Regional bloc, EAC agrees to set up joint force to end decades of bloodshed in Congo
It appears Congo has started reaping the fruits of joining the regional bloc, the East African Community (EAC) as the seven countries of the regional body have agreed to set up a regional military force to try to end decades of bloodshed caused by militant activity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The plan was made public through the office of Kenya’s president on Friday. Kenya under president Kenyatta plays a leading role in the EAC.
Congo has been a troubled territory with more than 120 rebel groups continuing to operate across large swathes of east Congo almost two decades after the official end of the central African country’s civil wars.
The East African country is home to one of the United Nation’s largest peacekeeping forces with billions of dollars spent. The U.N. has previously accused neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda of backing rebel groups in the mineral-rich region.
On the other hand, Tanzania contributes 835 troops to the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission, while Kenya contributes 250 even before Brazzaville joined EAC. It is then believed with the presence of Uganda and Rwanda which the UN had fingered in fuelling chaos in Congo, along with the positive support of Kenya and Tanzania in the EAC, the bloc might have a chance to end prolonged crises in Congo.
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of six (6) Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Congo joined the EAC last month in a bid to strengthen relations with its east African neighbours. The EAC has seven organs The Summit, The Council of Ministers, The Co-ordinating Committee, Sectoral Committees, The East African Court of Justice, The East African Legislative Assembly, and The Secretariat.
The EAC has called on local armed groups to join a political process to resolve their grievances or “be handled militarily”, the office of Kenya’s president said in a statement following an EAC meeting in Nairobi on Thursday.
The body also insisted that foreign armed groups, which include an Islamist insurgency with origins in Uganda and ties to Islamic State (IS), “must disarm and return unconditionally and immediately to their respective countries of origin,”
South Africa: Opposition, DA want findings on alleged arms supply to Russia public
South African opposition party, the Democratic Alliance has vowed to challenge the decision by the presidency to keep from the public, findings from recent arm supply allegations.
The follows allegations by United States Ambassador, Reuben Brigety that South Africa provided ammunition to Russia by ship. Brigety said the US was sure that contrary to its public claim of being non-aligned in the Russia/Ukraine crisis, South Africa supplied arms to Vladimir Putin’s army in December.
Following the allegation, President Ramaphosa launched an investigation to be conducted by an independent body which will be led by retired Deputy Justice Phineas Mojapelo, advocate Leah Gcabashe, and former justice minister Enver Surty. Meanwhile, his spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya said the government would withhold the panel’s findings.
Magwenya said the terms of reference for the inquiry would not be gazetted or published.
“The investigation covers issues of national security and classified information, which is protected from disclosure,” he said.
“This inquiry has been instituted in a similar manner to the inquiry that investigated the July 2021 riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and the value of its report remains unchallenged.
“The panel will be supported in gathering the information that is necessary to fulfil its mandate by letters from the president instructing all relevant government entities as identified by the panel to cooperate fully with the panel or face disciplinary sanction,” he said.
“The work of the panel will not be public, nor will its report be made public. The president will speak to any actions that may result with respect to national security. This is provided for within our secrecy laws as per the nature of this matter,” he added.
In a statement, the DA said it would not ” leave this secrecy unchallenged. We have already submitted an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain a copy of the panel’s terms of reference. And we are obtaining legal advice to challenge Ramaphosa’s plan to hide the report once it is complete.”
The party leader, John Steenhuisen argued that keeping the report private “undermines the ability of prosecutors and the public to hold guilty parties accountable for any such violations of the law”.
“Hiding this report from public view will rob the people of South Africa – and of the world – of the opportunity to see the full facts of this matter.
“Refusing to disclose the complete picture of how the ANC-led government allegedly smuggled weapons to arm Russia’s war in Ukraine and various parts of Africa will also undermine the very purpose of the investigation.”
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission, ZEC promises to publicise voters’ register
The electoral commission in Zimbabwe said it would soon publish the voters’ register for the forthcoming general elections.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) also assured the public of a fair election and promised to rectify anomalies that were observed during the voters’ inspection exercise.
The head of ZEC, Utloile Silaigwana made the position known when he announced the end of the mop-up voter registration exercise on Friday.
Silaigwana further revealed that the Nomination court would sit on 21 June and thereafter the voters’ roll would be accessible to candidates.
There are contentions about the neutrality of the electoral commission. In March, a member of the opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Allan Markham filed a court application challenging ZEC for access to the electronic voters’ roll but had his request rejected because “it was too risky” and in the interest of data protection.
Meanwhile, the ruling party, Zanu PF sent text messages to registered voters during the period urging them to vote for President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This move further fuelled the allegation that Zanu PF had access to the voters’ roll which is why it was able to send the messages.
President Mnangagwa is running for re-election to a second term after coming to power following a military coup that dislodged Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president in 2017.
The country is struggling with deep poverty, recurring power outages, and crippling unemployment, all of which have fuelled widespread resentment.
The President of Zimbabwe is elected using a two-round system. The Zimbabwean legislature is made up of 270 members of the National Assembly, 210 members elected in single-member constituencies, and 60 women elected by proportional representation in ten six-seat constituencies based on the country’s provinces.
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