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UN extends arms embargo on Somalia over government objections

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The United Nations Security Council have voted in favour of an extension to an arms embargo on Somalia despite the African country’s strong objections, saying the al-Shabaab terrorist group is still a serious threat to peace and stability in the region and sanctions are needed to degrade its activities.

The resolution which was made at the Security Council meeting on Thursday, also expressed concern at the continued presence of the al-Qaeda-linked group as well as affiliates of the Islamic State extremist group in the Horn of African nation.

The vote to extend the embargo was approved by a vote of 11-0 with Russia, China, Gabon and Ghana abstaining in support of the call by the Somali government, backed by the African Union, to lift the arms embargo.

The resolution which was drafted by the United Kingdom, however, modifies the arms embargo to reflect the government’s progress in improving its management of weapons and ammunition.

The modification includes allowing Somalia to import “portable surface-to-air missiles, higher-caliber mortars, anti-tank guided weapons, combat drones, some aircraft and vessels designed or modified for military use, and combat drones for use by its security forces and police — unless the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions objects within five working days of receiving notification from the government.”

Britain’s deputy U.N. Ambassador James Kariuki, said the benchmarks were identified following a recent technical assessment highlighting Somalia’s progress provided “a clear roadmap that will help this council make further changes to weapons and ammunition measures in the future.”

“The steps made today will simplify processes for Somalia and its partners, and help speed up the journey,” Kariuki said.

The Security Council had first imposed the arms embargo on Somalia in 1992 to cut the flow of weapons to feuding clan-based warlords who toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre the previous year, plunging the country into civil war.

Somalia established a functioning transitional government in 2012 and has been working to rebuild stability in the face of extremist attacks and one of the worst droughts the country has experienced that has brought thousands to the brink of famine.

Metro

UN experts accuse South Sudan officials of overseeing gang rapes, beheadings of victims

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A panel of United Nations rights experts on Tuesday, accused South Sudan officials of overseeing systematic gang rapes and beheading of victims, some as young as nine.

The panel also called for a thorough investigation of government officials to ascertain the level of involvement of the officials.

The UN investigators say sexual abuse has been used as a “weapon by all sides in the country’s civil conflict which erupted in 2013 and triggered Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.:

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan also said in a statement it had reasonable grounds to believe a county commissioner in the northern State of Unity had orchestrated gang rapes at a military camp.

“The documented abuses also involved beheadings, with rape victims being forced to carry the severed heads, victims being burnt alive, and days of brutal sexual assaults,” the UN experts said in the statement.

Conflict-related rape and sexual violence in Unity State has become so systematic and is a direct result of impunity,” a member of the commission, Barney Afako, told journalists at the presentation of the report.

However, South Sudan’s Information Minister and government spokesman, Michael Makuei, has dismissed the commission’s statement as mere fabrication.

“They come and sit in hotels here in Juba and fabricate these false reports on South Sudan to make a living. I am saying these are false reports fabricated against the government,” Makuei told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

Military spokesperson for Vice President Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), Lam Paul Gabriel, also debunked the report, saying the movement had had no hand in the reported crimes.

“This report is misplaced because they do not know who is fighting who in those areas where these accusations are made,” Lam said.

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South African serial rapist who claimed to be ‘Boko Haram’ gang member bags life imprisonment

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A Limpopo, South Africa serial rapist, Selekenyane Tumelo Marakala, who claimed to be a member of the ‘Boko Haram” gang, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for raping and choking a woman.

The 30-year-old gangster, was sentenced on Wednesday by Regional Court in Mahwelereng, was said to have told his victim that he was a member of the dreaded gang and threatened to kill her if she resisted the rape.

The Limpopo police spokesperson, Colonel Malesela Ledwaba, told the court that on Sunday, June 9, 2019, Marakala from Moshate, Maroteng village, met the victim, a 19-year-old woman from Ga-Madiba who was on her way home from a tavern just before midnight.

“He grabbed the victim from the back and took her to his house and raped the victim over the night. The accused, Marakala, covered his face with a balaclava.

“He strangled the victim and he voluntarily let the victim to go in the following morning.

“The accused took off the balaclava and introduced himself to the victim as a member of a dangerous gang called Boko Haram, and threatened her not to report him.

“Ultimately the victim went to the police station to report the incident,” Ledwaba said.

The police said Marakala was arrested “within a short space of time” by the police’s Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit after the victim reported the assault and was remanded in custody since 2019, until the final appearance in the trial.

“The case was successfully investigated and the conviction was secured by Sergeant Ramolokwane Leshaba,” said Ledwaba.

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