Presidential Elections in Republic of Congo

The United States congratulates the Congolese people for their active participation in the March 20 presidential elections. Their enthusiasm and determination to register to vote and peacefully engage, despite many impediments, demonstrates their commitment to democracy.

We note numerous reports of irregularities that have raised concerns about the credibility of the process, including the media blackout during the polls, an imbalanced and restrictive media environment, significant disparity in access to state resources, a short timeframe for electoral preparations, and restrictions on freedoms of expression, communication, and association in the pre-election period. We urge Congolese authorities to restore communications and to complete the electoral process with accuracy, credibility, fairness, and transparency.

As the vote tallying continues, the United States urges the Congolese people to remain patient and avoid speculation. We ask all political leaders to renounce violence, call upon their supporters to remain calm, and seek to resolve any differences peacefully in accordance with existing laws and procedures.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.

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Source:: Presidential Elections in Republic of Congo

Categories: AFRICA

The African Union to release its preliminary statement for the 20th March Parliamentary Elections in the Republic of Cape Verde

Journalists and interested stakeholders are cordially invited to the release of the Preliminary Statement of the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) to the 20th March Parliamentary election in the Republic of Cape Verde.

The Statement will be delivered by H.E. Zainabou Sylvie Kayitesi, former Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and Head of Mission of the AUEOM to the 20th March Parliamentary Election in the Republic of Cape Verde.

Date: 22th March 2016

Time: 10.00 AM

Venue : Santiago Hotel,Praia, Cape Verde

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

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Source:: The African Union to release its preliminary statement for the 20th March Parliamentary Elections in the Republic of Cape Verde

Categories: AFRICA

Statement on Election re-run in Zanzibar

The High Commissioners and Ambassadors to Tanzania of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, today issued the following statement regarding the election re-run which took place in Zanzibar on March 20th, 2016:

“We regret the Zanzibar Electoral Commission’s decision to hold a re-run of the 25 October 2015 election, without a mutually acceptable and negotiated solution to the current political impasse.

“In order to be credible, electoral processes must be inclusive and truly representative of the will of the people.

“We reiterate our call on the Government of Tanzania to exercise leadership in Zanzibar, and to pursue a negotiated solution between parties, with a view to maintaining peace and unity in the United Republic of Tanzania.

“We commend once again the population of Zanzibar for having exercised calm and restraint throughout this process, and call on all parties and their supporters to re-start the national reconciliation process to find an inclusive, sustainable and peaceful resolution.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of British High Commission Dar es Salaam.

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Source:: Statement on Election re-run in Zanzibar

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Statement on Election re-run in Zanzibar

The High Commissioners and Ambassadors to Tanzania of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, today issued the following statement regarding the election re-run which took place in Zanzibar on March 20th, 2016:

“We regret the Zanzibar Electoral Commission’s decision to hold a re-run of the 25 October 2015 election, without a mutually acceptable and negotiated solution to the current political impasse.

“In order to be credible, electoral processes must be inclusive and truly representative of the will of the people.

“We reiterate our call on the Government of Tanzania to exercise leadership in Zanzibar, and to pursue a negotiated solution between parties, with a view to maintaining peace and unity in the United Republic of Tanzania.

“We commend once again the population of Zanzibar for having exercised calm and restraint throughout this process, and call on all parties and their supporters to re-start the national reconciliation process to find an inclusive, sustainable and peaceful resolution.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of British High Commission Dar es Salaam.

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Source:: Statement on Election re-run in Zanzibar

AUC Retreat for Directors and Heads of Liaison Offices on Results-Based Management Opens in Bahir Dar

African Union Commission Directors and Heads of Liaison Offices are attending a two-day retreat in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia that is focused on reforming their respective Departments and Liaison Offices’ performance management systems, measurement and reporting approaches using the Results Based Management (RBM) system. The retreat has been organised jointly by the Peace and Security Department (PSD) and the Directorate of Strategic Policy Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Resource Mobilization (SPPMERM) of the African Union Commission, in conjunction with International Alert.

RBM is a management strategy aimed at achieving important changes in the way organisations operate, with improving performance in terms of results as its central orientation. Its primary purpose is to improve efficiency and effectiveness through organisational learning, and secondly to fulfil accountability obligations through performance reporting. The intensive two-day orientation and consultation aims to deepen the understanding among the AUC managers represented on the use of RBM competencies, skills, and tools, to develop, manage and coach their staff in their workplace as well as to effectively review progress reports before approving them.

Speaking when he opened the Retreat, the Acting Director of the Peace and Security Department, Dr. Admore Kambudzi said that entrenching a culture of Results Based Management within the Department as well as in the AU Liaison Offices was critical to realising the goal of a conflict-free Africa. He said that contrary to common perception, the AU Liaison offices were established in order to serve not just the PSD, but the entire Commission, adding that more efficient and accountable Liaison Offices would in-turn enhance the ability of the whole of the AUC to deliver holistically to the Continent. “It is time that the AUC begun to deliver as one, particularly in the fragile conflict and post-conflict areas where you are based. Therefore the principles of RBM should only serve to strengthen the way we plan our projects, implement them, monitor performance and report across the broad scope of delivery at the AUC.”

Speaking during the opening, the Acting Director for the Directorate of Strategic Policy Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Resource Mobilization (SPPMERM), Christopher Cyprian Kachiza said that this RBM retreat is timely and crucial because it is anchored in the AUC’s first ten-year implementation Plan of Agenda 2063, the Continent’s blueprint for a prosperous and united Africa. “In implementing the Executive Council Decision calling for improved programme management as well as the AU Agenda 2063, the SPPMERM sees the RBM as an opportunity for us to streamline our internal processes, plan together, set standard indicators, and break away from the silo-approach to working at the Commission,” he added.

Dr. Lulsegged Abebe, Senior Advisor to the AU at International Alert thanked the participants for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend this important retreat. “I have no doubt that through sharing experiences and building on our knowledge of RBM we will go a long way towards strengthening the capacities of our AU Liaison offices and their interaction with the Headquarters to conduct joint strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation and reporting. I hope you will identify with, and embrace as your own, the various RBM tools and approaches, and that you will find them useful for making strategic policy and programming decisions,” he concluded.

The training is part of a joint project between the Peace and Security Department of the AUC and International Alert meant to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of AU Liaison Offices to engage with multiple actors, including civil society, academic institutions, the media, and parliamentarians, contributing to increasing the AU’s profile as well as supporting citizens’ demands for transparent and accountable institutions. The three-year project is funded by the Government of Sweden.

– See more at: http://www.peaceau.org/en/article/auc-retreat-for-directors-and-heads-of-liaison-offices-on-results-based-management-opens-in-bahir-dar#sthash.hVIBZaad.ZG9CS4EF.dpuf

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

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Categories: AFRICA

Baroness Anelay and Angelina Jolie Pitt welcome ICC verdict

Baroness Anelay welcomes the International Criminal Court’s verdict that Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity

Human Rights Minister and Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Baroness Anelay, said:

“I welcome the guilty verdict in this groundbreaking case. This is a milestone in prosecuting crimes of sexual violence in conflict through the international justice system.

“This is the first case before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to allege that a commander is criminally responsible for abuses carried out by their troops, even if they did not order the violence. It is also the first case before the ICC to focus heavily on sexual violence and rape as a war crime and a crime against humanity.

“Although the suffering of the survivors and relatives of those abused or killed cannot be erased, today’s verdict sends a powerful message that those who allow such atrocities to occur will be held accountable for their actions and that there will be no impunity.”

Angelina Jolie Pitt Co-Founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative said:

“My thoughts and my admiration go out to the survivors and witnesses who bravely testified in this case and contributed to this landmark conviction. I can only imagine the reaction of victims who in their hearts probably never thought that this day would come.

“It is shocking that this conviction is the first of its kind. It is a reminder of how long it has taken us to reach this point, and how many victims have never seen justice. I urge the international community to build on the important legal precedent that has been established: to bring forward more cases, gather the necessary evidence and support witnesses, in order that we can collectively shatter impunity for the use of rape as a weapon of war and terrorism.”

Further information

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was tried for two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape and pillaging) allegedly committed in the context of the situation in Central African Republic in 2002-2003.

Some 1,500 Bemba troops allegedly went on a rampage of killings, rapes and pillage in villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northern neighbour from October 2002 to March 2003.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Source:: Baroness Anelay and Angelina Jolie Pitt welcome ICC verdict

Categories: AFRICA

IMF Staff Completes 2016 Article IV and Review Mission to Chad

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mauricio Villafuerte visited N’Djamena from March 7–20, 2016 to hold discussions on the third review of the government’s economic program supported under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement and conduct the 2016 Article IV consultation. The ECF arrangement was approved in August 2014 (see Press Release No. 14/381).

At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Villafuerte issued the following statement:

“Economic activity continues to be strongly affected by two external shocks: the sharp and persistent decline in oil prices and the deterioration in security conditions at the regional level. Against this adverse backdrop, real GDP growth in 2015 is estimated at 1.8 percent, including a 2.9 percent contraction in non-oil GDP. Real GDP is projected to decelerate further in 2016, mainly on account of the oil sector. Inflation has been volatile, in particular with respect to food and imported consumer goods, due to poor harvests caused by unfavorable rainfall and to transportation difficulties associated with the security problems. Average inflation in 2015 is estimated at 3.6 percent (against 1.7 percent in 2014), compared to a regional target of 3 percent.

“Discussions on economic policies focused on both short and medium-term issues. The mission and the government reviewed the 2016 budget in light of recent developments in oil prices and growth, and discussed options for ensuring that the budget can be implemented with priority social spending protected. At the same time, the authorities are developing a comprehensive strategy for managing and clearing expenditure arrears accrued in 2015. In addition, low oil prices and recent structural changes in the sector require an enhancement of oil revenue monitoring and reporting. For the medium term, the mission stressed the need to maintain prudent fiscal policies to ensure economic stability and debt sustainability. The mission underscored the importance of pursuing policies supportive of sustained and inclusive growth, as well as job creation. To this end, it is essential to foster growth beyond the oil sector and diversify the economy through structural reforms aimed at improving the business environment and the quality of public spending.

“Discussions will continue in coming weeks on the quantitative performance and on policies and structural reforms going forward. Executive Board consideration of the Article IV consultation and the third review of the ECF arrangement is expected to take place in June.

“The mission met with the Prime Minister, the President of the National Assembly, the Minister of Finance and Budget, the Minister of Plan, the ad interim National Director of BEAC for Chad, and other ministers, as well as senior government officials, representatives of the private sector, and technical and financial partners of Chad.

“The mission expresses its gratitude to the authorities for their warm reception and the open and constructive discussions.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Source:: IMF Staff Completes 2016 Article IV and Review Mission to Chad

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IMF Staff Completes 2016 Article IV and Review Mission to Chad

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mauricio Villafuerte visited N’Djamena from March 7–20, 2016 to hold discussions on the third review of the government’s economic program supported under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement and conduct the 2016 Article IV consultation. The ECF arrangement was approved in August 2014 (see Press Release No. 14/381).

At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Villafuerte issued the following statement:

“Economic activity continues to be strongly affected by two external shocks: the sharp and persistent decline in oil prices and the deterioration in security conditions at the regional level. Against this adverse backdrop, real GDP growth in 2015 is estimated at 1.8 percent, including a 2.9 percent contraction in non-oil GDP. Real GDP is projected to decelerate further in 2016, mainly on account of the oil sector. Inflation has been volatile, in particular with respect to food and imported consumer goods, due to poor harvests caused by unfavorable rainfall and to transportation difficulties associated with the security problems. Average inflation in 2015 is estimated at 3.6 percent (against 1.7 percent in 2014), compared to a regional target of 3 percent.

“Discussions on economic policies focused on both short and medium-term issues. The mission and the government reviewed the 2016 budget in light of recent developments in oil prices and growth, and discussed options for ensuring that the budget can be implemented with priority social spending protected. At the same time, the authorities are developing a comprehensive strategy for managing and clearing expenditure arrears accrued in 2015. In addition, low oil prices and recent structural changes in the sector require an enhancement of oil revenue monitoring and reporting. For the medium term, the mission stressed the need to maintain prudent fiscal policies to ensure economic stability and debt sustainability. The mission underscored the importance of pursuing policies supportive of sustained and inclusive growth, as well as job creation. To this end, it is essential to foster growth beyond the oil sector and diversify the economy through structural reforms aimed at improving the business environment and the quality of public spending.

“Discussions will continue in coming weeks on the quantitative performance and on policies and structural reforms going forward. Executive Board consideration of the Article IV consultation and the third review of the ECF arrangement is expected to take place in June.

“The mission met with the Prime Minister, the President of the National Assembly, the Minister of Finance and Budget, the Minister of Plan, the ad interim National Director of BEAC for Chad, and other ministers, as well as senior government officials, representatives of the private sector, and technical and financial partners of Chad.

“The mission expresses its gratitude to the authorities for their warm reception and the open and constructive discussions.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Source:: IMF Staff Completes 2016 Article IV and Review Mission to Chad

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West Africa mobile money workshop “to transform financial services and advance regional integration.”

The Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) International Growth Centre (IGC) has ended a three-day West African Sub-regional workshop on mobile financial services on Wednesday, March 16.

The workshop is aimed at finding ways of integrating the marginalised and poor people in mobile financial services and lesson learning from other African countries. The meeting fostered peer-to-peer learning and sharing experiences from other sub-Saharan African countries and included delegates from East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa: Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda.

According to the IGC, West Africa in general and Sierra Leone in particular are far behind its African counterparts in mobile financial services and the conference seeks to, inter alia, identify areas for reforms to existing policies and regulations and map out potential areas of further research that would promote the optimal use of financial inclusion in Sierra Leone. Only 20% of Sierra Leoneans have bank accounts and over 70% of those are people in the provincial areas.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Foday L. Mansaray said that as a native of the largest but one of the remotest districts in Sierra Leone, he knows very well what it means for rural folks not to have access to financial services.

“In the rural areas, people have to travel long distances from their homes to collect remittances and this represents a significant cost in addition to the required fees,” said Mr. Mansaray adding, “For the village farthest from Kabala, (the district capital), the nearest bank is located 110 miles away. This means that people like teachers, who have to travel long distances to collect their salaries, end up losing almost half of their income just to access the only bank in the district.”

UNDP Sierra Leone Country Director, Mr. Sudipto Mukerjee said, “this convening is a great opportunity to identify necessary policy and regulatory reforms and also potential partnerships to not only integrate excluded and marginalized groups into the formal economy but also to ensure that they contribute towards financing for sustainable economic development in one of the least banked regions of the world.”

Globally, financial sector policymakers recognize the game-changing potential of digital financial inclusion. Specifically, regulators are increasingly recognising the major role that non-bank providers of mobile money services can play in fostering financial inclusion and, as such, are introducing more enabling regulatory frameworks that allow both banks and non-banks to provide mobile money services in a sustainable way. This workshop contributes to the ongoing work by the G20 and global financial regulators to prepare the standard-setting world for both the risks and the rewards of the digitization of financial services.

Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Mr. Momodu L. Kargbo, who was recently announced as the new Minister of Finance and Economic Development, explained that the use of digital financial services by formerly excluded customers brings lot of benefits, even if with some risks involved. Some of the risks are new while others, although well known, may take on different dimensions in the financial inclusion context. He said, adding that “Together we have the power to fundamentally transform the economics of delivering financial services to those who need it most, allowing them to save, send kids to school, afford malaria medicine or upgrade their house with a tin roof or a toilet.”

Day 1, the workshop focused on lessons from East and Southern Africa for central bank delegates from the West African countries that are part of WAMZ. On Day 2 of the workshop focused on country-specific strategies, benefiting from experience and inputs from countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria. The final day of the workshop focused on regional cooperation and integration.

UNDP and UNCDF’s support to this event is part of the West African Digital Financial Inclusion Programme for Fragile States 2016 – 2019.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

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Source:: West Africa mobile money workshop “to transform financial services and advance regional integration.”

Categories: AFRICA

AU Peace and Security Council Concludes its Field Mission to Guinea-Bissau

Within the framework of its mandate to promote and enhance peace and security in the continent, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) undertook a Field Mission to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau from 17 to 19 March 2016. The mission was in implementation of the Council’s various decisions on the situation in Guinea-Bissau, notably the Press Statement issued at its 581st meeting held on 9 March 2016, at which the Council decided to immediately visit Guinea-Bissau, to assess the situation in the country and identify ways and means of contributing to a resolution of the current political and institutional crisis in Guinea-Bissau.

During the Field Mission, the PSC Delegation held consultations with the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau. The Delegation also met with some Ministers, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, National Defense and Justice, as well as the Secretary of State for Public Law and Order and the Attorney-General of the Republic. The PSC Delegation also met with representatives of political parties and civil society organizations, including religious leaders.

The PSC Delegation expressed to its interlocutors the deep concern of the AU about the persistent political and institutional crisis in Guinea-Bissau, which threatens to undermine the fragile gains made by the country in the consolidation of peace, stability and post-conflict reconstruction. The Delegation reiterated to the Guinea-Bissau stakeholders the availability and readiness of the AU to support them in their efforts to find a lasting solution to the crisis in the country and encouraged them to exercise restraint, uphold the country’s interest and engage in dialogue to resolve their political differences. The PSC Delegation further stressed the need for all Guinea-Bissau stakeholders to do their utmost to preserve peace and stability, in order to foster socio-economic development, with a view to alleviating the suffering of the people of Guinea Bissau.

The PSC Delegation reiterated the AU’s appreciation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Countries of the Portuguese Language Community (CPLP), the United Nations and the European Union (EU) for their relentless efforts to help restore sustainable peace, security and stability in Guinea-Bissau.

The PSC Delegation expressed its appreciation and gratitude to the authorities of Guinea-Bissau for facilitating its Field Mission, as well as to the Head of the AU Liaison Office and his staff for their assistance.

– See more at: http://www.peaceau.org/en/article/au-peace-and-security-council-concludes-its-field-mission-to-guinea-bissau#sthash.x2qNmsh3.Wb2T5H9f.dpuf

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

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Source:: AU Peace and Security Council Concludes its Field Mission to Guinea-Bissau

Categories: AFRICA

International Criminal Court: Bemba verdict a historic step forward for victims of sexual violence

“Today’s unanimous guilty verdict by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Jean-Pierre Bemba is an historic moment in the battle for justice and accountability for victims of sexual violence in the Central African Republic and around the world,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

“Not only is it the first time that the ICC has convicted someone for rape as a war crime but it is also the first ICC conviction based on command responsibility.”

“The judgment sends a clear message that impunity for sexual violence as a tool of war will not be tolerated. It also makes clear that military commanders and political superiors must take all necessary steps to prevent their subordinates from committing such heinous acts and will be held accountable if they fail to do so.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Amnesty International.

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Quote attributable to Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, International Justice Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch

Background on the Bemba case at the International Criminal Court:

Jean-Pierre Bemba was arrested in May 2008 in Belgium and transferred to the ICC in July 2008. His trial started in November 2010.

Bemba, as well as the Office of the prosecutor, can file an appeal against the judgment. The sentence against him, as well as the reparations to be granted to the victims who participated in the case, will be decided at a later stage.

Bemba was tried at the ICC on 3 counts of war crimes and 2 counts of crimes against humanity for rapes, murder and pillage committed by his troops in the Central African Republic between November 2002 and February 2003. Some of his troops were temporarily deployed in that country at the request of the then president, Ange-Felix Patassé, in order to help thwart a coup.

Jean-Pierre Bemba was not prosecuted at the ICC for crimes allegedly committed by his rebel group in Congo. Human Rights Watch documented summary executions, rape and looting by Bemba’s rebel forces in Mambasa, Congo, between October and December 2002, amongst other crimes.

Bemba also faces charges of fabricating evidence and bribing witnesses in the context of the main case against him. The trial on these charges is still ongoing at the ICC.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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Source:: Quote attributable to Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, International Justice Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch

Categories: AFRICA