DRC's Tshisekedi wants 'reduced and better armed' UN peacekeepers

1 day 19 hours ago

The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi says his government will work with the United Nations to draw up a withdrawal plan for the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission.

Relations between MONUSCO and DRC’s government during Kabila’s tenure were tense, and the latter consistently called for the implementation of a 2010 resolution that ‘required the United Nations Secretary General to prepare a withdrawal plan’.

Tshisekedi’s take on MONUSCO

In his first formal meeting with diplomats held on Friday, Tshisekedi called for a “better armed” UN peacekeeping force that can operate in the restive parts of DRC.

He reiterated his predecessor’s position that it was time to draw up a withdrawal plan for the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission, which has been present in DRC for 20 years.

Tshisekedi, who was inaugurated last month says the UN troops “should be reduced and better armed and prepared” to fight the numerous rebel and militia groups which hold sway over large areas of the country.


Has up to 17,000 members
One of the biggest UN peacekeeping missions in the world
Created in 1999 during second Congo War (operating in DRC for 20 years now)

Has annual budget of $1.153 billion

Tshisekedi said he wanted a mutual exchange with diplomats and foreign allies “as soon as possible,” but underscored Kinshasa would “protect its political independence… and sovereignty.”

ALSO READ: Did DRC president ask EU to lift sanctions on Kabila appointees?


Zimbabwe: 8 gold miners rescued on Saturday

1 day 21 hours ago

In Zimbabwe, the rescue of eight illegal miners on Saturday renewed hope for about 70 people who were earlier this week trapped in flooded shafts, in accident that the government has declared a disaster.

The accident in Battlefields, 175 km (109 miles) west of Harare, happened on Tuesday night and has shone a light on the dangers facing illegal gold miners, who last year contributed a large part of Zimbabwe’s record 33 tonne bullion output.

“So far we have managed to bring out eight miners alive and we are yet to assess and find any more people down there who are still alive,” Tapererwa Paswavaviri, the government deputy chief mining engineer told reporters at the accident scene.

The miners, who were covered in mud, were whisked away by officials before speaking to reporters. Rescuers briefly stopped operations due to rain.

State of disaster declared

Local Government Minister July Moyo said in a statement on Friday the government had declared the incident a disaster and that up to 70 people could have been trapped in the pits.

The government has launched an appeal for $200,000 to be used “to pump out water, feeding the bereaved families and the (rescue) teams on the ground, transportation and burial of the victims”, he said.

“Given the magnitude of this disaster, we kindly appeal to individuals, development partners and the corporate world for assistance in cash and kind,” he said.

Anxious relatives and other miners have continued to camp at the mining site hoping to see their colleagues amid frustration that the rescue process was taking too long.

Artisanal mining

Battlefields and surrounding areas are rich in gold deposits and popular with artisanal miners, known locally as “Makorokoza” or hustlers, who use picks and shovels and generator-powered water pumps. The makeshift shafts and tunnels can easily collapse in the rainy season when the ground is soft.

The pits are dotted around a clearing some 8 km from the main dirt road. On the edges are shacks made of plastic which serve as accommodation for those digging for gold.

Artisanal mining is not banned outright in Zimbabwe, although it is largely unregulated.

A study by parliament cited by the state-owned Herald showed that artisanal and small-scale miners may have contributed more than half the 24.8 tonnes of gold Zimbabwe produced in 2017.

The country also has valuable platinum, diamond, gold, coal and copper deposits.


The Long Road Home – Tom Secker on Fortress on a Hill

1 day 22 hours ago
I recently joined Henri of Fortress on a Hill to discuss the National Geographic drama series The Long Road Home, in light of the over 400 pages of documents that I obtained detailing the US Army's support for the show. We discussed the inaccuracies, misrepresentations and in some cases downright deceits prevalent throughout the series, how it wavers between realism and magical drama, and its treatment of the anti-war/peace movement.

(Read more...)


OLF rebels in Ethiopia give up arms: Oromo officials

1 day 22 hours ago

Authorities in Ethhiopia’s Oromia state say up to 1,000 fighters with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebel group have given up arms and entered rehabilitation camps.

Popular among the largest ethnic group, the Oromo, the OLF fell out with the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in 1992 and soon began launching armed attacks.

Last year, reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed removed the OLF from a list of terror organisations, and after peace talks in Eritrea’s capital Asmara, the group’s exiled leadership made a triumphant return home.

The deal between the government and OLF has run into trouble recently, with Addis Ababa deploying soldiers against armed members of the group it claimed were robbing banks and attacking residents in the remote west of the country.

The OLF denied this, and has accused the government of failing to meet its promise of integrating its combatants into the armed forces.

“Parts of Oromia regional state, which had been suffering from unrest, are returning to normalcy, with OLF fighters giving up their arms and re-integrating back to their local communities,” Admasu Damtwe, head of communications for Oromia, told state media on Thursday evening.

ALSO READ: Ethiopia’s Oromia state signs ceasefire deal with OLF

“The insecurity in parts of Oromia where OLF fighters used to operate had led to the suspension of basic government services including education, but now with OLF fighters abandoning armed struggle, the government can focus now on development works,” he added.

His claim has not been confirmed by the OLF.

The Oromos are the largest of Ethiopia’s some 80 ethnic groups, with 35 percent of the nation’s nearly 80 million inhabitants.

After the fall of Ethiopia’s Marxist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991, the OLF was part of the country’s transitional government.

But after numerous disputes with the leadership it quit and demanded the creation of the independent state of Oromia.


DRC's UDPS warns Belgium against any destabilisation

1 day 23 hours ago

Democratic Republic of Congo, ruling party of the new President Félix Tshisekedi has warned Belgium against any destabilisation in a speech marking the 37th anniversary of the formation, of the UDPS, a part of the opposition party.

Jean Marc Kabund, President of the UDPS said they they will not accept injunctions, intimidation or predation of their natural resources.

“If today Belgium becomes the den of all those who want to destabilize the country, of all those who are tempted by rebellion, or by uprisings in the country, we warn them,” said Jean Marc Kabund, President of the UDPS.

“Because we now have the supreme magistracy. This proves that the struggle we have fought for 37 years has really paid off. We have the power, we have the supreme magistracy,” said – Benoît Langola, activist.

Former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba and former Katanga Governor Moïse Katumbi live in Belgium. They had supported the other opposition candidate Martin Fayulu in the presidential election, who is challenging Tshisekedi’s election and claiming victory.

Since his inauguration on January 24, President Tshisekedi has developed a speech on the establishment of the rule of law and national reconciliation.

On the way to a rally in Butembo in North Kivu on Friday, Opposition leader Martin Fayulu repeated that he had been “robbed of victory”.

Since his inauguration on 24 January, President Tshisekedi has developed a need on the establishment of the rule of law and national reconciliation.

Kabund also referred to the still-deferred funeral of Tshisekedi’s father and founder of the UDPS, Etienne Tshisekedi, who died on February 1, 2017 in Brussels, where his remains are still being held.

“The new government must take office. Be patient. We will bury him with all honours.” he noted.


Nigeria poll delay: Atiku, Buhari urge voters to 'remain calm'

1 day 23 hours ago

INEC explains postponement

In its meeting with stakeholders on Saturday, INEC explained that delays in transporting electoral material were the reason behind the poll extension.

INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu insisted that the commission was not under any external pressure to postpone the vote.

“Our decision was entirely taken by the commission. It has nothing to do with security, nothing to do with political influence, nothing to do with availability of resources,” Yakubu told a gathering of foreign election observers and reporters.

Yakubu also said an audit would be conducted since some sensitive election material had been distributed but had since been returned to the central bank.

Asked whether candidates can resume efforts to canvass for votes, Yakubu said campaigns remain closed.

Frustrated Nigerians

In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, people gathered for morning prayers after which they had planned to vote.

“We are disappointed and deeply pained by the postponement of the election. We spent our all night without sleeping hoping to vote today and just hearing the news that the election was been postponed,” said one worshipper, Auwolu Usman.

Kabiru Sale, 27, who sells oil in the northern city of Kano, said the move took him by surprise.

“I am not happy with the suspension. I had already gone out to cast my vote only to be told on the way about the suspension. I do not really understand why they suspended the election,” he said.

Reactions from main political parties

The chairman of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondu, said the move was “dangerous to our democracy and unacceptable”.

He said it was part of an attempt by Buhari to “cling on to power even when it’s obvious to him that Nigerians want him out”.

Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party also criticised the electoral commission for the delay. The president had cooperated fully with the commission to ensure it had everything it had demanded to conduct free and fair elections, it said in a statement.

Disappointed Buhari warns against civic disorder

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday expressed disappointment and dismay over the postponement of the polls, saying INEC repeatedly assured the political stakeholders of its readiness to conduct polls.

‘‘This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission,’‘ Buhari said in a statement.

We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) February 16, 2019

The president, who said he is travelling to Abuja for the INEC meeting with candidates and political parties, urged Nigerians to remain calm and refrain from civil disobedience.

Buhari and Atiku had travelled to the northern states of Katsina and Adamawa to cast their votes.

Atiku urges supporters to be patient

Nigeria’s opposition leader, Atiku Abubakar appealed to voters to be patient, following the electoral commision’s decision to delay the vote until Feb. 23.

“I’m appealing to Nigerians to please come out and vote and I’m asking them to be patient about it,” he said.

He later said Buhari’s administration was behind the delayed elections, without offering any evidence.

“By instigating this postponement, the Buhari administration hopes to disenfranchise the Nigerian electorate in order to ensure that turnout is low on the rescheduled date,” he said on Twitter.

Nigerians must frustrate their plans by coming out in even greater numbers on Saturday, 23 February and Saturday, 9 March respectively.— Atiku Abubakar (@atiku) February 16, 2019

Africanews in Lagos

Africanews’ journalists, Jerry Bambi and Brigette Ugwe, are in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital where they are engaging voters to share their reactions and thoughts on the election postponement.

A registered voter in Falomo Under bridge Ikoyi, Lagos told our journalists that he had come as early as 6am to this polling unit and was disappointed over the postponement which he says has gulped a lot of tax payers monies.


Maxwell , a registered voter in Falomo Under bridge Ikoyi Lagos, had come as early as 6am to this polling unit.

He is disappointed over the postponement which he says has cost the taxpayer a lot of money.

Reports from jerrybambi1 and Nigeriasinsight pic.twitter.com/5wbnDqaL1z— africanews (@africanews) February 16, 2019

Social media reactions

Several Nigerians took to social media to express their disappointment and frustration with INEC, pointing out that the commission had four years to organise for the election, and waited until citizens had travelled and committed the day to voting, before announcing the poll delay.

Hashtags like #ThisIsNigeria, #electionpostponed, #CoupAgainstNigeria and Canada were used to capture these reactions.

READ MORE: Nigeria’s voters frustrated by election postponement

INEC postpones elections

Five hours before polls would open for Nigeria’s presidential election on Saturday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced a postponement of the polls, citing logistical challenges.

“Following a careful review of the implementation of this logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the election as scheduled is no longer feasible,” INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu told journalists.

Breaking News: The #NigeriaDecides2019 Elections now to hold on; 23rd February, 2019 for Presidential and National Assembly while the Governorship, State House of Assembly and the FCT Area Council Elections is to hold on 9th March, 2019. pic.twitter.com/6zhvBLQe2a— INEC Nigeria (@inecnigeria) February 16, 2019

‘‘Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23rd February 2019. Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019.’‘

READ MORE: Nigeria Presidential election postponed due to logistics

Presidential elections in 2011 and 2015 were also delayed over logistics and security issues.

Nigeria is also dealing with pockets of instability and past elections have been marred by violence, intimidation and ballot rigging. Authorities had bolstered security in much of the country.

Dozens of policemen and other security forces were deployed from police headquarters in Maiduguri, the capital of northeast Borno state that has been worst hit by the Boko Haram militant group and its offshoot, Islamic State in West Africa Province.

The president’s spokesman said INEC was expected to hold a meeting at 2pm local time (1300 GMT).


Voters use #ThisIsNigeria to voice disappointment over poll delay

2 days 1 hour ago

Several Nigerians have taken to social media to express their disappointment with the electoral commission’s decision to postpone the national elections, which were scheduled to begin today.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued a statement in the early hours of Saturday morning, saying it had come the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.

INEC cited logistical constraints that could come in the way of conducting free, fair and credible elections.

READ MORE: Nigeria Presidential election postponed due to logistics

Social media reactions

Reactions on social media were laced with anger, frustration and disappointment with the country’s electoral commission.

INEC was blasted for at least three main reasons;

Election was postponed in 2011, 2015 and now 2019
INEC repeatedly said they were ready, and not considering a postponement

INEC announced postponement on Saturday morning after most people had already travelled and committed the day to vote

#ThisIsNigeria To be very honest I am very disappointed at the level non chalancy displayed by inec .It is very appalling that a country such as Nigeria can not do anything right for once.A lot of people have spent their time,money and energy in ensuring they procure their PVC,

— Dr. Uduma (beethovenic7) February 16, 2019

I cannot hide my disappointment in INEC but one thing I know for a certain, Nigeria will be great again in my lifetime. #ThisIsNigeria— Gospel Igboro (@lase_official) February 16, 2019

He thought he had it all under control. Until the Cabal dialed his number. #NigeriaDecides2019#RejectBuhari#RejectElectionPostponement#ThisIsNigeria pic.twitter.com/M1HxccSiKV— Mr_Izrael ?? (@Israelbaiye) February 16, 2019

This is unbelievable?, postponing a whole presidential election on election day??. After all preparation, has Buhari travelled for emergency health care again #ThisIsNigeria pic.twitter.com/9HGSZ7xKdL— chuksfavourite (@OgoOn80) February 16, 2019

Welcome to NIGERIA – where elections are postponed few hours to voting.#ThisIsNigeria #INEC pic.twitter.com/DdThL3kAvZ— Collins Offiong (@CollinsOffiong1) February 16, 2019

SUGGESTED READING: Nigeria’s remake of ‘This is America’ music video goes viral


‘I’d take the wall down’: 2020 hopeful O’Rourke says he’d ‘absolutely’ knock US-Mexico barrier

2 days 2 hours ago

Preview Failed Texas Senate candidate and likely presidential contender Beto O’Rourke said he would “take the (border) wall down,” becoming the first potential 2020 challenger to embrace the open borders rhetoric of the Democratic left.
Read Full Article at RT.com


Nigeria Presidential election postponed due to logistics

2 days 3 hours ago

Nigeria’s presidential election, which was due to be held on Saturday has been postponed by a week, the chairman of the country’s electoral commission said hours before polls were due to open.

Addressing journalists in the early hours of Saturday, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Mahmood Yakubu said the delay was needed to hold a free and fair election.

“Following a careful review of the implementation of this logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the election as scheduled is no longer feasible,” he added.

INEC in a statement said following a careful review of the implementation of ots logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the electionzs as scheduled is no longer feasible.

He said the commission would later in the day be meeting with key stakeholders at the International Conference Centre, Abuja to discuss issues surrounding the development.

“Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23rd February 2019. Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019. This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections,” he said.

Nigeria's presidential election, due on Saturday, now postponed to February 23 – Electoral Commission chairman pic.twitter.com/Ewe9y4G0zq— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) February 16, 2019

President Muhammadu Buhari faces a tight election contest in Africa’s largest economy, top oil producer and most populous nation against the main opposition candidate, businessman and former vice president Atiku Abubakar.

The country’s presidential elections in 2011 and 2015 were also delayed over logistics and security issues.


Nigeria's suspended chief justice charged over assets declaration breach

2 days 3 hours ago

A tribunal on Friday charged Nigeria’s suspended chief judge for breaching asset declaration rules but adjourned his trial until after Saturday’s presidential elections.

The government has come under criticism and accusations of meddling in the judiciary after President Muhammadu Buhari last month suspended Walter Onnoghen, raising fears of interference in the elections.

The tribunal adjourned Onnoghen’s trial to March 11. Saturday’s vote is expected to be tight between Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president.

Nigeria’s chief judge has a key say in resolving electoral disputes, and Onnoghen’s suspension has led opponents of Buhari to accuse him of interfering in the electoral process and of showing regional and religious favouritism. The European Union and the United States have also voiced concerns.

Onnoghen appeared before the code of conduct tribunal (CCT) for the first time on Friday and pleaded not guilty to a six-count charge including non-disclosure of his assets after he became the chief judge.


25 minutes 37 seconds ago
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