Category Archives: Africa

Mozambique: IS attack in Palma

In Mozambique on Monday March 29 the Islamic State fighters, according to their own claims, had carried out an attack on the northern town of Palma, where dozens were killed, thousands displaced and some people remain missing. The total number of dead or missing following the attack is unknown. While tens of thousands of people may have fled, according to three aid workers. (Image above: illustration).

Islamist insurgents targeted Palma, situated next to gas projects worth $60 billion, with a three-pronged attack during last week. Fighting continued on Monday, March 29, according to a security source directly involved in efforts to secure the town.

The Mozambique government confirmed on Sunday, March 28, that dozens of people were killed, including seven when their convoy of cars was ambushed during an escape attempt.

Islamic State claimed the attack via its Amaq news agency, saying its fighters had taken control of the town after days of clashes with security forces.

They had killed at least 55 people, including a number of soldiers, destroyed and taken control of buildings including factories and banks, and seized vehicles, the news wire informs.

Most communications to Palma have been cut off since last week.

The country’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, where Palma is located on the border with Tanzania, has been plagued since 2017 by Islamist insurgency now linked to Islamic State.

“The jihadist attack on Palma, #Mozambique, is an attack on French interests and against the region’s economic development. It is also an attack of incredible barbarism. My condolences to the families of the victims” Member of French National Assembly Marine Le Pen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.

Tanzania: President whereabouts unknown

Questions persist over the health of Tanzanian President John Magufuli who has not been seen in public for 11 days. Opposition leader Tundu Lissu has told the BBC that according to his sources the President is being transported to Kenya for treatment in hospital against COVID-19. The BBC has not been able to verify this report independently.

Mr Magufuli has faced criticism for his coping with COVID-19 sanitary crisis, with his government refusing to buy vaccines. The East African nation has not published its coronavirus cases since May.

Its 61-year-old president has called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus.

Earlier this month, at a funeral for a top presidential aide, President Magufuli said Tanzania had defeated COVID-19 last year and would win again this year.

Mr Lissu says he was told that President Magufuli had been flown to Kenya for treatment at Nairobi Hospital on Monday night.

According to the opposition leader, the president has suffered a cardiac arrest and is in a critical condition.

There has been no official response from the government, which has warned against publishing unverified information about the Tanzanian leader, who was last seen at an official event in Dar es Salaam on 27 February.

Chad: killings in N’Djamena

At least two people were killed after security forces went to arrest Chad’s opposition candidate Yaya Dillo at his home on Sunday morning, February 28, Dillo and the government said.

Dillo, who plans to run against President Idriss Deby in a presidential election in April, told he was attacked at home by members of the presidential guard and that five family members were killed, including his mother.

The government said in a statement that security forces went to Dillo’s home to arrest him after he refused to respond to two judicial mandates and were met with armed resistance. It did not say what the mandates were concerning.

Two people were killed and five wounded in the ensuing fight, including three policemen, it said.

Internet has been cut off in N’Djamena since early Sunday morning, a witness said.

Dillo said his house has been surrounded by government forces since the incident.

Dillo is a formal rebel leader who fought against Deby in 2006 before joining his government and becoming a minister. More recently, he served as Chad’s representative to the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).

He is one of 16 people who have announced they will run against Deby in April’s election.

Deby, who has been in power since 1990, pushed through a new constitution in 2018 that reinstated term limits but could let him stay in power until 2033.

Hundreds took to the streets earlier this month to protest his candidacy in the upcoming election.

Deby has faced strikes and protests in recent years over economic woes caused by low oil prices and armed rebellions in the north, but has drawn on his effective control of state media and institutions to maintain political dominance.

Chad is a key ally of Western nations in the fight against Islamist militants in West and Central Africa.

Niger elections protests

The Republic of the Niger national electoral commission on Tuesday, February 23, declared ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum the winner of the February 21 runoff election with 55.75% of the vote, but his rival, Mahamane Ousmane, a former president, has alleged fraud and claimed he won with 50.3%. The incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou is stepping down after two five-year terms.

The supporters of the losing candidate refused to accept the failure, and turned to violence, setting several buildings ablaze, burning tyres and threw rocks at the police on , as the authorities announced that two people had been killed in post-election protests this week.

Since then, two people have been killed and 468 detained during protests by Ousmane’s supporters in the capital Niamey, Interior Minister Alkache Alhada said.

“They want to wreak havoc,” Alhada said at a news conference, blaming opposition leader Hama Amadou for the violence.

There was no immediate response from Amadou, who finished runner-up in the 2016 election. He was barred from running this time because of a criminal conviction and threw his support behind Ousmane.

The election is meant to lead to the first transition from one democratically elected leader to another following four coups since independence from France in 1960.

On Thursday, February 25, small groups of Ousmane supporters took to the streets again to lob rocks at police and national guard troops, who responded by firing tear gas. Internet access has also been severely limited since Wednesday, February 24.

DRC: Italy investigators head to Goma

An investigation Italian Carabinieri unit is expected in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today, February 23, to establish the facts of the assassination of the Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio. The mission will be accomplished with the support of the Congolese authorities and the United Nations Mission in Congo.
The remains of Italian Ambassador and the officer will be repatriated Tuesday to Kinshasa before heading to Rome, according to local media reports.

Congo’s government has blamed the Rwandan Hutu rebel group known as FDLR for the killings, a charge they have denied. Congo’s insecure east is home to more than 120 armed rebel groups.

Democratic Republic of Congo has already dispatched a team to support investigators on the ground in Goma,the capital of North Kivu province, where the Italian Ambassador, an Italian Carabinieri police officer and their local driver were ambushed and killed Monday, February 22.

Rwandan Hutu rebels denied allegations they were behind the assassination of the Italian ambassador to the DRC and instead accused the armies of the DR Congo and Rwanda of responsibility.

Somalia power succession crisis deepens

The Somalia opposition alliance said they would reject any attempt to extend the term of President Mohamed Abdullahi and stepped forward with a project of the election a transitional leader to govern until a new president can be chosen by lawmakers.

“We are against time extension, suppression, violence and further delay to the election,” the alliance said in a statement. “An election schedule should immediately without delay be displayed with agreed upon specified time.”

There was no immediate comment from the presidency. Aides had previously privately floated the idea of extending his term.

In a statement issued by its embassy in Mogadishu, the United States urged Mohamed to “act now to resolve the political impasse…and find agreement with Federal Member State leaders to allow the conduct of parliamentary and presidential elections immediately.”

“The political gridlock…has resulted in a disappointing lack of progress in fighting al-Shabaab.”

Somalia was initially planning to hold its first direct election since civil war erupted in 1991, but delays in preparations and continuous attacks by al Shabaab forced Somalia to plan another indirect vote.

Clan elders should have chosen lawmakers in December and the lawmakers were due to choose a president on Monday.
However the selection of lawmakers was delayed after the opposition accused President Mohamed – who was seeking a second term – of packing regional and national electoral boards with his allies.

Leaders in two of Somalia’s five federal states, Puntland and Jubbaland, have said they will no longer recognise President Mohamed.

On Sunday, February 7, night at midnight, the capital Mogadishu lit up with gunfire and drums as residents said they were celebrating the end of the president’s term.

“We are firing into the sky to say goodbye to the dictator Farmajo, he has burnt Somalia these four years,” said a soldier Aden Ali, using President Mohamed’s common nickname.

Hussein Sheikh Ali, Somalia’s former national security advisor and founder of the Mogadishu-based Hiraal think-tank, said al Shabaab had already taken advantage of the security vacuum to launch attacks in portions of central Somalia that had been relatively peaceful for around a decade.

“They (al Shabaab) are laughing out loud,” he said. “This is a failure by the president, Somalia’s political elite and the international community. They didn’t have a plan B to move forward.”

The power vacuum and divisions between political leaders was used to advantage the extremists of al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency, a Somali security analyst warned, citing a spate of recent attacks in a relatively peaceful part of the country.

On Sunday, 12 security agents were killed by a roadside bomb outside the town of Dhusamareb in central Somalia where political leaders were meeting to try to resolve disagreements over the presidential selection process. Al Shabaab also launched repeated mortar attacks on the town.

The attack happened a week after four al Shabaab suicide attackers killed five people at a hotel in Mogadishu.

ICC: Uganda Ongwen-victim and villain

04.02.2021 The Hague, The Netherlands: War crimes judges deliver their verdict in the case of Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan child soldier turned top field commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group known for extreme violence and forcing women into sexual slavery.

Ongwen, 45, faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity and could be imprisoned for life if convicted. Judges will not address sentencing on Thursday, February 4.

Ongwen’s case is complex because under the law “you have either a victim or a perpetrator and anything in between is very difficult to squeeze in,” said Barbora Hola, senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement.

The ruling at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be the first dealing with crimes by the LRA, New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

It highlights the difficulty of trying somebody who, as a conscripted child soldier, is both an alleged perpetrator and a victim. His lawyers have asked for acquittal.

Detained in 2015, Ongwen remains in the court’s custody, and his 3.5-year-trial ended in March 2020.

Ongwen’s lawyer insisted that the brutal life in the LRA affected his mental health and his capacity to make independent decisions.

“When Ongwen was abducted he had no option, he was made a slave. That slavery continued until he left the bush,” lawyer Krispus Odongo said to the judges in closing arguments.

But prosecutors countered that Ongwen was an adult at the time of the alleged offences and cannot be excused of responsibility.

Led by fugitive warlord Joseph Kony, the LRA terrorized Ugandans for nearly two decades as it battled the government of President Yoweri Museveni from bases in the north of the country and in what is now South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

The case at the ICC focused on 2002-2005, when prosecutors said members of the LRA carried out crimes including murder, rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, torture, pillaging and the conscription of children under the age of 15 for fighting.

After being abducted by the LRA as a boy, Ongwen worked his way up to a commander, overseeing the Sinia Brigade, one of the group’s four main operational units with up to 800 fighters.

Somali: Al Shabaab explosion in Mogadishu

Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for an attack on a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, in which nine people including four attackers are reported to have been killed, according to Reuters Africa reports.
A car bomb exploded near a popular hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Sunday, January 31. The explosion was followed by a shootout between militants and police. Militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses said the massive blast occurred Sunday near Hotel Afrik, located in the vicinity of a busy security checkpoint en route to the Mogadishu airport.

Police say al-Shabab members stormed the hotel and many of the people inside were rescued, including Somalia’s former state minister for defense, Yusuf Siad Indha-Adde.
A VOA reporter, Abdikafi Yusuf Aden, was also inside the hotel at the time and survived.
“There was confusion and thick smoke rose up after the blast occurred. People were jumping down over the wall as we ran for our lives,” Aden told VOA News Somali.

Somali General Nour Galal is among the victims of the attack in Mogadishu local media reports.

Aden said he saw at least three people injured where he was hiding, but was unable to confirm what happened outside or on the other side of the hotel.
VOA reporters in Mogadishu said dozens of people were still trapped inside as night fell and security forces engaged attackers in an operation to end the siege.
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DR COngo: government dismissal acceptance

The official resignation declaration from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Thisekedi acceptance of government dismissal has been signed, but there is no official reaction from former President and senator for life Joseph Kabila and Common Front for Congo (FCC). Political turmoil will persist in the coming months in the DRC.

Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba resigned on Friday,January 29, the presidency said, a move that will enable President Felix Tshisekedi to rid the government of his predecessor’s allies and push through his own policies.

Ilunga, an ally of former President Joseph Kabila, stepped down after parliament passed a no-confidence motion on Wednesday, January 27, the latest in a series of political victories for Tshisekedi over Kabila in recent weeks.

Ilunga “has just handed in his resignation,” the presidency said on Twitter. “He said he had taken note of the evolution of the current political situation.”

Ilunga this week initially called into question the no-confidence vote against him, before accepting its legitimacy on January 28.

Kenya lost $100M of tourism revenue

The sector includes tourism, which has been greatly affected by a drop in visitor arrivals due to COVID-19 restrictions. “This led to either complete closure of businesses in accommodation and food service sector or significantly scaled down operation,” the statistics office said.

In early December, the tourism ministry said the sector had lost 110 billion Kenyan shillings ($999.55 million) in revenue between January and October.

Some of the more stringent measures that affected the sector, like stopping movement into and out of regions that were initially most affected by COVID-19, and the total closure of bars, have been lifted.

Providing some support, however, the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector grew 6.3% from a 5.0% expansion in the same period in 2019.

“The impressive performance was supported by increases in tea production, exports of fruit and sugarcane production,” the statistics office said.

Construction also picked up, rising 16.2% from 6.6% growth a year earlier.

The economy contracted 5.7% year-on-year in the second quarter of last year, its first quarterly contraction since the global financial crisis 12 years ago.

The African economy’s performance in 2020 was hit by effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions that were put in place to contain its spread, forcing many businesses to close and send their employees home.Accommodation and food service activity crashed 57.9%, a sharp deterioration from 9.9% growth in third quarter of 2019, Kenya’s statistics office said on Thursday.

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