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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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Uganda Deports 17 Rwandans, What We Know About Them

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On 05 May 21 at around 1220hrs, Ugandan Migration Authorities deported 17 Rwandans via Kagitumba border. Deportees include 14 males and three females arrested by Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).

They tell stories of inhumane treatment and extreme torture in CMI’s dungeons. Once again, as it has been for the past three years, Uganda government had no other excuse of torturing innocent Rwandans, but accuse them of espionage.

Taarifa has obtained their profiles. Anyone with low IQ, can easily conclude they are no where close to being spies at all, but mere innocent civilians minding their business.

Jenifer Byukusenge, 24 years, a student at Mount Kenya University, is a daughter to Rtd Col. Eddy Mupenzi and Rose Marry Mbabazi , residents of Kicukiro District, Gatenga Sector, Gatenga Cell. She travelled to Uganda on April 3, 2021 with Rwandair to Kampala to visit her mother married to one Mussa in Narukorongo, Kampala. On April 5, 21, she was kidnapped from Buziga, a suburb in Kampala, by CMI operatives and detained at CMI Headquarter’s accused of espionage.

Esperance Mukeshimana, 21 years daughter to Marcel Habayo and Jannet Muhawenimana residing in Nyamasheke District, Karambi Sector, Kabuga Cell in Rugano Village. She is married to Charles Rugina who lives in USA. On November 1, 2020, she travelled to Uganda via Kenya Airways to for her wedding and continue her studies. On Mar 20, 2021, she was kidnapped from Masaka district by CMI agents and detained at Masaka Military Barracks and later transferred to Mbuya HQs. On Mar 25, 2021, she was charged with a trumped up allegation of illegal stay in Uganda after finding no case against her.

Gordance Nyiraneza 31 years, daughter to Silas Kamali and Theresia Mujawamungu, residents of Kamonyi District, Kayenzi Sector, Kamataba Cell in Nyarubaya Village. She is married to Jean d’Amour Uwipfura around Feb 2019 to together with her husband moved to Uganda via Gatuna border and have been staying at Nakurabye working for Jaguar Bus company. On Feb 4, 2021. She was picked by CMI agents at Kansanga a suburb in Kampala and transferred to CMI HQs in Mbuya.

Jean d’mour Uwipfura 32 years, a son to Raphael Mugabowindekwe and MPascasia Mukabisamaza, residents of Gatsibo District, Murambi Sector, Murambi Cell in Urugarama Village. He is married to Nyiraneza Gaudance. They also moved to Uganda in February 2019 via Gatuna border as employees of Jaguar Bus company. On Jan 14, 2021 he was kidnapped from Nakurabye and detained at Nakurabye Police station for two days and transferred to Nsange barracks for weeks and later forwarded to CMI HQs in Mbuya where he expereinced abuse and torture.

Pastor Mpamo Assuman is a 50 year son to late Twahirwa Issa and late Nyiragukura Ziada, a resident of Rwengo District in Uganda. He is married to Katusabe Eveline with six children. In October 1998, migrated to Uganda until March 2021, when he was arrested at Najyanankumbi of Rubaga in Kampala. He was accused of spying and kept in the dungeons of CMI before being dumped at the border.

Jean Pierre Badahunga 42 years from Nyabihu District, Karagwe Sector, Gatagara Cell in Nyabihu Village travelled to Uganda in January 2019 and settled in Kiruhula District where he acquired land for farming activities. From no where, in April this year, he was picked from his farm and dumped at Kajyumiro Police station and transferred to Kinoni Police station and later ended up at CMI Mbuya HQs. All the he remembers is him entering a dark gate before loosing his conscious for days due to extreme torture.

Niyonteze Theogen is a 46 year resident of Kayonza District, Kabare Sector, Gitara Cell in Mubuga Village. In May 2014, he moved to Mutukura in Uganda as a causal laborer and later moved to Kiboga for farming activities and continued to Isingiro District to run a merchandise shop. On April 23, 2020, operatives picked him from his home in Mundinzi and detained for days before being transferred to Kabahinda isolation center then transferred to Gashojwa police station after his relatives knew about it and then to Makenke barracks before ending up in a the infamous torture chambers of Mbuya CMI HQ. He was being forced to confess that is a spy.

Jean de Dieu Nshimiyimana 29 years old son to Emmanuel Biziyaremye and Esperance Niyirera, residents of Kayonza District, Ndego Sector, Isangano Cell in Kabusunzu Village is married to Charlotte Uwayesu with three children. He has been living in Uganda since 2016 as a casual labourer. He was detained and charged with alleged illegal stay when he refused to confess being a spy.

The remaining nine also suffered the same treatment and all of them were illegally arrested and held incommunicado. The government of Rwanda is taking care of the deportees.

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Russian Forces Accused of Gross Abuse In CAR

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Russian forces currently deployed in Central African Republic have been exposed for presiding over a score of abuses according to a UN report released.

President Faustin Archange Touadera has received a report from the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA detailing abuses committed between December 2020 and April 2021.

Central African Republic Government spokesman Ange Maxime Kazagui said in a statement early this week that the report carries accounts of  “arbitrary/extrajudicial executions, torture, sexual violence, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment (and) arbitrary arrest.” 

However, the Central African Republic described UN information about abuse by CAR troops and Russian forces as “denunciations,” but promised to investigate them.

Kazagui, whose statement was dated April 30 but was issued on national radio on Monday, said, ” The government considers this document as being mere denunciations.”

He added, “the government was not informed at any moment about an investigation or investigations being carried out on its soil.”

“However, given the seriousness of the allegations against the defense and security forces and allied forces… the government has instructed the minister of justice to open a judicial inquiry, in conformity with the law.”

MINUSCA spokesman Vladimir Monteiro said, “there isn’t a report, but we did give the government information to draw its attention to certain facts.”

Public prosecutor Eric Didier Tambo said the justice ministry had issued instructions to set up a “special commission of inquiry” which would bring in the country’s three prosecutorial services.

Russia has since 2018 openly supported the Touadera regime, which only controls about one-third of a deeply poor country wracked by partisan and communal strife.

Most of the territory is divided among numerous armed bands. Under a bilateral defense accord, Russian paramilitaries from the Wagner Group, a shadowy private military company, operate in the CAR.

Their official status is to train the country’s army.

They were joined last December by hundreds of other Russian paramilitaries, along with Rwandan troops, who played a key role in thwarting a rebel advance on the capital Bangui ahead of presidential elections.

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Kenya, Tanzania Agree To Remove Trade Barriers

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Tanzania Head of State Samia Suluhu Hassan and her Kenyan counterpart have on Tuesday agreed to remove all trade barriers that hinder business between the two coastal countries.

The decision was arrived at today at State House, Nairobi during bilateral talks led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and visiting Tanzania Head of State Samia Suluhu Hassan.

A joint team of experts will be set up to address the disjointed enforcement of cross-border Covid-19 containment protocols, one of the most pronounced non-tariff trade barrier between the two nations.

President Samia Suluhu said, “we have agreed that our Health Ministers need to sit down and come up with a structured system of testing our people at the border points to allow easy movement of our people so as to do their businesses.”

Presidents Uhuru and Samia noted that Kenya and Tanzania need to develop modalities for mutual recognition of COVID-19 test results, noting that the lack of harmonized protocols has hampered free flow of goods and people.

“We noted that trade between Kenya and Tanzania is facing some administrative challenges. They include non-tariff barriers and other restrictions which are frustrating trade and investment between our two countries,” President Kenyatta said.

He said Kenya and Tanzania were not only geographically conjoined but have a common culture, common language, shared heritage and a common ancestry.

“Your visit has given us the opportunity to renew our relations and we want to assure you that the Republic of Kenya and my Government will be in the forefront working together with you and your Administration to ensure our unity especially as East African nations and neighbours, will continue to grow and be strengthened for the benefit of our people,” President Kenyatta said.

He said Kenya and Tanzania had agreed to rejig their Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) to enable it deal with issues affecting trade, adding that the two countries had agreements on importation of natural gas from Tanzania to Kenya, and another on cultural exchanges.

“We have agreed to re-energize the Joint Commission for Cooperation between our two countries, and we have directed our Ministers to meet regularly to ensure that they continue strengthening our relations by sorting out minor problems affecting our people as they do business and interact with each other.

“They (JCC) need to ensure that investors coming from either Tanzania or Kenya do not face hurdles by ensuring a structured system is put in place to help us build our countries for the mutual benefit of our people,” President Kenyatta said.

President Kenyatta also spoke about shared infrastructure saying Kenya and Tanzania had agreed to improve their connectivity through new roads, aviation and maritime transport so as to hasten economic growth.

“We will strengthen aviation, railway, sea and lake transport as well as roads. We also discussed the need to hasten the construction of the Malindi-Lungalunga-Bagamoyo Road to ease movement of goods and people,” he said.

On the signed agreement on natural gas imports from Tanzania, President Kenyatta said the resource will help Kenya meet its growing energy demand.

“We also agreed to build a gas pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa that will lower energy costs in Kenya and help our industries to access environmentally friendly energy,” he said.

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