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S’Sudan’s warring leaders sign final peace deal. Doubts persist

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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a much-anticipated peace deal on Wednesday, the latest attempt to end five years of a vicious civil war that’s torn the world’s youngest nation apart.

Seated before a roomful of regional leaders, diplomats and officials convened in the Ethiopian capital, the two men signed a document meant to end a conflict that began in 2013 and quickly spiralled into a regional crisis.

Hopes were high that the agreement, the details of which were not announced, will end the war which has cost the lives of tens of thousands of people, pushed millions to the brink of starvation and scattered refugees across East Africa.

“The eyes of the world are upon us as the South Sudan leaders commit today to press for reconciliation and lasting peace in their country,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the start of a brief but delayed closed-door meeting after which Kiir and Machar emerged to sign the document.

The last peace pact collapsed in July 2016 during days of fighting in the capital Juba that forced Machar to flee for his life.

Speaking prior to the agreement’s signing, David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, sounded a note of caution.

“With the signing of this revitalised agreement, we should publicly acknowledge it is but one step on the road to peace, but one which lays the foundation for all that follows,” he said.

Read also: World’s highest! 2.4 million children out of school in South Sudan

His fears were echoed by Britain’s Chris Trott, who spoke for the Troika bloc that also includes Norway and the United States and provides key funding to the peace process.

“We remain concerned about the parties’ level of commitment to this agreement,” he said, citing recent fighting in the northwestern city of Wau and the deaths of 13 aid workers in South Sudan this year alone.

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Tunisia-US relations develop cracks, no thanks to President Saied’s ‘one-man’ rule

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The once chummy relations between Tunisia and the United States is gradually developing serious cracks as a result of President Kais Saied drifting into a one-man authoritarian rule.

Before the rift, the US was Tunisia’s main donors but according to US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, in a statement on Thursday, Saied’s power grab leaning on an authoritarian government and the “dream of self-government” for the country was in danger.

Austin’s comments is coming on the heels of previous US criticism of Saied in the wake of the adoption of a controversial constitution that further empowers the President and undermines the country’s post-2011 democratic gains.

“Across Africa, those who support democracy and freedom and the rule of law are battling the forces of autocracy, chaos and corruption,” Austin said at a US Africa Command ceremony.

“We can feel those headwinds in Tunisia, where people inspired the world with their demands for democracy,” he said.

The standoff has already seen the US cut back on aids to Tunisia following political instability in the North African country which is gradually sliding towards autocracy and analysts believe the situation could cast a shadow over Tunisia’s quest to obtain a lifeline from the IMF to avert the crumbling of its public finances.

Before the recent condemnation by Austin, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken had also decried Tumis8 drifting into a one-man under Saied.

“Tunisia has experienced an alarming erosion of democratic norms over the past year and reversed many of the Tunisian people’s hard-won gains since 2011,” Blinken had said following the constitution referendum held on July 25.

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DR Congo’s main opposition leader, Jean-Marc Kabund, arrested

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A main opposition leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Marc Kabund, has been arrested by government forces after he made an alleged uncomplemetary remarks on President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday.

Kabund, a former right-hand man of Tshisekedi, fell out with the President and became a prominent opposition leader, was arrested after a controversy raged over a remark about his one-time boss.

Kabund who was a former vice president of parliament had a falling out with President Tshisekedi earlier this year, after which he launched his own political party.

Following the breakup with the incumbent president, Kabund has been under investigation in recent weeks on charges that authorities have not specified, but his lawyers say he is accused of contempt of the head of state after a speech whete he called the President “a danger” to the country.

“They did not respect the procedure. Today they came after the hearing and arrested him despite his parliamentary immunity,” Kabund’s lawyer, Henriette Bongwalanga said after he was arrested.

Kabund was a leading figure behind Tshisekedi’s rise to power but fell out with the President over difference which highlighted fault-lines in the country’s leadership.

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