Saturday, November 30, 2013

Swaziland: More repression in the Pornocracy

All Africa reports.

There is stuff all I can say other than I hope that the film makes it to NZ.

Swaziland: Police Raid Film Critical of King

                                                                                                  Reed Dance

Swaziland police broke up a screening of a documentary critical of King Mswati III and detained the owner of the studio.
Swazi police, acting without a warrant or court order, broke up the screening of The King and the People at a studio at the Christian Media Centre in Manzini.
The screening had been organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front, an organisation campaigning for democracy in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.
About 50 people had gathered to watch the documentary when police arrived and closed down the screening. They detained the owner of the studio and questioned him for about three hours, according to reports from Swaziland.
The King and the People, made by Simon Bright, is a recently-released documentary that investigates the present situation in Swaziland. It has been shown across the world.
In a preview of the movie, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) said, 'The film shines a light on a crisis forgotten or misunderstood by many and unravels the reality of the existence, in the 21st century, of a governing system that is based on royal supremacy, greed, power and zero tolerance to fundamental human rights.'
Percy Zvomuya, who reviewed the documentary for OSISA, said, 'In the movie, there are gritty, frenetic close-up shots of activists on strikes and state thugs beating them up. The grit is placed side by side with the rather drowsy shots of talking heads: an academic, a teacher, an activist and a politician deconstructing the crisis.'
He added, 'But connecting all of this is a sad story of a country (or half a country?) presided over by an elite that controls the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, business and the media. A scene in which the king is seen having 'consultations' with his subjects gives new meaning to the phrase "bootlicking".'
The breaking up of the public gathering is not the first of its kind in Swaziland. In April 2013 armed police physically stopped people from entering a public meeting at a restaurant that was called to discuss the undemocratic nature of the impending national election. Police said it 'presented a threat to national security'.
In March 2013, riot police with batons halted a prayer meeting in Manzini because it had been organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), an unregistered organisation in the kingdom.
In February 2013 about 60 armed police broke up another prayer meeting, this time at the Our Lady of Assumption Catholic cathedral in Manzini. Police said the prayer was a political meeting, organised to disrupt the election that was later held in September.

Malawi: Give Banda a break

The Telegraph reports

Joyce Banda: I won't cry about Malawi aid freeze over corruption scandal

Exclusive: Joyce Banda, Malawi's president, says she won't be a "cry baby" about Britain and other donors pulling aid over corruption scandal

                                     President Joyce Banda at her office at the Presidential Palace in Lilongwe, Malawi 

Joyce Banda, the embattled president of Malawi who is facing a multi-million pound corruption scandal that has swallowed up to a third of the budget of her impoverished country, has said she will not be a "cry baby" over the decision by Western donors including Britain to freeze aid.
I am a bit pissed off about this. Malawi is trying very hard to build a strong stable democracy that functions for its people unlike many of the regimes in the region.  In October last year I blogged about President Banda taking the highly unusual step for any nation and slashing her own salary.
" Joyce Banda, the Malawian President, has slashed her salary by 30 per cent to share in the "difficult times" suffered by her countrymen since she dramatically devalued the currency.
The pay cut will see Mrs Banda's salary drop from a reported £37,000 a year to £26,000, while her vice president will see a similar reduction."

Mrs Banda, southern Africa's first female head of state, became the West's darling for her reformist agenda after the death of her autocratic predecessor, said she should be given credit for tackling the graft head-on.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph this week, she said she understood the need for British politicians and taxpayers to have confidence in her government – and pledged to work hard to ensure trust is rebuilt.
I don't think there is much more she can do. She has made it clear in international forums she is committed to sorting this problem out. 
" The second elected female President in Africa said she is prepared to stake her life and political career in fighting corruption in Malawi where the culture of graft has become endemic and entrenched by a few members of the privileged group at the expense of the larger society.
According to her, the experience of Malawi is replete all over the continent where fighting corruption is not an easy task "because it had become entrenched," but she insisted that "someone has to do it."
"If you want me to be a cry baby I cannot, I am the leader of a country. If you want to give me something and then withdraw it, fine, I must respect your decision. I am not going to cry over it, no," she said.
"I have made an announcement that if you are my daughter, my son, my party official, my cabinet minister, and you find yourself involved in this, you are going to go to jail. I am not going to stand in the way.
She has lived up to that pledge quite a few senior officials both elected and in the civil service have some explaining to do. 

" Banda said about 30 percent of the nation’s resources is being stolen through corruption. The Cashgate scandal has led authorities to arrest 68 people, open 18 court cases, freeze 33 bank accounts and appoint international investigators to conduct a forensic audit, she said.

“The fight against corruption has to continue,” Banda said. “So whoever takes over must continue this fight. If we don’t, Malawi shall remain where it is.”

"Yes, people in the UK will feel they are justified to withhold aid but I also think the UK will look at a new breed of leaders across the continent that have decided to fight it."
What is aid ? From the 1880's through to 1964 Great Britain was the colonial power in Malawi or putting it another way for the best part of 100 years the British nicked the economic output of Malawi. The paltry amounts of aid that are returned today need to be balanced against that theft, certainly the UK has a right to expect its aid money is not purloined by corrupt criminals but that needs to be kept in perspective.  
If the UK requires an honest accounting for where its aid is going I doubt any would object but at some point it should be remembered that Malawi might require the same from Britain with regards to the economic output of the region whilst under British control.

The so-called Cashgate scandal first came to light following the near-fatal shooting of the Malawian budget director, who is thought to have been about to blow the whistle on the scam.
In the police raids that followed, civil servants were discovered with thousands of dollars stashed in their car boots and at their homes.
So far, 68 people including the ministers of finance and justice and a score of senior officials have been arrested for allegedly siphoning off money from government coffers through fraudulent use of procurement systems.
The point is that Malawi discovered these criminals and acted. Punishing Malawi for doing the right thing is just batshit crazy.
Foreign donors including Britain, the EU and Norway, who have pumped millions of pounds into reviving Malawi's stricken economy, providing 40 per cent of its budget, have suspended all direct aid and made no secret of their fury over the systematic looting.
Yes quite a few African nations would have the right to be furious about the systematic looting that occurred while they were under colonial rule.
Mrs Banda insists the corruption began 15 years ago and was ignored by previous presidents but that she has been working behind the scenes for months to put a stop to it.
"There's no one who can come and say they are more traumatised that we are about this," she said.
"We have worked extremely hard to turn our country around – I have not slept for more than six hours for a year and a half. And we thought we had come out of the woods but then we find we are going backwards. There's no way we can be looked upon as those that don't care."
In a continent run by Crocodiles Joyce Banda is someone we should all be helping. If Banda falls who will benefit ?
She claims to have had to step up her security amid death threats, and said one ambassador told her she presided over a "country of thieves".
Mrs Banda said that her neighbours in the region had told her she was a "fool" to raise her hand about the leakage, especially since she is coming up for her first elections since taking office, in May next year.
"It is a high cost for me just doing that, as a politician, six months before elections because for everyone I have arrested, I have lost a whole village of votes," she said.
"I did not realise this – I thought they would look at the issues but no, they say 'but it's our daughter that you have arrested'."
Lets also remember the human rights dimension. This woman actually cares.
Many Malawians believe that Mrs Banda, 63, a former gender activist and factory owner who sold off the presidential jet and slashed her salary after coming to power, was either involved or at least knew about the corruption.
But most of the key donors say they are yet to see any evidence of her complicity and, for the moment, are giving her the benefit of the doubt.
She said she had been "bruised and smeared" by the allegations of involvement, but would not be deterred.
"I am prepared to get bruised because I just feel that this must stop and must stop now. We are finishing 50 years of independence this year, we are going into the next 50 years," she said.
"It is my wish that this rot remains in this millennium. That we go into the next one rejuvenated, clean and ready to prosper."
Her ambition – shared by donors, although they say the timeframe is optimistic - is to stop the leaks from the budget, exploit natural resources including possible oil reserves discovered in Lake Malawi and be free of foreign aid within a decade.
"The donors have not walked away for the first time. They come and go and come and go but we are here, we did not die," she said.
"Sometimes when these things happen, you grow up, you find other ways. We must become creative, we are not going to be dependant forever. Perhaps this is a golden opportunity for us.
"If we do certain things right and if we are as determined as we are as I sit here, in 10 years' time the donors shall be our partners, not our providers, and we shall have weaned ourselves from budget support."
We have a choice in the west and it would seem we are determined to fuck that chance up. Lets not. Lets try and get it right for once.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Zimbabwe: The Hangman of Harare prepares for his final execution.

The Washington Post reports

Zimbabwe: Foreigners must close shops by Jan 1.

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwean authorities say they have given foreign shop-owners —mostly Chinese and Nigerian nationals— an ultimatum to shut down their businesses by Jan. 1.
My immediate thought is of course that Mugabe and his fellow Zanu PF thieves have run out of farms to steal and having destroyed the agricultural sector of the Zimbabwe economy are now moving in on the retail and service  sectors. I am betting that Chinese nationals will not be targeted by this measure, that said Mugabe is clearly insane.
" While over $3 billion dollars of official Chinese finance in this period ( 2000 and 2011 ) were investments in agriculture, forestry, and fishing projects, the Chinese government also supported activities related to food security, military support, and humanitarian response. It is not obvious, however, that all of these activities were of benefit to the Zimbabwean people. Media reports indicate that Chinese financing has enabled the Mugabe regime to construct a new presidential mansion, purchase equipment to censor independent radio and television stations, as well as monitor the political activities of opponent politicians and their constituents in the 2005 presidential election. "

A top official of the black empowerment ministry said only Zimbabweans had the right to run shops that have sprung up across the country and are termed foreign businesses targeted under the nation’s black empowerment laws, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Friday.
The Black Empowerment Ministry have a bit of a name problem here. They have stolen all the white farms and business and in the process bankrupted them, that is a tragedy insofar as these business were feeding millions who are now in mired in poverty, but the white owners generally got out and were able to start again. Now it is the turn of the black business owners to be robbed ironically by the Black Empowerment Ministry. 
Africa.. Zimbabwe is your problem now, Mugabe is your problem... he is now going to rob your expats working in Zimbabwe.  Africa you have sheltered this thief  you have given him a legitimacy he never deserved. You preach Pan-Africanism, this is the Zimbabwe face of Pan-Africanism, 
Those laws, passed in 2007, demand foreign businesses to cede 51 percent control to local blacks.
That needs a little clarification, " local blacks " means the leadership of Zanu PF, this is not about looking after the interests of the Zimbabwe people, Mugabe never has and never will give a toss about them, this is a last desperate roll of the dice aimed at rewarding those who have collaborated in the corruption, a last chance for criminal profit before the whole house of cards collapses.   
The foreign shop owners have been criticized for taking retail trade opportunities from Zimbabwean traders by selling cheap imports.
That is hilarious " cheap imports " as if Zimbabwe has a manufacturing sector. Mugabe and his Zanu PF are now going to destroy for personal gain the only sector of the economy that actually works. 
" Captains of industry meeting for the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) annual congress which begins on Wednesday in Bulawayo have their work cut out after the latest manufacturing survey showed a deepening crisis in industry. 

The three-day conference, ending on October 11, is expected to craft strategies to improve industrial production, cut losses and stop capacity utilisation from declining further, as it did in 2012, crashing to 39 percent from 44 percent a year earlier, the survey’s findings showed.

It is symbolic that the congress is taking place in Bulawayo, the country’s former industrial hub, where over the years countless companies have drowned in high debt or are currently reporting widening losses or downsizing operations or falling under judicial management."

Poor townships and city flea markets have in recent years been inundated by shops run by foreigners.
Flea markets, that is all that remains and Mugabe's greed and hatred will now consume even them.
According to state media, shop owners who fail to comply will be arrested.
Arresting people who will not cooperate in their own destruction by a criminal government. Welcome to Zimbabwe Nazi Germany.
" We belong to this continent. We do not mind having and bearing sanctions banning us from Europe. We are not Europeans. We have not asked for any inch of Europe or any square inch of that territory. "  R Mugabe

He means every word of that. He has consumed Zimbabwe, he has along with the other Crocodiles of the continent robbed and raped in the DR Congo. Africa you must stop this evil before he destroys you.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

South Africa: Melissa Bachman - Another reason why the world hates Americans.

New Vision ( Uganda ) reports

US TV hunter draws scorn over South Africa lion kill

Melissa Bachman with a lion she purportedly killed in a photo posted online on November 1, 2013 (Facebook/Melissa Bachman)

WASHINGTON - A blue-eyed American hunter with her own specialty TV show found herself Wednesday in the crosshairs of animal lovers outraged by her safari exploits in South Africa.

More than 375,000 people signed an online petition on calling on the South African government to no longer let Melissa Bachman, host of "Winchester Deadly Passion," into the country.

I really wish people like Melissa Bachman would stay in the USA. I guess on the most part they probably do, but anyone who deliberately kills a critically endangered species is a fucking idiot. I have absolutely no doubt Bachman fits this criteria.

"Melissa Bachman has made a career out of hunting wildlife, for pure sport," read the petition launched by Cape Town resident Elan Burman.

I am in no way anti hunting and have killed my share of fish, rabbits, possums etc. If you are going to kill you should have a good reason and a trophy just doesn't make the good reason standard regardless of the species and its conservation status.   

"She is an absolute contradiction to the culture of conservation (that) this country prides itself on," it said.

In a statement, said it was the biggest animal-related petition it had ever hosted, gathering 150,000 new signatures since Monday.

I don't doubt it. Bachman is an environmental menace.    

A "Stop Melissa Bachman" page on Facebook meanwhile racked up more than 230,000 likes -- almost nine times the number of followers of Bachman's own Facebook account.

Triggering the outrage was a photo that Bachman posted on social media on November 1 of her kneeling and smiling, rifle in hand, behind a lion she had apparently just shot and killed.

"An incredible day hunting in South Africa! Stalked inside 60-yards on this beautiful male lion...what a hunt!" she wrote on her @MelissaBachman Twitter account.

"...beautiful male lion..."  that is now dead. The bitch is fucking mad.  The Guardian reports,

"The UK-based conservation group LionAid says as few as 645 lions remain in the wild in western and central Africa. It says lions are extinct in 25 African nations and virtually extinct in 10, and it estimates that 15,000 wild lions remain on the continent as a whole, compared with about 200,000 30 years ago.
"There has been a catastrophic decline in the populations of lions in Africa, and particularly west Africa," said Dr Pieter Kat, trustee of LionAid. "These lions have been neglected for a very long time and do not have adequate protection programs. They are in real danger of extinction."

The Minnesota native, who shoots with both firearms and bows and grew up in a family that went hunting every weekend, wrote on her Facebook account that she had earlier bagged "a beautiful Nyala and a Duiker" -- two species of antelopes.

The Maroi Conservancy defended her on social media, saying it would not apologize for facilitating her lion shoot in South Africa's North West Province.

Sponsored by Winchester, a major American firearms manufacturer, Bachman's show is carried on the Pursuit Channel, a relatively small Alabama-based channel dedicated to outdoor activites such as hunting.

The American gun culture insanity is something I really wish America wouldn't attempt to export. Make no mistake this lion died to sell Americans guns so they can kill each other. That is a bloody awful reason to die.

" The annual toll from firearms in the US is running at 32,000 deaths and climbing, even though the general crime rate is on a downward path (it is 40% lower than in 1980). If this perennial slaughter doesn't qualify for intercession by the UN and all relevant NGOs, it is hard to know what does."

"The more people that can hunt, the more people that can enjoy the lifestyle, the better," she said in October in a report on Minnesota TV station KSTP about the state's growing number of licensed female hunters.

Last year the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal agency, released a survey indicating a rebound in the popularity of hunting in the United States after many years of decline.

I really hope that something very horrible happens to Bachman. Soon.

RIP Lewis Collins

The Guardian reports,

The  Professionals was one of my  ( and I suspect most kids in the 70's ) favourite TV programmes. Maybe someone in NZ TV land will be nice enough to repeat them. RIP Doyle.

Professionals star Lewis Collins dies aged 67

Actor who played Bodie in hit ITV series of 70s and 80s had been suffering from cancer

Lewis Collins (right) as Bodie in The Professionals, with screen partner Martin Shaw as Doyle. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/LWT

Lewis Collins, best known for his role as Bodie in the 1970s TV series The Professionals, has died aged 67 after a five-year struggle with cancer.
His agent said Collins died peacefully in his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday surrounded by his family, and asked for privacy during "this very sad time".
The Professionals was a major hit on ITV from 1977 to 1983 due to its action-packed plots and memorable theme tune. The show thrust Collins and co-star Martin Shaw, who played Doyle, to stardom as a crime-fighting duo.
The pair worked as agents of a fictional unit called CI5, an amalgam of MI5 and the CID, targeting major league criminals from international drug dealers to terrorists.
Shaw, appearing in a West End production of Twelve Angry Men, said: "I was very sad to hear today that Lewis has died. We spent a very tough four years together in making The Professionals, and shared in the production of what has become an icon of British television. He will be remembered as part of the childhood of so many people, and mourned by his fans. I send my love and condolences to his family, and the great many who will miss him."
Collins's other most significant role came in 1982's Who Dares Wins, when he played a member of the SAS.
Around this time, he auditioned for the role of James Bond, but his audition was reported to be "too aggressive".
Other TV appearances included Jack the Ripper (1988), Cluedo (1991-2) and The Bill (2002), but he never matched the success of The Professionals.
Born in May 1946 in Cheshire, Collins worked as a drummer in local bands and as a women's hairdresser before becoming an actor. He trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and toured with several theatre companies before making his West End debut.
He is survived by his wife Michelle and their three sons.

A quick trip down memory lane below.

Hat Tip Ross Blanch.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

DR Congo: ADF following in M23's trail.

New Vision Uganda reports

U.N. task force looking into one of next Congo targets - ADF


UNITED NATIONS  - After the defeat of M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, U.N. peacekeepers are trying to learn more about one of their next targets in a region overrun by armed groups - the Allied Democratic Forces, Islamist extremists blamed for kidnapping at least 300 people in the past year.

It is hard to know what to make of the ADF. They certainly merit the attention of the both FARDC ( The Congolese Army ) and the MONUSCO Intervention ( Africa ) Brigade. Back in July I blogged about the events in Kamangu and provided this brief history of the group.

" The ADF was formed by puritanical Muslim Ugandans of the Tabliq sect who merged with the remnants of another rebel group, the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda.The main figure of the group was Jamil Mukulu, a former Catholic. The members were largely from central Uganda, in particular Iganga, Masaka and Kampala, and portray themselves as religious crusaders. Beyond this vaguely stated religious ideology and statements that the government discriminates against Tabliqs, the ADF has given few coherent rationales for their insurgency. 

The ADF chose western Uganda apparently for three reasons: terrain that is ideal for a rural insurgency, proximity to the DRC where the rebels could set up bases and recruit fighters, and the presence of some Ugandan ethnic groups unfriendly to the government that could offer assistance."

However that it would seem is a bit dated. Al Jazeera reports.

" While the ADF’s initial years were marked by brutality towards civilians, this changed when they were forced to relocate deeper into the DRC’s jungles and become more self-sustaining. They achieved a degree of embeddedness into the surrounding community: they intermarried and socially integrated into the wider society, they further developed their business interests, and they acquired some political influence in the area. While they first began with a majority of Ugandans, the number of Congolese members steadily rose until they constituted over 60 percent of the force."

If the above is correct then they might almost be regarded as a domestic Congolese group, that said they have been designated as a terrorist group by the US government. 
The deployment of a 3,000-strong U.N. Intervention Brigade with an unprecedented mandate to help Congolese forces hunt down rebel groups has been hailed a success after the M23 ended its 20-month revolt earlier this month. Now the brigade - and Congolese troops - are preparing for their next moves.

I very much doubt that ADF will be the next target I would rate the FDLR as a more deserving bunch of pricks for that attention. Also it makes a lot of sense to deal with them next and remove what little legitimacy Rwanda has for interference in the Eastern DR Congo.  

At the top of the list of dozens of armed groups to be dealt with in resource-rich eastern Congo are the ADF and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, which includes some Hutus who fled neighboring Rwanda after the 1994 genocide of 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus.

While the aim of the FDLR is to take over Rwanda, the objective of the ADF - which was created to fight the Ugandan government and was initially called the ADF-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda - is less clear.

The FDLR are a joke from a military perspective. Promising kids a position in the Rwandan Government when they take over next year and paying said kid $20 US to throw a grenade at a group of innocent bystanders. They are however a political problem and one that needs tidied up. 
"The toughest nut of all, they say, is the ADF," a senior U.N. diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

I doubt that. M23 were far more of a problem. I would rate ADF as about the third cab off the rank.

The U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo, known as MONUSCO, has set up a task force to investigate the group, which the International Crisis Group think tank has described as "one of the oldest but least known armed groups ... and the only one in the area to be considered an Islamist terrorist organization."

The preliminary findings of the MONUSCO task force, in a note obtained by Reuters, are that while "it is extremely difficult to estimate what the ultimate objective of the ADF might be ... we cannot allow this group to continue unscathed, the potential threat they represent is too great."

That is most definitely true. 

"The Uganda Red Cross Society said 66,000 Congolese refugees have so far crossed into the east African country since the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) started attacking the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Kamangu on Thursday."

"One must also remember the ADF has been known to dabble in terrorism in the nineties, and such an evolution should not be ruled out," the task force note said. "A military intervention against the ADF is necessary, and could be successful, as they were, relatively, in 2005 and 2010, if well prepared."

Handing over the foreign elements to Uganda and disarming them would probably count as a success.


Aside from a military offensive, the task force said the Congolese and the United Nations must cut off the ADF's financing and access to weapons, ammunition and supplies, and win the support of the Congolese people in territory held by the ADF.

That may be overstating the financial situation of the ADF. Again from Al Jazeera. 

" In fact, the ADF’s increasing commercial achievements encouraged the rebels to uphold a better relationship with the surrounding public. The ADF were able to become a part of the local agricultural scene: they farmed a wide variety of products, used their produce to feed the ADF community, and traded their goods at local markets. They also became involved in gold mining, controlled timber forests, and set-up businesses in local urban centres. While funding from various outside Islamic national and regional actors such as Sudan played a part at times, this support was generally sporadic and minimal. What proved by far to be most sustainable and lucrative for them were their local economic endeavours in the borderland."

The Ugandan government says the ADF is allied to elements of Somalia's al Shabaab movement, an al Qaeda-linked group whose name means "The Lads" in Arabic. The U.N. task force said that during an attack on a town in eastern Congo, witnesses said, "Each small group of ADF fighters included one bearded man who was speaking Arabic."

I doubt that. However if it is true it will certainly aid in target identification.

The task force said that ADF training videos discovered in an apartment in Nairobi more than a year ago and during a Ugandan raid in July on an island in Lake Victoria, which was thought to be deserted but was actually an ADF youth training camp, showed that "military training is intense."

Again why train on an Island in Lake Victoria when you are based in the Jungles of the Eastern DR Congo ?

"As is visible in the videos, most of the trainers are foreigners, seemingly either from Somalia or Sudan," according to the task force. A U.N. Group of Experts, which monitors violations of sanctions on Congo, said in an interim report in July that former ADF soldiers told them that foreign trainers taught them how to assembly improvised explosive devices.


The task force said that while it was difficult to assess the size of the group, the force now appears to have between 1,200 and 1,400 fighters. That puts it around the same size as the FDLR, according to MONUSCO figures, and both groups are several hundred fighters larger than the M23 group was thought to be.

But the task force also warned, "If you add the families (let us not forget that women and children undergo military training as well) the figures are between 2,800 and 3,400. It is estimated around 40 percent are Congolese."

Children are also recruited through mosques in eastern Congo and reportedly Uganda and Tanzania with false promises of jobs, English lessons and other inducements, the task force said, while another source of recruitment is kidnappings.

"The sharp expansion in the number of kidnappings since last November is impressive, probably close to 300 to date, and increasing daily. None of the kidnapped persons have ever been heard of again, no bodies found, and no demands for ransom received," said the task force, adding that some people were likely kidnapped for their skills.

There can be little doubt that the ADF are a legitimate target and I think MONUSCO would probably quite enjoy teaching them a very hard lesson. What I don't understand is why they have decided to draw attention to themselves when it must have been very clear to them that such activities would be noted by the UN. They may have even jumped up the priority list as a result of their stupidity.

The ADF has been able to obtain shoulder-fired ground-to- air weapons, as well as .107-caliber artillery, the note said.

"These developments, compounded by the fact that the ADF has never hesitated to fire on MONUSCO (indeed, during training they are told to do just that) are of course extremely worrying, and trying to find out more about the supply lines must be a priority," the task force said.

I am guessing that the drones might be a very useful tool for that activity. Something that will start this week.

The ADF gets most of its money from the timber industry and gold, which is smuggled into Uganda and sold, and the group is led by Ugandan Jamil Mukulu, who has been subjected since 2011 to U.N. sanctions - an asset freeze and travel ban.

The U.N. experts said in their July report that Mukulu had been primarily based in the Congo.

Martin Kobler, head of the 19,850-member U.N. mission in Congo, has said the United Nations was ready to use Intervention Brigade against the ADF and the other armed groups. "We have teeth and we are using those teeth," he said.


Monday, November 25, 2013

CAR:The UN needs to act now. " Decriminalise genocide, provided door to door Belsens "

The Financial Times reports

Central African Republic on the verge of genocide, France warns UN

                                                                       Former rebels of the Seleka coalition 

The Central African Republic is “on the verge of genocide”, according to its former colonial master, France, which is urging the UN to authorise a stronger African peacekeeping force supported by French troops.

That is probably overstating it. Certainly religious tensions are on the rise between Christians and Muslims.

The comments on Thursday by Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister, mark an escalation in French rhetoric on the crisis in Bangui.

The Central African Republic descended into a state of near-anarchy after the Seleka group, a mainly Muslim alliance of five rebel movements, seized the capital in March and ousted François Bozizé, a Christian, as president. He had led the country for 10 years after seizing power in a coup.

I doubt that current regime can survive. From what I have read the population is anywhere between 50% - 80% Christian with the muslim population making up about 15%. The regime is a Muslim regime and despite the transitional president Michel Djotodia dismissing formally the Seleka coalition from power it has done little to bring about any acceptance or legitimacy to his administration.   

The rebels propelled into power President Michel Djotodia, who has subsequently lost control over the Seleka fighters. Since then the landlocked nation of 4.6m people has been largely lawless and the Seleka’s widespread acts of banditry have provoked raids and reprisals between Christians and Muslims.

The Guardian reports on some of the violence being inflicted on the community by the Seleka militias. 

" One Man describes how his four-year-old son's throat was slit, and how he saw a snake swallowing a baby. A woman explains that she is caring for a young girl because her mother went searching for medicine and was bludgeoned to death with Kalashnikov rifles. A young man tells how he was bound and thrown to the crocodiles, but managed to swim to safety."

Zita Nganamodei with 18-month-old Arethas Demba, whose mother was bludgeoned to death after unknowingly crossing an arbitrary boundary while taking her daughter for medical treatment. Photograph: David Smith for the Guardian

Mr Djotodia is the first Muslim president in the majority Christian country. Most Seleka fighters are Muslim.

Djotodia is recognised only as an interim president, it would seem unlikely he will be able to restore order and I would expect his term in office to be short. He clearly hasn't got the support of the Christian community and by dismissing the Muslim Seleka from his administration it would seem he has no support base internally. I can't see the UN or the French propping him up and I doubt he will get any support from African leaders. Uganda I am betting is very pissed off with him and I wouldn't blame them.  

A US state department official this week said the country was not in a genocidal situation but in a “pre-genocidal situation”.

I doubt this will go the way of the Rwandan genocide. That said I think that the UN needs to get a serious deterrent presence in on the ground and it might want to think about giving them a mandate that actually gives them an ability to engage hostile elements rather than reacting after the fact. 

French diplomats fear that the Central African Republic is becoming a failed state and, similarly to Somalia in the Horn of Africa, might be used as a haven by extremist groups in a volatile region.

I would have thought that French diplomats might have been aware of the LRA and Joseph Kony who are by all accounts already in the CAR. It has also been reported again by the Guardian that Muslim fighter from neighbouring countries are already in the CAR.

" What started as a political movement against the corrupt and autocratic Bozizé is now taking on an ominously religious character. Nearly all the Seleka are Muslim, including mercenaries from neighbouring Chad and the notorious Janjaweed from Sudan's Darfur region. An "us and them" mentality of mutual distrust and paranoia is taking root, with some Christians taking up arms in vigilante militias known as "anti-balaka" — meaning anti-sword or anti-machete — and committing atrocities of their own, giving the Seleka a pretext for yet more aggression. The spiral of violence has become a recruiting sergeant for thousands of child soldiers."

“It is total disorder,” Mr Fabius told France 2 television. “We must act quickly.” Lawlessness in the country has also enabled weapons to move freely in the region, western diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity said.

A 2,500-strong regional peacekeeping force has been unable to halt the violence, even in the capital. Amid mounting international concern, the UN Security Council is due to vote in early December on a resolution that would allow neighbouring countries, the African Union and France, to send more soldiers.

This needs to happen and fast. I hope that the Intervention Brigade example is followed when it comes to mandating these troops. If civilians are at risk then preventative lethal force would not only seem reasonable but desirable.  
France already has 400 troops on the ground guarding the international airport in the capital but wants UN backing to beef up its force to potentially beyond 1,000 soldiers, according to French diplomats.

Thibaud Lesueur, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, a think-tank, said that French troops would provide “operational support” to the African peacekeeping mission rather than lead it.

France is in a difficult situation but at the very least France should be paying for this, 400 troops is a joke. France needs to make a decision rather than temporising as it did when the regime of Francois Bozize fell.

" French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault stressed again on Friday that French troops were there only to protect French and European nationals, not fight the rebels."

The regional force is supposed to come under African Union control in December and expand to 3,600 troops but Mr Lesueur said that at least 6,000 peacekeepers would be necessary to help secure the capital and countryside.

Despite the urgency, Mr Fabius stressed that Paris’s involvement would be nothing like the large-scale intervention in Mali earlier this year, where France mounted a ground and air assault on Islamist militants. “It will not be as massive and as durable,” he said.

I think France needs to shit or get of the pot as the saying goes.

Paris and Washington are trying to reach an agreement on who will provide financial support to the African-led military mission. The US this week pledged $40m in support of the military intervention.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said on Wednesday that the transitional government did not have “the capacity or political will to end the violence, especially the abuses committed by elements of the Seleka rebel alliance that are affiliated with the government”.

It would seem the transitional government can't even exert its authority over the capital. Transitional is starting to look rather optimistic it should perhaps be known as the temporary government. That at least would be in the tradition of CAR regimes.

In recent months Seleka rebels have clashed with local self-defence groups, known as “anti-balaka”, or anti-machetes, and Christian militias. Western diplomats said the fighting between the two religious communities has increased in recent weeks, with groups attacking civilians.

Fighting has been especially fierce in the western region of Bossangoa, the home area of the former president, Mr Bozizé. Mr Lesueur, the analyst, said that Bossangoa was now divided into Muslim and Christian sectors. “You always have to be very careful when using words like genocide,” he said. “But it’s clear that we are seeing religious violence and tensions, and that’s a dangerous situation.”

It may be a little early to be describing it as genocide but religious persecution is certainly happening and a Christian backlash is certainly on the cards.