Category Archives: Central Africa

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.

 

 

 

 

Tshisekedi aims at peaceful power transfer

Envoys of a leading Congolese presidential candidate, Felix Tshisekedi, have met with incumbent President Joseph Kabila’s staff to ensure a peaceful transfer of power, Tshisekedi’s aids said.

President Kabila’s staff, however, denied that any such meetings had occurred since the December 30 election, for which provisional results are expected to be announced later this week.

The election is meant to bring about Congo’s first democratic transition in 59 years of independence, but tensions are mounting as some in the opposition leaders accuse the government of trying to rig the vote.

 

 

UN Security Council devided over Congo

The United Nations Security Council is divided over the attitude toward Democratic Republic of Congo presidential elections, according to an leaked internal report quoted by Reuters.

Tensions were mounting while the CENI tabulated the results, notably in light of posturing by parties and candidates,Leila Zerrougui, head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Congo, told the meeting, according to the internal report.

leila zerrougui

The United States also condemned a lack of transparency in last Sunday’s contest, while China, a major investor, lauded orchestrated by Kabila process.

The election of a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the country of 80 million people since his father was assassinated in 2001, is conceived as a milestone first democratic transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

But tensions have risen while observers reported a numerous irregularities that the opposition says is part of the ruling party’s effort to steal it.

The UN council 15 members “differed in their appreciation of the problems that beset the process and were divided over the question of whether the Council should issue a press statement,” the leaked report concluded.

The Council didn’t issue any joint statement, at least for now. It’s due to discuss Congo again in a public session January 15.

 

Congo awaiting elections winner

Preliminary results of the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC) will be delayed past Sunday’s deadline, the head of the election commission said. (Image: illustration).

Corneille Nangaa, the chair of the commission (CENI), notified that they had received half of the vote tally sheets before the weekend, subsequently the outcome of elections was not yet clear.

The Catholic Church, which fielded thousands of observers, declared on 3 of December there was a “clear winner”, however they did not announce the name. The incumbent President Joseph Kabila summoned the conference of bishops (CENCO) in an attempt to avoid any agitation in anticipation of the official results announcemet.

Trump deploys troops in Gabon ready to act

The US military has deployed additional soldiers to Gabon amid fears of violent protests in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the aftermath of the presidential elections.

President Trump wrote a letter to the Congress informing about 80 troops had arrived in Gabon on the beginning of January to protect US citizens and diplomatic missions in case of the violence out in Congo’s capital Kinshasa. The DRC‘s electoral commission is scheduled to release the provisional results of the presidential election on Sunday, but later added that there could be delays because of the slow arrival of tally sheets. “The first of these personnel arrived in Gabon on January 2, 2019, with appropriate combat equipment and supported by military aircraft,” Trump’s letter to Congress read.

Additional forces may deploy to Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the Republic of the Congo, if necessary for these purposes.

These deployed personnel will remain in the region until the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed.”

trump letter 4 jan

Congo Catholic church exercises influence on elections

The Joseph Kabila government confirmed they are well aware, that the Catholic church had identified Mr. Fayulu as the winner. Kikaya Bin Karubi, a diplomatic adviser to the President Kabila, said in an interview on Friday that the governing coalition party was “aware” that the church had “chosen to publish the winning candidate as Martin Fayulu.”

Barnabe Kikaya bin Karubi, a senior adviser to President Kabila, has already said internet and SMS services were cut to preserve public order after “fictitious results” began circulating on social media.

Donatien Nshole the secretary-general of the church’s bishops’ conference, known as Cenco, said its vote tallies showed a clear victor in election. “The announcement of voting trends by Priest Nshole is likely to brainwash the population while preparing an insurrection that Cenco alone will be responsible for” wrote in a letter to the priest the president of the election commission.

It was at the request of the bishops that the meeting took place this afternoon at the Palais de la Nation, seat of the presidency, in the commune of Gombe in Kinshasa. Representatives of the Catholic Church have warned the Congolese head of state  against any attempt at a constitutional coup d’etat, vairous media claims, however, the meeting took place behind closed doors, and there is no record of the conversation released.

 

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