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South Sudan: UN to investigate 142 persons for violations of human rights

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The United Nations (UN) human rights body has come up with a list of 142 persons to be probed over grave human rights abuses amounting to war crimes, in South Sudan.

The 142 individuals are being accused of grievous crimes such as massacres, torture, abductions, detentions, looting, burning of villages, forced displacement, rape and sexual violence, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said.

The UN Commission on human rights in South Sudan came up with a latest report last Friday, saying it had “reasonable grounds to believe that members of the Government of South Sudan have engaged in acts … amounting to war crimes” in the southwestern districts of Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria.

“It [the commission] has drawn up a list of 142 individuals who warrant investigation for a range of crimes under national and international law,” Chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, Yasmin Sooka told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in a statement.

The report described terrible rights abuses such as mass rapes, sexual slavery of women, deliberate killing of dozens of children, including at least one infant who was beaten to death by soldiers in front of the mother.

“The notion that the localised violence is not linked to the State or to national-level conflicts, as suggested by the Government and South Sudanese military elites, is a fallacy,” Sooka said.

“These localised killings, massacres, torture, abductions, detentions, looting, burning of villages, and forced displacement, as well as the rape, and sexual violence, are a reflection of the intense political contestation for power … at a national level.”

“Nearly all 14 of the UN’s risk factors for atrocity crimes are now present in South Sudan,” Sooka added.

Hundreds of civilians were killed in cold-blooded conflict between rival armed groups in Sudan’s southwest between June and September, 2021, according to the UN.

South Sudan, the youngest country in the world, who got independence in 2011, has been a victim of severe instability. The UN had warned last month that the country risks sliding into war as violence amongst ethnic groups and political infighting threatens an already weak peace process.

There has been no official response by the government of South Sudan to the  development.

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Zambia: Govt restates commitment to policies that will unite citizens

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Zambia’s government has restated its commitment to implementing policies that will further unite the citizens.

This assurance was given by Vice president Mutale Nalumango while responding to a question in Parliament from the MP representing Mongu Central, Oliver Amutike, who wanted to know what the government was doing to preserve the unity of the country.

Nalumango said all the actions undertaken by President Hakainde Hichilema and his administration, such as the implementation of the decentralisation policy, were evidences that all parts of the country was receiving development equitably and aimed at uniting the country.

She noted that the President’s commitment to uniting the country could be seen through the various appointments which had been made starting with Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Board of Directors, among others.

“Even parties according to the constitution must show the face of Zambia, even this government was deliberate that every part of Zambia is involved, so in the formation of government yes, the President has done what needs to be done,” Nalumango said.

She added that unfair distribution of wealth in any country breeds conflicts and with this realisation, President Hichilema had ensured that the decentralisation policy was implemented expeditiously through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

Also speaking on issues surrounding stolen Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) maize at the Zambia National Service (ZNS) deport in Kasumbalesa, the vice president vowed that no such products would find themselves in the Zambian market.

“Although thieves stole the GMO maize destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo, government would ensure that it does not find itself on the local market for consumption,” she emphasized.

Nalumango said the remaining maize stocks under the care of the Zambia National Service were safe and that security had been beefed up to protect the commodity.

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‘Nigerian govt will go after economic saboteurs,’ Information Minister vows

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The Nigerian government says it will go after saboteurs of the country’s economy in the face of challenges which have led to hardship, poverty and escalating cost of living.

Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed Idris, who made the vow in a statement on Friday, said the resolve of the government was to prevent enemies of the country from derailing the President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s reforms from yielding the required fruits.

“Since the removal of the petrol subsidy, petrol importation has dropped by fifty percent, amounting to one billion liters monthly, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

“On a related note, crude oil production is rising steadily, increasing to an average of 1.55 million barrels per day in Q4 2023, from 1.22 million barrels per day in the preceding quarter.

“Also, monthly receipts by States from the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) have surged since the subsidy removal, giving governments at all levels billions of Naira in extra headroom to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

“It is instructive that the removal of the petrol subsidy was one policy decision that all the three major candidates were unanimous on, in their campaign messaging. It is therefore mystifying to see people who had argued stridently for the removal, now pretending to be against it today. This insincerity does not bode well for our country and our democracy.

“Relevant regulatory and security agencies have been directed to remain vigilant to ensure that malpractices capable of undermining our currency are averted and that those engaged in these acts are brought to book. The government will not allow its efforts to be jeopardised.

“President Tinubu’s second most far-reaching pronouncement was his promise that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would work towards a unified exchange rate.

“In line with his vision for a more transparent and equitable monetary policy, yet without jettisoning its operational independence, the CBN took the very bold step of loosening control of foreign exchange rates, allowing access to foreign exchange to take place at market rates determined on the principle of ‘willing seller willing buyer.’

“As a government, we are not under any illusion that these policy moves are silver bullets, or that nothing else is required. We understand that these are foundational fiscal and monetary policy moves, upon which we must now build the superstructure of true economic growth and prosperity.

“As respected economists and experts have acknowledged, these foundational reforms will be difficult and painful for Nigerians in the short term.

“The problems that we are solving are no doubt multifaceted, intertwined, and deep-rooted, requiring creative, strategic, decisive, and multi-pronged solutions. These bold moves being implemented are in full alignment with what is required.

“Nigerians should rest assured that the government will continue to take further steps to stabilize the naira and safeguard our economy.

“We will continue to seek the patience and understanding of Nigerians as we push through these difficult times, into a season of abundant benefits and truly renewed Hope. As the President never fails to emphasize, these headwinds we are facing are only temporary, and, collectively, we will surely overcome them.

“The President and his team are and will remain resolutely committed and focused on the task of bringing immediate relief and enduring prosperity to all Nigerians.

“The CBN has been proactive, initiating a comprehensive strategy to enhance liquidity in the forex market. In addition to unifying the rates, the bank has also cleared a significant amount of outstanding Forex obligations, and outlined new operational mechanisms for commercial banks, Bureau De Change (BDC) operators and International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs).

“It is heartwarming to note that we are starting to see the results. Indeed, the naira is stabilizing, and the foreign exchange market is seeing a surge of inflows.

“Sadly, as with any effort to reform and sanitise a system entrenched in long-term malpractice, the CBN’s efforts have been met with ferocious resistance from speculators and other unscrupulous players within and outside our country, who profit from dysfunction and opacity.”

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