Jonathan, N’guesso Urge African Leaders To Intensify Efforts To Eradicate Terrorism

President Goodluck Jonathan and President Denis Sassou N’guesso of the Republic of Congo Tuesday called on African leaders, the African Union and its Peace and Security Council to intensify efforts aimed at the eradication of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the continent.

In a communiqué issued at the end of President Jonathan’s visit to Congo for consultations on regional security ahead of the tomorrow’s meeting of the  African Union’s Peace and Security Council in the Congolese town, both leaders reiterated their condemnation of the mass abduction of college girls from Chibok and demanded the unconditional liberation of the girls and all others being held against their will by Boko Haram.

Expressing their full appreciation of the international community’s support for Nigeria’s efforts to locate and rescue the abducted girls, President Jonathan and his Congolese counterpart urged the global community to remain united and steadfast in its rejection of all forms of terrorism.

At the regional level, both Presidents exprboko-haram-2essed their support for all initiatives aimed at restoring peace and normalcy to the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

They also welcomed the ceasefire agreement in South Sudan and urged both parties to the conflict to respect the commitments they made in Addis Ababa on May 9, 2014.

President Jonathan who has since returned to Abuja received the outgoing High Commissioner of Gambia in Nigeria, Mrs. Angela Colley-Iheme Tuesday afternoon at the Presidential Villa.

The President commended Mrs. Colley-Iheme for her tireless efforts to maintain and enhance the long-standing cordial relations between Nigeria and Gambia and wished her success in her future endeavours.

Mrs. Colley-Iheme thanked the President, the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria for the full support, cooperation and affection she enjoyed during her five and half years tenure in the country.

She also expressed her government’s appreciation of Nigeria’s continued support and assistance for development in Gambia.

South Sudan Deploys Army To Guard U.N. Base After Attack Kills Dozens

south sudanSouth Sudan sent troops to secure a United Nations base after armed civilians fired on displaced tribes people sheltering there, in an attack that killed at least 48, the President’s spokesman said on Friday.

Locals pretending to be peaceful protesters delivering a petition forced their way into the camp on Thursday and opened fire before being beaten back by UN security personnel (UNMISS).

“The Army has come in now. They have been ordered to protect UNMISS so there will be no attack from anybody,” President Salva Kiir’s spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, told Reuters by phone.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than one million displaced since fighting erupted in South Sudan in the middle of December, triggered by a power struggle between Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.

The conflict in Africa’s newest state took on a tribal dimension as Kiir’s Dinka fought Machar’s Nuer for control of strategic towns before a ceasefire was signed on January 23.

Sporadic clashes between both sides after the ceasefire deal erupted into full-blown combat this week, when the rebels seized control of Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity State.

Thursday’s attack on the U.N. base at Bor, some 120 miles north of the capital of Juba, was blamed on locals who were seeking to punish the Nuer for the loss of Bentiu.

“Those internally displaced people in Bor from the Nuer community were celebrating the capture of Bentiu by the rebels and this angered the local community,” Ateny said.

The Dinkas are the predominant group in the area.

The locals went to the base to demand the relocation of the 5,000 Nuer living there and were dispersed by UN personnel before regrouping nearby and launching the attack, he said.

The Acting Spokesman for UNMISS, Joe Contreras, said that security had been stepped up in their bases around the country – where tens of thousands are sheltering – and urged South Sudan to investigate the attack and prosecute the assailants.

No one has been arrested over the attack, pending completion of investigations, Information Minister, Michael Makuei, told Reuters.

The conflict has disrupted oil production, which provides most government revenue. The rebels warned oil firms to pack up and leave within a week after they recaptured Bentiu on Tuesday.

Cheering News From South-Sudan As Boko Haram Strikes In Nigeria

While all the crisis and controversies around the continent of Africa continues, it’s been a rather bloody week in Nigeria, just when the country was celebrating 100 years of its existence.

The Boko Haram sect struck again, and 29 students in Yobe State, Nigeria were killed by members of the sect.

The insurgents reportedly arrived at the college at about 3:00am in 11 Hilux vans when the pupils were already asleep on Tuesday, February 26.

They were said to have set locked hostels on fire, before shooting and slitting the throats of those who tried to climb out of the windows. Some were burnt alive.

There has, however, been a case of conflicting death toll. While the Yobe State Police Commissioner, Mr. Sanusi Rufai said that Boko Haram members killed 29 of the students, an official at the specialist hospital Damaturu, Bala Ajiya, told Reuters by telephone that the death toll had actually risen to 59.

In other parts of Africa, South Sudan is in grave danger of being jeopardized based on incessant brutal attacks on medical facilities, especially because both patients and staff are being targeted.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been effectively denied lifesaving assistance, as fighting between the government and rebels since mid-December has displaced about 860,000 people in total. We take a look at the town of Malakal, which has literally become a shadow of itself.

We also take a look at Uganda after it chose to take the moral route and signed an anti-gay bill into law despite warnings from Washington. The law, which toughens penalties for gay people does have some consequences though and that includes jeopardizing foreign aid, with many critics, particularly in the west, but we focus on how Ugandans feel about it.

Updates From Egypt

An Egyptian court has sentenced 26 people to death for founding a “terror group” with the aim of attacking ships using the Suez Canal. The men were also accused of manufacturing missiles and explosives.

The sentencing came after the new Prime Minister Designate, Ibrahim Mahlab, vowed he would “crush terrorism in all the corners of the country”.

Mr Mahlab has been put in charge of forming a new government following the surprise resignation of Interim Prime Minister, Hazem Beblawi and his cabinet.

Also in Egypt, it’s been a year since a hot air balloon caught fire and plummeted to the ground on February 26, 2013 and a special ceremony was put together in the Egyptian city of Luxor to remember the 19 people killed.

The ultimatum given by an alleged terrorist group called Ansar Al Maqdes, which warned all foreign tourists to leave Egypt, has not been taken for granted by the Egyptian government. It opted to beef up security while some of the tourists remained defiant in the face of terror.

Meanwhile, despite the terrible state of things in South Sudan, there is some positive news. Children who have gone through a difficult period in the last few months after fighting broke out in their homes have been brought together by the United Nations.

This was done to re-establish contact between the children and their parents so as to bring them back together.

Network Africa: Tension, Threats And Unrest, Egyptians Find The Funny Side Of Life

In spite of the concerns raised by the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, over the Boko Haram insurgents, the Federal Government of Nigeria remains optimistic and has given the assurance that its war against terror is being won and there’s no need to panic.

At a news conference in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, revealed that the military was fully equipped to deal with security threats in the country’s North East.

In South Sudan, it’s starting to look like a case of one step forward two steps back; as fighting has broken out in Upper Nile State, making this the first major clash since the Government and rebels signed a ceasefire agreement in January.

Both sides have accused each other of starting the violence in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State. We speak to Philip Aguer, the SPLA spokesperson who is currently in Malakal to give us more details on the situation there.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, the search for gold has led to the death of at least 3 people and the arrest of about 22. The bodies of three illegal miners have been discovered at a disused mine, East of Johannesburg. The abandoned mine is in the same area where more than 20 illegal miners were recently rescued after being trapped underground for several days.

Network Africa also finds out if Uganda would be joining the likes of Nigeria, Angola, Burundi and well over a score of countries who have got anti-gay laws in place by not succumbing to the pressure of Washington, which does not support the move, or would they bow to the pressure from Washington not to sign the Anti-Gay Bill into law?

 Across Africa

We also bring you a couple of stories which made headlines in Africa this week, starting with former Rwandan Mayor, Onesphore Rwa-Bu-Kom-Be, who got sentenced by a German court for his role in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

The head of the UN Refugee Agency in Liberia is concerned about the alleged “forced deportation” of 14 Ivorian refugees.

Lawyers for deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have walked out of his trial on charges of espionage and conspiring to commit acts of terror. Mr Morsi was put in the soundproof cage in recent appearances to prevent him shouting and disrupting proceedings.

The defendants have said they cannot follow proceedings because of the cage, but the judge insisted that headphones installed inside the dock would allow them to listen.

The Egyptian Prime Minister, Hazem Beblawi, has confirmed that Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula are becoming a threat to foreign tourists, and they are not leaving anything to chance concerning an apparent ultimatum given by Islamist militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis for tourists to leave the country. We bring you a chat with Elizabeth Arrott of the Voice of America, who is in Cairo for a clearer understanding of the situation.

Egyptian Comedy Club

Despite the tension, threats and unrest, some Egyptians have embraced the funny side of life. An Egyptian comedy club is giving new talent a platform to perform and introduce them to the international world of stand-up.

It was founded by Hashem El Garhy and its called ‘Al Hezb El Comedy’ meaning ‘The Comedy Party’. It remains the only existing comedy platform in Egypt, which offers aspiring comedians room to perform.

Enjoy this episode of Network Africa.

Jonathan Commissions Ultra-Modern Market In Abuja

The Federal Government has demonstrated a determination to partner with the private sector in the provision of essential infrastructural projects that are beneficial to the Nigerian people.

The government validated this commitment by its commissioning of an ultra-modern market in the Federal Capital Territory on Thursday.

President Goodluck Jonathan described trade as the lifeline of every economy and that his administration was poised to do all in its powers to ensure that markets across the country are modernised with good facilities to complement the urban needs of the citizens.

He said that Abuja must be made an enviable city that Nigerians can be proud of, and called on the private sector not to relent in supporting the administration to succeed.

The ultra-modern market, located in the Wuye district of the Federal Capital Territory, occupies a large expanse of land and is said to be the first of its kind in West Africa. It was constructed under the ‘build, operate and transfer’ arrangement.

It has 2,000 shops, some in duplex, comprising of courtyards, warehouses, cold rooms, clinic and banking facilities, police and fire stations, refuse dumps, mosques and a chapel.

The President, who was at the commissioning in company of the first lady, described the market as a New Year gift to market women. He observed that growth in the country comes from internal trade, which requires government action.

He was joined by the first lady for the commissioning proper, as well as the unveiling of the block named after her in the market.

The Minister Of Trade and Investments, Olusegun Aganga, and that of the FCT, Bala Mohammed, expressed their excitement that the project was in line with the domestic policy of  the government, promising to replicate it across the country.

The President of the Market Women Association, Eugienia Sanni, said that the women, who are also the developers, were happy for the new development, appreciating the government for involving them in the construction of the market.

The ceremony drew the attendance of Nigerians cutting across all spheres of the society – politicians, market women, and government officials, captains of industries and officials of organized labour.

The modern market project started in 2004 and was completed 10years after.

Network Africa: Diary Of Crisis And Steps Towards Political Solution

This edition of Network Africa is all about defection, crisis, steps towards political solution and paying respects to victims of the holocaust.

In Nigeria, the leader of the opposition, All Progressives Congress and former Governor Of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, has defected to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.

The former presidential candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, in the 2011 elections was also a founding member of the APC.

We also look at what’s happening in South Sudan where former vice president, who is also the rebel leader, Riek Machar, says the treason charges laid up against him and his allies are simply baseless.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is of the opinion that if the least bit of calm is to be restored to the Central African Republic, that would come at the price of 10 000 troops. About a million people have fled their homes during months of religious violence, after rebels seized power last March.

In Egypt, 20 journalists are facing charges. 16 are Egyptians accused of belonging to a “terrorist organisation” and 4 are foreigners accused of assisting it – 2 Britons, a Dutch national and an Australian. We seek what journalists have to say about press freedom being in jeopardy in Egypt.

We go to Libya, where the Acting Interior Minister, Al-Sidik Abdul-Karim, has escaped an assassination attempt in the capital, Tripoli. We also stopped by at Malawi where the first two out of 70 defendants are appearing in court over the up to 100 million dollars which was allegedly stolen from government funds in the biggest corruption scandal in Malawian history.

Finally, we bring news from Yemen, where the French authorities have charged Yemenia Airways with manslaughter over a 2009 crash, off the Comoros Islands that killed 152 people.

Despite all the challenges crisis facing Africa, there’s still hope, as 25 year-old Mandla Maseko, has won a competition organised by US-based space academy and he has won a return ticket to outer space, making him  the first black African to make the trip.

Network Africa attended an event in Lagos; to mark January 27, a highly symbolic day which the United Nations sets aside annually to remember the 6 million Jewish lives which were lost in the space of a decade during the holocaust.

Enjoy this edition of Network Africa.

Jonathan Advocates Strengthening Of AU Mechanisms For Conflict Prevention

President Goodluck Jonathan has advocated urgent action to strengthen existing African Union mechanisms for the promotion of peace, security and political stability in Africa.

Delivering Nigeria’s Statement on Peace and Security in Africa at the 22nd Summit of African Union Heads of State and Government which opened in the Ethiopian capital,  President Jonathan said that while the recent crises in South Sudan and the Central African Republic have reinforced the urgency of establishing the proposed African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), instruments within the current African Peace and security Architecture must, in the interim, be activated to prevent the degeneration of conflicts into warfare.

“Although we have agreed on the establishment of the ACIRC as an interim arrangement, pending the operationalization of the African Standby Force by 2015, it must be said that the present situation provides us the opportunity to review the existing mechanisms for conflict prevention in order to make them very effective.

“Mechanisms such as the Continental Early Warning System, the Panel of the Wise and the Military Staff Committee, have not been adequately utilized to achieve the objectives for which they were established. It is important to note that their timely intervention in situations of emerging conflict, will contribute in preventing conflagration. The reconstitution of the Panel of the Wise provides us the opportunity to re-energise the body with men and women of cognate experience in peace-building and mediation.

“We should not allow the recent economic gains that Africa is making to be frittered away. As we articulate our Agenda 2063, the entrenchment of sustainable peace and security should be a major preoccupation if we are to achieve the Africa of our dream and be able to bequeath to future generations an Africa that is peaceful, buoyant, strong and a leading player in world affairs,” President Jonathan said.

The President told the gathering that in furtherance of its commitment to the promotion of peace and security in Africa, Nigeria will host an International Conference on Peace and Security in Abuja as part of its Centenary Celebrations on February 27, this year.

“The Summit will provide the opportunity for discussing the present critical issue of insecurity in our continent and proffer practical ideas and approaches for confronting it. I have already extended invitations to you, Your Excellencies and I look forward to receiving you in Abuja,” he told the gathering of African Heads of State and Government.

South Sudan Must Address Issues of Ethnicity To End Crisis

A former Nigerian Ambassador to Liberia, Adeboyega Ariyo, has said that his predictions about South Sudan at the point of secession are coming to pass, a situation he expresses sadness about.

Speaking to Channels Television, Ambassador Ariyo pointed out that the crisis was likely to continue, as more ethnic groups were likely to arise and claim their rights.

“The cause of the crisis is ethnicity and it must be addressed. Every man wants to be at the top.

“I predicted that if the South Sudan breaks away from Sudan, they will have ethnic challenges and it will lead to more countries coming out from Sudan,”

“I am not happy that what I suggested will happen is now happening just within two years I predicted it will happen. We should be coming together and not splitting into pieces. The smaller we are individually, the less important we are in the scheme of things,” he stated.

The ambassador pointed out that the persons that called for the secession took a lot of things for granted.

“They did not consider the right of any group to develop to higher level of state of things and their economic right.

“It would have been better if southern Sudan was not created. They should have found an accommodation to solve the problem of Sudan,” he stressed.

He listed the problems of Arabism and territorial democracy as the major issues Sudan had, saying that Sudan should have tackled the problems instead of the secession.

He called on the negotiators to address the issues of ethnicity, before other ethnic groups come up to claim their rights.

“Most of the referendum that ought to have been done is left undone,” he pointed out.

Ambassador Ariyo called on the international community come to the realisation that breaking African countries would create more problems for the continent.

Fighting Erupts In South Sudan Flashpoint Town, Sanctions Loom

South Sudanese forces fought rebels on the outskirts of the flashpoint town of Bor on Tuesday, its mayor said, as a deadline imposed by East African nations for an end to hostilities neared.

Two weeks of fighting have killed more than a thousand people in the world’s youngest country, raising the specter of civil war and unnerving oil markets.

The African Union threatened targeted sanctions late on Monday against those inciting the violence and hampering international efforts to negotiate an end to the fighting that risks drawing in the wider region.

“We are fighting the rebels now,” Mayor Nhial Majak Nhial told Reuters by phone from the edge of Bor, which lies 190 km (120 miles) to the north of the capital, Juba, by road.

Nhial said he was positioned on the frontline. As he spoke he barked orders to the government soldiers around him.

“Go, go. Do it,” he shouted, with sustained volleys of gunfire audible in the background.

The clashes erupted on December 15 with fighting among a group of soldiers in the capital, Juba. The violence quickly spread to half of the country’s ten states, cleaving the nation along the ethnic faultline of rebel leader Riek Machar’s Nuer group and President Salva Kiir’s Dinka.

The scene of a massacre of Dinka in 1991 by Nuer fighters loyal to Machar, Bor is inaccessible to journalists. It was briefly seized by the rebels early in the conflict before being retaken by government troops after several days of heavy fighting.

South Sudan’s neighbors have given the warring factions until the end of Tuesday to lay down their arms and begin negotiations – but there has been no sign of the hostilities ending.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Monday east African nations had agreed to move in and defeat former Vice President Machar if he rejected a government ceasefire offer. There was no immediate confirmation of the pact from other nations.

But Museveni’s words demonstrated the scale of regional worry over the fighting, that has reached some of South Sudan’s oil fields, forcing a cut in output.

At a meeting in Gambia in West Africa, the AU said it was dismayed and disappointed by the bloodletting that comes two years after South Sudan won independence from its northern neighbor, Sudan.

“(Council) expresses its intention to take appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against all those who incite violence, including along ethnic lines, continue hostilities (and) undermine the envisaged inclusive dialogue,” the AU’s Peace and Security Council said.

South Sudan Agrees Truce After Meeting In Nairobi

East African leaders who are meeting in Nairobi have said that the government of South Sudan has agreed to an immediate end to fighting with rebels.

Welcoming the commitment from President Salva ‘s government, they urged rebel leader Riek Machar to do likewise, as fighting continued.

Mr Machar however told BBC News that conditions for a truce were not yet in place.  Although, he confirmed that two of his allies had been freed from custody, he called for the other nine to be released too.

The release of the 11 politicians, accused of plotting a coup, has been a key rebel condition for any negotiations.

Recent fighting left at least 1,000 people dead, with fierce new battles reported in the town of Malakal, in oil-rich Upper Nile State.

More than 121,600 people have fled their homes in the world’s newest state, with about 63,000 seeking refuge at UN compounds across the country, according to a statement by the United Nations.

There has been no confirmation from President Kiir’s office that he has agreed to end the hostilities in his power struggle with Mr Machar, his former vice-president, where members of Mr Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group and Mr Machar’s Nuer community have both been targeted in the violence.

East African regional leaders, who make up an eight-member bloc known as IGAD, held talks in the Kenyan capital Nairobi a day after the leaders of Kenya and Ethiopia met Mr Kiir in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

They said they would not accept a violent overthrow of the government in South Sudan and called on the government and rebels to meet for talks within four days.

President Kiir did not attend the talks in Nairobi nor did any representative of Mr Machar.

After meeting Mr Kiir on Friday morning, US envoy Donald Booth said: “He confirmed he is moving forward to arrange a cessation of hostilities throughout the country.”

The US diplomat was also quoted by Reuters News Agency as saying Mr Kiir had agreed to release eight out of 11 politicians detained over the alleged coup plot.

“We were very encouraged to hear the president reiterate that with the exception of three… officials who have been detained… the others will be released very shortly,” Mr Booth said, according to Reuters.

Speaking to BBC World Service by satellite phone “from the bush”, Mr Machar said he was ready for talks but any ceasefire had to be negotiated by delegations from the two sides, with a mechanism agreed to monitor it.

Saying that he had the allegiance of all rebel forces in South Sudan, he called for the release of all 11 detainees.

Violence has continued through the week with conflicting reports on Friday about the situation in Malakal, capital of Upper Nile State, where some 12,000 people have been sheltering at a UN base.

South Sudan President Suspends Two Ministers In Fraud Inquiry

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has suspended two key ministers in a fraud investigation, the government said on Wednesday.

Western donors have warned South Sudan’s government that aid payments are at risk unless it tackles the corruption undermining development in a country devastated from decades of civil war with Sudan, from which it seceded in 2011.

Last year, Kiir wrote to 75 current and former officials to ask them to return $4 billion in “stolen” public money, but no senior figure had been publicly put under investigation until now.

Kiir has now lifted the immunity of Cabinet Affairs Minister Deng Alor Kuol and Finance Minister Kosti Manibe Ngai and suspended them pending an investigation into the procurement of fireproof safes for Alor’s ministry for $8 million, according to a government decree released on Wednesday.

It said the payment had been approved by the Finance Ministry, and that a high-level committee would determine whether there was “an element of fraud and forgery exercised in this process of transfer and payments”.

South Sudan has been struggling to set up functioning state institutions since gaining independence from Khartoum in 2011 under a peace deal that ended the civil war.

The government is largely made up of former rebel commanders who dislike scrutiny and have little experience of economic management. Financial oversight is weak.

Samuel Dhong, secretary-general of the South Sudan Law Society, which promotes the rule of law, welcomed the suspensions but said it remained to be seen whether the men would be charged.

“We have experienced this kind of action, but the problem is that they don’t reach a logical conclusion at the end of the day,” he said.

He pointed to an investigation led by the same committee chairman into the theft of 176,000 South Sudanese pounds (around $45,000) from Kiir’s office in March. It concluded that office staff assisted in the theft but did not name anyone.

Decades of conflict and economic neglect have left South Sudan with some of the worst health and education statistics on the planet. Few paved roads exist outside the capital Juba.

South Sudan Attack Leaves Over 100 Dead

More than 100 people have been killed in South Sudan in an attack by rebels and ethnic allies on a convoy of families from a rival tribe and their cattle, an official said on Sunday.

Since breaking from Sudan in 2011, oil-producing South Sudan has struggled to assert control over remote territories awash with weapons after a 1983-2005 war with the north and torn by ethnic rivalries.

The attack on Friday was the worst violence in Jonglei State since 900 people were killed there in tribal attacks linked to cattle rustling in 2011, the United Nations said.

Rebels loyal to former theology student David Yau Yau and members of the Murle community had killed 103 people, most of them women and children, in the ambush on ethnic Lou Nuer families, state governor Kuol Manyang said.

“They came under attack from people in a huge force,” he told Reuters. “There are many children and women missing. Their fate is not yet known.”

Fourteen soldiers escorting the convoy were also killed, he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had sent a medical team to treat the wounded.

Yau Yau rebelled in July last year. He recruited armed youths antagonized by a government campaign to end tribal violence in Jonglei, which human rights groups say was marked by abuses by soldiers.

More than 1,500 people have been killed in Jonglei since independence, according to the United Nations.

South Sudan accuses Sudan of dropping weapons and ammunition to Yau Yau’s rebels, an allegation denied by Khartoum.

The violence in Jonglei is hindering government plans to explore a major oil concession with the help of France’s Total.

 

 

South Sudan Attack Leaves More Than 100 Dead