Friday, February 21, 2020

Pest Control
AFP - Reuters
2020/2/20 18:03:40

Locusts feed on a plant near the village of Riandira in Kirinyaga County, Kenya on January 14. Photo: VCG

Under a warm morning sun, scores of weary soldiers stare as millions of yellow locusts rise into the northern Ugandan sky, despite hours spent spraying vegetation with chemicals in an attempt to kill them.

From the tops of shea trees, fields of pea plants and tall grass savanna, the insects rise in a hypnotic murmuration, disappearing quickly to wreak devastation elsewhere.

The soldiers and agricultural officials will now have to hunt the elusive fast-moving swarms - a sign of the challenge facing nine east African countries now battling huge swarms of hungry desert locusts.

They arrived in conflict-torn South Sudan this week, with concerns already high of a humanitarian crisis in a region where 12 million are going hungry, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

"One swarm of 40 to 80 million can consume food" for over 35,000 people in a day, Priya Gujadhur, a senior FAO official in Uganda, told AFP.

In Atira - a remote village of grass-thatched huts in northern Uganda - some 160 soldiers wearing protective plastic overalls, masks and goggles sprayed trees and plants with pesticide from before dawn in a bid to kill the resting insects.

But even after hours of work they were mostly able to reach only lower parts of the vegetation.

Major General Kavuma sits in the shade of a Neem Tree alongside civilian officials as locusts sprayed with pesticide earlier that morning fall around them, convulsing as they die.

An intense chemical smell hangs in the air.

'They surrounded me'

Zakaria Sagal, a 73-year-old subsistence farmer was weeding his field in Lopei village some 120 kilometers away, preparing to plant maize and sorghum, when without warning a swarm of locusts descended around him.

"From this side and this side and this side, they surrounded me," Sagal said, waving his arms in every direction.

"We have not yet planted our crops but if they return at harvest time they will destroy everything. We are not at all prepared."

East Africa's regional expert group, the Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), warned Tuesday that eggs laid across the migratory path will hatch in the next two months, and will continue breeding as the rainy season arrives in the region.

This will coincide with the main cropping season and could cause "significant crop losses... and could potentially worsen the food security situation," ICPAC said in a statement.

'Panic mode'

Since 2018, a long period of dry weather followed by a series of cyclones that dumped water on the region created "excessively ideal conditions" for locusts to breed, says Gujadhur.

Nevertheless, governments in East Africa have been caught off guard and are currently in "panic mode," Gujadhur said.

The locusts arrived in South Sudan this week after hitting Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda.

Desert locusts take over on a dizzying scale.

One swarm in Kenya reached around 2,400 square kilometers - an area almost the size of Moscow - meaning it could contain up to 200 billion locusts.

"A swarm that size can consume food for 85 million people per day," said Gujadhur.

Ugandan authorities are aware that subsequent waves of locusts may pose problems in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, they are attempting to control the current generation.

Gujadhur is quick to praise the "quite strong and very quick" response from the Ugandan government but is concerned that while the army can provide valuable personnel, a military-led response may not be as effective as is necessary.

"It needs to be the scientists and [agriculture officials] who take the lead about where the control operations need to be and how and when and what time," she said.

'They eat anything green'

The soldiers have been working nonstop for two days, crisscrossing the plains on the few navigable roads, trying to keep up with the unpredictable swarms.

Major General Kavuma recognizes that the biggest threat is from the eggs which are yet to hatch but is confident the army will be able to control this enemy.

"We have the chemicals to spray them, all we need is to map the places they have been landing and sleeping," he said.

"In two weeks' time we will come back and by that time they will have hatched and that will be the time to destroy them by spraying."

Back in Lopei village, Elizabeth Namoe, 40, a shopkeeper in nearby Moroto had been visiting family when the swarm arrived.

"When the locusts settle, they eat anything green, the animals will die because they have nothing to feed on, then even the people [will suffer]," she said.

"The children will be affected by hunger and famine since all life comes from all that is green. I fear so much."
Tests for Egypt's Only Coronavirus Case Come Negative
2020/2/20 1:30:24

A foreign national who was recently announced to be Egypt's first case with novel coronavirus has tested negative for the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Egypt's Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

In a joint statement, both health bodies announced that the RT-PCR results of the foreigner came back 48 hours after the person was admitted to a hospital for quarantine.

The person suspected of having contracted the virus had undergone six RT-PCR tests during a period of three consecutive days, the statement said, adding that the results of the tests came back negative each time.

"The health status of the person was monitored by medical teams around the clock ... the person did not show any symptoms during the isolation period," the statement read.

Dr. Jean Jabbour, WHO Representative in Egypt, said that all the measures taken to monitor the situation were carried out in full coordination with the WHO and in accordance with its scientific and technical guidelines, especially with regard to laboratory procedures, according to the statement.

On Friday, the Egyptian Health Ministry announced the first case of the novel coronavirus has been confirmed in Egypt.

The identity and the nationality of the patient were not revealed.

The ministry also said that the patient was transferred in a self-sterilized ambulance to a hospital and kept under mandatory quarantine, adding that the health ministry has tested those who had been in contact with the person, affirming they had all tested negative for the virus.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, Egypt has adopted an integrated plan, which covers early detection, quarantine and treatment measures, as well as raising public awareness.
Egypt's First Jewelry School Ignites Hope for Jewelry-making Industry
2020/2/18 11:55:41

Students learn to manufacture and design Jewelry in a school near Egypt's capital Cairo, on Jan. 19, 2020. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

In a tranquil upscale business district near Egypt's capital Cairo, students are learning how to make and design jewelry at the country's first jewelry school.

The school. named Egypt Gold, was established in 2019 after a protocol was signed between the Ministry of Education and Egypt Gold Group, Egypt's most respected designer, manufacturer and distributor of jewelry, gold, timepieces, diamonds, and watches.

The school provides the students with certified diplomas acknowledged worldwide.

"Starting this school was a dream that came true. It will save the gold and jewelry industries from decline, not only in Egypt, but also in the Middle East and Africa," Mostafa Nassar, chairman of the board of Egypt Gold Group, told Xinhua.

Nassar said the gold and jewelry industries of Egypt has been suffering from a lack of trained workforce since the 1980s, noting that the school will help solve this problem.

In 1999, Nassar started a training center in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Social Affairs where hundreds of young people learned to make gold and jewelry.

"Some 3,500 workers graduated from the center ... the company employed 1,400 of them, while the rest have been employed in other workshops," he noted.

Nassar said that he will provide the first 600 students of Egypt Gold with small workshops where they can start their professional life, stressing he will give them raw materials "and then buy their products."

"The graduates can pay back for the workshops and equipment from the profits they make," he said. "After a few years the workshops will be their own property and they can even work for other companies if they wish."

Nassar revealed he is already on the process of negotiations with three foreign universities working in the field of jewelry and gold education to start the first university that would teach jewelry manufacturing and designing.

"Egypt is in need of academic education in such a field which will help make our country become a regional technical educational hub," Nassar revealed.

For his part, Khaled Hassan, director of Business and Enterprise Development at Egypt Gold Group, said the school applies the latest technologies in the gold industry, adding that the students will be qualified designers and makers once graduated.

Hassan noted that 200 students, 130 girls and 70 boys, are attending classes currently, revealing that the school has hired non-Egyptian jewelry experts to teach the students the latest gold-making skills.

The students, who came from different provinces across Egypt, believe that the school is a place that helps them build a good promising future in a country where unemployment rate stands at 8 percent.

Yasmin Ibrahim, from Monufia province, said she has learned much during a short period of time at the school, adding that she enjoys the experience of being a student at a technical school.

"The school will help us realize our dreams of having a job at an early age," she said as she observed a teacher drawing a design of a ring.
83 Pharaonic Tombs Unearthed in Egypt
2020/2/13 9:38:00

An Egyptian archeological mission has uncovered 83 tombs in the Delta province of Daqahilia, Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities said on Wednesday.

"The tombs that were found in Om al-Khilgan area in Daqahilia dated back to 4,000 B.C. that was known as Lower Egypt civilization," said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

He added that the oval-shaped tombs contained funeral furniture and pottery coffins.

He considered the discovery as "historically significant because it indicated that this area was highly populated and the site also contains rare pottery coffins."

This undated photos shows a discovered pottery coffin in Daqahilia province, Egypt. (Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/Handout via Xinhua)

More tombs are expected to be unearthed in the same area, according to Waziri.

The funeral pieces included different shaped small pottery pots and some sea shells, said Ayman Ashmawy, head of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities.

Some make-up tools, especially eyeliner pots, and jewelries were also found inside the tombs, he added.

Egypt has witnessed several big archeological discoveries in 2019 in different parts of the country, including Pharaonic tombs, statues, coffins and mummies.
Does Pompeo Really Want to Help African Countries?
By Shi Tian
Global Times

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a speech in Addis Ababa on February 19, 2020. Photo: AFP

Mike Pompeo has just concluded his first visit to Africa since being appointed as US Secretary of State. His tour of the continent was also the first by an US Cabinet official in 18 months. Regrettably, instead of enhancing US-Africa ties, he has seen this land as a political stage where he could once again smear China.

"Countries should be wary of authoritarian regimes with empty promises. They breed corruption, dependency," Pompeo said Wednesday in a speech in Ethiopia. Although not mentioning China by name, his target was obvious.

Over the past decade, Africa has gradually grown as a new pole of global economic growth, in which China's supporting role is prominent. In 2019, China-Africa trade exceeded $200 billion, making China Africa's largest trading partner for 11 consecutive years. According to a McKinsey report, China has been helping "accelerate the progress of Africa's economies" and "no other country matches" the depth and breadth of China's engagement in Africa.

In addition to investments, China has generously offered its development experience. Most African countries were deeply influenced by the West back in the colonial period. Since their independence from colonial rule, they have been struggling to explore their own development paths. As the largest developing country with rapid growth, China's experience has provided other developing countries, especially African countries, with a reference.

For example, Ethiopia, where Pompeo launched his baseless attacks against China, is called by some as "the China of Africa," as it has developed into East Africa's largest economy by benefiting from China's experience to some extent. Undoubtedly, China's model is leading Ethiopia to a correct development path.

Thus, Ethiopians did not buy Pompeo's accusations at all. Abel Abate Demissie, an Ethiopian political analyst, said, "It is undeniable that Chinese investment was quite crucial in keeping Ethiopia on track as one of the world's fastest-growing economies for many years."

Witnessing China's growing influence in the world and the success of the Chinese model, Washington has clearly been sitting on thorns. The US' constant attacks against China in terms of African affairs are only a display of exasperation.

But how can Africans trust the US? President Donald Trump once straightforwardly called some underdeveloped African countries "shitholes." Since assuming office, his administration has cut aid to Africa and imposed a travel ban on some African countries. It seems Washington's attention on Africa can only be observed from its continued accusations against China's African engagement.

Even US experts cannot stand the Trump administration's moves. Johnnie Carson, senior adviser to the US Institute of Peace, said in September 2019: "Our policies should not be focused around countering what other people are doing in Africa. It should be focused on building and strengthening our partnership."

Which country's promises are pragmatic and whose are "empty?" Facts can speak for themselves, and it is believed that the people of Africa have sharp eyes. The US should also be aware that only Africans themselves have the right to decide whether and how to cooperate with and learn from China. The preaching of Pompeo and his colleagues can never change Africans' own decisions. Their mind-set which allows ideology in demand will only throw the world into chaos.
Libya's Haftar Says Any Ceasefire Would be Contingent on Turkish Withdrawal: RIA
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Khalifa Haftar, Libya’s eastern military commander, said he would be ready for a ceasefire if Turkish and Syrian mercenaries left the country and Ankara stopped supplying weapons to Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tripoli, RIA reported.

The internationally recognized government on Tuesday suspended talks hosted by the United Nations to halt warfare over Tripoli after eastern forces shelled the capital’s port, killing three people and almost hitting a highly explosive gas tanker.

“A ceasefire (would be) the result of a number of conditions being fulfilled ...the withdrawal of Syrian and Turkish mercenaries, an end to Turkish arms supplies to Tripoli, and the liquidation of terrorist groups (in Tripoli),” Haftar told Russia’s RIA news agency in an interview.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Anastasia Teterevleva; Editing by Andrew Osborn
Algeria Ready to Mediate in Libya Ceasefire Talks: President to Paper
Feb. 20, 2020, at 2:54 a.m.

FILE PHOTO: Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune arrives for the opening of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa NegeriREUTERS

PARIS (REUTERS) - Algeria is ready to act as a mediator in any Libya ceasefire talks, its president Abdelmadjid Tebboune told French newspaper Le Figaro in an interview published on Thursday.

"If we are given a mandate by the U.N. Security Council, we are capable of quickly bringing peace to Libya since Algeria is a sincere and credible mediator, and one that is accepted by all Libyan tribes," he told Le Figaro, in an interview aimed at reaching Algeria's large expatriate population in France.

Nearly nine years after rebel fighters backed by NATO air strikes overthrew late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya still has no nationally recognized central authority.

On Wednesday, its internationally acknowledged leader dashed hopes of a quick revival of U.N. ceasefire negotiations after his side withdrew from them as eastern forces shelled the capital.

(Reporting by Marine Pennetier; editing by John Stonestreet)
Algeria Recalls Diplomat After Cote d’Ivoire Opens Laayoune Consulate
Algeria has been releasing similar statements to other African countries that have opened new consulates in Morocco’s southern provinces.

Moroccan FM Nasser Bourita and the Ivorian minister for African Integration, Ally Coulibaly

By Safaa Kasraoui
Morocco World News.
Feb 21, 2020

Rabat –  Algiers has recalled its ambassador in Cote d’Ivoire for “consultations,” two days after Cote d’Ivoire opened a new consulate in Laayoune, southern Morocco, Algerian state media APS announced on Thursday.

Following dozens of statements condemning the opening of African consulates in Moroccan southern provinces, Algeria has now turned to other hostile moves to express frustration against Morocco.

On February 18, Cote d’Ivoire opened a consulate in Laayoune, reflecting its full support for the Moroccan position on Western Sahara.

The Ivorian minister for African Integration, Ally Coulibaly, described his country’s as a “sovereign act.”

“In foreign policy, as in other fields, we are careful not to give moral lessons, nor do we want to be told what to do or not to do,” said the Ivorian official.

The statement appeared to anticipate Algeria’s reaction to the new Ivorian consulate in the region.

The Algerian government, which supports the independence claims of the Polisario Front, has been condemning the recent decisions of some African states to open diplomatic representations in Western Sahara.

The Algerian government has continued to challenge Morocco’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over Western Sahara.

With the new Ivorian consulate, there are now seven consulates of African states in Dakhla and Laayoune in Morocco’s Western Sahara.

Similar to its other statements, the new reaction of Algeria describes Cote d’Ivoire’s decision to open a consulate as “a flagrant transgression of international law.”

“This kind of act from a founding member of the AU is a violation of the commitments resulting from the constituting act of the AU and a flagrant transgression of international law and of the resolutions of the Security Council and the Assembly general of the UN concerning the question of decolonization of Western Sahara,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Algeria said on February 19.

Following the condemnatory statement, the Algerian government announced the decision to recall its ambassador back to Algeria for consultations.

Cote d’Ivoire made its position clear, stressing the move “is a decision that we fully assume because it is part of our sovereignty (and) because it is in accordance with our interests and our values.” Coulibaly made the remarks after the inauguration of the consulate in Laayoune.

He said the act should not open controversy since the Ivorian position was clear before, and he reiterated support for Morocco’s 2007 autonomy initiative.

Algeria and the Polisario Front have issued similar statements against Central African Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Gabon, the Comoros, the Gambia, and Guinea—countries that also recently inaugurated diplomatic representations in Western Sahara.

Algeria, for years, has claimed to be an “observer” and not a party to the Western Sahara conflict, asserting it does not have to be a main party in the process to find a political solution to the conflict. Morocco’s eastern neighbor, however, has long expressed support for the Polisario Front and its claims, which Morocco views as an interference in its domestic affairs and territorial integrity.

The consulate openings reflect the growing support for Morocco’s sovereignty over the region from countries throughout Africa.
Algeria Deports German for Sacking 900 Workers
February 20, 2020 at 2:00 am 
Middle East Monitor

Algeria yesterday issued an order to deport the country head of the Qatari telecommunications company Ooredoo for “sacking 900 Algerian workers”.

An-Nahar reported that the Algerian President Abdelmajid Taboun  ordered the “immediate expulsion and deportation of the general manager of Ooredoo.” The newspaper added that German national Nikolai Beckers was firing workers at a time when the company “was not suffering any financial problems and was making profits”.

In August, Ooredoo announced Beckers’ appointment as chief executive officer (CEO). Beckers was reported to have held senior roles at a number of multinational organisations in Europe and Asia, with more than 20 years of experience in the communications and information technology sector. He holds a degree in business administration from University of Cologne, Germany.

Ooredoo QSC is an international company headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Its international chairman is Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohammed Bin Suad Al Thani.
Algeria President Hails 'Hirak' Protesters Ahead of Anniversary
Africa News

Algeria’s president Abdelmadjid Tebboune has honored the protest movement that toppled his predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika last year, with a special holiday.

Tebboune, who was elected in December last year, declared Feb. 22 a special holiday to honor the peaceful “smile revolution”.

The announcement of the holiday was made on Wednesday ahead of what are expected to be big protests this week to mark the Hirak movement’s first anniversary.

The move appears to be an attempt to mollify protesters who feel authorities are ignoring their calls for deeper political change.

Protesters are planning their 53rd straight week of marches Friday for what is now called the “Feb. 22 Revolution,” marking the day of the first major nationwide protests against Bouteflika’s rule.

The communications minister called earlier this week for Feb. 22 to be declared “a national holiday of the blessed Hirak”, the Arabic name for the uprising.

It’s a symbolic decision, but a key recognition of the importance of the protest movement that has led to major changes in the leadership of Africa’s largest country.

Tebboune pledges reforms

Tebboune is a product of Algeria’s old power structure, which remained largely in place after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his entourage were pushed out last year.

In an interview with French daily Le Figaro on Thursday, Tebboune pledged to implement radical reforms.

“We cannot reform, repair and restore that which was destroyed over a decade in two months,” Tebboune told Le Figaro.

Tebboune has been slammed by protesters as representing the ruling elite they want removed, having served several times as minister and once briefly as prime minister during Bouteflika’s two-decade rule.

“I am determined to go far in making radical changes to break with bad practices, clean up the political sphere and change the approach to governing,’‘ said the president who “extended a hand” to the Hirak movement after his election.

Revising the constitution is the “priority of priorities”, he said.

“The limits”, he added, are those elements “relating in particular to national identity and national unity.

“Everything else is negotiable”.

“The second area of work will be that of the electoral law”, to give legitimacy to parliament, “which will have to play a larger role”, he said, underscoring the need to “separate money from politics”.

Hirak’s future

So what next for the Hirak movement?

Should it negotiate with a president who is far from being the fresh face protesters demanded, even if he has himself repeatedly said he was ready to “extend a hand” to cooperate with them?

Should the Hirak build a solid structure for itself and designate representatives?

Experts say the movement is divided on all those questions and faces important decisions.

The protest movement is young “and everything it has done has been spontaneous”, said Karima Direche, a historian and expert on contemporary issues facing North African countries.

They “have to learn to listen to each other, accept that opinions could be different and learn to negotiate in order to reach a consensus.

“We’re not there yet,” said Direche.

She said the Hirak has been “experimenting” since the movement first emerged on the scene in February 2019 to oppose a fifth presidential bid by an ailing Bouteflika.

Pressure from the street forced Bouteflika to resign in April but that has not satisfied the demonstrators who demand the departure of the entire political system in place in Algeria since independence in 1962.

Despite Tebboune’s election, the protest movement is still seeking “political transition” in the oil-rich country and how to achieve it.

“We’re stuck in something quite bizarre: there is still a mobilisation on the streets,” said Direche, referring to the weekly Friday protests that continue to grip Algeria a year on.

Pierre Vermeren, professor of contemporary history at the Paris 1 university, still sees a “peaceful” way out for the Hirak.

He proposes the formation of “political or civil associations to pave the way for local and national elections” and for candidates to “relay the message of the Hirak inside state institutions”.

However, according to Ghanem, the political class appears to have regained the upper hand since Bouteflika’s resignation on April 2.

The Hirak wants to influence the changes promised by the new president but is struggling to structure itself and agree on a future strategy.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Lesotho’s Prime Minister to Be Charged with Murdering Wife – Police
Southern Times
Feb 20, 2020

Maseru - Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is to be charged with the murder of his former wife, the deputy police commissioner said on Thursday.

Thabane, 80, announced on Thursday that he would be stepping down at the end of July, citing old age as the reason for leaving office.

The leader of the small southern African nation has been under mounting pressure over the death of former first lady Lipolelo Thabane and the alleged involvement of his current wife.

Lipolelo Thabane was shot dead in June 2017 near her home in Maseru. The prime minister’s current wife Maesaiah Thabane was detained this month and charged with ordering the murder.

“The prime minister is going to be charged with the murder. The police are preparing directives and he will probably be charged tomorrow,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Paseka Mokete.

Police say Maesaiah Thabane hired eight assassins to kill the former first lady, but was not present at the shooting. She has denied any involvement in the killing.

Thabane’s resignation comes days after his own party’s executive council called for him to step down immediately.

“I have served my country diligently,” the prime minister said on state radio.

“I’ve worked for a peaceful and stable Lesotho. Today … at my age, I have lost most of my energy … I hereby retire as prime minister with effect from the end of July.”

Thabane is set to appear in court on the murder charges on Friday.

– Reuters.
Namibia to Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Independence
Southern Times
Feb 19, 2020
Thando Mnkandhla

The Namibian nation will be celebrating 30 years of independence on the 21st of March 2020. The main event is set to take place in Windhoek at the Independence Stadium.

The occasion will also coincide with the inauguration of President Hage Geingob, who will be serving his second and final term. The president is expected to deliver his inaugural speech. A reasonable number of heads of state and other dignitaries have been invited.

The celebration is a reminder that Namibia's freedom was attained after a long struggle for independence against colonialism. While celebrating 30 years of freedom and self governance, the nation has been urged to be united and jealously guard the hard earned independence and cherish the peace, stability and tranquility.

Speaking at the celebrations launch in Windhoek on Wednesday 19 February, the Executive Director of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana said Namibians must use independence day to reflect on their history as a nation, to celebrate their achievements, fight against social evils, while building strong resilience to economic hardships.

Preparations are currently in full swing, with various sub committees under the National Committee on National Events tasked with various functions to ensure that this will be a memorable celebration.
10 Killed, 50 Arrested in Zambia Gassing Cases
Southern Times
Feb 20, 2020
By Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka - Over 10 people have died and an estimated 50 have been arrested in connection with cases of instant mob justice meted out on people suspected of orchestrating widespread gassing of people, fueling concerns of violence in Zambia.

The covert acts started in Chingola, a mining town in Zambia near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo some months ago. It then spread to other parts of the country, targeting schools, health institutions, business premises and households. An unknown chemical is being used to immobilise victims who are then attacked.

Police spokeswoman, Esther Katongo, said several deaths involving people suspected to be part of the group carrying out the clandestine activities have been recorded with some burnt to ashes. Over 50 people allegedly involved in instant mob justice were arrested.

"These are unruly groupings arming themselves with offensive weapons moving around communities on the pretext of patrolling, but they end up harassing innocent people, some of which have died in instances of mob justice," Katongo said in Lusaka.

"Police have instituted investigations in all cases of murder recorded as a result of recent mob justice as well as those of malicious damage to property. All those involved in these crimes should know that their days are numbered because as police, we shall not leave any stone unturned."

Embassies accredited to Zambia say they are living in fear and have sent security alerts to their nationals seeking to travel to Zambia to be cautious and wary of being waylaid.

The United States embassy has issued an alert over rumours of ritualistic killings and residential gassings. 

In its alert, it cites rioting and civil disturbances as being on the increase in some provinces, to include Lusaka.

Citizen groups are targeting individuals suspected of being involved in the rituals, gassings, or any other criminal activity.

“Additional reactive actions include assault and severe injury of suspects, destruction of vehicles and buildings, impromptu protests, roadblocks, and road closures, and retaliation against police forces.  Criminal elements may also take advantage of the unrest and utilize these regional instabilities to further their unlawful behaviour,” the US posted on its website.

Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other players are worried of the prospects of economic decline. The chamber’s past president, Michael Nyirenda, said they are worried that the ongoing gassing of people by unknown individuals has a negative impact on businesses in the country and should be redressed because of its disastrous potential to inhibit economic growth as businesses are struggling amid chaos.

However, President Edgar Lungu has since deployed defence and security personnel to restore order in the countryside, following recurring gassing and mob justice incidents and warns perpetrators.

"We are coming for you whether from the ruling or opposition party, church, or NGO. We are coming for you regardless of who you are or what you are,” he said, and allayed claims by the opposition of the state masterminding the gassing as a ploy to implicate the former.

“It’s warped thinking to imagine that the government can turn against its own people, just because of efforts to incarcerate one Zambia.”

Minister of Interior, Stephen Kampyongo, warned the perpetrators to desist from the acts, saying it could be perceived as terrorism if it continues.

Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), urged the government to investigate the covert acts, failure of which there would be a need to engage international investigators.

 “Let’s seek help from international investigative wings if we are failing to deal with perpetrators of terror attacks. Zambia is faced with events that may plunge the country into serious chaos if not handled properly.

 “These events involve criminal gangs or individuals spraying chemicals in the homes of citizens, that several media reports have indicated have an effect similar to clinical chemicals used in theatres during surgical procedures,” Hichilema said.

The church is concerned too. It condemned the uncouth gassing and instant justice acts being meted on suspects. It called for three days of national prayer to exorcise the demonic acts that have buffeted Zambia.
US-Africa Relations: Highlights of Pompeo's Trip to Senegal, Ethiopia, Angola
Daniel Mumbere
Africa News

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo concluded his maiden trip to the African continent on Tuesday in Ethiopia, where he met the country’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed, the president Zewde Sahle-Work and African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat among other dignitaries.

Pompeo also visited Angola and Senegal, where he highlighted America’s commitment to pursuing its strategic interests and supporting its African allies.

In this article, we recap some of the key messages that Pompeo shared over his three-legged trip.

If there’s one thing you should know about our president - my boss - you should you know that he loves deals.

Warning to South Africa

During his final leg in Ethiopia, Pompeo took some time to warn South Africa’s government against plans to expropriate land without compensation,saying it would be ‘disastrous’ for the economy.

“South Africa is debating an amendment to permit the expropriation of private property without compensation. That would be disastrous for that economy, and most importantly for the South African people,” he was quoted by Bloomberg news agency as saying.

Pompeo argued that African economies need “strong rule of law, respect for property rights [and] regulation that encourages investment’‘.

South Africa’s ruling party has said it is committed to amending the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation in order to tackle the “historical injustice” caused by the white-minority rule.

Most of the country’s farms and agricultural holdings are owned by white farmers, 72% according to government statistics. White people make up 9% of the population.

Beware of China

In a speech at the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa in the Ethiopian capital, Pompeo reiterated the United States’ warning to African countries against big infrastructure projects financed by Chinese loans.

“Countries should be wary of authoritarian regimes with empty promises. They breed corruption, dependency,” Pompeo said in a speech to diplomats and business leaders.

“They run the risk that the prosperity and sovereignty and progress that Africa so needs and desperately wants won’t happen.”

The Trump administration has repeatedly sought to counter China’s influence on the African continent by questioning the sustainability of China-funded projects and the ability of African nations to repay Chinese loans.

China is Africa’s largest trading partner.

Trade deal with Kenya

Pompeo also confirmed that the United States was seeking a free trade deal with Kenya.

“If there’s one thing you should know about our president – my boss – you should you know that he loves deals. He wants more to happen between the United States and nations all across Africa,” Pompeo told business leaders.

He however did not give more details about the negotiations that began last month.

Pompeo also hailed the free market generally, blasting “failed socialist experiments of years past” in places like Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

Successful trip?
While the United States is working hard to lay out a positive vision for its cooperation with Africa, observers say president Donald Trump’s policy on Africa undermines this.

African countries have been targeted in Trump’s travel bans while the US is currently considering military cuts on the continent.

“Pompeo is unlikely to undo the damage from the Trump administration’s travel bans, the proposed budget cuts, or the president’s disparaging comments about the region,” said Judd Devermont, Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank in Washington.

It is also argued that messages like Pompeo’s are too little too late, considering the benefits that African governments have derived from Chinese support.

“It is undeniable that Chinese investment was quite crucial in keeping Ethiopia on track as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies for many years,” Abel Abate Demissie, an Ethiopian political analyst said.

Abel also argues that Chinese finance more visible projects like roads and buildings while the Americans invest in fields like education and health.

“The fact that Chinese loans and sometimes grants have less bureaucracy also makes it quite convenient for Ethiopia and Africa at large,” Abel said.

In Angola, Pompeo praised president Joao Lourenco’s commitment to the fight against corruption, while he also pledged to support Ethiopia’s political reforms and continue mediating the row with Egypt over a dam on the River Nile.
Saharawi Government Presents Condolences to Mozambique for Loss of Pan-African Leader Marcelino Dos Santos
18/02/2020 - 13:03

Gaborone (Botswana), 18 February 2020 (SPS) - Saharawi Ambassador to Botswana and Permanent Representative to SADC, Mr. Malainin Mohamed, presented Today his government’s condolences to the High Commission of Mozambique to Botswana, on the sad occasion of the passing away of the late Mozambican and Pan-African leader Marcelino Dos Santos.

The Saharawi Ambassador signed the book of condolences expressing “Saharawi government’s condolences on the occasion of the sad loss of one of Africa’s great sons, an intellectual and a freedom-fighter who has always supported all African nations’ rights to peace, freedom and independence”.

Marcelino dos Santos was born on 20 May 1929 in Lumbo, Mozambique. He studied in Portugal and France and was among the first Pan-Africanists to advocate among African students in Europe for the liberation of African countries from colonialism.

He was a founding member of FRILIMO and played a crucial role in the leadership of Mozambique’s liberation as a brilliant communicator and representative of his country and movement in all international forums, then as a member of the FRILIMO highest leadership assuming ministerial positions.

He passed away this Tuesday 11 February 2020 at the age of 90. (SPS)

Mozambique’s Former Prime Minister Machungo Dies in Portugal
17 FEBRUARY 2020, 7:55PM

Mozambique’s former Prime Minister, Mario Machungo, died on Monday in Portugal where he was receiving medical treatment, Mozambican media reported.

Pretoria – Mozambique’s former Prime Minister, Mario Machungo, died on Monday in Portugal where he was receiving medical treatment, Mozambican media reported.

Machungo was born on December 1940 in Maxixe, in Mozambique’s southern province of Inhambane.

From his days as a student in the Lisbon Technical University, where he obtained a master’s degree in economics in 1969, he was a clandestine militant of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), according to online publication Club of Mozambique.

He worked as an economist in one of the main Portuguese banks, the Banco de Fomento Nacional, first in Lisbon, and then in Maputo, which was known as Lourenco Marques at the time.

His Frelimo membership reportedly became known after the fall of the colonial-fascist regime in Portugal on April 1974. In the transitional government set up after the independence agreement was negotiated in September that year, Machungo was appointed Minister for Economic Coordination.

Club of Mozambique reports that in the first government appointed by former president Samora Machel in June 1975, Machungo was Minister of Industry. In 1978, he was moved to the agriculture portfolio and in 1980 became Minister of Planning.

In 1986, Machungo became independent Mozambique’s first Prime Minister – a post which had not existed in the immediate post-independence governments.

Machungo is the second member of Samora Machel’s Political Bureau to die within a week. The first was the veteran nationalist and founder member of Frelimo, Marcelino dos Santos, who died last Tuesday at the age of 90, according to the online publication.

African News Agency
Mozambique: Mine Invasion, War, Aid, Media Attacks, Climate Crisis
19 FEBRUARY 2020
By Joseph Hanlon
All Africa

The civil war in Cabo Delgado is expanding, with government portraying the war as foreign backed and needing foreign military assistance and restrictions on media. But an invasion of a ruby mine by many artisanal miners points to the importance of lack of jobs. Meanwhile torrential rains exacerbated by the climate emergency have affected the same areas hit by cyclone Kenneth, cutting off all roads to the north of the province and the gas developments.

Attacks in north, west, south

Three new attacks show the spread of the Cabo Delgado civil war. Nangololo in Meluco district was attacked on Saturday morning (15 Feb) with one person killed and houses burned. Nangololo is on the N380 road, which is the main road from Pemba to Palma. It is also halfway between Macomia and Bilibiza, which was attacked and suffered major damage on 29 January. It was announced Monday that the damage to the Agricultural Institute there was so serious that classes will have to be moved to lower level schools in the south of the province. Bilibiza was the southernmost attack so far.

Last week (12 Feb) two neighbouring villages in Nangade district, Chicuaia Nova and Litingina, were attacked. Two people were killed and houses and shops burned. There was a response from a nearby military base and the attacks were limited. Nangade is in the north of Cabo Delgado on the border with Tanzania and inland from Palma. Litingina had been attacked previously in November.

The 12 February attacks were a day after President Nyusi was in Pemba for a cabinet meeting to discuss the war.

Provincial authorities say that 156,000 people are affected by the war, and that 76 schools and 4 health posts have been destroyed or damaged. The Catholic bishop of Pemba, Luiz Fernando Lisboa, estimates that at least 500 people have died in the war.

Thousands have fled to the coast or to the provincial capital Pemba. Provincial authorities says 14,000 peasant households have abandoned their farms, and 2,000 fishermen have had to flee. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Andrej Mahecic, says number of displaced people is at least 100,000. (AIM 10 Feb)

At a meeting with the diplomatic corps in Maputo Friday (14 Feb) President Nyusi complained that countries have offered help to combat the insurgency, "but when we ask them how they want to help, they say nothing - there is nothing concrete." (Lusa 14 Feb, Zitamar 17 Feb) The only military help has come from Russia, but its Wagner Group mercenaries failed and were forced to withdraw.

Nyusi's praise singers call for 'extra-legal actions' against the press

"Extra-legal actions" should be taken by police, army and security services against journalists who report "despondent 'news' that demoralizes the Defence and Security Forces (FDS)" in Cabo Delgado. Carta de Mocambique, its editor Marcelo Mosse, and those who provide information to them "are not patriots", wrote Juliao Joao Cumbane in an 11 February post. Their activities "must not be allowed or tolerated."

Cumbane is not an ordinary Facebook polemicist, but a backer of the President who has been rewarded for his work. And his call to intensify press restrictions in Cabo Delgado has brought widespread criticism. The Media Institute of South Africa, the Mozambican journalists union, and the Portuguese Language Journalists (FJLP) have all attacked what they see a call for violence against journalists.

Social media has become an important battleground and leaders have a modern form of "praise singers". President Armando Guebuza had a group called the "G-40" of about 40 commentators that state media were expected to use and who posted regularly on Facebook and other social media to praise Guebuza and fiercely attack his critics. Filipe Nyusi has followed that model, with his own praise-singing bloggers. Their importance during the elections was recognised when one of the most important of the G-40 who had moved to praise Nyusi, UEM physics lecturer Juliao Cumbane, was rewarded in November with the post as chair of the National Company of Science and Technology Parks (ENPCT). (Savana 29 Nov 2019) Two other Nyusi praise singers have also received government posts, Gustavo Mavie as a board member of the Matola grain terminal and Amorim Bila as deputy director of the Financial Information Office.

The government does not want the war reported by journalists or studied by academics. Several journalists have already been arrested and illegally detained for extended periods for reporting the war and there are restrictions on foreign journalists going to Cabo Delgado to report. Carta de Mocambique has the best correspondents and been the most effective in reporting the war.

No roads north

Exactly the area of central Cabo Delgado hit by the unprecedented Cyclone Kenneth in April 2019 has been hit by heavy rains a month ago and then again last week, causing high flood levels in the Montepuez and Messalo rivers, The January floods destroyed sections of bridges over both rivers on the N380 which goes from Pemba north to Palma. An attempt was made to build a temporary causeway (known as a "drift") across the Montepuez river, but that has been washed out by the more recent floods. Waters are falling but still above flood level and there is no chance of opening the N380 for at least two months. This section of road is also under regular attack by insurgents.

The only other, much longer, route north is via Montepuez and Mueda, but the dirt road is now mud and impassable for lorries. So there will be no overland cargo transport from Pemba to the gas developments for some time. Small passenger planes now fly Pemba-Palma, but cargo must go by barge.

This is the climate crisis

Ten months after Buzi, Sofala, was cut off by flood waters from cyclone Idai, it is cut off again, and floodwaters on the Buzi and Pungue rivers are still rising. Two other areas hit by Itai were hit again last week, with floodwaters cutting off Dombe and Mossurize, Manica. At least two bridges have been washed away in Manica and Sofala.

Meanwhile, reservoirs in the south are not filling, and there is a shortage of rain.

Both cyclones last year were unusual. There had never been a cyclone in central Cabo Delgado. And the way Cyclone Idai built up its power and rain content was unusual. Both were due to the rising temperature of the ocean, which fuels cyclones.

And all climate crisis forecasts for Mozambique have been for less rainfall in the south, while in the centre and north total rainfall will not change but it will come in more intense bursts. So what Mozambique is seeing is the predicted impact of the climate crisis - and it will get worse.
Worley Wins Mozambique LNG Work
 by Ed Reed
Energy Voices
 20/02/2020, 4:59 pm

Worley has won two master service agreements (MSAs) from Total for work on the Mozambique LNG project.

The agreements will see Worley provide in and out of country services, covering engineering, consulting and specialist engineering for onshore and offshore facilities. Worley said it would carry out the work via its local offices, with support from its global network, including its Advisian consulting unit.

The contract was signed with Total E&P Mozambique Area 1. The French company bought the asset in 2019 through the acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum’s assets, via Occidental Petroleum.

Worley has been supporting work on the LNG plans since gas was discovered offshore in 2010, it said.

“We are pleased to continue providing services to the LNG development and to support one of Africa’s largest projects. Through the MSAs, we will help Total and its partners in the Mozambique LNG Project meet the world’s changing energy needs,” said Worley’s CEO Andrew Wood.

The Mozambique LNG project is expected to start producing in 2024, ramping up to 12.88 million tonnes per year of LNG from two trains.

The East African country will actually start producing LNG from its Coral South floating LNG (FLNG) facility, in the second half of 2022. A third project, backed by ExxonMobil, is expected to reach a final investment decision (FID) imminently and begin producing in 2025.

ALP Maritime Services announced this week that it had been chosen by contractors to provide vessels to the Coral South FLNG project. The TJJV joint venture of TechnipFMC and JGC have secured three ALP vessels to tow the 432 metre-long FLNG unit from South Korea to Mozambique.

Once in country, two more ALP vessels will be used to keep the Coral South FLNG vessel in place while it is hooked up with mooring chains.

FLNG is becoming more accepted as a means to export gas but Coral South will be the first located in the deepwater. ALP will use three of its 300ts Bollard Pull ALP Future class vessels, which have 24,400 bhp each, to move the FLNG vessel.

The company used two of those ships to move the Kaombo Norte floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) units to Angola. The FPSO is a more modest 333 metres long.

The Coral South hull was launched in mid-January.
Northern Mozambique the New Vortex for Islamic Extremism
16 FEBRUARY 2020, 08:27AM

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi was noticeably absent from the AU Summit this week as he urgently travelled to Cabo Delgado in the north of his country to address the rapidly deteriorating security situation. File picture: Reuters

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi was noticeably absent from the AU Summit this week as he urgently travelled to Cabo Delgado in the north of his country to address the rapidly deteriorating security situation.

The AU Peace and Security Council also highlighted the urgency this week with commissioner Smail Chergui saying the AU must provide equipment and training to assist the Mozambican government in addressing the militant threat.

Cabo Delgado has been the site of beheadings and kidnappings of villagers, as well as villages being burnt to the ground. The increasing attacks on civilians are by an Islamist extremist group which calls itself al-Shabaab (or “youth” in Arabic). The group is not an offshoot of Somalia’s al-Shabaab, but has links to them.

To date the group has launched about 370 attacks since its first attack on a police station in October 2017. There have been 909 recorded deaths, although this number is predicted to climb exponentially. Human Rights Watch has called on the Southern African Development Community to urgently act against the insurgency that poses a risk to the whole region.

Few understand what is really happening in this impoverished corner of Mozambique, bordering Tanzania. But the combination of Wahhabi and Salafist influence from the Gulf and extremist Sheikhs from Tanzania and Kenya have brought a brand of extremism to northern Mozambique that has been germinating since 2015.

The Institute for Social and Economic Studies at the Eduardo Mondlane University of Mozambique produced an important study in September about the emergence of al-Shabaab, and is based on extensive on-the-ground interviews in northern Mozambique. Religious extremists from neighbouring countries, who have been influenced by Islamist scholars in the Middle East, used marriage as a strategy to entrench themselves in local communities. They married into families in Cabo Delgado, acquired land, and propagated their violent and extremist ideology within local communities.

The extreme poverty of the area and its economic marginalisation has made it ripe for recruitment, especially when schools and services are hard to come by. The state is largely absent from the area, and as al-Shabaab gained in strength and resources, it has even been able to pay its members wages in an environment where there is very little if any formal employment.

Al-Shabaab has attempted to capitalise on this void by setting up madrassas that preach an extreme form of Islam, and offer to feed and provide shelter for local children.

When al-Shabaab takes over an area, people are forced to attend lectures and watch videos of the sermons of the late Islamist extremist Kenyan Sheik Aboud Rogo Mohammed, who masterminded the attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. In the al-Shabaab areas, Sharia law is imposed and those who try to escape are killed.

The idea is to isolate al-Shabaab members from the outside world, which is deemed “impure”, and get them to join a “holy call” to create a better world. Al-Shabaab leaders tell locals that their intent is to build a new social and political order, and that they are living in a corrupt world in which the Mozambican government is not to be trusted.

Locals are encouraged to join the international jihad and train for military operations.

The group has also established a dress code to distinguish themselves from the broader community where men have shaven heads and wear white turbans, grow large beards, don black gowns with short trousers, and are armed with knives and machetes to symbolise jihad. Women are forced to wear the burka, and no one is allowed to wear Western clothes. Women and children are often held captive and used as wives or sex slaves.

Civilians are used as human shields when they are confronted by the Mozambican armed forces. The group has even developed its own flag, which is black with white inserts.

Initially, when al-Shabaab emerged in northern Mozambique in 2015, they were inspired by religious leaders in Salafist circles abroad who encouraged them to penetrate local mosques to change the way they interpreted Islam. When this failed, they set up their own mosques.

Al-Shabaab has a supreme council on which sit some foreign combatants and Tanzanian sheikhs. Radical spiritual leaders in Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia have assisted with the religious and even military training of youths in northern Mozambique. At first the group had about 50 agitators, but the number grew to an armed force of more than 300. Today, it is estimated that the group may have as many as 1500 fighters capable of attacking the state.

Most of the youth who have voluntarily joined the ranks of al-Shabaab are uneducated and unemployed, and are often informal traders. The group has offered them an identity and a supposed “purpose in life”, as well as a means to earn a living through some form of wages or a cut in the illicit smuggling trade, which is flourishing in the area.

Al-Shabaab has been generating revenue from donations and the clandestine networks of trafficking in timber, rubies, ivory and coal. The burgeoning heroine trade coming from Afghanistan to the East Coast of Africa before being transported onwards to Asia and Europe is also an opportunity to make large sums of money. Some years ago it was estimated that the group had a turnover of $33million from illicit smuggling, and this must have substantially increased.

The Mozambican army has been largely ineffective in addressing the growing threat, with young and inexperienced recruits being sent into the area. The government response has been criticised. The army shelled a town in 2017 causing the death of 50 civilians. There have been random arrests and closure of mosques, which feed into the anti-government propaganda.

The government has failed to secure the border with Tanzania through which much of the illicit smuggling occurs, and many of the corrupt government officials on the border profit from the illicit trade.

Mozambique has turned to private contractors to protect foreign workers in the area. The government has agreed to pay Lancaster Six Group 80% of the cost of protecting foreign workers in return for an undisclosed percentage of ownership in state gas reserves. Lancaster Six Group is owned by the former Blackwater chief executive, Eric Prince.

The discovery of liquified natural gas (LNG) off the coast of Cabo Delgado in 2010 complicated the situation. Since then there has been a jockeying of foreign multinational companies to exploit the substantial gas deposits touted to be the third largest in the world, after Qatar and Australia.

Currently, global demand for LNG outstrips the supply which is why companies have decided to increase their investments in Mozambique. Italian Eni and the US Anadarko are the principle holders of the Mozambican offshore gas industry. It is estimated that those companies will be able to supply gas to Britain, France, Germany and Italy for the next 20 years.

Gas will be produced from 2022, and the government of Mozambique will start to receive revenue in 2028. But al-Shabaab’s increasing militarism poses a threat to the development of LNG, and Anadarko has already suspended work due to the increase in attacks.

If al-Shabaab were to target the gas pipeline in Mtwara, Tanzania, gas production could be halted altogether. This explains why there is a growing interest on the part of those European countries in stabilising the situation in northern Mozambique, and ensuring that al-Shabaab is neutralised.

The challenge for the AU, and South Africa as chair of the AU this year, is to ensure that Africa drives a process to assist the government of Mozambique in developing an effective counter-terrorism strategy and military capability to deal with the threat posed by al-Shabaab. Such a strategy needs to go well beyond the provision of armaments and military training, but more importantly needs to address the root causes of the crisis.

These root causes are impoverishment, a lack of income-generating activities, and social services. It is the lack of opportunities and hope in these communities that has led to youth joining the ranks of Islamist extremists. Without addressing the socio-economic root causes of this crisis, it will never be resolved in the long term.

* Shannon Ebrahim is Independent Media Foreign Editor.
Fear Spreads in Mozambique's Gas-rich Province as Attacks Rise
East African

A family in northern Mozambique. The UN says at least 100,000 people have fled their homes and violence is spreading towards the province's south. PHOTO | FILE | AFP

In Summary
The organisation first came to light in October 2017, targeting a police station.
Since then, the group has killed more than 700 people, according to the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).


Villagers are fleeing a gas-rich region in northern Mozambique and energy giants are pleading for more protection in the face of mounting attacks by a shadowy jihadist group.

Security officials and local residents interviewed by AFP described a bushfire of fear spreading in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique's northernmost province, and plummeting morale among troops and police.

The organisation first came to light in October 2017, targeting a police station.

Since then, the group has killed more than 700 people, according to the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The UN says at least 100,000 people have fled their homes and violence is spreading towards the province's south.

"There has been a dramatic increase of brutal attacks by armed groups over the past months, with the recent weeks being the most volatile period," UN refugee agency spokesman Andrej Mahecic said this month.

Civilians are fleeing "in many directions, including to small islands, where many have nowhere to stay," he said.

The group is known locally as "Al Shabaab, "although there is no discernible connection with the notorious Somali jihadist organisation of that name.

Since June, the so-called Islamic State group has claimed around 20 attacks in Cabo Delgado, saying these targeted the Mozambican army.

But analysts say they know of no evidence of IS financial or military support to the Mozambican jihadists.


Grassroots sources in the region confirm the worsening situation.

MSF's teams in the area "have witnessed lines of people walking on main roads as their villages go up in flames," said its coordinator there, Bruno Cardoso.

"Here in Macomia (district) we are all in a panic. The situation is one of great fear," a police officer told AFP by phone.

"Many children don't come to class," said a teacher at a Macomia primary school. "We live in... deep fear."

The militants are operating on the doorstep of energy majors, including Exxon-Mobil and French oil company Total, which are preparing to extract gas in the Rovuma basin off Cabo Delgado's coast by 2022.

With more than $30 billion in investment sunk into the project, President Filipe Nyusi is under pressure to respond.

Last week he skipped the African Union's bi-annual summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and held a cabinet meeting in Cabo Delgado's capital Pemba -- one of the rare occasions in which he has hosted the weekly meetings outside Maputo. He blamed the "war" on unnamed "foreigners".

The oil giants have asked for the doubling of the 500 soldiers deployed in April to guard a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at Afungi, one of Africa's biggest single investments in Africa.

Ryan Cummings, an analyst with Cape Town-based Signals Risk, said there had been a shift in the frequency and style of attacks.

They now target not only civilians but also the security forces, whose counter-terrorism capability is questionable, he said.

"That could portend an evolution or sophistication in their modus operandi," Cummings said.

"(This) would be especially concerning for the foreign multinationals that are engaged in the LNG industry in the Rovuma basin."

Defense Minister Jaime Neto said the authorities would provide protection.

"We have enough staff and we guarantee the security of the projects," he said.


But the security forces are themselves despondent, according to internal sources.

"We do not have the capacity to intercept the jihadists communications (and) that is why we don't know the enemy's capacity," an agent from the police rapid response unit told AFP.

The unit opts to not respond to attacks on villages "to avoid casualties in our ranks".

An agricultural college was recently raided and looted "and we didn’t respond, we feared we were outnumbered", said the agent.

Another police officer said militants stole a police van in December and have been using it to stage attacks.

A special operations police commander in Maputo told AFP "many young (military recruits) abscond" if they are posted to Cabo Delgado.

"The situation is chaotic. Troops on the ground opt for defensive. Now it is the jihadists who are chasing and attacking government troops and not the opposite.

"Our big problem is the lack of resources," he said.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sudanese Army Retires Junior-rank Officers
Rebellious military officer speaks to protesters outside the headquarters of the Sudanese army in Khartoum on 9 April 2019 (ST Photo)

February 18, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese army on Monday has retired some 79 military officers from the medium and junior ranks.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the army spokesman Amer Mohamed al-Hassan said the retirees’ list has been done with high professionalism"

His statement was published after the circulation in the social media of three separate lists seen by Sudan Tribune with “top secret” including 15 sub lieutenants, 29 lieutenant commanders and 35 colonels.

Among the 15 sub-lieutenants appears the name of Mohamed Siddiq Ibrahim Ahmed, who was the first military officer to join the protesters outside the army headquarter during the first week of April before al-Bashir’s ouster.

Activists have launched calls on the social media for a protest to show their solidarity with the first rebellious army officer who later was joined by others.

Ahmed had been arrested for a short time and reintegrated his unit later.

Sudanese army young officers expressed their support to the calls for regime change twice.

The first was when the protesters successfully reached the army headquarters on 6 April.

The second time when the security units from the Rapid Support Forces and the dissolved National Intelligence Security Services (NISS) raided the pro-democracy sit-in on 3 June while all the army units had been disarmed and ordered to remain in their caserns.

At the time, some of them joined the protesters weeping saying they had no arms to defend the civilians.

Hamdok Hails Kiir’s Courageous Decision on South Sudan 10 States
President Salva Kiir shakes hands with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok at the House of State in Juba on 12 September 2019 -1 SSPPU Photo.jpg

February 18, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok on Monday welcomed the "courageous decision" of President Salva Kiir Mayardit to re-establish the 10 states for the sake of peace.

In his statement on behalf of the Sudanese government, Hamdok said: "Sudan welcomes this great step in the peace process of the sisterly State of South Sudan".

“We hope that the parties to the revitalized peace agreement will constructively and conciliately work to build the institutions of the state of citizenship, justice and the rule of law, by forming the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity by the February 22 deadline”

The would-be appointed South Sudanese First Vice-President Riek Machar returned to Juba from Khartoum on Monday as he is expected to hold talks with President Kiir on the formation of the transitional government.

The Sudanese premier said what President Kiir “has done constitutes a solid foundation for achieving peace, stability and security throughout the sister Republic of South Sudan”.

Hamdok a,d his government did not comment on Salva Kiir’s decision to establish Abyei Area which remains a Sudanese territory until the organisation of a referendum to determine its future.

The establishment of three areas in Abyei Pibor and Ruweng was contested by Machar and Lam Akol leader of the National Democratic Movement.

Sudan, South Sudan to Deploy Joint Military Observers in Abyei
People gather around a house burnt by Misseriya gunmen in Komol of Abyei area on 22 January 2020 (ST photo)

February 16, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan and South Sudan military observer teams are to be deployed soon in the disputed area of Abyei to avoid future attacks between the Ngok Dina and Misseriya.

The murder of three Misseriya in Kolom area of Abyei on 19 January triggered a revenge attack that resulted in the death of 35 Ngok Dinka on 21 January.

On 25 January, the Sudanese army disclosed that defence ministers of the two countries agreed on a plan to prevent further clashes between the two tribes during a meeting held in Juba.

In a report to the UN Security Council, the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) said it discussed with the two countries a plan to establish checkpoints to search for weapons and ammunition and control the reported movements of armed elements within the Abyei Area.

"The full operationalization of the Joint Military Observer Committee and the joint military observer team mechanisms has also received the backing of the two Governments," further said the report, issued on 10 February.

The report did not indicate a date for the deployment of the joint monitoring teams but stressed it is "expected to commence in due course".

Less than a month of the independence of South Sudan on 20 June 2011, the SPLM and the Sudanese government agreed to form a joint administration and to establish a joint police force but the Nogk Dinka rejected the agreement saying the prefer to accelerate a referendum on the future of the area.

UNISFA, in its report, said several measures have been taken to enhance the security coverage of the region by its rapid intervention forces.

The mission "reviewed its deployment concept in the dry season and is in the process of establishing three new temporary operating bases at Shegeg, Leu and Rumamier to address the threat from the east and south-eastern flanks".

Further "UNISFA has also engaged with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to establish a collaborative mechanism to address cross-border activities by armed groups," said the report.

Cattle rustling is the main cause of attacks between the Ngok Dinka and the Misseriya pastoralists who move south during the dry season every year.

UNAMISS Head Praises Kiir’s Acceptance of 10 States, Urges to Form New Cabinet
Bol Wek, the Chief Administrator in the Office of the President and UNMISS head David Shearer speaks to the press after a meeting with President Kiir on 15 September 2017 (UNMISS photo)

February 17, 2020 (JUBA) – The head of UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) praised the acceptance by President Salva Kiir of the IGAD compromise of the 10 states and urged the peace parties to form a transitional government.

“The announcement by the Presidency of South Sudan to return to 10 states is an important compromise to enable the timely formation of the transitional government as promised to the citizens of South Sudan,” said David Shearer on Monday.

Shearer pointed out that once the government is formed, the peace partners can make a collective decision on the number of states, administrative areas, and demarcation of boundaries.

“Compromise is possible when the political will exists. We urge all parties to reach out and embrace each other’s positions so that the peace deal can be fully implemented,” he further stressed

SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar and NDM chairman Lam Akol voiced concern over the created three areas of Abyei Ruweng and Pibor as they practically make the 10 states 13 states.

The backers of the 32 states also said
David Shearer said the government’s decision may not be welcome everywhere and could cause short term disruption as local boundaries and administrations are determined.

“It may not be the preferred option (for) some people. However, they should also recognize it has been done in the spirit of compromise to secure durable peace for the whole country,” he stressed.

IGAD Welcomes Kiir’s Decision to Reestablish South Sudan 10 States
Ismail Wais, IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, briefs the Security Council on 27 February 2018 (UN Photo)

February 17, 2020 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ismail Wais, IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Monday welcomed Salva Kiir’s decision to revert back to the 10 states.

“This is pivotal for the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) and our quest for lasting peace in the Republic of South Sudan. I congratulate the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Government of South Sudan for taking a bold decision for the sake of the country,” said Wais.

He further called on the parties to the revitalized pact to form the transitional national unity government at the end of the 100-day extension on 22 February.

The two critical issues: the implementation security arrangements and the conclusion of an agreement over the number of states, delayed the formation of the revitalized transitional cabinet for more than nine months.

The pre-transitional period had to end on 12 MAY 2019 but the parties extended to November 2019. However, the extended once again to 22 February 2020.

Wais urged the peace partners to work together in good faith and spirit of compromise in the few days left before the end of the one hundred days for the sake of peace in South Sudan.

The Toika countries on 12 February encouraged the signatories of the revitalised peace agreement to reach consensus on the number of states.

“Refusing to compromise and move forward undermines the agreement, risks the ceasefire, and erodes the trust of the public and the confidence of partners,” he Troika stressed.

Friction Between DR Congo and Rwanda After Dissident Singer Dies
February 19, 2020

Rwandan musician Kizito Mihigo, pictured speaking to the media after being arrested in April 2014 on charges of threatening state security

Kinshasa (AFP) - Rwanda has lashed out at the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the death of a dissident singer in Rwandan police custody has revived long-running criticism of Kigali.

Kizito Mihigo, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide whose songs angered the government of strongman President Paul Kagame, was found dead in a police cell in the capital on Monday, according to the Kigali authorities.

His death was announced three days after he was caught trying to flee the country.

The announcement revived smouldering anger in the DRC, where Rwanda is frequently accused of trying to interfere in Congo's volatile eastern border region and "balkanise" it.

Two Congolese lawmakers, Patrick Muyaya and Andre Claudel Lubaya, were among those who attacked the official account of suicide.

But Rwanda's minister for East Africa Olivier J.P Nduhungire hit back.

"After the so-called 'balkanisation,' another 'Made in DRC' conspiracy theory?" he wrote in a tweet.

"Sincerely, these marginal politicians should have the decency to be silent and take care of their own country.

"The unfortunate suicide of a young man in Rwanda does not concern them."

Congolese rights activists as well as Amnesty International have called for a full investigation into the singer's death.

Mihigo fell foul of the ruling RPF in 2013 after composing songs that questioned the government's tight control of the legacy of the 1994 genocide.

His music, once popular by ruling elites, was swiftly banned.

Two years later he was accused of terrorism and raising support for an opposition political movement and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released on presidental pardon in September 2018.

Kagame, who has been in power since 1994, has been accused of ruling with an iron fist, clamping down on all forms of dissent and jailing or exiling opposition politicians.

Human Rights Watch, among other rights watchdogs, has accused Kagame's regime of summary executions, unlawful arrest and detention and torture in custody.
DR Congo: Effort to End Rebel Attacks in the East
Security forces have increased patrols in remote areas where attacks have been happening.

by Catherine Soi
15 Feb 2020

Government soldiers and UN peacekeepers are struggling to stop rebel attacks in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Close to 1,000 civilians have been killed since the government ordered the army to root out the ADF, or Allied Democratic Forces, with fighting forcing villagers to leave their homes in the eastern region of Beni.

Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi has this exclusive report.