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Tshisekedi claims regional force ‘cohabiting’ with rebels

GABORONE – Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi has said the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) will be pulled out from the country’s east if it fails to fulfil its peace-making mandate by June.

“We will decide to escort (out) these contingents… and thank them,” he said on Tuesday in Botswana, where he is on a state visit.

The EACRF was deployed in the region in March to help quell the March 23 Movement (M23) rebellion but has since been criticised for failing to force the rebels to relinquish territory.

President Tshisekedi also expressed frustration with the regional force, which he said was not operating as DR Congo had expected and was allegedly colluding with the rebels.

“In some regions, there is cohabitation between the regional force and the M23 terrorists. This was not in the programme.

“It was a question of forcing these M23 forces to ceasefire, to withdraw and to be confined to camps,” he added.

His remark came a day after the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) bloc agreed to deploy troops “with offensive mandate” to eastern DR Congo.

The DR Congo leader also criticised the Kenyan authorities over the resignation and replacement of the first force commander, Gen Jeff Nyagah, over unspecified “threats.”

 Meanwhile, more than 670 women, or 48 new victims per day, have been treated for sexual violence in displacement camps in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the last two weeks, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Tuesday.

About 600, 000 people are sheltering in the camps near Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, after fleeing rebel conflict in their home towns in the surrounding region.

Most of the victims reported being assaulted when they left the camps to get food or wood, MSF said.

In three sites – Rusayo, Bulengo and Kanyaruchinya – more than half the victims said they were assaulted by armed men, MSF said, without giving more details. – BBC/REUTERS.

Sudan capital rocked by air strikes, looting

KHARTOUM – Residents of Sudan’s capital reported heavy air strikes in central Khartoum on Tuesday amid a surge in looting while Saudi Arabia said negotiators were working toward a short-term ceasefire.

Witnesses said the army unleashed intense air bombardment in the centre of Khartoum and around the presidential palace. The rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary said the palace, which it claims to control, was hit by an air strike and destroyed, but an army source denied the claim.

The fighting in Khartoum, which broke out on April 15, has prompted hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes and triggered an aid crisis. The number of people internally displaced within Sudan more than doubled in a week to 700, 000, the UN’s migration agency said.

The two forces, which have failed to abide by repeated truce deals, sent representatives to talks in the Saudi port city of Jeddah on Saturday. In the first report on the talks thus far, the Saudi foreign ministry said on Tuesday that the negotiations aimed to reach “an effective short-term ceasefire,” Saudi state TV Al-Ekhbariya said.

Amid warnings that Sudan is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths proposed the warring parties back a declaration guaranteeing safe passage of aid supplies and the proposal has been discussed in Jeddah, a UN spokesperson said. The United Nations estimates that five million additional people will need emergency assistance inside Sudan while 860, 000 are expected to flee to neighbouring states that were already in crisis at a time when rich countries have cut back on aid.  – REUTERS.

SAHRC denies letting Malema off the hook for hate speech as judgement is reserved

JOHANNESBURG – SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has defended its decision to let EFF leader Julius Malema off the hook for hate speech in 2019. 

This after Malema had, in 2016, said, “we are not calling for the slaughtering of white people, at least for now,” while addressing supporters. 

On Tuesday, the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg reserved judgement, with Deputy Judge President Roland Sutherland, who presided in the case, indicating he would send the outcome via email. 

Advocate Kathleen Hardy, who represented the SAHRC, said particular attention was given to the complaint against Malema. 

According to Hardy, contrary to steps usually taken to allow provincial offices to handle matters where the incident occurred, the SAHRC CEO, in this case, was personally involved.

“The commission took this so seriously they instructed two senior staff members to look into this matter, do research, and advise them.

“The two, who were roped in, are senior specialists, one a senior researcher in the area of equality to look at this and advise the commission. 

“That opinion is comprehensive; they listed what they have found necessary to interrogate and considered coming to their conclusion.

“They took the complaint seriously, and they put resources into this because they recognised the importance of the matter; they didn’t have to do that,” said Hardy. 

She added the CEO of the commission at the time instructed the senior researcher for equality to prepare an opinion regarding these matters. 

“Given that the senior researcher is only admitted to the bar of the state of New York, the opinion is supported by a senior legal officer,” said Hardy. 

She added Malema had also qualified his utterances that processes to be taken to take back the land would be done through constitutional procedures. – NEWS24.


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