A Ruling that can Cause Chaos in Cameroon
A military court in Cameroon has sentenced 10 leaders of the country’s anglophone separatist movement to life imprisonment in what activists have described as a sham trial. The head of the movement, Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, and nine of his followers were convicted of charges including terrorism and secession and given a fine of $350m after an all-night sitting by the court. The separatist leaders sang protest songs as the sentence was handed down in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The severity of the sentence has raised fears that the bloody conflict playing out in Cameroon’s anglophone regions between separatist rebels and military forces will be prolonged, and that no ceasefire will be possible. In January 2018, Ayuk Tabe was arrested with 46 other separatists in a hotel in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, allegedly by Nigerian special forces. They were then handed over to Cameroon – a move that was ruled illegal by a Nigerian court in March this year. The defendants refused to recognise the right of the military tribunal in Yaounde to try them. Their lawyers are meeting to draft an appeal, which has to be filed within 10 days. SOURCE: DEUTSCHE WELLE
A Leading Voice of Resistance to Moroccan Repression
To Sahrawis, the formerly nomadic peoples native to the region, Aminatou Haidar is the “Gandhi of Western Sahara,” a tireless advocate for peaceful resistance who brings international attention to their much-forgotten plight. To the Moroccan government in Rabat, she’s a dangerous agitator and separatist who continues to defy what the kingdom calls its “southern provinces,” though no other country recognizes this claim. At 20 she disappeared without trial to a secret facility not far from her home, where guards tortured her, subjecting her to starvation and threats of rape — the price for painting graffiti and circulating leaflets calling for a free Western Sahara. Now, at age 53, she’s become a voice of restraint — pitted against a new generation of pro-independence activists who Haidar fears are too eager to launch a full-scale war, with tensions rising along the world’s longest militarized border.
Doha to Enter Investment Partnership with Mogadishu
Qatar plans to build a new seaport at Somalia’s Hobyo, a potentially strategic investment in an area of East Africa fiercely contested by Gulf rivals. Hobyo, in the central region of Mudug, is an important Somali port owing to its proximity to the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which is one of the most important sea crossing points in the world, with the potential for access to international markets. The Hobyo port will “will contribute to opening new horizons of cooperation between the two countries” and bolster Somalia’s commercial ties to new markets in Africa and further afield, the ministry’s statement said. The small but wealthy Gulf state has looked to strengthen ties with Somalia, donating a fleet of 68 armoured vehicles this year and airlifting Mogadishu’s mayor to Doha for emergency medical treatment last month after an ultimately fatal attack by al-Shabab.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
Location, Location, Location, Halts UN Summit
The UN has postponed an anti-torture conference due to take place in Cairo, following an outcry from human rights activists who accused the organisation of “whitewashing” the Egyptian government’s abuses. The conference on “defining and criminalising torture in the Arab region” was scheduled for 4 and 5 September. A draft copy of the agenda listed participants including the UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, as leading discussions on the prohibition of torture alongside Egyptian government officials. News of the UN’s choice of location for the conference sparked outrage from Egyptian human rights campaigners, who said the conference was simply a cover-up of the Egyptian government’s record on torture.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
New Beer in Rwanda Doesn’t Sit Well
A beer company in Rwanda has apologised after critics said jokes that appeared on their bottles were sexist. One of the jokes on a Kroll bottle of Skol asked, “when can a woman make you a millionaire” with the answer “when you are a billionaire”. Kroll launched the beer labels with the jokes printed on them on Friday but on Monday promised to stop using them. Among those to react was Gender Minister Soline Nyirahabimana, who shared a picture on twitter saying the jokes were “demeaning to women” and said that it was “not acceptable” in Rwanda and “should be punished by law”.
What The CITES Vote Means For African Elephants
The vote taken on the future of wild African elephants by members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) this past weekend is a step in the right direction, but leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The 183 members voted on Sunday (18 August)on a proposal to ban the live trade in African elephants. By a two thirds majority, they decided that ‘appropriate and acceptable destinations’ for African elephants should be in situ conservation alone. Among those not in favour of the ban included South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia – which profit financially from the trade. Animal welfare organisation, Network for Animals (NFA) chief campaigner David Barritt said: “The vote is certainly a step in the right direction but a lot of questions are still unanswered, such as when such a ban will be implemented and what measures will be taken to enforce it. This means that African elephants should only be moved between elephant-suitable habitats, in places where elephants traditionally roam,” said Barritt.
Abiy’s Missed Opportunity to Fully Promote Ethnic Harmony and Cooperation
In June, Ethiopia, which has been on a path of democratic reform since prime minister Abiy Ahmed came to power last year, was rocked by two fatal attacks within a few hours, one in the Amhara regional capital of Bahir Dar and the other in the federal capital of Addis Ababa, in the most significant challenge to the country’s new era yet. In what the government described as a coup led by regional security chief Asaminew Tsige, Amhara president Ambachew Mekonnen was killed. In Addis Ababa, the chief of staff of the national security forces, Seare Mekonnen, was fatally shot by his bodyguard. The unrest brings to light the possibility of insecurity and ethno-nationalism in Ethiopia’s nine federal regions, which are organised largely on ethno-linguistic lines, as Abiy, the country’s first Oromo prime minister, steers Ethiopia away from the rule of the Tigray minority who have been dominant for almost three decades. The threat is compounded by the fact that the central government doesn’t wield a monopoly of force. Ethiopia’s federal arrangement grants each region the right to its own security forces alongside Ethiopia’s federal army, the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), which is undergoing reform. SOURCE: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE
New Currency Set for Harare
Zimbabwe will issue new notes and coins soon to replace the country’s quasi-currency that was introduced three years ago in a failed attempt to counter a crippling shortage of cash, and that’s pushed inflation to the highest rate since 2008. The return to a fully fledged local currency exchangeable outside the country’s borders will be backed by an undisclosed amount of foreign-exchange reserves, gold and loans
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE
Using the Beautiful Game to Dispel Stereotypes in Kenyan Society
Allan Herbert, founder and team captain of Black Albinism Football Club, Kenya’s first football team made up entirely of young people living with albinism, says the sport brings people together.It’s his way of helping people with the genetic disorder fight for their space in Kenya. This past weekend, the team won its debut match in what Herbert says he hopes is a first of many. Across East Africa, people with albinism have been targeted in brutal ritual killings for their body parts to be used in witchcraft, mainly due to their white skin — a condition that is caused by lack of pigmentation. Isaac Mwaura, a senator in Kenya, has been campaigning for the rights of people with albinism. He is Kenya’s first and only lawmaker living with albinism.