. assets and generally bars Americans from dealing with him, in addition to the U.N. sanctions that obligate member states to impose an asset freeze and travel ban, the Treasury said.

“Today’s action signals that the United States will not tolerate those who commit human rights abuses and will prevent such actors from benefiting from the U.S. financial system,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a separate statement.

In February 2019, the 3R signed a peace deal in Central African Republic, but it has violated the agreement and remains a threat to the peace, stability and security of the country, the Security Council committee said. 

The United States supports the agreement, Pompeo said, adding that it holds the “best hope for a future free of violence and instability for Central Africans.”

The U.N. committee said the 3R in 2019 killed 34 unarmed civilians in three villages and said that Abass “openly confirmed to a U.N. Entity that he had ordered 3R elements to the villages on the date of the attacks, but did not admit to giving the orders for 3R to kill.”

-Reuters

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Justice Minister Celestin Tunda tendered his resignation on Saturday in the wake of a dispute with the president over proposed laws that would give politicians more control over criminal prosecutions.

In a televised statement, Tunda gave no reason for his departure, which comes a week after President Felix Tshisekedi privately threatened to fire Tunda if he did not quit, sources close to the president said.

The disagreement over a proposal from Tunda’s political allies to give the justice ministry more control over the judiciary highlighted strains in the coalition between Tshisekedi and his long-serving predecessor Joseph Kabila.

Tshisekedi had said in a speech he would oppose any reforms that undermined the independence of the judiciary. 

“I leave the government with the conviction that my actions in the ministry of justice made a contribution to the consolidation of the rule of law,” said Tunda, a senior figure in Kabila’s FCC political alliance.

Peter Kazadi of Tshisekedi’s UDPS party said Tunda had sent a letter to parliament approving the judicial reforms without consulting the government.

“His resignation is normal because the minister acted in violation of the line laid down by the government,” Kazadi told Reuters.

Tension mounted in late June when Tunda was briefly detained by police, prompting Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga to threaten the government would resign over the matter. 

His resignation “removes one element of tension between the two camps, but it’s far from the only point of contention,” said Vincent Rouguet at London-based security firm Control Risks. “(It) is not going to be enough to restore collaboration.”

Tshisekedi has struggled to assert himself since forming a coalition government in January 2019 with Kabila, who maintains extensive powers through his parliamentary majority, control of most cabinet ministries and the army.

Friction between their parties has spilt into the streets in recent weeks. On Thursday at least three people including a policeman were killed during protests in Kinshasa and elsewhere over the nomination of an election commission chief.

-Reuters

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