26 February 2013

Africa News Round Up

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon will urge the Security Council to approve a force to fight rebels according to a draft report seen on Monday, Reuters reports.

The report also applauded suspension of aid to Rwanda over claims it backs the insurgents.

In the draft of a special report to the 15-member council, Ban said a brigade of several thousand soldiers should be created within the existing U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo, known as MONUSCO, and be deployed initially for one year.

"The intervention brigade would carry out targeted offensive operations, either on its own or jointly with the FARDC (Congolese army), in a robust, highly mobile and versatile manner," Ban said in a copy of the draft obtained by Reuters.

He added that the intervention brigade would focus on preventing the expansion of armed groups, "neutralizing" and disarming them. Such peace enforcement missions allow the use of lethal force in serious combat situations.

In practical terms, U.N. diplomats say, troops in the brigade will have more freedom to open fire without having to wait until they are attacked first, a limitation that is standard for U.N. peacekeepers deployed around the world.

African leaders signed a U.N.-mediated deal on Sunday aimed at ending two decades of conflict in Congo's east and paving the way for the intervention brigade. The 15-member U.N. Security Council will now need to pass a new resolution authorizing the force and diplomats have said it will likely be supported.

The U.N. Security Council's Group of Experts, which monitors compliance with sanctions and an arms embargo on Congo, said in a report last year that Rwanda's defense minister was commanding the M23 revolt in Congo and that Rwanda was arming the rebels and supporting them with troops.

Rwanda - now a member of the Security Council - has strongly denied involvement.

The United States, Sweden, the Netherlands, Britain and the European Union reacted to the experts' accusations by suspending some aid to Rwanda, which relies on donors for about 40 percent of its budget.

Else where in the DRC at least eight people have been killed in the first clashes between rival factions of the M23 rebel group in DR Congo, the BBC reports.

The violence was linked to a power-struggle between M23 political leader Jean-Marie Runiga and military chief Sultani Makenga, the sources said.

On Sunday, regional leaders signed a UN-brokered accord to end conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

About 80,000 people have been displaced in fighting since May 2012.

The M23 launched a rebellion against the DR Congo government, briefly seizing Goma, the main city in the east, in November.

Both Rwanda and Uganda strongly deny claims they back the rebels.

The BBC's Ignatius Bahizi reports from neighbouring Uganda that the rival M23 factions exchanged gunfire in the town of Rutshuru, 70km (43 miles) north of Goma.

Congolese sources told him eight people had been killed - including six civilians.

But one source told the BBC Great Lakes Service that 19 people were killed - nine civilians and six fighters, including two majors.

It blamed the violence on the FDLR rebel group, which is made up of Rwandans accused of involvement in the 1994 genocide that left about 800,000 people dead, he says.

The M23 is involved in separate peace talks with the DR Congo government in Uganda.

In Egypt, President Mohammed Morsi on Monday called for a meeting with the country's opposition to discuss upcoming legislative polls, amid calls for a boycott, News24 reports.

"I call on all the brothers in the different parties in all of Egypt to come... so we can sit and put in the place the guarantees for the transparency and fairness of the elections," Morsi said in an interview on private satellite channel al-Mehwar.

The interview, which was due to be aired on Sunday evening, was transmitted hours later and ended at dawn, provoking much criticism on social networks.

Staggered parliamentary polls are set to start on April 22 over two months but opposition figures have slammed the timing of the vote while the country is gripped by political divisions and unrest.

The coalition organised massive protests against Morsi in November and December after he adopted now-repealed powers that shielded his decisions from judicial review.

Other NSF officials said the coalition, an alliance of mainly liberal and leftist parties, was yet to decide on its position.

The Muslim Brotherhood - from which Morsi hails- and Islamist allies dominated the last parliamentary election in 2011 that resulted in an Islamist-majority house which a court annulled on a technicality before Morsi's election last June.

In Kenya, Presidential candidates on Monday engaged each other on issues ranging from corruption, post-election violence and their role in reforms, the Daily Nation reports.

Restore and Build Kenya candidate James ole Kiyiapi threw the first salvo when he sought clarification from Cord candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, over Sh4.2 billion of free education money that was allegedly lost in a graft scandal.

Prof Kiyiapi wanted to know why Mr Odinga had not defended him at the time knowing that he had just been transferred to the Education Ministry.

Mr Odinga said that Prof Kiyiapi was raising the matter rather late. The matter would have been resolved if he had raised it on time.

This seemed to be the cue the other candidates were waiting for as they asked each other tough questions regarding scandals that rocked governments dating as a far back as 20 years ago.

The scandals came to haunt the candidates as they faced off in the last debate ahead of elections next week.

The Goldenberg, Anglo-leasing, Free Education funds and maize scandals were among some of the issues that made the atmosphere very tensed for the eight contenders.

Mr Odinga was tasked to explain what he knew about the Molasses plant in Kisumu, while Jubilee Coalition's Uhuru Kenyatta was also asked to shed light on a Sh10 billion "typing error" in Budget estimates tabled under his watch as Finance minister.

UDF's Musalia Mudavadi was hard pressed to explain his role in the Goldenberg scam that swindled the public coffers billions of shillings.

Narc-Kenya's Martha Karua did not escape either as she was accused by Mr Odinga of sidelining opposition parties in 2007 when she was Justice minister and when appointing commissioners to the now defuct Electoral Commission of Kenya. She was also accused of blocking other reforms in government.

Mr Kenneth and Mr Muite challenged Mr Mudavadi to come clean on the Goldenberg payments stating that a big chunk of payments were paid during his tenure as Finance minister. Mr Kenneth mentioned figures of Sh3 billion and Sh5.9 billion.

Mr Muite affirmed that "Almost 75 per cent of the Goldenberg payments were paid during his (Mudavadi) term."

The UDF leader defended his record, saying that his two rivals were basing their questions on misleading information.

"I am on record that I stopped Goldenberg payments... My colleagues are misled," he said.

During debate on graft, Mr Abduba Dida sent the audience into laughter when he asked the moderator of the debate: "Did you expect a thief to tell you that 'I have stolen'?

Copyright © 2013 The Independent. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.