AUC Chairperson Approves the Deployment of African Union Short-Term Observers (STOs) for the 2015 General Elections in Central African Republic

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has approved the deployment of the African Union Short-Term Observation (STO) Mission to the 27 December 2015 General Elections in the Central African Republic, following an official invitation of the Government. The STOs will arrive in Bangui, Central African Republic on 20 December 2015 and will remain in the country until 30 December 2015.

The African Union Electoral Observation Mission (AUEOM) will be led by H.E. Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal. The mission comprises Thirty (30) Short Term Observers (STOs) from the Pan African Parliament, the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) of the African Union, election management bodies, civil society organizations, think tanks, media and academic institutions. They will be deployed throughout the electoral constituencies of the country to monitor the electoral process and to consult with key stakeholders involved in the electoral process including government and electoral officials, candidates and political parties, civil society representatives and media to provide a critical assessment of the conduct of election.

The Mission has the mandate to observe the General Elections in line with relevant African Union and international instruments comprising the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, the African Union Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring Missions, the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights (ICCPR), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the 2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation to which the AU is a signatory and the national laws of the Central African Republic. The Mission shall contribute to the reinforcement of the democratization process in Central African Republic by providing an objective, independent and impartial assessment of the conduct of the elections in line with the aforementioned international and regional best practices and standards.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: AUC Chairperson Approves the Deployment of African Union Short-Term Observers (STOs) for the 2015 General Elections in Central African Republic

Categories: AFRICA

AUC Chairperson Approves the Deployment of African Union Short-Term Observers (STOs) for the 2015 General Elections in Central African Republic

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has approved the deployment of the African Union Short-Term Observation (STO) Mission to the 27 December 2015 General Elections in the Central African Republic, following an official invitation of the Government. The STOs will arrive in Bangui, Central African Republic on 20 December 2015 and will remain in the country until 30 December 2015.

The African Union Electoral Observation Mission (AUEOM) will be led by H.E. Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal. The mission comprises Thirty (30) Short Term Observers (STOs) from the Pan African Parliament, the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) of the African Union, election management bodies, civil society organizations, think tanks, media and academic institutions. They will be deployed throughout the electoral constituencies of the country to monitor the electoral process and to consult with key stakeholders involved in the electoral process including government and electoral officials, candidates and political parties, civil society representatives and media to provide a critical assessment of the conduct of election.

The Mission has the mandate to observe the General Elections in line with relevant African Union and international instruments comprising the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, the African Union Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring Missions, the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights (ICCPR), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the 2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation to which the AU is a signatory and the national laws of the Central African Republic. The Mission shall contribute to the reinforcement of the democratization process in Central African Republic by providing an objective, independent and impartial assessment of the conduct of the elections in line with the aforementioned international and regional best practices and standards.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: AUC Chairperson Approves the Deployment of African Union Short-Term Observers (STOs) for the 2015 General Elections in Central African Republic

Categories: AFRICA

AUC Chairperson Approves the Deployment of African Union Short-Term Observers (STOs) for the 2015 General Elections in Central African Republic

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has approved the deployment of the African Union Short-Term Observation (STO) Mission to the 27 December 2015 General Elections in the Central African Republic, following an official invitation of the Government. The STOs will arrive in Bangui, Central African Republic on 20 December 2015 and will remain in the country until 30 December 2015.

The African Union Electoral Observation Mission (AUEOM) will be led by H.E. Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal. The mission comprises Thirty (30) Short Term Observers (STOs) from the Pan African Parliament, the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) of the African Union, election management bodies, civil society organizations, think tanks, media and academic institutions. They will be deployed throughout the electoral constituencies of the country to monitor the electoral process and to consult with key stakeholders involved in the electoral process including government and electoral officials, candidates and political parties, civil society representatives and media to provide a critical assessment of the conduct of election.

The Mission has the mandate to observe the General Elections in line with relevant African Union and international instruments comprising the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, the African Union Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring Missions, the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights (ICCPR), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the 2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation to which the AU is a signatory and the national laws of the Central African Republic. The Mission shall contribute to the reinforcement of the democratization process in Central African Republic by providing an objective, independent and impartial assessment of the conduct of the elections in line with the aforementioned international and regional best practices and standards.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: AUC Chairperson Approves the Deployment of African Union Short-Term Observers (STOs) for the 2015 General Elections in Central African Republic

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UN report urges Liberia to act over traditional practices that violate human rights

A UN report released today documents the negative impact on human rights of some traditional and cultural practices in Liberia, including female genital mutilation, forced initiation into secret societies, accusations of witchcraft, trials by ordeal and ritualistic killing.

The report*, released by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, draws on in-depth interviews with victims, family members, community leaders, Government officials and civil society members between January 2012 and September 2015.

The report shows that such violations disproportionately affect women, children, elderly people, destitute people and those with disabilities. “Criminal offenses perpetrated through harmful traditional practices often go unpunished due to their perceived cultural dimensions,” the report notes.

Some 58 per cent of Liberian women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice widely used by a secret society called Sande, says the report. Women and girls from poor households are twice likely to experience FGM than those from wealthy ones.

The report stresses the negative consequences of FGM, which is generally performed without anesthesia, on the health and physical integrity of these women and girls. “In addition to the extreme pain… the lack of medically sterilized equipment and facilities increases the likelihood of infection and lasting physical damage, and may even lead to death,” says the report. Girls’ education is also disrupted as they are often removed from formal schooling to attend “bush school” and undergo FGM.

The report also documents cases of abductions, forced initiations, torture and rape by members of another secret society called Poro.

Non-members considered to have transgressed the society’s rules, for instance by “trespassing” on sacred Poro ground or remaining outdoors during Poro activities, have also at times been forcefully initiated, tortured and, in two documented cases, gang-raped.

The study also notes that “accusations of witchcraft are common in Liberia, and often have devastating consequences for the accused, who may be subjected to trial by ordeal, ‘cleansing’ or ‘exorcism’ rituals, expulsion, ostracization, and even death.” In many cases documented in the report, trial by ordeal amounted to torture, both physical and psychological, and in some cases even led to death.

“The authorities often hesitate to investigate or prosecute cases involving trial by ordeal, due to the perceived cultural dimensions of the practice. As a result, criminal offenses committed during trial by ordeal go unpunished. This has generated a widespread culture of impunity among traditional actors,” the report says.

The UN study also documents nine cases of suspected ritualistic killings, including three in August and September 2015. The latest case was in Ganta on 29 September, when a motorcycle driver was killed, allegedly for ritualistic purposes. This sparked riots on 30 September during which a man accused of this alleged ritual murder was killed by an angry mob.

“These events illustrate the lack of faith many Liberians have in the capacity and willingness of local authorities to take action in cases of ritualistic killing, and of the formal justice system to hold perpetrators accountable,” says the report.

“This situation raises serious concerns in view of the 2017 national elections when the number of ritualistic killings is likely to increase the report warns.

“Liberia’s human rights obligations must take precedence over any local practices considered to be ‘cultural’ or ‘traditional’ where such practices are incompatible with human rights principles,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

“State authorities must actively work on preventing these violations, ensuring the prosecution of alleged perpetrators and protecting the victims, by providing them with all necessary medical and psychosocial support, and ensuring that they have access to effective remedies and redress,” he added. He also urged the authorities to fill in the existing legal and policy gaps, including through the revision of the Hinterland Regulations which date from 1949. These regulations established separate legal structures for those deemed as “civilized” and “native” Liberians.

“While the report takes note of the progress made by the Government in combatting such practices, the recent incident in Ganta shows the urgent need to strengthen the formal justice system. If Liberia wants to make a good and positive use of its rich and abundant culture and traditions, it has to align some of these practices with its international human rights obligations,” said Farid Zarif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIL.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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562nd PSC meeting on the situation in Somalia and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 562nd meeting held on 10 December 2015, adopted the following decision on the situation in Somalia and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM):

Council,

1.Takes note of the briefings provided by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM. Council also takes note of the statements made by the representatives of Somalia and of Ethiopia, as Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), as well as by those of China, France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, the UN Secretariat, the European Union (EU) and Italy, as co-Chair of the IGAD Partners Forum;

2. Recalls its previous pronouncements on the situation in Somalia, including communiqués PSC/PR/COMM.(DVIII) adopted at its 508th meeting held on 18 May 2015, communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.(DXXI) adopted at its 521st meeting held on 30 June 2015, and communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.1(DXLIV) adopted at its 544th meeting held on 18 September 2015;

3. Reaffirms the AU’s full support to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and its commitment to continue to assist the FGS in its stabilization and reconstruction efforts. Council welcomes the significant progress made by the FGS against key milestones in the completion of Somalia’s federal state formation process and towards reviewing the Provisional Constitution. In this respect, Council notes with satisfaction the establishment of the Interim Regional Administrations of Jubaland, South West and Galmudug, and calls for the timely completion of the formation of the Regional Administration for Hiraan and Middle Shabelle, as well as for the determination of the status of Mogadishu and Banadir. Council welcomes the steps taken towards the operationalization of the National Independent Electoral Commission, as well as of the Boundaries and Federation Commission, following the appointment of the members of these two organs in July 2015. Council calls for the mobilization of the required human, technical and financial resources to enable the two Commissions to fulfill their respective mandates;

4. Commends the FGS for re-affirming its commitment to respect the constitutionally-mandated terms of the legislature and the executive, which expire in August and September 2016, respectively;

5. Welcomes the launch in Mogadishu, on 19 October 2015, of the National Consultative Forum (NCF) tasked to oversee the consultative process that will determine the most appropriate electoral model for the 2016 polls. Council further welcomes the work of the NCF in the preparation of the Facilitation Guide that set out four options for the conduct of the elections in 2016 and in the conduct of regional consultations on the electoral process in several locations across Somalia, on 16 and 17 November 2015;

6. Looks forward to the outcome of the final plenary session of the NCF scheduled to take place in Mogadishu, in December 2015, and calls upon all parties to come up with a compromise model in the interest of moving the process forward and delivering a credible and peaceful transition in 2016;

7. Urges the international community to continue to provide the necessary support to the FGS and its institutions, in order to consolidate the gains made and facilitate the completion of the political process. In this regard, Council welcomes the holding of an ambassadorial-level meeting of the High-Level Partnership Forum (HLPF) in Mogadishu, on 8 December 2015, to review progress, identify gaps and solutions on the priorities in the implementation of the Government’s Vision 2016 Agenda and the New Deal Compact. Council looks forward to the holding of ministerial-level HLPF meeting, in Istanbul, Turkey, in February 2016, during which the implementation plan for the chosen electoral model for 2016 will be discussed, with a view to addressing any gaps in funding. Council further looks forward to the establishment of the process and principles that will guide the formulation of the post-2016 international aid architecture for Somalia during the Istanbul Forum ;

8. Urges, once again, all the Somali stakeholders, working in a spirit of inclusiveness and national unity, to spare no efforts in ensuring the full implementation of Vision 2016, including constitutional review and implementation, completion of the federal system and democratization, which is expected to culminate with the holding of free, fair, credible and transparent elections in 2016;

9.Notes with serious concern the recent clashes in Gaalkacyo, Central Somalia, between the forces of the regional administrations of Puntland and Galmudug that resulted in the killing and displacement of civilians. Council appreciates the successful mediation process undertaken by FGS Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake, with the support of the leaders of the Interim Administrations of Jubaland and South West, culminating with the signing of the 2 December 2015 Gaalkacyo Agreement. Council calls on all parties to respect the Agreement, including ensuring the protection and safety of civilians, and to engage in dialogue to find a lasting and peaceful solution to the underlying issues;

10. Pays tribute to all the AMISOM uniformed and civilian personnel, as well as to the Troop and Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCs), namely Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, for their continued commitment and the sacrifices made thus far;

11. Welcomes the appointment of Ambassador Francisco Caetano J. Madeira, from Mozambique, as the new Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, and pays tribute to his predecessor, Ambassador Maman S. Sidikou, for his leadership and outstanding contribution to the quest for peace, security and stability in Somalia. Council assures the new Special Representative of its full support in the execution of his mandate, and calls on all the Somali stakeholders to extend full support to him;

12. Looks forward to the consolidation and expansion of the significant gains realized following the joint operations conducted by AMISOM and the Somali National Army (SNA), through the successful conclusion of Phase 3 of Operation Juba Corridor aimed at dislodging al Shabaab elements from their remaining strongholds, degrading their capabilities, limiting their sources of revenue and facilitating the restoration of state authority. At the same time, Council notes with concern that, in spite of the progress made, al Shabaab continues to retain the capability to conduct targeted terrorist attacks against AMISOM and SNA defensive positions, as well as asymmetric attacks on the Government and local populations, and controls some areas, particularly in the Juba Corridor. Council also notes with deep concern that the conflict in Yemen and the expansion of terrorist activities in that country are adversely affecting security in Somalia, in particular, and in the Horn of Africa, in general;

13. Requests the Commission to expedite the implementation of the revised harmonized Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for AMISOM, as transmitted to the UN Security Council in accordance with paragraph 9 of communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.1(DXLIV), bearing in mind the security strategy outlined in paragraph 5 of Security Council resolution 2232(2015) of 28 July 2015, namely: (i) continuing offensive operations against the al-Shabaab strongholds, (ii) enabling the political process at all levels, including through securing critical political processes throughout Somalia, and (iii) enabling stabilization efforts and delivery of security for the Somali people, as part of the wider process of peace building and reconciliation, including through the gradual handing over of security responsibility from AMISOM to the SNA and, subsequently, to the Somali Police Force (SPF);

14. Reiterates the imperative of enhanced command and control of AMISOM, in line with the relevant provisions of the revised harmonized CONOPS, as a critical factor in ensuring the effectiveness of the Mission, and requests the Chairperson of the Commission and the Special Representative to take all required steps in this respect. Council requests the T/PCCs to extend full cooperation to that end, in keeping with the commitments made during the 16th meeting of the Military Operations Coordination Committee (MOCC), held in Addis Ababa on 1 September 2015. Council further requests the Chairperson of the Commission to provide regular updates on progress made in this respect and on any challenges that may be encountered;

15. Recalls the earlier pledges made by Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to offer air assets for AMISOM operations, as acknowledged in paragraph 10 of communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.1(DXLIV). Council, in this regard, requests the Commission to expedite consultations with these countries in order to generate the pledged air assets, as well as to source the required contingent owned equipment from existing AMISOM T/PCCs or other countries, both within and outside the continent, in line with paragraph 14 of resolution 2232 (2015). Council underlines that all force enablers and multipliers should operate under the authority of the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission and the Force Commander of AMISOM;

16 .Commends the AMISOM leadership and the T/PCCs for their continued efforts to ensure full compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law in the conduct of the Mission’s military operations, including the prompt establishment of Boards of Inquiry and other mechanisms to investigate credible allegations of violations by AMISOM uniformed personnel and the adoption, where applicable, of appropriate sanctions upon the perpetrators, in line with the relevant provisions of the Memoranda of Understanding between the AU and the T/PCCs. Council, reaffirming the AU’s zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), requests the Commission to continue to actively follow-up on the recommendations of the investigation into allegations of SEA leveled against some AMISOM personnel, undertaken between November 2014 and February 2015, and looks forward to a detailed report on steps taken in this respect within 45 days following the adoption of the present communiqué;

17. Takes note of the adoption by the UN Security Council, on 9 November 2015, of resolution 2245 (2015) in which the Council, having emphasized the role and impact of a responsive, effective, efficient and responsible field support platform as a strategic enabler in Somalia, and in view of the expansion of the mission of the UN Support Office to AMISOM (UNSOA), since its establishment in 2009, decided that UNSOA shall bear the name of the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS). Council notes with satisfaction the improvements contained in the resolution in respect to the support package to AMISOM, including maintenance services for partner donated and partner owned equipment jointly recognized as being required by the AU, the UN and the TCCs, as well as reimbursement to TCC’s for basic and essential supplies and services required by AMISOM’s contingents to sustain themselves;

18. Further takes note of the decision made by the Security Council, in resolution 2245 (2015), that the Head of UNSOS shall report to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the delivery of UNSOS mandate and, through the Special Representative, to the Security Council. Council also takes note of the request made to the Head of UNSOS to have a quantifiable compact with the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission and Head of AMISOM. In this regard, Council welcomes the preliminary consultations between the Commission and the UN Secretariat on this issue, and requests the Commission to expedite these consultations, bearing in mind the need to ensure that support to AMISOM is delivered in a timely, responsive and efficient manner, with due consideration of the Mission’s operational imperatives and tempo. Council notes the request made by the UN Security Council for the Secretary-General to work closely with the AU in improving the performance of AMISOM through the delivery of the support package, as well as support the AU in the form of technical and expert advice, and requests the Commission to take full advantage of the assistance offered by the UN and to urgently work out its modalities with the UN;

19. Requests the Commission to report to Council, within 90 days, on the implementation of the support package to AMISOM, as per the relevant provisions of resolution 2245 (2015), including any challenges that may be faced by AMISOM in the discharge of its mandate;

20. Notes with concern the negative impact of the imminent funding gap that would result from the decision of the EU, within the framework of the support extended through the Africa Peace Facility (APF), to reduce by 20% the allowances to AMISOM uniformed personnel starting from January 2016. Council requests the Commission to continue to engage the EU, with a view to addressing all issues of concern, as well as to explore alternative solutions with other partners, bearing in mind that the reduction of allowances for uniformed personnel will seriously affect the morale of the personnel and the overall effectiveness of AMISOM, with serious adverse effect on the ongoing process in Somalia;

21. Reiterates that, in deploying AMISOM, the AU is acting on behalf of the UN Security Council, which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Council, accordingly, calls on the Security Council to extend enhanced support to AMISOM to enable it fully deliver on its mandate and support the process leading to the 2016 elections, until such a time the UN is in a position to deploy a peacekeeping mission, bearing in mind that, in resolution 2232 (2015), the Security Council agreed with the Secretary-General that conditions in Somalia are not appropriate for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission until the end of 2016 at the earliest;

22. Reiterates the central and critical role of the SNA not only in joint operations, but also in taking over security functions in recovered areas to facilitate continued offensive operations. In this respect, Council recalls its earlier pronouncements on the establishment of a non-lethal support package for the SPF and on the extension to Puntland forces of the non-lethal support package for the SNA, as well as of the related recommendations of the UN Secretary-General. Council takes note of the assessment made by the UN Secretary-General on this matter, and looks forward to progress on this issue, including the identification of a suitable entity to provide support to the SPF and to Puntland forces. In the meantime, Council welcomes the decision of the Security Council, in resolution 2245 (2015), to authorize the expansion of the targeted support package to SNA troops on joint operations with AMISOM in relation to field defense stores and radio communication, and the provision of in-theatre medical evacuation for the SPF;

23. Calls, once again, on international partners to enhance support to the Somali National Security Forces, both lethal and non-lethal, to facilitate the takeover from AMISOM of security responsibilities by the respective Somali institutions;

24. Stresses the importance of the active involvement of the Somali civil society, including women and youth, in the efforts to counter violent extremism and promote lasting peace, security and reconciliation in the country. In this regard, Council looks forward to the recommendations of the ”Conference on Community-Based Approaches to Counter Extremism- The Role of Somali Women”, to be organized by AMISOM and the FGS in Djibouti on 15 and 17 December 2015;

25. Further stresses the importance of regional security cooperation in effectively neutralizing the al Shabaab terrorist group. Council welcomes the progress made within the framework of the Djibouti Process on the Enhancement of Security Cooperation in the East Africa region, including the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Fusion and Liaison Unit for East Africa (UFL-EA), during the third meeting of the Heads of Intelligence and Security Services of East Africa, held in Addis Ababa, from 7 to 8 December 2015, with the support of the Commission;

26. Reiterates its deep concern at the prevailing humanitarian situation, noting in this respect that 4.9 million people are in need of assistance, that 1.1 million are internally displaced, and that the situation has been compounded by the El Nino phenomenon. Council further notes with concern the attacks and threats against humanitarian actors, which limit access to the populations in need. Council strongly condemns all impediments to humanitarian assistance, reiterates the AU’s deep appreciation to the humanitarian actors on the ground, who are operating under very challenging conditions, and calls for a scaled-up humanitarian response, bearing in mind that the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2015, which amounts to 863 million dollars is currently funded at only 38 percent;

27. Decides to renew the mandate of AMISOM until 30 May 2016, bearing in mind paragraph 16 of communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.(CDLXII) adopted at its 462nd meeting held on 16 October 2014, as well as the decision of the UN Security Council, as contained in paragraph 3 of resolution 2232(2015) of 28 July 2015, to authorize the Member States of the AU to maintain the deployment of AMISOM until 30 May 2016, for a maximum level of 22,126 uniformed personnel, and as part of an overall exit strategy for AMISOM, after which a decrease in AMISOM’s force strength will be considered;

28. Further decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: 562nd PSC meeting on the situation in Somalia and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

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562nd PSC meeting on the situation in Somalia and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 562nd meeting held on 10 December 2015, adopted the following decision on the situation in Somalia and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM):

Council,

1.Takes note of the briefings provided by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM. Council also takes note of the statements made by the representatives of Somalia and of Ethiopia, as Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), as well as by those of China, France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, the UN Secretariat, the European Union (EU) and Italy, as co-Chair of the IGAD Partners Forum;

2. Recalls its previous pronouncements on the situation in Somalia, including communiqués PSC/PR/COMM.(DVIII) adopted at its 508th meeting held on 18 May 2015, communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.(DXXI) adopted at its 521st meeting held on 30 June 2015, and communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.1(DXLIV) adopted at its 544th meeting held on 18 September 2015;

3. Reaffirms the AU’s full support to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and its commitment to continue to assist the FGS in its stabilization and reconstruction efforts. Council welcomes the significant progress made by the FGS against key milestones in the completion of Somalia’s federal state formation process and towards reviewing the Provisional Constitution. In this respect, Council notes with satisfaction the establishment of the Interim Regional Administrations of Jubaland, South West and Galmudug, and calls for the timely completion of the formation of the Regional Administration for Hiraan and Middle Shabelle, as well as for the determination of the status of Mogadishu and Banadir. Council welcomes the steps taken towards the operationalization of the National Independent Electoral Commission, as well as of the Boundaries and Federation Commission, following the appointment of the members of these two organs in July 2015. Council calls for the mobilization of the required human, technical and financial resources to enable the two Commissions to fulfill their respective mandates;

4. Commends the FGS for re-affirming its commitment to respect the constitutionally-mandated terms of the legislature and the executive, which expire in August and September 2016, respectively;

5. Welcomes the launch in Mogadishu, on 19 October 2015, of the National Consultative Forum (NCF) tasked to oversee the consultative process that will determine the most appropriate electoral model for the 2016 polls. Council further welcomes the work of the NCF in the preparation of the Facilitation Guide that set out four options for the conduct of the elections in 2016 and in the conduct of regional consultations on the electoral process in several locations across Somalia, on 16 and 17 November 2015;

6. Looks forward to the outcome of the final plenary session of the NCF scheduled to take place in Mogadishu, in December 2015, and calls upon all parties to come up with a compromise model in the interest of moving the process forward and delivering a credible and peaceful transition in 2016;

7. Urges the international community to continue to provide the necessary support to the FGS and its institutions, in order to consolidate the gains made and facilitate the completion of the political process. In this regard, Council welcomes the holding of an ambassadorial-level meeting of the High-Level Partnership Forum (HLPF) in Mogadishu, on 8 December 2015, to review progress, identify gaps and solutions on the priorities in the implementation of the Government’s Vision 2016 Agenda and the New Deal Compact. Council looks forward to the holding of ministerial-level HLPF meeting, in Istanbul, Turkey, in February 2016, during which the implementation plan for the chosen electoral model for 2016 will be discussed, with a view to addressing any gaps in funding. Council further looks forward to the establishment of the process and principles that will guide the formulation of the post-2016 international aid architecture for Somalia during the Istanbul Forum ;

8. Urges, once again, all the Somali stakeholders, working in a spirit of inclusiveness and national unity, to spare no efforts in ensuring the full implementation of Vision 2016, including constitutional review and implementation, completion of the federal system and democratization, which is expected to culminate with the holding of free, fair, credible and transparent elections in 2016;

9.Notes with serious concern the recent clashes in Gaalkacyo, Central Somalia, between the forces of the regional administrations of Puntland and Galmudug that resulted in the killing and displacement of civilians. Council appreciates the successful mediation process undertaken by FGS Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake, with the support of the leaders of the Interim Administrations of Jubaland and South West, culminating with the signing of the 2 December 2015 Gaalkacyo Agreement. Council calls on all parties to respect the Agreement, including ensuring the protection and safety of civilians, and to engage in dialogue to find a lasting and peaceful solution to the underlying issues;

10. Pays tribute to all the AMISOM uniformed and civilian personnel, as well as to the Troop and Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCs), namely Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, for their continued commitment and the sacrifices made thus far;

11. Welcomes the appointment of Ambassador Francisco Caetano J. Madeira, from Mozambique, as the new Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, and pays tribute to his predecessor, Ambassador Maman S. Sidikou, for his leadership and outstanding contribution to the quest for peace, security and stability in Somalia. Council assures the new Special Representative of its full support in the execution of his mandate, and calls on all the Somali stakeholders to extend full support to him;

12. Looks forward to the consolidation and expansion of the significant gains realized following the joint operations conducted by AMISOM and the Somali National Army (SNA), through the successful conclusion of Phase 3 of Operation Juba Corridor aimed at dislodging al Shabaab elements from their remaining strongholds, degrading their capabilities, limiting their sources of revenue and facilitating the restoration of state authority. At the same time, Council notes with concern that, in spite of the progress made, al Shabaab continues to retain the capability to conduct targeted terrorist attacks against AMISOM and SNA defensive positions, as well as asymmetric attacks on the Government and local populations, and controls some areas, particularly in the Juba Corridor. Council also notes with deep concern that the conflict in Yemen and the expansion of terrorist activities in that country are adversely affecting security in Somalia, in particular, and in the Horn of Africa, in general;

13. Requests the Commission to expedite the implementation of the revised harmonized Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for AMISOM, as transmitted to the UN Security Council in accordance with paragraph 9 of communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.1(DXLIV), bearing in mind the security strategy outlined in paragraph 5 of Security Council resolution 2232(2015) of 28 July 2015, namely: (i) continuing offensive operations against the al-Shabaab strongholds, (ii) enabling the political process at all levels, including through securing critical political processes throughout Somalia, and (iii) enabling stabilization efforts and delivery of security for the Somali people, as part of the wider process of peace building and reconciliation, including through the gradual handing over of security responsibility from AMISOM to the SNA and, subsequently, to the Somali Police Force (SPF);

14. Reiterates the imperative of enhanced command and control of AMISOM, in line with the relevant provisions of the revised harmonized CONOPS, as a critical factor in ensuring the effectiveness of the Mission, and requests the Chairperson of the Commission and the Special Representative to take all required steps in this respect. Council requests the T/PCCs to extend full cooperation to that end, in keeping with the commitments made during the 16th meeting of the Military Operations Coordination Committee (MOCC), held in Addis Ababa on 1 September 2015. Council further requests the Chairperson of the Commission to provide regular updates on progress made in this respect and on any challenges that may be encountered;

15. Recalls the earlier pledges made by Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to offer air assets for AMISOM operations, as acknowledged in paragraph 10 of communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.1(DXLIV). Council, in this regard, requests the Commission to expedite consultations with these countries in order to generate the pledged air assets, as well as to source the required contingent owned equipment from existing AMISOM T/PCCs or other countries, both within and outside the continent, in line with paragraph 14 of resolution 2232 (2015). Council underlines that all force enablers and multipliers should operate under the authority of the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission and the Force Commander of AMISOM;

16 .Commends the AMISOM leadership and the T/PCCs for their continued efforts to ensure full compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law in the conduct of the Mission’s military operations, including the prompt establishment of Boards of Inquiry and other mechanisms to investigate credible allegations of violations by AMISOM uniformed personnel and the adoption, where applicable, of appropriate sanctions upon the perpetrators, in line with the relevant provisions of the Memoranda of Understanding between the AU and the T/PCCs. Council, reaffirming the AU’s zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), requests the Commission to continue to actively follow-up on the recommendations of the investigation into allegations of SEA leveled against some AMISOM personnel, undertaken between November 2014 and February 2015, and looks forward to a detailed report on steps taken in this respect within 45 days following the adoption of the present communiqué;

17. Takes note of the adoption by the UN Security Council, on 9 November 2015, of resolution 2245 (2015) in which the Council, having emphasized the role and impact of a responsive, effective, efficient and responsible field support platform as a strategic enabler in Somalia, and in view of the expansion of the mission of the UN Support Office to AMISOM (UNSOA), since its establishment in 2009, decided that UNSOA shall bear the name of the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS). Council notes with satisfaction the improvements contained in the resolution in respect to the support package to AMISOM, including maintenance services for partner donated and partner owned equipment jointly recognized as being required by the AU, the UN and the TCCs, as well as reimbursement to TCC’s for basic and essential supplies and services required by AMISOM’s contingents to sustain themselves;

18. Further takes note of the decision made by the Security Council, in resolution 2245 (2015), that the Head of UNSOS shall report to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the delivery of UNSOS mandate and, through the Special Representative, to the Security Council. Council also takes note of the request made to the Head of UNSOS to have a quantifiable compact with the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission and Head of AMISOM. In this regard, Council welcomes the preliminary consultations between the Commission and the UN Secretariat on this issue, and requests the Commission to expedite these consultations, bearing in mind the need to ensure that support to AMISOM is delivered in a timely, responsive and efficient manner, with due consideration of the Mission’s operational imperatives and tempo. Council notes the request made by the UN Security Council for the Secretary-General to work closely with the AU in improving the performance of AMISOM through the delivery of the support package, as well as support the AU in the form of technical and expert advice, and requests the Commission to take full advantage of the assistance offered by the UN and to urgently work out its modalities with the UN;

19. Requests the Commission to report to Council, within 90 days, on the implementation of the support package to AMISOM, as per the relevant provisions of resolution 2245 (2015), including any challenges that may be faced by AMISOM in the discharge of its mandate;

20. Notes with concern the negative impact of the imminent funding gap that would result from the decision of the EU, within the framework of the support extended through the Africa Peace Facility (APF), to reduce by 20% the allowances to AMISOM uniformed personnel starting from January 2016. Council requests the Commission to continue to engage the EU, with a view to addressing all issues of concern, as well as to explore alternative solutions with other partners, bearing in mind that the reduction of allowances for uniformed personnel will seriously affect the morale of the personnel and the overall effectiveness of AMISOM, with serious adverse effect on the ongoing process in Somalia;

21. Reiterates that, in deploying AMISOM, the AU is acting on behalf of the UN Security Council, which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Council, accordingly, calls on the Security Council to extend enhanced support to AMISOM to enable it fully deliver on its mandate and support the process leading to the 2016 elections, until such a time the UN is in a position to deploy a peacekeeping mission, bearing in mind that, in resolution 2232 (2015), the Security Council agreed with the Secretary-General that conditions in Somalia are not appropriate for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission until the end of 2016 at the earliest;

22. Reiterates the central and critical role of the SNA not only in joint operations, but also in taking over security functions in recovered areas to facilitate continued offensive operations. In this respect, Council recalls its earlier pronouncements on the establishment of a non-lethal support package for the SPF and on the extension to Puntland forces of the non-lethal support package for the SNA, as well as of the related recommendations of the UN Secretary-General. Council takes note of the assessment made by the UN Secretary-General on this matter, and looks forward to progress on this issue, including the identification of a suitable entity to provide support to the SPF and to Puntland forces. In the meantime, Council welcomes the decision of the Security Council, in resolution 2245 (2015), to authorize the expansion of the targeted support package to SNA troops on joint operations with AMISOM in relation to field defense stores and radio communication, and the provision of in-theatre medical evacuation for the SPF;

23. Calls, once again, on international partners to enhance support to the Somali National Security Forces, both lethal and non-lethal, to facilitate the takeover from AMISOM of security responsibilities by the respective Somali institutions;

24. Stresses the importance of the active involvement of the Somali civil society, including women and youth, in the efforts to counter violent extremism and promote lasting peace, security and reconciliation in the country. In this regard, Council looks forward to the recommendations of the ”Conference on Community-Based Approaches to Counter Extremism- The Role of Somali Women”, to be organized by AMISOM and the FGS in Djibouti on 15 and 17 December 2015;

25. Further stresses the importance of regional security cooperation in effectively neutralizing the al Shabaab terrorist group. Council welcomes the progress made within the framework of the Djibouti Process on the Enhancement of Security Cooperation in the East Africa region, including the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Fusion and Liaison Unit for East Africa (UFL-EA), during the third meeting of the Heads of Intelligence and Security Services of East Africa, held in Addis Ababa, from 7 to 8 December 2015, with the support of the Commission;

26. Reiterates its deep concern at the prevailing humanitarian situation, noting in this respect that 4.9 million people are in need of assistance, that 1.1 million are internally displaced, and that the situation has been compounded by the El Nino phenomenon. Council further notes with concern the attacks and threats against humanitarian actors, which limit access to the populations in need. Council strongly condemns all impediments to humanitarian assistance, reiterates the AU’s deep appreciation to the humanitarian actors on the ground, who are operating under very challenging conditions, and calls for a scaled-up humanitarian response, bearing in mind that the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2015, which amounts to 863 million dollars is currently funded at only 38 percent;

27. Decides to renew the mandate of AMISOM until 30 May 2016, bearing in mind paragraph 16 of communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.(CDLXII) adopted at its 462nd meeting held on 16 October 2014, as well as the decision of the UN Security Council, as contained in paragraph 3 of resolution 2232(2015) of 28 July 2015, to authorize the Member States of the AU to maintain the deployment of AMISOM until 30 May 2016, for a maximum level of 22,126 uniformed personnel, and as part of an overall exit strategy for AMISOM, after which a decrease in AMISOM’s force strength will be considered;

28. Further decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: 562nd PSC meeting on the situation in Somalia and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

Categories: AFRICA

562nd PSC meeting on the mandate of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on Sudan and South Sudan

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 562nd meeting held on 10 December 2015, adopted the following decision on the mandate of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on Sudan and South Sudan:

Council,

1.Takes note of the briefing provided by the Commission on the activities of the AUHIP;

2. Recalls its earlier communiqués and press statements on the activities of the AUHIP, including communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.(CDLXXVII) adopted at its 477th meeting held on 18 December 2014, which extended the mandate of the AUHIP until 31 December 2015;

3. Commends the AUHIP and its members, namely former Presidents Thabo Mbeki, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Pierre Buyoya, as well as the support team, for their untiring efforts towards the full implementation of the mandate of the Panel;

4. Decides to extend the mandate of the AUHIP for another period of twelve (12) months;

5. Requests the AUHIP to present to Council a comprehensive report on its activities as soon as possible;

6. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: 562nd PSC meeting on the mandate of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on Sudan and South Sudan

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Statement on the Report of the Independent Panel of Allegations of Sexual Abuse in the Central African Republic

Ambassador Samantha Power

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

U.S. Mission to the United Nations

New York City

December 17, 2015

The world has been justifiably sickened and outraged by the allegations of grave abuses of children in the Central African Republic by international soldiers, and we welcome the submission of the report of the Independent Panel. The United States strongly encouraged the establishment of the Panel, we appreciate its rigorous work, and we are studying its findings and recommendations closely.

The facts documented by the Panel paint a troubling picture of a woefully inadequate response by the UN to credible allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse. We are horrified by the Panel’s findings of inaction around these crimes. It is chilling to read the Panel’s detailing of poor judgment and “gross institutional failure,” including by the very parts of the UN entrusted with defending human rights and protecting children. These actions – and decisions not to act – undermine the UN’s legitimacy and betray its most sacred principles. Also alarming is the Panel’s finding of several cases of abuse of authority.

We are troubled by the Panel’s conclusion that the independence of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) – whose impartiality is critically important to ensuring a culture of accountability and transparency at the UN – was compromised. We encourage the new head of OIOS to institute structural changes to address the systematic failures documented in the report.

This report is extremely tough to read – not just for people who expect more of the UN, but for anyone who cares about protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities: children. Commissioning, producing, and releasing this report are important steps. Now the world is looking to the UN to take urgent and comprehensive steps to make sure this never happens again. All UN Member States must throw their weight behind significant reforms at the UN to ensure that the grave abuses alleged are swiftly and effectively investigated and prosecuted, and that those found responsible are held accountable.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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Source:: Statement on the Report of the Independent Panel of Allegations of Sexual Abuse in the Central African Republic

Categories: AFRICA

African Union Expert Election Observation Mission to the Republic of Seychelles Presidential election run off

Following an invitation from the Government of the Republic of Seychelles, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Her Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, deployed an African Union Expert Election Observation Mission (AUEEOM) to Seychelles to observe the second round of the Presidential election scheduled for 16-18 December 2015.

The deployment of an African Union Expert Election Observation Mission to Seychelles is in line with the mandate of the African Union as enshrined in relevant AU instruments such as the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the 2002 AU/OAU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, and the 2002 AU Guidelines on Election Observation and Monitoring Mission – all of which request the Commission to be fully engaged in the promotion and strengthening of democracy and democratic governance in Africa, particularly by observing and monitoring elections in African Union Member States.

The African Union Expert Election Observation Mission will be deployed from 16 to 22 December 2015 to cover the final preparations and conduct of the Presidential election run off. At the conclusion of the second round, the AUEEOM will issue a preliminary statement on its findings and observations to be followed by a final report within two months after the election.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: African Union Expert Election Observation Mission to the Republic of Seychelles Presidential election run off

Categories: AFRICA

Travel Advice: England in South Africa Cricket Tour

Four test Matches, five ODI Matches and two T20 official games are scheduled, and thousands of visiting supporters are expected to follow the games across South Africa.

As well as this article, please check out our travel advice for South Africa.

Passports, visas and travel insurance

If you’re visiting South Africa on holiday for up to 90 days, you don’t need a visa.

For more information on visas contact the South African High Commissionin London or the South African Department of Home Affairs.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 30 days from the date of exit from South Africa.

Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages when you present it at Immigration to enter or exit South Africa.

The South African government does not accept British passports that have been extended by 12 months by British Embassies and Consulates under exceptional measures put in place in mid-2014. You will not be able to enter or exit South Africa on an expired British passport with an extension stamp.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. Make sure that your insurance policy covers any “adventure tourism” activities you want to do while in South Africa (like bungee jumping, white water rafting, hot air ballooning, abseiling, etc.).

If you lose your passport, or it’s stolen, you’ll need to get an Emergency Travel Document from the nearest British High Commission or British Consulate.

At the matches

Match venues will be enforcing their standard conditions of entry. Prohibited items generally include: alcohol; drugs; glass bottles or breakable containers; metal containers, cans; offensive weapons, including potential missiles; and professional camera/video/ audio equipment. All match venues reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone who is drunk and/or disorderly. Licensing laws are strictly enforced: even being mildly drunk can lead to being refused entry.

Please see the match venues’ websites for further information:

Dec 26-30: 1st Test match, Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, Durban

Jan 2-6: 2nd Test match, Newlands, Cape Town

Jan 14-18: 3rd Test match, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

Jan 22-26: 4th Test match, SuperSport Park, Centurion

Feb 3: 1st ODI, Chevrolet Park, Bloemfontein

Feb 6: 2nd ODI, St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth

Feb 9: 3rd ODI, SuperSport Park, Centurion

Feb 12: 4th ODI, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

Feb 14: 5th ODI, Newlands, Cape Town

Feb 19: 1st T20 International, Newlands, Cape Town

Feb 21: 2nd T20 International, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

Tips

There will be Christmas and New Year Holidays during the England in South Africa Cricket Tour 2015/2016. Many shops and service providers will be closed over these days, so make sure you have enough prescription medicines or any other items you may need.

South Africa has a very high level of crime. Be careful with personal possessions and travel documents in cities and other popular tourist destinations. Avoid carrying everything in one bag; only carry what you need; and leave spare cash and valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes. Don’t leave bags unattended in vehicles, cafes, pubs or clubs. Please be especially careful when drinking and never leave your drink out of your sight. Read through the safety and security section on our travel advice.

As a visitor, you can drive in South Africa using a valid UK driving licence for up to 12 months. You must carry your driving licence and passport when driving. The standard of driving in South Africa can vary greatly and there are many fatal accidents every year. Read through the road travel section on our travel advice.

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal. You must wear a seat belt at all times. Take particular care when driving on untarred roads, 4WD tracks and desert/beach roads. Always make sure you have enough water and fuel.

Be sun smart

You’ll get sun burnt far more quickly in South Africa than you will in the UK.

Rip currents are the main surf hazard for all beach users. They can occur at any beach, and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Take the following simple precautions:

don’t swim on unpatrolled beaches or after hours
always swim between the red and yellow flags
don’t swim after consuming alcohol or drugs
always swim with a friend; never alone.
wear appropriate swimming clothes, certainly not jeans

British consular offices

Our Consular offices in South Africa support British nationals in need of assistance.

Emergency services numbers

In a life threatening or time critical emergency, call 111 and state whether you need Police, Fire or Ambulance.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of British High Commission Pretoria.

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Source:: Travel Advice: England in South Africa Cricket Tour

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Travel Advice: England in South Africa Cricket Tour

Four test Matches, five ODI Matches and two T20 official games are scheduled, and thousands of visiting supporters are expected to follow the games across South Africa.

As well as this article, please check out our travel advice for South Africa.

Passports, visas and travel insurance

If you’re visiting South Africa on holiday for up to 90 days, you don’t need a visa.

For more information on visas contact the South African High Commissionin London or the South African Department of Home Affairs.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 30 days from the date of exit from South Africa.

Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages when you present it at Immigration to enter or exit South Africa.

The South African government does not accept British passports that have been extended by 12 months by British Embassies and Consulates under exceptional measures put in place in mid-2014. You will not be able to enter or exit South Africa on an expired British passport with an extension stamp.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. Make sure that your insurance policy covers any “adventure tourism” activities you want to do while in South Africa (like bungee jumping, white water rafting, hot air ballooning, abseiling, etc.).

If you lose your passport, or it’s stolen, you’ll need to get an Emergency Travel Document from the nearest British High Commission or British Consulate.

At the matches

Match venues will be enforcing their standard conditions of entry. Prohibited items generally include: alcohol; drugs; glass bottles or breakable containers; metal containers, cans; offensive weapons, including potential missiles; and professional camera/video/ audio equipment. All match venues reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone who is drunk and/or disorderly. Licensing laws are strictly enforced: even being mildly drunk can lead to being refused entry.

Please see the match venues’ websites for further information:

Dec 26-30: 1st Test match, Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, Durban

Jan 2-6: 2nd Test match, Newlands, Cape Town

Jan 14-18: 3rd Test match, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

Jan 22-26: 4th Test match, SuperSport Park, Centurion

Feb 3: 1st ODI, Chevrolet Park, Bloemfontein

Feb 6: 2nd ODI, St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth

Feb 9: 3rd ODI, SuperSport Park, Centurion

Feb 12: 4th ODI, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

Feb 14: 5th ODI, Newlands, Cape Town

Feb 19: 1st T20 International, Newlands, Cape Town

Feb 21: 2nd T20 International, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

Tips

There will be Christmas and New Year Holidays during the England in South Africa Cricket Tour 2015/2016. Many shops and service providers will be closed over these days, so make sure you have enough prescription medicines or any other items you may need.

South Africa has a very high level of crime. Be careful with personal possessions and travel documents in cities and other popular tourist destinations. Avoid carrying everything in one bag; only carry what you need; and leave spare cash and valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes. Don’t leave bags unattended in vehicles, cafes, pubs or clubs. Please be especially careful when drinking and never leave your drink out of your sight. Read through the safety and security section on our travel advice.

As a visitor, you can drive in South Africa using a valid UK driving licence for up to 12 months. You must carry your driving licence and passport when driving. The standard of driving in South Africa can vary greatly and there are many fatal accidents every year. Read through the road travel section on our travel advice.

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal. You must wear a seat belt at all times. Take particular care when driving on untarred roads, 4WD tracks and desert/beach roads. Always make sure you have enough water and fuel.

Be sun smart

You’ll get sun burnt far more quickly in South Africa than you will in the UK.

Rip currents are the main surf hazard for all beach users. They can occur at any beach, and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Take the following simple precautions:

don’t swim on unpatrolled beaches or after hours
always swim between the red and yellow flags
don’t swim after consuming alcohol or drugs
always swim with a friend; never alone.
wear appropriate swimming clothes, certainly not jeans

British consular offices

Our Consular offices in South Africa support British nationals in need of assistance.

Emergency services numbers

In a life threatening or time critical emergency, call 111 and state whether you need Police, Fire or Ambulance.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of British High Commission Pretoria.

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Source:: Travel Advice: England in South Africa Cricket Tour

Categories: AFRICA

Welcoming the Signing of the Libyan Political Agreement

Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Washington, DC

December 17, 2015

Today in Morocco, Libyan political leaders came together after a year of UN-facilitated political dialogue to sign the Libyan Political Agreement that will establish a unified Libyan Government of National Accord. We salute these courageous Libyans who stand ready to rebuild a united Libya and who are determined to move the country forward.

All Libyans have a role to play as the political transition continues. I urge all Libyans to support this final agreement and to unite behind the Government of National Accord.

Libya needs this unified government to address its critical humanitarian, economic, and security challenges. As we made clear at the December 13 meeting in Rome that I co-chaired with Italian Foreign Minister Gentiloni, the United States and the international community are ready to support the implementation of the Political Agreement and to provide full backing for the unified government, as well as technical, economic, security, and counterterrorism assistance.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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Source:: Welcoming the Signing of the Libyan Political Agreement

Categories: AFRICA