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Africa’s Great Lakes Region Recommits To Tackling Security Challenges

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Peace, security and development are still complex targets to achieve in Africa’s Great Lakes Region because of unresolved local internal problems in the 12 member states.

On Friday, heads of states and government from these member states held virtually their 8th summit and discussed on how to tackle the existing challenges on Peace, security and development. This virtual gathering was convened by Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, the current ICGLR chair.

President Paul Kagame participated in this summit and observed that peace is a pre-condition for development and prosperity.

“A collaborative and harmonised approach is the best way to deal with the security and public health challenges facing the Great Lakes,” President Kagame said.

It should be noted that the Great Lakes Region is currently faced with a heightened level of insecurity ranging from very active armed groups in Eastern DRC that have continuously launched attacks in neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi.

South Sudan and Central Africa are also actively under siege from internal security challenges that have attracted intervention of peace keeping missions under the joint UN and AU command.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame during the virtual 8th ICGLR summit on November 20

However, President Kagame believes that it is past time to uproot the armed groups, once and for all.

Last week on November 11, the regional grouping said it had taken significant step toward eradicating statelessness in the region as it marked the 6th anniversary of the Global Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024.

“Genocide fugitives should not find refuge anywhere in our region and should be brought to Justice,” President Kagame said on Friday, adding that this can only be achieved through cooperation among the countries of ICGLR to even overcome other regional challenges.

Three years ago, the IGCLR issued the Brazzaville Declaration on the Eradication of Statelessness in the Great Lakes Region along with its Regional Plan of Action 2017-2019.

ICGLR defines a stateless person as someone who does not have the nationality of any country.

“Thousands of people living in the region cannot establish their nationality, with devastating consequences on the effective enjoyment of their human rights, leaving them marginalized and not able to access services such as education and health,” the ICGLR says.

With their acceptance of the Brazzaville Declaration, the ICGLR now has a more ambitious common framework for the eradication of statelessness in the Great Lakes Region. This includes a new strategic objective to guarantee access to proof of legal identity such a national identity documents as well as a further specific aim to strengthen universal birth registration in order to prevent statelessness. The validated plan of action will run through 2024, in line with the Global Campaign to End Statelessness.

Clementine Nkweta Salami, UNHCR’s Director of UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for East Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region, said last week, “civil and birth registration is essential to prevent statelessness.”

ICGLR members include; Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan, CAR, Zambia, Angola,Tanzania and Burundi.

Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda represented President Kaguta Museveni at the virtual Summit

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Afghanistan: Stay Home, Female Kabul Government Workers Told

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The new Taliban mayor of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul has told female municipal employees to stay home unless their jobs cannot be filled by a man.

Hamdullah Nomany said the Taliban “found it necessary to stop women from working for a while”.

It is the latest restriction imposed on Afghanistan’s women by the country’s hard-line new Islamist government.

During their previous rule in the 1990s women were barred from education and the workplace.

After seizing the country last month following the withdrawal of US forces, the Taliban said women’s rights would be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”.

But the Taliban favour a strict interpretation of Islam’s legal system, Sharia law.

Since taking power working women have been told to stay at home until the security situation improves, and Taliban fighters have beaten women protesting against the all-male interim government.

The Islamist group appears to have shut down the women’s affairs ministry and replaced it with a department that once enforced strict religious doctrines.

And this weekend secondary schools reopened, but with only boys and male teachers allowed back into classrooms. The Taliban said it was working on reopening schools for girls.

According to the Kabul mayor about a third of the municipality’s 3,000 employees are women. He said some would carry on working.

“For example, women work in the women’s toilets in the city where men cannot go,” he said.

“But for the positions that others [men] can fill, we have told them [women] to stay at home until the situation is normalised. Their salaries will be paid,” he added.

On Sunday, there were small protests outside the women’s affairs ministry while another group of women held a press conference to demand their rights.

One of those protesting at the ministry said “we do not want this ministry to be removed. The removal of women [means] the removal of human beings.”

In a separate development, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said it had been unable to fulfil its duties since the Taliban’s takeover.

The organisation said in a statement that its buildings, vehicles and computers had all been taken over by the Taliban.

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Politics

Ruto Wants To Reconcile With President Uhuru

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Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto has said that he wants to mend fences with his boss as the rift deepens between the two former allies.

However, it should be noted that last year, the two leaders also tried to fix their political differences mediated by the clergy but failed to make any headway.

The union between these two former political allies collapsed on July 22, 2019 following the arrest of Cabinet Secretary to the National Treasury Henry Rotich, who was accused of corruption.

Rotich, who pleaded not guilty, was released on bail the following day. He had been appointed by Kenyatta in 2013 at Ruto’s request.

The Ruto camp has never hidden its distrust for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), an outcome of the March 2018 peace pact between President Uhuru and Raila Odinga – his long-time opposition foe.

The initiative was symbolised by the famous public handshake between the two men – a moment now simply referred to as “The Handshake”.

Ruto’s supporters fear that the rapprochement signals Kenyatta’s plan to renege on a power-sharing and succession pact, under which he would back Ruto for president at the 2022 elections after serving two terms.

The BBI aims to amend the 2010 constitution – which established a presidential system – to create, among other things, a post of prime minister, two deputy prime ministers and a leader of the opposition and increase the number of seats in parliament.

According to President Uhuru, the constitutional review (BBI) is meant to mitigate the current “winner take all” system that has caused post-election conflicts throughout the country’s history.

On May 11, 2021 Parliament approved the bill, which was then to be put to a referendum.

But two days later, a Nairobi court ruled that the process was illegal, stating that such a constitutional review could not be initiated by the president.

With the collapse of the BBI, Ruto seems to have won the fight and thus seems to be ready to reconcile with Uhuru.

However, it remains to be judged by the forthcoming days whether the two will really reconcile. President Uhuru had earlier challenged his deputy to resign if he didn’t approve of the government achievements yet he serves in the same.

Although both President Kenyatta and Ruto have never explained exactly why their relationship fell apart, it is understood they previously exchanged bitter text messages. Some have been read by their allies.

“From the messages that I was shown, the differences between the two are personal and very deep. It will take a miracle for them to be ironed out,” one source said. His opinion was echoed by others.

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International Community Accused Of Regime Change Maneuvers In South Sudan

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South Sudanese Cabinet Affairs Minister has lambasted the international community, saying the country was lacking genuine friends but only those with the agenda of regime change.

Minister Martin Elia Lomuro (pictured above) pointed to reluctance by key members of the international community to fund the implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

“Who says there are friends, perhaps in the region but in the international community, let me put it white and blank, we do are friends? Those that you see are working otherwise. They are for regime change,” said Lomuro.

The minister who is under UN and U.S. sanctions was speaking during an occasion marking the third anniversary of the revitalized 2018 peace agreement on Saturday. The roundtable discussion was organized by UN-owned Radio Miraya.

The cabinet minister said the lack of international support hampered the implementation of the peace agreement particularly the costly security arrangements.

Following the signing of the peace agreement, the Troika countries requested transparency in the management of the oil income before supporting the implementation process.

Peacebuilding Minister Stephen Par Kuol who also participated in the discussion argued that key members of the international community had refused to fund the implementation process because they believe the leadership was “corrupt”. So, these countries have decided to let everything be shouldered by the government.

Kuol further said it was cheaper to fund the implementation of the peace agreement than the humanitarian assistance given by these sam countries on compassionate ground.

“We have tried this (regime change) when we were in the opposition, but it did not work. So, I told these diplomats during our engagement with them to help fund the agreement so that the refugees and internally displaced persons can return to their homes. Instead of working for regime change, I ask them to support this current (transitional) government of the revitalized peace agreement, not the regime”, explained Kuol.

James Solomon Okuk, a senior independent political analyst and a researcher who published a book about the revitalized peace agreement said the accord had fallen below 10 per cent in the implementation of key provisions, especially provisions relating to security arrangement.

(ST)

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