Libreville (AFP) Plans by Central African Republic’s beleaguered government to reassert control in the north of the country were in difficulties on Monday after clashes marred the return of the state’s top representative to a key city. Colonel Augustin Tombou was formally installed on Saturday as prefect in the town of Kaga-Bandoro — a politically important step in the strategy to restore state authority in strife-torn provinces. But sources reported a surge of violence, including mortar rounds fired against UN peacekeepers, gunfire targeting a camp for displaced people and aRead More
Libreville (AFP) Sudan’s Janjaweed, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army and other notorious militias are wreaking havoc on wildlife in central Africa, poaching and trafficking elephants, hippopotamuses, buffaloes and other animals, a monitor said Friday. The threat comes from “highly organised armed groups who are linked to human rights violations and ongoing political instability” as well as state actors, armed pastoralists and poachers, Traffic said in a report. Joseph Kony, a self-styled mystic and prophet who launched a bloody rebellion three decades ago, “tasked a group of LRA fighters with obtaining 100Read More
Mounana (Gabon) (AFP) “We are all sick. It’s our health, and we are being conned,” Moise Massala says angrily. The 82-year-old is a retired geochemist who used to work in a uranium mine in Gabon owned by French nuclear giant Areva. He and hundreds of other former workers say they fell ill from their work to extract the uranium — a source of nuclear power and warheads, but toxic and potentially carcinogenic. The miners worked for an Areva subsidiary — the Compagnie des mines d’uranium de Franceville, better known byRead More
Libreville (AFP) Gabon opposition leader Jean Ping on Saturday said he would try to scuttle proposed changes to the country’s constitution, describing draft changes as “autocratic” and liable to violate the principle of separation of powers. “We must thwart this constitutional revision,” Ping told a crowd of supporters in an address at his home in capital Libreville. “We need to derail it because it carries the seeds of the Republic’s liquidation and… the establishment of a kingdom in Gabon”. The proposed changes specifically focus on “determining the relationship between theRead More
Libreville (AFP) In Gabon, they’re called “sexually transmitted grades” — when university teachers use the threat of giving low marks in order to coerce female students into providing sexual favours. “He started coming on to me. I began refusing him, refusing and refusing… until the day when he gave me zero for my main piece of work,” Melanie told AFP, speaking on condition of using a pseudonym. Another student said that she was forced to switch courses after she rejected the advances of a teacher who had “made my lifeRead More
Libreville (AFP) Wildlife guards funded by the WWF and other conservation groups have carried out systematic abuses against tribes in central Africa, an activist group claimed on Monday. Survival International, a British rights group, published a report containing more than 200 reported incidents against the Baka and Bayaka Pygmies in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic since 1989. It claimed some of the world’s largest conservation organisations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), have illegally evicted the tribes fromRead More
Libreville (AFP) Simmering unrest and clashes in the chronically unstable Central African Republic has led a “record number” of 1.1 million people — about a fourth of the population — to flee their homes, the UN said Friday. UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Andrej Mahecic said the actual numbers could be far higher. “The number of refugees may be much more because thousands of people find themselves in remote and often inaccessible areas,” it said in a statement, saying that about 167,000 people had fled to neighbouring Democratic RepublicRead More
Libreville (AFP) The UN’s peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) said Friday that it would probe allegations that investigations into sexual abuse by UN soldiers had been disastrously mishandled. MINUSCA spokesman Vladimir Monteiro, reached by phone in the Central African capital of Bangui, said the force would “examine the allegations.” A US-based NGO, Code Blue Campaign, on Wednesday said a confidential source had given it 14 internal case files regarding allegations of sexual offences against CAR civilians by UN troops. Complaints were made against UN soldiers from nineRead More
Libreville (AFP) Civilians in a central province of the strife-torn Central African Republic are enduring “a horrifying surge in torture, pillage and forced displacement”, Amnesty International reported Friday. “Women have been raped, men murdered, villages destroyed, and the region’s UN peacekeeping force has proved ineffective in stemming these abuses,” Joanne Mariner, the rights group’s senior crisis response adviser, said in a statement. Amnesty blamed “a wave of brutal attacks” in Basse-Kotto province on the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), an armed offshoot of the mainly MuslimRead More
Libreville (AFP) Gabon on Sunday announced a ban on opposition leaders, including former top African Union official Jean Ping, from leaving the country in what it said was a “temporary, administrative measure”. “This measure follows inflammatory comments by Jean Ping on August 18 when he called for public disorder, rebellion and insurrection,” interior ministry spokesman Jean-Eric Nziengui Mangala said. Ping, a 74-year-old career diplomat, was narrowly defeated by incumbent Ali Bongo in Gabon’s August presidential election and accused the administration of electoral fraud. A number of demonstrations have been heldRead More