Capacitating Civil Society Actors to Advance Digital Rights in Africa

Internet freedom in Africa has been on the decline over the past years with several countries continually adopting repressive measures that curtail civil liberties. Many governments have embraced digital authoritarianism, which has resulted in criminalisation of speech online, internet disruptions, arrests and prosecution of social media users, and abuse of citizens’ data rights, thus undermining free expression and civic participation. 

Several governments have continually enhanced their technical capacity to intercept and monitor electronic communications, including through the installation of equipment and software or spyware that enable remote controlled hacking and eavesdropping, and deployment of video surveillance systems, some of which have facial recognition capabilities. These enhancements have been partly aided by introduction of regressive laws ostensibly to fight terrorism and to protect national order. 

Some control measures – such as trolling and cyberbullying – target critical democracy actors, including women human rights defenders (WHRDs) and journalists, and have far-reaching impacts on rights protection, including free expression, access to information and civic participation. Other measures, such as digital taxation, registration and licensing of online users, greatly undermine internet access and affordability and weaken the potential of digital technologies to catalyse free expression and civic participation.

These measures are worrying not only because they directly undermine citizens’ digital rights and their appetite for public participation but also because they endanger the safety of some critical democratic actors. Without adequate digital security capacity, activists and human rights defenders (HRDs) are not able to meaningfully undertake advocacy and engagements around human rights, transparent and accountable governance. Concerningly, digital security and safety skills are lacking among some of the most at-risk groups, yet trainers and support networks are in short supply. In this brief we review some key intervention measures necessary to  grow the capacity of  civil society actors to navigate the rising digital authoritarianism and highlight CIPESA’s work in this regard.

Shrinking Civic Space

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of reported incidents of governments in the region cracking down on civil society organisations, especially those addressing human rights and social justice issues. Various illegal means, including physical assaults, arbitrary detention, torture, killings, intimidation and surveillance by security agencies, have been adopted to limit the rights to freedom of assembly, association, expression, and access to information.

The situation was exacerbated by measures adopted by national governments to curb the spread and mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The different measures including the clamp down on media platforms, intimidation, arrests, detention and prosecution, affected the work and operations of HRDss and civil society organisations (CSOs) in many countries. The ability of citizens to participate in civic matters and the conduct of public affairs were also eroded. Meanwhile, HRDs, journalists, activists, the political opposition, and ordinary citizens have been forced to self-censor, disengage from participating in public affairs, and refrain from exercising their rights to participate.

Limited Capacity of Civil Society Actors

Although there has been a growing number of civil society and justice actors responding to, and challenging government excesses, some of them have been hampered by lack of requisite knowledge, skills, and tools to engage in meaningful policy advocacy. There is also limited understanding of the linkages between Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), human rights and democracy and how government control measures undermine democratic participation.

According to Ashnah Kalemera, Programme Manager at CIPESA, advancing digital rights is a new phenomenon for most of the traditional human rights organisations in Africa, “with many still trying to understand the relationship between ICT and human rights, on top of dealing with an already hostile environment.” 

Through various interventions, CIPESA is building the capacity of different social justice organisations and equipping them with the requisite skills, including research, communicating digital rights, designing evidence-based advocacy campaigns, as well as digital resilience, especially how to cope with the increasing cyber attacks.

Findings from a 2017 joint research study conducted by Small Media, DefendDefenders, the Centre For Intellectual Property And Information Technology Law (CIPIT), and CIPESA showed that in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, most CSOs failed to demonstrate a baseline of digital security knowledge and practices.

The study noted that although the internet and other ICT had empowered CSOs to engage with the public, share information, and advocate for citizens’ rights in sometimes challenging and closed political environments, it had also offered means and tools that regional state and non-state actors utilised to interfere with their work, surveil them, and censor their voices.

Similarly, an assessment CIPESA conducted in five countries during 2020 indicated a need to bolster capacity, organisational practices, and implementation of security and safety measures for social justice organisations and staff. It also found that skills and protections (software and hardware) were low and inadequate among many HRD organisations and individuals. 

Building Digital Resilience Among CSOs

In many countries in the region, skills in digital security and safety are lacking among some of the most at-risk groups, yet trainers and support networks are in short supply. Without adequate digital security capacity, activists and HRDs are not able to meaningfully continue advocacy and engagements around human rights, transparent and accountable governance.

For several years CIPESA has provided digital security resilience including conducted training for civil society groups, HRDs and other democracy actors. Through the Level-Up programme, CIPESA has provided security support to 16 HRD organisations in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan, and Uganda. 

The initiative helped to strengthen the participating entities’ organisational and information systems security capacity, entailed a Training of Trainers (ToT) component – which benefitted 19 individuals – to grow the network of individuals and organisations that offer digital security training and support to journalists, activists, and HRDs, and organisational security assessments. The training and support were delivered through innovative approaches to geographically distributed individuals that could not meet physically due to Covid-19 social distancing and travel restrictions.

The individuals trained in turn conducted safety and security training sessions which benefitted 120 staff of HRD organisations. The Level Up programme also conducted an assessment of organisational digital security needs and practices which informed the provision of hardware, software and security equipment to nine beneficiary organisations in four countries, and the development of organisational digital security policies.

“Several justice actors, both individuals and organisations, have fallen victims to cyber attacks, hacking, and online harassment, with some reporting loss of  their brand assets. It is therefore important to bolster their capacity, enhance their organisational practices, especially the implementation of security and safety measures related to digital and social media platforms usage by the organisations and their staff,” says Brian Byaruhanga, Technology Officer at CIPESA.

Supporting Impactful Digital Rights Advocacy and Communication

Digital rights advocacy and communication has become crucial in promoting human rights in Africa. Accordingly, CIPESA has over the years supported capacity development for CSOs, HRDs particularly WHRDs, and key duty bearers, to cultivate cross-country and cross-sectoral partnerships, and promoted joint advocacy and communications campaigns. 

In June 2022, CIPESA convened a regional advocacy and engagement training workshop in Lusaka, Zambia that brought together media, civil society and technology policy actors from 10 African countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The regional engagement equipped participants with a keen understanding of key digital rights trends in the region, alongside practical skills in impactful digital rights advocacy and communication.

Also in June 2022, CIPESA convened a digital rights policy advocacy webinar where participants shared their experiences, challenges and lessons learned in advocating for digital rights in Africa. Panelists were mainly drawn from the Africa Digital Rights Fund (ADRF) beneficiaries, a grant facility managed by CIPESA whose main purpose is to offer flexible and rapid response grants to select initiatives in Africa to implement activities that advance digital rights, including advocacy, litigation, research, policy analysis, digital literacy and digital security skills building 

In July 2021, CIPESA in partnership with the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), conducted an intensive training course on Digital Rights and Impact Communication for grantees of the ADRF. The training was preceded by a capacity and training needs assessment. The ADRF was launched in April 2019 to offer funding and capacity development to expand the pool of actors that advance digital rights in Africa, amidst rising digital rights violations.

These capacity building efforts serve to equip civil society actors with skills, knowledge, and tools to effectively engage in evidence-based advocacy as well as communicating digital rights issues. They inspire these actors to approach advocacy and communication systematically in order to increase the visibility of digital rights issues in different media and to promote public discussion of digital rights issues.

Building Capacity and Collaborations for Digital Rights Research

Evidence-based digital rights advocacy has become particularly crucial in Africa as a growing number of governments and powerful private actors continue to undermine citizens’ online rights through legal and extra-legal means. However, as the need for internet policy advocacy that is informed by research grows, it is essential to increase the amount and depth of research originating from, and relevant to, Africa. 

Over the last few years, CIPESA has responded by building capacity and enhancing collaborations for digital rights research among academia and CSOs. During the 2019 Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica19) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, CIPESA organised a Digital Rights Research Methods Workshop as one of the pre-events. The workshop was attended by 58 participants who included university lecturers, staff of international human rights organisations, digital rights researchers, activists, technologists, and lawyers.

The Ethiopian training built on the foundations of a five-day intensive training on internet policy research methods co-organised with the Annenberg School for Communications Internet Policy Observatory in 2018, which aimed to train, connect, and build collaboration between researchers, activists, academics and internet freedom advocates, and brought together 40 participants from 17 countries.

CIPESA has continued to build this capacity through additional training, and providing research and grant opportunities through the CIPESA Academic and Media Fellowships, which seek to nurture university students’ and early career academics’ understanding of ICT for governance, human rights and development, as well as enhance the media’s understanding of and coverage of ICT, democracy and human rights issues, respectively.

Digital rights continue to evolve alongside technological changes and advancement. CIPESA will continue to tap into the opportunity of skilling civil society personnel to facilitate knowledge building and enhance their capacity to continually engage in digital rights proactively and securely.

SOURCE

Internet freedom in Africa has been on the decline over the past years with several countries continually adopting repressive measures that curtail civil liberties. Many governments have embraced digital authoritarianism, which has resulted […]

Continue reading "Capacitating Civil Society Actors to Advance Digital Rights in Africa"

40 cases in 40 days: Regional court settles EAC treaty violations suits

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has ended its rotational inter-state court session in Uganda, where it determined cases related to violations by member states of the East African Community (EAC) Treaty.

The president of the regional court, Nestor Kayobera, said the 40 days that the court held its session in Kampala at the Commercial Division of the High Court, saw a total of 40 cases disposed of.

EACJ held court from November 2 to December 2, ending its annual rotation of sessions in a member country.

“During this period, the court handled 40 cases. You can see, we spent 40 days in Uganda and we have handled almost 40 cases. I don’t know why 40, maybe we ask the philosophers why that number of 40,” Mr Kayobera told the media on Friday.

He added that the appellate division handled matters regarding the revocation of sale agreements, terms of employment of the East African Community and criminal defamation, among other cases.

“All the cases we handled were about the violation of the Treaty by the partner states,” he said.

Read: Regional court needs more autonomy, says president

On the rotation of the East African Court of Justice among the member states, Mr Kayobera said this was initiated last year when the court was celebrating its 20 years anniversary in Bujumbura, Burundi.

He said this was being done to implement Article 7 (1) of the Treaty that states that a community is people-centred and market-driven.

The next partner state to host the regional court after Uganda will either be Rwanda or Kenya, according to Mr Kayobera.

The EACJ is a treaty-based judicial body of the EAC tasked to ensure adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the East African Community Treaty of 1999.

Justice Anne Mugenyi Bitature, the deputy head of the Commercial Court, said they were happy to have been chosen by the Judiciary top management to host the regional court session.

source

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has ended its rotational inter-state court session in Uganda, where it determined cases related to violations by member states of the East African […]

Continue reading "40 cases in 40 days: Regional court settles EAC treaty violations suits"

Uhuru warns planners over delayed closure of DRC peace meeting

Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, the facilitator of the East Africa Community (EAC)-led Nairobi Peace Process that seeks to end the war in DRC, Monday read the riot act to the organisers of the meeting after it emerged that participants’ allowances would be less than had been planned before they left their homes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Without mentioning their names, a visibly angry Mr Kenyatta called out the organisers for delaying the closure of the meeting which he extended to Tuesday to give room for the funds to be made available as earlier planned.

“My intention is that we finish the meeting well and I know that is what you also want. So, I ask that we postpone today’s meeting to tomorrow and I assure you that the planners of this event do not assume that peace is something to toy around with. Be here tomorrow, if not, I shall stand and ask the whole world to deny them funds if they cannot plan things effectively,” he said on Monday.

Hr added, “Let us meet again at 10am and attend to the issues that have cropped up before closing the meeting. Maybe they (organisers) have done this thinking that my influence waned but they shall realise that it hasn’t.”

Funds adequate

Mr Kenyatta warned the organisers that failure to release the funds as earlier planned will have consequences.

“Let them sleep wherever they are but bring the funds that had been rightly allocated to the participants of this process tomorrow. I know we have adequate funds because I was among those that were sourcing for the funds,” he said.

The week-long event in Nairobi began on Monday last week, bringing together over 50 armed groups, victims of atrocities taking place in eastern DRC, civil society, special interest groups and government officials.

On Wednesday last week, the participants engaged the facilitator in focus group discussions where they each shared their grievances and proposals for a peaceful DRC.

The meeting was to end on Saturday but was pushed to Monday to allow for adequate discussions into the matters arising.

The outcome of the discussions will inform the speed at which the East Africa Community Regional Force (EACRF) will engage in combat the armed groups fighting in eastern Congo.

source

Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, the facilitator of the East Africa Community (EAC)-led Nairobi Peace Process that seeks to end the war in DRC, Monday read the riot act to […]

Continue reading "Uhuru warns planners over delayed closure of DRC peace meeting"

Kenyans tell how allure of jobs landed them in hands of Myanmar junta

For every Kenyan who has been a victim of human trafficking to Myanmar, their story is that of hope for a rags-to-riches experience that instead dives them into the murky world of the Myanmar junta.

And as the government tries to save many from the jaws of militants, many Kenyans, particularly young women below the age of 30, are continuously getting duped into accepting fake job offers in Thailand, from where they are then trafficked to Myanmar to work as scammers targeting men from particular countries.

To help others from falling into the same trap, three women recently rescued from Myanmar shared the stories about how they left Kenya in search of job opportunities that never came, lost a fellow Kenyan but found a way back home after discovering that they had crossed over to a foreign land and were controlled by an armed group.

Their hope is to protect others from falling into a similar predicament and shed light on the desperation that makes young people easily trust whatever opportunity is thrown at them without thinking through the dangers that might lurk ahead.

Read: Family’s hope of receiving kin’s body from Saudi diminishes as agent vanishes

For 29-year-old Damaris Akumu, from Migori County, the allure of a better life for herself and her child pushed her to use her savings to pay for what she thought was an opportunity of a lifetime.

“I had searched for jobs but none was forthcoming, so I paid the lady that was to arrange my travel Sh150,000 and borrowed another Sh100,000 for emergencies and personal effects and left Kenya on August 4,” she recalls.

Ms Akumu travelled on the same day with 26-year-old Marleen Nduta Gitau, who learnt about the job offers through a relative that she had met at her grandparents’ burial earlier this year.

“I am the second-born in a family of three. My elder sibling has Down syndrome, our last-born is a college student and my parents are casual labourers. This, therefore, means the responsibility of the firstborn falls squarely on me,” Ms Gitau explains.

The relative told her about opportunities in Thailand and she quickly started thinking about working in another country.

source

For every Kenyan who has been a victim of human trafficking to Myanmar, their story is that of hope for a rags-to-riches experience that instead dives them into the murky […]

Continue reading "Kenyans tell how allure of jobs landed them in hands of Myanmar junta"

‘Around 300’ dead in east DR Congo massacre blamed on M23 rebels

Around 300 people died in an attack on villagers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last week blamed on the M23 rebel group, government minister Julien Paluku said on Monday.

The government has been locked in a months-long conflict with the notorious armed group M23 — with the latest violence coming just five days after a ceasefire was agreed between the rebels and Congolese forces.

The army originally accused the M23 insurgents of killing at least 50 civilians in Kishishe village in eastern North Kivu province last week, before the government put the number of dead at more than 100.

But Paluku and government spokesman Patrick Muyaya laid out updated figures for the deadly attack during a press briefing on Monday, citing data collated by civil society and communities in the region.

No connection with militia

“We are looking at around 300 deaths” of “people known to be regular inhabitants of Kishishe,” industry minister Paluku said, saying the victims had no connection with militia groups.

“Every community has been able to record the people who died from units in Kishishe and its environs,” said Paluku, who was governor of North Kivu province from 2007 to 2019.

“One community alone has more than 105 deaths,” he added.

The rebel group has denied it was responsible and called the allegations “baseless” — although it said eight civilians were killed by “stray bullets” during clashes in the village on November 29.

All the fatalities were civilians and at least 17 believed to be children, Muyaya told reporters, saying there were fatalities recorded from a church and a hospital.

Calls for investigation

The UN’s peacekeeping mission in DR Congo has led calls for an investigation after the government said 50 villagers had been massacred by a notorious armed group in the country’s troubled east.

Representatives for the United States and European Union said the killings were potential war crimes, while Human Rights Watch said UN troops should be deployed to protect survivors.

The government has said it is difficult to confirm the data because the area is still under rebel control.

Muyaya said consolidation work was underway to try and ascertain the full number of victims.

Residents who spoke to AFP by telephone said they had been ordered by the rebels to bury the victims in mass graves.

The March 23 movement, or M23, is a predominantly Congolese Tutsi rebel group that was dormant for years.

It took up arms again in November last year and seized the town of Bunagana on the border with Uganda in June. 

After a brief period of calm, it went on the offensive again in October.

Kinshasa accuses its smaller neighbour Rwanda of providing M23 with support, something that UN experts and US officials have also pointed to in recent months.

Kigali disputes the charge and has accused Kinshasa of collusion with the FDLR — a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in the DRC after the genocide of the Tutsi community in 1994 in Rwanda.

Talks between the two countries in the Angolan capital Luanda unlocked a truce agreement on November 23.

The ceasefire was scheduled to take effect on November 25. It should also have been followed by a pull-out by the M23 two days later from territory it had seized, but this did not happen.

source

Around 300 people died in an attack on villagers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last week blamed on the M23 rebel group, government minister Julien Paluku said on Monday. […]

Continue reading "‘Around 300’ dead in east DR Congo massacre blamed on M23 rebels"

Regional forces mull next step after M23 decline ceasefire

Regional forces assembling in the Democratic Republic of Congo have underlined the priority of guarding civilians suing for peace, by providing a buffer against M23 rebels, The EastAfrican can reveal.

The decision came in response to a defied ultimatum given to the M23 last week by leaders who had gathered in Luanda, Angola.

And as community and armed groups representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo gathered in Nairobi this week, seeking long-term peace, military experts were holed up in Goma mulling the next step after M23 rebels defied a ceasefire call.

The three-day dialogue forum, the third in a series of the Nairobi Process, is backed by the East African Community.

Yet to ease hostilities

In Goma, military experts from EAC member states contributing troops to the regional force (EACRF), as well as the UN stabilisation mission (Monusco) were activated after participants of the Nairobi process reported that the group was yet to ease its hostilities in spite of publicly vowing to do so last week.

As the first step, sources told The EastAfrican the Kenya Defence Forces troops which have been on standby in Goma will be tasked with creating a ring around civilians to reduce casualties among local communities.

The idea is to ensure M23 attacks are thwarted by the Congolese forces, FARDC, the regional EACRF and Monusco, if the regional heads of state under the East African Community approve it.

The decision was first mooted in Angola last week, where a mini summit of the EAC and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), under the chairmanship of Angolan President Joao Lorenco, called for ceasefire by all armed groups or they be forced out of occupied territories.

“Kenya to initially deploy its contingent in Goma, DRC and subsequently in Banagana, Rutshuru and Kiwanja upon the withdrawal of M23 to its initial positions not beyond the line along Sabinyo (DRC side), Bigego, Bugusa, Nyabikona, Mbuzi, Rutsiro and Nkokwe,” the communique stated.

Continued battles

The M23 in a statement had agreed to the ceasefire call by the Heads of State after the Luanda process with a rider that they would not cease to defend themselves if they were violated by FARDC. But this week, locals reported continued battles between the rebels and Congolese forces.

The peace bid is, however, challenged by DRC’s own local politics. Kinshasa had opposed the idea of the buffer zone, fearing it could incite political heat, including ethnic divisions. Such an eventuality could hurt President Felix Tshisekedi as he bids for re-election due on December 20, 2023.

In the DRC, well before the announcement of the election date, candidates had already declared themselves for the elections and political parties had already put themselves in order of battle. Among the candidates is Martin Fayulu, his challenger in the 2018 election, who claims he won. Others are Moïse Katumbi. The former governor of the ex-province of Katanga is currently allied to Tshisekedi but is expected to challenge him.

Party dynamics

Former president Joseph Kabila’s camp has remained uncertain as his party the Common Front for Congo has yet to reveal its intentions. The other is Dr Denis Mukwege, the famous gynaecologist who co-won the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2018. 

Some Congolese have asked him to stand, something he hasn’t taken on but which has attracted jibes on him from Tshisekedi.

After the announcement of election dates, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission Denis Kadima mentioned “constraints that may hamper the implementation of the elections.”

Among the challenges is insecurity, with Mr Kadima admitting that parts of DRC in rebel hands “have an impact on the smooth running of the elections.”

“No electoral operation can be organised properly without security for voters, electoral agents, sites of operations, materials and candidates,” he said last month.

Corneille Nangaa, former chairman of the electoral commission, said DRC’s “number one enemy of the electoral process is mistrust between actors and stakeholders.”

The registration of the estimated 50 million voters has not yet started, he told The EastAfrican.  In 2018, the electoral body needed 15 months to be ready.

source

Regional forces assembling in the Democratic Republic of Congo have underlined the priority of guarding civilians suing for peace, by providing a buffer against M23 rebels, The EastAfrican can reveal. The decision […]

Continue reading "Regional forces mull next step after M23 decline ceasefire"

S. Sudan fails to pull its weight in EAC amid missed deadlines

Six years since South Sudan was admitted to the East African Community, domestic problems, including weak institutions, have eaten into its will to integrate, leaving neighbours feeling the burden.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into a civil war three years later. Today, even at relative peace, it has been constantly on the brink of war.

By joining the EAC, leaders argued back in 2016 that the country could tap into regional support, including the safety of neighbours with whom it could trade and improve lives. Instead, it has been a humanitarian burden, needing food aid and refuge for its fleeing citizens.

The country has failed to implement the Customs Union and the Common Market protocols, two of the basic pillars of the EAC. In fact, more than 18 months since he was appointed, the South Sudan minister in charge of EAC Affairs Deng Alor Kuol is yet to set foot in Arusha, the EAC headquarters where the council meets regularly to make decisions.

 “South Sudan joined the EAC in 2016, with expectations that joining will be able to stabilise their institutions politically, socially and economically,” said John Kalisa, chief executive of the East African Business Council.

“But after joining they fell off again. The conflict distorted all the programmes, progress and projects because they even threatened the donors who were ready to support their integration agenda. So they created a lot of fears, because of their political risk,” he told The EastAfrican.

South Sudan applied for EAC membership in 2011 but the process of admission was delayed for a number of reasons, key among them internal conflicts. The country would be admitted during the 17th Ordinary Heads of State Summit in Arusha on February 2,2016.

Missed deadlines

In Juba, delays in the ratification of protocols and non-implementation of ratified protocols have combined to impair the smooth enforcement and execution of EAC plans.

Bloc decisions requiring amendments to national laws have often remained outstanding for a long time.

In terms of trade integration, the Customs Union is operational within the EAC – except in South Sudan, which is yet to fully meet the accession requirements to the EAC. It has missed the deadlines twice. DRC will have at three years to operationalise the Customs Union.

Adopt common laws

EAC’s establishing treaty doesn’t have provisions for expelling errant members as leaders thought members would at least show will to adopt common laws.

While EAC partner states have adopted the CET (common external tariffs) e-Tariff tool kit framework and the Single Customs Territory (SCT) procedures, which have been simplified and harmonised, South Sudan is still learning the ropes.

During the 39th meeting of the Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment held in Arusha on November 12, 2021, South Sudan’s National Revenue Authority observed that the country is yet to fully implement the Customs Union.

The meeting was informed that the Secretariat and partner states have updated the SCT Procedure manual to incorporate changes to the Single Customs Territory clearance processes that have taken place since 2014.

The changes include transmission of data through a centralised platform, multi-modal importation process, process for inland waterways/lakes to cover goods transported on ferries and process for temporary transfer of motor vehicles.

Common market protocol

The recently-released African Integration Report 2021 on the Status of Regional Integration in Africa reveals that South Sudan is yet to enjoy the benefits of a common market protocol that came into effect in 2010.

“The free movement of people within the EAC is a reality grounded in the EAC CM (common market) Protocol. However, whereas all the states have signed and ratified this protocol, national laws in South Sudan are yet to be fully harmonised to conform to it,” the report reads.

“East Africans can move across the region without the need for visas except in the case of South Sudan that is still in the process of conforming.”

Common market

Nevertheless, bilateral arrangements exist that have seen Kenya lift visa requirements for South Sudan citizens with effect from July 26, 2021. However, the majority of Kenyans visiting South Sudan are still forced to pay for a visa.

South Sudan hardly remits its contributions to the EAC yet its citizens and MPs have been accommodated in the EAC’s organs and institutions.

South Sudan was yet to disburse $27.4 million while Burundi had not disbursed $7.44 million by February.

Insecurity, extortion and harassment by security agencies of Sudan are also hindering trade at the Nimule-Elegu border post between South Sudan and Uganda, the busiest land border in South Sudan, where 90 percent of goods imported from Uganda are processed.

source

Six years since South Sudan was admitted to the East African Community, domestic problems, including weak institutions, have eaten into its will to integrate, leaving neighbours feeling the burden. South […]

Continue reading "S. Sudan fails to pull its weight in EAC amid missed deadlines"

Uprooting of baobabs in Kenya sparks outrage of conservationists

Lisa Libutu was going about her business at the Kenyan coastal county of Kilifi when a truck loaded with an uprooted giant baobab tree drove by on the Mombasa-Malindi Highway.

She was astonished at the sight of what is considered an everlasting tree uprooted.  It had not happened before.

The baobab is known as Africa’s “Tree of Life”, adapting to arid landscapes, living for up to 5,000 years and with many useful properties for local communities.

They are landmarks where they stand for centuries.

Libutu was not the only person shocked by the uprooting of the baobab. Soon, it became the talk of villagers as more of uprooted gigantic trees were seen being ferried to Mombasa.

Villagers approached by buyers

Libutu later learned that villagers had been approached to sell their trees for $3,000, an offer they could not turn down, she told The EastAfrican.

It is not clear whether the uprooting of the iconic baobab trees in Kenya’s coastal county of Kilifi is a case of ignorance on the part of national agencies and the county government or it is bio piracy.

Researchers fear that Kenya risks losing the baobab species to foreign multinationals who will patent its products and the country will pay the price of negligence yet again after it lost crucial species that were patented and cannot now be uses for commercial purposes in the country.

Lost patents

Dr Amos Lewa, a Kenyan biomedical scientist with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), notes that Kenya lost the Prunus africana (the African cherry), endemic in the Rift Valley, which was harvested and sent to Europe and later patented.

Formulations from the Prunus africana are used to treat prostate gland inflammation.

Dr Lewa says Kenya also lost frangipani, a flowery tropical tree whose milk is potent for herpes zoster, and is useful in HIV management of dermatological disorders.

“We lost the patent of the Prunus africana and frangipani, and we can no longer use it commercially. Kenya has lost patents of the kiondo basket and now the baobab tree – whose leaves, bark and roots show febrifuge potential and other medicinal uses – is threatened. The fruit pulp is highly potent for nutrition in children as an alternative to breast milk. We shall lose it in patents too,” he said.

Fibrous leafy tree

The baobab, or mbuyu in Kiswahili, is a gigantic fibrous leafy tree, common in the open semi-arid areas of eastern and coastal counties of Kenya.

Local communities use baobab leaves, pulp and seeds as a source of food.

Baobab seed oil is used in cosmetic products and stem fibres are used in rope making, the fruit shells as fuelwood, the leaves as vegetables and livestock fodder and the powder is used in making jam and juice.

Libutu is the founder of Baossence, an organisation that works with local women and youth at the Kenyan coast to care for and trade in baobab-based products.

“I used to get about 100kgs of baobab seeds in a week from women groups in Kilifi but they suddenly stopped supplying. It turned out the trees they harvested from had been “sold” to a foreigner who intended to export them to Georgia, in the United States,” Libutu said.

Go-ahead to uproot trees

It turned out that in October, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the county government of Kilifi had given the go-ahead to Ariba SeaWeed International to uproot the trees in Mtondia and Tezo for botanical purposes for two years. A Kenya Forest Service approval was granted on November 1.

Eight huge baobab trees had by then already been uprooted and stored for shipping to Shekvetili Dendrological Park Ltd in Ureki in Ozurgeti Municipality, Georgia, US.

KFS said it allowed the uprooting of the baobabs because the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) did not list them as an endangered species.

Libutu has now launched a petition dubbed “Please Save our Baobab Trees from Wanton Destruction”, which has attracted over 3,000 people including government officials who sought explanation from county officials.

Petition details

The petition is an appeal to the Kenya government, the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature to immediately ban the “carnage” of baobab trees and to place them on the World List of Threatened Trees/Species.

The petition also seeks to have the baobab become a protected tree species in Kenya, included on the appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals from the threats of international trade.

Researchers, scientists and environmentalists have jumped on the petition and propelled it to the public for discourse. They are calling out the Ariba Seaweed International Ltd, which has been uprooting the trees in Tezo, Kilifi North, and condemning the environment management agency and the Kenya Forest Service for allowing the decimation of the iconic species.

Amisha Patel, the founder of O’bao, a baobab-based natural skincare brand in Kenya, called on the government to protect the trees.

“I would like to strongly condemn any uprooting and export of whole trees or live parts thereof. I strongly urge the Kenyan government to enforce, be vigilant and protect Kenyan resources,” said Patel.

she said uprooting the baobab tree deprives communities of future economic benefits and sets a dangerous precedent for other natural resources.

Nature Kenya coast conservation programme coordinator Francis Kagema alleged that the uprooting of the trees could be biopiracy as there were no consultations and there was no environment impact assessment.

“It is biopiracy because that is our biological resource. Someone is uprooting and taking it to another country. We do not know who allowed that and the process involved because there were no consultations,” he said.

Nagoya protocol

Kenyan President William Ruto says the harvesting of the trees must conform to the existing regulations, including the Convention on Biodiversity and the Nagoya Protocol.

“I have instructed the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to look into the ongoing uprooting of baobab trees in Kilifi County to ensure that it sits within the Convention on Biodiversity and the Nagoya Protocol,” he tweeted.

“There must be adequate authorisation and an equitable benefit-sharing formula for Kenyans. Further, the exercise must be in line with the government’s agenda of planting 15 billion trees in the next 10 years,” he added.

The Nagoya Protocol, formally known as the Convention on Biological Diversity, came into force on October 12, 2014, and has been signed by over 50 countries.

Baobab is native to Africa and is typically found in sub-Saharan African countries. In Kenya, it grows in several counties including Kitui, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, and Lamu.

“Research shows that baobab trees, commonly called the iconic trees of life, grow in 32 countries in Africa and live for 5,000 years,” says Libutu.

source

Lisa Libutu was going about her business at the Kenyan coastal county of Kilifi when a truck loaded with an uprooted giant baobab tree drove by on the Mombasa-Malindi Highway. […]

Continue reading "Uprooting of baobabs in Kenya sparks outrage of conservationists"

The sweet and sour of the Luanda summit on DRC and the M23 rebels

If Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has ever dreamt of lifting a magic wand to have M23 rebels and Congolese Tutsi instantly vanish from his country’s territory, the mini-summit in the Angolan capital Launda last week might have been the closest he’ll ever get to realising such a dream.

It was a heads of state summit’ communiqué which read as though it had been written by some bored Congolese populist on Twitter, living on welfare in Brussels who’s never set foot in eastern DR Congo.

Essentially, the Luanda mini-summit stipulated that:

•M23 would withdraw from all seized territories and retreat into their initial positions.

•The relinquished territories would be taken up by a buffer regional force led by Kenyan troops, who form part of the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF).

•The Rwandan genocidaire forces in DR Congo, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) would then be disarmed and repatriated.

It pains to say that nothing from that communiqué will be implemented, mainly because none of the recommended actions are realistic. For starters, the five days’ ultimatum to M23 was not feasible. At the time of the communiqué, in which warring parties were called to a ceasefire, fighting was ongoing in Kichanga, Masisi territory, and the 1,000 troops Kenyan contingent is too small to man a territory twice the size of Rwanda.

Not a total waste

That said, although Luanda wasn’t the turning point we all weren’t expecting, it wasn’t a total waste of time either. By asking M23 to relinquish Ruchuru and return to its initial positions, Tshisekedi unwittingly admitted for the first time that M23 did not come from Rwanda, that they were always within Congolese forests – and they listed them: Bigega, Bugusa, Nyabikona, Mbuzi, Rutsiro and Nkonkwe. The second takeaway from the summit was the admission of the threat posed by FDLR.

The rest of the communique was meant to appease the Congolese hoi polloi – and that too is a first. I suspect that following the episodes in August this year, when angry mobs looted Monusco headquarters in Goma and Beni in reaction to its spokesperson’s declaring that the UN body had no proof of Rwanda’s support to M23; and that the Monusco had no force, strong enough to face M23, it seems the international community seems to have agreed with Tshisekedi to “protect the Congolese from the truth,” so to speak, to avoid further attacks on, say the American and French embassies and the UN headquarters in Kinshasa. Also, to de-escalate the possibility of UN forces having to open fire on Congolese mobs attacking them.

Indeed, to appease the masses, the honest Monusco spokesperson was given 48 hours to leave the country, while the Rwandan ambassador who insisted his country wasn’t supporting any militia in DR Congo suffered the same fate.

Self-defence

The Monusco elements returning from a rest and recreation and shot in self-defence and killed Congolese mobs charging at them at the border with Uganda, were repatriated and the incident silenced.

The issue with this new theatrical approach is that if negotiators keep-up the smokescreen, they’ll lose all legitimacy.

Is it necessary to remember that M23, which stands for “Movement of March 23, 2009”, refers to peace accords signed on that date between its ancestor the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) and Kinshasa.

On November 20, 2012, M23 took control of Goma, and was asked to relinquish it in exchange for the implementation of its grievances captured in said accords.

The M23 movement has its roots in the “Banyarwanda question.” Communities of Rwandan ancestry, speaking Kinyarwanda and practicing the Rwandan culture, are estimated to number 40 million, all located in the Great Lakes region. Only 13 million of them are Rwandan citizens. The majority are Ugandan citizens and the rest are located mainly in Burundi, DR Congo and Tanzania. The presence of Banyarwanda in those areas predates both colonialism and African borders, and their Congolese nationality is a consequence of the division of Africa at the Berlin conference on 188-1885.

Catastrophic déjà-vu

When the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) was fighting for the return of Tutsi refugees to Rwanda in the 1990s, the government in Rwanda brought in the question of their citizenship. To then president Juvenal Habyarimana, the Tutsi had no place in Rwanda and were to be “sprinkled” across countries of the region. Today, Congolese are saying the same thing.

But Tutsi aren’t spices that are to be peppered into other communities and expected to shrink into oblivion. That is what the 1994 genocide perpetrators in Rwanda wanted. Tutsi are a community with an identity and one of the oldest cultures in the region. They trace their ancestral homestead in this region and in current DR Congo since the seventeenth century. It is uncanny that the colonisers’ Berlin Conference of 1884/1885 should be the prism through which Africans interact with one another in this day and age.

Tshisekedi’s request for M23 to withdraw to their initial position has the hallmarks of FDLR leaders written all over it, straight from Habyarimana’s disastrous playbook of the 90s.

source

If Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has ever dreamt of lifting a magic wand to have M23 rebels and Congolese Tutsi instantly vanish from his country’s territory, the […]

Continue reading "The sweet and sour of the Luanda summit on DRC and the M23 rebels"

Mediators walk a tightrope with mention of fear of polls

When Rwanda President Paul Kagame this week gave a speech criticising his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi, it looked like he was merely responding to Kinshasa’s incessant accusations that Kigali fuels rebel activity in its territory.

President Kagame, while addressing legislators in Kigali, said, “This problem can be resolved if one country headed for elections next year is not trying to create an emergency so that the elections don’t take place…”

“If he is trying to find another way of having the next elections postponed, then I would rather he uses other excuses, not us,” Kagame said.

He did not name Tshisekedi by name but DR Congo is heading into elections in December next year.

Initially political friends, Kagame and Tshisekedi have been exchanging barbs, often cooling on mediation, but resuming exchanges soon after. The bone of contention is rebel movements in eastern DRC. The region has at least 120 armed groups but the main focus has been on M23 and the FDLR, which the two countries alternately accuse one another of sponsoring to interfere with each other’s stability. Each side denies the charge.

Focused on M23

In his speech that lasted for over an hour, President Kagame said the country has focused on the M23 rebel group, even when over several other armed groups are operating in the Eastern DRC.

There is a historical problem to it. The M23 is mostly made up of ethnic Tutsi, who are in Rwanda. The Forces Démocratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) is seen as made up of remnants of the genocidaires who fled Rwanda after Kagame defeated the Hutu-led genocide gangs.

Kagame said he offered President Tshisekedi assistance to fight off some of the rebel groups including the FDLR, which is responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, but the latter refused. DR Congo in fact has argued the FDLR, having been disarmed, is not a big problem.

The ethnic link and association with past atrocities have elevated hate speech in the DRC, a UN official warned this week. The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu expressed concern that the spread of hate speech and armed groups and violence in Eastern DRC could trigger a genocide. Some of those massacres have been linked to people who originally fled genocide in Rwanda.

Warning sign

“The current violence is a warning sign of societal fragility and proof of the enduring presence of the conditions that allowed large-scale hatred and violence to erupt into a genocide in the past,” she said after completing her three-day visit to Eastern DRC.

Her visit followed a technical-level mission by her office that established that indicators and triggers contained in the UN Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes, including dissemination of hate speech and absence of internal mechanisms to address it, were present in DRC

Other triggers are the politicisation of identity, proliferation of local militias and other armed groups across the country, widespread and systematic attacks including sexual violence against the Banyamulenge on the basis of their ethnicity and perceived allegiance to neighbouring countries.

According to Ms Wairimu, the current violence in Eastern DRC mainly stems from the refugee crisis that resulted from the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, leading to formation of armed groups that have led to the conflict that has rocked the region for two decades.

Mediators headache

The complexity of ethnic compositions, political grievances and interested parties mean mediators must walk on eggshells in seeking peace. That burden is now carried by former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, the EAC Facilitator for Peace in the DR Congo.

Mr Kenyatta must push for penalties on errant parties, while rewarding those suing for peace. Peace, however, is not the reward everyone wants.

This week, all the EAC leaders except South Sudan’s Salva Kiir took part physically or via video link in the discussions in the Nairobi Process that are meant to lay the foundation for continuous dialogue between the government in Kinshasa and the armed groups as well as neutralise negative forces in eastern DRC.

“There are groups that are yet to honour promises to lay down arms and we urge those who are not yet with us on the table to still give support to the Nairobi process. The resources of Congo are supposed to foster development and not to shed blood,” said Mr Kenyatta.

Agreed to disarm

The armed groups agreed to disarm and gave their proposals including withdrawal of foreign armed groups, freeing of imprisoned fighters by the FARDC and amnesty for those wanted for running armed groups.

The call for ceasefire was partly heeded by more than 52 armed groups that showed up for the Nairobi peace process.

The armed groups include those from North and South Kivu, Ituri armed groups, Maniema and Tanganyika as well as a small portion of the M23 rebels.

In attendance at the Nairobi meeting included Cooperative for the Development of Congo (Codeco), a mystical-military organisation that claims to defend members of the Lendu community in Ituri region; Collective Movement for Change (CMC), based in Rutshuru, Masisi, and Nyiragongo; and the Mai Mai. 

The Ugandan rebels based in DRC, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), and the M23 were not invited. Both the governments of Yoweri Museveni and Felix Tshisekedi have designated the two groups as terrorist organisations.

DRC’s plans

President Felix Tshisekedi’s Special Envoy Prof Serge Tshibangu said DRC has plans to absorb the local armed groups’ ex-combatants into the army after the due recruitment process has been followed.

“The amnesty will however, not be automatic to all armed groups that lay down their arms as some will have to go through the transitional justice process and be held accountable for their atrocities,” he said. In the past three weeks, Mr Kenyatta has visited Bujumbura, Kinshasa, Goma and Luanda in his diplomatic endeavours.

However, some of the armed groups that are involved in the diplomatic process are concerned that EAC leaders are not doing enough to pressure President Felix Tshisekedi to listen and act on their grievances. Basa Zukpa, the spokesperson for Codeco, said they have had formal talks with President Tshisekedi since 2019, but Kinshasa instead prefers to send delegations to tell them to lay down their arms.

“We are willing to lay down our arms but we need the EAC leaders to make serious efforts to bring peace to eastern Congo because our previous talks with the government have not produced any formal agreement,” said Mr Zukpa.

He said that Codeco is more concerned about intermittent attacks by the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) while their only intention is to defend their people from negative forces.

Jules Mulumba, the spokesperson for the Collective Movement for Change (CMC), expressed similar sentiments, saying they have been in touch with the government but there is no official communication yet.

Expressed frustrations

However, President Tshisekedi, while addressing the gathering via a video link, expressed frustrations that criminal activities are sabotaging diplomatic efforts to bring peace.

President Kagame said that persistent insecurity in eastern DRC is due to the failure to implement various agreements in the past years. He, however, sees some hope in resolving the conflict because the recent resurgence has attracted attention globally.

On the other hand, President Museveni said that the region should adopt a dual approach: Political dialogue and military action against those groups that don’t want peace.

source

When Rwanda President Paul Kagame this week gave a speech criticising his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi, it looked like he was merely responding to Kinshasa’s incessant accusations that Kigali fuels […]

Continue reading "Mediators walk a tightrope with mention of fear of polls"

M23 urged to stop targeting civilians as 50 killed in east DRC

Emotions are still running high after the killing of civilians in Kishishe, in the chiefdom of Bwito, Rutshuru territory, about 100 kilometres from Goma in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to the Congolese army, 50 civilians were killed by the M23 rebels with the massacre being condemned by various agencies.

In the DRC, the government declared three days of national mourning while the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Monusco) denounced “these appalling acts”.

In its statement, Monusco called on “all relevant authorities to investigate without delay and bring the perpetrators to justice”.

Amnesty International also reacted by calling on M23 to cease targeting civilians following the killing of dozens of non-combatants in towns in the east of the DRC in recent days in indiscriminate attacks and, in some cases, summary killings.

“The M23 rebel group must immediately end deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians,” said Flavia Mwangovya, Amnesty International’s deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes Region.

Protect civilians

“We urge all forces in the area, including the Congolese army and the East African Community Regional Force, to take all necessary measures to protect the civilian population while respecting international humanitarian law,” Ms Mwangovya added.

Human Rights Watch is also calling for an independent investigation and sanctions. The massacre of civilians in Kishishe could constitute a war crime, said Stephanie Miley, chargé d’affaires of the US embassy in Kinshasa.

Young men targeted

According to local civil society sources in North Kivu, the M23 targeted young men from Kashishe who had previously ambushed the rebels through community defence groups.  The bloody attack also claimed the lives of children and elderly people.

According to the Congolese army (FARDC), several other civilians are now missing or have been kidnapped by the M23.

General Sylvain Ekenge, the spokesman of the Congolese army, also denounced the forced recruitment of young people by the M23 and the use of children in the fighting.

The fighting resumed Thursday in North Kivu in violation of the ceasefire decreed in Luanda, Angola.

On November 23, East African heads of state and other political leaders from the region declared a ceasefire.

source

Emotions are still running high after the killing of civilians in Kishishe, in the chiefdom of Bwito, Rutshuru territory, about 100 kilometres from Goma in the east of the Democratic […]

Continue reading "M23 urged to stop targeting civilians as 50 killed in east DRC"

Rwanda expects GMO responsibility as African scientists back Kenya

Rwanda says it is counting on Kenya to be a responsible member of the region by ensuring transparent information is shared with neighbouring EAC countries on all genetically modified (GM) seeds and food products imported.

Kigali’s sentiments must have come as a relief to the Kenyan government, coming on the back of recent support by a scientific lobby of African scientists who this week said genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe for human consumption and the environment.

There is public debate in Kenya after the government in September lifted a ban on GMO foods and seeds, prompting a suit that resulted in a temporary court order stopping importation.

Now Rwandan authorities have jumped into the fray, saying they want Kenya to abide by international laws such as the Cartagena Protocol to ensure others are not harmed by its actions on GMOs.

The Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA) said it expects Nairobi to keep the imported products within its borders.

Be transparent

“In this regard, testing is not a very important aspect as countries are requested, under the Cartagena Protocol, to which both Kenya and Rwanda are signatories, to be transparent and to share information on transboundary movement of GMO. Both countries have competent authorities that have the mandate to implement provisions of the protocol,” the authority said.

“We believe that this particular trade will be handled through the existing regulatory framework and through the existing good collaboration between the two parties.”

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, passed in 2003 is the basic international law on biosafety, allowing countries to restrict importation of GMOs if they believe there is insufficient evidence on their safety. Countries routinely require GMO foods to be labelled as such and retain rights to restrict biosafety technologies that could harm public health.

Porous EAC borders

Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda have raised concerns over potential infiltration of banned GMO products through the porous EAC borders, with Burundi warning that it had neither the capacity nor the technology to test for GMOs.

Rwanda said it uses a national reference laboratory for testing but does not have a GMO policy in place. Officials say this complicates regulation and gatekeeping of GMO products.

But the lobby of African scientists backing Kenya on GMOs has sought to re-assure Kenyans.

“We would like to assure Kenyans that GMO products are safe,” said Prof Ratemo Michieka, the chair of the Kenya National Academy of Sciences, at the close of a three-day conference for scientists under the Network of African Science Academies (Nasac).

The scientists recently met and discussed GMOs as a solution to the growing hunger problem in Africa at the African Science Academies 2022 held in Nairobi from November 28-30.

Enhance research

The scientists called on governments to put in place structures to enhance research and collaboration on the continent.

“Many African countries are facing declining agricultural productivity and food insecurity. The discussions during the three-day conference were focused on the latest ideas and appropriate solutions and technologies that come and enhance sustainable agriculture and food systems in Africa,” said Prof Nobert Hounkonnou, Nasac president.

In Kenya, trials on GMOs have been ongoing in laboratories and in research fields throughout the decade despite the ban.

“GMO plants have no danger whatsoever to the indigenous plants,” argued Prof Michieka.

“They can grow side by side or even mixed, with no impact at all.”

Africa lags behind in the adoption of modern food production technologies and especially GMOs. Only a handful of countries on the continent have commercialised GM crops at various levels, namely South Africa, Sudan, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

“African countries have the scientific infrastructure and the human capacity to carry out the research and give the right advice. We can’t just say don’t allow it without scientific evidence, yet we have a worsening food situation in the region,” said Prof Michieka.

source

Rwanda says it is counting on Kenya to be a responsible member of the region by ensuring transparent information is shared with neighbouring EAC countries on all genetically modified (GM) […]

Continue reading "Rwanda expects GMO responsibility as African scientists back Kenya"

Kenya’s tea ‘chokes’ under unclear policy, clashing roles

Kenya’s lucrative tea sector is running on contradictory policies, with players clashing on roles.

The East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA) wants some of the policies addressed through a law that will clarify roles and relationships between management agencies, growers, and factory boards, to enhance accountability.

EATTA chairperson Arthur Sewe said the clash in roles can be resolved by adopting the Draft National Tea Policy (2018) to guide on procedures.

“The government initiated a draft National Tea Policy in 2013. However, arising from delay approving it, EATTA contracted a consultant to review it, identify any gaps and suggest remedies. It should be implemented immediately,” said Mr Sewe.

“The key issues to be addressed are low productivity, insufficient development and transfer of technology, high cost of inputs, multiple taxation regime and poor governance,” he proposed this week.

Extreme weather events

Since September, Kenya’s tea production has dropped significantly due to erratic weather, according to records at the Mombasa Tea Auction.

Data from EATTA indicated, a dip in the volume of tea offered by over half a million kilogrammes in October and projected that production is likely to drop further in the coming years.

The lobby blames climate change that had affected small-scale farmers’ livelihoods. According to a Food and Agriculture Organisation report released in May, Kenya’s temperature was expected to rise by 2.5 degrees Celsius between 2000 and 2050.

A new policy, the association argues, would set guidelines on sustainable farming practices to help farmers and small- and mid-sized enterprises in the agricultural sector adapt to the change in weather patterns.

These include selection of the most suitable areas for tea growing, crop diversification in low production areas, efficient management of soil and water resources, catchment protection, soil water conservation and rainwater harvesting.

For years Kenya basked under the optimal climate for tea growing comprising tropical, red volcanic soils, sunny days and stable rainfall.

Other major tea-producers India, Sri Lanka and China also face rising temperatures and extreme weather events that affect production.

source

Kenya’s lucrative tea sector is running on contradictory policies, with players clashing on roles. The East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA) wants some of the policies addressed through a law […]

Continue reading "Kenya’s tea ‘chokes’ under unclear policy, clashing roles"

EAC member states not ready yet for single currency rollout

East African Community member states will have to wait longer for a monetary union. A taskforce to look into the matter has proposed to delay the implementation of the East African Monetary Union (EAMU) until 2031 from initial date of 2024, saying it is too soon considering members have not attained all requirements.

The proposed delay is an indictment on the members’ commitment to achieve EAMU, a key pillar of integration.

The EAMU is the third pillar of the EAC, others being the Customs Union and the Common Markets Protocol. The region, under EAMU, is expected to adopt a single currency by 2024.

“We have a roadmap that was supposed to be implemented between 2013, when the Monetary Union protocol was signed, and 2024. But we did not manage to implement most of the activities in that roadmap,” said Dr Pantaleo Kessy, Principal Economist, EAC Secretariat.

“According to the roadmap, the EAC convergence criteria were to be attained by 2021 and be maintained for three years in the run-up to the establishment of the Monetary Union in 2024.”

Behind schedule

However, going through each activity, shows that all the partner states – Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan – are behind schedule.

According to the EAMU roadmap, four broad prerequisites need to be achieved ahead of the establishment of the Monetary Union and the first one includes the full implementation of the Customs Union and Common Market protocols.

However, both the Customs Union and Common Market Protocols are currently under implementation. Although much progress has been made, the protocols are not yet fully implemented.

“Partner states are at different levels of implementation and that partly slows the implementation of the EAC third pillar, the EAMU,” said Dr Kevit Desai, Principal Secretary at the EAC and Regional Ministry of Kenya.

Second, not all partner states have attained the four macroeconomic convergence criteria, for the implementation of the monetary union.

Headline inflation

These include ceilings on headline inflation of 8 percent; reserve cover of 4.5-month import; on overall deficit of 3 percent of GDP; and on gross public debt of 50 percent of GDP.

“Attainment of these criteria has been challenging to most Partner States, partly due to increased demand for infrastructure development and spending to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Dr Kessy explained.

“Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda attained the headline inflation target of less than 8 percent in 2021. But only three Partner States attained the official foreign exchange reserve target of 4.5 months of imports.”

Long past deadline

Further, three Partner States attained the debt to GDP target of less than 50 percent; while none was able to attain the fiscal deficit criterion of 3 percent of GDP (including grants).

The EAC is yet to put in place institutions that will carry out the mandate and implement the EAMU protocol.

The taskforce is made up of financial experts from EAC’s partner states’ ministries of Finance, Central Banks, capital markets, insurance and pension firms.

The East African Monetary Institute is one of the institutions expected to carry out the preparatory work for the One Single currency under EAMU which was planned to be in place by 2024.

The Council of Ministers designated July 1, 2021, as the date for the coming into effect of the EAMI, the precursor to the East African Central Bank.

But the deadline is long past.

The other three institutions proposed under the EAMU include the EAC Financial Services Commission; the EAC Surveillance, Compliance and Enforcement Commission; and the EAC Statistics Commission. Establishment of these institutions is lagging behind, partly due to lack of resources.

The fourth criteria that is still lacking behind is the harmonisation of Policies and legal frameworks to support implementation of the EAMU Protocol.

source

East African Community member states will have to wait longer for a monetary union. A taskforce to look into the matter has proposed to delay the implementation of the East […]

Continue reading "EAC member states not ready yet for single currency rollout"

Pope Francis to visit DR Congo and South Sudan early 2023

Pope Francis will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan early 2023, Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, the Apostolic Nuncio to the DRC, has said.

Monsignor Balestrero made the announcement after meeting President Felix Tshisekedi on Thursday in Kinshasa. He said that Pope Francis will make the already announced trip to DRC from January 31, 2023 to February 3. He will visit Kinshasa and South Sudan on an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace.

Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde revealed that Pope Francis will arrive in Kinshasa at the invitation of President Félix Tshisekedi, adding that the pontiff’s arrival is “a comfort for the Congolese people”.

The prime minister asked all DRC citizens to “remain in an attitude of prayer” as they welcome the pope, especially at a time “when the DRC is going through all these security situations”. He also asked the Congolese to re-launch the preparations for the visit which had been prepared a few months ago.

Initial visit postponed

Pope Francis had earlier been expected visit to the DRC and South Sudan in July but the visit was called off after he developed a knee problem.

“Accepting the request of the doctors and in order not to cancel the results of the knee therapies still in progress, the Holy Father is forced, with regret, to postpone the apostolic journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, planned for 2-7 July, to a new date to be determined,” the director of the Pope’s press office Matteo Bruni announced then.

In the postponed papal trip, the pontiff had been scheduled to visit the DRC capital Kinshasa and Goma in North Kivu province, where M23 rebels have been fighting with government forces. But in the January 2023 trip, the pope will stay in Kinshasa before flying to Juba, in South Sudan, skipping Goma

The announcement of the pope’s planned arrival in the DRC has already started generating enthusiasm among the Catholic faithful.

In July, several towns in the DRC had put up billboards with the image of the pope under the theme “All reconciled in Jesus Christ”.

source

Pope Francis will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan early 2023, Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, the Apostolic Nuncio to the DRC, has said. Monsignor Balestrero made the announcement […]

Continue reading "Pope Francis to visit DR Congo and South Sudan early 2023"

DR Congo accuses M23 rebels of civilian massacre, breaching truce

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s army on Thursday accused M23 insurgents of killing 50 civilians and breaching a five-day-old truce in the country’s restive east.

The rebel group issued a statement late Thursday denying the alleged massacre of civilians.

The ceasefire took effect in North Kivu province at the weekend following a summit between DRC and its neighbour Rwanda.

It was to have been followed by a rebel pull-out from captured territory, a withdrawal that has yet to take place.

General Sylvain Ekenge said the M23 group was “carrying out massacres… the most recent of which is that of 50 Congolese civilians, heinously murdered on Tuesday in Kishishe,” a village some 70 kilometres north of the eastern city of Goma.

‘Baseless allegations

Ekenge claimed that while Congolese forces had “scrupulously observed the truce”, the M23 had attacked government positions.

The M23 responded with a statement describing accusations of a massacre in Kishishe as “baseless allegations” and insisting that “it has never targeted civilian populations”.

Sources said earlier that fighting had resumed Thursday in Kirima in the same region, about 10 kilometres from the town of Kibirizi.

“The rebels have crossed the bridge, heading for Kibirizi… there’s panic,” said Paul Lutibahwa, head of civil society groups for the Bambo region.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, accused the M23 of having breached the ceasefire and “carrying on looting and fighting”.

“The fighting is heavy — we are using heavy artillery,” said a DRC army officer who also asked not to be identified.

Contacted by AFP, M23’s military spokesman Willy Ngoma confirmed that there was fighting with the army.

Resurgent force

The March 23 movement, or M23, is a predominantly Congolese Tutsi rebel group that was dormant for years.

It took up arms again in November last year and seized the town of Bunagana on the border with Uganda in June. 

After a brief period of calm, it went on the offensive again in October 2022, greatly extending the territory under its control and advancing towards the city of Goma.

Kinshasa accuses its smaller neighbour Rwanda of providing M23 with support, something that UN experts and US officials have also pointed to in recent months. 

Accusation disputed

Kigali disputes the charge, and in turn accuses Kinshasa of collusion with the FDLR — a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in the DRC after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. 

Talks between the two countries in the Angolan capital of Luanda unlocked a truce agreement on November 23.

The ceasefire was scheduled to take effect on Friday, November 25 at 1600 GMT and be followed by a pull-out by the M23 two days later.

A parallel initiative has been undertaken by the East African Community (EAC), a seven-nation regional bloc that includes Rwanda.

It has decided to deploy a regional force to help stabilise the region, for which Kenyan troops are already deployed in Goma, and on November 28 launched peace talks, to which the M23 are not invited.

Until Thursday’s violence, there had been no fighting between government forces and the M23, although the rebels had clashed with local militia, especially in the Bambo area, where civilian casualties were reported.

source

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s army on Thursday accused M23 insurgents of killing 50 civilians and breaching a five-day-old truce in the country’s restive east. The rebel group issued a […]

Continue reading "DR Congo accuses M23 rebels of civilian massacre, breaching truce"

Botswana detects new Covid-19 Omicron sub-variants

Botswana has detected new sub-variants of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, the government announced Friday, saying the sub-lineages have been dominant in other countries in Europe and Asia.

In a statement, the Botswana government also said that the sub-lineages of BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 have been detected following routine genome sequencing of Covid-19, adding that the impact of the observed changes remains to be established.

As at December 2, Botswana had recorded 326,633 coronavirus cases, 2,790 deaths and 323,747 recoveries.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Omicron variant is of concern and remains the dominant variant circulating globally.

“While we are looking at a vast genetic diversity of Omicron sub-lineages, they currently display similar clinical outcomes, but with differences in immune escape potential.”

BQ.1* is a sub-lineage of BA.5, which carries spike mutations in some key antigenic sites, including K444T and N460K, the WHO says.

In addition to these mutations, the sub-lineage BQ.1.1 carries an additional spike mutation in a key antigenic site (i.e. R346T).

 “based on currently available knowledge, protection by vaccines against infection may be reduced but no major impact on protection against severe disease is foreseen,” WHO said.

“The two (BQ.1 and BQ.1.1) are sub-lineages of the existing BA.5 Omicron variant that has been dominant in Botswana for the last few months and has additional changes to the virus,” Botswana Health Permanent Secretary Christopher Nyanga said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Health advises Botswana and all residents to remain vigilant and take precautionary measures of protection,” Dr Nyanga said.

source

Botswana has detected new sub-variants of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, the government announced Friday, saying the sub-lineages have been dominant in other countries in Europe and Asia. In a statement, […]

Continue reading "Botswana detects new Covid-19 Omicron sub-variants"

Change habits or perish, Museveni tells youth on World Aids Day

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has warned the youth to take their lives seriously in face of the HIV/Aids disease which he said is killing 17,000 Ugandans every year, adding that a UN report has indicated that girls are four times more likely to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts.

Records from the Ministry of Health indicate that the increased infections in the country have been driven by multiple sexual partnerships as well as transactional sex, which the youth have been identified to be engaged in more.

The Covid-19 lockdown was also blamed for interfering with efforts to control the Aids epidemic when it disrupted outreach services and access to care, increasing the worry among the people that the Ebola restrictions currently in Mubende and Kassanda could lead to a spike in HIV infections in the two districts.

Behaviour

Museveni, who spoke during the World Aids Day celebrations held in Rukungiri, western Uganda, said the main cause of rising HIV infections now appears to be changed behaviour “where you do what you should not do”.

“I am really determined to insist on behavioural change,” the president said.

“Infections among young people (15-24 years) accounted for 37 percent of all the new HIV infections in the year 2021, with new infections occurring more among young girls compared to the boys in the same period,” said the Minister of the Presidency Milly Babalanda in a statement presented to Parliament ahead of the World Aids Day celebrations.

She said that over 1,000 Ugandans are infected with HIV every week and about 325 people die weekly from Aids-related causes, while statistics also indicate that infections are high among school-going age group.

1.4 million HIV patients

According Dr Nelson Musoba, the executive director of the Uganda Aids Commission, there are 1.4 million people living with HIV in Uganda and the country needs about $263 million to treat the patients annually.

Dr Musoba said that only $40 million is available for treatment of patients on retroviral therapy alone.

While lauding the US government for its continued support, President Museveni pledged more support for HIV/Aids treatment. He said treating one patient costs about $200 annually.

The US government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), has been providing funds in excess of $400 million for the provision of antiretroviral drugs to over one million Ugandans.

source

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has warned the youth to take their lives seriously in face of the HIV/Aids disease which he said is killing 17,000 Ugandans every year, adding that […]

Continue reading "Change habits or perish, Museveni tells youth on World Aids Day"

Air Tanzania plane held in the Netherlands in row over land title

A plane belonging to Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) has been seized in the Netherlands after a Swedish firm won a $165 million award against Tanzania due to a revoked land title in the Bagamoyo sugar project.

It is still not clear exactly which particular aircraft on ATCL’s fleet has been seized and under what circumstances.

However, on Wednesday, the government dispelled fears of the possible attachment of an ATCL plane by a Dutch court, with the Attorney-General Eliezer Feleshi saying everything was under control.

Dr Feleshi confirmed to The Citizen that a Swedish firm that won a $165 million award against Tanzania had persuaded the court to uphold the attachment of the aircraft despite the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) having issued a stay of execution, pending annulment proceedings.

“It’s true that they went to court in the Netherlands after we had successfully appealed to the ICSID for a stay of execution. Everything is under control,” he said.

Appealed court’s decision

Dr Feleshi added that the government had already appealed against the Dutch court’s decision but declined to offer further details.

“I can’t disclose further details. Let’s be patient as the matter is in court.”

Tanzania has argued that the attachment is unlawful because it was obtained a day after the state petitioned the ICSID to annul EcoDevelopment’s award.

But the judge reasoned that the ICSID’s provisional stay of execution of the award only took effect on the date the institution registered the state’s annulment request.

EcoDevelopment, which is owned by 18 Swedish nationals, brought its ICSID claim in 2017 under the Sweden-Tanzania bilateral investment treaty.

That came after the government decided to unilaterally revoke the land title for a sugar project in Bagamoyo.

The case commenced at the ICSID, a World Bank organ based in Washington.

The land title revocation was a major blow to the Swedish company, which had for over ten years worked to develop the project and invested $52 million in a ready-to-go project for local production of sugar, renewable electricity and fuel.

source

A plane belonging to Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) has been seized in the Netherlands after a Swedish firm won a $165 million award against Tanzania due to a revoked […]

Continue reading "Air Tanzania plane held in the Netherlands in row over land title"

Kagame claims Tshisekedi using DRC crisis to delay presidential poll

Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Wednesday accused DRC leader Felix Tshisekedi of exploiting the ongoing insecurity in eastern Congo to postpone next year’s presidential election.

Addressing a parliamentary session after the signing in of new members of the Cabinet, President Kagame said he believes the current leadership of the Democratic Republic of Congo is creating a security emergency a year before the country holds presidential elections in order to find a reason to postpone the elections scheduled for December 2023.

“This problem can be resolved if one country headed for elections next year is not trying to create an emergency so that the elections don’t take place, not that he won the first elections as we know. If he is trying to find another way of having the next elections postponed, then I would rather he uses other excuses, not us,” Kagame said.

ReadCaution greets DRC deal on rebel violence

Tshisekedi came to power in January 2019 and DRC will hold its next presidential election in December 2023.

President Kagame was addressing MPs on Wednesday while officiating the swearing-in of Rwanda’s new minister of Health, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, and the permanent secretary in the ministry, Ivan Butera.

In his speech that lasted for over an hour, President Kagame said Congo has focused on the M23 rebel group, even when over 400 other armed groups are operating in eastern DRC.

The M23 is among armed groups that have turned eastern DRC into one of Africa’s most violent regions.

‘Assistance declined’

He said that when the conflict resumed, he offered President Tshisekedi assistance to fight off some of the rebel groups including the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), which is said to be responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, but the DRC leader declined.

ReadRwanda army kills ‘unidentified’ DRC soldier

Given how long the conflict has been ongoing and how attempts to solve the issue remain ineffective, President Kagame said that he believes that someone somewhere wants the issue to remain unresolved.

“It has become so convenient for a long time that all problems are put on the shoulders of Rwanda. Rwanda is always the culprit, not FDLR. The government of DRC should be responsible for its people, not the UN, not the powerful countries like the US, UK, and France. Why does it always come back to Rwanda,” Kagame said. 

ReadLuanda hosts summit on DRC, Rwanda crisis

He added that “the blame that Rwanda carries for DRC issues should be carried by Congo and those who want to alleviate DRC’s responsibilities”.

Military clashes between rebel groups in the eastern DRC have forced thousands out of their homes. By Monday, a ceasefire between government troops and M23 rebels appeared to hold for a third day despite clashes between rival militias.

source

Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Wednesday accused DRC leader Felix Tshisekedi of exploiting the ongoing insecurity in eastern Congo to postpone next year’s presidential election. Addressing a parliamentary session after […]

Continue reading "Kagame claims Tshisekedi using DRC crisis to delay presidential poll"

Unite for lasting peace, Uhuru Kenyatta urges DR Congo citizens

Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has implored on Congolese citizens meeting with him in Nairobi for the third Inter-Congolese dialogue this week to embrace forgiveness as the search for lasting peace in the eastern parts of the country continues.

Mr Kenyatta is leading the East African Community-led Nairobi Peace Process talks that have brought together armed groups, civil society groups, women and youth groups, survivors of the conflict and government representatives led by Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi’s Special Envoy Serge Tshibangu.

The groups are represented in Nairobi by about 350 participants, over 50 of whom represent armed groups fighting in eastern DRC.

“Though the pain from the atrocities committed against you may be too much in the last 20 years as lives have been lost, animals stolen and minerals stolen by foreign nations who are happy to spur conflict as they steal your minerals leaving your children unable to go to school and your mothers unable to give birth in hospital, let us embrace a forgiving heart and agree to unite to bring lasting peace to the region,” he said.

Territorial sovereignty

Mr Kenyatta assured the participants that the talks will not delve into discussions over DRC’s territorial sovereignty.

“The Republic of DRC belongs to the Congolese and we are not here to discuss how an inch of your territory shall be cut off. Ours (the Nairobi Process) is to find ways you can co-exist with one another and resolve conflicts that arise between you without taking arms against one another,” he said.

The Luanda process that is closely inter-linked with the Nairobi process is attempting to resolve external conflict between DRC and Rwanda.

“We believe we shall find solutions from both processes so that you can live in peace at home, refugees and internally displaced persons can go back to their home and that all arms in the hands of armed groups shall be silenced and surrendered to the government,” Mr Kenyatta said.

In the last Luanda meeting held last week, EAC member states ordered M23 and other foreign groups operating in eastern DRC to ease hostilities, lay down their arms and leave the country unconditionally.

Conditions for M23

The M23 was particularly asked to leave Banagana, Rutshuru and Kiwanja but they are yet to do so and that is why they are not part of the armed groups attending the Nairobi peace process.

“Until that is done, the M23 cannot be part of these discussions. The process happening here only involves armed groups that have agreed to lay down their arms and ease hostilities,” said Mr Kenyatta.

But Prof Tshibangu confirmed that about six percent of the M23 group has shown up in Nairobi and reiterated that the Congolese government will not negotiate with groups that have deliberately declined to take part in the process.

“There will be no amnesty for these people. There will be no forum for us to discuss with foreign armed groups. They should lay down their arms and go to their homes. There shall be no negotiations with them; military action shall be deployed against them,” he said.

Absorb ex-combatants

He added that DRC has plans to absorb other ex-combatants into the army known by its French acronym FARDC after the due recruitment process has been followed.

“The amnesty will however not be automatic to all armed groups that lay down their arms as some will have to go through the transitional justice process and be held accountable for their atrocities,” he said.

The dialogues are meant to create mechanisms for bringing back peace in eastern DRC where more than 120 armed groups are fighting.

They kicked off on Monday with a resolution by EAC heads of state to deploy troops against armed groups that defy calls to ease hostilities, create channels for voluntary repatriation of IDPs and refugees hosted in neighbouring countries in addition to a call for the unconditional departure of foreign armed groups from DRC territories.

source

Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has implored on Congolese citizens meeting with him in Nairobi for the third Inter-Congolese dialogue this week to embrace forgiveness as the search for lasting […]

Continue reading "Unite for lasting peace, Uhuru Kenyatta urges DR Congo citizens"

Experts: New approach needed to resolve conflicts in E. Africa region

Political settlements as a means of resolving conflicts in the eastern Africa region are not fully working and the region should put more emphasis on the social peace approach, experts have said.

This is because various peace agreements in the eastern Africa region are concentrating on political settlements while ignoring the socio-economic aspects to improve the lives of civilian victims.

At a three-day seminar held in Bujumbura, Burundi from November 22 to 24 hosted by Principles for Peace, experts noted that political settlements are failing because politicians are eager to portion their percentage in government, but they do not often translate into socio-economic improvement of the masses.

The seminar on Regional Dialogue in the Great Lakes region was hosted by the International Commission on Inclusive Peace (ICIP) and the Principles for Peace, a global initiative to develop a new set of principles to reshape how peace processes are structured, sequenced and achieved.

Security experts noted that the region should develop a new approach that is based on social peace, where people have a two-way relationship with the state and other community groups, and feel that the agreements are made fairly, even if they do not directly benefit from them.

Desire Yamuremye, a Burundi security expert, said that most of the political agreements after conflicts do not reflect social realities on the ground because they do not consider the economic and psychological damage and hardly provide a change in the lives of the common people.

“For a conflict to be transformed into full peace, there must be economic progress that is seen to be open to all. Social peace is more important than a politically-negotiated settlement. The absence of war does not necessarily mean peace,” said Mr Yamuremye.

Participants concurred that lack of legitimacy and inclusion continues to drive protracted conflict globally and that it is important to adopt a new approach to dialogue based on respect, solidarity and reciprocity.

Prof Alain Ndedi, a Burundian scholar and author who is also the founding president of the Young Entrepreneurs for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (YENEPAD), said that political settlements are like a pyramid that is fraught with uncertainty because if the majority at the base feel that they have been excluded, they can cause a lot of instability.

Clinging to power

He said that in the absence of social peace, leaders in many of the fragile states in Africa employ political settlement including behind-the-scenes resources in order to hold on to power. He gave the example of Cameroon, Rwanda and Uganda.

“Holding power refers to the capability of an individual or a group to engage and survive in conflict, and impose costs on others and also hold the capacity to absorb costs inflicted on them,” said Prof Ndedi.

The East African region has seen various peace agreements in Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Burundi that could not be effectively implemented because the masses believed that pollical agreements would translate into better socio-economic well-being.

In Somalia, the 2004 peace deal signed in Nairobi concentrated on the formation of the government and parliament in exile but did not address the unemployment and illiteracy among the youth. The same was the case for the 2015 and 2018 South Sudan peace agreements that put more emphasis on power-sharing but neglected ingrained inter-ethnic divisions and youth unemployment.

On the other hand, the Kenya National Accord following the 2007 post-election violence came up with a four-point agenda, of which the most important for social peace was Agenda 4 which sought to address long-term issues including land reforms, institutional reforms and tackling poverty and unemployment among the youth.

But the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report is yet to be implemented, which contributed to another violent election in 2017.

Lazy

Ariya William Aida, a South Sudan peace activist, faulted the common approach of arranging for political settlements between ethnic groups which she described as lazy.

“We were fighting one enemy since 1983 but now we are fighting among the 64 tribes of South Sudan. Citizens have been traumatised and without counselling and rehabilitation, any small incident can spark conflict,” said Ms Aida.

In Burundi, Mr Yamuremye gave the example of the Burundi Arusha Accord of 2000, in which an agreement that was presided over by the international community came up with power-sharing percentages between Hutus and Tutsis.

The international community put pressure on the combatants to end the 12-year conflict through a power-sharing agreement in 2000 in Arusha. The agreement commonly known as the Arusha Accord set out the modalities for power sharing between Hutus, Tutsi and Twa ethnic groups to ensure that no community was overrepresented in government, and the country’s leadership was to be rotational.

However, the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), which was created by the late president Pierre Nkurunziza did not sign the agreement and continued fighting till it came to power in the 2005 elections. CNDD-FDD later violated the Arusha Accord when Nkurunziza contested the 2015 elections.

Power-sharing percentages

“It was absurd that the international community offered power-sharing percentages to Hutus and Tutsis. It was shameful to categorise people as Hutu and Tutsi while we speak the same language,” said Mr Yamuremye.

Social peace is a method of sustaining social life in the absence of internal conflict. It is one of the goals of social politics to provide peaceful solutions to disputes and conflicts that may arise from disagreements and social tensions among various sectors of society on a national and regional scale.

Fred Ngoga Gateretse, an ICIP commissioner and African Union ambassador, said that for a long time, peace processes on the continent have been facing challenges because of the multiplicity of regional and international actors that often push the socio-economic interests of the victim to the back burner.

source

Political settlements as a means of resolving conflicts in the eastern Africa region are not fully working and the region should put more emphasis on the social peace approach, experts […]

Continue reading "Experts: New approach needed to resolve conflicts in E. Africa region"

New clashes erupt between DR Congo army and M23 rebels

Fighting with heavy weapons erupted between government forces and M23 insurgents in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, shaking a five-day-old truce, security sources and rebels said.

The ceasefire took effect in North Kivu province at the weekend following a summit between DRC and its neighbour Rwanda.

It was to have been followed by a rebel pull-out from captured territory, a withdrawal that has yet to take place.

The sources said fighting resumed Thursday in Kirima, about 10 kilometres from the town of Kibirizi.

“Fighting resumed this morning between the FARDC and the M23,” said Paul Lutibahwa, head of civil society groups for the Bambo region. The FARDC stands for the armed forces of the DRC.

Panic

“The rebels have crossed the bridge, heading for Kibirizi… there’s panic,” he said, an account confirmed by a representative of civil groups there, who said that people were fleeing.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, accused the M23 of having breached the ceasefire and “carrying on looting and fighting”.

A DRC army officer, who also asked not to be identified, said: “The fighting is heavy — we are using heavy artillery.”

Contacted by AFP, the M23’s military spokesman Willy Ngoma confirmed that there was fighting with the army.

Resurgent force

The March 23 movement, or M23, is a predominantly Congolese Tutsi rebel group that was dormant for years.

It took up arms again in November last year and seized the town of Bunagana on the border with Uganda in June 2022. 

After a brief period of calm, it went on the offensive again in October, greatly extending the territory under its control and advancing towards the city of Goma.

Kinshasa accuses its smaller neighbour Rwanda of providing M23 with support, something that UN experts and US officials have also pointed to in recent months.

Kigali disputes the charge, and in turn accuses Kinshasa of collusion with the FDLR — a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in the DRC after the genocide of the Tutsi community in 1994 in Rwanda. 

Luanda talks

Talks between the two countries in the Angolan capital of Luanda unlocked a truce agreement on November 23.

The ceasefire was scheduled to take effect on Friday, November 25 at 1600 GMT and be followed by a pull-out by the M23 two days later.

A parallel initiative has been undertaken by the East African Community (EAC), a seven-nation regional bloc that includes Rwanda.

It has decided to deploy a regional force to help stabilise the region, for which Kenyan troops are already deployed in Goma, and on November 28 launched peace talks, to which the M23 are not invited.

Until Thursday’s violence, there had been no fighting between government forces and the M23, although the rebels had clashed with local militia, especially in the Bambo area, where civilian casualties were reported.

Pope’s visit

The Vatican, meanwhile, announced that Pope Francis would visit the DRC and South Sudan from January 31 to February 5.

His trip to the two countries had been planned for July this year but was postponed because the pope was undergoing treatment for knee pain.

His stay in the DRC from January 31 to February 3 will take place in Kinshasa and no longer includes Goma. 

The site that had been chosen for a papal mass, located 15 kilometres north of Goma, is currently occupied by a forward position of the armed forces.

Scores of armed groups roam eastern DRC, making it one of Africa’s most violent regions.

Many are legacies of two wars before the turn of the century that sucked in countries from the region and left millions dead.

Demonstrators protesting perceived international indifference to the crisis rallied in Goma early Thursday.

Another march staged by the Catholic church took place in Bukavu, in neighbouring South Kivu province.

source

Fighting with heavy weapons erupted between government forces and M23 insurgents in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, shaking a five-day-old truce, security sources and rebels said. The ceasefire […]

Continue reading "New clashes erupt between DR Congo army and M23 rebels"

Kenya anti-tobacco crusaders fault President Ruto’s South Korea deal

A group of advocates of tobacco use control have denounced the deal Kenya’s President William Ruto made with South Korea to enhance tobacco trade, saying it will put more Kenyans at risk of diseases linked to the farming and use of the product.

The Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (Ketca), an umbrella body of civil society organisations fighting tobacco use in the country, said the trade deal threatens to undo the progress made in reducing tobacco farming in the country.

Ketca said the agreement between Nairobi and Seoul is not only detrimental to the health of Kenyans, but also violates the Tobacco Control Act of 2007 which “commits the government to continually phase out tobacco farming in Kenya”.

“We ask the government to immediately cancel aspects of the Kenya-South Korea agreement that touch on tobacco,” Thomas Lindi, Ketca’s chief executive, said at a press conference in Nairobi on Wednesday.

President Ruto, after his first official visit to Seoul last week, announced that Kenya “commits to work together [with South Korea] in deepening and strengthening bilateral trade – especially in tea, coffee, and tobacco,” a move contradicting the very government’s efforts to phase out tobacco farming in the country.

Major problem

“We have a major problem with this because it means Kenya will try and increase tobacco planting in the country,” Mr Lindi said.

In March 2022, the ministry of agriculture partnered with United Nations agencies – World Health Organisation, the World Food Programme and the Agriculture and Food Organisation – to initiate the ‘Tobacco-free farms’ project to help farmers shift from tobacco-farming.

The programme, piloted in Migori County, western Kenya, sought to provide farmers dependent on tobacco farming with seeds, fertilisers, and ready markets to help them shift to more sustainable crops such as maize and beans.

“The project is a major step towards attaining a healthy nation and the Ministry of Health fully supports such ventures,” said former Health minister Mutahi Kagwe during the launch of the programme.

His Agriculture counterpart at the time, Mr Peter Munya, said the project would go a long way in boosting the nation’s food security, in addition to keeping farmers healthy.

Ketca praised the move and encouraged a speedy expansion to other tobacco-growing regions, saying the government was finally honouring the requirements of the Tobacco Control Act.

Speaking to The EastAfrican in March, Ketca Chairman Joel Gitari said “Tobacco growing farmers must be given the necessary support to switch to alternative crops that have the potential to improve their health and livelihoods as well as reduce the supply of tobacco”.

“Every effort made to reduce tobacco use is good for the environment, the economy, the future and the country in general.”

Now, noting that the project has been very successful in Migori, Mr Gitari says the agreement with Seoul could avert the gains made even in Migori and prevent the extension of the project to other tobacco-growing regions.

“The government should be focusing on such positive moves instead of engaging in retrogressive activities because whatever it is doing is illegal and we’re losing the gains that we’ve made,” he said on Wednesday.

Cause deaths

According to Ketca, tobacco use and farming will directly cause the deaths of more than 9,000 Kenyans by end 2022 and at least 40,000 others will be diagnosed with various forms of cancer.

“Numerous studies done in Kenya show tobacco farming is unprofitable, leaves farmers poor and sick,” Mr Lindi said.

A recent study by the University of Nairobi and the American Cancer Centre found that farmers in Migori, Busia, and Meru counties could earn on average Ksh80,000 ($697.47) more per acre from alternative crops like vegetables, grains and cereals, backing this claim.

According to the study, farmers in the tobacco-growing regions stuck to the crop because of “the structured supply chain of tobacco incentivises production” and due to lack of a ready market for the other crops.

The lobby now wants the government to completely discourage tobacco farming and use in the country by increasing excise duty on tobacco products, banning tobacco advertising and promoting health information and warnings against tobacco use.

source

A group of advocates of tobacco use control have denounced the deal Kenya’s President William Ruto made with South Korea to enhance tobacco trade, saying it will put more Kenyans at […]

Continue reading "Kenya anti-tobacco crusaders fault President Ruto’s South Korea deal"

Surrender or face military action, rebel groups in DR Congo told

The M23 rebels, who are not represented at the ongoing inter-Congolese dialogue in Nairobi and are currently under sanctions by DRC, have been asked to hand themselves over to the government failure to which military action will be taken against them.

The Democratic Republic of Congo government has reiterated that it will not offer amnesty to the group which continues to defy calls for cessation of hostilities and exit from the areas of Bunagana, Rutshuru and Kiwanja where they were last week asked to leave after the last meeting of the Luanda process in Angola.

“If they are your brothers and sisters, I advise you to tell them to come while the arm is still stretched towards them. Do not want to be in conflict with the government and the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF),” President Felix Tshesekedi’s special envoy Serge Tshibangu Wednesday told the armed groups attending the third Nairobi Peace Process on.

He reiterated that Kinshasa will not engage the foreign armed groups fighting in eastern Congo and that they must leave the country forthwith.

“We have met only six percent of the M23 group who are represented here. The rest have decided to isolate themselves and they continue to carry out attacks,” Prof Tshibangu added.

Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, the EAC facilitator for the Nairobi process. He said the Nairobi meeting only involves armed groups that have agreed to silence their guns. PHOTO | YASUYOSHI CHIBA | AFP

Groups in Nairobi meeting

The EAC facilitator for the process, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, said the Nairobi meeting only involves armed groups that have agreed to silence their guns.

“The Luanda process was very clear that M23 should ease hostilities — which they have done — and vacate from three locations. Until that is done, M23 cannot be part of these discussions,” Mr Kenyatta said.

“The other foreign armed groups were told to leave the DRC territory and go back to their home countries. If they will not, they shall face military action by FARDC and the EACRF,” he added.

ReadM23 asks to meet Uhuru Kenyatta

Day two of the Nairobi Inter-Congolese dialogues was off to a slow start following the late arrival of yet another group of 82 representatives of armed groups, community leaders, civil society groups and youth groups from Goma.

Largest inter-Congolese dialogue

The arrival of the group on Tuesday afternoon added to the groups that arrived over the weekend from North Kivu, Ituri and other regions, bringing the total number of participants to 350, who include over 50 armed groups, making it the largest inter-Congolese dialogue since the inception of the Nairobi peace process in April this year.

The late arrival of the team pushed Tuesday’s negotiations to Wednesday.

Participants who spoke to The EastAfrican expressed hope that the meeting would find a lasting solution to the recurrent conflict in eastern Congo, which some claimed is mainly fuelled by foreign fighters.

ReadM23: Ceasefire deal doesn’t concern us

Others intimated that the conflict has entirely destabilised their lives as a result of a growing number of victims who are now disabled as a result of the war, besides cases of rape and defilement — resulting in the siring of “unwanted” children — and a delayed school calendar among other woes.

“We thank Kenya for the part it is playing in helping us find lasting peace because we need an end to all of the trouble happening back at home. I have just received a call from my children telling me that there was a fight in the morning. We hope the M23 can go back to where they came from,” one of the victims said.

Counselling for war victims

Psychiatrists from the Kenya’s Ministry of Health have been seconded to the week-long event at Nairobi’s Safari Park Hotel to offer counselling to the victims as they come face to face with some of the persons suspected to be behind the crimes committed against them.

One rebel group’s representative confessed that the support for some of the armed groups indeed comes from some neighbouring countries, which he declined to mention, but quickly pointed out that they were ready to surrender their guns to the DRC government if the issues affecting the region are addressed.

ReadExperts: Don’t include rebels into DRC army

Regarding the decision by EAC member states to deploy troops to the region, he said they are waiting to see if indeed their intention is to ensure peace.

“If that is indeed their intention, we shall be happy to support them. All we have been fighting for is the protection of our fellow countrymen and resources. We have seen some groups that are supported by foreign countries steal our minerals and fight our people, we want an end to that and a country that is peaceful,” he said.

Hope in Nairobi process

Prof Tshubangu expressed hope that the Nairobi process would bear fruit and come up with strategies that bring peace in eastern DRC.

“We think we are going to leave this country with resolutions and commitments. Remember all the eyes of the entire world are on us. I’d like to urge all of us that it is important that what we discuss here is executed for the sake of our country and future generations,” he said on Tuesday.

“This is your historical moment. Use it to bring lasting peace to your home country,” Kenya’s Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau told the participants.

The dialogues are meant to create mechanisms for bringing back peace in eastern DRC where more than 120 armed groups are fighting.

They kicked off on Monday with a resolution by EAC heads of state to deploy military action against armed groups that defy calls to ease hostilities, create channels for voluntary repatriation of internally displaced persons and refugees hosted in neighbouring countries in addition to a call for the unconditional departure of foreign armed groups from DRC territories.

source

The M23 rebels, who are not represented at the ongoing inter-Congolese dialogue in Nairobi and are currently under sanctions by DRC, have been asked to hand themselves over to the […]

Continue reading "Surrender or face military action, rebel groups in DR Congo told"

Girls in sub-Saharan Africa 3 times more likely to get HIV: Report

More needs to be done for Tanzania and the rest of the world to end the Aids public health threat by 2030, a newly launched global HIV/Aids report shows.

Although Tanzania has had a positive impact in fighting HIV/Aids, the new report reveals that the key populations in the country still lag behind when it comes to testing and treatment.

Launched in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday, the new report titled ‘Dangerous inequalities’ shows early testing, prevention and treatment measures have slowed down, hence Aids-related deaths and new HIV/Aids cases are rising.   

Available data shows there are over 4.9 million people living with HIV/Aids in Tanzania while only 1.3 million are on treatment.

According to UNAIDS data, Tanzania has over the past ten 10 years consistently reduced new HIV infections and reduced Aids-related deaths by 46.6 percent and 50 percent respectively.

Key populations left behind

Prof Tumaini Nagu, Tanzania’s Chief Medical Officer, noted that although the country has made progress, more needs to be done since with the new report findings, it is evident that some key populations — including adolescence girls — have been left behind.

“50 percent is a good progress but we haven’t really made progress when it comes to adolescent girls, which is actually what our strategic health plan requires us to do. That is why we are currently targeting them together with other groups such as migrants, fisheries, people living in rural areas for we cannot fight the epidemic disease with one-size-fits-all kind of solution,” she said.

On her part, Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids, (UNAIDS), commended Dodoma’s efforts in the fight against HIV/Aids.

“Tanzania is the leader, a strong performer in the fight against this disease. The country has succeeded in reducing new infections by almost 50 percent and successful treatment scale up has led to over 50 percent reduction in the number of Aids-related deaths,” said Ms Byanyima.

New infections rising

“The world is not on track to end the Aids pandemic.  New infections are rising and Aids deaths are continuing in too many communities. Inequalities are holding us back,” added Ms Byabyima

The report shows that gender inequalities, inequalities faced by key populations and inequalities between children and adults have had negative impacts on Aids response by countries.

In sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women are three times more likely to get HIV than their male counterparts, according to the report.

“The world will not be able to defeat Aids while reinforcing patriarchy. We need to address the intersecting inequalities women face. The only effective route map to ending Aids, achieving the sustainable development goals and ensuring health, rights and shared prosperity, is a feminist route map. Women’s rights organisations and movements are already on the frontline doing this bold work. Leaders need to support them and learn from them,” added Ms Byabyima

source

More needs to be done for Tanzania and the rest of the world to end the Aids public health threat by 2030, a newly launched global HIV/Aids report shows. Although […]

Continue reading "Girls in sub-Saharan Africa 3 times more likely to get HIV: Report"

EA pastoralists fault governments for slow pace of land reforms

Pastoralist communities across East Africa have faulted their governments for the slow pace of land reforms which they argue have adversely affect their livelihoods as the region battles climate change.

At the East Africa Indigenous Peoples’ Land Summit held in Nanyuki, Kenya, representatives from seven countries said that while various land reform programmes had been launched to enable pastoral communities own and manage natural resources, there was lack of political goodwill to complete the processes.

For instance, in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the process of community land registration has been bogged down by a myriad of challenges, which the governments appear not keen to address.

Registration of communal land is meant to empower the pastoral communities in management of natural resources, including enabling them to transact business using the titles, or to seek compensation in case of compulsory acquisition by government for mega projects. When this is not done, it means the communities cannot have legitimate claims.

Land-related challenges

The summit is seeking to identify land-related challenges for indigenous peoples and to lobby continental bodies like the African Union for desirable land reforms.

The meeting brought together representatives of nomadic herders, agro-pastoralists, hunter-gatherer and fisher folks from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Kenya, the National Land Commission (NLC) is sorting more than 3,000 historical land injustice claims.

“A good percentage of these claims emanate from what we can describe as indigenous populations,” said NLC Chairman Garshon Otachi.

He noted that most communities from arid and semi-arid areas are yet to benefit from the Community Land Registration Act 2016 that gives legal ownership to communities whose land has for years been held in trust by the government.

“Only about 10 percent of communal land has been registered under the new Act six years down the line. The enactment of the 2016 Land Act was a game-changer as it offered a pathway for the management and governance of customary and indigenous land in Kenya,” said Otachi.

Extremely slow

Gemechu Berhanu, a representative from the Oromo community in Ethiopia, complained that the process of registering communal land, which began in 2021, is extremely slow and as a result, most pastoral lands are not registered.

Hunters and gatherers from the Batwa community in Burundi and the DRC accused their respective governments of kicking them out of their ancestral forests without an alternative.

“We are a population of about 117,000 and traditionally we used to eke a living out of hunting animals, gathering honey and wild fruits and moulding pots… We are no longer able to access clay which is the raw material for moulding pots,” said Gervais Ndihokubwayo.

source

Pastoralist communities across East Africa have faulted their governments for the slow pace of land reforms which they argue have adversely affect their livelihoods as the region battles climate change. […]

Continue reading "EA pastoralists fault governments for slow pace of land reforms"

Kenya Treasury says country has no room for fresh borrowing

Kenya’s National Treasury has doubled down on its efforts to swap the country’s short-term debt with longer-term issuances. 

This comes barely a week after it commenced a debt swap that will see Sh87.8 billion ($714.6 million) worth of short-term debt converted into long-term debt to ease the pressure it is experiencing from maturities. Last week, the Kenyan government floated its first switch bond since June 2020. 

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u said that Kenya has little wiggle room left for fresh borrowing, a situation that has been aggravated by the multiplicity of shocks to the economy, including the ongoing drought, effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.

“Right now, we don’t have headroom for accumulating debt, so in a sense, we have to go down into liability management. When you are buffeted by multiple shocks, the reaction is often to use the resources that you have or even borrow to overcome the crisis,” Prof Ndung’u said.

A fortnight ago, President William Ruto directed Treasury not to borrow from the domestic market at rates above 10 per cent. 

Awaiting growth data

Prof Ndung’u further stated that the targeted Sh300 billion ($2.4 billion) worth of budget cuts anticipated in the Ruto government’s debut Supplementary Budget have been calibrated to ensure that it does not derail the economy’s growth momentum.

According to a circular issued by the Treasury on November 7, addressed to all Cabinet secretaries and accounting officers, the Kenyan government is pursuing aggressive rationalisation of the recurrent expenditure for the current financial year. The areas earmarked for slashes include expenditure on foreign travel and training for the remaining three quarters of the current financial year.

Prof Ndung’u said Kenya might be grappling with a recession even as it awaits growth data for the third quarter of 2022 from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. The economy grew by 6.8 per cent and 5.2 per cent in the first and second quarters, respectively.

“The budget cuts were necessary to try and shift resources to needy areas. It is austerity measures to try and save lives. We have to look at what is essential and what is not essential. You cannot affect aggregate demand in times of recession and that is why the budget cuts were in areas that are not essential,” the CS said.

source

Kenya’s National Treasury has doubled down on its efforts to swap the country’s short-term debt with longer-term issuances.  This comes barely a week after it commenced a debt swap that […]

Continue reading "Kenya Treasury says country has no room for fresh borrowing"

Kenya’s High Court puts the brakes on plans to import GMOs

The High Court in Kenya has temporarily suspended the government’s plan to allow importation and distribution of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) pending determination of a lawsuit against the lifting of the ban.

The lawsuit, which is the second one to be lodged against President William Ruto’s administration for allowing the consumption of GMOs in Kenya, was filed by Kenyan Peasants League, a lobby representing small-scale farmers. The group claims that the decision to lift the ban is not procedural and it is unlawful.

The court orders, signed by Justice Mugure Thande, bar the government from gazetting any directives regarding GMOs or acting on the Cabinet dispatch that announced the lifting of the ban on GMOs.

The group alleges that GMO products pose a health risk to Kenyans, particularly the poor and those with low incomes. It also alleges that the government lifted the ban without involving Kenyans through public participation as required by the Constitution.

The group is opposed to the importation, cultivation and consumption of GMOs.

First lawsuit

The first lawsuit was filed last month by Mr Paul Mwangi. He sued the government for lifting regulatory barriers imposed a decade ago on GMOs and withholding public information on the genetically engineered crops.

He accused government of mischief, saying the decision was hurried and if not quashed, it would result in the violation of the rights of small-scale farmers and consumers.

He stated that the import of the 2022 Cabinet decision to allow introduction of GMOs was not to remove a ban on genetically modified foods, but to effect a blanket lifting of all protocols controlling the introduction of GMOs in Kenya. Mr Mwangi claimed that the decision by the Cabinet on October 3 will lead to the disappearance of indigenous seeds and pave way for the commercial practice of protecting the patent rights of the GMO seeds.

“Of particular concern is the imminent introduction into Kenya of crops developed using genetic use restriction technology (GURT), which is a technology involving the insertion of what is known as a “terminator gene” into seeds so that upon germination, the seeds ‘commit suicide’ and are therefore unable to pass any life after their harvest. The said harvest is thus incapable of being re-sown and cannot germinate into new crop,” said Mr Mwangi.

Regulatory protocols

GMOs were banned by former president Mwai Kibaki’s administration in 2012 and remained so under that of his successor Uhuru Kenyatta.

“The last two administrations had, following the ban imposed by the 2012 Cabinet decision, developed regulatory protocols that had seen the structured introduction in the country of at least one food crop and one cash crop developed through genetic modification without prejudicing the rights and freedoms of the people of Kenya and the Bill of Rights,” said Mr Mwangi.

According to him, the decision passed by President Ruto’s Cabinet to address food shortage in the country is bad for the country’s farmers and consumers.

The lawsuit also accuses the government of disparages the rights of peasant farmers and people working in the rural areas.

The government is yet to file its responses to the two lawsuits.

source

The High Court in Kenya has temporarily suspended the government’s plan to allow importation and distribution of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) pending determination of a lawsuit against the lifting of […]

Continue reading "Kenya’s High Court puts the brakes on plans to import GMOs"

Truce holds in east DR Congo despite ambushes by rival militias

A ceasefire between government troops and M23 rebels appeared to be holding for a third day on Monday in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), despite clashes between rival militias, residents told AFP.

Under the ceasefire that came into force on Friday night, the March 23 group, which has seized swathes of territory, was to withdraw from “occupied zones,” failing which an East African regional force would intervene.

But by Monday local people reported no sign of a rebel pullout of those zones.

Over the weekend, sporadic clashes occurred between the mainly Congolese Tutsi M23 fighters and Hutu factions such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation Rwanda (FDLR).

“During the night, an M23 vehicle was caught in an ambush” at Kinyandonyi village in Rutshuru territory, a hospital source said Monday.

“There were deaths but it’s difficult to know more.”

Another attack

On Sunday, the FDLR, present in the sprawling DRC since the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in neighbouring Rwanda, carried out another attack 30 kilometres (18 miles) away at Biruma, a resident said.

On Saturday, six civilians died when a local ethnic militia and the FDLR clashed at Kisharo, close to the same area, a hospital source said.

Despite fighting between the M23 and the army continuing right up to the ceasefire deadline north of the provincial capital Goma, no clashes have since been reported between the two, according to locals telephoned by AFP.

Frontlines calm

The frontlines have remained calm, they said.

AFP was unable to independently confirm the accounts from local people.

The March 23 group had been dormant for years, but took up arms again late last year accusing the government of failing to honour a disarmament deal.

M23 has overrun large tracts of mountainous Rutshuru territory north of Goma, a city of one million which they briefly captured 10 years ago.

The advance on Goma has halted over the last two weeks but the rebels had still been gaining ground on other fronts, in the west towards Masisi and in the northeast.

The DRC accuses neighbouring Rwanda of supporting the rebels — charges Kigali denies and in turn alleges Kinshasa works with the FDLR.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi attended a regional mini summit in the Angolan capital Luanda last week, agreeing a deal on the cessation of hostilities from Friday evening.

Nairobi talks

A fresh round of talks with armed groups opened in Kenya on Monday, without the M23 present.

Minister and government spokesman Patrick Muyaya repeated the M23’s position, telling journalists: “The M23 will not take part in the Nairobi talks until it has liberated the occupied localities”.

The UN’s peacekeeping force in eastern DRC, Monusco, said on Monday it had been “officially requested by the DRC’s foreign ministry to support the implementation of decisions adopted in the context of the Luanda and Nairobi peace processes”. 

It said it was “ready to set up a coordination mechanism” with the East African regional force.

The M23 is among scores of armed groups that have turned eastern DRC into one of Africa’s most violent regions.

Many are legacies of two wars before the turn of the century that sucked in countries from the region and left millions dead.

source

A ceasefire between government troops and M23 rebels appeared to be holding for a third day on Monday in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), despite clashes between rival militias, […]

Continue reading "Truce holds in east DR Congo despite ambushes by rival militias"

Reprieve for Rwanda as China cancels $7.1 million debt

China has offered Rwanda a $7.1 million debt relief or 50 million RMB Yuan on a loan used to build the 6.36-kilometre Masaka-Kabuga road under the Kigali urban road upgrading project.

According to a statement issued by Rwanda, the move is part of the Chinese government’s decision to cancel the outstanding interest-free loan in accordance with the agreement on economic and technical cooperation between the two countries.

“The two countries enjoy a healthy bilateral cooperation. This is evidenced by the substantial contribution of the Republic of China towards Rwanda’s development aspirations. The agreement we signed today cements this relationship,” Rwanda’s Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Uzziel Ndagijimana said on Monday after signing the debt cancellation agreement. China was represented by its ambassador to Rwanda Wang Xuekun.

Strong economic cooperation

Dr Ndagijimana acknowledged the strong economic cooperation between the two countries which has seen Rwanda benefit from China’s support in various sectors including infrastructure, energy, education and health.

China says the debt cancellation is part of the economic package announced by President Xi Jinping at the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

“China hopes, by offering this financial support, to make a contribution to Rwanda’s all-round transformation and recovery from the malign impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the future, China will work with Rwanda for deeper practical cooperation in various fields under the Belt and Road Initiative framework to deliver more benefits to the two peoples,” Wang said in a statement.

source

China has offered Rwanda a $7.1 million debt relief or 50 million RMB Yuan on a loan used to build the 6.36-kilometre Masaka-Kabuga road under the Kigali urban road upgrading […]

Continue reading "Reprieve for Rwanda as China cancels $7.1 million debt"

Looming global recession sparks fear in East Africa region

East Africans are second-guessing what the projected global recession in 2023 could mean for them, given the International Monetary Fund says about a third of the world will be in recession, led by the globe’s largest economies including the US, China, and Europe.

The recent growth projections by the international financier puts East African countries’ prospects for this and next year better than the global average, but analysts say the region will not be spared from the coming recession.

According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook report released last month, the global GDP growth rate will fall from six percent last year to 3.2 percent in 2022, further decelerating to 2.7 percent in 2023 as a result of disruptions caused by the eastern Europe conflict.

East Africa’s economy is, however, predicted to grow by averagely 5.2 percent this year, dropping from 6.4 percent last year, but is expected to accelerate to 5.6 percent next year, highlighting a better performance than the rest of the world.

Harder economic times

But despite this, economists and financial analysts say citizens will need to brace for harder economic times next year as the looming recession could result in mass job losses, pay cuts, and a general slump in economic activity disrupting livelihoods.

“Most of the global economies are rapidly headed towards recession and Kenya is no exception,” said Rufas Kamau, the lead markets analyst at Nairobi-based financial markets broker FXPesa.

According to Mr Kamau, Kenyans should take necessary actions to save the most they can right now to be able to stay financially stable in the event of pay cuts, and improve their work efficiency to reduce their chances of retrenchment.

“With October inflation hitting 9.59 percent and the CBK raising policy rates to 8.75 percent, the environment for economic growth becomes tougher for Kenyans as the cost of loans becomes more expensive and consumer budgets continue being suppressed by inflation,” Kamau told The EastAfrican.

“Access to credit is still tough for the SMEs as banks prefer investing in government bonds since they bear less risk and the highest returns of any asset class in the country.”

Hold on to cash

American billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have also been very vocal lately of the looming recession, similarly advising people to hold on to their cash instead of spending on luxuries such as cars, television sets or refrigerators.

Ken Gichinga, the chief economist at Kenyan analytics firm Mentoria Economics, agrees that Nairobi and the rest of East Africa might slump into recession next year, but the effect won’t be as fast nor as vast as it will be in the more developed markets.

“The effect will be immediate in the more developed western countries which have a wider credit market, meaning that rising interest rates will impact more people and entities almost instantly,” Mr Gichinga told The EastAfrican.

“In East Africa, the dynamics are a little different. Many people won’t feel the pain of rising interest rates immediately because they don’t rely on credit and the impact won’t be immediate.”

The rising interest and inflation rates and job losses resulting from the recession in the west, Gichinga said, will eventually trickle down to the region ultimately causing “what will feel like a recession.”

Tread carefully

According to both Kamau and Gichinga, while there is no certainty that East Africa’s economy will fall into a recession next year, people should tread carefully with their finances as there isn’t a guarantee the economy will evade the coming global recession either.

Eyes are now on policymakers to employ the best tools to stabilise economies to minimise the impact pf the looming recession and help save jobs and livelihoods as the coming recession sparks fear.

Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF managing director said countries should try to get the right mix of monetary and fiscal policy measures to overcome the threats posed by the global financial conditions.

“With monetary policy stepping on the brakes, fiscal policy should not step on the accelerator,” Ms Georgieva said last week while speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit. “We should be in a mode of alert, not alarm, and develop policies to address these risks.”

source

East Africans are second-guessing what the projected global recession in 2023 could mean for them, given the International Monetary Fund says about a third of the world will be in […]

Continue reading "Looming global recession sparks fear in East Africa region"

Road toll charges remain a hurdle to EAC cross-border trade

Road tolls have again emerged as hurdles to smooth trade between East African Community member countries as each government charges its own fees on trucks moving into its territory.

The region’s business stakeholders are however optimistic that trade in the bloc will increase by 11 percent in 2022-2023 if toll fees and domestic taxes are harmonised to prevent distortion and create a level playing field for businesses.

“We are proposing that EAC partner states charge a uniform fee of $10 per 100km on all trucks the way Uganda does,” said John Kalisa, chief executive of the East African Business Council.

“Once collected, the amount should be used for the purpose for which it was intended — that is to repair and maintain the same roads,” he added. Tolls are usually implemented to help recoup the cost of road construction and maintenance, as well as finance other infrastructure projects.

The $10 charge that the EABC has proposed translates to close to $144 for the region, down from $500.

Flat rate

he anticipated $144 levy is the flat rate across the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

EABC is reacting to complaints by importers who have highlighted the rising cost of doing business in the region occasioned by the varying charges in each member country even as normal cross border trade returns free of pandemic restrictions.

The reopening of the Katuna-Gatuna One Stop Border Post on January 31, 2022, for instance, has seen some 160 trucks cleared daily to cross between Uganda and Rwanda, paying at least Ush470 million ($125,735) in tax collections to Uganda per month. At least 1,000 people cross here daily too.

However, the two countries are charging different road tolls.

“Rwanda charges a fixed rate of $76 for small trucks and $152 for large trucks, while Uganda charges $10 per every 100km,” said Kalisa.

“Tanzania is charging more than $156 per truck, which is very expensive,” he added.

The same applies at the Mutukula border crossing between Tanzania and Rwanda where trucks are also charged different road tolls.

“As the business community in the region we are advocating for a common standardised fee because any variation distorts trade,” Kalisa said.

Most affected

He identified Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda as some of the most affected EAC partner states where different toll fees are distorting intra-regional trade, which is still below 15 percent.

Tanzania — which serves as a gateway to the sea for its landlocked neighbours Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Malawi — is charging Ugandan cargo trucks $500 as fees for road repairs and maintenance.

Rwanda has also threatened to levy a similar amount on Tanzanian trucks coming through the Mutukula border crossing. The two countries are in discussion over the same.

“There is a need to harmonise road tolls across the region and we are glad that the EAC Secretariat and respective ministries have been tasked to hasten harmonisation of road toll fees in the region,” said Pascal Bizimana, commissioner general Rwanda Revenue Authority, when he held talks with the EABC last week.

Mid this year, Tanzania announced plans to cut road toll by about 71 percent on Uganda-bound cargo trucks, as part of an agreement reached at bilateral talks between Presidents Samia Suluhu Hassan and Yoweri Museveni.

However, the plans are yet to be effected.

Reduce costs

The harmonisation of the toll fee is expected to reduce the cost of doing business.

Transport and logistical barriers to regional trade are estimated to cost East African economies between 1.7 percent and 2.8 percent of gross domestic product every year.

Trade liberalisation and improvements to infrastructure will help reduce these costs, creating ease in doing business across the region and in turn benefitting consumers through lower prices.

The EAC has been tasked with harmonisation of toll fee on the Northern Corridor (1,700 km long) that begins at the Port of Mombasa and serves Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DRC.

The Central Corridor (1,300 km long) begins at the Port of Dar es Salaam and serves Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Eastern DRC.

The improved infrastructure is expected to have a large knockoff effect in poverty reduction in the region through trade-induced changes in prices while reduction in border delays and costs will cut the overall cost of investment for businesses.

source

Road tolls have again emerged as hurdles to smooth trade between East African Community member countries as each government charges its own fees on trucks moving into its territory. The […]

Continue reading "Road toll charges remain a hurdle to EAC cross-border trade"

Kenya Airways targets corporate travel in new Ghana-Senegal flights

Kenyan flag carrier Kenya Airways has announced a new service linking the capitals of Ghana and Senegal starting this December 11. This is the first sign that African governments are serious in implementing the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

The twice weekly service that complements the airlines’ existing schedule to the two destinations will increase options between Nairobi and Accra to nine flights a week and four to Dakar.

This comes hot on the heels of a new Nairobi-Mombasa-Dubai service, also to be launched this December, reflecting KQ’s push to get its growth plans off the ground following the two-year Covid-19 pandemic disruption.

The ease with which the Kenyan carrier will be able to pick intermediate traffic between Accra and Dakar without a reciprocal service by a Ghanaian airline to Kenya signals the beginning of a long-awaited era of open skies in Africa.

Pilot scheme

Kenya and Ghana were among the 15 African states that last week in Dakar signed up to pilot a scheme to test operation of air services under SAATM. Under existing restrictions such flights would operate under fifth-freedom rights on terms agreed on in a bilateral air services agreement.

According to Julius Thairu, Kenya Airways chief commercial and customer officer, the new connection “will offer our guests more travel and connectivity options within West Africa. Strategically, the bigger picture is to support the Single African Air Transport Market and the African Continental Free Trade Area, which are key pillars for Africa’s growth, by growing and deepening our network connections within the continent.”

KQ hopes to tap into existing demand from corporate travellers, traders as well as leisure travellers between Ghana and Senegal to support the service, which will be the first direct connection between the two west African capitals.

The proposed flights will be available twice a week. The outbound leg (KQ514) will originate in Nairobi at 21.30 local time on Tuesdays and Sundays, arriving in Accra at 12.10 local time. The leg to Dakar will commence 01.10 arriving at 04.15. The return flight KQ 515 will depart Dakar at 05.15 local time, and make one-hour a stop in Accra.

source

Kenyan flag carrier Kenya Airways has announced a new service linking the capitals of Ghana and Senegal starting this December 11. This is the first sign that African governments are […]

Continue reading "Kenya Airways targets corporate travel in new Ghana-Senegal flights"

Kenyan court quashes law allowing home buying with pension savings

The Kenyan government’s plan to accelerate its affordable housing agenda has suffered a setback in court after a judge quashed a law that allows members of retirement schemes to use a portion of their savings to purchase residential houses.

The court also stopped the implementation or enforcement of the amendments introduced to the Retirement Benefits Act No. 3 of 1997, which allowed the retirement benefits industry to help fill the housing gap.

Justice Anthony Ndung’u found that the amendment to the law was achieved through an irregular and flawed parliamentary process because MPs failed to allow public participation in the enactment process.

The amendment was introduced through the Tax Laws Amendment Act 2020, which came into effect on April 25, 2020, and the objective was to cure the large housing gap.

Boost home ownership

The Kenyan government’s aim in amending the law was to boost home ownership and lift the sluggish property market by enabling members of retirement schemes to purchase and own homes using their savings.

Changes to pension laws were also meant to make it easier for individuals to buy their first homes given that most Kenyan households are unable to raise the minimum house purchase deposit or afford the typical monthly mortgage payments.

To bring the amended law into force, former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani published the Retirement Benefits (Mortgage Loans) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 showing the rules and limits for accessing pension savings for home purchase. The regulations were published on September 14, 2020.

Pensioners were allowed to use up to Sh7 million ($57,000) or a maximum of 40 percent of their retirement savings to buy a home from an institution or real estate investors.

An institution was defined in the regulations to include banks, mortgage or financial institutions, building societies, microfinance institutions, the National Housing Corporation, institutions approved by the Retirement Benefits Authority or any other entity offering a residential house for sale.

source

The Kenyan government’s plan to accelerate its affordable housing agenda has suffered a setback in court after a judge quashed a law that allows members of retirement schemes to use […]

Continue reading "Kenyan court quashes law allowing home buying with pension savings"

International community has let Ugandans down, says Besigye

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye has accused the international community of turning a blind eye to rampant human rights violations in his country.

Although it is the responsibility of Ugandans to hold their government accountable, he argues, the West has decided to ignore what is going on in Uganda.

“Ugandans have first and primary responsibility to cause their government to account to them,” Dr Besigye told NTVKenya on Wednesday evening.

“We know that we have [a] duty. The first duty is to demand that we are treated in accordance with the law, with the constitution and international covenants. We have been doing pretty much … that.”

Human rights universal

He added: “However, human rights are universal and any abuse of human rights anywhere is abuse of human rights everywhere because if you don’t address it, you will fall [victim to] it sooner or later.

“Therefore, we expect [that] indeed the international community has an obligation that it should discharge in ensuring that the kinds of human rights abuses that have been taking place in Uganda are checked. Unfortunately, that has not taken place.”

The veteran opposition politician said Western countries are not bothered about human rights violations in Uganda because they need the help of President Yoweri Museveni in combating terrorism in and outside the East African region.

He said “Western countries are very much concerned about terrorism that has gripped the world, and because our forces are available or conscripted into that fight in Somalia, Sudan, in other places,” they pretend not to see what is happening in Uganda.

“This is shameful and I think it should stop because you cannot say you’re fighting terrorism while [turning] a blind eye [to] abuse of human rights,” he said.

Disappearances

The number of people disappearing because of criticising Mr Museveni’s style of leadership, he claimed, has gone a notch higher compared with Idi Amin’s era.

“Day in, day out people are disappearing. The list of [disappeared] people has been given to [the] government, including Parliament … [This is the list] of people who have disappeared and taken in broad daylight by people who are from security [agencies],” he said.

He added, “Some have been released with horrible torture marks on them and displayed in courts. [These kinds] of abuses cannot be debated.”

Vowing that he was not ready to give up on the struggle for a better Uganda, Dr Besigye said the problem is not about getting a new leader but removing power from the people who carry guns and giving it to the unarmed people of Uganda. Uganda’s independent institutions, he said, need to be freed from state capture.

State capture

“In 2011, I personally came to the conclusion that elections cannot solve the problem we have at hand. There is complete state capture of the institutions of the state,” he said.

“What is needed in our country now is not political contestation at elections – it is a liberation struggle to free our state institutions, free the country from capture by force that has gone on.

Once that is done, he added, Ugandans can then “organise a transition to a democratic space pretty much in the same way that Kenya did”.

He also dismissed claims that the liberation struggle in Uganda has failed because the opposition has failed to unite in order to bring change. He argued that every election cycle, Ugandans remain united and their efforts to elect someone other than President Museveni are frustrated by state capture of institutions.

Ugandans want change

“The people of Uganda who want change have been uniting behind a candidate they think offers the best opportunity for change and that is why every election has been a two-horse race. You have not found an election where votes are distributed among 10 candidates,” he said.

“It has always been a two-horse race because people who want change just look for what will give them the best chance to have that change.”

Dr Besigye noted that power in Uganda is mediated between the military and the family of President Museveni.

He added that the reason it is “always difficult for one candidate to challenge the kind of government that we have is [that] the people who control power sometimes control wealth”.

“Controlling institutions and capturing the state also leads to capture of state resources. Once you have unlimited control over resources, it is easier to sponsor a candidate and encourage all kinds of candidates to come up. Sometimes it is not easy to stop [a] multiplicity of candidates,” he said.

source

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye has accused the international community of turning a blind eye to rampant human rights violations in his country. Although it is the responsibility of Ugandans […]

Continue reading "International community has let Ugandans down, says Besigye"

Uganda seeks Kenya partnership in deal to boost tourist numbers

Uganda’s tourism players are reaching out to Kenya in a controversial bid to help bridge market access challenges for Kampala’s hospitality offers.

The players in Kampala see Kenya’s coastal exposure to the world as a starting point where tourists arriving in Kenya can go on to visit Uganda on the same visa while using Uganda Airlines as a connecting carrier.

But that could bring new threats to Kenya’s own local sites, as well as affect market share for Kenya Airways, which has for years dominated the Kenya-Uganda route.

Mutual benefit

But if this plan works, the proponents argue, Kenya and Uganda will mutually benefit, with Uganda profiting from Kenya’s networks to attract visitors. Kenya in the meanwhile will have its tourists visit Ugandan sites at a discounted price, which stakeholders say could break monotony for repeat clients who have explored Kenya.

Alex Tunoi, the regional manager in charge of domestic and Africa tourism at the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), said they are aware of the proposed deal, but downplayed its potential to eat Kenya’s lunch.

“East Africa market has great tourism potential for Kenya; with a population of over 200 million, a growing middle class, improved infrastructure and relaxation of travel restrictions. KTB is focused on growing arrivals from the region,” he told The EastAfrican.

“Investment in these markets is bearing fruit with both Uganda and Tanzania emerging among top 10 key sources markets for the destination.”

Lucrative packages

According to the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Kampala will offer lucrative packages to tourists arriving at Kenya’s coastal sites to explore its natural, adventure, leisure, business and cultural attractions.

Uganda intends to balance trade with Kenya by working with coastal tourism stakeholders to tap into Kenya’s booming beach tourism.

The first package is set to go online later this year after deliberations from a conference between Uganda and Kenyan on November 17.

“The partnership will ensure thousands of tourists visiting either Kenya or Uganda move freely between the two countries. The tourists can have breakfast at the beach and lunch in a safari in Uganda,” said Paul Mukumbya, Uganda’s Consul-General in Mombasa.

“The November conference in Mombasa will explore Uganda, ‘the Pearl of Africa,’ to give overview of the tourism attractions as well as specifying the investment opportunities in the tourism sector in Uganda and Kenya,” he said.

Eased travel requirements

The two countries are banking on eased regional travel requirements for EAC citizens to improve the balance of trade by jointly promoting beaches and parks in the region.

Citizens of the two countries can use their national identity cards to cross borders while international tourists will use the East Africa single visa to tour the two destinations.

Besides, both countries belong to the one-tourism visa programme that also includes Rwanda. Tourists arriving in one country can use the same tourist visa to cross to the other.

The challenge in the past has been the transportation connectivity.

The plan now is to use Uganda Airlines to connect tourists from Mombasa to Entebbe but once Kenya Airways starts direct flights from the coastal city, Kenya Coast Tourist Association chairman Victor Shitakha says people will have more options.

Packages for bus trips

Uganda Airlines flies between Mombasa and Entebbe three times a week. However, officials say other airlines will not be locked out and they will go as far as selling packages for bus trips.

“The move will create networks and synergies and we are not in competition but we complement each other, where we shall come up with packages marketed together [and] sell both safari and beaches as one package. We are working with Kenya Tourism Board to make it happen,” said Mr Shitakha.

Kenya remains Uganda’s biggest source market for tourists in the region, accounting for 29 per cent of total arrivals in 2018, the highest figure reported before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to figures by the Tourism Research Institute.

Rising numbers

At least 95,000 Kenyans visit Uganda every three months, according to the Ugandan Consulate in Mombasa. It expects this figure to rise.

Last year, Kenya received 870,465 tourists compared to 567,848 in 2020, with the US leading as the major tourist source with 136,981 arrivals, followed by Uganda (80,067), Tanzania (74,051), the UK (53,264) and India with 42,159 visitors.

Before the pandemic, Uganda received over 1.5 million tourists in 2019 and registered over 512,000 travellers in 2020. However, the country’s tourism industry is poised for recovery with renewed emphasis on intra-African travel market as a key marketing strategy.

In 2019, the Tourism sector contributed 7.7 per cent of Uganda’s gross domestic product and created over 667,000 jobs.

Tourism data from 2019 shows that its top three Africa source markets include Rwanda (32 per cent), Kenya (24 per cent) and Tanzania at six per cent.

source

Uganda’s tourism players are reaching out to Kenya in a controversial bid to help bridge market access challenges for Kampala’s hospitality offers. The players in Kampala see Kenya’s coastal exposure […]

Continue reading "Uganda seeks Kenya partnership in deal to boost tourist numbers"

How Myanmar became destination for trafficked East Africans

On a Facebook page routinely appearing in the East African region, ‘models’, saleswomen and teachers of English are invited to apply for jobs ranging from marketing, language classes and translation.

And the promised pay is hefty, by East African standards. One offer for a ‘sales specialist’ promises one to earn Thai Baht (TBH) 7,5000 (about KSh256,000 or $2,098) per month. A bilingual translator could earn up to $3,000, mostly to work at a call centre where clients are foreign speakers of English or some other language. It is an added advantage if you can speak Chinese and are white, but good looks generally will do you fine.

The qualification, the advert shows is simple. You must be a university graduate, good at communication skills and have a “cheerful” personality. What is more, a human relations manager whose salary is Ksh150,000 ($1,229) can more than double their take-home if they recruit more workers. One offer says they will get $139 times the number of employees under their watch.

Flight ticket guaranteed

The jobs also require one to have fast typing skills and that one must be able to relocate to Thailand with a promise to have their visas sorted and a flight ticket guaranteed.

This type of recruitment, it turns out, has gotten more East Africans travelling in droves to Thailand, but ending up enslaved in Myanmar, according to a bulletin by the Kenyan Foreign and Diaspora Affairs ministry.

One survivor, recently rescued from Myanmar, told The EastAfrican they were duped into the jobs but were moved to an unknown location as soon as they landed in Thailand, initially on a tourism visa. That place turned out to be a remote location inside Myanmar, a country under a state of emergency since last year when the military junta deposed a democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

“They said they wanted their employees to be taught English so they can speak fluently to their clients,” Martha* said.

“After we arrived, they took our passports and we were moved mostly through remote locations. They said they were avoiding dangerous security points. But they had not told us we would end up in Myanmar,” she explained.

Rescued

Martha, a Kenyan, was among 24 East Africans rescued in September from Myanmar in a concerted effort by the Kenyan and Laos government with HAART Kenya and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The group also included a Burundian and a Ugandan. Earlier, a group of 13 had also been rescued after the Thai military responded to distress calls.

The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs said on Wednesday that the Laos security forces had rescued another group of six, collaborating with the UN agencies. But the response has been to only those who manage to sneak out their call for help.

“Already, one young Kenyan has died as a result of a botched operation by quack doctors operating in the so-called special economic zones in rebel controlled areas in Myanmar,” the Kenyan ministry said, suggesting organ harvesting is fuelling the trafficking. Officials did not reveal the identity or gender of the dead Kenyan. But most of those rescued recently have been all women.

“Others who have been rescued have returned home in crutches and with broken limbs after being beaten severely by up to 20 gang members operating in the factories.”

Coordinated gangs

The gangs are coordinated, given that travelling between Nairobi and Myanmar is treacherous. With no direct flights and no diplomatic missions between any east African country and Myanmar, travellers are lured as though they are going to Bangkok, a popular destination for tourists, and famous for its blind masseuses. Others are advertised as jobs in Mae Sot, a town in Thailand near the border with Myanmar.

“The jobs that are purported to be in Mae Sot town in Thailand are fake. The cartels use Mae Sot as a bait. As soon as one lands in Mae Sot, they are whisked across the river to the factories in Myanmar,” the Kenyan government warned on Wednesday.

“Kenyans continue to fall prey to online job scammers, who are unrelenting in their search for innocent Kenyans to sell to Chinese cartels. Many of the agents, wanted by the police, are still advertising sales and customer care jobs purported to be in Thailand with impunity, well aware that there are no such jobs.”

Since August, Nairobi says 75 victims of trafficking have been brought back home. They include ten Ugandans and a Burundian, rescued in cooperation with the governments of Thailand, Laos, IOM and HAART Kenya. Authorities estimated there could be more still trapped, as there at least 30 distress calls pending rescue.

Those rescued say they had to work long hours and the pay was not forthcoming. Those trafficked were mostly women under 35. They also said they were working in an area controlled by rebels opposed to the junta in Myanmar. Nairobi says “the rebels provide protection to the Chinese criminal cartels” who sometimes threaten Thai and Laos government officials planning rescue operations.

Kenya now says it will raise supervision on any East African travelling to Thailand through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to purge anyone travelling after getting an ‘online job’ there. In addition, those travelling to Thailand on ‘tourist’ visas will have to show exact address and return tickets even though the government said it invites any Kenyans “to Thailand and other countries in the region who come for legit work and leisure but not as victims of trafficking”.

At least 2,5O0 Kenyans work and study in Thailand, according to official government records.

“Some are teachers, doctors, IT professionals, international civil servants working with UN agencies and others doing business. We have Kenyans who have lived in Thailand for over 30 years and married Thai citizens.”

source

On a Facebook page routinely appearing in the East African region, ‘models’, saleswomen and teachers of English are invited to apply for jobs ranging from marketing, language classes and translation. […]

Continue reading "How Myanmar became destination for trafficked East Africans"

Uganda blocks contacts of Ebola patients from foreign travel

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has said contacts and suspected contacts of Ebola patients will not be allowed to leave the country in order to prevent the disease from spreading to other countries.

He said a list of confirmed contacts has been given to the immigration authorities who will prevent them from international travel.

The country has also started screening people at airports and land border points of entry for temperature, symptoms and history of contact.

during his fourth televised address to the country since the outbreak of Ebola in September, President Museveni said that his Uganda’s efforts to curb the spread of the deadly Ebola disease are starting to pay off as few new cases are currently being recorded as compared to how the situation was a few weeks ago.

Confirmed cases

As of Wednesday, there are 141 confirmed cases. Fifty five of these have died while 73 have recovered and 13 are admitted to the Ebola treatment units.

Two districts of Kassandra and Mubende, which are the epicentres of the outbreak, are currently under lockdown, with public transport restricted to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the country.

“In the past 21 days, the number of new cases has reduced to an average of three per day. This was because of intensifying control interventions which included door-to-door sensitisation of the communities by the village health teams, training of the health workers on infection prevention control in both public and private health facilities, safe dignified burials of all deceased in the communities and hospitals, and early treatment of cases at the Ebola treatment units,” Mr Museveni said.

Since these interventions were instituted, Mubende district, which recorded the first case and is regarded as a high-risk area, has not recorded a new Ebola case for the past 18 days.

Flouting rules

However, even with the efforts in place, many people, especially from high-risk areas, continue to flout the rules, which has seen the disease reach six districts across the country currently. A case was recently reported in Jinja, 80km east of Kampala, on Saturday. Two more people have succumbed to the disease in the area.

According to President Museveni, progress in containing the disease is being hindered by, among other things, a passenger relay system by boda bodas that allows contacts to escape areas under lockdown and subsequently spread the disease, frequent visits to traditional healers, myths, misconceptions, and misinformation, and escape by Ebola contacts under quarantine.

In his Tuesday address, the president ordered the Ministry of Health and local government leaders to intensify sensitisation of the boda boda riders on the dangers of aiding contacts to leave places under lockdown.

Traditional healers barred

He added that all traditional healers and witchdoctors have been prohibited from carrying out their activities and that trucks carrying logs, which have been discreetly transporting people, are prohibited from moving into and out of Mubende and Kassandra districts with immediate effect for the next 21 days.

The president noted that reports from the tourism sector players indicate that tourists have been cancelling their trips to Uganda and that some have even postponed their bookings in hotels and lodges due to the Ebola outbreak. In addition, several international conferences and meetings have been postponed and some moved to other countries due to the outbreak.

“I would like to reassure the international community, tourists and conference organisers and the entire Ugandan population that the government has put in place measures to control the outbreak. The Ebola outbreak is localised to only six out of the 146 districts. Uganda remains safe and we welcome international guests,” Mr Museveni said.

source

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has said contacts and suspected contacts of Ebola patients will not be allowed to leave the country in order to prevent the disease from spreading to […]

Continue reading "Uganda blocks contacts of Ebola patients from foreign travel"

Hopes for big finance at Cop27 fade in climate of war, high energy prices

Big business more than ever is under pressure to channel money into curbing climate change – and yet the chances of UN talks providing the necessary spur have slimmed as the Ukraine war, high energy prices and geopolitical tensions take precedence.

In interviews, more than a dozen US and European finance leaders were pessimistic the climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt starting November 6 can make clear progress.

What they want are signals on the pace of regulation that would allow company boards to plan their climate policy.

But as governments have lately been distracted by world events, they fear countries will fail to provide any major new commitments.

“Geopolitical relations going into COP27 are at one of the worst levels in recent history,” said Luke Sussams, head of ESG and Sustainable Finance, EMEA at Jefferies.

“The age-old dilemma of climate finance, facilitated between the developed and the developing world, will of course be critical. We, I don’t think, are too optimistic that many resolutions will be met in that regard.”

Emissions must drop

A UN report published in October underlined the urgency of the climate problem and that emissions must drop 43 percent by the end of the decade to prevent the worst impacts of a hotter planet.

The best hope could be to prevent the progress so far being undone.

“Avoiding a rollback of existing pledges and commitments… could probably be considered a success,” Benedict Buckley, research analyst at ClearBridge Investments, said.

Many companies made pledges to cut emissions last year, but like many governments, they have yet to work out how those will be implemented.

More than 550 financial firms are members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, aiming to cut their emissions and push companies in the real economy that rely on their financing to do the same, but the pace of action has been slow.

Not enough done

“The reality is that not enough has been done in the last 12 months – some would argue we have moved backwards,” said Hortense Bioy, Global Director of Sustainability Research at Morningstar.

The biggest disruption since last year’s Glasgow climate talks has been the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a major oil and gas exporter.

Europe in particular has been forced to rethink its previous reliance on Russian gas and to seek alternatives. In the short term that includes coal, undermining a deal the UN summit in Glasgow to phase out its use. However, as this year’s high oil and gas prices have rewarded those producing fossil fuels.

source

Big business more than ever is under pressure to channel money into curbing climate change – and yet the chances of UN talks providing the necessary spur have slimmed as […]

Continue reading "Hopes for big finance at Cop27 fade in climate of war, high energy prices"

Kenya joins calls for Russia to pay Ukraine war reparations

Kenya on Monday joined 93 other countries in supporting a UN resolution calling for Russia to compensate Ukraine after invading it in February this year.

The non-binding resolution A/ES-11/L.6: ‘Furtherance of remedy and reparation for aggression against Ukraine’ by the UN General Assembly reflected the enduring indifference to African countries in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But it did show significant support for Ukraine in seeking compensation and depicting Moscow as an aggressor in the war.

Ninety-four countries including Kenya, Ghana, Somalia and Djibouti voted to have Russia “bear the legal consequences” of its invasion of Ukraine, including recompensing for lost limbs, deaths or destroyed property.

“We had serious reservations on aspects of the resolution which were reflected in the outcome of the vote in the high number of abstentions and ‘no’ votes,” said Dr Martin Kimani, in a note explaining Kenya vote on Monday.
“Despite this, we voted yes because it is the right thing to do. Ukraine has a sovereign right to make claims for damages and loses incurred by virtue of conflict.”

No legal weight

It was the latest political symbol of opposition against Russia as voted by the UN General Assembly. Usually, such decisions reached by the Assembly do not carry legal weight, but can fuel political pressure on the affected party.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, there have been several UN General Assembly decisions, all reached under the rare Assembly’s emergency special sessions.

Weeks after the war, 141 member states denounced the invasion and when Russia annexed three regions of Ukraine in October under a shady referendum, 143 others voted to reject it.

Distant war

In Africa, however, the war continues to be seen as distant. Gabon, the other non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from Africa (besides Kenya and Ghana) abstained and so did Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi.

Fourteen countries including South Africa, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Mali and Central African Republic voted no, while others like the Democratic Republic of Congo were not even present during the voting.

“This is the right of Ukraine but also for all the peoples and countries that are seeking reparations for colonial violence and dispossession, slavery, and other acts of aggression by powerful states, including members of the Security Council,” Dr Kimani added.

Since 1950, the UN General Assembly has often taken up matters regarding international peace and security if the UN Security Council, the most powerful organ of the UN, fails to gain a unanimous decision among its five permanent members. They are Russia, China, UK, US and France.

This session is the 11th since 1950 and it came after Moscow vetoed a resolution tabled before the Security Council condemning an assault on Ukraine.

“Seventy-seven years ago, the Soviet Union demanded and received reparations, calling it a moral right of a country that has suffered war and occupation,” Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told the Assembly before voting.

“Today, Russia, who claims to be the successor of the 20th century’s tyranny, is doing everything it can to avoid paying the price for its own war and occupation, trying to escape accountability for the crimes it is committing.”

The Ukrainian diplomat wants the world to follow an example set earlier when it created the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) in 1991 to force Iraq to pay for illegally invading Kuwait. The Commission had overseen payments of over $52 billion in reparations to victims by the time it closed this year.

Nearly 50 nations co-sponsored the resolution on establishing an international mechanism for compensation for damage, loss and injury, as well as a register to document evidence and claims.

Pay for destruction

Ukraine wants Russia to pay for destruction including buildings, bridges and roads, demolition of power supply lines, displacement of civilians and killings, besides rape and torture.

His Russian counterpart, Vasily Nebenzya, argued that the Assembly had no powers to rule on legal cases and punish parties.

“These countries boast about how committed they are to the rule of law, but at the same time, they are flouting its very semblance,” he said.

“The UN will play no role in this process because the proposed mechanism is suggested to be created outside of the UN, and no one has any plans to account to the General Assembly for its activity.”

source

Kenya on Monday joined 93 other countries in supporting a UN resolution calling for Russia to compensate Ukraine after invading it in February this year. The non-binding resolution A/ES-11/L.6: ‘Furtherance of […]

Continue reading "Kenya joins calls for Russia to pay Ukraine war reparations"

Clashes in eastern DR Congo as Uhuru pursues ‘dialogue’ initiative

roops and rebels traded heavy fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday, a military source and local inhabitants said, as former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, the East African Community’s mediator in efforts to end the war between DRC forces and M23 militants, called for all armed groups to “silence the guns”.

Government forces and the M23 militia were fighting in Kibumba, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the strategic city Goma, the sources said, speaking by phone.

M23 fighters were also seen about 40 kilometres northwest of the city in the Virunga National Park, a wildlife haven famed for its mountain gorillas but which is also a hideout for armed groups, the sources said.

A mostly Congolese Tutsi group, the M23 (the March 23 Movement) leapt to prominence in 2012 when it briefly captured Goma before being driven out. 

M23 grievances

After lying dormant for years, the rebels took up arms again in late 2021, claiming the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate them into the army, among other grievances.

They have since won a string of victories against the military and captured swathes of territory, prompting thousands of people to flee their homes.

The resurgence has ratcheted up diplomatic tensions, with the DRC accusing its smaller neighbour Rwanda of backing the group.

Kinshasa expelled Rwanda’s ambassador at the end of last month as the M23 advanced, and recalled its own envoy from Kigali.

Rwanda denies providing any support for the M23 and accuses the Congolese army of colluding with the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) — a notorious Hutu rebel movement involved in the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda. 

“The Rwandan army and its allies from the M23 don’t stop, every passing day, launching assaults on our different positions in Kibumba,” Lt Col Guillaume Ndjike, the army spokesman for the eastern North Kivu province, told reporters.

Witnesses in the rebel-held town of Kiwanja also spoke last week of school canteens backed by World Food Programme being pillaged on Sunday and Monday. 

“There was corn flour and oil. They took these provisions as food rations,” a resident said.

Another said oil cans, flour sacks and beans had been taken away by truck the previous day.

‘Silence the guns’

Eastern DRC saw two bloody regional wars in the 1990s.

That conflict, along with the Rwandan genocide, bequeathed a legacy of scores of armed groups which remain active across the region but especially in North Kivu.

The heads of the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) on Sunday announced they would hold a “peace dialogue” on the region’s conflicts. 

“All groups that currently bear arms should lay those arms down and choose the path of peace through dialogue,” said EAC’s mediator, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, on Monday. 

He arrived in Kinshasa the day before to hold consultations ahead of November 21 peace talks in Nairobi. 

“Silence the guns and join in a political process,” he urged local armed groups. 

To foreign groups, “the DRC is no longer the battleground for problems that are not from this country,” Kenyatta added. 

“There is nothing that can be gained through the barrel of a gun.”  

Angolan President Joao Lourenco is exploring another diplomatic path.

He met on Friday with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and on Saturday with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi.

source

roops and rebels traded heavy fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday, a military source and local inhabitants said, as former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, the East African […]

Continue reading "Clashes in eastern DR Congo as Uhuru pursues ‘dialogue’ initiative"

Kenya’s central bank directs lenders to forego half of $246 million digital loans

At least 4.2 million Kenyans who failed to pay Ksh30 billion ($246 million) they borrowed from banks, microfinance and mortgage finance companies digitally have been handed relief, after the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) rolled out a framework to slash the burden by half.

The CBK on Monday said the credit repair framework, to be undertaken by commercial and microfinance banks, and mortgage finance companies until the end of May 2023, will see the lenders forego at least Ksh15 billion ($123m) the borrowers owe them as they discount the loans by 50 percent.

“Through the framework, the institutions will provide a discount of at least 50 percent of the non-performing digital loans outstanding as at end of October 2022, and update the borrowers credit standing from non-performing to performing.

“The institution will then enter into a repayment plan with the borrowers for a period of up to May 31, 2023, for the balance of the loan. Upon expiry of the framework, the credit standing of the borrowers with respect to these loans will depend on their repayment performance during the six-month period,” the CBK stated.

The CBK said the objective of the framework is to improve the credit standing of mobile phones digital borrowers who had been reported to Credit Reference Bureaus (CRBs), for failing to service loans they borrowed using mobile phones.

It covers all loans with a repayment period of 30 days and below that were listed as non-performing by end of October 2022.

“It is anticipated that the framework will enable over 4.2 million mobile phone digital borrowers, adversely listed with CRBs, to repair their credit standing. The total value is approximately Ksh30 billion, equivalent to 0.8 percent of the gross banking sector loan portfolio of Ksh3.6 trillion ($29 billion) at end of October 2022,” the financial services sector regulator stated.

The CBK said most of the affected borrowers were individuals and small businesses that were heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which increased their inability to pay after they lost jobs and businesses.

“The adverse effects of the pandemic continue to linger for the covered borrowers. Accordingly, the framework is expected to enable this segment of borrowers to access credit and other financial services as they rebuild their lives and livelihoods,” the CBK stated.

The framework will expire on May 31, 2023, and meanwhile, the lenders have been asked to contact the borrowers and provide them with further details of the framework.

source

At least 4.2 million Kenyans who failed to pay Ksh30 billion ($246 million) they borrowed from banks, microfinance and mortgage finance companies digitally have been handed relief, after the Central […]

Continue reading "Kenya’s central bank directs lenders to forego half of $246 million digital loans"

Uhuru Kenyatta arrives in Kinshasa for DR Congo peace talks

The East African Community (EAC) is engaged in the search for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A day after the arrival of Kenyan troops in Goma, North Kivu, former President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived in Kinshasa where he is to stay for two days. The EAC facilitator is accompanied by East African Community Secretary General Peter Mathuki.

Advisers to the chairperson of the East African Community heads of state summit and President of the Republic of Burundi, H.E. Évariste Ndayishimiye, have also been invited to the talks.

The Eastern bloc authorities are preparing for the third round of the Nairobi dialogue, which will bring together the Congolese government and Congolese armed groups.

The Kinshasa talks come a week after a high-level meeting in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, with President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Kenyan President William Ruto.

Mr Kenyatta is scheduled to meet President Felix Tshisekedi in Kinshasa.

“The former Kenyan president will also meet the presidents of the two chambers of parliament (National Assembly and Senate), members of the government, diplomats and representatives of local communities, leaders of religious denominations, traditional chiefs and women’s associations of the provinces of Ituri, North and South Kivu who have travelled from Kinshasa to meet and exchange with the team of President Uhuru on Monday,” reads a statement from President Tshisekedi’s office.

Also Read: DRC, Rwanda to maintain ‘political dialogue’

This will be an opportunity for Mr Kenyatta to talk with the communities and understand what they think after so many years of war.

Talks with M23

The meetings are being held against the backdrop of an intense war between the M23 rebels and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) in North Kivu.

For the East African leaders, the parties involved must favour dialogue to achieve peace.

The DRC authorities say they have a “double strategy”: diplomacy, but also war to impose peace.

Also read: Cost of DRC war on EAC economies

For this reason, Kinshasa simultaneously says it remains open to dialogue while continuing to fight the rebels who paradoxically also say they are open to dialogue.

President Tshisekedi on Saturday welcomed President João Lourenço, the Angolan head of state and mediator of the Luanda negotiations.

João Lourenço was in Kigali on Friday to meet President Paul Kagame, again in the search for peace. For the moment, despite the increasing number of meetings, the resolutions of the Luanda roadmap, in particular the ceasefire in the theatre of war, have remained a dead letter.

In the DRC, many Congolese reject the idea of dialogue with the M23.

Kinshasa has already set its conditions, including the withdrawal of the M23 from their positions.

Martin Fayulu, a very vocal opponent of Félix Tshisekedi, also believes that Congo “should not dialogue with the M23”. He proposes to talk with Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi “so that they withdraw their soldiers from the DRC”.

Fayulu also rejects the deployment of Kenyan troops in the DRC. According to him, “this deployment is a big joke”.

Almost the entire Congolese public opinion does not want to see DR Congo in talks with the M23. With one year to go before the general election, the authorities are sensitive to national opinion.

source

The East African Community (EAC) is engaged in the search for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A day after the arrival of Kenyan troops in Goma, North Kivu, […]

Continue reading "Uhuru Kenyatta arrives in Kinshasa for DR Congo peace talks"

DR Congo army clashes with rebels as Angola pursues peace bid

M23 rebels and DR Congo troops clashed heavily in North Kivu province on Friday as Angola’s president pursued diplomatic efforts to bring peace between neighbours Kinshasa and Kigali.

Tensions between DR Congo and Rwanda are at their highest in years, with the DRC accusing its smaller neighbour of backing the M23, charges the Rwandan government denies.

In eastern DRC, locals reported hearing heavy artillery fire around Rugari, in Rutshuru territory, from early morning as the army targeted M23 combatants.

The DRC military had this week deployed Sukhoi-25 jets and Mi-24 helicopters against the M23, a mainly Tutsi Congolese militia.

People flee for safety

The clashes sent more people fleeing for safety, one witness told AFP by telephone from Rumangabo, 10 kilometres (six miles) from Rugari.

“We can hear the sound of the bombing,” he said.

Medical sources said at least five civilians, including two children, were killed and 11 wounded in Friday’s fighting.

The artillery fire was coming from Kibumba on a main road that runs to the regional capital Goma.

An AFP reporter on the edge of the city saw an army tank and lorry loaded with munitions heading towards the combat zone.

“Fighting continues at Rugari. We are making progress,” a security source said.

Power disruption

During the afternoon, power was disrupted in Goma after a transmission line from a hydroelectric plant was hit, Virunga Energies said.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) said gunmen had attacked UN-backed school canteens in the Rutshuru area, which is under M23 control.

“Six primary schools were targeted for now and food stocks taken forcibly,” a WFP statement said.

‘Regional efforts’

“Armed groups came with lorries and took the stocks that were at the schools in Kiwanja and Rutshuru,” said the WFP coordinator for the region.

“At the moment, in Rutshuru territory, it’s M23 who are active. Obviously we suspect them, because they control the two towns,” in North Kivu province, he added.

The M23 has won a string of victories against the DRC’s army in North Kivu province in recent weeks, dramatically increasing the territory under its control.

Mineral-rich DRC is struggling to contain dozens of armed militias including the M23, which rose to prominence in 2012, briefly occupying Goma.

Dormant for years

But after laying mostly dormant for years, it resumed fighting in 2021, claiming the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate them into the army, among other grievances.

Eastern DRC has been plagued for nearly three decades by armed groups, many of them inherited from the wars that bloodied the region in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Angolan President Joao Lourenco was visiting Rwanda on Friday as part of diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute with the DRC and is due in Kinshasa Saturday.

Kinshasa expelled Rwanda’s ambassador at the end of last month, while also recalling its envoy from Kigali.

Lourenco was to hold talks with Rwandan President Paul Kagame “as part of the regional efforts to normalise relations between Rwanda and DR Congo”, the ruling party newspaper The New Times said.

The meeting comes on the heels of talks between the countries’ two foreign ministers who agreed on Saturday to accelerate efforts to resolve the diplomatic crisis.

Roadmap to end hostilities

A roadmap for ending hostilities had been reached at an Angola-brokered summit between Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi in July. 

On Wednesday, Kenya’s parliament approved the deployment of more than 900 troops to the DRC as part of a regional force established to try to restore security in the east.

Kenya’s former president Uhuru Kenyatta, the East African Community bloc’s mediator for the situation, will visit Kinshasa on Sunday for a 48-hour working visit, the DRC’s presidency said.

source

M23 rebels and DR Congo troops clashed heavily in North Kivu province on Friday as Angola’s president pursued diplomatic efforts to bring peace between neighbours Kinshasa and Kigali. Tensions between […]

Continue reading "DR Congo army clashes with rebels as Angola pursues peace bid"

And if you Join the experience?

It doesn't cost anything to try. Join our community today and take part in the latest discussions revolving around civic space.

This is an open online forum that seeks to re-inforce the capacity of civic actors in East Africa to counter shrinking civic space by sharing information, human resources and successful strategies.

© 2022 Protection of Civic Space in East Africa

Translate »