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Ethiopia/Tigray crises: Thousands dead, millions displaced as UN sets up enquiry

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Allegations of human rights violations against the Ethiopian government in its war against Tigrayan rebel forces has hit new heights with appointment of Former International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to head the UN commission of enquiry into alleged violations.

Report out of Geneva says the President of the Human Rights Council, Federico Villegas of Argentina, announced the appointment of the Gambian, as well as two other experts – Kaari Betty Murungi, a lawyer at the High Court of Kenya, and American Steven Ratner, a law professor – who will join the newly created commission.

Forces under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — the Ethiopian military, ethnic militias and troops from neighboring Eritrea — are fighting to oust the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or T.P.L.F., from its stronghold in the northern region of Tigray.

The conflict in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, has left thousands dead, forced more than two million people from their homes and pushed parts of the country into famine.

The Tigray Region is the northernmost regional state in Ethiopia. The Region is the homeland of the Tigrayan, Irob and Kunama people. Formerly known as Region 1, its capital and largest city is Mekelle. Tigray is the fifth-largest by area, the fifth-most populous, and the fifth-most densely populated of the 11 regional states in Ethiopia. 96 per cent of Tigrayans are Orthodox Christian.

Since its outbreak in November 2020, the war, which began in Tigray (northern Ethiopia) and then spread to the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar, has been marked by numerous allegations of abuses on both sides.

In November 2021, a joint report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission documented possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the conflict.

Following the investigation, by December 2021, the United Nations at held a special session on “the grave human rights situation in Ethiopia”, hearing the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights warn that increasing hatred, violence and discrimination could escalate into generalised violence, and urge all parties to reassess the damage being done to the nation, and to pull back from a posture of war.

The Commission will be required to provide an oral update on its work during the fiftieth session of the Human Rights Council in June 2022 and a written report at the following session in September.

Politics

Congo DR electoral body, CENI, announces date of presidential election

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The electoral authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Commission Electorale Nationale Independente (CENI) have announced dates for the next presidential election.

CENI on Saturday said the election will take place on December 20th next year.

The commission outlined several challenges, including the logistics of transporting ballot materials thousands of miles, health concerns about Ebola and COVID-19, and unrest that has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The incumbent president, Felix Tshisekedi, who already expressed his intention to run again. He might be running against Martin Fayulu, who continues to claim that he won the 2018 election and was denied victory.

Terrorist activities, largely by a rebel group, M23 have drawn reactions from stakeholders in the East Africa region and global observers. The M23 is a rebel military group based in eastern areas of the DRC, mainly operating in the province of North Kivu.

According to the electoral authorities, insecurity remains the main challenge for the next elections.

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Congo DR rebel group, M23 wants direct talks with government. Will Kinshasa concede?

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The M23 rebel group, which has been at loggerheads with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has asked for a direct talk with the government.

The positions are days after the deadline for the declaration of a permanent truce between the worrying battles.

Leaders of Rwanda, Burundi, and Angola met this week in Luanda to find a solution to the conflict in eastern Congo, which has forced thousands to flee their homes.

But the M23 was not part of the discussions and found out about the statement on social media, its spokesperson said.

The spokesperson of the group, Lawrence Kanyuka, “thanked the regional leaders for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the current conflict.”

“Give us direct negotiations with the government to resolve the root causes of conflict that are producing all these wars here,” he said. M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa also issued a statement to the same effect.

Meanwhile, Congo DR’s foreign minister Christophe Lutundula said: “It won’t happen. I can reassure you on behalf of the government and the President of the Republic.”

The M23 is a rebel military group based in eastern areas of the DRC, mainly operating in the province of North Kivu.

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