11 Jun

‘Stay out of politics,’ Zimbabwe army told ahead of crucial elections

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has questioned the Zimbabwe National Army’s ability to explicitly stay clear of the southern African country’s forthcoming election –  regardless of its outcome.

In an interview with News24, Senior researcher at ISS, Derek Matyszak said that there was need for the Zimbabwean military to stay clear of politics if the country was to hold a credible election.

“It is important that the military publicly announces its pledge to stay clear of politics regardless of the election results. They have often been meddling in politics in the past and have just recently done that when they stepped in last year,” said Matyszak.

The Zimbabwean army played an important role in getting President Emmerson Mnangagwa into power last year, as they launched a brief take over from then president Robert Mugabe.

The military temporarily took control of the country on November 15 when internal feuding escalated in the ruling Zanu-PF party over then president Mugabe’s succession.

The takeover, which the army said was targeting Mugabe’s corrupt allies came days after the 94-year-old leader had fired then deputy Mnangagwa who had strong military ties and was widely tipped as the likely successor.

Mugabe’s wife Grace had indicated interest in succeeding her husband. The army’s intervention was followed by mass street protests against Mugabe and a motion to impeach the veteran ruler who resigned in a letter to parliament as proceedings to recall him began.

“The military’s involvement in politics is a worrisome issue because they have been meddling with the country’s politics for the past decades.

In 2008 they made it clear that they were not going to back any leader without any liberation credentials.

And they have also made it clear in the past seven months that they are the final arbiters in the country’s politics. So their announcement to stay clear of the election will be important,” said Matyszak.

To read the full article, click here.

30 Apr

Ethiopia Mulls Fertilizer Plant Tender as Army Deal Reviewed

Ethiopia’s government may cancel a contract for a fertilizer plant awarded to its military-industrial conglomerate and offer it to international tender, the Public Enterprises Ministry said.

The possible revision of the contract is the latest sign that Ethiopia’s new prime minister is fulfilling a pledge to purge “favoritism” toward the security forces.

The state awarded the Yayu project in Ethiopia’s restive Oromia region to state-owned Metals & Engineering Corp six years ago, but since then less than half the work on the complex has been completed, ministry spokesman Wondefrash Assefa said.

“It may be that we will cancel the agreement and we will continue with another contractor, but the decision is not reached at this time,” he said by phone Friday from the capital, Addis Ababa. “It may be that others will participate including foreign companies.”

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to office April 2, succeeding Hailemariam Desalegn, who quit as prime minister in February after failing to end protests in the Amhara and Oromia regions that began in 2015 amid demands for greater economic inclusivity.

Abiy has vowed to ensure more even wealth distribution by reducing “favoritism” toward the security forces.

Office Cherifien des Phosphates, a Morocco-based fertilizer producer, may be among companies that could be considered to take over the project, Wondefrash said. OCP has an interest “to produce fertilizer but we’ve not reached a conclusion on this issue,” he said.

Craig Atherfold, a spokesman for OCP, said he passed a request for comment to a colleague.

Metec is run by the Ethiopian military, one of Africa’s largest armies, and has been involved in projects including the $6.4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and a series of sugar developments.

Officers connected with the rebel movement that overthrew Ethiopia’s junta in 1991 have dominated senior government positions for the past quarter century.

To read the full article, click here.

09 Feb

Congo Army Campaign May Force More Than Quarter-Million to Flee

An offensive begun by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s army against rebels in the country’s east last month may force almost 370,000 people to flee their homes, the United Nations said.

Congolese troops launched the campaign against the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, and other armed groups active in North Kivu province, near the Ugandan border, on Jan. 13. An estimated 196,300 people are expected to flee in the territory of Beni, and a further 173,200 in Lubero as a result, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Thursday in a report.

Those fleeing would be in addition to the more than 532,000 who were displaced in the two territories during fighting in 2016 and 2017. Army spokesman General Leon-Richard Kasonga didn’t answer two phone calls seeking comment on the report.

Mineral-rich eastern Congo has been blighted by violence perpetrated by armed groups for decades, but in recent years many of these militias have fragmented.

There are about 120 armed groups in North and South Kivu provinces alone, up from 70 two years ago, according to the Kivu Security Tracker, a joint project of the Congo Research Group and Human Rights Watch.

More than 1,000 civilians in Beni territory have been killed in massacres since October 2014, according to the UN report. Congo’s government and the UN mission in the country have attributed most of the attacks to the ADF, a Ugandan Islamist group which has been active in Congo for more than two decades.

UN experts and the Congo Research Group say the situation is more complex and other militias, as well as senior Congolese army officers, have been involved in planning and carrying out the mass killings.

About 5 million Congolese are currently uprooted from the homes mainly due to conflict in the east and center of the country, including about 675,000 living as refugees in Congo’s neighbors, according to the UN.

Nearly a million people fled violence in the first half of 2017, outpacing conflict zones including Syria and Yemen, the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said in December.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-08/congo-army-campaign-may-force-more-than-quarter-million-to-flee

27 Nov

Mugabe Quit Over Fear of Being Zimbabwe’s Qaddafi

An emotional Robert Mugabe finally agreed to end his 37-rule in Zimbabwe when army generals who’d seized power told him they wouldn’t prevent protesters from storming his home unless he relented, three people familiar with the talks said.

The peril from the protesters was real. Three days before they’d approached the gates of his mansion, known as “the blue roof,” in the affluent northern Harare suburb of Borrowdale. Chris Mutsvanga, a leader of veterans of the liberation war against white-ruled Rhodesia in the 1970s, threatened to unleash a fresh wave of protests when Mugabe, confused and tearful during his final days in power, didn’t immediately resign after thousands poured into the streets on Nov. 18.

For Mugabe, an almost president-for-life figure, the scenes were difficult to believe. He’d always been accompanied by a motorcade of heavily armed troops, decoy cars, police vehicles, motorcycle outriders and a fully-equipped military ambulance. But in recent years, the fate of figures such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi, both of whom died or were captured after going on the run, had weighed on him, according to the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Ailing health and frequent confusion hobbled Mugabe during the talks. He wept often and called out for his deceased first wife Sally, and Nhamodzenyika, his son who died of cerebral malaria as an infant, the officials said. His friend Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Catholic priest who was mediating talks with the military, consoled him and begged him to eat and bathe.

Mugabe’s decision to step down and end a week-long standoff with the military came as his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was preparing to impeach him in parliament. It marked an anguished end to the career of Africa’s second-longest serving leader who had led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980 and dominated its political scene ever since.

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