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Dozens Of Banyamulenge Killed In DRC Under Cover Of #COVID-19

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As the world is grounded to a halt under measures for stopping the spread of #COVID-19, the Banyamulenge tribe in DR Congo’s highlands of South Kivu Province is being killed in broad daylight and the world is silent.

For example, on April 19, Banyamulenge women moved out of their houses to their gardens to harvest food for stocking under the lockdown. As a routine, they are escorted by Congolese army and allowed a few minutes in the gardens.

However, on this fateful day, a group of Banyamulenge women in the highlands of Fizi, Mwenga and Uvira were pounced on while in their gardens by armed groups.

They were brutally raped and mutilated. Some of them died. Others managed to escape. Many others are still missing.

Charles Mukiza, the leader of Banyamulenge Community living in Kinshasa issued a statement denouncing the acts of barbarity, killings and rape that members of his tribe continue to suffer.

He implored the justice system, both civil and military, to carry out meticulous investigations. The community is seeking justice for the victims. They demand that the perpetrators of these cruel and inhuman acts be punished.

Banyamulenge have lived in the DR Congo for centuries but for a long time were not recognized as citizens of this vast mineral rich state. Former President Mobutu Seseseko signed a decree granting the Banyamulenge tribe an irrevocable citizenship.

But since then, other tribes in the DR Congo keep harassing Banyamulenge, claiming they are not Congolese and that they should return to their country of origin.

According to the Central African Observatory, Banyamulenge are people from the former Kingdom of Rwanda.

“The Banyamulenge are Congolese,” President Felix Tshisekedi said in January during an interaction session with diaspora in London, UK.

Banyamulenge youth carry bodies of women killed on 19th April,2020 . They were attacked my Mai Mai rebels

The Banyamulenge question has been interpreted differently and on many occasions used by politicians to gunner support, yet leaving this tribe severely insecure.

President Tshisekedi at his inaugural speech said he would deploy the army and remove all foreign armies and neutralize all local militias that are a threat to national security.

The province of South Kivu is infested with many armed groups, in particular the Raïa Mutomboki in the territories of Shabunda and Mwenga, the Mayi-Mayi in the territories of Uvira and Fizi, the inter-ethnic conflict in the high plateaux of Bijombo, Minembwe and Itombwe, and many other groups.

Boniface Balamage, the Second Vice President DR Congo Parliament also from South Kivu, in March while on holiday in Kivu gathered provincial leaders to collectively discuss the insecurity problem in the region.

“The war that is going on in the highlands of Minembwe is not justified. We must begin to understand that it is time to make peace to give peace to the people and to secure our territory, our province,” he said.

Balamage challenged provincial leaders on what they have done to put an end to this situation with regard to their responsibilities, whether central government or the provincial government.

According to the Congolese Army, this region hosts various armed groups, especially the foreign rebel forces CNRD, FDLR (Rwandan rebels) and FNL (From Burundi)

The armed groups are mostly active in Uvira, Fizi and Mwenga areas and claim to be members of local communities. They clash regularly and have already displaced over 50,000 people, hundreds of them dead and villages burned down. Military efforts in the region have failed to overcome the violence.

National Liberation Forces (FNL) is a Burundian rebel group the crossed into South Kivu where they created rear bases to fight the Burundian armed forces. The FNL is currently in an alliance with Mai Mai Yakutumba and FDLR in South Kivu.

The FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) is the largest illegal foreign armed group operating in the DR Congo.

UN Peacekeepers of Southern Sector in DR Congo meets with IDP elders to discuss prevailing security situation and protection of IDPs camp.

Why Rwanda is mentioned  

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is the only leader that has openly and repeatedly denounced the barbaric killings targeting Banyamulenge people in the DRC and calls for an end to the insecurity.

On Monday April 27, President Kagame engaged the press via video conferencing and addressed several issues including insecurity in the Eastern part of DR Congo.

He said the newly elected government in DR Congo has fortunately agreed to work with its neighbours to resolve insecurity issues in the country’s Eastern Region.

President Kagame says his government has been collecting intelligence about the armed groups in DR Congo and passed it on to the Kinshasa government and the UN (Monusco) as Rwanda’s contribution in jointly dealing with the situation.

“Through our intelligence collection which we share with those supposed to be dealing with the situation in that part of DR Congo. We give it to them so that they can do what they are supposed to do,” he said.

For example, President Kagame said, “Our intelligence collection tells us Burundi government forces are operating in that part of DR Congo.”

The Rwandan President who is vastly knowledgeable about geopolitics of the Great Lakes Region said for the past 26 years, armed groups have been evolving but there is always one constant; the failure to deal with this problem.

“Even the discussion in the past 26 years has been to deal with the problem. What is even worse is certain people responsible for dealing with the situation end up perpetuating the situation by relying on rumours, lies and myths,” he said.

On the situation in South of Bukavu, Kagame is concerned that in this part of DR Congo, there are some experts who don’t see what is there that is supposed to be seen by anyone who is on ground but instead end up seeing what is not there.

“How could someone be talking about Rwandans or RDF in that part of the region? Because they are not there,” Kagame wondered.

He explained that Rwandans that are rumoured to be in DR Congo are not RDF soldiers but Rwandan armed groups formed after several breakups of the FDLR.

“Take it from me; there is not a single Rwandan soldier in South Kivu,” Kagame said, adding that the DR Congo government knows there is no single Rwandan soldier in that part of the world, but some NGOs and journalists claim otherwise.

A team of jungle experts from the MONUSCO Brazilian contingent have been providing training in jungle warfare to various battalions of the Congolese Army (FARDC) currently engaged in Operations in the eastern part of the country.

North Kivu

According to President Kagame, Rwanda provides intelligence on the activities of the armed groups as a major tool in designing operations to remove them.

“We give information about rebel activities to our partners in the region including UN and others. They started acting based on our information especially in Northern Kivu,” Kagame said on April 27.

However, President Kagame is concerned that to some people based on their interests, DR Congo government should not be working with neighbours, because, for some reasons, they would want to preserve the insecurity.

Before the Congolese Army and UN force launched attacks against the armed groups in North Kivu, including FDLR, Ugandan rebels ADF and many others, the Rwanda’s intel was crucial.

“They started acting on information we gave them because they were also able to verify and see the trends in North Kivu,” he told journalists in a hour-long interaction.

“When they started operations and based on this information and collaboration we had with them, now the whole thing turned against them. Then a dynamic is set up internally to start questioning and harassing the DR Congo government. They create a monster that it is the RDF that crossed the border to carry out the operation.”

President Kagame wishes that the UN Peacekeeping force would deal with the problem but they are not as the plight of the innocent Congolese civilians hangs in the air.

Congolese Army has Intensified its attacks against the bases of Ugandan rebels ADF in North Kivu. The recent attack took place this week in Bwerere, about 4 km from Halungupa. 6 civilians and 2 soldiers were killed.

Asia

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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Politics

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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