© Pawel Krzysiek, AFP | A hand-out photo released by the International Committee of the Red Cross shows a boy standing in front of a burnt house on May 23, 2015
African Union investigators discovered mass graves in South Sudan and found evidence of horrific crimes, including forced cannibalism, according to a long-awaited report.
President Salva Kiir's faction in the conflict is also accused of recruiting an irregular tribal force before the outbreak of war in December 2013.
The report, released late Tuesday, also disputes that there was a coup attempt in December 2013 by former Vice President Riek Machar. Government troops carried out organized killings of members of the ethnic Nuer in Juba, the capital, the report said. When violence broke out, Machar, a Nuer, became a rebel leader. He and Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, recently signed a peace agreement.
The African Union investigators, led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, found that the conflict began on Dec. 15, 2013, as a skirmish broke out between Dinka and Nuer soldiers of the presidential guard following political tension between Kiir and Machar, who had been fired as Kiir's deputy the previous July.
The report was scheduled for release months ago but its release was delayed by the African Union's Peace and Security Council.
Hundreds of Nuer men were rounded up and shot, and mass graves were discovered. Perpetrators - described as government forces or their allies - allegedly tortured their victims, including by forcing them to jump in fires or eat human flesh, according to the report.
The killings were "an organized military operation that could not have been successful without concerted efforts from various actors in the military and government circles," the report said. "Roadblocks or checkpoints were established all around Juba and house to house searches were undertaken by security forces. During this operation male Nuers were targeted, identified, killed on the spot or gathered in one place and killed."
The report said Minister of Defense Kuol Manyang Juuk described a shadowy "group (that had) organized itself as Rescue the President. It killed most people here (in Juba) - from 15th to 18th. It was even more powerful than organized forces."
The group comprised some Dinka soldiers who had been mobilized following a 2012 border crisis with northern neighbor Sudan. Some of these soldiers were moved south to Kiir's private farm near Juba in 2013 and later participated in the killings, the report said, citing interviews with informants.
Amid the Juba killings, Machar fled the capital and mobilized an insurgency which committed revenge attacks against the Dinka, sparking a cycle of violence in Bor, Malakal, and Bentiu towns which also included rape and murder of people in churches and hospitals, according to the report. Those revenge attacks occurred so quickly they were also likely coordinated, it added.
Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement in August but fighting continues.
Laudes Martial Mbon, AFP | A man holds a placard reading 'Congo is not the property of N'Guesso' during an opposition demonstration in Brazzaville on September 27, 2015
Tens of thousands gathered in Republic of Congo’s capital on Sunday to voice their opposition to possible constitutional changes that would allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his decades-long rule in elections next year.
Protesters, some carrying signs reading “Sassou Out” and “Congo does not belong to Nguesso”, began flooding into the streets of Brazzaville in the morning, hours ahead of the afternoon rally in the city centre.
Sassou Nguesso, 71, who has ruled oil-producing Congo for 32 years in two separate spells in office, is banned by the current constitution from seeking another term.
However, he announced last week he would call a referendum on changes that could include raising the maximum age for presidential candidates and scrapping the two-term limit.
“The day President Sassou announces the date of the referendum, we will call upon you and we, ourselves, will be in front of you,” Andre Okombi Salissa, a former ally of the president who has come out against the proposed changes, told the crowd.
Organisers claimed that over 300,000 people attended the rally on Boulevard Alfred Raoul. There were no immediate police estimates of the crowd’s size.
Leaders in a number of African nations have been trying to change constitutions to override term limits.
Burkina Faso’s longtime ruler Blaise Compaore was forced to step down and flee the country last year when he attempted to force through constitutional changes.
“If the people want to march in the streets, they are right to do so, because marches are their last means of expression when the rights, their demands are not satisfied,” said Felix Matoko, who attended Sunday’s rally.
AFP/File | A Tunisian police car in Sousse, where a youth was detained and later jailed for homosexuality
TUNIS (AFP) -
Human Rights Watch called on the Tunisian authorities on Monday to free a 22-year-old student jailed last week for homosexuality and to repeal the law that criminalises consensual sodomy.
"The Tunisian government should not be prosecuting people for private and consensual sexual acts," said HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director Eric Goldstein.
"If Tunisia truly aspires to be a regional leader on human rights, it should lead the way in decriminalising homosexual conduct."
The youth had been detained on September 6 in the Mediterranean resort area of Sousse for questioning in connection with a murder after his telephone number was found on the victim, lawyer Fadoua Braham said.
He denied any involvement in the murder but admitted to having had sexual relations with the victim.
"Another statement was drawn up and my client had to undergo an anal exam against his will," she said.
HRW condemned the use of forensic anal examinations of people suspected of homosexual acts and called on Tunisia to halt them immediately.
"Such examinations are intrusive, invasive, and amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that violates international law," it said.
? 2015 AFP
Edouard Dropsy, AFP | A wounded man is carried into the General Hospital in Bangui on September 26, 2015.
Officials in the Central African Republic (CAR) declared a curfew in the capital, Bangui, on Sunday after two days of sectarian clashes that left at least 36 people dead and scores more injured.
Armed Christian militia members roamed the streets and protesters erected barricades on Sunday, a day after deadly inter-religious clashes erupted in CAR's restive capital, witnesses said.
The fighting was reportedly triggered by the murder of a Muslim man, whose body was dumped near a mosque late on Friday.
The clashes were the worst this year in the city, where UN peacekeepers and French troops are meant to ensure security. The government blamed them on individuals seeking to derail elections planned for next month.
Soldiers from the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, fired tear gas at crowds on Sunday as youths used tree trunks to block Bangui's main arteries.
Witnesses reported hearing sporadic gunfire in parts of the city and saw homes and shops being looted.
"Enough is enough. We want (President Catherine) Samba-Panza to go. Since she's been there the Muslims kill with impunity. She's doing nothing to disarm them," said one protester who declined to give his name.
Thousands of Central Africans have died and hundreds of thousands remain displaced after two years of violence that erupted after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country in 2013.
Seleka abuses sparked reprisals by Christian "anti-balaka" militias that drove most Muslims from the south in a de facto partition of the country.
Protesters alleged UN and French forces did little to intervene in Saturday's violence and called for the sidelined Central African army, the FACA, to assume responsibility for security.
"We are calling for a civil disobedience movement starting now and we demand the immediate redeployment, without conditions, of the FACA," civil society leader Gervais Lakossa told Reuters.
Anti-balaka fighters armed with assault rifles and machetes were seen on Bangui's streets on Sunday as many city residents fled their homes for protected displacement camps.
"The government asks the population not to cede to the manipulation of extremists who are seeking to set the country on fire to satisfy their selfish political ambitions," Security Minister Dominique Said Paguindji said on state radio.
Voters are due to elect a new president and parliament on Oct. 18 to replace an interim government led by Samba-Panza. Despite lagging preparations and the renewed violence in the capital, Paguindji said the polls would go ahead as scheduled.
Roberto Schmidt, AFP | In a photograph taken on May 27, 2009, armed men stand between two gates at Somalia’s presidential compound, also known as 'Villa Somalia' in Mogadishu
Text by NEWS WIRES
Latest update : 2015-09-21
At least five people were killed when a car bomb exploded close to the presidential palace in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Monday, police said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which is trying to overthrow President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s Western-backed government.
The group stepped up attacks this month, retaking a town in the central region and attacking African Union troops.
“So far, we know five soldiers died and over a dozen were wounded,” Ali Hussein, a police officer, told Reuters, adding that the attack might have been aimed at a United Nations convoy that left the palace just before the blast.
Ahmed Aden, a resident in the area, said he had heard a loud blast followed by gunfire.
A Reuters reporter saw damage to the gate of the compound, and five burnt-out cars at the scene.
Edouard Dropsy, AFP | Police in the Central African Republic capital of Bangui.
Gunfire rang out in the capital of Central African Republic overnight despite a curfew imposed following weekend violence that claimed at least 20 lives, residents said Monday.
The gunfire was focused at a police station in Bangui, they said.
“The curfew had no effect. Fighting went on all night,” FRANCE 24's Anthony Fouchard reported from Bangui.
Several shops and homes were also looted during the dusk-to-dawn curfew.
“The ransacking continued this morning. Several NGO personnel have been evacuated,” Fouchard told FRANCE 24 on Monday.
In addition to the more than 20 dead, around 100 people were wounded in Saturday's violence sparked by the murder of a motorcycle-taxi driver in central Bangui's Muslim-majority PK-5 neighbourhood, medical sources told AFP.
The area was the epicentre of unprecedented killings between Christians and Muslims in the city in late 2013 and early 2014.
French soldiers and UN peacekeepers remain in the former French colony where thousands of people died in the violence and hundreds of thousands remain displaced from their homes.
The chronically unstable country descended into bloodshed after a 2013 coup ousted longtime leader François Bozizé, and it remains prey to violence between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian militias known as the "anti-balaka", or anti-machete.
Although unrest has abated considerably, armed groups still operate in some parts of the country.
Presidential and legislative elections are due to be held by the end of the year, but they have already been pushed back several times as the country continues to grapple with the crisis.
(Daily Globe Watch with AFP)
By Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
ABUJA, Nigeria, March 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Cameroon officials delayed on Monday the questioning of a female suicide bomber claiming to be one of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in northeast Nigeria two years ago by Islamic militants due to injuries as doubts mounted over her identity.
The girl claiming to be one of the 219 missing schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram and another woman were arrested on Friday carrying explosives in Limani in northern Cameroon that has been the target of frequent suicide bombings recently.
The arrest raised hopes that the girl might be able to assist the Nigerian government in investigations regarding the fate and whereabouts of the missing Chibok girls.
Nigerian officials said they were sending parents from Chibok to verify whether the girl was one of the secondary school girls whose abduction sparked world outrage and the massive campaign #bringbackourgirls.
Garba Shehu, spokesperson for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, said they had hoped the girl could be questioned on Monday and meet Chibok parents to confirm her identity but it was looking less likely that she was one of the missing girls.
He said she now needed medical treatment before being questioned with the cause of her injuries unknown. Cameroon officials have instead sent photos to local non-government organisation, the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, to pass to the Chibok parents.
"She was found to be heavily drugged and bore several injuries on her body, for which she is receiving treatment," Shehu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email statement.
But he said as investigations went on it was seeming less likely the girl was one of the missing girls. He said she appeared to be aged between nine and 12 and her accomplice aged about 30 years or older.
"All these go to reinforce suspicion that the arrested girls may not fit into the profile of secondary students who are usually of the age 15 and above," Shehu said.
Shehu said Nigeria's Ministry of Women Affairs, the Nigerian High Commission in Cameroon and all government agencies were continuing "to work together with other stakeholders in trying to get to get to the bottom of the issue".
The Murtala Muhammed Foundation in Nigeria, a non-government organisation which has been supporting the Chibok parents association, was working with the Nigerian government to organise a trip to Cameroon by parents to meet the girl.
Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan was criticized for his slow reaction to the Chibok abductions by Boko Haram, which at its strongest held large swathes of northern Nigeria.
Joint operations between Nigeria and neighbouring countries succeeded in driving Boko Haram from many of its strongholds last year but the Islamists have stepped up cross-border attacks and suicide bombings, many of them carried out by young girls.
Muhammadu Buhari, who defeated Jonathan in a 2015 election, ordered a new investigation into the kidnappings in January.
Qaddafi was not killed for humanitarian purposes but for the oil and for money. His ideas of an African gold-backed currency were his major undoing.
The recent Hillary Clinton email leaks have opened a can of worms everywhere including in Africa. Wikileaks released an unclassified U.S. Department of State document emailed to Clinton, dated April 2, 2011. Sidney Blumenthal, the sender of the email confirmed what the world already suspected. Qaddafi was not killed for humanitarian purposes but for the oil and for money. His ideas of an African gold-backed currency were his major undoing.
In April 2011, then President of the World Bank, Robert Bruce Zoellick spoke at a panel discussion about how he hoped the World Bank would have some sort of role in the reconstruction of Libya along with other countries.
“Reconstruction now means (Ivory Coast), it now means Southern Sudan, it means Liberia, it means Sri Lanka, I hope it will mean Libya,” he said.
To the ordinary person, this was the World Bank hoping to come in to help a failing state but to Economist John Perkins, the World Bank was not to be considered as fulfilling its supposed mandate. It was in actual fact a U.S. bank together with its sibling, the IMF. The United States controls about 16% of the World Bank while the second largest member, Japan has a paltry 7%. The United States again has around 17% voting rights in the International Monetary Fund. His point was that these institutions were and still are extensions of the Western foreign policy.
“So, we might ask ourselves: What happens when a “rogue” country threatens to bring the banking system that benefits the corporatocracy to its knees?” he asked later saying the Western empire has a standing army (NATO) to violently protect its position.
Libya was the “rogue” nation but the question is: Just what did Gaddafi have in mind?
According to the IMF, Libya’s Central Bank is 100% state owned and in 2011, it was estimated to have 144 tons of gold in its vaults. Muammar Gaddafi’s plan was to introduce a gold-backed currency which he hoped African and Muslim nations would adopt. He felt it could rival the euro and the dollar, and rightly so too.
Sidney Blumenthal, in his email to Hillary Clinton confirmed, “Qaddafi's government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver. During late March, 2011 these stocks were moved to SABHA (south west in the direction of the Libyan border with Niger and Chad); taken from the vaults of the Libyan Central Bank in Tripoli.”
He went on to say the gold and silver was valued at $7 billion and was one of the reasons Nicolas Sarkozy embarked on a French attack of Libya.
“Sarkozy's plans are driven by the following issues:
a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,
b. Increase French influence in North Africa,
c. Improve his internal political situation in France,
d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,
e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi's long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in, Francophone Africa,” wrote Blumenthal.
If Qaddafi had succeeded, the United States of America and Europe would have been forced to buy oil and minerals in the gold backed currency thus tipping the scales. This was a horror the West dared not experience. The situation would have been a more lethal re-enactment of Saddam Hussein’s currency wars when he supported the new Euro currency at the expense of the United States Dollar.
At this point, the U.S. was highly insecure about the effects of the new currency to its economy. Hussein’s decision to sell oil in the then new currency was a blow to the U.S. worsened by the proclamation that the dollar was the “currency of the enemy”. Currency wars have therefore been a fact of history with the Hussein situation being a peculiar intra-Western conflict that culminated in the Middle East instability promulgated by U.S. interventionist policies. That Qaddafi would be killed for planning to introduce an African currency to the fray is not surprising but that does not make it acceptable.
The leaked Clinton email has far-reaching implications on the fluid state of post-colonial relations with the West. If anything, it is an eye-opener. Where Africa seeks to build an independent economic structure, the West is seen to try and derail those plans so as to retain its primacy in world affairs.
With regard to the creation of a new currency, Ministry of Peace Founder, Dr James Thring said, “It’s one of those things that you have to plan almost in secret, because as soon as you say you’re going to change over from the dollar to something else, you’re going to be targeted.”
And Qaddafi was targeted. He may not have been the most democratic leader in the world but Libyan citizens had arguably the best way of life in Africa. His plan of action (without the human rights violations) should be a blueprint for African development.
Whoever killed the Colonel also killed off the prospects of a United States of Africa and its gold backed Afro–currency.
Someone killed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. It might have been the National Transitional Council of Libya or a French spy but someone did it. Whoever killed the Colonel also killed off the prospects of a United States of Africa and its gold backed Afro–currency. Yes, it sounds interestingly similar to the Star Trek ideas of a unified Africa and who knows, maybe the good colonel was inspired by the film or maybe he was just a step ahead in the evolutionary curve. Gaddafi was a known advocate of one unified African country with one leader and no prizes for guessing who that would be. It would be him, the one true King of Kings; a title he manipulated gullible traditional leaders to accord him. Interestingly, after his death, President Robert Mugabe showed interest in the idea. Who better to lead the United States of Africa than a man with thirty-six years’ experience in African politics? Do not answer that.
Colonel Gaddafi pushed for the creation of the United States of Africa at the 2000 African Union Summit in Lome, Togo. He went on to provide financial incentives to encourage agreement with his ideas. In another world this would be bribery but in Gaddafi’s world, it was flawless politicking. The Wall Street Journal reports that the strongman at one point bankrolled African Union expenses by providing at least 15% of the African Union membership fees and helping nations in arrears like Malawi clear their balances. He then presented the USA idea in June 2007 in Conakry, Guinea and then again in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February 2009. It did sound like a power-hungry man’s plot to take over the world. If he had had the signature villainous laugh, it would have been clear that he was indeed the reincarnation of every glorified childhood cartoon villain anyone ever knew. His idea though grand and impressive on paper was a proposal to take 54 egos and make them pledge allegiance to one leader; himself! A little far-fetched one would think.
It is however true that the current hastily drawn state boundaries are a Western caricature of sorts. They are a disturbingly sharp echo of the Berlin conference and how men from without decided the fate of Africa’s within. It was an arbitrary process meant to save face and pretend an almost inevitable war at the time. These men ended up drawing boundaries on geographic lines yet Africa was based on ethnicity and tribe which blurred boundaries. Gaddafi’s idea was therefore a corrective measure which did not pretend to solve the complexities of African society. The Colonel was therefore very much in the right and to make certain he was going to be successful, he approached traditional leaders because these are in actual facts the true leaders of Africa. Modern day political leaders are again a shadow of Western civilization forced on Africa to strip tradition of its powers. Obviously people may roll their eyes at this seemingly idealistic and slightly quixotic idea but it is the truth. Gaddafi sought to bring back Africa to its state of nature where he would be royalty. The last bit did not get him any new friends and made his plans a toll order.
Clearly, a United States of Africa would do away with boarders between territories and enhance trade and travel. It has been estimated that intra-African trade hovers around the 12% range compared to Europe’s 60% and North America’s 40%. One Africa would take away the unnecessary boundaries that prevent free trade and impose unnecessary tariffs and punishment on trade. More so, the Colonel had suggested that the continent have one currency, the Afro. This would again do wonders for internal trade and create one robust economy. Some conspiracy theorists claim this is why he was killed. He wanted to create an economy that would challenge Western dominance. Now that he is gone, the world may never know. For now, everyone has to be content with regional trading blocs which have increasingly become a force in African economics and internal trade. In fact, Gaddafi’s idea of a single currency was approved in 1991 marking 2028 as the year by which this currency which Gaddafi hoped would be called the Afro would have been brought into circulation in the continent. Already, eight countries in West Africa maintain a single currency and six more in Central Africa are doing the same. The philosophy bankrolling these moves is that Africa can only be recognized as a force if and only if it stands up as a synergy in one accord to do away with the imperial powers’ divide and conquer strategies.
Though Colonel Gaddafi was buried together with Africa’s best chance of the United States, the dream has not entirely died off. It was not a Gaddafi original creation anyway since Bob Marley had sung about it and Marcus Mosiah Garvey had penned catchy poetry way before Gaddafi started advocating for it. It is a known fact that Gaddafi had tried to form some sort of coalition for the Arab nations and when this failed, he turned to Africa (maybe inspired by Garvey?) which resulted in his domestically unpopular “Africanization of Libya”. Maybe this was just a man trying to push his ends and achieve supremacy. President Zuma, in a speech soon after Gaddafi’s death said he was happy no one would intimidate other AU members in the manner Gaddafi did.
However, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been heard to have accused the AU of an underwhelming discharge of its duties. He then suggested that a US of Africa would be better equipped to do away with the challenges the continent has been confronted with in the past few decades. Maybe the Gaddafi dream will come alive….maybe not but it is clear that unity has become an essential ingredient for African progress. It is no longer a matter of conviction and feeling but a necessity if the continent is to develop. - The African Exponent