Saturday, August 31, 2019

Sudan Islamists Vow to Form Broad Opposition Alliance to Interim Cabinet
PCP Secretary General Ali al-Haj speaks in a press conference held in Khartoum on 26 August 2017 (ST Photo)

August 27, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP) of Ali al-Haj said determined to form a broad coalition in coordination with other political forces that were allied to the ousted regime to oppose the transitional government led by Abdallah Hamodok.

The PCP-initiated Coordination of National Forces (CNF) officially launched its activities last June two months after the fall of the al-Bashir regime. It gathers seven political groups, most of which participated in the coalition with the National Congress Party of the deposed President Omer al-Bashir forged after the national dialogue process.

"We have decided to oppose and monitor the (upcoming transitional) government so as not to lead us to a new dictatorship," said Idriss Suleiman, the PCP political secretary in statements to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

Suleiman statements come six days after a press conference held by PCP leader to reject the formation of the new government after the appointment of Abdallah Hamdok as prime minister.

Al-Haj who had rejected calls by the PCP youth to join the revolution said the country would be ruled by a military government that will further isolate Sudan externally and maintains it on the list of terrorism.

He further said that some members of the transitional government are wanted for war crimes and will reach out to the International Criminal Court to investigate their alleged crimes.

Suleiman, for his part, accused certain FFC groups and some military leaders of excluding them and preparing a constitutional document on improper grounds.

"The constitutional document has not been shown to the public. The constitution is made by the people, but they even have not consulted some components of the Forces of Freedom and Change," he said about the Constitutional Declaration negotiated during four months by the FFC and the junta.

Suleiman reiterated that his party and other forces will not recognize the constitutional document and "will tear it up".

"We will strive to restore power to the people and hold free and fair elections," he added.

The PCP and its allies call for elections within a period not exceeding one year as they say that the formation of a government for more than three years without a popular mandate would lead the country to serious troubles.

During the strife between the FFC and the military junta after the attack on the pro-democracy sit-in in Khartoum, the PCP voiced its support for the Juna and had been approached by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo Hemetti who at the time called to include the PCP and its allied political groups in the transitional parliament and government.

However, after the increase of popular pressure and the huge nationwide protest of 30 June, the military council abandoned this plan and worked with the FFC to finalize the transitional constitution and the formation of the transitional authority.


Asked about the possibility of coordination with NCP of al-Bashir in the coming period, Suleiman said that this step is excluded currently because they do not have enough information, about the NCP’s political plans.

However, an NCP source disclosed to Sudan Tribune that there had been contacts between them and the PCP to form a broad front, but Ghandour rejected such alliance preferring to limit coordination to major issues.

The former ruling party recently picked Ibrahim Ghandour as the NCP leader seconded with a leadership council including Ahmed Ibrahim al-Taher, Jamal Mahmoud, Ibrahim Mahmoud, and Haj Adam Youssef.

Over Hundred Sudanese Stuck in Libya Return Home
Migrants are seen at the centre of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Authority in Tripoli, Libya September 10, 2017. (Reuters Photo)

August 29, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Some 123 Sudanese who were stranded in Libya due to military confrontations in and around Tripoli arrived in the capital Khartoum on Thursday.

The returnees were received at Khartoum airport by the joint technical committee between the Secretariat of Sudanese Working Abroad (SSWA) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) within the context of joint European initiative on reintegration and protection of migrants funded by EU.

Earlier, SSWA announced the continuation of the reintegration procedures for returnees in accordance with the measures followed for the provision of humanitarian, social and economic assistance.

Last July, a group of 165 Sudanese arrived in Khartoum, preceded by two groups; the first was June, which included 152 Sudanese, and the second on July 10 which included 182 citizens.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry had announced special flights to evacuate Sudanese affected by the war in Libya in cooperation with IOM and coordination with the Sudanese Embassy in Tripoli and SSWA.

Sudanese youth who claim to flee violence and oppression by the former regime keep trying to cross Mediterranean Europe, to avoid slavery and arbitrary detention.

In April, IOM announced that it was working to repatriate some 10,000 migrants, mostly from Africa, stranded in Libya by the end of this year.

To curb human trafficking, In January 2014, the Sudanese parliament approved an anti-human trafficking law which punishes those involved with human trafficking with up to 20 years imprisonment.

Libya has become increasingly divided since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with competing governments and rival militias seeking to gain territory and influence.

Darfur Armed Groups Agree to Unify Peace Negotiating Position
SRF factions meet in Paris on 12 Oct 2017 (ST Photo)

August 31, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Four armed groups in Sudan’s Darfur region have agreed to unify their negotiating position before to engage in talks with the transitional government in the near future.

The joint statement was signed by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Sudan Liberation Movement - Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM), Sudan Liberation Movement - Transitional Council (SLM-TC), and the Sudan Liberation Forces Alliance (SLFA) from the South Sudanese capital on Saturday.

The four groups are participating in consultation meetings hosted by the South Sudanese government within its efforts to facilitate a comprehensive peace process to settle the armed conflicts in Darfur, the Blue Nile and South Kordofan, three regions on the common border between the two Sudans.

The joint statement reaffirmed that peace remains their first strategic choice, stressing that it should address the root causes of the Sudanese problem and tackle the effects of war and marginalization.

Further, JEM, SLM-MM, SLM-TC and SLFA said they will participate in the "peace negotiations with one negotiating position and a joint negotiating delegation".

In the same trend, they pledged to consult and unify their political positions towards all national issues.

More, they renewed their commitment to the declaration of a cessation of hostilities to create a conducive environment for peace.

The divided armed groups in the western Sudan region have been blamed for hampering regional and international efforts in Darfur.

In 2017, the United States decided the lift of economic sanctions on Sudan and refused calls to wait until a peace deal is struck in Darfur blaming the armed groups of obstructing peace.

"We reject all methods of exclusion practised by the Center on the pretext of efficiency and refusal of quotas".

The JEM, SLM-MM and SLM-TC are part of the Forces for Freedom and Change but the large coalition refused their demand to allocate them a quota in the transitional cabinet.

In reaction, the forces of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front refused to endorse the Political Agreement and the Constitutional Declaration.

SLM’s al-Nur Calls for Referendum on Sudan’s Transitional Authority Before Peace Talks
SLM leader Abdel Whaid al-Nur speaks in a meeting organized in Paris on 11 Nov 2017 (ST Photo)
August 30, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur

(SLM-AW) has called for an internationally monitored referenda on the transitional constitution and the representation of its cosignatories before to engage in peace talks.

Four months after the ouster of former President Omer al-Bashir last April, the SLM-AW for the first time and in a statement written in English made public its response to the calls from various Sudanese political forces to lay down arms and to join a national process for peace during the first six months of the transitional period.

The holdout group in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune voiced its rejection of the Political Agreement and the Constitutional Declaration signed by the Transitional Military Council and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), describing it "as patently illegitimate and exclusionary".

"The accord reached between the TMC and FFC is simply another new variant of a civilian rubber stamp for the soldiers, paramilitaries, secret policemen," said the statement to explain the group’s rebuke for the process.

Since last April, there were several contacts by various political FFC groups with the SLM leader in a bide to persuade the group to negotiate a lasting peace agreement after the regime change.

During the era of the Islamist regime, the SLM had only participated in the Abuja process in 2006. Since the group asks to repair the consequences of the conflict and disband the government militia accused of war crimes before to negotiate a deal addressing the root causes of the conflict.

In his nine-page statement, emailed to Sudan Tribune, al-Nur set what he called "terms and condition for conflict resolution dialogue".

"We call for preparations for a national plebiscite to be undertaken immediately for a free and transparent vote under international observation, to take place sixty days from now," he further said.

He added that Sudanese should answer by yes or no to three questions.

The first question: asks the Sudanese if they approve "the continuation of the interim government under the terms the Constitutional Declaration; the second: complete withdrawal of the militaries from the transitional authority institutions; the third: do they approve a full and immediate return to civilian rule.

The armed group went further to propose to hold elections within 90 days after the referendum on the national level. Once the national elections are conducted, regional elections for state governors will take place 60 days after.

In a briefing to the Security Council on 26 August, Jean Pierre Lacroix said the intermittent clashes continue in Jebel Marra between the Sudanese army backed by the Rapid Support Forces and the SLM fighters.

In his position paper, al-Nur added 13 other conditions before the referenda including the full withdrawal of the army and government militias from Darfur region, al-Bashir’s transfer to the International Criminal court, and release of prisoners of war and conscience.

In addition, the paper reintroduced the SLM-Aw demands for disbanding of militias, land restoration to its owners and compensation for the war-affected civilians.

President Salva Kiir has called on al-Nur to come to Juba and join consultations meetings his government is holding with the other armed groups in preparations for peace talks with the government headed by Abdallah Hamdok.

The South Sudanese initiative aims at bringing the divided armed groups to establish a one negotiating paper before to meet the Sudanese government.

Juba also consults with Sudan’s neighbouring countries particularly Egypt and Chad and seeks to involve them in this demarche.

Egypt expressed willingness to host Sudan’s peace process.

Armed Groups Prepare to Meet Sudan’s Transitional Authority
From the Left JEM Gibril Ibrahim, SLM Minni Minnawi and SPLM-N Malik Agar pose for a collective picture with other rebel leaders unseen here in 2013

August 29, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Yasir Arman, the Deputy Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North-led by Malik Agar (SPLM-N Agar) has disclosed contacts for meetings between the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the transitional administration in Khartoum.

In statements to the Sudan Tribune on Thursday Arman who is also an SRF leadership official said that what is taking place in Khartoum now is a "complete repeat" of the mistakes made by the previous transitional governments which failed to link democracy and peace after a regime change in Sudan.

He pointed out that the situation in Sudan is now more serious than all previous transitional periods when the October 1964 and April 1985 revolutions occurred.

"The security sector is not the same as it was in the years 64 and 85, the wars have widened and the number of displaced people and refugees has reached 6 million. Also, the number of migrants has reached millions and the Sudanese economy is now completely destroyed."

Based on this gloomy picture of the present situation in the country, Arman said that the SRF meetings in Juba are an extension of the previous meetings to aimed at linking between the issues of democracy and peace. Also, to establish a state where every Sudanese has equal rights without discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, and religion, as well as sex.

Further, he revealed that contacts are underway to organize a meeting between the transitional authority and the SRF groups, as part of the ongoing efforts to achieve peace during the first six months of the transitional period.

"Now there is a possibility that contacts will be undertaken for a meeting with the new power structures including the Sovereign Council and the rest," Arman said.

In this context, he welcomed the statements of the U.S. State Department and the United Nations Security Council calling for linking the issues of peace with the issues of democratic transition and "fairness of the marginalized" in Sudan.

The SPLM deputy leader further called on the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok to make peace his top priority.

Arman said that the Forces for Freedom and Change are still without leadership and that the recent nominations they made to form a government made clear the importance of leadership.

"The revolution must be completed towards a comprehensive peace, towards equal citizenship without discrimination and the transition from a unilateral state to a state of diversity," he said.

Relations are strained between the political and armed factions of the Forces for Freedom dome and Change following the former’s rejection to include in the constitutional declaration a disposition stipulating the primacy of peace agreement over the transitional constitution.

Also, the FFC political forces rejected a demand to give the armed groups some cabinet seats after the signing of peace agreements.

Strong Relations for Two Sudans

The SPLM-N leading figure further called for a regional confederation to be started by strong economic and politic cooperation between the two Sudans.

We need "strategic relations between two independent states like the European Union and to develop to include all neighbouring countries."

Several Sudanese commentators criticised "arrogant" slogans by Sudanese youth protesters who called for the reunification of the two Sudan.

In a recent article widely circulated a Sudanese colonist, Elshafei Khidir said that South Sudanese lost confidence in North Sudanese who sought to islamicize and arabicize them.

Instead, he called to strengthening bilateral relations, pointing to the strong social, economic and historical between the two Sudans.

In such a way "We will raise the possibility of uniting the two countries in the future in one homeland, according to new foundations," which intrinsically lead to rebuilding the Sudanese state itself according to the aspirations and concerns of its multiple and diverse ethnic and cultural components.

Khartoum Dispatches More Troops to Control Port Sudan Tribal Violence
Picture showing the burning houses in the Nuba neighbourhood in Port Sudan on 21 August 2019 (ST photo)

August 28, 2019( KHARTOUM) - The streets of Port Sudan were calm on Wednesday after the resumption of intercommunal clashes on Tuesday evening in some residential area of the Red Sea coastal town.

The city has been the scene of days of fighting during which firearms and white arms were used in ethnic violence. Last week the intercommunal clashes lasted from Thursday until Saturday evening.

Sudanese authorities, on Tuesday, sent for the second time additional military reinforcements from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to the eastern Sudan city to control the security situation an put an end to the clashes between the Beni Amer and Nuba residents.

Eyewitnesses told "Sudan Tribune" that calm returned to the city on Wednesday, after a night of tension in the town as a result of renewed skirmishes between the two parties on Tuesday evening.

They confirmed that the burning of houses - free of residents - on Tuesday evening affected several houses in the neighbourhoods of Riyadh, Dar Al-Naeem and the Al-Mattar.

On the other hand, security sources confirmed the arrival of RSF troops to be deployed in the troubled areas to establish security.

The Central Committee of Sudan doctors (CCSD) announced on Monday that the clashes of Port Sudan left 37 dead and dozens of injuries.

The report said that the hospital emergency departments in Port Sudan received 126 injuries ranging from mild to moderate, and the critical injuries requiring surgical intervention were transferred to Osman Dagna Hospital.

The Red Sea Governor, Major General Essam Abdel Farraj, and the State Director of the Intelligence Service have been relieved by the Sovereign Council on Sunday after their failure to control the crisis.

Over 60,000 to Receive Tetanus, Diphtheria Vaccines in Wau
August 29, 2019 (WAU) – The second phase of a vaccination against Tetanus and Diphtheria diseases entered its fourth day on Thursday with over 20,000 women already vaccinated, an official said.

“Our target in the state is 62,168 girls or women at productive ages. Wau state is divided into two. The vaccination campaign is very important especially for women and girls,” the state health director, Dr. James Ambrose Uchini told Sudan Tribune.

“We should bring up children free from diseases by vaccinating against Diphtheria and Tetanus,” he added.

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Islamic Relief and Juanither, among other partners are supporting the campaign.

Uchini said state epidemiology department is launching the Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccination campaign for the fourth time this year.

Tetanus is a serious disease caused by a bacterial toxin that affects your nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of your jaw and neck muscles while Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheria.

Rwandans Switching from Petrol to Electric Motorcycles
Africa News

Transport e-mobility (electro-mobility) may be a global multi billion business but here in Rwanda it’s a relatively new idea.

However following the introduction of a national e-mobility policy and a call from President Paul Kagame to speed up the process, manufacturers are becoming more enthusiastic about the potential.

Electric vehicle company ‘Ampersand’ has been in the e-mobility market for four years and is now helping Rwanda shift from gas driven motorbikes to electric motorcycles.

In a pilot programme targeting motorcycle taxi drivers it produced ten e-bikes for tests and is now selling them.

“We’ve been developing these vehicles for about four years now and making them so that they’re better and cheaper than the petrol motorcycles that are available on the road in Rwanda, that’s been our goal all along,” says Chief Executive of Ampersand, Josh Whale.

Ampersand is banking on government support to make these affordable and a viable business and has set itself a target to put out 3 million electric motorcycles in the East African region.

“The suppliers that we work with on the components for our vehicles are very large and we could potentially replace all the vehicles in Rwanda within a month so production capacity is not the issue, the issue is financing and working out the best mechanism to get motorcycles into drivers’ hands that’s good for the driver, and good for the country and good for us as a business,” says Whale.

Millions dependent on motorcycles

Over 3 million people in East Africa make their living as motorcycle taxi drivers.

James Musisi has been a motorcycle taxi driver in Kigali for nine years and switched to an e-motorcycle seven months ago.

He says he has been able to make more profit from the new electric motorcycle than a regular bike:

“Before using it I was using ordinary bike which was fuelless and per day I usually get 15,000 (Rwandan francs) or 16,000 per day. For this one I get 20,000 per day and above, 20,000 a day, 26,000.”

He also says using an electric bike as opposed to a fuel bike has improved his respiratory health.

The cost of buying an electric motorcycle ranges from 1,330 and 1,600 US Dollars.

Ampersand has received 2,500 requests from potential rental and sales clients, with 500 of them recorded in the two days after the president’s commitment to e-mobility financing and support.

Coletha Ruhamya is Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority and says:

“The government is working hard to promote green mobility. We have recently introduced, are working on, e-mobility policy to see what are the quick measures that can be implemented but currently we have promoted e-mobility in terms of motorcycles because motorcycle is a big transportation system in the country and we realise that they are the one that mostly contribute to air emission or air pollution in the transportation sector.”

2012 research conducted in Rwanda revealed at least 2,227 deaths that year resulted from air pollution and that poor quality of air has also increased numbers of respiratory diseases

Since then Rwanda has put an air quality monitoring system in place which helps collect current data and find ways in which the government can intervene.

From 2015 Rwanda passed bylaws in accordance with the 2011 East Africa Community (EAC) resolve to import only low sulphur fuel (cleaner fuel) to avoid sulphur oxides which cause respiratory diseases.

Commercial vehicles now undergo a gas emissions test twice a year while tests on personal vehicles will be conducted once a year.

The e-mobility policy is part of Rwanda’s commitment to address the issue of transport related pollution and move towards green mobility.
Somalian National Army Personnel Graduate from UK Led Training in Baidoa
30/08 - 13:32
Africa News

This month, the Somali National Army celebrated the graduation of a further 98 soldiers from British military training in Baidoa, the capital of Southwest State in Somalia.

The UK has built a training centre in Baidoa, including a state-of-the-art firing range that was opened by Southwest State’s President, Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed Laftagareen, and the UK’s Africa Minister, Andrew Stephenson, on 21 August. Construction of 450 barracks for the Somali army has just started on the same site.

The 16-week training, involving a mix of theory and practical lessons, covered defensive positions, vehicle check points, dealing with improvised explosive devices, first aid, safe weapon handling and leadership.

The UK training has already shown its value. Attacks in Baidoa have fallen since the Somali army built defensive positions around the city as part of their course, and some of those on the course used their new skills in a successful attack against Al Shabaab in the area of Daynunay this month.

Speaking during the graduation ceremony, the Commander of British Forces in Somalia, Colonel JL Baynham, said:

“The training is being delivered by highly experienced specialists. It’s focused on building really strong infantry skills, which are what the Somali army most needs to defeat Al Shabaab. The Somali soldiers are very able and keen to learn. We are already seeing the benefits, for the individuals, their units and the security of the area”.

The British Ambassador to Somalia, Ben Fender, said:

“The Somalis are working to improve security after decades of conflict and terrorism. The UK is a major partner and the only country providing military training outside Mogadishu. Baidoa is a vital location in the fight against Al Shabaab. We need to stay the course, but over the last year, Somalia has made real progress towards building its future army, and in conducting operations. We’re delighted to support that”

The course is part of an on-going programme of support to the Somali National Army’s 60 Division. Graduates will now receive additional medical, planning and command training.

The UK has delivered training to over 900 members of the Somali National Army since January 2017. The focus has been on medical skills, leadership development, intelligence, equipment care, logistics and the rule of law.
Nigeria's EFCC Busts Internet Fraudster on FBI's 'Most Wanted' List
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
Africa News

Nigeria’s anti-graft body, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Friday announced the arrest of a top internet fraudster wanted by United States’
Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI.

Oyediran Joseph’s arrest was disclosed by the EFFC’s zonal head in the central Kwara State regional capital, Ilorin. Sharu Isyaku, confirmed that the arrest was part of EFCC’s partnership with the FBI.

“Just last three weeks, the US authority had written to us for assistance in tracking and possible arrest and prosecution of two most wanted FBI suspects in Nigeria,” Isyaku said.

“The Commission acceded to their request. The Commission has been supportive of the activities of the FBI and every other foreign counterpart whose responsibility is similar or analogous to ours.”

The suspect was not part of 77 others who were listed in a recent FBI list of notorious internet scammers. The FBI last week listed suspects in what it said was one of the largest scams in US history.

Iyaku added that the suspect had illegally benefited about N60 million via Western Union Transfer, a local portal, The Cable reported.

EFCC said it continued its efforts at rooting out online scammers. The official also spoke about arrests and convictions that the outfit had secured in the last few months.

“Within seven months of our operation, the Ilorin zonal office has independently arrested over 58 suspected internet fraudsters, secured conviction of 25 and got forfeiture of their exotic cars and money running into millions of Naira,” he said.
Global Measles Cases at Record High
The world is backsliding in the fight against measles, a vaccine-preventable disease that can kill or disable children.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been granted a request to have parliament suspended for a month. The move leaves lawmakers with few options to block a no-deal.

Also, Italy’ caretaker Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has accepted a mandate to form a new coalition a week after the collapse of his government.

Stay tuned as we will have reports on this and other stories as we retrace the major current events covered by the Euronews editorial team presented by Elayne Wangalwa.
DR Congo Ebola Death Toll Passes 2,000 Mark
The death toll from Democratic Republic of Congo’s year-long Ebola outbreak has climbed above 2,000, government data showed on Friday, as responders battle to overcome community mistrust and widespread security problems.

The death in neighbouring Uganda of a 9-year-old girl who had tested positive for the virus after entering the country from Congo underscored the challenge medical teams face containing the disease in border territory with a highly mobile population.

The government team overseeing the response said the number of confirmed and probable cases had also hit a milestone of more than 3,000 in what has become the second-worst epidemic of the virus on record.

Despite the development of an effective vaccine and treatments, health workers have struggled to stop the virus spreading in remote and conflict-hit areas of eastern Congo, where many locals are wary of the response effort.

Nevertheless, the World Health Organization said the latest Uganda case highlighted the border authorities’ skill at detecting and isolating potential sources of transmission.

“This case was picked up at the border,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said at a briefing in Geneva. “The people who are at the borders have the expertise.”

This is Congo’s 10th Ebola outbreak, but it is the first in the densely forested hillside provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, where militia-led violence and ethnic killing have undermined security in certain areas for decades.

The WHO declared the epidemic an international health emergency in July – only the fifth outbreak to warrant this status since the system was introduced in 2005.

The authorities have since come up against new fronts in their fight to contain the virus, testing the reach and flexibility of responders.

Health workers confirmed the first cases in South Kivu province on Aug. 16. Soon after, a woman contracted the virus in a remote, militia-controlled territory in North Kivu, hundreds of kilometres away from other known cases.

“The response is being spread too thin chasing new cases at the expense of the longer-term community engagement that is crucial if we’re ever to hope of being Ebola free,” Oxfam’s Congo Director Corinne N’Daw said in a statement.

Despite the virus spreading to new areas, the past week’s transmission rate was little changed from that of the past month and a half, which has seen an average of 77 new cases per week, according to the WHO.

Last week the WHO voiced concern about the widening geographic reach of the disease, but confirmed the virus had not gained a foothold in the major city of Goma, even after four cases were recorded there in July and early August.

Goma, a lakeside city of nearly 2 million people on the Rwandan border, had been on high alert for weeks after a gold miner with a large family infected several people with Ebola before dying himself.

The latest government data showed Ebola deaths reaching 2,006 and cases at 3,004.

“Two thousand deaths means that there is a problem,” said Timothée Buliga, a priest, returning home from his church in Goma. “We need to reach the point where we reject Ebola, say no and eradicate it definitively.”

Only the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been deadlier than the current outbreak. More than 11,300 people died then out of the 28,000 who were infected.

Ethiopia Mulls Comprehensive Economic Reforms to Ease Pressing Forex Shortage
2019-08-31 23:58:49|Editor: yan

ADDIS ABABA, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government on Saturday disclosed newly introduced comprehensive economic reforms that would help ease the East African country's pressing foreign currency shortage.

"We have now designed a comprehensive reform strategy to sustain and advance the economic growth and development in the country," state-run news agency ENA quoted Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia's Finance Minister, as saying on Saturday.

"Foreign exchange is one of the major bottlenecks currently, and we are working comprehensively to address that," Shide said, adding "the privatization we are embarking on will contribute significantly to that. It will bring significant foreign exchange."

The finance minister also said that as part of ongoing measures to ease foreign currency shortage, the Ethiopian government is also working on ways of broadening the remittance flow into the East African country from various parts of the world.

According to Yinager Dessie, Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia, low productivity in the agriculture sector, particularly in the export items, has not been to the expected level.

"Similarly, export items from the industrial sector have not increased both in type and volume, thus inhibiting the fulfillment of the national target for gaining foreign exchange from the two sectors," Dessie added.

Ethiopia's finance minister said the Ethiopian government is exerting efforts to enhance productivity and encourage exporters to improve the amount and diversity of export items.

"We are also working on boosting our export performance and productivity on agricultural commodities, mining, tourism and other components of the service sector. All those strategies will help to significantly support our earnings from exports," Shide said.

Ethiopia's ongoing economic sector reforms mainly aspire to realize sustainable economic growth together with strong private sector engagement in various development projects.

As the East African country encounters persisting forex shortage in recent years, the Ethiopian government had recently announced to partially privatize its major state-owned enterprises as a solution to the serious shortage of foreign currency.

The plan to partially liberalize key sectors of the East African country's economy was made by the Executive Committee of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Ethiopia's ruling party, in June last year.

The decision, among other things, aimed at expanding mixed ownership or outright full privatization of state-owned enterprises such as railway projects, sugar development, industrial parks, hotels, and other manufacturing industries.

It also plans to allow minority shares in Ethiopia's large state-owned enterprises, mainly Ethio-telecom, Ethiopian Airlines, electricity generation projects, and the Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise.
Uganda Confirms New Ebola Case as Congolese Girl Tests Positive
29/08 - 22:06

Uganda has confirmed a new case of Ebola in the country’s Kasese district. According to the Ministry of Health, the case is of a nine-year-old girl of Congolese origin.

A statement signed by Minister of State Joyce Moriku Kaducu said: the patient traveled with her mother from the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, and entered Ugandan territory on August 28, 2019.

Mother and child entered the country via Mpondwe main border post as they sought medical attention in the town of Bwera in Kasese.

“The child was identified by the point of entry screening team …. she was subsequently isolated and transferred to Bwera hospital Ebola Treatment Unit where she is currently being managed,” a Ministry statement read.

Till the latest incident, Uganda has had multiple Ebola outbreaks in the past. Three people died in June after crossing into the country’s Kasese district on an unguarded footpath. Their family members were taken back to Congo for treatment.

The Ebola virus can spread quickly and be fatal in up to 90% of cases. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.

The virus is most often spread by close contact with bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms and with contaminated objects such as sheets. Health care workers are often at risk.
From South Korea to Japan, Ethiopia PM Heads to Israel on Official Visit
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is expected in Israel on Sunday for an official state visit, the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed on Friday.

As part of his engagements, he is set to meet his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu with both sides expected to hold talks to bolster existing bilateral relations.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will receive Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed upon his arrival on Sunday (1 September 2019) with a guard of honor at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

“Israel welcomes the visit of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, to which it attaches great importance as it will contribute to the enhancement of the relationship and strengthen the cooperation between the two countries,” the Ministry statement read in part.

During his time in Israel, Abiy will also meet with President Reuven Rivlin, will visit Yad Vashem and will tour the National Cyber Directorate.

Israel becomes his third destination in the last week. He has been in South Korea for an official visit before he flew to Yokohama in Japan where he joined other African leaders for the Tokyo International Conference for African Development, TICAD.
3.8-million-year-old Skull in Ethiopia an Evolution Game-changer
Major discovery 'looks set to become another celebrated icon of human evolution' after Lucy in 1974, scientist says.

29 Aug 2019

The cranium of the ancient fossil that was discovered in Afar region, Ethiopia [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

A "remarkably complete" 3.8-million-year-old skull of an early human has been excavated by Palaeontologists in Ethiopia, a discovery that has the potential to change the understanding of human evolution.

The find, known as "MRD", revealed the face of a presumed ancestor of the species famously represented by Lucy, the celebrated Ethiopian partial skeleton found in 1974.

Scientists have long known this species of hominin - A anamensis - existed but the discovered facial remains had been limited to jaws and teeth.

The newly found fossil includes much of the skull and face.

"This skull is one of the most complete fossils of hominids more than three million years old," said Yohannes Haile-Selassie, the renowned Ethiopian paleoanthropologist of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and co-author of two studies published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Fred Spoor of the Natural History Museum of London wrote in a commentary accompanying the studies that the discovery "looks set to become another celebrated icon of human evolution".

The fossil was found in 2016 in what was once sand deposited in a river delta on the shore of a lake.

At a news conference in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, Haile-Selassie described how Ali Bereino, a "local guy" from Afar, found the jaw of MRD and immediately brought it to his attention.

"I did not believe my eyes when I saw the rest of the skull," Haile-Selassie recalled, describing the discovery as "a eureka moment and a dream come true".

The finding challenges a previously held belief about how humans evolved.

"We thought A anamensis [MRD] was gradually turning into A afarensis [Lucy] over time," said Stephanie Melillo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, a co-author of the Nature studies.

However, MRD reveals the two species co-existed for about 100,000 years, a finding that Haile-Selassie called a "game-changer in our understanding of human evolution during the Pliocene".

Religious Leaders Declare a One-day Prayer for Peace in the New Year
The ending Ethiopian year has been a rough one for millions of Ethiopians as politically charged ethnic-based violence brought about insecurity problem and displacement, among other things. And as the country is poised to welcome its new year, religious leaders declared a one-day prayer for peace.

Member of Ethiopia’s religious council. Photo credit : ENA
August 30, 2019

Ethiopian religious Council, whose members are drawn from all religious groups in the country, declared a one-day prayer across the nation.

They picked Pagume 1 (that is the beginning of Ethiopia’s thirteenth month of the year and corresponds to September 6 in Gregorian calendar) for the day of prayer.

It called on the federal and regional government authorities, security personnel, mass media, youth, mothers and religious fathers to do their part during the prayer day.

The religious council was joined by Ethiopian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is established by the Ethiopian Parliament based on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Proposal, during a press conference on Friday, August 30, 2019.

“It has become necessary to declare a day of prayer to receive the new year [Ethiopian New Year which falls on September 12 this year] with new thought, heart, and mind for violence and conflicts that happened [in the ending year] to give way to peace, love and thinking about one another,” the religious council is cited as saying by Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).

It is natural and expected that differences in thought could lead to conflict, says the religious council. However, said the council, it is concerned that the conflict got complicated to the point that it is leading to loss of lives and destruction of properties.

The religious body also pointed out that above everything else, the dignity of man, respect for man, justice, and equality are priorities.

“Ethiopians have formed shared values and the history of their unity is built on a strong foundation that they have lived together forging a common identity and respecting one another although there were differences in ethnicity or religion,” the council stated during the press conference.

The religious fathers believe that value needs to be passed from generation to generation.

Ethiopia experienced prevalent violence – most of which was ethnic-based one- in the ending Ethiopian year. As a result of which hundreds of lives were lost and property worth millions of Ethiopian birr destructed- not to mention hundreds of thousands of cases of internal displacement in the country.

The latest string of widespread ethnic-based violence happened in Sidama zone of Southern Peoples, Nations, and Nationalities region. Authorities have confirmed at least 53 people died, 54 wounded and property worth millions of birr destroyed.
Ethiopia to Hold Autonomy Referendum for Ethnic Sidama in Nov: Fana
Thursday 29 Aug 2019

Ethiopia on Thursday granted its ethnic Sidama community a referendum in November on self-determination, with a view to creating the country's 10th autonomous region, Fana news agency reported.

Ethiopia's nine existing regional states enjoy a degree of autonomy under which they are able to choose their official language and have limited powers over taxation, education, health and land administration.

Buoyed by political reforms introduced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he took power in 2018, political activists from the Sidama - currently subsumed into one of the nine states - wanted to unilaterally declare a new regional state in July.

The same month, at least 17 people were killed in clashes between security forces and pro-autonomy activists, while other Sidama leaders accepted an offer from the government to hold a referendum within five months.

Ethiopia's electoral board said the referendum, on Nov. 13, would address "ethnic Sidama's demand for regional statehood," state-affiliated Fana said on its website.

At least eight further ethnic groups in the Horn of Africa country of 105 million people are also seeking autonomy.

Abiy, appointed by the ruling coalition last year, has won praise for political reforms in what was once one of the continent's most repressive nations.

But with many local activists using the greater freedoms to demand more rights, tensions between rival interests sometimes spark violence.

The electoral board said close to 1,700 polling stations and 8,500 election officials would be deployed for the November referendum, Fana reported.
Months After Pledge to Open Internet, Ethiopia Disrupts Connectivity Amidst Communal Violence, Tension
Three major shutdowns were documented in June 2019 alone

29 August 2019 8:22 GMT
Global Voices

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sits with Minister of Defense Lemma Megersa, November 24, 2017. Photo by Odaw via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0.

This story is the second in a two-part series on online disinformation, shutdowns, and rising political and ethnic tensions in Ethiopia. You can read the first part here.

On June 18 of last year, in his second parliamentary address, Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his government would no longer block online publications. Within a day, his then-chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, followed up in a tweet acknowledging the unblocking of more than 250 largely diaspora-based, pro-opposition websites and blogs.

At that time, the move was celebrated as a major step toward internet freedom in a country where the ruling regime, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front, (EPRDF) had for years controlled the flow of information.

As the political environment relaxed, comedians, journalists, bloggers and opposition activists voiced thoughts and criticisms that had been bottled up for decades. Ethiopia's embrace of civil liberties, however, has deflated as political rifts resurfaced between non-ruling elites of Ethiopia's two main ethnic groups: the Amharas and the Oromos. With ethnic and political tensions between the two groups manifesting online in the form of hate speech and disinformation, the government responded — on a number of occasions — by imposing restrictions on access to networks and social media platforms.

Prior to the political reforms introduced by PM Abiy Ahmed, disruptions of internet connectivity, cell phone services, or social media occurred for reasons ranging from curbing mass protest demonstrations to preventing cheating during examinations.

This time around, although politics is at the center of internet shutdowns, the dynamics are more complicated than they had been prior to the start of the political reforms.

In September 2018, just two months after the government's pledge to open up the internet, deadly communal violence erupted in Burayou, a town located in outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, following the homecoming of two exiled political groups in competition with each other: Patriotic Ginbot 7 and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). In response, the government resorted to large-scale, deliberate disruptions of internet connectivity, cell phone service, and social media.

Authorities believe social media — particularly Facebook — played a central role in stoking communal tension, and they are not alone. The fact that communal tension hit a boiling point in Burayou just as social media made inroads in the area drove many to speculate that the violence was stoked by messages shared on social media.

However, a closer look at the violence reveals there are other deep-rooted factors, too.

In recent years, communal tensions have been a fact of life in Ethiopia. Among the many ethnic tensions that dominate Ethiopian politics, perhaps none have been as caustic as the issue of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital city, around which conflict and tension have been building for years.

Addis Ababa, geographically located in Oromia, is predominantly Amharic-speaking and continues to expand into Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest administrative region.

In reaction to the persistent expansion of Addis Ababa into Oromia until 2014, a protest movement started in 2015. After years of struggle, these protests slowed down the expansion of the sprawling city.

But the protest movement’s initial claim of halting the unrestrained expansion of Addis Ababa at the expense of Oromo farmers eventually evolved into nationalistic claims defined in terms of ethnic ownership of the city.

In the days leading up to the communal violence in Burayou, the supporters of the two rival political blocks spread an “us-versus-them” philosophy through various means of communication. They hoisted and waved flags and banners of the competing groups in the streets of Addis Ababa. There were even physical confrontations and a few violent clashes in the capital.

While many factors contributed to the communal violence in Burayou, such as ethnic and linguistic divides and a lack of faith in the government, the internet was singled out to blame as the main reason.

This was the second time (as per available information) that internet services were suspended after authorities promised the government would no longer block the internet nor restrict access to specific apps or websites.

Authorities also shut down the internet on grounds of security or public order measure when ethnic violence broke out in eastern Ethiopia in August 2018. Authorities only reversed their decision after a short-lived positive turn — following the political reforms that began in April 2018 under Abiy.

And these shutdowns were all a sign of things to come.

Multiple shutdowns in June

Since then, as communal tension and flare-ups began to proliferate, so did internet shutdowns and restrictions on social media on the grounds of security or public order.

June 13, 2019 was the start of a disruptive run of three major shutdowns that included a preemptive shut down due to a national exam that lasted three days, an unexplained internet blackout the lasted for at least 100 hours and a shutdown due to political violence in Amhara State, Ethiopia’s second-largest region.

These incidents do not reflect cases of bandwidth throttling (lowering the quality of their cell signals or internet speed) and restrictions on access to social media sites or specific websites that lasted several days or still continuing.

The longest of all shutdowns came, on June 23, 2019, in the aftermath of high-profile political assassinations of top military officials in Addis Ababa and the president of Amhara region, along with his two top advisers in Bahir Dar, Amhara region’s capital. Internet was intermittently available in the days following the killings, but the network shutdown was only lifted after 10 days.

Who is behind Ethiopia's shutdowns?
It remains unclear which government agencies ordered the aforementioned shutdowns.

Given that there are two major government telecom regulatory agencies, shutdown orders may have come from either the Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency or Information Network Security Agency (INSA).

It is difficult to see Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency as an organization capable of issuing internet shutdowns, as it possesses neither the mandate nor the technical facility to execute internet shutdowns. INSA, on the other hand, — a widely loathed agency for its blatant cyber spying and internet censorship — has been shaken up by political reforms which impeded the organization’s capabilities.

However, circumstances and statements from government authorities suggest shutdown decisions might have actually been made and executed by some sort of ad hoc committee or other bodies that combine members of different government ministries, the country’s top security and military agencies. This approach has no formal legal process to authorize shutdowns and undermines the ability of formal institutions. It also fosters an opaque administrative system rife with irregularities.

Ethiopia has its own peculiar network architecture where its international traffic flows through three international gateways. Such centralized control points have enabled the Ethiopian government to exercise control over the country's internet effectively.

Major social media platforms that have relatively large user bases such as Facebook and WhatsApp remained blocked until August 15, 2019, almost two weeks after tensions eventually subsided.

Government authorities, including Prime Minister Abiy, invariably claim that these deliberate blackouts of internet and restrictions on social media are useful to control misinformation and hate speech. At a recent press conference, Abiy laid out his thoughts about the three major internet shutdowns. When asked how long Ethiopia will continue to disrupt internet connectivity, his six-minute answer covered a lot of ground. He stressed safety, security and public order. He also argued that other countries, such as India, also do it as necessary.

Government officials maintain that such measures help protect national security, but these claims often come without evidence. These shutdowns represent an infringement on Ethiopians’ right to access to information and freedom of expression online.

The shutdowns occurred without official announcements, reasons or projected duration, nor any information about who ordered them or which networks and social media platforms will be affected. This lack of transparency makes it impossible for the Ethiopian public to challenge shutdown decisions.
Ethiopia Slates November 13 for Sidama Autonomy Referendum
29/08 - 20:10

Ethiopia on Thursday granted its ethnic Sidama community a referendum in November on self-determination, with a view to creating the country’s 10th autonomous region, Fana news agency reported.

Ethiopia’s nine existing regional states enjoy a degree of autonomy under which they are able to choose their official language and have limited powers over taxation, education, health and land administration.

Buoyed by political reforms introduced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he took power in 2018, political activists from the Sidama – currently subsumed into one of the nine states – wanted to unilaterally declare a new regional state in July.

The same month, at least 17 people were killed in clashes between security forces and pro-autonomy activists, while other Sidama leaders accepted an offer from the government to hold a referendum within five months.

Ethiopia’s electoral board said the referendum, on Nov. 13, would address “ethnic Sidama’s demand for regional statehood,” state-affiliated Fana said on its website.

At least eight further ethnic groups in the Horn of Africa country of 105 million people are also seeking autonomy.

Abiy, appointed by the ruling coalition last year, has won praise for political reforms in what was once one of the continent’s most repressive nations.

But with many local activists using the greater freedoms to demand more rights, tensions between rival interests sometimes spark violence.

The electoral board said close to 1,700 polling stations and 8,500 election officials would be deployed for the November referendum, Fana reported.

ANC 'Disturbed' by Violent Clashes in Pretoria
2019-08-29 22:32
Ntwaagae Seleka
Times Live

Shops were set alight and looted in the Pretoria CBD on Wednesday. (Alex Mitchley, News24)

The ANC in Tshwane says it is disturbed by the clashes between local taxi operators and foreign nationals in Pretoria.

The party condemned the violent clashes that erupted following the death of a taxi operator who was allegedly gunned down by a foreign national on Tuesday.

Shops were looted, streets littered with rubbish and some buildings set alight.

The police and Tshwane Metro Police Department have deployed more officers to the CBD to ensure that calm is restored.

The ANC's regional secretary, Eugene Modise, said the party was taking a dim view of the unrest and as a result was sending a "humble" request to all parties involved to avoid illegal acts, refrain from violence and allow law enforcement agencies the space to restore order.

"The ANC prides itself with its pan-Africanist orientation and stay true to its international solidarity work. We will at all times protect the rights of our fellow African brothers and sisters.

"We know that there are many foreign nationals in our country who have good intentions to work with our government and our communities.

"However, we also know that there are criminal elements among foreign nationals in our country who are undocumented and are involved in terrible crimes and drugs. It remains our strongest view that the full might of the law must prevail," said Modise.

He added the party had also observed criminal elements becoming opportunistic and using the opportunity to loot and burn shops in the midst of taxi owners and drivers showing their frustration about the fatal shooting of one of their own.

"The fight against drugs and human trafficking is noble. The selling of drugs in the streets continues to destroy the youth in our communities and it is a worthy battle that the ANC together with the communities must confront unapologetically, without fear or favour.

"We warn those who are involved in the above-mentioned illegal activities in our city to know that we will not hesitate to join hands and mobilise against them fervently," Modise said.

The party has promised to meet with Police Minister Bheki Cele, taxi associations and business owners to ensure there is peace and stability in the capital.
Calm Restored to Pretoria CBD, 17 Arrested
29 August 2019 - 07:32

Fire fighters extinguish fires in Pretoria after protests on August 28 2019.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Calm has been restored to Pretoria after violence erupted in the capital city, police said on Thursday morning.

Chaos erupted in the CBD on Wednesday morning after angry taxi operators took to the streets in an attempt to rid the city of alleged drug dealers.

In the process, several foreign-owned shops and business were looted and torched.

Protesters also smashed windows and damaged cars.

The killing of a taxi driver near the Bloed long-distance taxi rank in the city on Tuesday sparked the violence.

Police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters confirmed that 17 people were arrested for the violence on Wednesday. 

Peters said 10 suspects were arrested for being in possession of suspected stolen property, while seven others were arrested for public violence.

Representatives of the taxi industry distanced themselves from the looting, saying there was “no aggression” from them.

“We had planned for a demonstration to highlight some of our issues with the shooting of one of us, and we believe some criminal elements took advantage and exploited our plan to advance their criminal intent,” the SA National Taxi Council's Mack Makata said.

A task team has been formed to quell “tensions” in the Pretoria CBD.

“The taxi industry plays an integral part in the wellbeing of our communities, so when they cry out for police attention, it is important that we respond positively and swiftly, in the best interests of the community,” provincial commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela said.
Taxi Driver Shot Dead, Violence Escalates in Pretoria CBD
27 August 2019 - 18:23

Violence in the Pretoria CBD forced the Gautrain to stop running its bus service on Tuesday. File photo.

Image: James and Ethel Gray Park

A taxi driver was killed during a protest which erupted in the Pretoria inner city after taxi operators tried to forcefully remove alleged drug addicts from the streets.

The Gautrain bus service was forced to stop operating on Tuesday after what it described on its official app as "escalating violence" in the Pretoria CBD.

SAPS spokesman Capt Mavela Masondo confirmed that a group of taxi drivers had been complaining of drug addicts at the Bloed rank.

He said that the taxi drivers chased after a suspected drug addict and a shot was fired. One of the taxi drivers was hit, and was declared dead on the scene.

"There is no information as to who shot the taxi driver," said Masondo.

No arrests have been made.

City of Tshwane MMC for transport, Sheila Senkubuge, told SowetanLIVE that parts of the inner city came to a standstill as six vehicles were seized by disgruntled protesters on Tuesday afternoon.

“A shooting which resulted in the death of a taxi driver is reported to have incited the riots, which led to two A Re Yeng buses, three Tshwane Bus Service [TBS] buses, a Gautrain bus and two trucks being used to blockade the roads,” said Senkubuge.

The A Re Yeng and TBS bus operations were halted for the rest of the day "in the interest of safety", she added.

The seized buses were not damaged.

Senkubuge condemned the shooting.

“The taking of a human life is never justified and the perpetrators of this murder and unlawful usage of public transport vehicles must be made accountable for these crimes,” Senkubuge said.

According to information received by TimesLIVE's sister publication SowetanLIVE, it is understood that a group of taxi operators decided to clean the city’s streets of "nyaope boys" after learning that taxi drivers were now using the drugs.

It is unclear whether the group was made up of taxi drivers or owners, but the group pounced on one of the spots where the drugs were sold.

According to sources, people believed to be police officers were found by the taxi operators involved in the selling of the drugs. Shots were then fired which resulted in the death of the taxi driver.

Incited by the shooting, angry taxi operators then used the city’s buses to block traffic to “deal” with the so-called nyaope boys.

According to Traffic SA there was "heavy congestion" in the CBD due to roads being closed. Shops were also closed.

Attempts to get comment from SAPS and metro police were not immediately successful on Tuesday evening.
Cops Keep a Close Watch Over Pretoria Following Violent Riots and Looting
The chaos in Pretoria was linked to a fracas on Tuesday, where a taxi operator was fatally shot near the Bloed Street long distance taxi rank.

(ANA) African News Agency
2019-08-29 06:31

Shopfronts burn in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Police fired rubber bullets as protests erupted in the central business district of South Africa's capitol Pretoria with rioters setting several small businesses in the area alight. The Sowetan newspaper said the chaos broke out Wednesday after local taxi drivers clashed with drug dealers operating in the area. (AP Photo/Yeshiel Panchia)

Gauteng public transport and roads MEC Jacob Mamabolo together with provincial commissioner of police, Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela on Wednesday met City of Tshwane and representatives of the taxi industry in Pretoria amidst a wave of violence and looting in the capital city.

The chaos in Pretoria was linked to a fracas on Tuesday, where a taxi operator was fatally shot near the Bloed Street long distance taxi rank.

“The taxi industry representatives tabled and raised what both the MEC [Mamabolo] and provincial commissioner [Mawela] believe are genuine concerns, which require urgent attention to ensure safety and security in the space in which they operate,” said Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters.

“The South African Police Service and the Tshwane Metro Police Department have since intensified deployments and will maintain a presence in the CBD to ensure that no further incidents of criminality recur.

“In the meantime, 10 suspects have been arrested for possession of suspected stolen property, while an additional seven have been arrested for public violence.”

What sparked the Pretoria riots?

She said at the meeting on Wednesday, the taxi industry representatives distanced themselves from the incidents of looting that took place in the Pretoria CBD.

Instead, the taxi operators representatives insisted there was no aggression on their part. 

“We had planned for a demonstration to highlight some of our issues with the shooting of one of us, and we believe some criminal elements took advantage and exploited our plan to advance their criminal intent,” South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) representative Mack Makata said.

Mawela made a commitment that police would look into the allegations and assured the taxi industry that they would receive feedback in due course.

“The taxi industry plays an integral part in the well-being of our communities so when they cry out for police attention, it is important that we respond positively and swiftly, in the best interests of the community,” he said.

Mamabolo extended his condolences to the family and colleagues of the taxi operator who died on Tuesday evening, during the violence engulfing Pretoria. He urged police to prioritise the investigation of the murder case and bring the perpetrators to book.

On Wednesday, chaos continued in the Pretoria CBD for a second consecutive day as taxi operators torched stores owned by foreign nationals who they accuse of peddling drugs.

The taxi operators’ anger was exacerbated after a Nigerian national allegedly shot and killed a taxi driver on Tuesday.
Tshwane Taxi Drivers Continue Their War on Drugs in Sunnyside
30 AUGUST 2019, 07:27AM

TAXI drivers continued war against drugs in Sunnyside under the watchful eye on SAPS officers. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - Taxi drivers have vowed to continue their war against drugs despite the fatal shooting of their colleague which sparked violent protests in the CBD over the past two days.

The violence that started late on Tuesday afternoon after the killing of the driver continued under the watchful eye of police in Sunnyside yesterday.

Foreign nationals stood on one side with hundreds of taxi drivers on the other demanding that suspected drug dealers leave the area. As they did in the city centre on Wednesday, they again targeted shops owned by foreign nationals, saying they were distributing drugs.

The idea started in May, with taxi drivers using sjamboks and sticks to disperse and get rid of suspected nyaope users on the notorious Brown Street.

They said yesterday it did not make sense to deal with small parts of the problem affecting many township youths around Tshwane without acting against the source of it all.

“Anyone who lives or has been in CBD knows that if you want drugs at any given time, Sunnyside is the place to go,” said taxi driver Sello Sekgale.

“We are not fighting with the police; all we want is for them to come with us so we can search through each and every flat here. We know there are drugs here and we want them gone.”

Sekgale said they were happy Sunnyside police were willing to work with them, something that could not be said about some officers at Pretoria Central, who, he claimed, were working with the drug dealers.

“We know they work with these people because when we try to report (them) they are the ones who turn around and tip them off. Next thing you know you are being called to be threatened by these foreign nationals.”

Police managed to restore an uneasy calm in the area, and some businesses attempted to reopen shortly after the groups had dispersed.

The violence erupted on Tuesday afternoon after a taxi driver, identified as Jabu Baloyi, was shot, allegedly by a foreign national. The drivers had confronted the perpetrator for allegedly dealing drugs in the CBD.

In retaliation, the angry crowd set alight numerous stores suspected of being run by foreign nationals on Wednesday, accusing them of selling drugs to young people around the Lilian Ngoyi and Brown streets intersection.

Life returned to normal yesterday in the CBD.

Several shopowners had fled the area following the violence of the previous day. Some shops remained closed while owners tried to salvage what was left of their stock following the looting and fire.

Seven shops were razed to the ground near the intersection of Brown and Lilian Ngoyi streets.

Meanwhile, the Tshwane Chamber of Commerce and Industry said protests in the CBD were taking a high toll on its members.

CEO Pieter du Toit said: “The damage to businesses costs a lot of money. Eventually business will be forced to relocate elsewhere. This would not be good for the city.”

Du Toit said it had become the norm in the CBD that businesses lost two to three trading days a month as a result of protests or strikes.

There was also a heavy police presence at all the African embassies in Arcadia yesterday.

Back in the CBD, most welcomed the drug clean-up by the taxi drivers.

Many said they feared drug dealers and users and stated they had lost all hope in the police, who they accused of being at the forefront of criminality and corruption.

Pretoria News
18 Arrested After Pretoria CBD Looting Spree - Metro Police
2019-08-29 12:15
Azarrah Karrim and Alex Mitchley

Firefighters raced to save burning buildings and debris littered the streets of Pretoria's CBD after a protest descended into a looting spree on Wednesday.

Eighteen people have been arrested following Wednesday’s unrest in the Pretoria CBD, Tshwane Metro Police spokesperson Isaac Mahamba has confirmed.

Mahamba told News24 that eight people had been arrested for public violence and 10 for possession of stolen goods.

Chaos erupted on the streets of Pretoria on Wednesday as taxi drivers attempted to rid the CBD of alleged drug dealers, after a taxi driver was shot and killed on Tuesday.

It was alleged that taxi drivers had found members of the police involved in selling drugs.

Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades after protesters started looting shops and setting buildings alight in the Pretoria CBD on Wednesday. It followed a shutdown in which thousands of taxis blocked several roads earlier in the morning.

During the incident, multiple shots were fired, resulting in the death of the taxi driver. Angry taxi operators then used the city's buses to block traffic to "deal" with the nyaope (drug) boys, News24 reported.

Wednesday's unrest began with taxi drivers blocking roads in the CBD to protest the shooting.

News24 was on the ground and witnessed shops being looted and set alight.

At one point, police officers from the flying squad, wielding R5 rifles, attempted to gain access to Lilian Ngoyi Street to allow the fire department through to attend to the burning buildings.

Police officers and firefighters were eventually forced to retreat as the looting continued.

A large police contingent finally moved into the area firing rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

As the police started firing, looters ran away, some with large flat screen TVs that were stolen from an electronics store on the same street.

The police kept clearing streets as the looting continued.

Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela told News24 on Wednesday that no arrests had been made during the chaos.

On Thursday, Mahamba confirmed that calm has been restored to the CBD.

He added that the 18 people who had been arrested were due to appear in court for a bail hearing. No date has been set yet.
All Quiet in Pretoria CBD as Things Slowly Return to Normal
29 AUGUST 2019, 09:58AM

Traffic moves freely in Lillian Ngoyi Street where yesterday's chaos took place. Picture: Chelsea Ntuli

Pretoria - Pretoria CBD taxi drivers are operating smoothly on Thursday morning with no chaos in sight.

After the angry protest on Wednesday that resulted in buildings being burned down and shops being looted, the city is now calm and restored to normality.

Taxi operators took to the streets on Wednesday near the Bloed Street Taxi Rank demanding that police take them seriously.

The chaos had started on Tuesday when a taxi driver identified as Jabu Baloyi was allegedly shot by a foreign national who allegedly had been dealing in drugs when he had been confronted.

Metro police are patrolling the area to make sure that no criminal activities take place.

Traffic has also returned to normal and motorists are now able to get in and out of town freely.

A few shops remain closed however most of the shops have decided to open and continue with normal business.

Meanwhile Tshwane executive mayor Stevens Mokgalapa said he strongly condemned the outbreak of violence in the Pretoria CBD on Wednesday.

Mokgalapa said there was no grievance that should result in death, irrespective of the circumstances between the individuals involved.

“I therefore take this opportunity to extend my deepest condolences to the deceased’s family and those closest to him during this time of bereavement.

“I appeal for calm and urge Tshwane residents, the taxi industry, informal traders and all other stakeholders to exercise restraint. These retaliation crimes are intolerable.

“However, I have full confidence in the Tshwane Metropolitan Police Department and SAPS capabilities to bring the perpetrators to book.

"I apologise to residents who have been inconvenienced as a result of the unfortunate turn of events.”

Mokgalapa said that in the meantime, the City’s law enforcement officers would continue to monitor activities in the CBD and apprehend drug sellers who prey on vulnerable individuals for their illicit business.

“Tshwane remains a safe city and any individual or group that undermines law and order will be dealt with swiftly,” he added.

Pretroria News