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DR Congo suspends RwandAir flights over alleged support for M23 rebels

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The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has suspended all RwandAir flights into the country over Rwanda’s alleged support for the M23 rebels that have been fighting to take control of the eastern parts of the country.

The decision which was taken on Friday after an extraordinary meeting of the DRC’s Superior Defence Council chaired by President Felix Tshisekedi, also summoned the Rwandan Ambassador after authorities accused his country of giving support to the rebel group.

The DRC authorities also said it would take “conservative measures” against Rwanda, which included blocking flights from the national carrier.

“It was decided to immediately suspend flights from the RwandAir aviation company to the Democratic Republic of Congo,” DRC Communications Minister, Patrick Muyaya, told journalists at a news conference on Saturday.

“It was also decided to summon the Rwandan ambassador to notify him of the total disapproval of the Congolese government”, he added.

In response to the suspension in a statement on Saturday, RwandAir said it was cancelling “with immediate effect all flights to Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Goma.”

Earlier in the week, the DRC government had accused Kigali of backing the militia amid renewed clashes between the Congolese army and the rebels in the east of the country, an accusation the Rwandan government swiftly denied.

The Congolese government alleges that the Rwandan government is supporting M23 rebels in the country’s east, citing military equipment apparently found, along with testimonies from locals and images captured by soldiers.

The government also accused Kigali of scuppering a peace process initiated by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who holds the rotating presidency of the East African Community group.

The M23 militia group which is primarily a Congolese Tutsi group, is one of more than 120 armed groups laying claim to eastern DR Congo, where over two decades of regional wars have left in devastating conditions.

In 2012, the group captured the provincial capital of Goma and set up a regional government before the army quelled the rebellion and chaser them out the following year.

Early this year, the group which was said to have hibernated in neighbouring Rwanda, resumed fighting, accusing the Congolese government of failing to respect a 2009 agreement under which its fighters were to be incorporated into the army.

On Friday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), released a statement in which it said the recent clashes between DRC’s military and M23 rebels in have displaced 72,000 people who have fled their homes.

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Unprecedented floods destroy 2,500 homes, displace thousands in Eastern Sudan

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More than 2,500 homes have been destroyed while thousands of residents were forced to flee several towns in eastern Sudan as a result of seasonal floods that hit the region following days of torrential rain.

Sudanese state news agency, SUNA, reported on Friday that the collapse of the houses have left thousands homeless in the already impoverished region.

SUNA said another 546 houses were partially destroyed by torrential rains in the River Nile province late Thursday as the River bank broke and the area became flooded.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a statement on the disaster, said there were fears some people could have been swept away by the floods especially those at the bank of the River Nile.

The statement noted that since the start of the rainy season in May, an estimated 38,000 people have been affected by the floods across the country.

“So far, the areas hardest hit include Kassala, South Darfur, Central Darfur, South Kordofan, the White Nile and the River Nile provinces.

“The total nationwide death toll remains undetermined,” OCHA said.

In an earlier report on Thursday, OCHA had said that at least six people had died, and an unconfirmed number of people were injured when their houses collapsed or were washed away by floods in the Central Darfur province.

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Five killed as opposition protesters clash with security agencies in Somaliland

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At least five persons were killed on Thursday as a demonstration by Somaliland opposition members protesting over fears of a delayed election, turned bloody as security forces tried to repel the demonstrators from destroying properties.

An opposition leader said the police opened fire on the demonstrators after accusing them of not following officers’ instructions.

Hundreds of people took part in the protests across the country after talks between the government and opposition failed and the opposition accused authorities of trying to delay the election.

President Muse Bihi Abdi who confirmed the incident in a statement on Friday, said the five were killed in the capital, Hargeisa, and the towns of Burao and Erigavo in the northern region that separates the breakaway country from Somalia.

Abdi also confirmed that almost 100 others were wounded, with most of them members of security forces.

The president however, blamed opposition groups for the unrest, reiterating that unauthorized protests would not be tolerated and dissidents would be crushed.

Main opposition leader, Abdirahman Mohamed Irro, said despite the killings, protests will continue until the presidential election is held on November 13 as pronounced by Abdi.

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