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Congo presidential loser rejects surprise result as ‘coup’

Congo presidential loser rejects surprise result as ‘coup’
Supporters of Congo’s president-elect celebrated an unlikely win on Thursday, but the runner-up denounced a fix and France, Belgium and the Catholic Church all cast doubt on the results. 

Felix Tshisekedi. Photo: RR
Felix Tshisekedi. Photo: RR

AIWA! NO!| – Supporters of Congo’s president-elect celebrated an unlikely win on Thursday, but the runner-up denounced a fix and France, Belgium and the Catholic Church all cast doubt on the results.

A chaotic vote in the vast and volatile nation of 80 million people has raised fears of renewed violence, and at least two people were killed in clashes at one town in the west.

But most parts of the country were calm.

The electoral commission (CENI) announced around 3 a.m. (0200 GMT) that opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, 55, had won the Dec. 30 vote, edging out another opposition candidate, businessman Martin Fayulu.

Fayulu called the results an “electoral coup” engineered by outgoing President Joseph Kabila to deny him the presidency.

France said the outcome was at odds with tallies provided by observers from the Catholic Church. These showed Fayulu winning, according to three diplomats briefed on the findings.

Publicly, the church said its tally did not match official results.

Anger over the results, and particularly the Fayulu camp’s suspicions that Tshisekedi won by cutting a power-sharing deal with Kabila, could cast a cloud over what is meant to be Congo’s first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence.

Tshisekedi’s camp has acknowledged contact with Kabila’s representatives since the election but said they were aimed at ensuring a peaceful transition and denied a deal.

In contrast to previous polls, election officials did not provide a regional breakdown of the results.

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Congo opposition areas excluded from presidential election

Three Congo opposition areas excluded from presidential election
Three Congo opposition areas excluded from presidential election

Three opposition areas have been excluded from the presidential election on security and health grounds, officials said. The move is bound to inflame political tensions.

|AIWA! NO!|Three Congo opposition areas excluded from presidential election
Voters in three Congolese cities known as opposition strongholds will be excluded from presidential elections on security and health grounds, officials said, in a move that looks certain to inflame political tensions before Sunday’s ballot.

FILE PHOTO: People walk past an electoral campaign billboard of Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, former Congolese Interior Minister and now presidential candidate, in Beni, North Kivu Province of Democratic Republic of Congo, December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Samuel Mambo/File Photo

|AIWA! NO!|The electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said on Wednesday that it was postponing Sunday’s presidential and legislative elections in three cities until next March.

Two of the cities — Beni and Butembo, located in the eastern part of the central African nation — have been dealing with an Ebola outbreak since August. The third, the southwestern city of Yumbi, was the site of ethnic violence that killed more than 100 people last week.

Read more: Opinion: DR Congo election postponement deals further blow to voter confidence

Elections, which were delayed nationwide by a week earlier this month, will go ahead as planned elsewhere in the DRC. The polls, in which voters will choose a successor to longtime President Joseph Kabila, have already been delayed for more than two years. The mineral-rich country has never had a peaceful transfer of power since gaining independence in 1997.

The final results of the presidential election are set to be announced on January 15, with the new president to be sworn in on January 18. The delayed elections in Beni, Butembo and Yumbi will prevent their votes from counting in the presidential contest.Watch video03:34

People pin hopes on democracy in war-torn Congo

Targeting the opposition?

Beni and Butembo are known as hotbeds for opposition to Kabila, who has led the country for nearly two years. Leading opposition candidate Martin Fayulu had warned the electoral commission from further delaying elections in a tweet earlier Wednesday.

“The pretext of Ebola is fallacious because there has been campaigning in these areas. It’s yet another strategy to hijack the truth of the polls,” wrote Fayulu, leader of DRC’s Engagement for Citizenship and Development party.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – Congo Forest; Norwegian Government Concerned About Commercial Logging Concessions

Image result for congo basin

Earth Journalism NetworkA coalition of non-governmental organizations has called on France to end support to industrial logging in the Congo Basin.

CRIMSON TAZVINZWA|AIWA! NO!|The Norwegian government says it is taking “very seriously” evidence that the Democratic Republic of Congo is issuing new logging licenses after agreeing a $200million initiative to prevent deforestation.

The news comes despite a moratorium on new logging licences being in place in the country since 2002.

The Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) aims to limit deforestation in the world’s second largest rainforest, the Congo Basin. The deal is also backed by the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the European Union – with Norway providing the vast majority of the funding.

Image result for congo basin

EJAtlasThe Congo rainforest Copy rights: Thomas Einberger / Argum / Greenpeace

Yet materials reports suggest that the country’s former environment minister Robert Bopolo Mbongeza signed documents pledging logging concessions in northern Congo to two companies.

The vast forest of the Congo Basin is the second largest tropical rainforest on earth and the lungs of Africa. Its incredibly rich and diverse ecosystem provides food, fresh water, shelter and medicine for tens of millions of people, and is home to many critically endangered species including forest elephants, gorillas, bonobos and okapis. Of the hundreds of mammal species discovered there so far, 39 are found nowhere else on Earth, and of its estimated 10,000 plant species, 3,300 are unique to the region.

The rainforest supports an astonishing range of life, within its teeming rivers, swamps and savannahs. But it also helps to sustain life across the whole planet. An estimated 8% of the earth’s carbon that is stored in living forests worldwide is stored in the forests of the DRC, making the country the fourth largest carbon reservoir in the world. The Congo Basin rainforest plays a critical role in regulating the global climate and halting runaway climate change, for the benefit of the entire biosphere.

But the forest, and the people and animals that depend upon it, are under threat as the unquenchable global thirst for natural resources, crops and foodstuffs means African lands are, more than ever, a target for investors. The solutions to these threats lie firmly with those who live there.

Multi-million dollar fund

The Norwegian government provided $190m of the funding for the CAFI deal, with the UK backing the agreement but providing no direct funding.

Responding to the story, Lars Andreas Lunde, the state secretary of Norway’s climate and environment ministry said his government was taking the revelations “very seriously”.

“We are working with and through the secretariat of the Central African Forest Initiative to resolve this situation with DRC authorities,” he said.

“We take these revelations very seriously, and we note that the concessions were awarded by a now departed minister of environment.  We have been reassured by the DRC authorities that they will deal with this issue as quickly and decisively as possible according to their own rules and procedures.”

Around 45% of the DRC is covered by tropical rainforest, but efforts to protect the environment have been hampered by poor governancehigh poverty ratesand conflict emanating over its vast mineral resources.

World’s second largest rainforest threatened by palm oil and logging

Back in March last year, Bopolo mooted the idea of lifting the logging moratorium in DRC, but backed away after pressure from NGOs.

The Congo Basin covers five countries from west to central Africa and has been relatively untouched for years, but the region has recently become a target for palm oil companies and industrial logging.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation Report: India Most Dangerous Country in the World for Women

Here is the list of the 10 countries ranked as the most dangerous for women by a survey of global experts

Syrian refugee women react during the visit of the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil to their informal refugee camp in Arsal, near the border with Syria, east Lebanon, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 Syrian refugee women react during the visit of the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil to their informal refugee camp in Arsal, near the border with Syria, east Lebanon, Wednesday, June 13, 2018AP Photo/Hussein Malla

bY CRIMSON TAZVINZWA//India is the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman because of the high risk of sexual violence and slave labor, a new survey of experts shows. The Thomson Reuters Foundation released its results  of a survey of 550 experts on women’s issues, finding India to be the most dangerous nation for sexual violence against women, as well as human trafficking for domestic work, forced labor, forced marriage and sexual slavery, among other reasons.

It was also the most dangerous country in the world for cultural traditions that impact women, the survey found, citing acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage and physical abuse. India was the fourth most dangerous country for women in the same survey seven years ago. The Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of about 550 experts on women’s issues ranked war-torn Afghanistan and Syria in second and third place, with Somalia and Saudi Arabia next. The survey was a repeat of a similar poll in 2011 which ranked the most dangerous countries for women as Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia. It asked which five of the 193 United Nations member states were most dangerous for women and the worst for healthcare, economic resources, traditional practices, sexual and non-sexual abuse, and human trafficking.

Here is the list of the 10 countries ranked as the most dangerous for women by the survey, conducted between March 26 and May 4:

1. INDIA – Tops the list, with levels of violence against women still running high, more than five years after the rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi sparked national outrage and government pledges to tackle the issue.

India ranked as the most dangerous on three issues – the risks women face from sexual violence and harassment, from cultural and traditional practices, and from human trafficking including forced labour, sex slavery and domestic servitude.

2. AFGHANISTAN – Second in the list, with experts saying women face dire problems nearly 17 years after the overthrow of the Taliban.

Ranked as the most dangerous country for women in three areas – non-sexual violence, access to healthcare, and access to economic resources.

3. SYRIA – Third after seven years of civil war. Ranked as second most dangerous country for women in terms of access to healthcare and non-sexual violence, which includes conflict-related violence as well as domestic abuse. Joint third with the United States on the risks women face of sexual abuse.

4. SOMALIA – Fourth after being mired in conflict since 1991. Ranked as third most dangerous country for women in terms of access to healthcare and for putting them at risk of harmful cultural and traditional practices. Named as fifth worst in terms of women having access to economic resources.

5. SAUDI ARABIA – Overall fifth, but the conservative kingdom was named the second most dangerous country for women in terms of economic access and discrimination, including in the workplace and in terms of property rights. Fifth in terms of the risks women face from cultural and religious practices.

6. PAKISTAN – Sixth most dangerous and fourth worst in terms of economic resources and discrimination as well as the risks women face from cultural, religious and traditional practices, including so-called honour killings. Pakistan ranked fifth on non-sexual violence, including domestic abuse.

7. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – Listed as seventh with the United Nations warning millions of people face “hellish living conditions” after years of factional bloodshed and lawlessness. Ranked as second most dangerous country for women as regards sexual violence, and between seventh and ninth in four other questions.

8. YEMEN – Eighth in the list after ranking poorly on access to healthcare, economic resources, risk from cultural and traditional practices, and non-sexual violence. Yemen is still reeling from the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis with 22 million people in need of vital assistance.

9. NIGERIA – Ranked as ninth, with human rights groups accusing the country’s military of torture, rape and killing civilians during a nine-year fight against Boko Haram militants. Nigeria was named fourth most dangerous country along with Russia when it came to human trafficking. It listed sixth worst on the risks women face from traditional practices.

10. UNITED STATES – The only Western nation in the top 10 and joint third with Syria for the risks women face in terms of sexual violence, including rape, sexual harassment, coercion into sex and a lack of access to justice in rape cases. The survey came after the #MeToo campaign went viral last year, with thousands of women using the social media movement to share stories of sexual harassment or abuse.

South African peacekeepers injured in Democratic Republic of Congo after rebel ambush – report

 

At least two South African peacekeepers were reportedly wounded in a rebel ambush near the epicentre of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).According to Reuters, the attack occurred early this week and highlighted the challenges authorities were facing in their fight against the deadly diseases.

DRC health officials said they have made some progress in slowing down the disease after experimental vaccines were dispatched.

However, they were unsure if the situation was under control because they had challenges accessing areas.

The peacekeepers’ patrol was attacked in Ngadi by militants, who were believed to belong to the Allied Democratic Forces – a Ugandan Islamist group active in eastern DRC, said spokesperson for the UN mission MONUSCO, Florence Marchal.

“Two soldiers were wounded and their condition was deemed stable this morning,” she told Reuters.

According to a senior correspondent at African Defence Review, Darren Olivier, one of the South African Air Force Oryx helicopters in service with MONUSCO in the DRC, was badly damaged as it tried to evade strong ground fire.

He said the helicopter “landed safely and the crew were fine, but repairs will be needed”.

We’ve received reports that one of the South African Air Force Oryx helicopters in service with MONUSCO in the DRC sustained damage to its rotor blades from foliage while evading strong ground fire. The helicopter landed safely and the crew are fine, but repairs will be needed.

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