APC Sets Up State Harmonisation Committees

The National Interim EXCO of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has approved the establishment of State Harmonisation Committees, in order not to create a vacuum and also to regulate the activities of the Party at the state level and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, party said the decision to set up the State Harmonization Committees (SHC), followed the adoption of the report of the Masari Committee by the National Interim EXCO which met last week in Abuja.

According to the it, the SHC shall comprise President/Vice President, past and serving, who are members of the Legacy Parties; Governors/Deputy Governors, past and serving, who are members of the Legacy Parties; Serving and former Senators who are members of the Legacy Parties; Serving members of the House of Representatives who are members of the Party and Speakers or Minority Leaders of the States House of Assembly who are members of the Party.

APC listed others as former Ministers who are members of the Legacy Parties; All immediate past National EXCO Members of the Legacy Parties; Immediate past Gubernatorial candidates of legacy Parties, and their Deputies where APC does not have a sitting Governor who are still Members of the Legacy Parties; Nine persons comprising of 3 elders, 3 youths and 3 women, with one of each being from each of the Senatorial Districts of the State; State Chairmen and the Secretaries of the legacy Parties; Members of the National Interim EXCO and Federal Commissioners who are members of the legacy parties.

The party said these persons shall be recommended to the National Interim EXCO, for their approval and inauguration, by National Vice Chairmen in conjunction with Members of the National Interim EXCO from their Zone.

It listed the functions of the SHC as including to harmonize and fuse the structures of legacy Parties into one united, strong and vibrant APC Party in an atmosphere of peace and harmony; Organize and hold meetings of the Party at all levels in the State (that is polling units, wards, LGA, Area Council and State); And to embark on massive mobilization, coordination and consolidation of members into the Party in accordance with stipulated guidelines issued by National interim EXCO.

APC said the SHC shall also take inventory of existing assets of legacy Parties across the State, harmonize same for the effective establishment of the Party structure in all polling units, wards,

Local Government and State in accordance with the directive and guidelines from the National Interim EXCO, and ensure effective implementation of the registration process, such that all persons desiring registration into the Party are afforded the right to be so registered in accordance with the directives from the National Interim EXCO.

”This Committee shall be answerable and report to the Interim National EXCO of its decisions and steps taken in the performance of the assignment through the National Vice Chairman of the zone,” the party said.

Congo Government Troops Retake Territory Left By Rebels

Congolese government troops have re-occupied eastern towns for the first time in eight months after rebels weakened by an internal power struggle withdrew and turned their weapons on each other.

The advance is the first significant progress by Congo’s army since a series of defeats last year, but raises fears of fresh clashes with M23 fighters who are intent on reclaiming the same areas after peace talks stalled.

Government troops moved into the towns of Rutshuru and Kiwanja on Friday night to protect the population from bandits and armed groups who had taken advantage of the M23 rebel pullout to prey on civilians, a spokesman for the army said.

“Since last night, those areas are under government control. (M23) left those areas and it is for us, the regular forces to take our responsibilities and secure them … against the pillaging, rape and killings,” Colonel Olivier Hamuli told Reuters by telephone.

Hamuli said there were no immediate plans to move against nearby M23 positions but the rebels accused the government of “pure provocation” and said their forces were en route to re-occupy the same zones.

“There is a risk (of clashes) because the government has left its positions and come to provoke us. M23 warns Kinshasa and the international community that anything that happens now is the government’s responsibility,” said Colonel Vianney Kazarama, M23 spokesman.

Eastern Congo has been ravaged by war and banditry for two decades, leaving millions dead through violence and disease. Civilians are regularly caught in the crossfire between armed groups and the country’s notoriously ill-disciplined army.

POWER STRUGGLE

Until internal divisions manifested themselves this week in violent clashes between different factions, M23 controlled vast swathes of territory and last November briefly seized Goma, capital of North Kivu province.

The split reflects a power struggle between the group’s military high command and the renegade general Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.

Ntaganda defected from the Congolese army to M23 last April, taking hundreds of fighters with him and helping fuel the eastern rebellion.

In a separate communique late on Friday, M23 said Ntaganda and the movement’s ousted political head were hiding in the dense forests of Virunga National Park after a failed attack on M23 positions.

“Firm and precise instructions have been given to our forces to capture (them) so that they can answer for their acts,” said the communique, signed by M23’s military commander Sultani Makenga.

A spokesman for the faction loyal to Ntaganda, Colonel Seraphin Mirindi, denied they had fled into the forest, saying they were just north of Goma.

He also accused Makenga of planning a deal with the Congolese army, something Kinshasa has repeatedly said it would not consider.

“If they’re going to make an alliance and attack us we will defend ourselves, and we know how to do that, we’re used to it,” he added.