Category Archives: Central Africa

Central Africa signs peace deal

Central African Republic concluded a peace deal with 14 armed groups on following two weeks of talks in Khartoum, Sudan.

The peace deal was announced by the African Union but the terms were not immediately released.

Central African Republic has been tormented by violence since 2013 when Selaka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize, stirring conflict between Muslim and Christian militias. United Nations peacekeepers were deployed in 2014, however their numbers were not sufficient to end the ongoing violence.

 

CAR arms embargo prolonged

The UN Security Council has made a step towards the possibly to ease the arms embargo on the Central African Republic (CAR). A French-drafted resolution promoted the view of a need to enable the supply of weapons to government forces fighting militia groups who control large parts of the country.

The Council adopted the draft of the resolution calling for a review of the arms embargo by September if a number of benchmarks are met by the Central African government.The embargo was imposed in 2013 when the country entered the civil war following the ousting of President Francois Bozize by the Seleka rebel group. Authorities in Bangui have frequently called for the lifting of the restrictions, arguing that the supply of arms is crucial for its  security forces.

A UN panel of experts has noted that anti-government groups continue to receive military equipment, much of it from Sudan, while the country’s security forces remain poorly-equipped, The Council said it would extend the embargo until January next year, however it laid out a series of benchmarks that could lead to a partial lifting. Benchmarks will be agreed upon by April and include the creation of a strategy for reintegrating former members of armed groups and other measures such as the management and storage of weapons and ammunition. The resolution was described as displaying a “real openness” to a partial lifting of the arms embargo, according to the French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre.

Calls by the CAR government to lift the embargo were “heard loud and clear”, Delattre said, calling the resolution a “roadmap that in a few months’ time could lead to a slight lifting of the arms embargo”.

Wikileaks video attributed to Tagbara attack

A video of the abuses presumably committed by Blue helmets the journalists from Agence France-Presse reporting from the Central African Republic (CAR) have noticed circulating since May 2018

Several elements allow the experts to affirm that this scene did not take place in January 2019 in the village of Ippy, but on April 3, 2018 in the village of Tagbara, on the road between Bambari and Ippy.

At that time, “anti-Balaka” militias, self-proclaimed self-defense armed groups, targeted a temporary peacekeeper base in Tagbara.

MINUSCA spokesman Vladimir Monteiro confirms to AFP that this video is indeed related to Tagbara: “We saw and analyzed the content of the video as part of an internal investigation process following the attack of 3 April 2018 against a temporary operation base of MINUSCA in Tagbara, in Ouaka Prefecture. During this attack by 200-300 armed anti-Balaka members, a Mauritanian peacekeeper was killed and 11 wounded. The MINUSCA peacekeepers fought back and 22 anti-Balaka were killed, “he told AFP.

According to the AFP dispatch reporting on the incident, the MINUSCA said at the time that it had discovered, “apart from this attack” and in addition to the 22 anti-Balaka killed, the dead bodies of 21 civilians near a church in Tagbara. . That is 43 deaths in total.

Some of them appear in this video. They also appear in a UN document that AFP procured and in which several photos show Tagbara and his victims shortly after the attack.

The metadata in this PDF document indicates that it was created on April 3 at 3:08 PM – the same day as the Tagbara attack occurred at 5:00 AM It contains many photos of the village after the attack. On one of them, one can see the same bodies as in the video, frozen in the same postures and in the same clothes.

On the sixth shot, visible below, many visual elements can also confirm that the Tagbara attack is the one whose consequences are visible in the video circulating on social networks.

At the sixty-first second, we notice indeed that the roof of the church presents on the video sags in its center – and that its curvature is exactly identical to that of the church of Tagbara below in photo. Two seconds later, one clearly sees the same trees, and the same small straw-roofed construction opposite the church.

President Tshisekedi calls for “Congo for all”

Felix Tshisekedi called for national reconciliation while succeeding Joseph Kabila as Democratic Republic of Congo’s president, in a first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence.

We want to build a strong Congo, turned toward its development in peace and security,” he said to thousands of supporters gathering on the lawn of the presidential palace. “A Congo for all, in which everyone has a place.”

The inaugural ceremony was briefly interrupted when Tshisekedi had a spell of dizziness during his inaugural address and had to sit down. However he returned to the podium moments after a brief pause, saying he was exhausted by the election and the emotion of the moment. Some media reported there was a problem of bulletproof vest, being fixed too tight.

Felix Tshisekedi confirmed Congo President elect

Felix Tshisekedi is declared by the Constitutional Court as an ultimate winner of the December presidential elections in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) dismissing a claim from supported by the Catholic Church candidate Martin Fayulu who rejected the result of the vote, and announced himself a president elect.

The supporters Tshisekedi were celebrating the court decision in the streets of Kinshasa. Fayulu blames the incumbent President Joseph Kabila an engineered scam deal between him and Tshisekedi.

Both incumbent President Kabila  and Tshisekedi’s representatives dismissed any secret dealings . The president of the constitutional court, Benoit Luamba, rejected the claims of a self-proclaimed winner as “inadmissible.”

Felix Tshisekedi  is a son of legendary left opposition leader late  Etienne Tshisekedi, and founder of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) one of the major political forces in Congo.

 

 

 

 

Protesters block roads in Harare

Zimbabwe protesters blocked the roads and burned tires in a suburb of Harare , two days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a considerable fuel price hike in an effort to stem a deepening economic crisis.

Cash shortages have plunged Zimbabwes economy into disarray, threatening widespread social unrest and undermining Mnangagwa’s efforts to win back foreign investors who massively left  under his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa’s announcement of a 150% increase in fuel prices was received with shock in Zimbabwe where unemployment is over 80%. The government sets fuel prices via the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Agency.

Russian journalists victims of CAR armed robbery

The investigation has restored a sequence of events concerning the fatal trip of three Russian journalists – Orkhan Dzhemal, Kirill Radchenko and Alexander Rastroguyev – to the Central African Republic (CAR), where they were murdered in July 2018, Russian Investigative Committee Spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko told TASS.

The Investigation Management Center (IMC) web project promised a reward of $20,000 to the Russian journalists if they shoot a documentary in the CAR, considered to be one of ten most dangerous countries in the world. Nevertheless, no protection was provided to the journalists who arrived to the country with tourist visas and did not receive credentials,” Petrenko said.

According to the Russian investigators IMC contacted Cyrill Romanovsky who gave them a telephone number of the so-called fixer who acted under name Martin.

Romanovsky promised to provide accommodation and a driver to the journalists during their stay in Africa. Petrenko underlined that the three arrived to the country’s capital of Bangui on July 28, 2018, which was two days before the planned date, and failed to meet Martin.

Their driver testified that he had met the Russian journalists in one of Bangui’s cafes on the day of their arrival. “Since he knows English and has a pickup truck, the journalists suggested he accompany them on their trips around the country. The fixer named Martin was not involved,Petrenko said, adding that the driver had no connection to the CAR Gendarmerie.

On July 30, 2018, the journalists departed from Bangui to the city of Sibut where they arrived the same night. When they were leaving the city, Central African military servicemen warned them that it was dangerous to travel at nighttime but the Russians continued their trip, saying they were short of time,” the spokesperson explained.

She added that even military patrols preferred to avoid night trips, given the number of armed gangs active in the country. “A group of armed black men who spoke Arabic stopped the car near a village 23 kilometers from Sibut. The attackers ordered everyone to get out of the car and demanded they gave up all of their belongings, photo and video devices. When the Russians refused and tried to resist the attack, they were gunned down, while the driver managed to flee the scene in the car,” Petrenko explained.

According to Petrenko, the investigation sent requests for legal assistance to the Central African Republic’s law enforcement agencies. “The vesicle was examined, witnesses who had seen the journalists in Bangui and Sibut were questioned. All the cars passing through that checkpoint in Sibut are also being checked, as well as those that were present in the area on the night of the murder,” she continued, underlining that the request was partially answered within the capabilities of local authorities.

At his stage the investigation is focused on identification of the murderers of the Russians. “It must be clarified that by initiating media reports on the matter, the Investigation Management Center project clearly seeks to justify the mistakes it made during preparations for the trip, this is why it prefers to put forward its own theories and accuse the innocent,” Petrenko said.

The corpses of three men were found near the city of Sibut (300 km north of Bangui) on July 30. The Russian Foreign Ministry said later that the all three of them had been carrying press cards in the names of Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Orkhan Dzhemal.

The Russian Investigative Committee launched a criminal investigation into the murder and sent an investigation team to Africa.

There are reports of rebel activity, banditry and hostage-taking across the country. The situation in the capital, Bangui remains fragile with periodic instances of killings, looting and gunfire. There are armed patrols in Bangui and you will encounter several roadblocks – official and unofficial – that are likely to be manned by armed personnel. Take particular care when approaching these. You are strongly advised not to travel around Bangui especially after dark. You should take extreme care, and travel in groups if possible.” – the UK foreign travel advice warns.
Taking photographs which the authorities deem as damaging the image of the country (street children, people with disabilities) is not permitted.”…You can get a permit for more serious photography from the Ministry of Tourism“. 

One of the world’s poorest countries, the CAR degraded into bloodshed after longtime leader Francois Bozize was overthrown in 2013 by a predominantly Muslim rebel alliance called the Seleka.

The vast territories of the country have succumbed to  violent militant groups. Since the fall of the Bozize, there has been no government control outside of the capital. Armed gangs have set up checkpoints, collect illegal taxes, and cash millions of dollars from the illicit coffee, mineral, and timber trades.

 

 

 

 

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