Thursday, 21 June 2012

Kinshasa-Kigali: USA is taking the wrong side!

By Gael Masengi

The Congolese (DR) government has accused the United States of blocking the findings of the United Nation’s Group of Experts in attempt to protect its dear ally, Rwanda.

Yesterday's bros, Kagame and Kabila
The back and forth accusations and denials between DRC and its tiny neighbour Rwanda have reached its climax in recent weeks following allegations from Human Rights Watch of Kigali’s direct involvement in refreshed rebellion in the Kivu regions.  A UN’s group of experts on Congo presented its report to the Security Council’s sanction committee earlier this week, but it is believed that an extension of information implicating Rwanda is being hold back with no intentions of publishing them. The documents is said to contain hard evidence of Rwanda’s army direct involvement to the M23 rebel movement, a group of army defector led by the ICC wanted renegade general Bosco Ntaganda who’s kidnapping and killing civilians in the eastern Congo.

Congolese diplomats have accused their American counterparts of deliberately stalling the report to protect Paul Kagame whom they see as the brain behind Congo’s endless rebel fights. Atoki Ileka, DRC’s ambassador to France, who is currently representing Kinshasa in the U.N.–deplored the US’ act which he qualified as ‘shameful’ and ‘not intelligent’ – was quoted as saying to Reuters news agency that “All these efforts to block the report are first of all shameful, and also in terms of peace for eastern DRC, they don’t help.”  He added “The people of eastern Congo can’t wait until the U.S and Security Council find a ‘convenient’ solution for the sake of Rwanda.” A United State’s U.N. mission spokesperson denied blocking publication of the report to the Security Council and said they were studying new information presented by the group in preparation for further talk.

Phillipe Bolopion, UN director of Human Rights Watch said in a statement: “The US and other Security Council members should be doing everything they can to expose violations of U.N. sanctions and the arms embargo, including by Rwanda and not to attempt to cover them up”
Kagame has denied all criticisms of Rwanda and called on Congo to take responsibility for a flood in rebel fighting rather than play the blame game.

Who can blame the guy when an ill-managed large country like the Democratic Republic of Congo is being ruled by incompetent politicians? People without political maturity and yet with one thought of bulking suitcase with cash, they must have short memory to accuse Rwanda today of invading Congo, forgetting that they are the very same people who literally gave the country away. Today you ask 70% of the Congolese population who their enemies are, they will tell you that the Rwandan people are, it makes political sense but it’s a very bad thing for generations to come.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Kinshasa may not host the Francophonie summit.

By Gael Masengi

The French financial news website Ecofin reported (but still to be confirmed) that Kinshasa (DRC) has been disqualified as the host of the 14thFrancophonie summit scheduled for later this year. Ecofin wrote that, the event –which would see more than fifty head of states and governments of French speaking countries gathered– will instead be moved to Mauritius stating on-going political tension between the opposition –which is still claiming its apparently stolen victory– and the supposedly re-elected ruling party.

For the past few months, various pro-democracy groups across the DRC and in diaspora have loudly call for boycott of the summit in the country for the same reason, if it’s official the move will be seen as “victory” to Congolese activists from around the world who also have been lobbying vigorously to different ambassadors of country members and explaining why they should urge their respective government to call-off the trip to Kinshasa. Leading opposition political party, Union for Democracy and Social Progress had also expressed concern and threatened the bloc of French speaking countries governing body OIF should it go ahead and organise the summit in the Democratic Republic of Congo, “we will mobilise the country’s civil society to block in every way possible the summit from happening” but the news website further underlined that political instability may not be the single reason behind last minute cancelation, it cites rumours of budget shortage.

Whatever the reason, the move will clearly be a big blow to embattling regime of Joseph Kabila fighting for legitimacy and credibility. After his inauguration ceremony which was attended by only one and infamous head of state, Robert G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe and his absence at the continental annual important gathering in Johannesburg on Africa Day last month, analysts believe that Kinshasa’s diplomacy has hit its lowest point in decades since the days of Mobutu Sesseko. Joseph Kabila who came in power in 2001 shortly after his “father” Laurent Kabila was assassinated, is no stranger to human rights abuse allegations and crackdown on pro-democracy activists. One of the leading human right activists in the country was murdered two years ago, Mr Floribert Chebeya’s lifeless body was found in his car on June 2, 2010 while en route to a meeting with the Inspector General of the police and no one was punished. Same year, Armand Tungulu, a Belgium based Congolese freedom activist was also murdered while in detention in a Kinshasa jail for allegedly throwing stones at Kabila’s motorcade and the cause of his death remains unknown.

Last November’s coupled legislative and presidential elections results were found by the EU observer mission and the Carter Centre as having serious deficiencies and too flawed to be credible; the European bloc warned that it would revaluate its support.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Week in Africa.

By Gael Masengi

This past week ‘The Spear’ saga has dominated headlines in South Africa, the sentencing of former Liberian president Charles Taylor sent a strong message to the remaining warlords and dictators. Lesotho held peaceful parliamentary elections and in Malawi President Joyce Banda is taking an unusual way to deal with recession in the country.

Pakalitha Mosisili
A broad of political party leaders in Lesotho said in a joint statement, this week, that they had accepted the result of last week-end parliamentary election. The closely fought poll were universally hailed as free and fair but analysts worry the defeated incumbent Prime Mister Pakalitha Mosisili and his Democratic Congress (DC) party may be planning to subvert the will of Basotho people. No single party has secured the majority of the 120 seats in parliament; however, a group of opposition parties together won 72 seats enough to form a coalition government but the DC insists that as the largest single party, it has the first bite at forming a coalition. Mosisili’s deputy, Moyane Moleleki announced on local radio that the DC might form a “minority government”. The 1998 parliamentary election that brought Mosisili in power ignited violence from the opposition, South Africa was forced to intervene militarily to restore order.

Malawi president Joyce Banda
Malawi’s new president, Joyce Banda, has announced the presidential jet and convoy of more than 50 Mercedes limousines would be sold. The former vice-president of Bingu wa Mutharika, she stepped into the presidency in April when he suffered a heart attack, the jet has reportedly annual running costs of about US$ 200 000. The UK’s International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell who visited the country earlier this week said to Telegraph newspaper that the move was a sign of “the seriousness Mrs Banda is applying to overturn bad decisions taken under the previous government”. Since then, she has sacked former members of the “old guard” in the cabinet and security services, brought back Malawi’s old flag and pledged to lift the country’s ban on homosexuality, Telegraph reported.

Charles Taylor
Wednesday, former Liberian president Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison for aiding Sierra Leonean rebels to commit atrocities. Taylor, aged 64 is the first head of state to be convicted by the International Crime Court (ICC); he was found guilty on April 26th of war crimes and crimes against humanity for supporting neighboring Sierra Leon rebels in exchange for diamonds. The ICC found that Taylor had supplied weapons, money, bases and recruited child soldiers for the self-styled Revolution United Forces rebels during a 11-years civil war which an estimated 50 000 people were murdered, raped and mutilated. Taylor’s defense team leading lawyer warned African leaders of a trap set-up by westerns leaders. Sando Johnson said that history had vindicated Taylor’s prediction, citing the demise of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the downfall of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, who is awaiting trial in the Hague. Charles Taylor will serve his sentence in Britain, where he will be detained as “category A” inmate fit only for a maximum-security prison.

On Thursday, investigators in Zambian arrested a son of former president Rupiah Banda for corruption and possessing assets brought with crime money. Andrew Banda was formally arrested and charged for corrupt practices and being in possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime. Government Investigative Team public relations officer, Namokolo Kasumpa said Mr Banda had received bribes from construction firm, which is contrary to the country’s new Anti-Corruption Act introduced this year under the new president Michael Sata who promised a broad crackdown on corruption. Zambian authorities also said Mr Banda couldn’t explain the amount of 360 Million Kwacha (about US$ 67 000) deposited in his bank account. Banda who’s currently serving his country as deputy high commissioner to India was briefly arrested and released 24 hours later on bail.

defaced "The Spear"
The Spear, before.
Officials at president Zuma’s office have condemned “The Spear”, a controversial painting of South African president Jacob Zuma with his exposed genitals by Cape Town artist Brett Murray. “[South Africa] cabinet expressed its disapproval of the Brett Murray portrait that depicted the president [Jacob Zuma] in a denigrating manner,” it said in a statement on Friday. Last week the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and allies marched on Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery –where the painting was exposed for public views –to demand the removal of the drawing off its wall, website and that it publicly apologise for displaying the work.  The painting was already defaced last Tuesday –the first day it went public –by two men whose motives remain unknown. The controversial painting has evoked questions of racism, dignity and freedom of expression in a country where both parties the ruling ANC, artists and journalists accuse each other of trying to suppress other.

Hosni Mubarak during sentencing.
On Saturday night Egypt’s ex strong man Hosni Mubarak began a new life as a convicted murder. For nearly 30 years Mubarak clan had ruled Egypt. Judge sentenced him for life in prison alongside his right hand man, former minister of interior Habib-al-Adly who was in charge during the crackdown last year on protesters in Tahrir Square but Mubarak was not found guilty of corruption along with his two sons Gamal and Alaa, who are said to have accumulated millions of dollars during their father’s three decades rule however they still face a separate charge for insider trading. Many Egyptians are convinced that the army, which is still runs the government and may prove reluctant to give up power even when the current presidential election has been completed, has controlled the trial behind the scenes. They fear that Mubarak’s sentence will soon be reduced, since his lawyers announced their intention to appeal. [This article has been edited, it’s originally from]