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> 2014-01-31 17:45:16
Read our pick of African news from the major news agencies Friday 31 Jan.
The special envoy of the United States to South Sudan is urging President Salva Kiir's government to start political reforms to resolve the country's crisis. Donald Booth said Friday that ``the fundamental questions'' that sparked armed conflict in mid-December must be addressed for lasting peace to prevail in the world's newest country. Booth spoke to reporters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where 34 African leaders attended the summit of the African Union. South Sudan has seen violence since Dec. 15, when a fight among presidential guards in the capital escalated into a rebellion that threatened to topple the government. Riek Machar, the ousted former vice president who now commands rebel forces, has called Kiir a dictator who should be removed from power.
Meanwhile, a regional African group mediating to end the conflict in South Sudan aims to deploy the first monitors of a shaky ceasefire at the weekend, senior officials said on Friday. The IGAD group also joined international calls for the release of the last four of a group of detainees in South Sudan whom the government is investigating over charges they plotted a coup, but whose continued detention could hinder peace talks. The government of President Salva Kiir and rebels loyal to his sacked deputy Riek Machar agreed a ceasefire deal on 23 Jan., but both sides have accused each other of violations.
Photo: South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar sits near his men in a rebel-controlled territory in Jonglei State January 31, 2014.
A Kenyan court has refused to stop the arrest of a journalist wanted by the International Criminal Court for allegedly corrupting prosecution witnesses in the crimes against humanity case against Kenya's deputy president. Judge Richard Mwongo said Friday that journalist Walter Barasa did not demonstrate how his constitutional rights will be violated or that he is likely to suffer oppression and discrimination if arrested. In October, ICC Judge Cuno Tarfusser issued a warrant for the 41-year old journalist on suspicion of attempting to bribe a potential witness.
Deputy President William Ruto has pleaded not guilty to charges of crimes against humanity. Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, is deputy Ruto and radio broadcaster Joshua Sang are charged with allegedly orchestrating post-election violence which killed more than 1,000 people following disputed election results in late 2007. Ruto's case continued to be heard at the ICC this week, but the case against President Kenyatta may collapse because witnesses are withdrawing.
Four days of fighting in the capital of Central African Republic has left 43 people dead and over 70 wounded , the country's Red Cross society says. The attacks in Bangui have largely targeted Muslim civilians accused of having supported the Seleka rebels who overthrew the government in March 2013, ushering in months of violence against the Christian majority. The violence has continued even though a new leader was inaugurated less than two weeks ago as part of regional efforts to bring peace after months of anarchy. France, the former colonial power, has 1,600 troops in CAR, working with some 4,000 from African countries to help end the violence which has displaced about a million people.
In another development, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson is asking donors for more money to fund African Union peacekeepers trying end inter-communal violence in the Central African Republic. He made the appeal on the sidelines of an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
A Kenyan military spokesman said Friday most Kenyan troops will soon leave the Somali port city of Kismayo which they took control of more than a year ago after ousting al-Qaida-linked militants. Col. Willy Wesonga said troops from Sierra Leone will replace Kenyan forces that will move to the Gedo region. The announcement comes as Kenyan forces are accused of misconduct including of backing one Somali militia against others in Kismayo, an issue that led the Mogadishu-based Somali government to demand a more neutral force in Kismayo. Kenya is one of several African countries that have troops in Somalia, as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia or AMISOM. The mission is backing the country's weak central government against an onslaught by the Islamic extremists of al-Shabab. Only small Kenyan units will remain in Kismayo, the Kenyan military spokesman said.
MALI FOOD CRISIS
Humanitarian groups are warning that northern Mali is on the brink of a serious food crisis unless more money is raised. The 11 international agencies warned Friday that more than 800,000 people need immediate food aid and some 3 million people nationwide are at risk. Speaking for aid agencies, Franck Vannetelle, director of Action Against Hunger in Mali, said the number of vulnerable people facing a new food crisis ``is likely to double if the needs identified are not met quickly.'' Aid experts say the looming food crisis is the result of poor harvests and instability.
UN CONGO DR.
The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution that renews an arms embargo on various militia groups in the DR Congo. Thursday’s resolution also said armed groups that finance their operations by trafficking wildlife in the vast country are to be targeted by UN sanctions. Individuals involved will be subject to travels bans and asset freezes, it said. The UN has been warning that ivory has become a major source of finance for armed groups and has led to the reduction in the population of elephants in DR Congo. A census in the Garamba National Park in the north-eastern part of the country showed fewer than 2,000 elephants were left in 2012, compared to 22,000 in the 1970s. A similar resolution was passed earlier this week in relation to the CAR, where poachers have also taken advantage of more than a year of unrest to kill endangered forest elephants.