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DR Congo calls for expulsion of UN mission spokesman following unrest

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The Democratic Republic of Congo has called for the expulsion of the spokesman of the United Nations Mission known as MONUSCO, Mathias Gillman, following comments the government deem inappropriate in before recent demonstrations against the UN peacekeepers.

DRC’s Foreign Minister, Christophe Lutundula, who made the request on behalf of the country in a letter to the UN, said the government considers that the current tensions between the mission and the population were due to the “indelicate and inopportune statements,” Gillman.

“The Congolese government considers that the presence of this official on the national territory is not likely to promote a climate of mutual trust and serenity so essential between the Congolese institutions and MONUSCO,” the government letter said.

“The Congolese government would greatly appreciate if arrangements are made for Mr. Gillman to leave the territory as soon as possible,” it added.

Following the recent protest against the UN mission where at least 36 people were killed and 170 injured, the government held a crisis meeting to reassess the presence of United Nations peacekeepers and the outcome was the decision to expel Gillman.

The government will also meet with the U.N. mission to discuss the possibilities for its withdrawal from the country.

In the letter, the DRC also set a timeline for the UN peacekeeping mission spokesman to leave the country, saying that they wanted the Gillman removed to help “complete the transition plan for the end of its final withdrawal from Congo, by the horizon 2024, as agreed.”

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US air strikes targets al-Shabaab Islamists in Somalia

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Several US air strikes have taken out several al-Shabaab commanders and their strongholds in Somalia, according to state media reports on Wednesday.

A statement by Somalia state own media said US military carried out air strikes against the al-Shabaab fighters in the central Hiran region on Tuesday, killing several fighters and their commanders.

The report said the air strikes followed a request from the Somali government following renewed attacks by the rebel group in different parts of the country.

A statement by the US-Africa Command based in the Horn of Africa country said airstrikes in June and July killed seven jihadist fighters flatter an increased in attacks on government targets in recent months by the insurgents.

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Sierra Leone: Parliament passes law to protect locals from land grabs

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The parliament in Sierra Leone has passed two laws that is widely believed will boost the rights of rural landowners and women.

The Customary Land Rights Act and the Land Commission Act, both enacted on Monday, will protect against land grabs by big mining and agribusiness firms.

The new laws empower local landowners to negotiate the value of their land with investors and prevent it being leased out without their express consent.

An official of international legal advocacy group, Namati, Eleanor Thompson, said “to our knowledge there is not a legal regime anywhere, in either hemisphere that grants such robust rights to communities facing harm.”

The move is also praised by Gerben Haringsma who is the director of SOCFIN, the biggest agribusiness company in Sierra Leone, called it a “dream of NGOs”.

“Certainly, it will block any investment… It makes things very expensive and we are all prone to enormous blackmail by various communities.” Haringsma remarked.

Sierra Leone has a history of sometimes deadly conflict between local communities and foreign companies that have cleared huge tracts of land for palm oil and sugarcane plantations in recent years.

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