Monday, September 30, 2013

Rwanda: Rwanda Day falls flat

 Stephanie MacLellan at the Toronto Star reports

Rwanda Day draws celebrations and protests against President Paul Kagame

Rwandan-Canadians gathered in Toronto to connect with their community and learn about investment opportunities in their home country, as protesters loudly objected to the presence of President Paul Kagame.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame addressed Rwandan-Canadians and their supporters at Saturday's Rwanda Day event at Downsview Park.

Hundreds of Rwandan-Canadians gathered in Toronto on Saturday to connect with their community and learn about investment opportunities in their home country.
That must be a bit of a disappointment for the organisers. They were expecting thousands.
Thousands of Rwandans and friends of Rwanda are today expected to descend on Toronto to attend Rwanda Day. According to the head of Rwandan community in Canada, Dr Egide Karuranga, hundreds are expected to cross over from US.  
But there was a small but noisy presence from a couple dozen protesters at the Rwanda Day event at Downsview Park, objecting to the presence of Rwanda’s controversial President Paul Kagame.
It was more than a couple of dozen going by the a video I saw. The success of the protests is contingent on the publicity it generates and I am guessing that this protest generated quite a bit.  
                                                                                    Protesters in Toronto
This was the first Rwanda Day held in Canada after previous versions in the U.S., London and Paris. Organizers said about 3,000 people attended, amid tight security and a large contingent of Toronto police.
“The main objective is to reconnect members of the community living abroad with their mother country,” said Shakilla Umutoni, Rwandan chargée d’affaires. That included updating them on developments in Rwanda and informing them of investment opportunities back home.
The objective of Rwanda day is nothing of the sort. It is an attempt by Kagame to build legitimacy in the international community and amongst the Rwandan diaspora. 
About 15 Rwandan businesses and a few Canadian ones set up information booths at the event, she said, before the event turned into a party featuring a performance from Canadian rapper Shad, who was born in Kenya to Rwandan parents.
15 booths and a few hundred people is hardly a resounding success particularly given the effectiveness of the protest. If Rwanda Day was not about perpetuating the Kagame regime and genuinely about economic opportunities I think it would be far more effective.
For Elvira Rwasamanzi, a 21-year-old biotech student from Ottawa, the focus on investing in Rwanda was one of the main draws of the day.
“It was really motivating,” said Rwasamanzi, who came to Canada from Rwanda as a young child. “It makes you want to give back because you’re proud.”
Kagame used part of his speech to encourage Rwandan-Canadians to invest in Rwanda, Umutoni said.
“He said if you travelled all the way from your country and got to Canada, take advantage of that . . . and do your best, not just for yourself but for your country.”
But it was the very presence of Kagame that brought protesters to the event, saying that Canada shouldn’t have let him enter given his record on human rights.
Canada will probably follow the lead of the Commonwealth on this issue, as it stands the Commonwealth equivalent Francophonie seem to want nothing to do with Rwanda. The key will be to change the attitudes at Marlborough House .
Rwandan opposition figures have been jailed and several countries suspended their aid to Rwanda last year citing its military support for M23, a rebel group responsible for serious abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the United Nations and human rights groups. Kagame has denied involvement.
Protesters also cited a 2010 UN report implicating the Rwandan government in killing tens of thousands of Hutus in the eastern part of what is now Congo, following the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which Hutus targeted Tutsis and up to a million people were killed. (Kagame and many of today’s government leaders are Tutsis.) Rwanda denounced the report.

"....the eastern part of what is now Congo,...? WTF. So before it was the Congo it was what ? The Congo of course, I am not sure what the inference is here. Have the Kagame acolytes managed to push some false info ?
“Paul Kagame is a criminal financing a military movement in eastern Congo,” said Aime Kabuya of the Congolese Citizen Movement. “He shouldn’t have the freedom to travel that he does now. Why did Canada give him a visa?”
Perpétue Muramutse of the International Women’s Network for Democracy and Peace also raised concerns about Kagame’s pro-development message.
“The Rwandese are very poor,” she said. “They say there’s development in Rwanda but it’s development for just a small part of the people. When you go to the countryside, you see people with nothing to eat.”
Umutoni said she respected the right of protesters to express their views, but questioned why they were raising those concerns at Rwanda Day.
“This is purely a Rwandan event.”
Umutoni is obviously not a genius. The stupidity of the last quote staggers the imagination. I can hardly  imagine the expat Rwandan community staging a protest on July 1.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Kenya: 36th Parallel Assessments Interview

This is worth a listen.

Rwanda: The Kagame roadshow rolls into Toronto Canada

New Times ( Rwanda ) reports

Toronto hosts Rwanda Day

                                                  Rwanda Day Paris, 11 September 2011

Thousands of Rwandans and friends of Rwanda are today expected to descend on Toronto to attend Rwanda Day. According to the head of Rwandan community in Canada, Dr Egide Karuranga, hundreds are expected to cross over from US.  

I have no real understanding of the Rwanda Day concept. It is an event that seems to occur somewhat randomly. Rwandan Independence day is July 1 and that would accord with most nations practice of a designated national day. 

“We’ve been running effective social media campaigns, with ads, and clips,” Karuranga told Saturday Times on Thursday, adding that besides Rwandans, even Canadian citizens had picked interest. Most of the attendees arrived yesterday while others are expected to arrive today. 

President Paul Kagame, who has graced all the four previous events is expected to attend this year’s edition. 

It is good of President Kagame to attend this years event particularly after he had eggs thrown at him at him in Oxford  while he was in the UK to attend last years London event that for some inexplicable reason was also held this year. 

Rwanda Day London, 18 May 2013 - Agaciro: Delivering Prosperity

Now call me a cynic if you must but I am starting to wonder what is going on with Rwanda Day it would seem this annual event occurs a bit more frequently than one might expect. 

Rwanda Day Boston, 21-22 September 2012 - Agaciro: The Journey Continues

Rwanda Day Paris, 11 September 2011 - Agaciro: Generation dignite

Rwanda Day Chicago, 11 June 2011 - Agaciro: Our Heritage. Our Future

So two in 2011 one in 2011 and back to two in 2013 and astonishingly Rwandan President has managed to make time in his busy schedule to attend every event.  

The Organiser Dr Egide Karuranga, best known for his rather bizarre attack on Paul Rusesabagina the Rwandan Hotel manager who saved 1,268 Hutu and Tutsi refugees in the Rwandan genocide, Karuranga hilariously seems to think it was the United Nations who saved them. He seems to be deluded and would have us believe that this event is a local initiative rather than something that he is doing on the instructions of Kigali.

Several local companies will showcase their products at the event.

Teta Isibo, the CEO of Inzuki Designs, a Rwandan brand specialising in jewellery, accessories and interior decor hand-made primarily from local materials, told Saturday Times that even though she did not travel to Toronto, she has arranged to “have somebody on the other end” to sell her unique products.

I have absolutely no issue with this, in many ways I have no issue with the Rwanda day concept. Why dress it up and make it something it isn't. This is an event to promote Rwandan business and investment opportunities organised by the Government of Rwanda and there is nothing wrong with that.

Investing in future 

“We are very excited to be taking part of the Rwanda Day event. We will be exhibiting and selling our products which are a fusion of traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design,” Isibo said.

 “The Rwandan Diaspora is a large part of our target market and previous Rwanda Day events in which we participated have been quite successful for our business in terms of sales, networking and getting our brand name out there.”

Rwanda Day, an event held in different countries around the world, brings together Rwandans and friends of Rwanda around the world to celebrate the country’s progress and discuss how best to contribute towards Rwanda’s socio-economic transformation.

If only that was true. Rwanda day is nothing of the sort. It is a political exercise designed to improve the international standing of Paul Kagame and his regime.  

Today’s event will be held under the theme “Agaciro: Investing in Our Future.” During such gatherings, Rwandans interact and exchange views on how they can contribute to the vision of a modern, unified and prosperous Rwanda.

Canada hosts between 13, 000 and 14, 000 Rwandans. 

After the Toronto event, Rwandans in Canada will also participate in Rwanda Week, a week-long event that will take place in Ottawa, another Canadian city at a later date.

Previous Rwanda Day events were held in the American cities of Boston and Chicago, while in Europe the event has been held in Paris, France with the most recent having taken place in London, United Kingdom, in May.

Can't wait for the Auckland edition. Not

Friday, September 27, 2013

DR Congo: The USA has had enough of Rwandan lies.

Voice of America reports

African Leaders Grapple with Fighting in Eastern Congo

                                                                                           M23 Rebels

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said rebels in Eastern Congo are carrying out "appalling" attacks against civilians. African heads of state met at the United Nations to discuss the conflict, which the United States said Rwanda is fueling by backing those rebels.

Which is a vastly different take on the events in the DR Congo from the reports being put out by Congo DRC News ( A M23 / Rwandan propaganda site ). 

Fighters from Congo's M23 rebellion are the biggest challenge to government troops and U.N. peacekeepers in the eastern Kivu provinces.

Ban Ki-moon said earlier this week that rebel attacks include violence against women and children.

"The extent of violence and human suffering in eastern DRC is overwhelming. I deplore the recent military activities of the M23 and the other armed groups in eastern DRC," he said.

If ever there was ever a time for MONUSCO and the Intervention Brigade to keep up the pressure on M23 it is now. They have an international mandate to resolve the rebel issue and M23 may have the honour of being the first group to be resolved. 

African leaders meeting at the United Nations are backing peace talks in Uganda.

But the talks are complicated by persistent reports of Rwandan support for the rebels.

"We reiterate our call for Rwanda to cease any and all support to the M23 and to respect DRC’s territorial integrity, consistent with U.N. Security Council resolutions," said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

The peace talks are cover and neither side is taking them seriously however this is a major movement in policy from the US. Rwanda is being further isolated. I would expect a Rwandan reaction soon.

Publicly accusing a U.S. ally of backing M23 rebels is a bold move for the Obama administration, said Sarah Margon at Human Rights Watch.

"They've told the Rwandans we're putting you on notice," she said. "But what next? And so if the Rwandans don't stop, what will the U.S. be willing to do?"

Rwanda won't stop that is a given. The US needs to give effective support to MONUSCO and the Intervention Brigade because along with the Congolese army FARDC this issue is going to come to a head soon. The US must prevent a Rwandan invasion of the Eastern DR Congo. The consequences of such an invasion must be the inditing of the administration of Kagame and the military leadership of the country with charges of Crimes Against Humanity.  

Rwandan President Paul Kagame denies involvement and says the international community shouldn't focus on M23 rebels when there are so many other groups contributing to instability in Eastern Congo.

Kagame is a liar. Fortunately the international community has grown sick of his lies and are now focusing their attention not only on his murderous thugs M23 but they have started to look at the Rwandan regime.   

The peace talks in Kampala have focused on other armed groups as well.

What ? My understanding is the " talks " are between M23 and the Congolese government. One of the M23 demands is that the Congolese government disarm the Rwandan rebels FDLR but that is really a bit of a side issue to the side issue that the talks have already become. The FDLR's turn will come and that is a legitimate concern of Rwanda's but it is an issue for them and the Congolese government to thrash out.  
In an interview with VOA, U.S. Special Envoy Russ Feingold said that is the only way forward.

"Whatever happens with the Kampala talks, the framework and the peace process involving the countries in the region goes on and will deal with the root and fundamental problems, not just the issue of M23," he said.

I suspect that is an admission by Envoy Feingold that the Kampala talks are degenerating into a farce.
But the immediate goal of stopping the fighting is still about M23, says Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa.

"M23 should put an end to all military activities and stop war and threats of overthrowing the lawful government of the DRC," he said.

Uganda seems to be distancing itself from M23 infact they have often seemed to have been ambivalent at best when it comes to M23. I suspect they are rather better than Rwanda at judging the mood of the international community.

President Joseph Kabila's troops are moving to re-establish central authority over eastern Congo. But Margon says it's a challenge.

"Without Rwanda ceasing to provide support for the M23, many of the other elements whether it be the upcoming elections in Congo, Congo's extension of governing authority in the east, regional development are not going to be able to happen," said Margon.

As Rwanda continues to support M23 there are very few options available and that has been obvious for some time. The solution is the destruction of M23 and the most effect way to achieve that is not finding a political solution but pursuing the military solution to its conclusion and that is the unconditional surrender of M23 or the unconditional surrender of any surviving members of M23 after they lose on the battlefield. I suspect that that is starting to dawn on them.

Rebels were integrated into Congo's military under an earlier attempt at reconciliation. This time around, Congolese officials say the worst of the M23 leaders will not be granted amnesty in a new peace deal.

I doubt that the government will allow integration this time. It was a failure last time and there is clear evidence that the government of the DR Congo is attempting to sort out the indiscipline of FARDC and professionalise the force, there is no way they want the armed forces saddled with former rebels who at any time may defect and cause another insurrection on the orders of President Kagame.

DR Congo: Kabila at the UN

Joseph Kabila's speech to the UN General Assembly

JOSEPH KABILA KABANGE, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, paid respect to the victims of the terrorist attack in Kenya before pointing out that the international community was marked by several serious challenges. Indeed, critical consideration of the successes and setbacks of the Millennium Development Goals was overshadowed by the “persistent selfishness” of several States, as well as the up and downs of the global economy. Negative effects of globalization had contributed to the food crisis, famine, sicknesses, and pandemics, as well as to the destruction of the environment, he said, stressing the need for the preparatory process to advance the sustainable development agenda.

Ouch “persistent selfishness”. That is shot across the bows' of the west and it is not off the mark. 

In that, he said, harmonization with other United Nations bodies, particularly the Economic and Social Council, would assist in integrating the economic, social, and environmental pillars of sustainability in the post-2015 development agenda. The new programme must be universal, ambitious, and able to respond to today’s immense challenges, in accordance with common but differentiated principles. Women, young people, and civil society must play a role both in the design of the plan and its execution. On climate change, he recalled the result of the Rio+20 document, “The Future We Want”, in managing natural resources. Contributing to limiting the impacts of climate change was the responsibility of all nations, as well as a duty of international solidarity.

The DR Congo it should be remembered is fairly important to the planet.

" The DRC is home to the greatest expanse of rainforest in all of Africa. Tropical rainforest covers 58.9% of the DRC’s territory – over 515,000 square miles in total. Unfortunately, the global trend toward tropical
deforestation has not left this region untouched. In the decade from 1990 to 2000 alone, over 20,000 square miles of the DRC’s forests was wiped away. In the current decade, the DRC’s rainforest has been shrinking, on average, by 319,000 hectares (over 1200 square miles) annually. "

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was committed to managing its natural resources, he said. The Grand Inga project, based in his country, once complete, would be capable of producing 40,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to provide energy to half the peoples on the continent. However, security remained the most important prerequisite for development because without it, development was a hypothetical.

I can't blame him for the Grand Inga boast but it will not supply half the continent however good that might sound. However the DR Congo has the potential to generate an estimated 100,000 MW of clean hydro energy.   

Having acted in solidarity by welcoming refugees from Rwanda, the population in the eastern part of the country was now deprived of peace and “continued to count up the dead”, he said. Last July’s attack on women and children — “trapped under a bomb” — in Goma left him questioning the legitimacy of international law. He asked: What happens when refugees are responsible for killing the people of their host country? Even more alarming was the fact that his Government had been conducting talks in accordance with the Addis Ababa Agreement with the armed group responsible for the attack, he pointed out.

That is a bit cute on several fronts. I don't think it is fair to say it is Rwandan refugees who are doing the killing. M23 are not Rwandan refugees by any measure. That is not to say that they are not Rwandan as clearly many are and it would be fair to say that they are at no risk of persecution from the Rwandan authorities they take orders from. As for the negotiations between M23 and the DR Congo government again it is stretching things to suggest there is any meaningful dialogue happening however that I think is quite reasonable from the perspective of the Congolese government. 

He went on to say that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was reforming its security sector, including the army and the police; restructuring public finance management to improve the business climate; and organizing local, municipal, senatorial, and provincial elections. Beyond those efforts, sustainable peace depended on putting an end to impunity in all its forms, he emphasized, underscoring the need for all Member States to strictly respect the Charter.

It is starting to look like the reforms are bearing some fruit particularly in the military. The DR Congo is a sleeping giant and one day it will realise its potential, hopefully that day is not to far off in the future.

Hat tip Chantal Faida .

New Zealand: Kim Dotcom V The PM, Police, GCSB, and now Oracle.

The New Zealand Herald reports

Dotcom: I'll fund Team NZ's next America's Cup bid

                                                                                              Kim Dotcom

Internet millionaire Kim Dotcom has vowed to help fund Team New Zealand's next America's Cup campaign.

I have a certain respect for Dotcom, or more accurately I have very little respect for certain New Zealand ( NZ ) government agencies. John Key and his National Party mates have defended the indefensible when it comes to Dotcoms treatment by various arms of the NZ state. 

Dotcom the founder of file-sharing site Megaupload, who has been charged with various copyright infringements by the US Government and is now fighting his extradition, was arrested in a police operation on his Coatesville mansion in January last year.
The raid has since been deemed illegal by the High Court, when Justice Winkelmann ruled the warrants authorising it were too general.
The New Zealand Government clearly broke the law. During the 1980's NZ developed an independent world view and pretty much told America to either get over it or fuck off, they chose the latter. We abandoned that policy and climbed back into bed with America with the election of the John Key National government 5 years ago and now are the USA's South Pacific Office as well as the laughing stock of the world.

The new images clearly show armed police arriving at the mansion, where they climb fences and arrest a guard at the gate. They then enter the house with guns and dogs, while more officers arrive in helicopters.
Other shots show Dotcom’s cars being towed from the property.
Previous footage of the raid gathered by police was released in court in August last year. It showed two helicopters landed in quick succession in the mansion’s courtyard.
Five armed men exited each helicopter and then three vans and a car quickly arrived with more armed men, some with dogs.
                           The New Zealand police being dickheads while trying to effect the illegal arrest of Dotcom
This is New Zealand, most of us don't have guns and I haven't seen a gun in this country tor years unlike Europe where they are common place and still give me a shock when I see them there. Can you possibly imagine just how over the top this behaviour was by our authorities ? 

The officers, from the elite police Special Tactics Group, entered the mansion and went upstairs to Dotcom’s bedroom.
On finding it empty, police used sledgehammers and a mechanical saw to breach the walls of a dumb-waiter, where they wrongly suspected Dotcom was hiding.

You don't need a hell of a lot of education to become a cop in New Zealand and really some of the decisions made here would have been better made by the above mentioned dumb-waiter.

He was eventually located, with the help of bodyguard Wayne Tempero, in a safe room. While arresting Dotcom, police said they stood on his hand.
Dotcom also accused police of kicking and punching him during the raids. They have denied these allegations.

I believe Dotcom. I also think the FBI should be put on trial in New Zealand for their role in this farce. The FBI may be prepared to jump when hollywood gets worried about internet piracy but I am stuffed if I can see any reason why we should do their bidding in what in my view is essentially a civil lawsuit. 
That said I love yachting and it doesn't get any better than the Americas cup.

The team's future hangs in the balance after Oracle Team USA retained the Cup in San Francisco yesterday, with boss Grant Dalton's position uncertain and the Government yet to confirm whether it would fund another tilt.
The Government stumped up $36 million for the latest campaign, but Prime Minister John Key yesterday said decisions were yet to be made about whether it would help again.
However, he indicated it was likely, and hoped to discuss whether another campaign was possible.

From an investment point of view I think it is probably worth the NZ Government throwing some taxpayer dollars at this. Had we won on Thursday we would have realised that investment many times over as it stands losing 9-8 to Oracle demonstrates just how good we are at the high tech stuff and it should be remembered Oracle's boat was also made in New Zealand. The Americas cup is not only a sport's event it is a technology event and from the perspective of nations NZ is the only country in the game. We just about about bet the billionaires and that makes Team New Zealand a very valuable entity.  

" Before the competition began last Saturday, cup defenders Oracle Team USA had already been penalized by the international sailing body for weighting their boat with “too much money.” Under the federation’s rules, competitors are allowed to strap a maximum of $15 million cash to each individual part of their boat."

Internet entrepreneur Dotcom, whose relationship with Mr Key has been tense since the GCSB spying revelations, today said he would back Team NZ if the Government did not.
The Mega founder said on Twitter: "Prime Minister John Key says no more funding for Team NZ? I say #Mega will become a Team NZ sponsor & we will win next time. #AmericasCup."

There is no love lost between the NZ Prime Minister and Kim Dotcom. Again we have the embarrassment of the NZ government getting caught behaving illegally. 

The Prime Minister has suggested that the GCSB should be able to spy on New Zealanders if it has the right oversight.

The bureau is prohibited by law from spying on New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

John Key has confirmed that some of the people who were the subject of legally questionable GCSB operations were New Zealanders or New Zealand residents.

Dotcom told One News he would pump millions into the campaign regardless of the Government's contribution.
He had not discussed it with Team NZ but said there was no better brand to be associated with, and he liked the idea with going up against another technology entrepreneur, Oracle boss Larry Ellison.

Lets get the money out of him pronto because if the Americans get their hands on him they will take the lot. That said I think it might be time to give America the one finger salute over Dotcom, he has demonstrated a commitment to New Zealand, sure he has had a a bit of a dodgy past but I think in the grand scheme of things he might well be more sinned against than sinner. Apologise for his lousy treatment by our government give him citizenship and spend his money building a boat that can go one step further than we did in this edition of the Americas Cup.

Dotcom told One News he was impressed with the team's skill and like most New Zealanders he had been glued to the racing for the last fortnight.
The German national is facing extradition to the United States on internet piracy charges relating to his recently rebooted Mega internet service.

The next few weeks will be interesting but I hope Team New Zealand survives.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

DR Congo: Have the ADF booked an appointment with the Intervention Brigade

New Vision ( Uganda ) reports

ADF kill three in DR Congo
By Raymond Baguma

                ADF clashes with DR Congo troops have recently led to a surge in refugees in Uganda   newvision

Suspected rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on Monday killed three people and abducted thirty others in the Watalinga Sector, North Kivu, DR Congo.

The MONUSCO-run Radio Okapi quoted a local community leader identified as Saambili Bamukoka who said that the attacks occurred in the villages of Kombo, N'Dama, Kikura in Watalinga. The attacked villages are located more than 90 kilometers from Beni.

I almost get the feeling this is a coordinated  exercise by various rebel groups to piss off MONUSCO, The Intervention Brigade ( Africa Brigade ) and FARDC. The ADF do have support from Somalia but not on the scale that M23 gets from Rwanda and nobody is going to go into bat for them should they run up against the various forces that are arrayed against them.    

Omar Kavota, the vice president and spokesman of the local civil society in North Kivu condemned the abductions. According to the civil society, the abductees also included eight miners. ( Minors I think, although there are many minerals in the region )

Kavota said that the local population had fled from the affected the sector of Watalinga and sought refuge in another village called Lwanoli.

Radio Okapi reported that a joint mission of MONUSCO and UN humanitarian agencies had visited the affected areas to assess the security and food security in the area.

I hope there were more than a few intelligence analysts in the MONUSCO team. 

Recently, eastern DR Congo areas have experienced intermittent attacks launched by the ADF rebels who operate bases in east of the country.

In July, over 20,000 Congolese fled to Bundibugyo following clashes in the areas of Kamango in eastern DRC.

Early this month, regional leaders under the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) asked the recently formed combative 
Intervention Brigade under MONUSCO to attack positions of foreign negative forces operating in DRC, including the ADF. 

Something I think they will particularly enjoy when it comes to tiding up this little mess.

According to Radio Okapi, the head of the community Watalinga called for a rapid deployment of special units of the army and blue helmets in the area to secure the population.

The ministry of defense spokesperson, Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, was not available for comment. 

However, during a press conference on Tuesday, the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Katumba Wamala, said that he had held a meeting recently with the head of MONUSCO over the presence of  ADF rebels in DR Congo.

“He told me that MONUSCO is about to change the way it is doing business. We are hopeful that MONUSCO is going to deal with them (ADF rebels). But we will be willing to partner with the intervention brigade to deal with the ADF problem,” added Gen. Katumba. 

I suspect that the ADF haven't thought through the consequences of this little bit of murderous adventurism. I hope the price that is extract in return is so high that we will never again have to read about these pricks.

Uganda: Dismantling the LRA bit by bit.

New Vision ( Uganda ) reports

UPDF will not attack surrendering LRA rebels

                                                                                LRA commander, Joseph Kony

The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) will grant safe passage and will not attack defecting fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who are surrendering to the United Nations (UN).

This comes after the UN on Monday confirmed a decision by over 1,200 LRA fighters operating in the east of Central African Republic (CAR) to abandon rebellion.

If true this is great news. 

The UN in a statement on Monday said it was sending a delegation to Bria, in CAR to investigate the reports of a possible large defection and disarmament of a group within the LRA.

A UN mission comprising of the UN Integrated Bureau for Peace Consolidation in CAR (BINUCA) led by Gen. Babacar Gueye is to travel to Nzako, where LRA fighters have started handing over their weapons to the authorities.

But Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Katumba Wamala said although it is not the first time LRA has offered to abandon rebellion, Uganda will wait to see their resolve when they come out.

“It’s not the first time. We will not attack them if they come out to surrender to UN. We will be saving lives. If this is happening, we shall not oppose them,” said Gen. Katumba.

Unfortunately it doesn't mean the end of the " rebellion " although I think rebellion is the wrong term it is more a personality cult.

Presently, the UPDF is in areas of CAR under the four-member AU Regional Taskforce against LRA comprising of LRA-affected countries of South Sudan, CAR and DR Congo.

However, this anti-LRA operation is in a lull following an impasse over the legality of the Seleka junta which deposed President Francoise Bozize. The African Union consequently suspended Central African Republic’s members in the continental body.

I would take that with a grain of salt. I am sure that the Ugandan army will stop looking for Kony on the day they kill him and that day can't come soon enough.

The defections come in wake of reports that Kony issued orders to execute disobedient commanders, marginalize older commanders as well as the harvest elephant ivory.

Kony operates on terror to maintain loyalty and that is not real loyalty. A lot of the people surrendering will have been forced recruits. I hope the marginalisation of the older commanders is true because they represent the the most loyal of his followers. We are not dealing with an evil genius in Kony just an evil person. That he may be bringing about the weakening and hopefully the destruction of the LRA is not all that much of a surprise.   
Also, many Ugandan fighters who make up the core of the LRA are disillusioned by the difficulty of life in the forests, with pressure mounted by UPDF and the US military advisers.

Gen. Katumba said the LRA surrender en masse, could be a result of tough living conditions in CAR jungles, and the realization that those who have surrendered in the past have received good treatment.

That and the realisation that Kony offers only death for his followers.

Also, the defections could be attributed to the “Come Home” messages broadcast from helicopters, FM radios and dropping of leaflets to LRA fighters in the jungles.

A very good idea. 

Kony and his top commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to answer charges of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. A report published by The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative in July this year said that Kony was operating in the Kafia Kingi enclave, which is a disputed area under the control of the Sudan Armed Forces.

                            ( Kafia Kingi is the shade bit above the Central African Republic )

He isn't thought to be there now but his whereabouts is as far as I can see more speculation than any real hard intelligence. I guess that is why he is still alive.

" The LRA's recent departure from its established camps in Kafia Kingi provides international diplomats with an opportunity to convince the Sudanese government to definitively end its decades-long collaboration with the LRA." 

Yesterday, the international children NGO Invisible Children in a statement said the imminent large defection is an incredible step forward in dismantling the LRA, and a victory for victims.

Let us hope so.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Swaziland: The Pornocracy does discrimination

The Times of Swaziland reports


NHLANGANO – A business-man living with a disability was blocked by former Pastor Minister Lindiwe Dlamini from having an audience with His Majesty the King because he is disabled.

Dlamini, the former Housing and Urban Development Minister denied Hlatikhulu businessman Peter Petersie an opportunity to meet the King at Mbangweni Royal Residence during the Shiselweni Reed Dance that took place last week.

I would imagine the reed dance is a very good time to attempt to see Mswati III I would think his attention would be focused very much on other parts of the human anatomy to the extent that he probably wouldn't have noticed Petersie's disability.

Peter Petersie (54) was told by the former minister that, because he has one leg, he could not kneel down as detected by custom when one is before the King.

After Petersie was denied the chance to see the King, he then left the Mbangweni Royal Residence dejected.

I must admit I would have been dejected to, mind you probably for very different reasons.

He is livid and claims the former minister was discriminatory against him.

Dlamini was leading a group of busi-nesspeople to the King when the incident happened.

Now that is probably the real reason for the discrimination. Swaziland has no real concept of business or infact even governance. A delegation of business people who create what little wealth the country has when the alternative is hundreds of bare breasted 14 year old girls, one who the king will chose and waste the countries public funds building her a palace is just no choice at all. 

When called, Dlamini confirmed and claimed she was trying to help Petersie, as he could not kneel before the King.

However, an irate Petersie has dismissed Dlamini’s claims. He said he could have managed to obey the Swazi custom despite his disability.

The businessman was among the group of businesspeople who had come to meet the King on business and development related matter.

Peters is a well-known Swazi businessman.

Now if he had claimed to be a wizard he might well have got an audience  This is a country that has weighty issues on it legislative agenda. 

Swaziland has launched a crackdown on high-flying witches after banning them from hovering above 150 metres.
Anyone caught flying their broomstick above the height limit faces arrest and a hefty R500,000 fine, the country’s Civil Aviation Authorities said this week.
According to the Corporate Affairs Sabelo Dlamini‘A witch on a broomstick should not fly above the [150-metre] limit,’

Petersie said: “I am still shocked by the way Dlamini treated me, it was the highest standard of discrimination I have ever seen in my lifetime.” 

“We went there to deliver two cows to the King and I was in charge of the funds and having got inside Mba-ngweni Palace with a colleague, Minister Dlamini said I could not see the King because I have only one leg,” said Petersie.

He should have taken the King some viagra. Better still if he really wanted some royal attention why didn't he appeal to the kings intelligence.

Petersie has said he was offended by Dlamini’s  actions as he had contributed greatly  in the economy of Swaziland.

“I have contributed in building the economy of Swaziland and I do not deserve to be blocked from seeing the King, despite my disabled condition I am a productive Swazi citizen hence, I should not be discriminated against but treated as a human being,” said Petersie.

I agree Petersie but really you have to face the fact that Mswati III is batshit crazy and don't expect anything to change anytime soon.