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Pardoned: Congolese Warlord Thomas Lubanga Out Of Prison



This biggest man around town in the DRC Capital Kinshasa is Thomas Lubanga the founder of a political movement known as the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC).

Lubanga has been languishing at the maximum Makala prison in Kinshasa for almost five years.

Before being flown in to Malaka Prison, Lubanga had also served another jail term in The Hague where he was prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for the recruitment and conscription of children under the age of 15 and for having them participate in hostilities.

On July 10, 2012, he was sentenced to a total sentence of 14 years. The verdict and the sentence were confirmed by the Appeals Chamber on December 1, 2014. Thomas Lubanga was finally transferred on December 19, 2015 to Kinshasa to serve his prison sentence.

Lubanga walked out of the Malaka Prison gates on Sunday welcomed by his wife and seven children including other close relatives and massive supporters and members of the UPC movement that has been slightly active.

In front of family members, activists and other relatives, Papy Serge Mayamba, one of Thomas Lubanga’s lawyers and member of his party, presented him as a victim and an innocent man.

A special mass was said this Sunday March 15 at the Notre Dame de Fatima parish in Kinshasa to celebrate the release of Thomas Lubanga from prison after 14 years of imprisonment.

Thomas Lubanga said that he would pardon all those who, directly or indirectly, were involved in his imprisonment.

“The freedom recovered to date is not greeted with a spirit of revenge or hatred. This is why our president grants his sincere paternal forgiveness to all those who directly or indirectly collaborated in the occurrence of this suffering”.

“To the peoples and leaders of Africa, the cultural context in which we live is a fundamental factor which we must take into account, especially in the settlement of our differences. This aspect deserves to be pondered by those who are called to say the law. To ignore it is to fall without hesitation into absolute arbitrariness,” He said.

He also added, “Delivering one’s compatriot to humans who have no control over the cultural aspect mentioned above exposes the person being prosecuted to being the victim of prejudice.”

According to his lawyer Muyamba, Lubanga was a guinea pig “for the experimentation of a newly created institution, the ICC”. After 14 years behind bars, a particularly painful moment, he added, Thomas Lubanga has not blamed himself until now.

According to him, this ex-war chief was the victim of false testimony. However, he thanked his counsel, his lawyers who defended him “unfortunately, without being heard because the satisfaction of certain interests made the Court deaf and blind to the arguments and evidence brandished by its legal scholars”.

Lubanga is a resident of Benin where fighting between the Congolese Armed Forces are engaged in a tough fight against Ugandan rebels the Allied Democratic Front (ADF).

After his release the warlord said, he was saddened by the fact that Ituri region where he hails from was still unstable and thought that sacrificing himself for apprehension would have brought peace in his home area.


Russian Forces Accused of Gross Abuse In CAR



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



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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Tanzania’s Ruling Party Confirms President Samia As National Chairperson



Reliable information reaching Taarifa’s Political Desk confirms that Tanzania’s ruling CCM party has held an extraordinary National Congress and installed President Samia Suluhu Hassan as its national chairperson this Friday.

President Samia’s name was endorsed on Thursday by the CCM National Executive Committee (NEC) that convened after a meeting of the party’s Central Committee (CC) earlier on Wednesday.

This has been the standard procedure observed for decades within the country’s largest political party.

It is therefore important for the president to also serve as the CCM national Chairman for the effective control of government and party.

“This tradition within CCM was introduced for the President to have full confidence, control and influence on whatever has to be done,” says Dr. Richard Mbunda a lecturer at University of Dar es Salaam.

He argues that if the president didn’t have control of the party,  there would result sabotage and delay in implementation of development projects.

“The President leads others to implement the party’s election manifesto, and she has her own style, so it is crucial for her to serve in both positions as it has been done in the past,” says Dr Paul Loisulie a lecturer at University of Dodoma.

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