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Thursday, 20th September 2018
2:48:44pm

East Africa

Articles related to East Africa

Uganda’s government on Monday accused the European Union Parliament of meddling in its internal affairs after the legislator passed a resolution deploring the alleged torture of opposition politicians in the East African country.

Robert Kyagulanyi, a Ugandan pop star and lawmaker, and MP Francis Zaake were allegedly tortured after they were arrested last month on suspicion of participating in stoning the motorcade of President Yoweri Museveni.

The government has denied that security staff tortured the two men, saying the injuries visible on their bodies could have been sustained in scuffles as they tried to resist arrest.

“For EU parliament to pass a resolution asking the courts of Uganda to drop charges is inconceivable...we see this as a premeditated attempt to hijack and subvert our institutions,” government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told a news conference on Monday.

The EU is a key source of budget support to Uganda and has helped fund construction of major highways and other infrastructure.

Museveni’s convoy was stoned as he left the northwestern Ugandan town of Arua where he had travelled to campaign for a ruling party candidate participating in a parliamentary by-election.

Kyagulanyi, Zaake and dozens of their supporters were charged with treason for their roles in the incident. The two MPs are now in the United States and India respectively seeking treatment for their injuries.

The detentions of the MPs and their supporters and reports of their torture sparked days of protest in different parts of Uganda.

“Uganda takes objection to the tacit approval of undisciplined behaviour by EU and some of its institutions of some of the politicians in the country,” Opondo said, adding that the EU was hostile to Uganda because of “our emerging relations with China”.

Critics of Museveni accuse him of using security forces to suppress opposition to his rule but officials say Museveni, 74, enjoys genuine mass support.

Parliament, which is tightly controlled by his ruling party, last year voted to remove an age cap on the presidency that would have barred him from seeking re-election in 2021.

-Reuters

South Sudan’s main rebel force SPLM-IO has accused government forces of attacking their defensive positions a day after both sides signed a peace deal, while the U.N. mission said one of its peacekeepers was shot and wounded by a government soldier.

President Salva Kiir signed a peace agreement with rebel factions in the Ethiopian capital on Wednesday to end a civil war that has killed at least 50,000 people, displaced some three million and held up the country’s progress since it gained independence seven years ago.

“The regime’s forces heavily stormed our position at Mundu in Lainya county,” said Lam Paul Gabriel, the rebels’ deputy military spokesman, in a statement seen by Reuters on Saturday. 

He said the attack happened in the early hours of Friday and that eight government troops were killed in the ensuing battle. Another attack took place in Mangalatore, near the site of the first attack, where four government soldiers were killed, the statement said.

Both Mundu and Mangalatore are in Yei River State, close to the border with Uganda.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said one of its peacekeepers from Nepal was shot in the leg on Saturday in Yei, the state capital, by a government soldier.

The peacekeeper was wounded when a soldier opened fire on a convoy of vehicles that left the U.N. base in the town in the morning to fetch water. UNMISS said the peacekeepers could not return fire due to the presence of civilians in the area.

“This direct attack on UN peacekeepers here to help the people of South Sudan is unacceptable,” said David Shearer, the head of UNMISS. “The perpetrator must be found and held accountable by government authorities.”

Government officials were not immediately available to comment.

The stability of South Sudan is important for Sudan and other neighbouring countries, who fear a new flare up of the conflict could flood them with refugees.

The civil war started in 2013, fuelled by personal and ethnic rivalries. The conflict has killed at least 50,000 people, many of them civilians, according to the United Nations. 

An estimated quarter of South Sudan’s population of 12 million has been displaced and its economy, which heavily relies on crude oil production, ruined.

-Reuters

Burundi’s ambassador in Geneva struggled to explain to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday why his government had thrown out a U.N. team that the Council, with Burundi’s backing, had sent to investigate human rights abuses in the country.

Deputy Human Rights Commissioner Kate Gilmore told the Council that her office could not deliver a promised report on human rights in Burundi because the government had not cooperated with the expert team, who were deployed in March and told their visas were cancelled in April.

“It is a matter of concern that through its lack of cooperation Burundi has prevented implementation of this Council’s resolution and the mandated work of the group of experts,” she said.

Burundi has been gripped by violence since early 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term, widely seen as a breach of the constitution.

Subsequent clashes between security forces and rebels left hundreds dead and forced about half a million to flee, reviving memories of the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, which has a similar ethnic mix.

Gilmore welcomed criticism of Burundi by European diplomats at the council, which she said showed “the inappropriateness, the unacceptability of this paralysis”.

Burundian Ambassador Renovat Tabu said the departure of the U.N. team had been spun to cast his government in a bad light.

“Burundi regrets… the way in which events have been twisted in order to imply there has not been full cooperation,” he said.

“Burundi is concerned by an unfair accusation which further entrenches the hostility which has been commonplace against Burundi for some time.”

He said former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein had changed the U.N. team’s mission, an “irregularity” which surprised Burundi’s migration services, who declined to extend the team’s visas.

The agreement to send the experts to Burundi, based on a resolution submitted by the African group of countries at the Council last year, was widely seen as a diplomatic ploy to derail a more heavyweight Commission of Inquiry.

But the attempt failed, and the Council ended up sending both, leaving Burundi facing double scrutiny and with a public commitment to cooperate with investigators.

Last week the Commission of Inquiry said crimes against humanity were still being committed in Burundi, whipped up by rhetoric from top officials including Nkurunziza. Burundi called the accusations “lies”. 

The Commission is seeking a renewal of its mandate from the 47-member Human Rights Council, which began a three-week session on Monday.

-Reuters

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a peace agreement on Wednesday in the margins of a regional summit in Ethiopia.

South Sudan plunged into warfare two years after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011 when a political dispute between Kiir and Machar exploded into military confrontation. 

A previous peace deal signed in 2015 fell apart a year later after clashes broke out between government forces and rebels, forcing Machar to leave Juba.

The new agreement, mediated by Sudan, reinstates Machar, a former vice-president, to his former role.

The United States, Britain and Norway, known as the Troika which oversees peace efforts, welcomed the signature of the deal by Kiir, Machar and other groups.

“We hope discussions will remain open to those who are not yet convinced of the sustainability of this agreement,” they said in a statement. “We must seize this broader regional momentum to secure peace for the people of South Sudan.”

-Reuters

President John Magufuli has urged Tanzanian women to "give up contraceptive methods" insisting his country needs more people, local media reported on Monday.

"You have cattle. You are big farmers. You can feed your children. Why then resort to birth control? This is my opinion, I see no reason to control births in Tanzania," Magufuli said in a speech on Sunday, according to The Citizen daily newspaper.

"I have travelled to Europe and elsewhere and have seen the harmful effects of birth control. Some countries are now facing declining population growth. They are short of manpower."

Magufuli urged Tanzanians to ignore bad advice disseminated by outsiders saying: "It is important to reproduce."

"Women can now give up contraceptive methods," he added.

Tanzania has a population of around 60 million people, up from 10 million at independence in 1961.

The UN predicts Africa's population will double to around 2.5 billion by 2050, leading to warnings of a demographic time bomb if economic growth and job creation cannot keep up.

-AFP

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