Africa News Wrap Thursday, November 15, 2012
In Mali, Ansar Dine, one of the armed Islamist groups occupying northern Mali, said Wednesday it was no longer seeking to impose strict sharia law across the entire country, but still wanted to keep it in its stronghold of Kidal, RNW reports.
“We are waiving the application of sharia law across the entire Malian territory except in our region of Kidal where sharia will be applied, ” Hamada Ag Bibi, a member of the Ansar Dine delegation in Burkina Faso for talks aimed at ending the Mali crisis, told AFP.
The entire northern expanse of the country – an area bigger than France – has been under rebel control since shortly after a 22 March army coup that led to a power vacuum across the desert north the rebel quickly filled.
“Everything will be done through education and we are going to expand on our argument” during negotiations.
Ansar Dine, the main Islamist group in Mali which has links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), has called for dialogue and sent delegates to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Algeria.
Ansar Dine and another Aqim-tied group, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, have imposed a brutal form of sharia Islamic law, stoning unmarried couples, amputating thieves’ hands and whipping drinkers and smokers.
On Tuesday, the African Union endorsed a plan for military intervention in Mali already approved this weekend by leaders from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).
The plan is to send an African force of 3 300 soldiers to retake control of north Mali if negotiations fail.
In the DRC, RNW reports that armed groups in DR Congo’s war-torn east province slaughtered more than 200 people including scores of children between April and September, hacking some to death and burning others alive, the UN said Wednesday.
“At least 264 civilians, including 83 children, were arbitrarily executed by armed groups in more than 75 attacks on villages between April and September this year,” the office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights said as it published a report into abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s resource-rich east.
Investigators focusing on the southern town of Masisi in North Kivu province uncovered evidence of victims being hacked to death with machetes.
Others were burnt alive in their homes, investigators found, blaming the majority of the killings on two armed groups, Raia Mutomboki and their allies the Mayi Mayi.
Raia Mutomboki is a homeland defence militia whose agenda is to ethnically cleanse the region, forcing all Kinyarwanda speakers out of DR Congo.
Fighters from an ethnic Hutu militia called Nyatura were also responsible for killings and other human rights abuses, the UN said, along with the Rwandan Hutu group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which Kigali suspects includes fighters who took part in the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.
Investigators also confirmed four cases of sexual violence involving the rape of 12 women.
The report’s publication comes as the Congolese army continues to fight the M23 rebels in North Kivu, a group formed in May by army mutineers.
The M23, which has dubbed its armed wing the Congolese Revolutionary Army, was launched by former fighters in an ethnic Tutsi rebel group that was integrated into the military under a 2009 peace deal whose terms the mutineers claim were never fully implemented.
In Ivory Coast, President Alassane Ouattara has sacked his government in a row over a new marriage law which would make wives joint heads of the household, the BBC reports.
Mr Ouattara’s party supported the changes but the members of the ruling coalition were opposed.
The strongest opposition came from the PDCI, which backed Mr Ouattara in the disputed November 2010 election.
Analysts say the splits highlight the continued political instability in the world’s major cocoa producer.
It is slowly recovering from months of unrest following the poll, in which former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept Mr Ouattara’s victory.
Like many African countries, Ivory Coast’s law currently recognises the husband as head of the household, responsible for all major decisions – a situation Mr Ouattara’s RDR wanted to change.
Amadou Gon Coulibaly, general secretary of the presidency, said the unexpected decision to dissolve the government came after the PDCI voted against the new marriage law on Tuesday evening.
Since assuming control in March 2011, Mr Ouattara has presided over an economic recovery in Ivory Coast.
But these economic gains have been threatened by a series of armed attacks on military targets and the country’s infrastructure, allegedly launched by allies of Mr Gbagbo from neighbouring Ghana.
In Kenya, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA and William Ruto’s URP are locked in a battle over the sharing of the 22 Cabinet slots in a coalition they plan to announce by the end of the month, the Daily Nation reports.
The differences came as Mr Ruto told supporters in Nairobi that he was still in the presidential race, contradicting earlier claims the he would be Mr Kenyatta’s running mate.
MPs privy to the negotiations said URP was demanding 11 of the 22 slots and the National Assembly speaker’s position for the party’s chairman, Mr Francis ole Kaparo.
“Our interest is clear; we are negotiating on a 50-50 basis. Narc and New Ford Kenya belong to TNA. Our negotiations are based on each party’s worth. So what TNA gets, they will have to share with their friends, for us, we are talking as URP and we have no extra load on us,” said Belgut MP Charles Keter.
He went on: “ Eugene and Charity are talking directly to Uhuru Kenyatta. They have been holding negotiations for a long time. We only come in when their deal is done.”
Apart from the 11 Cabinet slots TNA will get the slot for senate speaker.
He said seats should be shared based on the votes delivered by each party. “If URP is demanding 50 per cent, then what will other parties get? What will Merus get? What will Kisiis get? We are not comfortable with that demand,” said Mr Mbiuki.