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UN review shows Uganda supported the M23 rebels in the Congo

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According to a United Nations report released on Monday, the Ugandan army has assisted the M23 rebel group that is active in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This comes as growing hostilities in the area heighten concerns about the possibility of a new all-out war. Uganda denied involvement and stated that it worked closely with the government forces in the Congo.

Long-standing accusations by the United Nations that Rwanda supports the M23, which has taken control of significant areas of the mineral-rich eastern Congo, have been refuted by Rwanda.

The conflict has torn through the Congo for many years. In 1996 and 1998, Uganda and Rwanda launched invasions under the pretext of defending themselves against regional militias. Uganda and Congolese forces continue to work together to combat a rebel group in Uganda.

Since 2022, the Tutsi-led M23 rebels have been fighting a new insurgency in the militia-ridden east of Congo. A regional force sent in November 2022 to oversee a truce with the M23 included Ugandan soldiers. Last year, Congolese officials demanded that the military leave their country, citing its inefficiency.

“Since the resurgence of the M23 crisis, Uganda has not prevented the presence of M23 and Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) troops on its territory or passage through it,” the U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts said in the report, which was sent to the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee at the end of April and then to members of the Security Council in June.

The UN panel added that it had proof of active military and military intelligence backing for M23, with M23 leaders—including the banned Sultani Makenga—visiting Uganda for meetings.

When contacted by Reuters, Deo Akiiki, the deputy spokesman for Uganda’s armed forces, stated that these accusations were untrue and unfairly blamed the army of the East African nation during its most favourable relationship with the Congolese troops (FARDC).

“It would be mad for us to destabilise the same area we are sacrificing it all to have it stable,” Akiiki said.

 

Musings From Abroad

IMF lowers Botswana’s growth projection for 2024

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In a statement, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reduced its earlier April estimate of 3.6% growth for Botswana to 1%, primarily because of decreased diamond production.

In addition, the IMF warned that a decline in mineral income would cause the budget deficit to balloon to 6% from 3.45% and urged the diamond-rich nation in southern Africa to think twice before embarking on new infrastructure projects to support the economy.

“The continued (economic) slowdown is mainly due to a fall in diamond production,” said IMF said in a statement released late on Friday.

“Some fiscal relaxation is warranted this year given the fall in mineral revenues, but the execution of the ambitious capital budget should be slowed down to contain the deterioration of the deficit and prioritize projects with the highest returns,” the IMF said.

 

The demand prognosis for diamonds, which are typically regarded as luxury goods, has decreased due to weaker consumer demand and a weakening in the global economy.

Finance Minister Peggy Serame predicted in February that the economy would expand by 4.2%, but a few months later the central bank issued a warning, stating that the ongoing challenges in the world diamond market made it doubtful that this goal would be met.

Diamond sales account for 30–40% of Botswana’s total revenue and 75% of its foreign exchange profits.

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Musings From Abroad

Russian state company, Malian junta negotiate nuclear deal

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According to Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear business and the ruling military junta in Mali have signed three cooperation agreements and discussed several projects, including the construction of a low-power nuclear power plant with Russian design, on Wednesday.

For years, Rosatom has been pursuing a charm offensive in Africa in an attempt to secure business through the signing of cooperation agreements with nations all over the continent. As part of that effort, closer ties have been made with juntas in the Sahel region of West Africa, who have retreated from conventional Western allies after seizing power in coups before 2020.

Junta-led administrations in the West African states of Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger Republic, and Mali have all tilted towards Russia for military ties, severing relations with former colony France and its international ally, the United States.

In a statement, Rosatom claimed that it had met with Assimi Goita, the head of Mali’s junta, on July 2 and 3. It has talks with junta authorities in charge of energy, education, and economics.

The statement added that in addition to talking about a “strategic project to build a Russian-designed low-power nuclear power plant in Mali,” junta leaders and Rosatom also discussed geological exploration projects and solar power generating.

Regarding the projected low-power nuclear power station that might be constructed in Mali, Rosatom withheld information.

“The parties agreed to continue maintaining close contacts and periodically coordinate positions as joint work progresses,” it said.

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