Top stories of the week (4 – 8 June)


Nigerians search wreckage after plane crash kills 153 (Reuters)

Nigerian emergency services recovered more bodies on Monday from the smouldering, ash-covered wreckage of a plane that crashed in the commercial hub Lagos, killing all 153 people on board.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of national mourning and ordered an investigation into the cause of Sunday’s accident, in which a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 flown by privately owned domestic carrier Dana Air crashed into the iron roof of an apartment block in the Lagos residential suburb of Agege.
His office said he was scheduled to visit the crash site on Monday afternoon.
«This is really a horrific moment for us here and we sympathise and give condolences to all the victims and families. (There are no) words to express our pain and grief,» Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola said at the crash site.
«It is saddening, it is simply too much.»
The airline said on Sunday 147 people had perished, but in a list published overnight, there were also six crew members on board, taking the total to 153 killed. An unknown number of people may have been killed on the ground.

Photo: AP


UN Security Council’s June Programme of Work (What’s in Blue) (emphasis mine)

A number of African issues are on the June programme of work as well. Sudan continues to be a focus this month starting with tomorrow’s biannual public briefing by the Prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, on the work of the ICC relative to the situation in Darfur. Council members will also have several opportunities over the month to discuss issues relating to Sudan and South Sudan. Consultations are scheduled (in accordance with resolution 2046 asking the Secretary-General to inform the Council at two-week intervals) in mid and late June. In addition, there will be consultations on 18 June on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) to discuss the Secretary-General’s report. There will also be a troop-contributing countries (TCC) meeting on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) ahead of the expected renewal of the mission’s mandate in July.

Another issue that occupied the Council’s attention last month and is on the June programme of work is Guinea-Bissau. Tomorrow (5 June), Council members are scheduled to have consultations on Guinea-Bissau with a briefing by Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on the steps taken to restore constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau. It appears that Council members have agreed to have an interactive dialogue on Guinea-Bissau tomorrow with key stakeholders including the former Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes Júnio.

Over the month there will also be briefings by the UN Office on Central Africa (UNOCA) on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The situation in the CAR will come up again during a briefing next week by Margaret Vogt, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in CAR (BINUCA).

The DRC will also feature this month. The mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), is likely to be renewed towards the end of the month and the Council will hear from Roger Meece, the head of MONUSCO. The DRC Sanctions Committee report will also be discussed this month.

Consultations on both the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the Liberia Sanctions Committee are scheduled for late June. During these consultations, Council members are expected to be briefed by DPKO on the Secretary-General’s special report on UNMIL and to consider the mid-term report of the Panel of Experts monitoring the Liberia sanctions regime.


Zimbabwe: «Local EU statement on political violence (05/06/2012)» (EEAS Delegation – Harare)

The European Union Delegation issues the following statement in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Zimbabwe.

The European Union Delegation deplores that politically motivated violence flared once again in Zimbabwe soon after the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and after repeated appeals from the Inclusive Government Principals to put an end to such acts.

Seven MDC-T supporters were severely beaten and required medical attention and a local political leader was killed at a MDC-T rally in Chimukoko, Mudzi, on 26 May. Reports indicate that the rally was properly authorised but was disrupted violently by a parallel demonstration by ZANU-PF militants, without the Zimbabwe Republican Police being able or willing to stop them. It is worrying to note reports indicating that ZANU-PF local politicians and the MP for the area were present at the events.

The EU Delegation presents its condolences to the family of the deceased and strongly condemns these acts and any complacency with political violence and intimidation as a political tool.

It is encouraging to note the condemnation for these criminal acts that came from across the political spectrum. We welcome the mobilisation of the JOMIC Provincial committee and the arrest of six accused perpetrators. The EU Delegation looks forward to urgent action by the police authorities and the Attorney General’s office to bring the alleged perpetrators and their instigators to justice, in order to give a clear and unequivocal message that political violence is totally unacceptable in Zimbabwe.

The EU Delegation encourages the Government of National Unity to continue their calls for peace and reconciliation, and to redouble their efforts to prevent any further incidents of political violence. In this regard, we welcome the recent SACD Summit Communiqué on Zimbabwe, urging the parties to implement the Global Political Agreement and the roadmap to peaceful and credible elections.

The Embassies of Norway, Canada and Australia associate themselves with this statement.


South Africa: Zuma builds a firewall of secrecy (The Guardian – editorial)

The parliament in South Africa is currently reviewing a secrecy bill that will make whistleblowers or journalists who possess, leak or publish state secrets liable to 25 years in prison. JM Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Desmond Tutu, even Nelson Mandela’s lawyer George Bizos, have lined up to condemn the bill as an insult, something worthy of the apartheid-era laws on state secrecy that the ANC fought so hard to dismantle. Mr Mandela’s views are not known, but his foundation has said the law could be yet struck down by the constitutional court. The Congress of South African Trade Unions stands ready for the challenge.

Faced with a reaction on this scale, the ANC has backed off, a bit. It has improved protection for whistleblowers in one clause, but has not budged on its opposition to a public-interest defence for the meat of the bill – espionage, or more loosely «hostile activities», which would «directly or indirectly» benefit a foreign state. Mere possession of such information remains a crime, and even if the information is already in the public domain, five years in prison awaits those who do not hand it in to the police. Had this bill been law when the ANC’s greatest scandal – the receipt of £100m of bribes in an arms deal – was uncovered by former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein, he might never have found a publisher to print his book.

South Africa is still a vibrant democracy with the freest press in the continent. Even the bill’s most ardent opponent, the civil society alliance Right2Know, acknowledges the revisions to which the law has been subject. The sword may well be sheathed in its final form, but the real question is still how Jacob Zuma will wield it.


Central African Republic at ‘crucial’ juncture, UN envoy tells Security Council (UN News Centre)

Special Representative Margaret Vogt briefs the Security Council on the situation in the Central African Republic. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

The top United Nations envoy to the Central African Republic (CAR) today stressed the need for the country to continue building on the momentum recently created on the political, security and disarmament fronts.

“The CAR is at a critical juncture,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA), Margaret Vogt, told the Security Council.

Briefing the 15-member body on the latest report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the CAR, she added that the “dynamic of peace” between the Government and the politico-military groups and the dialogue called by the President offer a real chance for the stabilization of the country.

Despite the gains made in recent years, the country still faces a number of challenges, including extreme poverty, weak national institutions, corruption, a high rate of violent crime perpetrated by armed movements, and human rights violations.

Video of the week

Sudan expert Alex de Waal looks at the recent background of the strife between the Sudans – from Africa at LSE blog

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