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DR Congo president unlikely to give up power
December 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

President Kabila is seeking a third term President Kabila is seeking a third term[/caption]

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the presidential election is set for November 2016.

Political opponents and activists say that everything is in place for President Joseph Kabila to extend his stay in power, thus violating the constitution and potentially precipitating the continent-sized central African country into chaos. “What we need is to have a specific action plan for the elections,” says Serge Syvia, a doctor and activist. “Because theirs (the government’s) is already being implemented.” In a small wooden house that was built, like much of the eastern city of Goma, on dried lava rocks, members of a youth group called Lucha (struggle for change) are holding a meeting. Lucha has a core of about 50 members and a few hundred sympathisers. They believe in using non-violent protests to demand basic rights like running water, security and justice. Currently, three of their members are in prison: one for taking part in a workshop in the capital Kinshasa on youth and democracy and two others for organising an outdoor tribute with candles and photos to victims of an armed group, based near the border with Uganda, which massacres people with machetes. The government’s spokesperson has in the past called Lucha members terrorists and Goma’s mayor has banned their activities.

Increased repression

Why are they scared of a small, unarmed movement of young activists based over 1,500km from the capital? “For us, the lowly people, there is nothing here and they know this, so when one of us raises a finger to protest, because they are very rich in vocabulary, they call it ‘an attempt against state security’,” says another member Aline Mukovi.
  There is also the fact that, a year ahead of the planned election in DR Congo which should, if all goes according to the law, bring about regime change, the powerful are on edge. In January, at least 30 were killed in the country’s capital Kinshasa, according to the UN, after the police brutally repressed demonstrations against an electoral bill. For opposition politicians and activists, that bill was part of the “plan” to which Mr Syvia referred. It has become known here as the “glissement” or the slippage of the election dates.

Term limit debate flares across the region:

  • Rwanda held a referendum last week which voted overwhelmingly for the country’s current leader, Paul Kagame, to stay in power, potentially until 2034.
  • In October, a similar referendum has already made it legal for Denis Sassou Nguesso, in the Republic of Congo, to run again in 2016. He has been in power for a total of 31 years. Protests against the constitution change were brutally repressed.
  • Uganda is also about to go to the polls in February 2016, Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for nearly 30 years, is running again. Term limits were scrapped by parliament in 2005.
  • Burundi was just recovering from a civil conflict when president Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for another term, violating the peace agreement that ended the war. Hundreds have died since. There has been an attempted coup and a rebel movement has formed.
Under the current constitution, President Joseph Kabila must stand down in December 2016, when his second five-year term ends. [caption id="attachment_23232" align="alignright" width="624"]Lucha protest in Goma over lack of water supplies Lucha protest in Goma over lack of water supplies[/caption] The bill would have tied the election date to the completion of a nationwide census, which could have taken years. At least 649 people – many protesters, activists and political opponents – have since been detained, according to a UN report published this month. It found “the shrinking of democratic space was a likely to impact the electoral process”. Critics believe interfering with the process by silencing critical voices is precisely the government’s intention.

‘Ploys to stay in power’

The controversial clause in January’s electoral bill was scrapped as a result of the protests, but opponents say several other ploys to push the election back are in motion. First, there’s the complexity and the cost of the votes. In theory five sets of local elections need to be organised before the presidential poll. Local civil society groups accuse the electoral commission of intentionally dragging its feet to organise local polls and to be “illegally linking the organisation of the election to a national dialogue”. Mr Kabila called for a countrywide dialogue last month, saying on national television that it was only way to avoid a crisis and to revive the electoral process. Critics see it as a strategy to try to co-opt political opponents with positions or money. Kabila also hinted at the possibility of an indirect or an electronic vote in the presidential election, to save money, which some say would make rigging the poll easier. He has not directly commented on suspicions that he might be trying to cling to power.

Peace or elections

But the spokesman of the ruling party, André-Alain Atundu, said that it would take “two to four more years to organise credible elections”. Sources close to Kabila say that, as the man who secured an important peace deal in the early 2000s following years of civil conflict that killed millions, he genuinely feels the country could implode if he were to leave at the end of next year, especially without having organised a successful dialogue.
  There are still dozens of armed groups with ties to politicians in the east of the country and the army’s own loyalties are divided. “Opposition leaders have said president Kabila should be judged by the International Criminal Council,” said one source close to him. “That is hardly the language of appeasement.” It is true the country is still fragile. But it is difficult to see how the president staying on would guarantee peace. Joseph Kabila: Born in a rebel camp in eastern DR Congo – where he enjoys most of his support Spent his childhood in Tanzania His father, Laurent Kabila, overthrew long-time ruler Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 He first became president – the world’s youngest head of state – after his father’s assassination in 2001 [caption id="attachment_23233" align="alignleft" width="624"]Aline Mukovi has criticised the government Aline Mukovi has criticised the government[/caption] Oversaw the signing of a peace accord in 2002 to end a five-year conflict involving several other nations Became DR Congo’s first freely elected leader in 2006, winning a run-off poll with 58% of the vote Secured another term in controversial elections in 2011 Has enjoyed the clear support of western governments, regional allies such as South Africa and Angola and mining groups that have signed multi-million dollar deals under his rule Revered in the Swahili-speaking east, where he is widely credited with helping to end the 1998-2013 wars, he is less liked in the west The January riots were an indication of how the streets might react to an attempt to hold on to power. Activists believe violence would escalate if the election deadline is missed. The powerful and historically political Catholic Church has already called on the Congolese people to oppose any attempt to violate the constitution. Bishops said the country’s situation was worrying and reminiscent of past wars and bloodshed caused by “power being seized by force and exerted against the common good”. The international community does not seem to know what to do. “We just have no leverage. We have carrots, but no sticks,” a UN employee admitted. The UN peacekeeping mission’s newly-appointed leader’s brief is basically to rebuild a relationship with a government that has been cutting the mission off from both political discussions and military operations for months.

A matter of principle

“No one will fight this one for us,” says Luc Nkulula, a lawyer and member of Lucha, perched on the leg of an armchair as he addresses his colleagues about their plans. He believes that at the moment priority is a change at the top. He isn’t convinced that any of the potential opposition candidates would be any less corrupt or even more likely to bring more stability to the troubled east, but it’s a matter of principle: upholding the constitution and ensuring accountability. He also doubts that the majority of the population will never understand, even less adhere, to Lucha’s non-violent activism. He fears extreme violence on both sides and worries that weakest will suffer the heaviest losses. “But,” he says, “the alternative to this struggle in a country like Congo is not being able to look at yourself in the mirror.” *BBC]]>

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Clinging to power: the African leaders who won't stand down
December 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Marc JOURDIER* [caption id="attachment_23196" align="alignleft" width="959"]A controversial referendum in October 2015 allowed Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his 31-year rule (AFP Photo/Thierry Charlier) A controversial referendum in October 2015 allowed Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his 31-year rule (AFP Photo/Thierry Charlier)[/caption] Kinshasa (AFP) – The fate of Blaise Compaore, who was ousted after a bloody uprising in 2014 after 27 years as president of Burkina Faso, has not been enough to deter other African leaders from clinging to power long after their constitutions demanded they go.

In 2015, two African presidents amended their constitutions to allow them to seek another term — or more.

Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has now led Congo-Brazzaville for more than 31 years, and Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s head of state since 1994, both ordered referendums which will allow them to run again in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

In neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila is due to stand down in 2016 after 15 years at the helm, but fears are mounting he too could stay on as the country endures a period of uncertainty.

The president has shown no sign of preparing to leave office and is now calling for a “national dialogue” to allow for a peaceful vote. Opponents view the demands as a trap, which could allow his supporters to put off polls for two to four years until they can organise “credible” elections.

Meanwhile, to the east of the DR Congo, Burundi has been in crisis since April, when president Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term in a move that even some in his own camp judged unconstitutional.

[caption id="attachment_23198" align="alignright" width="300"]Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza delivers a speech after being sworn-in for a controversial third term in power, at the Congress Palace in Kigobe district, Bujumbura on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Landry Nshimiye) Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza delivers a speech after being sworn-in for a controversial third term in power, at the Congress Palace in Kigobe district, Bujumbura on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Landry Nshimiye)[/caption]

The situation deteriorated when Nkurunziza was re-elected in July, on a ballot that was boycotted by the opposition. The country has since spiralled into violence and there are fears in the international community this could break out into genocide.

“The limit of two presidential terms in African constitutions goes back to the late 1990s,” said Thierry Vircoulon, associate researcher at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).

“It was a lesson drawn from (the results of) autocratic regimes and presidency for life,” he told AFP.

– Testing the limits –

But these limits were quickly broken, beginning with Togo in 2002, followed by Chad and Uganda in 2005, where Idriss Deby Itno and Yoweri Museveni have been in power since 1990 and 1986 respectively.

Constitutions in Angola, Djibouti and Cameroon have also been changed to allow incumbents to stay in power, as well as in Zimbabwe, where 91-year-old Robert Mugabe has been president since 1980.

“The basic tendency (in central Africa) over the last few years has not between towards greater democracy, but in the opposite direction,” said Vircoulon.

“Civil wars and peace agreements have not changed the way of doing politics in these countries,” he added.

But this has not been the case everywhere on the continent.

In Burkina Faso, it was Compaore’s attempts to change the constitution which led to a popular uprising and pushed him into exile in October 2014.

After a year which saw an attempted putsch, the people of Burkina Faso in November elected a new president in polls which were judged to be transparent and credible.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in March presidential elections led to the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history.

In a recent note, however, strategic consulting firm Control Risks said it was “unlikely” the changes in Burkina Faso and Nigeria would bring about others elsewhere in Africa in 2016.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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27 Congo figures form coalition to stop Kabila third term
December 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila (front C) waves as he walks in a file photo. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila (front C) waves as he walks in a file photo. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe[/caption]

KINSHASA (Reuters) – More than 27 high-profile Congolese figures, including Moise Katumbi, considered a main opposition candidate in next year’s presidential polls, have formed a coalition aimed at preventing a bid from Joseph Kabila for a third term, their statement said.

“We have decided to combine our forces, our human and material resources, our strategies and our actions, to create a citizen coalition named ‘Citizen Front 2016’,” the statement reads.

Kabila, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term in office, has not commented publicly on his political ambitions despite critics’ accusations that he is attempting to cling to power.

The announcement comes as the vast central African country’s parliament contemplates giving more protection from prosecution to former rulers, viewed as a way of encouraging Kabila to step down in November next year.

Africa’s biggest copper producer has not had a single peaceful handover of power since independence from former colonial master Belgium in 1960.

*Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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Clinging to power in Africa
December 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here is a range of precedents over the past 15 years:

– Successful bids –

[caption id="attachment_23113" align="alignleft" width="300"]An amendment to the constitution would allow Rwandan President Paul Kagame, 58, to run for an exceptional third seven-year term in 2017 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker) An amendment to the constitution would allow Rwandan President Paul Kagame, 58, to run for an exceptional third seven-year term in 2017 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)[/caption]

– BURUNDI: After a constitutional row, President Pierre Nkurunziza won a controversial third term in July 2015, in polls boycotted by the opposition and denounced by the United Nations as neither free nor fair. His re-election bid sparked an attempted coup by rebel generals and months of civil unrest that has killed hundreds and driven hundreds of thousands from the country.

– ZIMBABWE: A new constitution adopted in 2013 allowed President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, to stand in an election, which he won.

– DJIBOUTI: In April 2010, Djibouti’s parliament approved a constitutional amendment allowing President Ismael Omar Guelleh, in power since 1999, to run for a third term, which he won in 2011. He is now eyeing a fourth term in 2016.

– ANGOLA: The adoption in January 2010 of a constitutional amendment providing for the election of a president by indirect suffrage, by parliamentarians, allowed head of state Jose Eduardo dos Santos, in power since 1979, to be sworn in in 2012 after his party’s victory in legislative elections.

– ALGERIA: In November 2008, parliament removed the presidential two term limit, voting for a revision of the constitution. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, was then re-elected in 2009 and again in 2014. – CAMEROON: In April 2008, parliament revised the constitution, scrapping the limit on the number of presidential terms. Paul Biya, who had been in power since 1982, was elected to a sixth term in October 2011. – UGANDA: In July 2005, a constitutional reform scrapped restrictions on the number of presidential terms. Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, was re-elected in 2006 and 2011 and is running again in 2016. – CHAD: In June 2005, a constitutional revision was adopted after a disputed referendum abolished a limit of two five-year terms. Idriss Deby, in power since 1990, was re-elected in 2006 and again in 2011. – TOGO: In December 2002, a constitutional amendment paved the way for Gnassingbe Eyadema, in power since 1967, to seek another term in 2003. After his death in office in February 2005, a constitutional revision by parliament allowed his son, Faure Gnassingbe, favoured by the army, to be sworn in as president. He won a third term in April 2015. – Failed attempts –

Other leaders have not managed to impose constitutional changes to remain in power.

– BURKINA FASO: In October 2014, the announcement that long-serving president Blaise Compaore sought to extend his rule beyond 30 years brought hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets, forcing him to step down.

– ZAMBIA: Frederick Chiluba had to throw in the towel in 2001 under popular pressure, and in MALAWI, the parliament in 2002 blocked Bakili Muluzi from seeking a third mandate in 2004. – NIGERIA: Military ruler turned democrat Olusegun Obasanjao failed in his 2006 effort to change the constitution to allow him a third term in power. – Still trying –

– THE REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Veteran Congo ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso’s government on October 27, 2015 claimed a landslide victory in a referendum on changes to the constitution that would make him eligible to contest elections next year, extending his three-decade stay in power.

– THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: President Joseph Kabila inherited his post after his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, was killed in January 2001. The opposition believes Kabila will try to circumvent the constitution and run for a third five-year term in 2016.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Afrique Telecom, Eutelsat and Wikimédia France to offer free access to French-language Wikipedia in Africa
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Afrique Telecom, Eutelsat and Wikimédia France combine skills in large-scale initiative to extend free access to French-language Wikipedia in Sub-Saharan Africa via Wi-Fi hotspots [caption id="attachment_22790" align="alignleft" width="300"]The partners :From left to right : Michel AZIBERT - Eutelsat, Nathalie MARTIN - Wikimedia Foundation, Philippe TINTIGNAC - Afrique Telecom The partners :From left to right : Michel AZIBERT – Eutelsat, Nathalie MARTIN – Wikimedia Foundation, Philippe TINTIGNAC – Afrique Telecom[/caption] Afrique Telecom  is progressively deploying Internet solutions over Sub-Saharan Africa in combination with Eutelsat’s satellite capacity. Its “TamTam” service extends access to the Internet in rural areas using Wi-Fi hotspots for collective access. In a new step announced today, “TamTam” will be used to offer free access to French-language Wikipedia content for many thousands of users. This initiative, starting in French-speaking Africa, supports Wikimédia France’s strategy to promote free access to educational content, in particular through Wikipedia. In order to offer free, unlimited access, Afrique Telecom has developed a server located at “TamTam” hotspots that will locally host French-language Wikipedia content. The content will be updated regularly via a satellite link provided by Eutelsat. A major pilot project Afrique Telecom’s ambition is to roll-out “TamTam” to between 4000 and 8000 hotspots in the next two years. Eutelsat has agreed to finance servers hosted by the first 1,000 hotspots as a springboard that will also measure the impact of the service. The Wikimedia movement has made a priority of improving accessibility and content creation on Wikipedia for so-called “Southern” countries. There is still a large gap between Northern and Southern countries in terms of the number of readers and contributors to Wikimedia platforms as well as content on Southern countries. French-speaking Africa is a priority action area for the Wikimédia France Foundation, as a complement to its Afripédia project. Wikimédia France, an association for free knowledge-sharing, was founded in 2004 to promote and support all projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation in France. Wikimédia France does not produce or host any Wikimedia Foundation projects, but strives to enrich them and raise their profile through its members’ support of its actions. Founded in 2005, Afrique Telecom (NYSE Euronext Paris: MLAFT, ISIN code: FR0011233659)  is an innovative telecommunications service operator offering economic models of satellite-based connectivity solutions that are unique on the market. The expertise of Afrique Telecom’s development teams is acknowledged in Africa for their work to reduce the digital divide on the continent. With more than 4000 stations in operation, Afrique Telecom is one of the leading players in satellite-based connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Established in 1977, Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL, ISIN code: FR0010221234) is one of the world’s leading and most experienced operators of communications satellites. The company provides capacity on 38 satellites to clients that include broadcasters and broadcasting associations, pay-TV operators, video, data and Internet service providers, enterprises and government agencies. Eutelsat’s satellites provide ubiquitous coverage of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, enabling video, data, broadband and government communications to be established irrespective of a user’s location. Headquartered in Paris, with offices and teleports around the globe, Eutelsat represents a workforce of 1,000 men and women from 37 countries who are experts in their fields and work with clients to deliver the highest quality of service. *APO]]>

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Corruption on the rise in Africa poll as governments seen failing to stop it
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Transparency International estimates 75 million Africans paid a bribe in the past year Corruption-cartoon-of-a-police-boss-by-Basati-via-SomalilandsunA majority of Africans say corruption has risen in the past 12 months and most governments are seen as failing in their duty to stop the abuse of power, bribery and secret deals, according to a new opinion poll from Transparency International (Transparency.org). In the report People and Corruption: Africa Survey 2015, part of the Global Corruption Barometer, Transparency International partnered with Afrobarometer, which spoke to 43,143 respondents across 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa between March 2014 and September 2015 to ask them about their experiences and perceptions of corruption in their country. The majority (58 per cent) of Africans in the surveyed countries, say corruption has increased over the past 12 months. In 18 out of 28 countries surveyed a large majority of people said their government is doing badly at fighting corruption. Despite these disappointing findings, the bright spots across the continent were in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Lesotho and Senegal. Citizens in these countries were some of the most positive in the region when discussing corruption. For the first time, people reported business executives as highly corrupt. Business ranked as having the second highest levels of corruption in the region, just below the police. The police regularly rate as highly corrupt, but the strongly negative assessment of business executives is new compared to previous surveys. Many Africans, particularly the poor, are burdened by corruption when trying to get access to key basic services in their country. 22 per cent of people that have come into contact with a public service in the past 12 months paid a bribe. Of the six key public services that we asked about, people who come into contact with the courts and police are the most likely to have paid a bribe. 28 per cent and 27 per cent respectively of people who had contact with these services paid a bribe. Across the continent, poor people who use public services are twice as likely as rich people to have paid a bribe, and in urban areas they are even more likely to pay bribes. “Corruption creates and increases poverty and exclusion. While corrupt individuals with political power enjoy a lavish life, millions of Africans are deprived of their basic needs like food, health, education, housing, access to clean water and sanitation. We call on governments and judges to stop corruption, eradicate impunity and implement Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals to curb corruption. We also call on the people to demand honesty and transparency, and mobilize against corruption. It is time to say enough and unmask the corrupt,” said Transparency International Chair José Ugaz. pesayachai_bwanamdogoIt is increasingly clear that citizens are a key part of any anti-corruption initiative. However, the survey finds that corruption reporting mechanisms are often seen as too dangerous, ineffective or unclear. More than 1 out of 3 Africans thinks that a whistleblower faces negative consequences for reporting corruption, which is why most people don’t report. “Our work as civil society is clear: we have to spread a message of hope across the continent. Corruption can be tackled. People need to be given the space to stand up against it without fear of retaliation and governments need to get serious about ending the widespread impunity.” Transparency International recommends:

  • Governments strengthen and enforce legislation on corrupt business people and anti-money laundering to curb the high volume of illicit flows from the continent. This could address the negative perception of business if those profiting are held to account.
  • Governments establish right to information and whistle-blower protection legislation to facilitate the role of civil society in making public institutions more transparent, accountable and corruption-free.
  • Governments show a sustained and deep commitment to acting on police corruption at all levels by promoting reforms that combine punitive measures with structural changes over the short- and medium-term. Cracking down on petty bribery has direct impact on the most vulnerable in society.
  • The African Union and its members provide the political will and financing needed to implement the review mechanism established for its anti-corruption convention.
Unless it’s stopped, corruption slows development and economic growth while weakening people’s trust in government and the accountability of public institutions. *APO]]>

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Faith-based communities focus on electoral process in Democratic Republic of Congo
November 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

running or not running?despite term limits in constitution, President Kabila has not made his intentions known running or not running?despite term limits in constitution, President Kabila has not made his intentions known[/caption] The role of faith-based communities in the electoral process of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was explored in depth at an event organized by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in collaboration with the World Council of Churches (WCC). The DRC is currently preparing for an election cycle. The country’s leading religious leaders, through the Commission for Integrity and Electoral Mediation (Commission d’Intégrité et de Médiation Electorale, CIME), have an important role to play in the process, in collaboration with all stakeholders. The event in the United States, held on 10 November in Washington, D.C., featured presentations from international participants on themes such as the faith-based community’s role in educating citizens and monitoring the elections; strategies for preventing and mitigating electoral fraud and violence; and the importance of ensuring the DRC’s first democratic alternation of power. The delegates brought by the WCC included Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee, Bishop David Kekumba Yemba, head of the United Methodist Church in the DRC and vice president of the DRC’s Commission of Integrity and Electoral Mediation, and  Rev. Andre Milenge, 2nd vice-president of the Église du Christ au Congo. The delegates were accompanied by Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, the WCC representative to the United Nations. As part of the programme, the delegates also met with officials from the US Congress and State Department; their discussions focused on the situation in the DRC, as well as on the need for civic education and funding to ensure the elections will take place in time. At the event, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson welcomed the participants and highlighted the WCC commitment towards “Justice and Peace”, introducing the WCC’s “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” – a call from its 10th Assembly in Busan. “The WCC made a commitment during the WCC Assembly to accompany DRC churches as part of the Pilgrimage, and particularly in relation to forthcoming elections in order to foster a peaceful process,” she said. “The Washington DC meeting organized by the National Endowment for Democracy was an opportunity for many ecumenical partner organizations of the WCC to discover the significant work of the DRC Commission for Integrity and Electoral Mediation of CIME, its mission, mandate and commitment for sustainable peace,” said Bishop Yemba. “This conference is another follow-up of the 27-29 May conference in Geneva on Peace and Security in the DRC. It is encouraging that partners are supporting our efforts to accompany churches in Congo for a peaceful electoral process,” added Semegnish Asfaw, WCC programme executive for international affairs. *Source APO]]>

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Second-half goals seal CAF title for Mazembe
November 9, 2015 | 0 Comments

Johannesburg (AFP) – Second-half goals from Mbwana Samatta and Roger Assale gave TP Mazembe a 2-0 home win over USM Alger on Sunday and a fifth CAF Champions League title.

Lubumbashi TP Mazembe's forward Mbwana Samatta celebrates after scoring a goal against USM Algers at the TP Mazembe stadium in Lubumbashi on November 8, 2015 (AFP Photo/Junior Kannah)

Lubumbashi TP Mazembe’s forward Mbwana Samatta celebrates after scoring a goal against USM Algers at the TP Mazembe stadium in Lubumbashi on November 8, 2015 (AFP Photo/Junior Kannah)

Leading 2-1 from the first leg in Algeria last weekend, the Democratic Republic of Congo club triumphed 4-1 on aggregate to qualify for the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, where the likes of Barcelona and River Plate are potential opponents.

Tanzanian Samatta converted a 75th-minute penalty awarded for a clumsy foul at a packed 18,000-capacity Stade TP Mazembe in southern city Lubumbashi.

Ivorian Assale doubled the second-leg lead four minutes into stoppage time by tapping in from close range after Samatta spearheaded a counterattack.

By winning the premier African club competition for a fifth time, Mazembe join Zamalek of Egypt as the second most successful sides behind eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt.

Mazembe are only the third club in 50 two-leg Champions League (formerly African Cup of Champions Clubs) finals after Hafia of Guinea and Hearts of Oak of Ghana to win both home and away.

Goalkeepers Muteba Kidiaba of Mazembe and Ismail Mansouri of USM were virtual spectators during the opening half of a match staged on an artificial surface.

The introduction of Assale and Ghanaian Daniel Nii Adjei for the second half bolstered the Mazembe attack and Malian Adama Traore shot wide from close range just past the hour.

But persistent pressure from the home team produced two goals and a first CAF title for French coach Patrice Carteron after near misses in the past two seasons.

Mazembe finished runners-up to CS Sfaxien of Tunisia in the 2013 CAF Confederation Cup final and a couple of Kidiaba blunders robbed them of a Champions League final place last year.

Former Saint-Etienne defender Carteron had built up USM as a side to fear in the return match because “they have nothing to lose”.

But his concerns proved unfounded as the Algiers outfit, showing six changes from the first leg due to suspensions and injuries, offered little going forward.

They finished the match a man short as 2015 CAF Africa-based Footballer of the Year nominee Zinedine Ferhat was red-carded after the second goal for striking an opponent.

Success for Mazembe endorsed the policy of wealthy club president Moise Katumbi to hire stars from west, central, east and southern Africa.

The second-leg starting line-up included three Ghanaians, three Malians, two Congolese, two Tanzanians and a Zambian.

Ivorian, Ghanaian and Congolese substitutes added to the multi-national flavour of Mazembe, whose previous African titles were won in 1967, 1968, 2009 and 2010.

The ‘Ravens’ have also been runners-up twice.

Mazembe will relish another Club World Cup appearance as they became the first African finalists in 2010, shocking Internacional of Brazil in the semi-finals before losing to Inter Milan.

*AFP/Yahoo

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Oil confirmed under Africa's oldest wildlife park Virunga: DRC govt
November 9, 2015 | 0 Comments

Kinshasa (AFP) – Seismic tests in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest wildlife reserve which is famed for its mountain gorillas, have confirmed the presence of oil, the Congolese government said Friday.

[caption id="attachment_22196" align="alignleft" width="300"]An access to the Virunga National Park is seen near Rutshuru on June 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Junior D. Kannah) An access to the Virunga National Park is seen near Rutshuru on June 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Junior D. Kannah)[/caption]

Tests carried out by British oil company Soco had returned “positive” on the presence of oil deposits, Minister of Hydrocarbons Aime Ngoy Mukena told AFP by telephone.

On the question of “whether there is an oil field” underneath the park, the study answered “yes”, he said, without giving further details.

The announcement was likely to reignite a heated debate within DRC over the merits of exploring for oil in the vast park, which covers some 7,800 square kilometres (3,010 square miles) of lush forest, glaciated peaks and savannah in the restive eastern province of North Kivu.

The UNESCO world heritage site reopened to tourists last year after being closed for two years because of militia violence in the region.

UNESCO has warned several times that any exploration for oil in the park would be “incompatible” with its heritage status. The Congolese government has in the past promoted prospecting for oil in Virunga as offering a chance to lift the vast country out of poverty. Critics warn, however, that the oil business would only exacerbate the armed conflicts that have torn North Kivu apart for more than two decades. “If the government tried to exploit this oil, for us it will be death,” the head of a local environmental NGO, Bantu Lukambo, told AFP. In 2010, the government awarded several oil concessions straddling the park’s boundaries, including giving “block V” to Soco, but suspended the permits following a domestic and international outcry.

London-based Soco was accused of corruption and intimidation by several NGOs — charges it denies — and a statement on the company’s website said it no longer holds the licence for the block.

Soco has since been allowed to carry out tests to establish the environmental impact of possible oil exploration in the park, however, and opponents fear the government may award the licences to another company.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Anzisha Prize announces esteemed judging panel for 2015 African youth entrepreneurship award
November 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Heba Gamal (EG), Sangu Delle (GH), Willy Mukiny Yav (DRC), George Bakka (UG) will be deliberating which of the Anzisha finalists walk away with a sum of $75,000 in prizes [caption id="attachment_22099" align="alignleft" width="300"]Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs[/caption] The Anzisha Prize  is pleased to announce a diverse, experienced and representative judging panel for the 2015 Anzisha Prize award for African youth entrepreneurs. The Prize has invited a panel of four experienced professionals from the both the business and social sectors who represent a holistic view of contributors to the dialogue around youth entrepreneurship in Africa. The judges’ experience stems from a diverse knowledge and experience base. The panel includes entrepreneurs at both an established and scaling stage, leaders from social and business sectors, contributors to the African business dialogue through media, and represents a cultural diversity that is relevant to and mirrors the youth entrepreneurs that they will be assessing. The finalists for the Anzisha Prize will pitch their ventures to the judges on Monday 16 November. The panel will consider each project on its own merits in responsiveness to a market opportunity or social need, ingenuity, scalability and impact. The grand prize-winner will be announced at a prestigious awards ceremony on Tuesday 17 November at Room Five in Rivonia, Johannesburg, South Africa. “It is essential that we encourage conversation and deliberation on the potential for youth to impact African economies through entrepreneurship in a multifaceted dialogue with cross-sector, cross-continent, cross-cultural contribution,” says Grace Kalisha, Senior Manager for the Anzisha Prize. “We are pleased and encouraged that such an esteemed panel would engage critically with our finalists for the Anzisha Prize this year.” The 2015 Anzisha Prize Awards Judges are: Heba Gamal, based in Egypt, an entrepreneurship and technology expert. She is the Managing Director of Endeavor Egypt, a non-profit organization focused on supporting high-impact entrepreneurs. Prior to Endeavor, Heba was managing search quality for the Middle East & North Africa at Google, Inc. Her international expertise spans Silicon Valley, India, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Heba has been a speaker at various conferences and summits about entrepreneurship, technology and women in leadership. The Anzisha prize welcomes her contribution to this year’s panel due to her social entrepreneurship focus, strong advocacy for the role of women in business, and North Africa experience. Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group. He has 21 years’ experience in communications specialising in African Markets. Having developed excellent high-level contacts within Africa, over the past 22 years, Willy has used these to become involved in developing numerous ventures in Africa. As a consequence he has expertise in modus operandi and business practice in both French and English speaking Africa and further developed a network of contacts in the upper political, business and social echelons.  Willy served as a judge for Anzisha in 2014 and enabled clear understanding of the francophone ventures for fair assessment. Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs.  Sangu is an entrepreneur, author, clean water activist, Soros Fellow and TEDGlobal Fellow. He is the Founder and Chief [caption id="attachment_22100" align="alignright" width="300"]Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group[/caption] Executive Officer of Golden Palm Investments (GPI); an investment holding and advisory company focused on building world class companies in Africa.  GPI operates companies in high growth industries and funds promising start-ups that can have social impact and generate jobs. GPI has backed startups such as SOLO Mobile in Nigeria, mPharma in Ghana and Stawi Foods in Kenya. George Bakka, Ugandan, is an Anzisha Fellow, inducted into the inaugural cohort of the Fellowship in 2011. As a scaling and widely celebrated youth entrepreneur, he epitomizes the journey that the finalists are embarking on. George is the Founder & CEO of Angels Initiatives. He is a serial pan-African entrepreneur passionate about building solutions and companies that catalyze growth in Africa. Some of the companies he has started include Angels Hub and Unreasonable EastAfrica. In addition to being an Anzisha Fellow, he is also an Acumen and Educate Fellow. The 12 finalists for Anzisha Prize were selected from an impressive initial pool of 494 young entrepreneurs, up from 339 applications in 2014. The Anzisha Prize is proud to have attracted applicants from 33 African countries, with finalists from Zimbabwe and Ethiopia identified for the first time this year. Applications were also received from a diversity of sectors, with agriculture having the most applicants. Now in its fifth year, The Anzisha Prize will be celebrating these outstanding young people during Global Entrepreneurship Week joining the worldwide festivities. Finalists for the Anzisha Prize win a share of US$75,000 and access to ongoing support to scale their enterprises and expand their impact. The Anzisha Prize team is running a social media campaign where members of the public can vote for their favourite entrepreneur and offer words of support and encouragement on the Anzisha website  and on Facebook. An award will be given to the finalist receiving the largest number of votes. The goal is to support them on their Anzisha journey and share their success stories with other youth.   The Anzisha Prize is delivered by African Leadership Academy in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Through the Anzisha Prize, the organisers seek to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship among youth across the continent. African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of entrepreneurial leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact. Each year, ALA brings together the most promising young leaders from all 54 African nations for a pre-university program in South Africa with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA continues to cultivate these leaders throughout their lives, in university and beyond, by providing on-going leadership and entrepreneurial training and connecting them to high-impact networks of people and capital that can catalyse large-scale change. The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. *APO]]>

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A Conversation with Herman Cohen: Former Reagan and Bush Snr Aide on Africa shares his experiences in New Book
November 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Herman Cohen Herman Cohen[/caption] Few American Diplomats can match Herman Cohen when it comes to experiences in Africa. In his 38 year career in the US Foreign service, Ambassador Cohen’s area of specialization was Africa. In addition to posts in five countries, Cohen served as Ambassador to Senegal, served as Special Assistant for African Affairs to President Ronald Reagan and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President George .H.W.Bush. Now in retirement Ambassador Cohen is out with a new book titled “The Mind of The African Strongman: Conversations with Dictators, Statesmen and Father Figures.” The book chronicles experiences and conversations that Cohen had interacting with a rich and diverse cast of leaders across Africa. From Mobutu of D.R.Congo (Zaire), Bongo of Gabon, Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Arap Moi of Kenya, Muarmar Ghadafi of Libya, Kaunda of Zambia, to Babangida of Nigeria Cohen has a story to tell. Cohen did not only interact with leaders in power, the book has experiences with emblematic opposition figures like Nelson Mandela of South Africa. He also shares experiences trying to get Jonas Savimbi of UNITA to the negotiating table with President Dos Santos of Angola. In a recent interview to talk about the book,  Ambassador Cohen strongly defended  US Foreign policy in Africa, but admitted that Angola was the exception where cold war logic may have prompted the US to side with Jonas Savimbi. While he equally had strong criticisms for the way Ghadafi ran Libya, he concedes that his ouster without planning on the aftermath was a strategic error. Cohen thinks that President Obama has spoken the hard truth to Africa like no other US leader before him and expresses optimism on the future of the continent with more democracies emerging and a new generation of leaders breaking away from the old order. https://soundcloud.com/multimedia-podcast/herman-cohen-interview]]>

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African Groupings Urged to Block Leaders from Changing Constitution
October 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

NEPAD CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki. NEPAD CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki.[/caption] The head of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) says it is the responsibility of African regional blocs to prevent heads of state in their respective regions from changing the constitution that paves way for them to seek new terms after their terms expire. NEPAD is an economic development program of the African Union, which aims to provide the vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries. In an interview with VOA, Dr. Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki says the African Peer Review Mechanism is not to blame for the lack of action on strengthening democratic institutions on the African continent. Several African countries including Rwanda and Congo Republic plan to change the constitution that would enable their presidents to seek new terms after their two terms expire. Mayaki says the regional groups should learn from the stance taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). ECOWAS suspended Niger’s membership and put pressure on former president Mamadou Tandja after he attempted to change the constitution to seek another term when it was set to expire in 2009. Tandja was subsequently ousted by the military in February 2010. “That action… in the context of what the African Union calls the subsidiarity principle, which means that events that occur in a regional space are first tackled by that regional space, in order to find the necessary solutions,” said Mayaki. “It is the responsibility of each regional economic community really to tackle this issue, and the African Union is supporting the regional communities, when they tackle these issues.” Critics say NEPAD’s Africa Peer Review Mechanism, which reports on the performance of African governments on governance issues, has failed to carry out its mandate. They also said the APRM has not been proactive enough to sensitize Africans about the need to push back attempts by their leaders to change the constitution to seek another mandate. Mayaki disagreed. “You cannot blame the APRM of not acting… Because the APRM has always drawn the attention on these types of issues within the reports… Then the report is presented and a discussion is engaged with the head of state of a country in order to ask him on the clarification on the challenges that were mentioned in the report,” said Mayaki. “The APRM is doing its job of really tackling taboo, controversial, difficult issues like these ones and mentioning them. The APRM is not a political institution in terms of taking a public stance. But it is a mechanism that has proven through the conclusions of its reports that it tackles the hard issues like amendment of constitutions, xenophobia, rigging elections, [and] lack of women participation in public life.” Civil society and opposition groups have often rejected outcomes of elections in Africa where an incumbent president has comfortably won. They accuse ruling parties of voter irregularities including multiple voting, intimidation and harassment of opposition supporters, which they say undermine the credibility of elections. But Mayaki says the quality of elections has significantly improved in Africa. He also cited instances where incumbent leaders have lost elections and have peacefully handed over to their opponents. “If you look at the quality of elections that take place, the existence of free speech, the existence of opposition political parties, multipartism and we compare with many countries in the Middle East, we are far ahead,” said Mayaki. “Nigeria was a big success story, when President Goodluck Jonathan accepted his defeat and handed over to President [Muhammadu] Buhari, and it did contradict all those who were thinking the elections were going to be rigged or manipulated,” said Mayaki. “It is the beginning of a huge change because, given the role that Nigeria is playing in the regional integration process in West Africa, given the role that Nigeria is playing on the continent as a leader, this experience will have a direct consequence on all the elections that will take place. *Source VOA]]>

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