Ivory Coast votes in first post-war presidential poll

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara of the Rally of the Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) party and his wife Dominique Ouattara wave during his last campaign rally, ahead of the October 25 presidential election, in Abidjan on October 23, 2015. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

By Ange Aboa and Loucoumane Coulibaly

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Voting began in Ivory Coast on Sunday in an election likely to give President Alassane Ouattara a second term, a crucial event after a decade-long political crisis that ended in a 2011 civil war.

Ouattara, whose leadership has helped the West African nation re-emerge as a rising economic star on the continent, faces a divided opposition, although a partial boycott and voter apathy could result in low turnout.

A peaceful election would reassure the investors flooding into the country, the world’s top cocoa grower. They are being drawn by growth around 9 percent over the past three years, as a commodities crash causes other African economies to crumble.

More than 6 million Ivorians are registered to vote at some 20,000 polling stations. The elections commission has introduced new technology, including computer tablets, to verify their identities.

The process, officially set to begin at 7 a.m. (0700 GMT), was delayed in many areas by the late arrival of materials, including ballots and ballot boxes.

“We’ve been here since 5 o’clock this morning, but as you can see for yourself there’s nothing,” said Zacharia Traore, a shopkeeper and one of hundreds of people waiting to vote in a pro-Ouattara neighbourhood in the southwestern city of Gagnoa.

An hour after the official start time, just 57 percent of polling stations were open, according to the POECI civil society observer platform. That had risen to 85 percent by 9.30 a.m.

Few expect serious violence to mar the election, which sees voters with a choice of seven candidates for the presidency. But tens of thousands of soldiers, police and gendarmes have been deployed across the country to secure the vote. Continued…

RDC: des ex-combattants protestent contre leurs conditions de vie à Kamina

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Les ex-combattants issus des groupes armés regroupés au centre de transit de la base militaire de Kamina sont descendus nombreux dans les rues de cette ville samedi 24 octobre matin. Selon plusieurs sources locales, ils protestaient contre les mauvaises conditions de vie et d’hébergement auxquelles ils sont soumis dans ce centre, depuis environ deux ans. Cette situation a créé la panique dans la ville. Boutiques, marchés et magasins sont restés fermés.

Plus d’une centaine d’ex-combattants regroupés à la base militaire de Kamina ont quitté ce matin leur lieu d’hébergement pour le centre-ville. Il était 9 heures (heure locale) lorsque le premier groupe a franchi la dernière barrière donnant accès à l’entrée de la ville.

Selon une source proche de la base de Kamina, c’est depuis trois jours que ces ex-combattants ont commencé à manifester dans cette base militaire. Mais les autorités militaires n’ont pas su les contenir, la situation devenant de plus en plus grave.

D’autres sources indiquent que dans leur mémorandum qu’ils cherchent à adresser à la Monusco et aux autorités militaires, ces ex-combattants exigent l’amélioration de leurs conditions de vie et d’hébergement dans ce camp de transit. Ils veulent aussi que les autorités militaires accélèrent le processus de leur intégration dans l’armée nationale.

Pour exprimer leur mécontentement, ces ex-combattants ont marché de la base militaire de Kamina au centre-ville, parcourant 35 km. Une situation qui a semé de la panique au sein de la population. Les commerçants locaux qui n’ont pas hésité à fermer les boutiques et magasins.

Le conseil de sécurité local a été convoqué d’urgence à ce sujet. Mais jusqu’à la mi-journée, rien n‘a encore filtré de cette rencontre. ​

‘More EU-Sudan cooperation needed to combat human trafficking’: EU ambassador

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The EU has called for greater cooperation with Khartoum on migration and combating human trafficking.

“More cooperation between Sudan and the EU is needed to protect asylum seekers, improve border management, confront smuggling, and provide meaningful alternatives to the migrants and the host communities,” said Ambassador Tomas Ulicny, Head of the EU Delegation to Sudan, in a statement on Thursday.

Heads of the diplomatic missions of the EU, Italy, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden in Khartoum visited the Wad Sharifey refugee camp in eastern Sudan on Wednesday.

“The causes for human smuggling and trafficking are linked to the low development rates in east Sudan in particular and the Horn of Africa in general,” Ulicny said.

The EU Ambassador did not specify what sort of cooperation he meant. Since 2011, the EU has provided €79.5 million ($88.3 million) for development in eastern Sudan.

The majority of the refugees in eastern Sudan come from Eritrea. In a report in June, the UN Human Rights Council referred to widespread “gross human rights violations” in Eritrea, including mass incarceration of political opponents, extra-judicial killings and torture. The Eritrean government dismissed the report.

Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees in eastern Sudan are increasingly subjected to systematical abductions. After they are kidnapped, they are ‘sold’ to criminal gangs and subjected to torture, in order to pressure their relatives to pay large sums of money for their release. International organisations earlier referred to the involvement of Sudanese army and security officials in the human trafficking.

Sudan and South Sudan: 5 key political stories

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Your weekly roundup of key political stories from Sudan and South Sudan:

No breakthrough at security meeting in Addis Ababa (Radio Tamazuj, 23 October 2015) – Meetings between the South Sudanese government and rebels over implementation of the security arrangements including plans for eventually reunifying the forces of the two sides are ongoing but without any breakthrough so far.

Khartoum says ready for talks with SPLA-N (Radio Tamazuj, 23 October 2015) – The Sudanese government has announced it accepted an invitation from the African Union to participate in peace negotiations with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLA-North) in Addis Ababa on 2 November.

Identity seen as major challenge at Sudan’s National Dialogue (Radio Tamazuj, 23 October 2015) – Mustafa Osman Ismail, Sudan’s Minister of Commerce and Investment, has predicted that a major split will eventually hit Sudan because of what he termed “controversy over identity.”

Igga confirms SPLM-Juba planning convention by 16 November (Radio Tamazuj, 22 October 2015) – The Deputy Chairman of the SPLM in Juba, James Wani Igga, has revealed that the party resolved last week to hold its convention not later than 16 November, also denying that this move was aimed at shutting out other SPLM factions from eventual reunification.

Kiir’s 28 states brought to parliament as constitutional amendment (Radio Tamazuj, 20 October 2015) – South Sudan’s national parliament this morning has received the Establishment Order No. 36/2015 AD by President Salva Kiir for dividing South Sudan into 28 states. The bill was tabled by the Minister of Justice.

Sudan and Italy hold consultative meeting in Khartoum

October 24, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan and Italy political consultations committee resume this Sunday its activities in Khartoum after after a hiatus of more than ten years.

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Sudan’s foreign ministry building in Khartoum (SUNA)

Last July during a visit Roma and Milano foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour agreed with Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni to resume these bilateral meetings to future to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues and ways to coordinate their action.

An Italian delegation led by Amb. Raffaele de Lutio, head of African affairs department at the Italian foreign ministry will arrive Sunday in Khartoum, a source at the Sudanese foreign ministry told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

“The meeting comes within the framework of distinguished relations between Khartoum and Rome and as one of the fruits of the visit by Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour to Italy in July,” the Sudanese diplomat further said.

The consultative meeting will discuss economic, political, scientific and cultural cooperation, bilateral coordination between the two countries in international forums, and common positions on regional and international issues of common interest.

The bilateral talks will discuss human trafficking and illegal immigration and Sudan’s participation in the EU summit with African countries in Valletta Malta on 11 and 12 November.

The conference will build on existing cooperation processes between Europe and Africa, particularly the Khartoum and Rabat processes on migration, and the EU-Africa Dialogue on Migration and Mobility.

DRA Approves 2016 Budget

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Khartoum – The executive council of Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) has approved 2016 budget which focused on development, 98% of it was allocated for infrastructure and public services that adopted in Darfur Document for Peace in Doha (DDPD).
DRA President, Dr. Al-Tijani Al-Sisi briefed cabinet on the financial situation, expressing appreciation to the federal support.
“I appreciate the federal government that funded the development projects, according to DDPD commitment” said Al-Sisi.
He stated that Qatar government and donors fulfilled their obligation in Doha Conference for Darfur Development in April 2013.
The meeting acknowledged the necessity of national dialogue that kicked off in 10th of the current month, considering it as one of the key pillars that all Sudanese political powers agreed upon.
AL Sisi also enlightened the cabinet on the DDPD application and the process of the development in its different stages.

Group: 80 Civilians Killed in South Sudan County in October

Eighty civilians, including 57 children, were killed in just one county in war-torn Unity state between October 4 and 22, according to a group of humanitarian organizations monitoring civilian casualties in South Sudan.

Twenty-nine of the children drowned after running into swamps to hide from attacks in Leer County. There were reports of widespread use of sexual violence, including more than 50 rape cases, said the Protection Cluster, representing 60 local and international organizations.

Kuong Kuony, the rebel’s commissioner for Leer County, accused government troops of launching attacks on rebel positions, burning civilian houses, and looting livestock.

South Sudan’s military spokesman, Col. Philip Aguer, said Saturday that he had no reports of fighting in Leer County.

The U.N. and human rights groups have documented widespread abuses against civilians, including rapes and killings by government soldiers and their militia, in Unity state this year.

Fighting persists despite a peace deal signed in August.

The latest incidents took place following a brief takeover of Leer town by rebel forces on October 2. Government forces pushed the rebels out later that day, the Protection Cluster said. Government forces then attacked numerous locations across the county, chasing civilians into swamps, according to many survivors who spoke to AP in Unity state during and after the attacks.

“As a result of this new wave of violence, it is estimated that nearly 1,200 children are unaccompanied and separated in southern and central Unity State,” the Protection Cluster said.

South Sudan has been at war since December 2013 as government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, battle rebels led by his former deputy, Riek Machar, a Nuer. The fighting has often been along ethnic lines.

“Independence”: Bashir is trying to fabricate a crisis with Cairo to save his regime

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Confirmed Independence Movement, headed by Judge Ahmed Alvdhala, deplored the attempts by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, fabricating a crisis with Egypt on Halayib and Shalateen.

He said Abdul Nabi Abdul Sattar media spokesman of the mainstream, that attempts Bashir re-open Halayib and Shalateen triangle file at this time, raises many doubts about his intentions, especially as the Halayib and Shalateen Egyptian Without a doubt, the parliamentary elections were held in the Triangle as an Egyptian 100%.

He said Abdul Sattar, “al-Bashir is trying to fabricate a crisis with Egypt on the border areas, to divert attention from mounting popular opposition unity against him in the recent period, a technique followed since it came to power 26 years ago to protect his regime.”

The spokesman praised the “independence”, a plan for the development of Egypt and Halayib Shalateen, and raise the standard of living of the people of the two regions.

The intensification of the fighting in southern Sudan signed 80 civilians killed

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80 civilians, including 57 children were killed Province and one in Unity State in southern Sudan, from 4 to 22 October / October, according to a group of humanitarian organizations that monitor human losses.

She organizations, as network “ABC News” quoted Saturday that 29 children drowned after he tried to escape from the attacks in Leer County, amid reports of sexual violence, including 50 cases of rape, have not confirmed or denied by government authorities.

He accused Connie Kong, one of the rebels, officials Lear province, government forces launched attacks on rebel positions, and the burning of civilian homes, and looting livestock.

Word army spokesman Philip Aguer South Sudan that he has not received any reports of fighting in the province Lear.

Fighting continues between government forces and the rebels despite the signing of a peace agreement in August / August, but media reports the occurrence of cases of violation of the ceasefire agreement. And cast both conflicting parties blamed the other in the occurrence, where the country is witnessing a war since December / December 2013 as government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir grappling with the rebels belonging to Riek Machar.

Malakal: The city that vanished in South Sudan

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The roads of central Juba, the capital of South Sudan, bear witness to the British colonial town it once was: They are lined with neem trees, tall and narrow-leafed, their seeds transported from India.

In their broad shade, there is another familiar sight: Lines of men, in plastic chairs, most of them jobless. They wait and talk, scouring the thin pickings of the local newspapers.

Victor Lajar is one of them. He is 51 – his purple-striped shirt is perfectly pressed; his grey trousers have crisp vertical creases.

Over a cup of clove-laced tea, he tells me he used to be a local government official.

He was from the northern city of Malakal. He fled, during the civil war. He has a family to support and no job.

I ask my first guileless question: “The war’s over; why don’t you return?”

Mr Lajar answers with his own question: “You don’t know about Malakal?” he asks. “It’s ashes,” he tells me.
Camp life

Few journalists go to Malakal. There are horrors aplenty elsewhere, and for long periods, the airport at the town has been inaccessible because of the fighting.

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I arrive, on a tiny United Nations charter, at Malakal airfield. We swiftly have company.

A queue of large Russian-made transport planes, with no tail markings, land: Three in one hour, to re-supply the government forces, the SPLA, who currently hold the city.

Before I head to Malakal itself, though, I visit the UN camp, just to the north-east. It is where 45,000 former residents of the city now live.

I am lucky – the rainy season is almost over. All I have to contend with is the broiling sun and the clouds of mosquitoes.

When it is wet, the ground is awash with mud and human waste.

The place carries the marks of the refugee camp. The new arrivals, strung out, hollow-eyed at its entrance.

The tents and shacks for long-term residents crammed into a crazed puzzle; the attempts to winnow a bit of extra cash: Men selling heaps of rusty nails; children selling single cloves of garlic; women selling small piles of clothes.

And there are the stories from their time in Malakal town: Of mothers and brothers shot, their bodies left to rot; of children lost in the chaos of fleeing.

So many stories, so much trauma, that by the end of my first afternoon, I have to check my notebook to pick out Nyabed’s misery from Teresa’s from Mary’s from Nyangit’s.
Looting and vandalism

In the morning, I get a rare tour of the city, in a UN military patrol, with an SPLA escort. It is unlike any place I have ever visited.

Malakal is – was – South Sudan’s second city. In the decades of war with the north, it thrived. Now it is empty.

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Parts have been razed to the ground in the rage of warfare.

But much has been wrecked simply by looting and vandalism, as rival forces allied to rival ethnic groups swept back and forth.

Malakal has changed hands 12 times during this civil war.

The children’s hospital was built as a prize of independence. Now it is a shell, scorched, roofless, slowly strangled by the returning bush.

But I could see no bullet holes, no splashes of shrapnel. It, like the Red Cross headquarters, had been wrecked and pillaged by fighters not battling for a front line, but drunk on ownership.

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Inside the Red Cross offices, amid the dust and destruction and fug of faeces, I find a discarded notebook.

“Rules for the Red Cross”, a neat hand has written. Avoid “real or perceived breaches of neutrality and impartiality for multiple reasons, including ethnicity”.

I have seen places wrecked by war, but never a city vanish like this.

Back at the UN camp, plans are quietly under way to be ready to deal with another 40,000 people who may yet cross over the White Nile to seek sanctuary and food.

South Sudan’s elusive peace:

At least seven ceasefires agreed and broken since conflict started in December 2013
Nearly one in five South Sudanese displaced by the current conflict, from a total population of 12 million
Former rebel leader Salva Kiir became president of South Sudan, the world’s newest state, when it gained independence in 2011
South Sudan has been at war for 42 of past 60 years

Five obstacles to peace in South Sudan

And I ask my second guileless question. It is addressed to one of the UN workers – he is a local, from Malakal.

Is he going to watch the football that afternoon on TV? South Sudan is playing its first World Cup qualification match.

“How can I cheer for this country?” he asks.

“We were so happy at independence. I remember the moment. My father – he’d been an agricultural scientist, who’d joined the struggle, and been killed in the struggle.

“But what was it for? Now, I only feel shame. We are so much worse off now.”