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US announces sanctions against Zimbabwean President’s son, Emmerson Jnr

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The US Treasury Department has announced sanctions against Emmerson Mnangagwa Jr, the powerful son of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, following his
ties to sanctioned businessman, Kudakwashe Tagwirei.

The announcement made on Monday before the kick off of the summit of African leaders in Washington, DC, spelt out penalties against Mnangagwa Jr which include the freezing of his assets.

The announcement alleged that Mnangagwa Jr has been in charge of business interests owned by his father and related to Tagwirei.

The US Treasury alleged that those targeted by Monday’s sanctions were tied to the businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his Sakunda Holdings company, who is accused of using his wealth to cultivate relationships with high-level government officials, receiving state contracts and access to hard currency in exchange for luxury items such as expensive cars.

“The sanctions freezes the US assets of those designated and generally bars Americans from engaging in business dealings with them,” the Treasury Department said in a press release.

“The Zimbabwe sanctions programme targets human rights abusers and those who undermine democratic processes or facilitate corruption.

“US sanctions do not target the Zimbabwean people, the country of Zimbabwe, or Zimbabwe’s banking sector,” the press release states.

In addition to Mnangagwa Jr, the sanctions also hit Tagwirei’s wife Sandra Mpunga, as well as Sakunda’s chief marketing and public relations officer, Nqobile Magwizi and Obey Chimuka, a business partner of Tagwirei.

Mnangagwa Jr’s father is also under a sanction of his own following a 2003 blockade of his US assets after the administration of then-President George W Bush sanctioned him for “undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe”.

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M23 rebels take control of Kitshanga in eastern DR Congo

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The M23 rebels have announced that its fighters have seized control of the strategic town of Kitshanga, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after days of intense fighting.

The DRC military authorities also confirmed in a statement late on Friday that its forces have withdrawn from the town in a tactical move to protect civilians in the face of a renewed offensive by the rebel militia.

“We have tactically withdrawn from the city in order to attract these genocidal forces deep into the city and avoid the worst for our people in Kitshanga,” spokesman for the military governor of North Kivu, Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Ndjike, said in the statement.

“We are making every effort to dislodge this enemy,” he added.

Videos then emerged on social media showing the M23 fighters celebrating and claiming they had captured the town.

The M23 rebels said it took control of Kitshanga town on Thursday night after capturing several villages on the road linking the town of about 60,000 people to the provincial capital, Goma.

In an earlier statement, M23′s spokesman, Lawrence Kanyuka, has accused government troops of attacking civilians in Kitchanga and elsewhere, and said the rebel group was “obliged to intervene and stop another genocide”.

While condemning the recent development, the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), said more than 500 people, including women and children, are seeking refuge at its base in the town of Kitshanga.

MONUSCO spokesperson, Ndeye Khady Lo, said civilians fleeing from Kitchanga have been given tents, food, water and first aid.

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237 African migrants rescued off Libyan coast

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Not less than 237 African migrants were on Friday, rescued after their makeshift boat capsized off the Libyan coast while navigating the dangerous Mediterranean Sea, on their way to Europe.

French medical charity, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which carried out the rescue mission, said the migrants were rescued by its chartered rescue vessel, Geo Barents, which was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, north of the country’s capital Tripoli, when it received a distress call.

“The Geo Barents ship encountered other overcrowded rubber dinghies with migrants attempting to reach Europe and took them on board,” the NGO said.

“Following instructions by the maritime rescue coordination centre, the ship then sailed towards the northern Italian port of La Spezia.l,” it added.

The MSF and other NGOs operating rescue vessels off Africa’s northern coast have accused the Italian government of deliberately assigning far away ports to discourage their operations, an accusation the Italian Interior Ministry had denied.

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