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Black swan: DR Congo could be Africa's richest nation by 2035
June 12, 2014 | 1 Comments

PERRY MUNZWEMBIRI download (10)In 1967 Botswana had less than 5 kilometres of tarmacked roads and only three secondary schools! Today, it is a middle-income country. Why not DRC? The good Africa stories keep coming, battling against “old” Africa with its civil wars and people threatened with famine. Over the next 20 years, some estimates project that Africa will have at least two billion people. Of these, 1.2-billion people will be living in urban cities, and 300-million of that urban population potentially earning $20 a day. If these statistics become reality, Africa could be a $2-trillion market annually. This paints a picture of a continent whose economic activity is on the rise. Six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies of the last decade have been in Africa, hence the “Africa rising” catchphrase that has dominated economic reporting and discussion about the continent. While the economies of countries like Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique have been growing like they were shot on steroids, with GDP growth rates averaging 7%, the question is they can they keep up this pace of economic growth for the next 20 years? What if another country bucked the trend and emerges as the continent’s richest country by 2035? Could it be far-fetched for a country currently considered a lost cause to turn the tables and emerge as Africa’s richest nation by 2035? The commonly accepted measure of determining a country’s wealth is Gross Domestic Product Purchasing Power Parity (GDP PPP) per capita. This method looks at a country’s GDP, converts it to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates and finally divides purchasing power parity by population size. At nearly $10,218.95 basing on 2013 data, currently South Africa is the richest nation in Africa – though Nigeria might be the largest economy. By 2035… Enter the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is still recovering from the aftermath of years of brutal conflict that has internally displaced as many as 2.75-million people according to Oxfam. Inevitably, the Central African country`s economy has taken a beating over the years. Unemployment, high inflation and low human development indicators all point out to the effects decades of conflict and over 30 years of dictatorship by the corrupt Mobutu Sese Seko who was ousted in 1997, have had on DRC’s economy. Be that as it may, could the DRC potentially rise to be the richest country on the continent by 2035? Consider the following: With a population of nearly 70-million, it has the potential upside to grow driven by a large domestic market. The African Economic Outlook report recently released by the African Development Bank (AfDB) listed high domestic demand as the main catalyst for Africa’s current economic growth especially.  With an estimated 40% of the DRC’s relatively youthful population Living in urban areas, it is in good stead to achieve high growth rates in the future as urbanisation and the levels of affluence rise in line with continental trends. Growth in low-income countries, including what may be considered fragile states, continues to outpace that of middle-income countries. AfDB data shows real GDP growth rates of African countries by analytical groupings such as low-income countries and countries in fragile states – a bill that the DRC fits – have seen strong performances in their GDP numbers. For instance, looking at the low-income countries’ metric, African countries in that bracket registered an average real GDP growth rate of 6.2% from 2010 to 2013 whilst the DRC recorded an average growth rate of 7.1% over the same period. If these growth trends are sustained, then the country could very well likely emerge as a major economy on the continent. Spared from debt 600x300Furthermore, the DRC has been spared from facing a debt burden it cannot manage.  In July 2010, the country became eligible for irrevocable debt relief assistance under the IMF and World Bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative, as it became the 36th country to reach the completion point of the programme.  Under this initiative it will benefit from total debt service savings of around $12.3-billion. Consequently the DRC will not face debt-servicing  pressures on its revenue flows and foreign exchange resources in the future. With this, social spending on critical drivers of growth and public debt management could be improved, thereby giving room for greater growth prospects for the country. In addition, DRC has tremendous resources that, in the hands of a reformist and effective government, could work near-miracles. Its total mineral wealth is estimated to be worth a mind-boggling $24-trillion, more than the GDP of Europe and the US combined. It holds more than 70% of the world’s coltan, used to make vital components of mobile phones, 30% of the world’s diamond reserves and vast deposits of cobalt, copper and bauxite. Additionally, the DR Congo contains huge quantities of gold, platinum, oil, tin and uranium — indeed, of nearly every other precious mineral on the planet. The planned Grand Inga Dam on the Congo River, delayed by incompetent and corrupt rule in Kinshasa and years of war, if implemented will not only be nearly seven times bigger than Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, it will be almost double the size of the Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River in China, currently the world’s biggest hydroelectricity plant. DR Congo’s Inga dam has the potential to supply Egypt, Ethiopia, and half of Africa. Too optimistic? Admittedly, all this seems too optimistic, and could even pass as being hopeless out of touch with foreseeable economic prospects. The DRC does not immediately come to mind when one thinks of rich nations today or in the future. After all, an estimated 70% of its people still live in poverty, and the country has large infrastructure deficits, an economic environment that is not favourable for investment, as well as a fragile political situation. But is it really that hard to fathom? Earlier this year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released a 25-page report in which they predicted that there would almost be no poor countries left in the world by 2035, using today`s World Bank classification of low-income countries, even after adjusting for inflation. Long-term projections into the future are never easy, as too many variables are at play. However, as history has shown, over a relatively longer period, economies can grow rapidly. Take Botswana for instance; in 1967, it had less than 5 kilometres of tarmacked roads and only three secondary schools! Today, after 47 years, it is a middle-income country. Thought the DRC seems too dark a horse in the race for economic supremacy, if the necessary reforms are made in policy and the right crop of leadership emerges to guide the country on a path of growth and stability, then the nation could likely be one of the richest on the continent in the next 20 years. The jury is likely going to be out on this one for some time, but this black swan possibility for DRC is, well, a black swan. •The author is a Finance student at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe. Twitter:PMunzwembiri *m &g africa]]>

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Black swan: DR Congo could be Africa’s richest nation by 2035
June 12, 2014 | 1 Comments

PERRY MUNZWEMBIRI

download (10)In 1967 Botswana had less than 5 kilometres of tarmacked roads and only three secondary schools! Today, it is a middle-income country. Why not DRC?

The good Africa stories keep coming, battling against “old” Africa with its civil wars and people threatened with famine.

Over the next 20 years, some estimates project that Africa will have at least two billion people. Of these, 1.2-billion people will be living in urban cities, and 300-million of that urban population potentially earning $20 a day. If these statistics become reality, Africa could be a $2-trillion market annually.

This paints a picture of a continent whose economic activity is on the rise. Six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies of the last decade have been in Africa, hence the “Africa rising” catchphrase that has dominated economic reporting and discussion about the continent.

While the economies of countries like Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique have been growing like they were shot on steroids, with GDP growth rates averaging 7%, the question is they can they keep up this pace of economic growth for the next 20 years? What if another country bucked the trend and emerges as the continent’s richest country by 2035? Could it be far-fetched for a country currently considered a lost cause to turn the tables and emerge as Africa’s richest nation by 2035?

The commonly accepted measure of determining a country’s wealth is Gross Domestic Product Purchasing Power Parity (GDP PPP) per capita. This method looks at a country’s GDP, converts it to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates and finally divides purchasing power parity by population size. At nearly $10,218.95 basing on 2013 data, currently South Africa is the richest nation in Africa – though Nigeria might be the largest economy.

By 2035…
Enter the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is still recovering from the aftermath of years of brutal conflict that has internally displaced as many as 2.75-million people according to Oxfam. Inevitably, the Central African country`s economy has taken a beating over the years. Unemployment, high inflation and low human development indicators all point out to the effects decades of conflict and over 30 years of dictatorship by the corrupt Mobutu Sese Seko who was ousted in 1997, have had on DRC’s economy.

Be that as it may, could the DRC potentially rise to be the richest country on the continent by 2035? Consider the following:

With a population of nearly 70-million, it has the potential upside to grow driven by a large domestic market. The African Economic Outlook report recently released by the African Development Bank (AfDB) listed high domestic demand as the main catalyst for Africa’s current economic growth especially.  With an estimated 40% of the DRC’s relatively youthful population Living in urban areas, it is in good stead to achieve high growth rates in the future as urbanisation and the levels of affluence rise in line with continental trends.

Growth in low-income countries, including what may be considered fragile states, continues to outpace that of middle-income countries. AfDB data shows real GDP growth rates of African countries by analytical groupings such as low-income countries and countries in fragile states – a bill that the DRC fits – have seen strong performances in their GDP numbers.

For instance, looking at the low-income countries’ metric, African countries in that bracket registered an average real GDP growth rate of 6.2% from 2010 to 2013 whilst the DRC recorded an average growth rate of 7.1% over the same period. If these growth trends are sustained, then the country could very well likely emerge as a major economy on the continent.

Spared from debt

600x300Furthermore, the DRC has been spared from facing a debt burden it cannot manage.  In July 2010, the country became eligible for irrevocable debt relief assistance under the IMF and World Bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative, as it became the 36th country to reach the completion point of the programme.  Under this initiative it will benefit from total debt service savings of around $12.3-billion. Consequently the DRC will not face debt-servicing  pressures on its revenue flows and foreign exchange resources in the future.

With this, social spending on critical drivers of growth and public debt management could be improved, thereby giving room for greater growth prospects for the country.

In addition, DRC has tremendous resources that, in the hands of a reformist and effective government, could work near-miracles. Its total mineral wealth is estimated to be worth a mind-boggling $24-trillion, more than the GDP of Europe and the US combined. It holds more than 70% of the world’s coltan, used to make vital components of mobile phones, 30% of the world’s diamond reserves and vast deposits of cobalt, copper and bauxite. Additionally, the DR Congo contains huge quantities of gold, platinum, oil, tin and uranium — indeed, of nearly every other precious mineral on the planet.

The planned Grand Inga Dam on the Congo River, delayed by incompetent and corrupt rule in Kinshasa and years of war, if implemented will not only be nearly seven times bigger than Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, it will be almost double the size of the Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River in China, currently the world’s biggest hydroelectricity plant.

DR Congo’s Inga dam has the potential to supply Egypt, Ethiopia, and half of Africa.

Too optimistic?
Admittedly, all this seems too optimistic, and could even pass as being hopeless out of touch with foreseeable economic prospects. The DRC does not immediately come to mind when one thinks of rich nations today or in the future. After all, an estimated 70% of its people still live in poverty, and the country has large infrastructure deficits, an economic environment that is not favourable for investment, as well as a fragile political situation.

But is it really that hard to fathom? Earlier this year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released a 25-page report in which they predicted that there would almost be no poor countries left in the world by 2035, using today`s World Bank classification of low-income countries, even after adjusting for inflation.

Long-term projections into the future are never easy, as too many variables are at play. However, as history has shown, over a relatively longer period, economies can grow rapidly. Take Botswana for instance; in 1967, it had less than 5 kilometres of tarmacked roads and only three secondary schools! Today, after 47 years, it is a middle-income country.

Thought the DRC seems too dark a horse in the race for economic supremacy, if the necessary reforms are made in policy and the right crop of leadership emerges to guide the country on a path of growth and stability, then the nation could likely be one of the richest on the continent in the next 20 years. The jury is likely going to be out on this one for some time, but this black swan possibility for DRC is, well, a black swan.

•The author is a Finance student at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe. Twitter:PMunzwembiri

*m &g africa

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U.S. pushes Congo on term limits, pledges aid
May 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

PHIL STEWART* [caption id="attachment_9254" align="alignleft" width="150"]U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) walks alongside Hospital Director Dolores Nembunzu (R) and Sister Mary Joseph (L) at the Fistula Clinic at Saint Joseph's Hospital, funded by USAID, in Kinshasa May 4, 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) walks alongside Hospital Director Dolores Nembunzu (R) and Sister Mary Joseph (L) at the Fistula Clinic at Saint Joseph’s Hospital, funded by USAID, in Kinshasa May 4, 2014.[/caption] The United States urged Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday to stick to its constitution that sets terms limits for the president, as speculation grows that Joseph Kabila may seek a third term. Highlighting an issue that exists in several African countries where leaders have sought to extend their rule beyond constitutional limits, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged $30 million in aid aimed in part at ensuring “credible” elections in 2016. Kabila has not announced his intentions for the 2016 poll but, with his political fortunes sharply improved after last year’s defeat of the M23 rebel group, there are growing opposition fears he might try to remain in power. “(Kabila) has an opportunity which he understands to be able to put the country on a continued path of democracy,” Kerry told reporters after talks with the Congolese leader in Kinshasa. Kerry stressed that the legacy of Kabila, who in 2006 won Congo’s first democratic elections since independence but was heavily criticized over fraud-tarnished polls five years later, must go beyond security gains. “I believe it is clear to him that the United States of America feels very strongly – as do other people – that the constitutional process needs to be respected and adhered to.” “We’re a country with term limits. We live by them … and we encourage other countries to adhere to their constitution,” he added. Kerry did not explicity say Kabila should not seek a third term, but U.S. special envoy to the Great Lakes region Russ Feingold, made the point clear. “President Obama, when he was here last year made a very important statement: What Africa needs is not strong men but strong institutions,” Feingold told reporters travelling with Kerry on his tour of Africa. “One of those strong institutions is a credible method of executive succession, executive term limits.” The speculation in Congo is hardly an exception. There is widespread public expectation that Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore and Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza will seek constitutional changes in order to stay in power. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has also refused to rule out running for a third term when his mandate expires in 2017. Kerry said the $30 million in U.S. aid, which was expected to be delivered mostly to non-governmental organizations, would support elections as well as recovery and reconstruction programs in the remote and conflict-hit east. A U.S. official said Washington reserved the right to withhold funds if the process were not transparent and credible. *Source Reuters]]>

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International Criminal Court: 9 Questions about the case of Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga
March 13, 2014 | 1 Comments

International Criminal Court: 9 Questions about the case of Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga

 1.       Who is Germain Katanga and what is he being tried for at the International Criminal Court (ICC)?

 images (1)In 2007, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Germain Katanga (also known by the alias ‘Simba’) accusing him of war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to an attack on Bogoro, a village in the Ituri district of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), that took place in early February 2003. It is the third verdict handed down by the ICC; both previous cases also related to the situation in the DRC. The Prosecutor alleges Katanga’s involvement in the attack in his capacity as the leader of the Forces de Résistance Patriotique d’Ituri (FRPI; Patriotic Resistance Force in Ituri).

Katanga is charged with seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity. During the attack on Bogoro, at least 200 civilians were killed, predominantly of Hema ethnicity. According to a UN report, 100 survivors of the attack say that “around 260 persons were killed and another 70 are missing. Among the victims, 173 were under the age of 18.” The Prosecutor also alleges that the village was pillaged by members of the FRPI; that women and girls were abducted and sexually enslaved; that some survivors of the attack were imprisoned in a building filled with corpses; and that child soldiers were used in the attack.

 2.      What is the significance of the case of Prosecutor v. Katanga?

 Following the DRC’s request in 2004 for the ICC Prosecutor to investigate crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction on the territory of the DRC since 1 July 2002, the Katanga case is the third trial in relation to crimes in the DRC to reach a verdict at the ICC.

For the past two decades, the eastern provinces of the DRC have been marred by successive waves of instability and protracted armed conflict. Various armed groups, foreign armies, and the Congolese national army FARDC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo) have engaged in a violent struggle for political and military control of land and resources. Despite an official end to the hostilities in 2003, the violence in eastern DRC continues to this day as armed groups continue their sporadic operations against civilians, who are subjected to killings, rape and sexual violence, forced displacement, conscription and use of children as soldiers, and pillaging. The work of the ICC in the Katanga case and other proceedings is providing victims of the DRC’s protracted conflict with hope of a route to realizing their rights to justice, truth and reparation.

The decision will also be significant in that it will deal with charges of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and sexual slavery. Katanga is also charged with war crimes of using children under the age of 15 as child soldiers, who allegedly served as both combatants in the attack and as escorts to the accused. These crimes have been committed on a massive scale in the DRC with impunity. Survivors of sexual violence and former child soldiers are often stigmatized within their communities. The case will hopefully challenge this stigma and set important precedents that can be followed by DRC courts to address these crimes effectively.

 3.       What else has the ICC done to investigate and prosecute crimes in the DRC conflict?

 Investigations by the ICC into the crimes committed in the DRC began shortly after the establishment of the Court; they have so far focused on crimes committed in the east of the country in Ituri district and North and South Kivu provinces.

To date, the ICC has conducted two other trials relating to crimes committed in the DRC. On 14 March 2012, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was convicted of the war crime of conscripting and using child soldiers in the Forces Patriotiques pour la Liberation du Congo (Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo, FPLC) armed group in various localities around Bunia and elsewhere in Ituri district in 2002 and 2003. He was sentenced to a total of 14 years imprisonment; the verdict and sentence are currently under appeal. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was acquitted on 18 November 2012 of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the same attack on Bogoro that Germain Katanga stands accused of. The Prosecutor has appealed this acquittal.

Another case, against Bosco Ntaganda, is at the pre-trial stage. He is charged, in his then capacity as the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the FPLC, with seven counts of war crimes for enlisting, conscripting and using child soldiers in hostilities, murder, attacks against a civilian population, rape and sexual slavery and pillaging carried out in Ituri in 2002 and 2003. He is additionally accused of three counts of crimes against humanity of murder, rape and sexual slavery, and persecution. One other accused, Sylvestre Mudacumura, remains at large. He is wanted by the ICC for crimes allegedly committed in North and South Kivu provinces in his capacity as the supreme commander of the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)), including nine counts of war crimes committed between 20 January 2009 and September 2010. A sixth accused in cases involving crimes in the DRC, Callixte Mbarushimana, was released in December 2011 after the judges declined to confirm the charges brought against him by the ICC Prosecutor, due to lack of sufficient evidence.

The ICC is continuing to investigate crimes in the country and further cases may be initiated by the Prosecutor.

4.      What has the ICC done for the victims and affected communities in the Katanga case?

There are at least 363 victims who are participating in the case against Katanga at the ICC. They are represented through lawyers who make these victims’ views known to the Court. These victims are separated into two groups. One group consists of “general” victims and another, smaller, group consists of former child soldiers.

Should Katanga be convicted, the Court may order that he provide reparation to the victims to address the harm they suffered as a result of the crimes. In those circumstances, if he does not have sufficient funds to meet a reparation order, the ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims may step in to fund reparation to the victims.

Since 2008, the ICC Trust Fund for Victims has already been delivering “general assistance” to victims in Ituri and North and South Kivu. Using voluntary contributions from donors, mostly other states, it provides physical rehabilitation, material support, and/or psychological rehabilitation to tens of thousands of direct and indirect victims of the conflict in eastern DRC. For example, the Trust Fund for Victims’ projects include provision of counselling and vocational training for victims of torture and mutilation in South Kivu and material and psychological support provided to victims of sexual and gender based violence in Ituri. The difference made in the lives of victims already through the work of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims shows the value and significance of the ICC’s involvements in the DRC, complementing justice efforts.

 5.       What does it mean if Germain Katanga is convicted? Or acquitted?

 A conviction in this case does not amount to success and an acquittal does not signify failure. A guilty or not guilty verdict reflects whether the Prosecution has presented sufficient admissible evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Katanga committed the crimes he is charged with. Both a conviction and an acquittal may be appealed by the Defence and the Prosecution.

If convicted, Katanga will be sentenced in a separate phase during which the judges will consider aggravating and mitigating circumstances, and reparation proceedings will commence.

If acquitted, the judges will order that arrangements are made as soon as possible for Katanga’s release to a country that is willing to receive him. However, if an application for appeal is filed by the Prosecutor, the judges may in exceptional circumstances, having regard to the concrete risk of flight, the seriousness of the offence charged and the probability of success, order his continued detention pending the appeal.

6.      What impact should this judgment have in DRC?

 While the completion of the Katanga trial is another important step to addressing impunity in the DRC, this case relates to only a very small fraction of the crimes under international law committed in the DRC over the past years. The Katanga judgment should focus the DRC authorities on addressing the enormous “impunity gap” for egregious crimes committed against its people.

Over the past two years, Amnesty International researchers have documented numerous serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed by armed groups in North Kivu, and calls on the Congolese government to live up to its commitment of investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of human rights abuses. In his presidential speech on October 23, 2013, President Joseph Kabila stated the government’s commitment to identify and prosecute individuals who organize armed groups. [“Il y a lieu d’identifier et de traduire en justice les personnes qui entretiennent les groups armés.”]

Yet, the justice system is still failing victims of human rights abuses – it remains drastically understaffed and under-resourced, marked by inadequate detention facilities and witness and victims protection programs. Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the DRC authorities to address obstacles to justice for victims by taking all measures necessary to develop a comprehensive long-term justice strategy aimed at reforming the criminal justice system.

 7.       What does Amnesty International think needs to happen to tackle impunity in DRC?

The ICC cannot address impunity comprehensively on its own. In reality it will only deal with a small number of cases. So at the same time as the ICC conducts its investigations and cases, more must be done both in law and in practice by DRC authorities to establish the rule of law and ensure the rights of victims of past and continuing violations. The DRC authorities must address the obstacles faced by victims trying to find justice in the national system by taking all measures necessary to develop a comprehensive long-term justice strategy aimed at reforming the criminal justice system.

Impunity cannot continue. The authorities must take more effective steps to investigate the thousands of other crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed in the country. Where there is sufficient evidence, those suspected of the crimes must be brought to justice in fair trials. Establishing robust justice and security systems in DRC requires going beyond prosecution of members of armed groups, and must also include the investigation and prosecution of members of the national security services who are allegedly responsible for serious crimes, regardless of their political or military status. The authorities of the DRC must also cooperate fully with all of the ICC’s cases, including the arrest and surrender of Sylvestre Mudacumura, who remains at large.

Moreover, sustained security for populations in eastern DRC is still a far-off goal. Today, the scale of such crimes committed in Ituri district is lower than a decade ago. However, armed groups continue to operate in Ituri district, and throughout eastern DRC, conducting attacks and terrorizing local populations. For example, in Ituri district, there were new allegations of abductions of civilians by members of the FRPI in early 2014. Other armed groups such as the L’armée de résistance du Seigneur (Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)), the Forces démocratiquesalliées (Allied Democratic Forces, (ADF)), and the FDLR also continue to operate in Orientale Province, North Kivu and South Kivu.

 8.      Does the Katanga case confirm that the ICC is unfairly targeting Africans?

 Simply, no. On the contrary, the Katanga trial confirms the tremendous demand for international justice within Africa. African states and individuals have come to the attention of international justice mechanisms because of serious of impunity for grave human rights violations and crimes under international law in many countries in Africa. Closely related to this is the fact that millions of Africans are demanding the rights of victims to receive justice, truth and reparation. This has resulted in African states requesting international criminal tribunals to assist them in bringing alleged perpetrators of crimes under international law to justice – including the DRC, which was the first state to request the ICC to investigate crimes under its jurisdiction.

In fact, all but three situations under investigation by the ICC are the result of African states asking the ICC to step in because they were unable to bring perpetrators to justice (DRC, CAR, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali). Two other situations were referred by the UN Security Council with the support of its African members. The ICC Prosecutor initiated an investigation in the situation of Kenya, after the government had been given every opportunity to conduct national investigations and prosecutions and failed to do so.

Amnesty International also notes that the International Criminal Court is conducting preliminary examinations of numerous situations outside Africa, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Honduras and the Republic of Korea.

9.      Why does Amnesty International support the ICC?

Amnesty International campaigns for justice, truth and reparation for victims of crimes under international law on all continents of the globe without distinction on the basis of race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or identity, or disabled status.

The ICC is at the centre of the new system of international justice. It is a vital mechanism to insist that national authorities fulfil their responsibilities to investigate and prosecute crimes, and to step in when they fail to do so. Amnesty International strongly supported the establishment of the ICC in 2002. Over a decade later, our organization campaigns for all countries to sign up to its Statute – 122 have already done so – and for all governments to cooperate fully with its important work, especially arresting and surrendering suspects to it for trial.

However, the ICC is also a court of last resort for when states are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute crimes under international law. Amnesty International urges states to fulfil their obligations under international law to combat impunity at the national level by establishing, effective national mechanisms to deliver justice, truth and reparation to victims.

*Courtesy of Amnesty International

 

 

 

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DRC owed $3.7bn in tax by mining firms, disputed report claims
February 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Mining activities in DRC are the subject of an ongoing inquiry into suspected malpractice by customs agents and companies. Photograph: David Lewis/Reuters Mining activities in DRC are the subject of an ongoing inquiry into suspected malpractice by customs agents and companies. Photograph: David Lewis/Reuters[/caption] Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is owed an estimated $3.7bn (£2.2bn) in unpaid customs duties and fines by companies operating in its copper-rich Katanga province between 2008 and 2013, according to an unpublished report commissioned by the public prosecutor’s office. The report, dated November 2013, is part of an ongoing government investigation into suspected malpractice by customs agents and companies in the vast south-eastern province. It accuses companies there of under-declaring the value of imports and exports, and sometimes avoiding tax altogether, often with the collusion of customs officials. Some firms named in the report questioned the accuracy of its findings, while the head of the customs agency in Katanga said proper consultations had not been held with the companies, and suggested the report’s findings were exaggerated. The public prosecutor, Flory Kabange Numbi, who declined to comment on the report, said in a letter to local rights groups that it was too early to draw conclusions about the outcome of the wider investigation. DRC’s mining production has been limited by energy and infrastructure problems. The government is under pressure to maximise revenues from the sector to help the 65-million strong population out of poverty. Two government ministers said the broader investigation must be completed, adding that any cash owed by firms must be paid to the government. The report, compiled during a 10-day mission to Katanga led by Congolese attorney general Simon Nyandu Shabandu, examined 25 cases of alleged customs infractions. It found that 11 companies were liable for $741m in unpaid taxes and fines, including Mutanda Mining, a copper miner 69%-owned by Glencore Xstrata plc. Penalties were agreed by all parties after talks between the firms and the customs agency, the report said, although it noted that the mission did not visit Mutanda Mining, pending instructions from authorities. Glencore strongly denied any wrongdoing and said the report was inaccurate. It had not agreed to any penalties, it added. “Contrary to what is stated in the draft document, no contact was made by the ‘mission’ with Mutanda mining. Mutanda has no outstanding taxes or fines,” a Glencore spokesman said. The report said a further 252 alleged cases remain outstanding, worth an estimated $3bn to the state in total. Chemaf, a privately owned Congolese company among the 11 identified by the report as owing taxes, also denied the findings. “We are confirming that Chemaf does not owe $21.4m in unpaid taxes,” the Chemaf director, Sebastien Ansel, said. Hyper Psaro, United Petroleum and United Oil and Soap, all of which belong to the private Congolese fuel, commodities and transportation conglomerate Hyper Psaro Group, and are named in the report as owing taxes, declined to comment. Other companies identified as owing money – Comexas, Socimex, Sabot, Marine International, Frontier, Congo Loyal and Trade Service – either did not respond to requests for comment or could not immediately be traced. International mining firms have invested billions in Katanga in recent years, eager to tap its vast copper and cobalt reserves. Mining made up 15.4% of DRC’s gross domestic product in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund. DRC produced 600,000 tons of copper in 2012, making it the world’s eighth-largest producer. Shabandu’s team complained in the report that it was given only 10 days to carry out its work in Katanga, adding that firms did not co-operate fully with investigators. Chemaf was deemed among the most unco-operative. “It is difficult for us to comment on specifics in the report when the report has not been shared with us,” Ansel said. “Chemaf does co-operate appropriately with the various Congolese agencies, and we are not aware of any instances where it has not been the case.” Corruption allegations The report highlighted alleged corruption among officials of DRC’s customs agency (DGDA) in the province, some of whom were accused of destroying evidence of tax evasion. “The contempt of companies with regard to the customs administration (refusing to answer invitations) and the nonchalance of agents of the DGDA show an excessive degree of impunity which requires energetic action to uphold the law,” the report concluded. The provincial director of the customs agency in Katanga questioned the accuracy of the report’s figures, denying that some meetings with the companies had taken place. “There is an inflation of the numbers, because discussions were not held with the stakeholders. This inflation of numbers is dangerous,” David Kalande said. In a letter to ASADHO, a local human rights group formed in response to widespread violations under the late former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, Numbi rejected a demand to publish the report. “It is understood that the judicial inquiry in the strict sense remains at an investigative stage, with the background of the presumption of innocence,” read the public prosecutor’s letter, which was copied to senior government figures. “Judicial inquiries do not proceed following the diktat or cries of alarm of journalists or human rights defenders.” The investigation was launched after a letter from the communications minister, Lambert Mende, to President Joseph Kabila – copied to Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo and Numbi – that raised fears of malpractice in Katanga. “Sources close to the [Katanga customs agency] have sent me documents containing bundles of indications of cases of corruption, misappropriation and fraud [at the agency],” wrote Mende, who is also the government spokesman. He said the investigation would be completed at its own speed. The finance minister, Patrice Kitebi, said: “I support the process carried out by the attorney general that aims to recover the revenues not paid by these traders.” The total of $3.7bn in unpaid duties and fines would be equivalent to nearly half of the annual budget in DRC, where simmering local conflicts and rampant corruption have hobbled internationally-backed efforts to pacify and develop the mineral-rich country. DRC’s budget is expected to be $8.2bn in 2014. *Source The Guardian]]>

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Rwanda lashes out at 'cry baby' DR Congo
January 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

The UN Security Council on Thursday renewed a sanctions regime against Democratic Republic of Congo in a vote that sparked a furious row between Congo and Rwanda.

The council backed a sanctions committee report which says the M23 rebel group is recruiting in Rwanda despite its military defeat and that its leaders are moving freely in Uganda.

Rwanda, as a temporary member of the 15-nation Security Council, voted for resolution 2136 but then lashed out at the sanctions report and DR Congo.

Kigali’s UN ambassador Eugene-Richard Gasana called the sanctions committee report “baseless” and said his DR Congo counterpart was a “cry baby” always complaining to the council about Rwanda.

DR Congo’s ambassador Ignace Gata Mativa said the sanctions experts had clearly shown “grave violations” by Rwanda and Uganda by aiding “destabilization” in eastern DR Congo.

“Such an attitude constitutes an act of aggression that the Security Council must record and condemn,” Gata added.

“Dear friend, it is time to stop acting like a cry baby each time, each time to come here and hit out at Rwanda,” Gasana responded.

M23 launched an uprising against the DR Congo government in 2012 and briefly occupied the key city of Goma before it was defeated by government forces late last year. It is one of a host of groups that have brought strife to eastern DR Congo over the past two decades.

UN experts have repeatedly said Rwanda and Uganda support the rebels. The two countries deny any role in the uprising.

Gasana repeated accusations that the experts are “unprofessional” and that their work threatens peace efforts.

The council resolution renewed the mandate of the experts and expressed “full support” for their work, however.

The council expressed “strong condemnation” of “internal or external support to armed groups active in the region, including through financial, logistical and military support.” But it did not mention Rwanda or any alleged backing for M23.

The resolution did highlight “deep concern” over accusations in the sanctions report that DR Congo forces had been in “collaboration” with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which includes some fighters who took part in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

The Security Council ordered that individuals and entities arming DR Congo groups “through illicit trade of natural resources, including gold or wildlife as well as wildlife products” should be included on the sanctions list.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in a statement that the move was a “critical step” in the battle against elephant poaching and illicit ivory trading.

A resolution passed Tuesday starting a sanctions regime in neighboring Central African Republic also said poachers linked to armed groups should be targeted.

WWF said that more than 20,000 elephants are killed each year for their tusks, many of them in Central Africa conflict zones.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Regional projects at risk as Juba, CAR, DR Congo conflicts take toll on bloc
January 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Peterson Thiong’o, Machel Amos and Dicta Asiimwe* [caption id="attachment_8037" align="alignleft" width="300"]he crises in, CAR, DRC and South Sudan signal that the search for closer economic ties in the Eastern Africa region is headed for bumps as leaders shift focus to look for a long-lasting solution to the conflicts. TEA Graphic  Nation Media Group he crises in, CAR, DRC and South Sudan signal that the search for closer economic ties in the Eastern Africa region is headed for bumps as leaders shift focus to look for a long-lasting solution to the conflicts. TEA Graphic Nation Media Group[/caption] The hunt for closer economic ties in the East African region is taking a beating, stymied by the conflict in South Sudan, a close ally in proposed regional infrastructure projects.

Presidents from three East African countries — Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda — called off their meeting scheduled for Kampala this week under the auspices of the Tripartite Initiative for Fast Tracking East African Integration, which is better known as the Coalition of the Willing (CoW).
Apparently, the last-minute decision was informed by the ongoing conflict in South Sudan — which joined the initiative two months ago — given Juba’s strategic importance to the economic viability of some of the coalition’s planned infrastructure projects.
The cancellation of the Kampala conference was confirmed on Friday evening after a meeting hosted at State House Nairobi where President Uhuru Kenyatta met East African Community foreign affairs ministers.
The delegation was led by Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and included EAC Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie, Uganda’s minister of State for Foreign Affairs Asuman Kiyingi, Laurent Kavakure of Burundi and Jackyline Muhongayire of Rwanda.
Diplomatic effort
Kenya and Uganda have been the biggest beneficiaries of a relatively peaceful South Sudan, tapping millions of dollars in new investments since Juba gained independence from Khartoum in 2011. The countries, as it is the case with their counterparts in the eastern Africa region, are part of a joint diplomatic effort to end the crisis in South Sudan, as well as the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central Africa Republic.
The conflicts in the three countries have left the eastern Africa region facing one of the biggest threats to stability in recent times, an issue that is likely to push to the back burner economic and trade initiatives being pursued jointly by the countries.
East African leaders, as well as those of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Igad, African Union, the West and the UN, are grappling with challenges of the South Sudan conflict that has taken on an ethnic dimension; triggering alarms of atrocities, fears of a relapse to civil war. In the CAR, the UN warns that the situation looks ripe for a repeat of the 1994 genocide. In the DRC, UN troops are on the alert against a possible attack from M23 rebels, who they helped the government defeat last year. In Egypt, a military-backed transitional government is battling to restore the country to constitutional rule.
Impartiality of Igad
The search for a solution to the South Sudan conflict which, according to the UN, has claimed an estimated 10,000 lives since it broke out mid-December has seen Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni admit that his troops are helping Juba defeat the rebels. The role of Uganda soldiers in South Sudan has raised concerns about the impartiality of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) in mediating the talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. President Museveni’s admission of the involvement of Ugandan forces has also raised eyebrows back home, following a UN Security Council statement strongly discouraging external intervention in the conflict that pits former vice-president Dr Riek Machar against President Salva Kiir’s government.
President Kiir has accused his former deputy of staging a failed coup, a charge Dr Machar has denied and instead accused Mr Kiir of seeking an excuse to purge political dissent.
On Thursday, the South Sudan’s rebels demanded that Uganda stop supporting Kiir’s forces as a condition for signing a peace agreement.
On Friday, Ghana said it would contribute 850 troops to help in keeping the peace and assist with the humanitarian efforts in South Sudan.
The crises in, CAR, DRC and South Sudan, observers say, signal that the search for closer economic ties in the Eastern Africa region is headed for bumps as leaders shift focus to look for a long-lasting solution to the conflicts.
For example, the viability of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project is pegged on the inclusion of a railway, road and pipeline network into South Sudan, meaning that the continued conflict in the country places both the timelines for the implementation of these plans under threat as well as increase the threshold for commercial viability of the projects.
The project feasibility, is among other things, pegged on 500,000 barrels of oil per day running from South Sudan to Lamu.
Kenya and Uganda are betting that a joint project with the Juba will help them drive down the unit cost of the pipeline, especially as the two have already discovered hydrocarbons.
Uganda has an estimated 3.5 billion barrels of oil, while last week Tullow said two new discoveries had pushed Kenya’s gross deposits to 600 million barrels, with the company saying this could rise to over one billion in coming months as it drills new wells. Tanzania revealed late last year that it was seeking stronger economic and trade relations with Burundi and the troubled DRC in response to the coalition shaping up among Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan. Still, with such a huge project to track, the region’s approach to the conflict is expected to be on the agenda of many meetings.
While Uganda has already sent troops to South Sudan, Kenya seems to favour a diplomatic approach to the conflict.
Ongoing initiatives A confidential dossier prepared by Kenya’s Foreign Affairs ministry last week showedKenya feared the war could escalate into a major international conflict.
The dossier further said Rwanda may send troops. The three presidents met on Wednesday in Luanda, Angola, where leaders in the Great Lakes region resolved to support ongoing initiatives by the African Union and its partners to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in South Sudan and the CAR.
In a communique issued at the end of the 5th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the ICGLR, the leaders committed to continue supporting the Igad-led mediation efforts in South Sudan.
The issue of insecurity and conflict is likely to dominate regional agenda, even at the EAC level in the coming months.
The partner states have until February 15 to ratify the EAC Peace and Security Protocol, a new directive issued by the bloc’s  Council of Ministers.  Ratifying the protocol is expected to promote peace, security and stability within the community and good neighbourliness among the partner states.
This comes as Ministers of Defence and Internal Security from Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda adopted and signed a common pact on the Establishment of the Mutual Defence, Peace and Security on January 8 in Kigali. The three have also opened up the defence arrangement to other EAC countries as well as other nations in the larger Eastern Africa region.
But it is not just South Sudan that will trouble the CoW leaders. Kenya’s section of the proposed standard gauge railway to run from Mombasa to Kigali — the group’s flagship project — has already run into problems with Kenya’s parliament launching investigations into the tendering process amid allegations that the price was exaggerated.
Although there is indisputable political goodwill to implement a raft of policies aimed at removing bottlenecks to trade across the three countries, several deadlines given to bureaucrats to develop supporting legal and operational frameworks have not been met.
Several promises that were made with deadlines of between November 2013 and January 1, 2014 have not been implemented. Uganda had, for example, promised to abolish work permit fees for Kenyan and Rwandan citizens effective January 1, 2014, but government officials now say there will be an indefinite delay, citing the need to first decide the categories of people to be exempted.
Uganda promised to abolish work permit fees to reciprocate Kenya’s and Rwanda’s gesture.  Officials at the Uganda Immigration department say they have continued to charge work permit fees for all non-Ugandans, as no communication has been made to scrap the charges.
This means East Africans will pay higher fees than in the past, as Uganda increased work permit fees by at least 40 per cent on each category.  Uganda has been charging fees ranging from $250 to $1,500 annually. This has been increased to between $295.8 and $2,464.7.
The Immigration department is only giving free visas and student passes to East Africans as a result of the concessions made to liberalise the movement of persons in the region.   James Baba, the Minister of State for Internal Affairs, under which the Immigration department falls, says Uganda is still negotiating with Kenya and Rwanda on the terms under which the work permit fees will be eliminated.
Still negotiating
“We are still negotiating the categories of professionals to be exempted, because not everyone can be allowed into our country,” he said.
This makes the process similar to the one under the EAC Common Market Protocol (EACCMP).
Experts now say the decision by Uganda to exempt professionals while blocking the uneducated that need free permits the most will encourage other partner states in this arrangement to retaliate. This also poses the risk to the implementation of the CoW arrangement.
Other targets that have not been achieved are the joint launch of the East Africa single tourist visa that was announced at the World Travel Market trade fair in November 2013 and use of identity cards, student identity cards and voters cards at the borders between Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.
Geoffrey Baluku of the Uganda Tour Operators of Association said the East African single tourist visa was delayed after Rwanda delayed in issuing the visa stickers in time, after which the organisers failed to get the three presidents to launch it. Mr Baluku said the tourist visa is likely to be launched next week. *Source The East African 
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A Salute to Tabu Ley Rochereau a monument of African music
December 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Emmanuel Zelifac

As Africans and the world celebrate the passing of Nelson Roxihlahla Mandela, we must also salute another great son of Africa-Pascale-Emmanuel Sinamonyi Tabu ,aka Tabu Ley Rochereau. The global iconic status of Mandela meant that the celebration of his extraordinary life eclipsed whatever respect was paid to this other life.

An old African adage holds that when an old one dies, it is akin to burning down a library. African culture and especially its music has lost one of its great libraries.

Congolese song writer and singer, Tabu Ley has passed away. He was in a class of his own, and could only be compared to the likes of Franco Luambo Makiadi, and Joseph kabasele. It is popularly acknowledged that Wendo “Papa Wendo” Kolossoy was the creator of modern Congolese rumba, and its more recent variation, soukous. The likes of Franco, Kabasele, and Tabu Ley and their respective bands took the genre to its apogee.

Pascale-Emmanuel Sinamonyi Tabu was born in 1937, in the then Belgian Congo, in the region of Bandandu. The great vocalist Ndumbe “Pepe Ndumbe” Opetum also hailed from this region.

According to an interview Tabu Ley gave a few years ago, he started singing at the age of Ten (10) in the church choir, at baptisms, and at birthdays. By the late ‘50s, he decided to make music his profession, and threw in his lot with Joseph Kabasele.

In 1956, he joined L’ochestre African Jazz, of Joseph “le grand Kalle” Kabasele.  He took the artistic name of Rochereau, after the French general Pierre Denfert-Rochereau, whom he had learnt of in school. He would play in this band with guitar maestro Dr. Nico Kasanda. This was at the height of the push towards independence, Rochereau would take part in the independence hit songs “independence cha cha” , and “table ronde” . These songs will become sound tracks in the movie “Lumumba”. His presence in African Jazz would come to an end in the early sixties.

By the year 1963, Rocheareau would split from his mentor, Kabasele. Together with Dr. Nico kasanda, he will go on to create a new group. This new group he called Africa Fiesta. A notable song from this period is the hit “Africa mokili mombimba”. However, due to artistic differences with Nico, this collaboration lasted for only two years. Rocheareau split from Nico and went on to form his own band.

Tabu Ley and Mbilia Bel, one of the best duos in African music

Tabu Ley and Mbilia Bel, one of the best duos in African music

This was the era of the great bands. He called the band Africa Fiesta Flash, also known as Africa fiesta national. One of the well known names in this group was Sam Mangwana, a Congolese singer and song writer, of Zimbabwean and Angolan parentage. Some others were Faugus Izeidi, and Michelino. Some of the songs of the era included “Maria Rosa”, also “Femmes Africaines”. During this period, in the late sixties, Rochereau became the first black African musician to give a concert at the famed Parisian arena, “l’Olympia”. He was in his late twenties.

In a bid to make a complete break from the past, Rochereau, in 1970, changed the name of his band. African fiesta national became l’ orchestre Afrisa international.  A young  Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba , Aka Papa Wemba, would become a member of this group.  Ndombe “Pepe Ndumbe” Opetum was the lead vocalist, before joining rival band OK Jazz, led by Franco. Kusala Yondo, aka Yondo Sister began her career with Afrisa International in the 1970s, as a dancer.

Rochereau and Franco, accompanied by their respective bands became the most popular in the Congolese music scene. Fans all over Africa were dancing to the syncopating rhythms of their music. The rivalry between these two, Rochereau and Franco, was an open secret.  Despite this open rivalry, two would collaborate on the album, Omona Wapi, produced in the late ‘70s, featuring the hit title “lettre a monsieur le directeur”. Some other songs of the duo included “lysanga ya baganga”, “linga mobali na yo”, also “kabasele memorial” sung in honor of Joseph Kabasele, after Kalle’s death.

During this period, Afrisa internaltional would also pelt out many hit songs: “Sorozo”,” kaful mayay”, “aon-aon”,” mose kenzo”,” ponce pilate”.

Equally, this was the era when Zairian dictator Joseph-Desire Moubutu instiuted “Zairisation”, a policy marked by “Authenticite”, a return to authentic African roots. Just as Mobutu changed his name to kuku Ngbendu Waza Banga, Franco’s to Luambo Luanzo Makiadi,  Rochereau too Africanised his name , and from then on became Tabu Ley. Hence Tabu Ley Rochereau.

Tabu Ley , within the frame work of Afrisa International, would nurture many upcoming musicians, including Faya Tess. However, singer and songwriter,M’bilia Bel would be the name that will always be associated with Tabu Ley. The duo is probably one of the best male-female collaborations in African music annals. M’bilia’s song “Nakei Nairobi” (I am going to Nairobi) forced the Kenyan government to lift a ban that prevented Kenyan radio stations from playing foreign music. Other songs like “shawuri yako”, “tonton skul”,”cadence madanda” were great hits all over the African continent.

Tabu Ley took part in the salsa project, Gomba salsa, by the group Africando, in which he performed one of his old songs, “pitie”.  In all Tabu wrote, or took part in hundreds of songs.

Emmanuel ZelifacIn his personal life, Tabu was a true African polygamist. He is said to have fathered close to a hundred children. He had more than one wife. He is thought of having briefly been married to M’bilia Bel. She bore him a daughter. Among his many children is French rapper Youssoupha.

In the ‘90s, after the fall of the fall of the dictatorship of Mobutu Sesse Seko, Tabu Ley became a minister. He later joined the transition parliament created by President Joseph Kabila.  In 2005, Tabu Ley became the vice governor of Kinshasa.

During his life time, he was made honorary knight of Senegal, and made officer of the national Order of the republic of Chad.

In 2008 Tabu suffered a stroke. He never fully recovered. While undergoing treatment at saint- Luc hospital in Brussels, Tabu Ley Rocheau gave up the ghost on the 30th of November 2013. A fortnight before that, he had turned 76.

As the fortunes of Africa change in many dimensions, we must salute the great contributions of people like Tabu Ley. Through music he flew the flag of Africa high, very high and falls in the class of others like Franco, Fela, Miriam Makeba, Manu Dibango,Rey Lema and others. His talent and contributions towards modern Africa through music deserve recognition. Adieu to the Artist

 

 

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DR Congo government ‘signs deal with M23 in Kenya’
December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has signed a peace deal with the M23 rebel movement its forces defeated last month, Kenya’s presidential spokesman says.

The accord was signed in the presence of regional leaders in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Manoah Esipisu said.

Last month, the government refused to sign a deal brokered by Uganda.

At least 800,000 people fled their homes during the conflict.

The M23 took up arms in eastern DR Congo in April 2012, accusing the government of marginalising the ethnic Tutsi minority and failing to honour previous peace accords.

‘No blanket amnesty’

It was defeated early last month following a major offensive by government and United Nations (UN) forces.

The UN has more than 19,000 troops in DR Congo, with an attack force given the mandate of neutralising armed groups.

DR Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme that the M23 had signed one document and the government another.

There was no single document that both sides had signed, he said.

The M23 document, signed by its political head Bertrand Bisimwa, confirmed the dissolution of the M23 as an armed group, Mr Mende added.

In the government document, Foreign Minister Raymond Chibanda signalled the government’s determination to work towards the disarmament and demobilisation of M23 combatants and their reintegration into society, he said.

There would be no amnesty for those wanted for war crimes, Mr Mende added.

Earlier, Mr Esipisu said on his Twitter account that DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila was hailed by regional leaders for signing the deal at a ceremony in the capital, Nairobi.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted the ceremony.

Other leaders present included Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Malawi’s President Joyce Banda, he said.

The leaders were in Nairobi to attend celebrations to mark Kenya’s 50 years of independence.

On 12 November the DR Congo government refused to sign a deal with the M23 in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

It said it had a problem with the title of the Ugandan-mediated document, not its contents.

The document should be called a declaration and not an accord as that gave too much credibility to the rebels, the government said at the time.

Eastern DR Congo has been wracked by conflict since 1994, when Hutu militias fled across the border from Rwanda after carrying out a genocide against Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

According to the charity Oxfam, there are currently more than 30 other groups are operating in the east.

*Source BBC 

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DRC Inga mega hydropower plant implementation advances with AfDB support
November 24, 2013 | 1 Comments

Tunis, November 20, 2013 – The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved US $68 million in financing for the multinational Inga Site Development and Electricity Access Support Project (PASEL). The project will further the development of the Inga hydropower plant located on the banks of the Congo River with a vast hydro-electric potential estimated at 44,000 MW – half of the continent’s installed electricity capacity.

The AfDB’s support, which comes in the form of a Fragile States Facility grant of US $7.7 million and an African Development Fund grant of US $60.6 million, accounts for 43% of the total project cost of US $169 million. With this approval, the support of the AfDB to the Inga project, since the inception of the mandate to lead the implementation of the NEPAD Infrastructure Action Plan, will amount to-US $90 million.

PASEL will finalize the preparation of the first phase of the Grand Inga Hydropower Project, called the Inga 3 Project, which will consist of developing a power-generating capacity of 4,800 MW on the Inga site and building power transmission lines that will supply electricity to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to the Republic of South Africa.

Specifically, this project will facilitate the development of the local institutions and skills necessary (technical, legal and financial advisors will be provided) to attract private capital for the completion of Inga 3 which is a complex project. In addition, capacity-building efforts will enable local actors to make a wise choice for the project’s principal investor-developer under the public-private partnership. Improved access to electricity is also expected in the semi-urban areas of Kinshasa for more than 25,000 households.

“This is the right project for the DRC and the Bank – at the right time,” said Alex Rugamba, Director of the AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department. “It is timely because it facilitates the implementation of Inga 3 whose investment costs would otherwise be difficult to mobilize in the current context of the DRC.”

The AfDB’s financing will be used to cover the cost of technical assistance to ensure the completion of preparatory activities for the Inga 3 Project. It will also help address electricity scarcity in remote areas that are not directly covered by Inga but where the DRC intends to develop electrical systems around micro- or mini-hydropower plants. The Bank will put several advisers at the disposal of the Inga Site Development and Promotion Authority and conduct several studies on the Inga project that will generate real-time gains in the overall project schedule.

PASEL builds on previous AfDB support to the Inga Hydropower Project, which led to: the development of institutional and technical plans; a feasibility study, which defined the development pattern of the Grand Inga by successive phases; and the identification of an innovative approach to the project that will guarantee the full realization of Inga’s hydro-electricity potential and promote continental integration.

The Inga 3 Project will increase access to more reliable and cheaper energy in the DRC, contributing to an increase from the current 9% to over 40% by 2020. It is also expected to improve the business climate and productivity of the economies of beneficiary countries.

Current demand for electricity in the region is huge and steady, guaranteeing a market for the energy to be produced from the hydropower plant. Indeed, South Africa has already signed an agreement with the DRC to import about half of the electricity that will be produced, guaranteeing the bankability of project. Signed by the presidents of South Africa and DRC in October 2013, the treaty, which is the framework for the energy-purchase agreement, is awaiting ratification by their respective national parliaments.

 

 

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Uganda, Rwanda reach out to DRC after deal flops
November 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

By RISDEL KASASIRA*

Kagame,Museveni,and Kabila, peace in Congo depends on themThe M23 rebels are now holed up at Silver Springs Hotel in Kampala and Mr Abandi accused Kinshasa and the international community of ganging up against them.

Mistrust of Kampala

“We are Congolese and we will remain Congolese,” he said. “Kinshasa is refusing to sign the agreement because they have the backing of the international community, but President Kabila should know that these are our internal problems and no external forces will help us solve them. We have to talk, work as Congolese and end these internal problems,”

However, Kinshasa, which has long accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting M23, accused Uganda of behaving as if it were part of the conflict, an accusation the government dismissed.

President Kabila and the international community are already pushing for the handover of the M23 military leader, Gen Sultan Makenga, to Kinshasa for trial; Ugandan officials say they will only hand over the rebel fighters after a deal has been signed and their fate established as part of the agreement.

If the agreement is not signed, President Museveni will have to choose between handing over Gen Makenga to Kinshasa and keeping him in Uganda, which the international community is totally against, and which could potentially cause a diplomatic rift with President Kabila’s government.

READ: Uganda’s dilemma over Makenga as M23 gives in

The fate of the senior rebel leaders is crucial. After the defeat of the M23, the Congolese government preferred to sign a “declaration” to mark the end of the war, rather than an “agreement” that would see them integrated into the Congolese army and also get amnesty. Kinshasa is opposed to both amnesty and reintegration of fighters who have mutinied before.

The US and the UN support the Congolese government position that the M23 commanders accused of committing atrocities should not be given amnesty. The US envoy for the Great Lakes Region and DRC Russell Feingold, said last week that perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes should be tried.

“We think this agreement is a good step forward for several reasons. In the past, agreements like this have given amnesty to those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. That’s unacceptable,” Mr Feingold said before the signing was postponed.

“The Congolese government has been clear from the beginning that they don’t want to do that again and US and the International Community supported them. No amnesty for those who have committed those crimes.”

The negotiations could further be complicated by the emergence of a splinter group within the M23 peace delegation, with some members saying they are ready to sign “any offer” by Kinshasa.

The splinter group of eight delegates led by Ngeve Kambasu, says the M23 rebel leader, Bertrand Bisimwa, was leading the rebel group to “political suicide” but Mr Abandi said Kambasu’s group does not represent M23, describing them as “a small group of individuals looking for money from President Kabila to survive.”

On November 4, during the summit on DRC organised by the ICGLR and SADC in Durban, President Museveni criticised the Kinshasa government for pushing a “Eurocentric” policy and disregarding regional and continental mechanisms to end the war.

In Kigali, Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told a local radio station that Rwanda was willing to work with the Congolese authorities to jointly deploy forces against the remaining armed groups in eastern DR Congo, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), some of whose officials are accused of involvement in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

The M23 rebels are now holed up at Silver Springs Hotel in Kampala and Mr Abandi accused Kinshasa and the international community of ganging up against them.

Mistrust of Kampala

“We are Congolese and we will remain Congolese,” he said. “Kinshasa is refusing to sign the agreement because they have the backing of the international community, but President Kabila should know that these are our internal problems and no external forces will help us solve them. We have to talk, work as Congolese and end these internal problems,”

However, Kinshasa, which has long accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting M23, accused Uganda of behaving as if it were part of the conflict, an accusation the government dismissed.

M23 rebels withdraw through the hills having left their position in the village of Karuba, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on November 30, 2012. M23 accused Kinshasa and the international community of ganging up against them. Photo/AFP President Kabila and the international community are already pushing for the handover of the M23 military leader, Gen Sultan Makenga, to Kinshasa for trial; Ugandan officials say they will only hand over the rebel fighters after a deal has been signed and their fate established as part of the agreement.

If the agreement is not signed, President Museveni will have to choose between handing over Gen Makenga to Kinshasa and keeping him in Uganda, which the international community is totally against, and which could potentially cause a diplomatic rift with President Kabila’s government.

READ: Uganda’s dilemma over Makenga as M23 gives in

The fate of the senior rebel leaders is crucial. After the defeat of the M23, the Congolese government preferred to sign a “declaration” to mark the end of the war, rather than an “agreement” that would see them integrated into the Congolese army and also get amnesty. Kinshasa is opposed to both amnesty and reintegration of fighters who have mutinied before.

The US and the UN support the Congolese government position that the M23 commanders accused of committing atrocities should not be given amnesty. The US envoy for the Great Lakes Region and DRC Russell Feingold, said last week that perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes should be tried.

“We think this agreement is a good step forward for several reasons. In the past, agreements like this have given amnesty to those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. That’s unacceptable,” Mr Feingold said before the signing was postponed.

“The Congolese government has been clear from the beginning that they don’t want to do that again and US and the International Community supported them. No amnesty for those who have committed those crimes.”

The negotiations could further be complicated by the emergence of a splinter group within the M23 peace delegation, with some members saying they are ready to sign “any offer” by Kinshasa.

The splinter group of eight delegates led by Ngeve Kambasu, says the M23 rebel leader, Bertrand Bisimwa, was leading the rebel group to “political suicide” but Mr Abandi said Kambasu’s group does not represent M23, describing them as “a small group of individuals looking for money from President Kabila to survive.”

On November 4, during the summit on DRC organised by the ICGLR and SADC in Durban, President Museveni criticised the Kinshasa government for pushing a “Eurocentric” policy and disregarding regional and continental mechanisms to end the war.

In Kigali, Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told a local radio station that Rwanda was willing to work with the Congolese authorities to jointly deploy forces against the remaining armed groups in eastern DR Congo, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), some of whose officials are accused of involvement in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

“We have information that FDLR is moving close to the Rwandan border as M23 is chased out of the territory,” Ms Mushikiwabo said.

“If the eastern DRC becomes stable, Rwanda would like to resume joint operations with DRC to put an end to the problem of FDLR because the group constitutes a threat to peace and security in both countries.”

*Source The East African

 

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After win in DRC, a confident new Tanzania emerges on the East African stage
November 11, 2013 | 0 Comments
Basking in the glow of one of his country’s best diplomatic weeks in recent times Kikwete takes on Museveni, Kagame and Uhuru over Coalition of the Willing. TEA Graphic

Basking in the glow of one of his country’s best diplomatic weeks in recent times Kikwete takes on Museveni, Kagame and Uhuru over Coalition of the Willing. TEA Graphic

Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete is basking in the glow of one of his country’s best diplomatic weeks in recent times.

When Tanzania offered to send its military as the lead contingent of the new, aggressive UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there were fears it would join the long list of external forces and adventurers who have ended up in eastern DRC’s bottomless political graveyard.

However, just over a week ago, the UN forces and the Congolese army (FARDC) seemed to have handed the M23 rebels a comprehensive defeat.

That not only bolstered Tanzania internationally, but could only have improved its standing in the South African Development Community (SADC). The two other key troop contributing countries to FIB are both SADC members — South Africa and Malawi.

It is no coincidence that after the M23 scattered, South African President Jacob Zuma held a summit to discuss, among other things, DRC peace.

A controversial UN Panel of Experts and groups like Human Rights Watch have accused Rwanda and Uganda of backing M23 rebels, a charge both countries have denied.

By last week, however, analysts were acknowledging that M23 would not have been so quickly beaten if indeed Rwanda were still supporting it.

Some feared that events in DRC would increase tensions between the East African Community countries.

In the past four months, Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Paul Kagame of Rwanda have had a hectic schedule of meetings at which they announced ambitious regional projects, and even moved quickly on establishing a common tourist visa, and a Single Customs Territory among other initiatives.

Tanzania and Burundi have not been invited, and there were fears the divide between the Coalition of the Willing (as the Kenyatta, Museveni, and Kagame trio has now become known) and Tanzania and Burundi threatened the Community.

At best, that the EAC would become a dysfunctional two-track affair, and at worst that it would collapse as the first one did in 1977. It was also expected that when President Kikwete addressed parliament last Thursday, he would lash out at the Coalition of the Willing, or announce that the loose rival alliance with Burundi and DRC that he has been trying to forge would set out on a separation path.

In the end, none of the above happened. President Kikwete, as a leading East African economist put it on social media, “not only took the high ground but took the posture of the adult in the room.”

He declared that Tanzania was in the EAC to stay, wondered why the Coalition of the Willing was trying to sideline it, and called for the bloc’s business to be concluded by the letter and spirit of its treaties and protocols. It was a new tone of self-confidence from a Tanzania that feels it now holds some key political aces in the region.

“What is costing us in the EAC is Tanzania’s stand on political federation, issues of land, issues of thee labour market and immigration. We have no problem with fast tracking the political federation but only if all steps are followed in accordance to the EAC Protocol. Customs Union, Common Market, subsequently the monetary union and ultimately the political federation. Our stand comes from principle. That is, we must establish first the economic and financial mechanisms and let them take root,” he said.

He added: “When EAC is fully integrated economically and the benefits start to trickle in, then we can start talking about the EAC political federation. It is only when countries start benefiting economically that starting a political federation will make sense. Without a sound economic footing a political federation is a waste of time.”

According to President Kikwete, this stance has cost Tanzania everything else, including the country’s interest in participating in infrastructure projects such as the standard gauge railway line and the oil pipeline and refinery.

“(President) Museveni invited us to participate in its construction, now I don’t know whether he has changed his mind and considers Tanzania not important to the project anymore,” he said.

Tanzania’s place in the regional economic bloc has been in the news in the past few months, following the emergence of the Coalition of the Willing. The coalition members were said to have decided to forge ahead with key infrastructure projects because Tanzania was reportedly dragging its feet on key issues.

“The EAC integration is not just about the political aspect but trade and, therefore, the presidents have to be mindful about business in the region, which is a core thing to the integration,” said Andrew Lumathe, chief executive of the East African Business Council.

“Tanzania has always been cautious on the issue of land, owing to its socialist past. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere advocated the communal ownership of this critical means of production. But in Kenya, for example, land has always been seen under a capitalist model of ‘willing buyer, willing seller.’ As such, Tanzania has steadfastly opposed to the issue of land harmonisation as pursued under the EAC Treaty, saying that land laws differ in all the partner states,” he added.

The EAC wants to harmonise laws on ownership land and all the properties on it like houses, rivers etc, which Tanzania is against.

Land ownership

Unlike in the other partner states, where an individual can own land permanently, in Tanzania the president is the sole custodian of land in the country.

Analysts say it is understandable why Tanzania is jittery about land: The country holds the greatest fraction of arable but unused land in the EAC — an estimated 380,000 square kilometres.

By comparison, Kenya accounts for 32 per cent of the total land area in the EAC but 45 per cent of its land is under agriculture. The UN Population Division projects that as the EAC’s population burgeons from 150 million today to 270 million by 2030, the region is likely turn to Tanzania as it looks to feed its growing numbers.

With Tanzania’s apparent isolation by the Coalition of the Willing, the $4.7 billion railway line project linking Dar, Kigali and Burundi, whose construction is scheduled for 2014, hangs in the balance, should relations worsen.

Rwanda and Uganda seem to be ready to embrace Kenya’s railway corridor linking both countries, including South Sudan to the Kenyan Coast. Diplomatic relations between Dar and Kigali have been frosty following the recent expulsion of Rwandan immigrants from western Tanzania, and President Kikwete’s remarks that Rwanda should negotiate with the Hutu rebel group FDLR it is fighting in eastern DRC.

“The DRC politics is the crust of the matter for now. Tanzania contributed troops to DRC creating varying interests and those issues should be resolved. The five countries have different approaches to the DRC issue,” said Mukasa Mbidde, chairperson of the Legal, Rule and Privileges Committee of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

In September, Tanzania expelled thousands of foreigners working in the country because they did not have work permits, a move that was seen as being against the EAC integration agenda. President Kikwete cited the issue of employment and immigration as one of the reasons why Tanzania was being isolated by its neighbours.

Tanzania said the September exercise was intended to ensure that all foreigners working in the country do so following the right channels. But again, getting the official papers is often a nightmare. It costs a handsome $2,000 to get a work permit in Tanzania, and applicants must wait up to five months to obtain the documents.

Uganda charges $1,500 for work permits, and Kenya, which initially waived fees for East Africans, has since reintroduced a $1,976 charge on job seekers aged under 35. Rwanda continues to keep its borders open to East Africans by waiving work permit fees for EAC citizens.

Burundi charges 3 per cent of the annual gross salary of its foreign workers (including EAC partner states) for a work permit.

On the use of national IDs as travel documents in the region, President Kikwete said Tanzania was not ready to adopt the IDs because it did not yet have national IDs, and has maintained that it cannot take a decision until they are ready to issue to its citizens. Uganda, on the other hand, which did not have national IDs, adopted the decision and is in the process of issuing IDs as a requirement of the EAC.

Tanzanian government officials have long insisted that issues of immigration, land, labour should remain domestic issues and decisions should be made by each partner state and not by the community.

EALA had in April this year passed a motion for a resolution advocating the elimination of work permit fees for citizens of the region in the spirit of enhancing free movement of workers. The move was opposed by Tanzania, which said it would not waive work permit fees for EAC citizens seeking to enter the country.

Last week, Tanzania’s EAC Deputy Minister Abdullah Saadalla said: “Tanzania has its own regulations and procedures and the issue of waiving the fees calls for internal agreements.”

In addition to the accusations of dragging its feet on the integration process, Tanzania’s role in DRC is also said to have contributed to the current isolation by its neighbours.

“The DRC politics is the crux of the matter for now. Tanzania contributed troops to the UN force in DRC creating differing interests. The five countries have different approaches to the DRC issue,” said Mukasa Mbidde, chairperson of the Legal, Rules and Privileges Committee at the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

Diplomatic relations between Dar and Kigali have also been frosty following the recent expulsion of Rwandan immigrants from western Tanzania, and President Kikwete’s remarks that Rwanda should negotiate with the Hutu rebel group FDLR in eastern DRC.

Responding to President Kikwete’s speech, the head of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Co-operation and Security Zeno Mutimura said he does not think there is a plot to isolate Tanzania but instead Dar has only itself to blame.

Mr Mutimura, who served as Rwanda’s ambassador to Tanzania until 2009, said that a 2009 East African Court of Justice ruling allows partner states to carry on with programmes if one or two members are not ready.

During the infrastructure summit in Kigali, President Museveni, who has been singled out by Tanzanian officials for being behind the plan to isolate Dar es Salaam, said that what is happening should be seen as Northern Corridor countries stepping up the implementation of projects along the corridor. On the issue of the single tourist visa which Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are fast tracking, Tanzania has indicated that it is not for the idea of having the visa until the relevant fee collection infrastructure that links member states is in place.

“In order to have a single tourist visa, there must be a legal framework and infrastructure workable for all the partner states first,” said Dr Abdulla.

Mark Priestly, the country director at TradeMark East Africa in Rwanda, said President Kikwete’s speech was “double-edged.”

“On the one hand, Kikwete is saying Tanzania is committed to the EAC and regional integration and on the other hand there is obvious tension with the trilateral initiative. On the whole, I think that this is a healthy tension and so the EAC is unlikely to split up,” he said.

Uganda government spokesman Ofwono Opondo termed the complaints by Tanzania “a failure to appreciate the progress of international issues and geopolitical interests.”
He added: “There is no integration in the world that happened at once.

In the current EU, Turkey has been on the sidelines for very many years.”

According to Mr Opondo, Uganda had the strongest bilateral relations with Tanzania politically and there should be no reason for leaders in Tanzania to think Uganda would connive behind its back to undermine it.

Kenyan EALA MP Peter Mathuki said that the fact that the Tanzanian president himself confirmed that the country is not moving out of the EAC means that he needs to be embraced and taken seriously as a member of the Community.

“Tanzania cannot be left out of EAC because it’s one of the original EAC countries and therefore cannot be taken for granted,” said Mr Mathuki.

However on the concern that the country is slowing down the integration process, he said that it is a wakeup call to it that the other partners are not happy with the way it is implementing the EAC protocols.

“There is a need to fast track the EAC integration and thus Tanzania should also move with speed just like the other partner states,” he said, adding that Tanzania’s leadership need to consider where their strategic interests are and take Community issues seriously.

Two weeks ago, Tanzania’s East African Co-operation Minister Samuel Sitta told parliament that Tanzania was looking for closer economic ties with Burundi and DR Congo to counter grand infrastructure plans by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, causing anxiety over the future of the East African Community.

However, President Kikwete seems to have thrown the ball in the court of the Coalition of the Willing.

*Source The East African.Reported by Ray Naluyaga, Christabel Ligami, Christine Mungai, Berna Namata, Halimma Abdalla and Edmund Kagire

 

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