Xenophobia: Obasanjo Asks Nigeria, Others To Report South Africa To AU

Obasanjo Encourages Women To Participate More In Politics
A file photo of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

 

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has reacted to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africa citizens living in South Africa.

In a letter to the President of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the elder statesman urged countries whose citizens were affected to table appropriate motions at the African Union (AU) and consider other measures if the situation is allowed to continue.

He condemned the situation where any African country encourages or fails to seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans in their country.

Obasanjo described such as a great disservice not only to the country xenophobic attacks take place and the countries of the victims concerned but also to the whole of Africa and black race.

He said there was a need for fence-mending, reconciliation and wound-binding between South Africa and the countries whose citizens have been victims of xenophobia in the country.

The former president, therefore, asked South African authorities to send emissaries to the countries concerned to explain, apologise and agree on the way forward for mutual understanding.

He also noted that repatriation of Nigerians from South Africa was not a permanent solution to the crisis, neither was revenge a desirable way out.

Obasanjo challenged Nigeria and South Africa to stand together to champion African cause and jointly shepherd African development, unity, cooperation, security, and progress to make the 21st century Africa’s century.

 

…………

September 12, 2019

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP,

President Emeritus: Inkatha Freedom Party,

Office of the President Emeritus,

2 Durban Club, Place,

Durban 4001, South Africa.

I thank you for your very kind and thoughtful letter of September 11, 2019, and I appreciate the honour done me by specially writing me a letter on a very unfortunate and sad incident of xenophobia in South Africa. I also take note of your statements and other communications made in South Africa by you on the same issue.

The xenophobia or Afrophobia going on in South Africa is an unfortunate issue for South Africa and for the whole of Africa. It is unfortunate in many respects. There are only two countries in Africa that have ‘Africa’ as part of their names: Central Africa Republic and Republic of South Africa. For any of these two countries and, I dare say, for any African country to encourage or allow or not seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans in their country, it is a great disservice not only to the country where xenophobia takes place and the countries of the victims concerned, but also a great disservice to the whole of Africa and black race.

I want to thank you, my dear senior brother, for the statement you made to alert leaders and ordinary people of South Africa to appreciate that turning a blind eye and not making a very strong statement of condemnation or taking a very strong stand against xenophobia is encouraging xenophobia or being an accomplice in xenophobia and/or Afrophobia.

I also want to thank you for referring in the same statement to Nigeria’s contribution and my own personal contribution to the struggle against colonialism in Southern Africa and apartheid in South Africa. I must also commend others in South Africa who have taken a similar position in the overall interest of Africa.

We, in Nigeria, if I may speak particularly for Nigeria, did all that we did for liberation in different parts of Africa, particularly in Southern Africa, including getting rid of apartheid in South Africa because we believed it was our obligatory duty to do so as Africans.

We, as black people, believed and still believe that we would be second-class citizens in the world if we allowed any black people anywhere in the world, not to talk of Africa, to be treated as second-class citizens because of the colour of their skin without fighting against it.

It is because of our belief in human dignity generally and especially afro dignity. We were motivated and goaded by principle and not by possession, position or praises.  We were not doing it to get any reward or material benefit as such.

We were doing it because we were convinced that it was our duty, our responsibility and our obligation to humanity and to the black race. That is why we, in Nigeria, in spite of our distance from the frontline of the struggle against colonialism in Southern Africa and apartheid in South Africa, we became, in terms of our participation, contribution, commitment and sacrifice, members of the frontline States.

Whether that is recognised and appreciated or not, we really don’t mind as we believe we have done our duty as we ought to have done, and if occasion occurs in future where we need to open our doors, out of our humanity and Africanity, for people in similar situation of need as happened to people in Southern Africa and South Africa, we will do it again as we did in the past.

However, we believe that Africans living in any other part of Africa must be treated as brothers and friends. If they commit any crime, they should be treated like citizens of that country will be treated when they commit crime which will mean applying judicial process.

Moreover, the South African police and other law enforcement agencies must uphold the letter and spirit of the Constitution of South Africa, which stipulate that, “The South African Police Service has a responsibility to prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, uphold and enforce the law, create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa, prevent anything that may threaten the safety or security of any community, investigate any crimes that threaten the safety or security of any community, ensure criminals are brought to justice and participate in efforts to address the causes of crime.”

Where the Police would stand aloof watching miscreants and criminals committing crimes against fellow human beings is condemnable and not acceptable in any civilised society. This was experienced in South Africa in recent times and it shows either incompetence or collusion on the part of the Police.

The best way to fight crime is to achieve close to full employment in a society and not through xenophobia. Anybody who can deny xenophobia in South Africa of today can deny that my mother is a woman. It should not be a game of denial but rather a game of accepting reality and working at it, together with the rest of Africa where necessary.

Countries in Africa are not just transit for drugs from sources in Latin America and Asia to consuming populations in North America and Europe, but these countries in Southern Africa and West Africa are also falling victims as consumers and producers.

It requires collaboration of producing regions and countries working with transit regions and countries and consuming regions and countries to deal effectively with the menace of drugs as established by West Africa Commission on Drugs, WACD.

As it is being touted that xenophobia will give South Africans jobs, I dare say, it is fallacy. Xenophobia will make investment in South Africa a little bit more difficult which will lead to lack of job creation and loss of existing jobs.

It should also be realised that most migrants did not migrate out of their country to other countries with total emptiness. Some have education, skills, experience, expertise, entrepreneurship and sheer guts which they can bring to bear on the economy of the country they have migrated to. What has helped most developed countries in the world is openness and receiving migrants with open hands and open minds. In any case, all of us in the world are migrants, no matter where we live, depending only on how far back you want to go.

I, once again, thank you for the position you have taken and I hope that your statement will ring bells in the minds of leaders and ordinary South Africans to know that they are living in Africa where rightly South Africa should be one of the countries to play leadership role in Africa.

But if xenophobia is encouraged, South Africa will not earn the role of leadership which can only be granted and conferred by the rest of Africa because leadership requires certain amount of sacrifice and attitude of understanding, compassion, kindness, brotherhood and hospitality. These are normal African virtues and attributes which South Africa must imbibe.

The lessons to be learned from all this is that our individual countries in Africa must have programmes that will provide livelihoods for their teeming youth population to discourage youths from embarking on hazardous journeys to places where their lives will be in danger all in search of greener pastures that may never be there. Our youth too must learn that when they are in any country, they must be law-abiding and be actively productive members of their host country.

At this juncture, there is need for fence-mending, reconciliation and wound-binding between South Africa and the countries whose citizens have been victims of xenophobia and Afrophobia in South Africa. As a suggestion, South Africa should send emissaries to the countries concerned to explain, apologise and agree on the way forward for mutual understanding, accommodation, reconciliation, and binding the wound to promote unity, concord, and brotherhood in Africa. Repatriation of Nigerians from South Africa is obviously not a permanent solution.

At best it is palliative. But the hurt will still remain for some time.  Neither is revenge a desirable solution. Mutual understanding and acknowledgement of what needs to be done on all sides are imperative and getting down to doing them is the solution that will serve Nigeria and South Africa and indeed Africa well particularly in this era of Africa Continental Free Trade Area opportunities.

Nigeria and South Africa must stand together to champion African cause and to jointly shepherd African development, unity, cooperation, security, and progress to make the 21st century Africa’s century.

In the final analysis, if South Africa fails to initiate appropriate and satisfactory steps to deal with the issues to pacify affected victims and work for reconciliation with the countries concerned to put an end to xenophobia, the concerned countries of the victims should come together to table appropriate motions at the AU level first and consider other measures if the situation is allowed to continue.

Dear senior brother, please accept the assurances of my highest consideration for your good health and wellbeing.

Olusegun Obasanjo.

Buhari Arrives Niamey Ahead Of AU Summit

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in Niger for the 12th Extra-Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government.

President Buhari departed the country on Saturday morning to join other African leaders.

The Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union is expected to launch the operational instruments of the Agreement establishing AfCFTA, which Nigeria is expected to sign.

READ ALSO: Security Issues Are Being Seriously Tackled, Says Buhari

Prior to the Summit, the Buhari Administration had embarked on extensive consultations with stakeholders, culminating in the submission of the report by the Presidential Committee to Assess Impact and Readiness of Nigeria to join the AfCFTA.

The committee had recommended that Nigeria should sign the Agreement which aims to boost intra-African trade.

Nigeria Remains Committed To Supporting Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic – Buhari

President Buhari receives President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic H.E Brahimi Ghazli during a visit to ASO ROCK Abuja PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has restated commitments to support people of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), and their quest for self-determination and independence.

He stated this when the President of SADR, Brahim Ghali paid him a courtesy visit at the State House on Thursday.

President Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina, stressed that the position is in line with the several resolutions of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) on the matter.

Nigeria remains committed to supporting the efforts of the AU and the UN towards finding a lasting solution to the Sahrawi problem.

READ ALSO: Tribunal Adjourns Ruling In PDPs Application To Inspect INECs Server

Meanwhile, President Ghali commended Nigeria’s past support for SADR during President Buhari’s tenure as military Head of State in 1984, and the country’s support for liberation movements on the African continent.

The SADR leader said the weight of Nigeria’s support remained crucial to the final resolution of the continued colonisation of his people.

African Union Suspends Sudan

Egyptians To Vote Monday, Sisi Anticipates Re-election
Chairman of African Union and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Credit: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

The African Union on Thursday suspended Sudan, demanding a civilian-led transition authority to resolve the crisis which has claimed over 100 lives.

“The AU Peace and Security Council has with immediate effect suspended the participation of the Republic of Sudan in all AU activities until the effective establishment of a Civilian-led Transitional Authority, as the only way to allow the Sudan to exit from the current crisis,” the AU posted on Twitter.

Sudanese authorities have admitted dozens of people were killed when security forces stormed a weeks-long sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.

READ ALSO: Sinai Militants Kill Four Egypt Security Personnel

But doctors said Wednesday that 40 bodies had been pulled from the Nile, sending the death toll soaring to at least 108.

The military ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April after months of protests against his authoritarian rule.

But thousands of demonstrators had remained camped out in front of the army headquarters calling for the generals to cede power to civilians.

The AU had urged the generals to ensure a smooth transition of power, but the brutal crackdown to disperse protesters Monday saw pressure mount on the AU to hold those responsible for the violence to justice.

AFP

African Union Threatens To Suspend Sudan Over Coup

Egypt’s President and current Chairperson of the African Union, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. SEYLLOU / AFP

 

The African Union on Monday threatened to suspend Sudan following last week’s coup that saw Omar al-Bashir ousted by the military after nearly three decades in power.

If the junta fails to hand power to civilians within 15 days, the AU will suspend “the participation of Sudan in all AU’s activities until the restoration of constitutional order,” the body’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) said in a statement.

Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years before he was deposed last week following mass protests that have rocked the country since December.

READ ALSO: Sudan’s New Military Council Chief Steps Down

The protesters have remained in the streets, demanding a return to civilian rule from the military council that’s replaced, Bashir.

The AU echoed the protesters’ demands, calling the military intervention a “coup d’Etat, which (the PSC) strongly condemns.”

The body, which has 55 member states, added that “a military-led transition would be completely contrary to the aspirations of the people of Sudan.”

AFP

Rwanda’s Kagame Steps Down, Egypt’s Sisi Takes Over As African Union Chairman

Outgoing African Union Chairman and Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) shake hands after al-Sisi was elected new Chairman of the African Union during the 32nd African Union (AU) during the 32nd African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa on February 10, 2019.

 

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led an active, reformist tenure as African Union chair, on Sunday passed the baton to Egypt, seen as more likely to focus on security issues than expanding the powers of the body.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will officially take over the post of ceremonial head of the AU which rotates between the five regions of the continent at the start of the two-day summit in Addis Ababa.

The meeting got underway after a ceremony inaugurating a commemorative statue of the late Ethiopian emperor Haileselassie I at the AU headquarters, in honour of his role in the formation of the continental body.

While multiple crises on the continent will be on the agenda of heads of state from the 55 member nations, the summit will also focus on institutional reforms and the establishment of a continent-wide free trade zone.

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) was agreed by 44 nations in March 2018, but only 19 countries have ratified the agreement, with 22 needed for it to come into effect.

READ ALSO: Egypt’s President Al-Sisi To Chair African Union

The single market is a flagship of the AU’s “Agenda 2063” programme, conceived as a strategic framework for socioeconomic transformation.

Cairo is backing the initiative, but analysts say it will be less likely to focus on the financial and administrative reforms pushed by Kagame.

Sisi is however expected to focus more on security, peacekeeping and post-war reconstruction, issues closely tied to the AU’s 2019 theme of “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons”.

“Egypt has an interest in Africa, they want to strengthen their position on the African continent and they don’t want to be seen as a country only focused on the Arab world,” said Liesl Louw-Vaudran, an analyst at the Institute for Security Studies.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Saturday that peaceful elections in DR Congo, Mali and Madagascar, as well as peace deals in South Sudan and the Central African Republic and the truce between Ethiopia and Eritrea, were signs of a “wind of hope” on the continent.

 Resisting AU power 

Kagame, who has been leading institutional reforms since 2016, pushed for a continent-wide import tax to fund the AU and reduce its dependence on external donors, who still pay for more than half the institution’s annual budget.

But member states have resisted this along with reform of the AU Commission, its executive organ. In November 2018, most states rejected a proposal to give the head of the AU Commission the power to name deputies and commissioners.

Like other regional heavyweights Nigeria and South Africa, Egypt is not keen on a powerful AU, an African diplomat told AFP.

This is especially because Cairo has “never forgotten” its suspension in 2013 after Egypt’s army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who in 2012 became the country’s first democratically elected president, the diplomat said.

“Traditionally, leaders of big powers have not really helped the position of AU chairperson, as they don’t want an AU which is too strong or too intrusive,” said Elissa Jobson of the International Crisis Group.

“The AU and the AU commission are only as strong as its members want them to be. Unlike the EU, African countries have not transferred some of their sovereignty to the AU.”

Kagame suffered a crushing blow from the AU after expressing “serious doubts” about the results of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s recent presidential election, which was officially won by Felix Tshisekedi.

While also disputed by the Catholic church, the results were validated by DRC’s constitutional court and saluted by continental heavyweights South Africa, Kenya and Egypt.

“This whole thing was an embarrassment for the AU, it showed the limitations of what the AU chairperson can do,” said Jobson.

Amnesty International expressed fears that Egypt’s chairmanship could undermine human rights mechanisms in the AU.

“During his time in power President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has demonstrated a shocking contempt for human rights. Under his leadership the country has undergone a catastrophic decline in rights and freedoms,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

AFP

Egypt’s President Al-Sisi To Chair African Union

his file handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on June 2, 2018 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi giving a speech during his swearing in ceremony for a second four-year term in office,/ AFP

 

Nearly six years after the African Union shut it out in the cold, Egypt will take the organisation’s helm — and strengthening multilateral powers is unlikely to be on the agenda.

Cairo’s tenure “will probably concentrate on security and peacekeeping”, said Ashraf Swelam, who heads a think tank linked to the country’s foreign ministry.

Incoming AU chair President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi will likely focus less on “financial and administrative reform” than his predecessor, Swelam added.

READ ALSOAfrican Union Cancels Delegation To DR Congo Over Vote Result

Such reform was the cornerstone of outgoing AU chairman Paul Kagame’s year in the role.

The Rwandan president has pushed for a continent-wide import tax to fund the AU and reduce its dependence on external donors, who still pay for more than half the institution’s annual budget.

An African diplomat told AFP that Egypt — along with fellow heavyweights South Africa and Nigeria — does not want a powerful AU.

This diplomat, who has been tracking AU affairs for over a decade, said Cairo has “never forgotten” its suspension in 2013.

The near year-long lockout from the AU came after Egypt’s army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who in 2012 had become the country’s first democratically elected president.

Sisi is due to take the helm at the AU’s biannual heads of the state assembly, which takes place on February 10 and 11 at the AU’s gleaming headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

As usual, the continent’s multiple security crises will be high on the VIPs’ agenda.

Rwanda’s ambitious funding proposal will also likely be on the table.

But it has met resistance not only from Egypt, but other member states, so may fail to pass.

Reform of the AU Commission is an even more sensitive topic. In November 2018, most states rejected a proposal to give the head of the AU’s executive organ the power to name deputies and commissioners.

– Egypt backs free trade zone –
But the Egyptians are “fully engaged” in pushing other AU reforms, according to an AU official.

One key initiative backed by Cairo is the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), an initiative agreed by 44 of 55 member states in March 2018.

The single market is a flagship of the AU’s “Agenda 2063” programme, conceived as a strategic framework for socioeconomic transformation.

However, the trade pact has met resistance from South Africa.

Sisi will, therefore, need to push hard for ratification of this accord, if it is to come into effect.

For Elissa Jobson, head of Africa advocacy at the International Crisis Group, Sisi can be expected to “use the presidency to increase his country’s standing among other African states”.

“This is not a departure from previous administrations”, particularly that of the outgoing chairman, she added.

“Kagame showed that the presidency — for a long time considered to be merely a figurehead — can be used to promote national interests and boost a leader’s international profile,” Jobson said.

The AU official — who requested anonymity — said Rwanda’s president will remain a point person for the organisation’s broad reform agenda, despite handing over the chair.

– Limited power –
But there are major limits to the power wielded by the post of AU chairman.

Kagame suffered a crushing disavowal by the AU after expressing “serious doubts” about the results of Democratic Republic of Congo’s recent presidential election, which was officially won by Felix Tshisekedi.

While also disputed by the Catholic church, the results were validated by DRC’s constitutional court and saluted by continental heavyweights South Africa, Kenya and Egypt.

For Liesl Louw-Vaudran at the Institute of Security Studies, Sisi wants Egypt to be considered part of Africa, not just the Arab world — but that will require work.

“North African countries have a reputation of looking in a different direction than Africa, and Egypt will have to overcome that stereotype,” she said.

The AU’s theme for this summit is “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons” presented within a security context.

Cairo is casting itself as a champion in the battle against illegal immigration — and as a model for hosting refugees on its soil.

African Union Cancels Delegation To DR Congo Over Vote Result

African Union (AU) Chairperson and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (R) speaks during a High-Level Consultation Meeting with African leaders on DR Congo election at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, on January 17, 2019.
EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

 

The African Union has cancelled a delegation to DR Congo over the country’s disputed presidential election after the Constitutional Court declared Felix Tshisekedi the victor, an AU source said Sunday.

At a summit on Thursday, AU leaders had cited “serious doubts” about the election figures and called for the final results to be delayed.

The mission to Kinshasa, to be led by AU chairman Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, and AU Commission president Moussa Faki of Chad, had been set for Monday.

DR Congo Court To Rule On Disputed Poll, Snubbing African Union

African Union (AU) Chairperson and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (R) speaks during a High Level Consultation Meeting with African leaders on DR Congo election at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, on January 17, 2019. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

 

DR Congo’s top court said it will give its verdict Saturday on the final election results which have been challenged both internationally and at home, spurning an appeal from the African Union to suspend the announcement.

The Constitutional Court is urgently hearing an appeal over the outcome of the December 30 vote to choose a successor to long-serving President Joseph Kabila, with runner-up Martin Fayulu claiming he was cheated of victory — an assertion repeated elsewhere.

“It (the ruling) will take place today at 3:00 pm (1400 GMT),” Constitutional Court spokesman Baudouin Mwehu told AFP.

Hundreds of supporters of opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, the declared winner of the election, gathered outside the court holding placards saying “No to interference” and “Independent country” as riot police stood nearby.

On January 10, the electoral commission said Tshisekedi had provisionally won with 38.57 percent of the vote against Fayulu’s 34.8 per cent.

But Fayulu denounced the figures as an “electoral coup” forged by Tshisekedi and Kabila and filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court.

 ‘Not their business’ 

At a summit on Thursday, AU leaders said there were “serious doubts” about the vote’s provisional results and called for the announcement of the final results to be suspended.

But DR Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende had snubbed the AU demand saying: “I don’t think it is the business of the government or even of the African Union to tell the court what it should do.”

The AU also announced that its commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, currently the AU chairman, were expected to fly to DR Congo on Monday.

The European Union said it joined the AU in inviting “all the Congolese players to work constructively with this (AU) delegation to find a post-electoral solution which respects the Congolese people’s vote”.

The court is due to give a ruling ahead of the scheduled swearing-in of the next president on Tuesday.

Appeal 

The Financial Times and other foreign media have reported seeing documents that confirm Fayulu as the winner.

“If the court declares Tshisekedi victor, the risk of isolation would be enormous and untenable for a country positioned right in the middle of the continent,” Adeline Van Houtte of the Economist Intelligence Unit wrote on Twitter.

Fayulu’s camp had hailed the AU appeal for the final result to be put on hold, but Tshisekedi’s entourage branded it “scandalous.”

The dispute has raised fears that the political crisis that began when Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutional term in office two years ago, could turn into a bloodbath.

The vast and chronically unstable country lived through two regional wars in 1996-97 and 1998-2003, and the previous two elections, in 2006 and 2011, were marred by bloody clashes.

The AU has taken the firmest line of all major international bodies with regard to the post-election crisis.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), a bloc that includes Angola and South Africa, initially called for a recount and a unity government.

But in a later communique, it made no mention of those demands, instead calling on Congolese politicians to “address any electoral grievances in line with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Constitution and relevant electoral laws”.

Kagame’s visit as part of the AU delegation could complicate matters, analysts say.

Rwanda backed the 1997 ouster of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko by Kabila’s father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, but then changed allies. Sporadic clashes occurred last year on the border between the two neighbours.

AFP

DR Congo Rejects AU’s Call To Suspend Final Vote Result

The president of DR Congo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) Corneille Nangaa Yobeluo announces the provisional results of the presidential election in Kinshasa. Junior D. KANNAH / AFP

 

DR Congo rebuked the African Union on Friday over its calls to suspend the announcement of final results from the presidential election, insisting that the Constitutional Court assessing the vote’s legality was impartial.

The court is examining a dispute over the December 30 election to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, with runner up Martin Fayulu claiming he was cheated of victory by fraud.

“The court is independent, both of us and the African Union,” government spokesman Lambert Mende said.

“I don’t think it is the business of the government or even of the African Union to tell the court what it should do.”

At a meeting on Thursday in Addis Ababa, AU heads of state and government agreed to send a high-level delegation to Kinshasa help solve the crisis.

AU commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, currently the AU chairman, are expected to fly in on Monday.

The summit also said there were “serious doubts” about the provisional results of the vote and called for the final announcement to be suspended — a matter which now lies in the hands of the Constitutional Court.

Mende, who is also minister of communication and the media, added bluntly: “I don’t know if there are countries where people can interfere like that in a legal procedure.

“The court will do what is right for showing the truth. We should all trust it,” he said.

 Appeal 

On January 10, DR Congo’s electoral commission declared opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the provisional winner of the December 30 vote with 38.57 percent against Fayulu’s 34.8 percent.

But Fayulu declared the result to be an “electoral coup” forged by Tshisekedi and Kabila, and filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court a day later.

He claims he won with 61 percent of the vote.

The Financial Times and other foreign media have reported seeing documents that confirm Fayulu as the winner.

The court’s ruling, and the announcement of the final results, have to be completed by next Tuesday when the new president is scheduled to be sworn in.

Fears of violence 

The dispute has raised fears that the political crisis that began when Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutional term in office two years ago, could turn into a bloodbath.

The vast and chronically unstable country lived through two regional wars in 1996-97 and 1998-2003, and the previous two elections in 2006 and 2011, were marred by bloody clashes.

The AU has taken the firmest line of all major international bodies with regard to the post-election crisis.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), a bloc that includes Angola and South Africa, initially called for a recount and a unity government.

But in a later communique, it made no mention of those demands, instead calling on Congolese politicians to “address any electoral grievances in line with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Constitution and relevant electoral laws”.

Kagame’s visit as part of the AU delegation could complicate matters, analysts say.

Rwanda backed the 1997 ouster of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko by Kabila’s father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, but then changed allies. Sporadic clashes occurred last year on the border between the two neighbours.

AFP

Police Officers, Civilians Killed In DR Congo Vote Result Protest

 

Two police officers and two civilians were killed in the western DR Congo city of Kikwit Thursday when police intervened to end protests over the outcome of presidential elections, security forces said.

“In the operation to restore public order today in Kikwit, two policemen and two civilian were killed. We also recorded 10 wounded,” city police chief General Dieudonne Mutepeke told AFP. Kikwit is a stronghold of opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, who was declared runner-up in the elections.

AU urges ‘peaceful’ resolution of DR Congo vote dispute

The African Union called Thursday for any dispute over the Democratic Republic of Congo’s election result to be resolved in a peaceful manner, and through dialogue.

“It is important that any disagreement over the proclaimed results, notably that they did not reflect voters’ wishes, be resolved peacefully, by turning to the relevant laws and through political dialogue between the parties involved,” read a statement from the office of AU chief Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Mahamat did not congratulate winning opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi, whose surprise victory was quickly met with cries of fraud and accusations he had struck a deal with outgoing President Joseph Kabila, whose handpicked candidate came a distant third.

The DRC’s powerful Catholic Church said the provisional results did not match its own nationwide polling data while France said it believed opposition rival Martin Fayulu had in fact won.

Mahamat merely “took note” of the result and said “no matter the definitive outcome” of the election, the DRC must seek national consensus based on the respect of democratic principles and human rights as well as the “preservation and consolidation of peace”.

African Union Calls For Protection Of Rights In DR Congo

Supporters of The Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) shout slogans after former DRCongo warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba arrived at Kinshasa airport on August 1, 2018, after more than 11 years abroad — a decade of it behind bars. Papy MULONGO / AFP

 

The African Union on Monday called for the “rights and freedoms of all Congolese” to be upheld, amid mounting tensions over the country’s presidential race.

The influential Catholic church and the European Union also sought to persuade the DR Congo regime to ensure fair elections.

Candidates must submit their applications to run in DR Congo’s long-delayed election, due on December 23, by Wednesday evening.

“At this crucial stage of the electoral process, the Chairperson of the Commission (Moussa Faki Mahamat) reiterates the need for all stakeholders… to ensure peaceful, transparent and truly inclusive elections are held,” the AU said in a statement.

“(Mahamat) calls on all political actors to act responsibly and in the best interests of their country, which must prevail over all other considerations.”

It was “crucial” that the rights and freedoms of all Congolese voters be respected and a “level electoral playing field” be ensured, it added.

The statement was issued after opposition leader Moise Katumbi was blocked from returning home last week to file his bid.

Katumbi, 53, a wealthy businessman and former governor of the province of Katanga, was barred from entering the DRC and charged with offences against state security, officials said.

He has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since May 2016 after falling out with President Joseph Kabila.

Police in Katumbi’s stronghold of Lubumbashi, in the southeast of the country, fired into the air on Monday to disperse supporters calling for him to be allowed to return.

Opposition lining up

The European Union issued a statement supporting the AU’s call.

Measures should be taken “to ensure a fair and credible electoral competition. The European Union will continue to monitor the situation carefully and in close consultation with its partners, primarily the African Union and the United Nations,” an EU spokesperson said in a statement.

The UN peacekeeping mission to the DRC (MONUSCO) has retained its silence on the matter.

The Catholic Church on Monday urged authorities in Kinshasa to allow Katumbi into the country in time to register as a candidate.

“Such segregational treatment is not justified and can lead to unnecessary consequences that must be avoided,” the Congolese Episcopal Conference (CENCO) said in a statement.

“Such a refusal in many ways resembles a denial of identity, which no human society can tolerate.”

Another Kabila rival, former warlord and ex-vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, 55, returned home last week. He officially launched his bid for the presidency on Thursday.

Vital Kamerhe, head of the Union for the Congolese Nation who came third in the 2011 election, on Monday said he had submitted his candidacy.

Another opponent, Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, will file his application Tuesday, his spokesman Peter Kazadi told AFP.

Polling machines from S. Korea

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has never known a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence in 1960.

The United States is ready to impose further sanctions on the DR Congo regime to dissuade Kabila from continuing his hold on power, the Financial Times reported Monday.

“The US is trying to convince Kabila to go between now and August 8,” an unnamed source told the daily paper. “They’re trying to squeeze his family and his finances”.

DR Congo’s electoral commission said Monday that 35,000 polling machines were on their way from South Korea.

The opposition called them “machines for cheating”.

Kabila, 47, has been at the helm since 2001, presiding over a vast mineral-rich country with a reputation for corruption, inequality and unrest.

He was scheduled to stand down at the end of 2016 after his second elected term, technically the last permitted under the constitution.

He has refused to spell out whether he will seek a new term or perhaps declare his support for a chosen successor.

AFP