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IPIS Briefing February 2021 – CAR: Former enemies unite to oust re-elected President

The IPIS briefing offers a selection of articles, news and updates on natural resources, armed conflict, Business & Human Rights and arms trade.  Every month, an editorial and related publications shed a light on a specific topic in IPIS’ areas of research.

In focus: CAR – Former enemies unite to oust re-elected President.

In the news: L’ambassadeur d’Italie victime d’une paix introuvable dans l’Est de la RDC depuis 25 ans; Okpabi and others (Appellants) v Royal Dutch Shell Plc and another (Respondents); Amnesty says Eritrean troops killed hundreds of Ethiopian civilians in Axum.

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This briefing is produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of IPIS and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.


IN FOCUS: CAR – FORMER ENEMIES UNITE TO OUST RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT

On December 17th 2020, in the run-up to the general elections later that month in the Central African Republic (CAR), 6 of the country’s major armed groups – and former enemies – announced publicly to have joined forces in a new alliance called the Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement (Patriots’ Coalition for the Change, CPC in short). This new alliance is composed of ex-Seleka factions (the FPRC, UPC and the MPC), a ‘self-protection’ group alleging to protect the nomadic Fulani people (3R) and Anti-Balaka groups (Maxime Mokom faction and Ngaïssona faction). The coalition itself admits that this rapprochement is “unexpected” (inattendu, in the original text), but sees it as a historical opportunity. Anti-Balaka and Seleka were the two main antagonists of the conflict from 2013 to September 2014, until the split of the Seleka in a dozen of separate armed groups. What appears even more unnatural, is the public support from former President Bozize (2003-2013), ousted from power precisely by the Seleka, in 2013.

When looking back, this “unexpected” alliance is not the first attempt at forming a broad coalition against the government of Bangui. Understanding the dynamics of these previous attempts helps to comprehend the rationale behind the formation of the CPC. Early 2015, while combats were still taking place in CAR, the highest leaders of Anti-Balaka and ex-Seleka FPRC convened controversial negotiations in Nairobi, brokered by Congo-Brazzaville’s President Sassou Nguesso. Present on the Anti-Balaka side were, amongst others, Maxime Bokom, Joachim Kokaté (representing Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona), and former President Bozize. Ex-Seleka FPRC was represented, amongst others by former President Djotodia (2013-2014) and Nourredine Adam. The US and the EU believe that these talks served to coordinate a coup d’état against the transitional president Catherine Samba-Panza (2014-2016). The coup failed but led to violence in Bangui in 2015. One year later, in 2016, in Bria, FPRC tried again to reunite former Seleka in one broad armed opposition under its leadership against the Touadéra administration, after its failure to secure key positions in the incumbent government. However, this new alliance did not come to life due to resistance by the UPC, which paid greatly for this refusal. One month later, FPRC launched heavy attacks, with the support of local Anti-Balaka, against the strongholds of the UPC in the Bria-Bakouma-Bambari triangle, including around the huge Ndassima gold mine. A peace agreement between UPC and the Ex-Seleka coalition was finally signed in Ippy, in October 2017.

As stated in a report of the UN Group of Experts on CAR (S/2017/1023, para 135), the Ippy agreement aimed at reconciling the competing interests – mainly economic – of the groups. It has, however, failed to enable the military and political reunification of the ex-Seleka. Despite minor clashes, the signatories of the Ippy agreement recognised each other zones of influence in the centre and the east of the country.

While the conflict concerned Anti-Balaka and Seleka until September 2014, new armed groups emerged afterwards based on locality and ethnicity. This is the case of the 3R (Retour, Reclamation, Rehabilitation). Originally from the tri-border region of CAR-Cameroon and Chad, 3R was created around 2015 to defend Fulani people, who are mainly pastoralists, and victim of mass atrocities by the Anti-Balaka. Through alliances with and fights against other smaller armed groups, 3R  successfully took control of the entire region of the west.

In 2020, with the authorisation of the armed groups, the Bangui government re-established prefects in the main cities, which demonstrated its will to increase the presence of the State on the entire national soil. However, armed groups’ parallel administrations remained dominant, especially those generating money: such as roadblocks, border taxes (import-export, entrance and exit of people), and taxation of cattle, gold and diamonds. The signing of the Khartoum peace agreement, in February 2019, by 14-armed groups and the government of Bangui recognised the grip of the armed groups on these regions (*), and strengthened the status quo. This led many observers to vow that armed groups were the “winners” of this peace talk. As the Institute for Security Studies puts it, the Khartoum agreement legitimised predatory entities that have weak political constituencies as indicated by their poor showing in elections and limited willingness to morph into political actors.

So why then did these former enemies again decide to join forces against the CAR government late last year? Fair elections would have meant a legitimate President for the entire national territory and the end of armed groups “privileges”. Whereas previous attempts to unify the former Seleka failed because of divergent interests, a new and legitimate president represented a common threat to all of the armed groups controlling substantive parts of CAR.

Anti-Balaka Mokom and Ngaïssona joined the CPC as they saw it as a means to oust President Touadéra and replace him by their common leader, former President Bozize. Following the Khartoum agreement (February 2019), Mokom was appointed Minister of Disarmament, but since the return of former President Bozize in Bangui, in December 2019, tensions between Mokom and the rest of the government have gradually increased. The reason for the Ngaïssona faction to join the CPC is clearly linked to the arrest of Ngaïssonalate 2018 and his transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC). In fact, Central African media pointed out that leaders Mokom (Anti-Balaka), Hissène (FPRC), Darassa (UPC), amongst others were next on ICC’s radar. 3R, for its part, joined the CPC-coalition to defend its economic and political interests in the West of the country.

On the frontline, the CPC quickly took control of important towns, firstly Damara (hometown of Touadéra) on January, 2nd 2021, next Bangassou (3rd January). Yet, it did not expect such a fierce defence of Bangui(13th January) by the national army (FACA), and the international community – consisting of MINUSCA (12 000 troops), but also newly arrived Rwandan armed forces and Russian mercenaries from the private company Wagner Group deployed in December 2020 in the framework of bilateral agreements. After this failure, the CPC changed tactics, by returning to guerrilla attacks in the surroundings of Bangui to asphyxiate the capital by blocking the road that connects it to Douala in Cameroon, which normally transits 80% of imported goods.

Since February, the international troops have managed to regain control of important cities and the CPC started showing signs of frictions. Despite its plausible split, it does not mean that CAR is on the path to peace. Huge challenges remain before the national government will control the entire country, especially now that the dialogue with armed groups is broken. As FACA and international forces are on the offensive in the zones controlled by armed groups, one option would be to push forward the dismantling of the rebels with the objective of arresting their main leaders. This would greatly legitimize both re-elected President Touadéra and the presence of the international community in the country. Of course, this is a huge task that will require economic and military means, and considering the weakness and the mistrust around the FACA loyalty, it sounds unlikely that countries of the MINUSCA will risk the life of their troops to chase the rebels. Then, the second option is to strengthen the positions already taken and negotiate peace again with the armed groups: this would bring back the country to its well-known status-quo of low-intensity conflict.

Guillaume de Brier.

(*) In an interview on TV channel Africa 24, The spoke person of the CPC, Simon Bozanga clearly admitted that the government « gave » the regions to the armed groups by signing the Kartoum agreement. « Le gouvernement a manipulé les groupes armés (…) Penser que donner des strapontins aux groupes armés, donner des régions qu’ils contrôlent déjà, ils ont fait ça pour que ceux-ci puissent être les garants de la fraude électorale à venir. », he said (Debate of the 9th January 2021).

 

FURTHER READING

Central African Republic: Amnesty investigation reveals full horror of conflict and election violence | 25 February 2021 | Amnesty International

Many civilians have been killed and others injured during the election period in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today, as it called on authorities to protect civilians and launch independent judicial investigations into abuses and human rights violations by armed groups and security forces.

RCA : l’offensive de l’armée contre les rebelles de la CPC dans la Mambéré-Kadéi tourne au fiasco | 24 February 2021 | CorbeauNews

L’offensive militaire, menée conjointement par les éléments des forces armées centrafricaines (FACA), les gendarmes et les policiers, contre les positions des rebelles de la coalition des patriotes pour le changement (CPC) au village Nassoulé, situé à 35 kilomètres de Berberati sur l’axe Kenzo, tourne à un véritable fiasco. Les FACA accusent les gendarmes, tandis que ces derniers accusent à leur tour les FACA d’avoir faussé les données militaires. Aussitôt, la panique s’empare des habitants de la ville de Berberati.

Russia in the Central African Republic: New allies, same challenges | 23 February 2021 | African Arguments

Russia recently sent an additional 300 military advisors to support President Touadéra as part of a deepening relationship. What’s in it for each side?

RCA : viol, agression, vol, pillage, la CPI pourra-t-elle engagée des enquêtes sur les exactions des mercenaires russes en Centrafrique ? | 21 February 2021 | CorbeauNews

Si l’on constate qu’à Bangui les populations sont plus ou moins en sécurité, , dans les villes de province, particulièrement dans les zones reprises par les soldats FACA et leurs alliés russes et rwandais, les populations se plaignent d’avantage des exactions commises sur les civiles par les mercenaires russes. On enregistre de plus en plus des témoignages, et la Minusca ainsi que le gouvernement ne semblent pas se soucier de ces détails importants.

Environ 5 jeunes hommes kidnappés par les rebelles de la CPC à Cantonnier, à la frontière avec le Cameroun| 13 February 2021 | CorbeauNews

Les faits se sont produits il y’a quelques minutes au plein centre-ville de Cantonnier, une ville centrafricaine à la frontière avec le Cameroun.

Reprise des combats vendredi soir à Ndassima entre les rebelles de l’UPC et les FACA appuyés par les mercenaires russes | 13 February 2021 | CorbeauNews

Les combats étaient très violents ce vendredi matin et soir entre les rebelles de l’unité pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC) et les soldats des forces armées centrafricaines (FACA) appuyés par les paramilitaires Russes de la société Wagner. Les forces loyalistes contrôlent toujours la localité minière de Ndassima, mais les rebelles sont aussi dans le parages.

Bangui, Dialogue républicain, faire tomber les masques ? | 12 February 2021 | CorbeauNews

Le dirigeant centrafricain avait donné le ton alors qu’il devrait se prononcer sur la mise en œuvre en deux (2) ans de l’APPR/RCA. Il y aura d’ici peu un dialogue républicain entre le prince du moment et l’ensemble des forces vives de la nation. C’est l’occasion où à jamais on doit faire tomber les masques.

Russia’s Strategy in the Central African Republic | 12 February 2021 | RUSI

On 22 December, Russia expanded its military intervention in the Central African Republic (CAR) by deploying 300 military instructors to the war-torn country. Russia dispatched these instructors at the request of CAR’s President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who feared that former President François Bozizé would derail the 27 December elections through a coup d’état. After Touadéra was re-elected via a relatively peaceful election process, Russia announced the withdrawal of these instructors on 15 January. However, Russian private military contractors (PMCs) remain active in CAR and on 26 January, they helped CAR troops kill 44 rebels.

RCA :Bambari, les forces de l’ordre renforcent leur position dans la ville après l’incident d’hier | 10 February 2021 | CorbeauNews

À Bambari, les forces de l’ordre et leurs Alliés russes semblent être galvanisés par les multiples victoires de leurs collègues dans la Lobaye et sur le corridor Bangui – Béloko. Depuis 72 heures, les soldats FACA, les mercenaires russes et les Casques bleus renforcent leur position dans la ville, avec de multiples patrouilles dans les rues. Cependant, un incident survenu mardi soir devant la base des soldats FACA fait remonter la tension dans la ville.

RCA : l’armée gouvernementale lance une offensive pour le contrôle de la voie d’approvisionnement avec le Cameroun | 9 February 2021 | Agence Ecofin

Alors que la Centrafrique est menacée par une grave crise humanitaire, le contrôle du tronçon routier Garoua-Bangui, principale voie d’approvisionnement du pays à partir du Cameroun relève d’un enjeu majeur pour le gouvernement face aux rebelles qui tentent d’asphyxier la capitale.

Centrafrique: Les forces progouvernementales poursuivent leur reconquête | 9 February 2021 | CorbeauNews

Les forces progouvernementales en Centrafrique poursuivent leur contre-offensive contre les groupes rebelles, avec la reprise mardi d’une ville stratégique de l’ouest du pays, sur un axe vital pour le ravitaillement de Bangui.

Forgotten Conflicts 2021: When Will the Crisis in the Central African Republic End? | 9 February 2021 | ICRC | Inter Press Service

Last October, an ICRC medical team helped a woman deliver a baby boy in the bush on their way to a health center we support in Grévaï, a small town in the north-central region of CAR. On her way to the market, by foot, the woman went into labour and only by chance did not have to go through it alone, surviving along with her baby.

Central African Republic: First Anti-Balaka Trial at ICC | 7 February 2021 | HRW

The trial of two anti-balaka leaders opening on February 9, 2021 will be the first before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for serious crimes committed in the conflict in the Central African Republic since 2012, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch released a Question-and-Answer document about the trial, to explain the proceedings and to provide context.

Le Rassemblement Patriotique pour le Renouveau de Centrafrique s’insurge contre une nouvelle rébellion qui sévit dans la Vakaga pour le compte de la CPC de François Bozizé | 7 February 2021 | Le potentiel Centrafricain

Certainement, les Centrafricains de sang commencent à prendre conscience des enjeux de la paix, condition sine qua none de tout développement. Le RPRC n’échappe pas à cette prise de conscience lorsqu’elle décide de débouter cette nouvelle rébellion qui vient mettre en cause la hache de guerre des natifs de cette localité. Ci-joint leur communiqué de presse.

In the CAR, France and Russia engage in a mini Cold War | 5 February 2021 | The Africa Report

The Central African Republican has become another playground for the war of influence between Paris and Moscow. The latest episode to date: the alleged infiltration of a French defence subcontractor by Russian intelligence.

IRC extremely concerned about deteriorating humanitarian situation in Central African Republic | 1 February 2021 | International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is extremely concerned about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) following escalating violence in recent days. Over 200,000 people have already been displaced of which nearly half have fled across borders causing additional strains and instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.

Centrafrique : 44 rebelles tués dans une offensive des forces armées | 25 January 2021 | France24

Les forces centrafricaines ont attaqué les rebelles qui tentent d’imposer un blocus de la capitale Bangui et de renverser le régime du président Faustin Archange Touadéra, tuant 44 d’entre eux selon le gouvernement, qui affirme être “à l’offensive”.

Les mercenaires de la CPC changent de stratégie pour créer une tension sociale | 4 January 2021 | Le potentiel Centrafricain

Les mercenaires de la Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement (CPC), un groupe des criminels de l’UPC, MPC, 3R et antibalaka que dirige François Bozizé depuis sa tanière de Benzambé, se confrontent d’échec en échec face à la puissance de feu des FACA et les forces spéciales rwandaises et russes. De Boali en passant par Yaloké, Boda, Carnot, Bozoum, Damara, Bouca, Grimari, Bambari et Bangassou, ces mercenaires sont dans une débandade totale à tel point que les forces loyales sont déterminées à les mettre hors depuis leurs bases..

La MINUSCA, est une force hostile aux Centrafricains et à la CPC ? | 26 December 2020 | CPC | Cette fois-ci

En ce temps où la République Centrafrique fait face à son destin, le patriotisme est de mise. C’est le signe même d’appartenance à la Nation.

Centrafrique : à Bangui, peur sur la ville | 24 December 2020 | Le Monde

A trois jours des élections, les habitants de la capitale craignent une percée ou une infiltration des rebelles de la CPC, cette alliance de groupes armés opposés à la tenue du scrutin.

Centrafrique. Cinq questions sur les opérations armées en cours dans le pays | 21 December 2020 | Ouest France

Des rebelles ont tenté de progresser vers la capitale. Les Casques bleus et les forces gouvernementales les ont bloqués. La précarité sécuritaire a provoqué une intervention militaire de la Russie et du Rwanda.

En Centrafique l’histoire s’emballe, les groupes armés fusionnent en un seul mouvement et appellent les FACA à les rejoindre…Déclaration de la CPC… | 19 December 2020 | CPC | Cette fois-ci

Les différents groupes armés qui contrôlent actuellement la totalité du territoire national centrafricain ont décidé de fusionner en un seul mouvement, dénommé, la Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement (CPC), selon un communiqué qui nous est parvenu.

IN THE NEWS

BUSINESS & HUMAN RIGHTS

Working with the European Commission on sustainable corporate governance (pdf) | 26 February 2021 | Hogan Lovells LLP

HoganLovells LLP has submitted a response to a European Commission consultation on their sustainable corporate governance initiative. You can read the response in full here.

Update to the EU Corporate Due Diligence and Corporate Accountability Initiative: The Provisional Draft and the 10 Questions Businesses Still Need to Know | 22 February 2021 | Paul Hastings LLP

For nearly a year, there has been rapid progress toward an EU requirement that companies doing business in the EU conduct broad human rights due diligence across their operations and value chains. In April 2020, following the publication of a lengthy scoping study in February 2020, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders announced that he would introduce mandatory due diligence legislation as part of the Commission’s 2021 work plan.

Corruption: New ‘Luanda Leaks’ revelations go global | 21 February 2021 | Portuguese American Journal

More information has emerged about the business activities of Isabel dos Santos, this time claiming that despite her corrupt reputation she was able to count on advice from three of the world’s largest consulting firms.

Germany’s proposed supply-chain law—a glass half-empty | 26 February 2021 | Social Europe

MPs Should Strengthen Proposed Supply Chain Law | 23 February 2021 | HRW

Legislative draft of German Human Rights Supply Chain Duty of Care Act: the new standard for corporate human rights duties? | 22 February 2021 | Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Supply Chain Act | 18 February 2021 | Clyde & Co LLP

Mehr Fairness in globalen Liefer- und Wertschöpfungsketten | Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung

In drafting a law regulating supply chains Germany surrendered to the business lobby. The EU must not do the same. ‘The strongest law in Europe.’ That’s what the federal minister of labour, Hubertus Heil, is calling Germany’s proposed legislation on supply chains (Lieferkettengesetz). Is he right?

Nestlé and Mondelēz among chocolate giants facing child slavery lawsuit over supply chain practices | 16 February 2021 | Edie

A human rights firm has filed a lawsuit against major chocolate companies Nestlé, Cargill, Barry Callebaut, Mars, Olam, Hershey and Mondelēz, following allegations of child slave labour in their cocoa supply chains.

Okpabi v Shell: Clarification from the English Supreme Court on Jurisdiction and Parent Company Liability |15 February 2021 | Gibson Dunn LLP

Okpabi and others (Appellants) v Royal Dutch Shell Plc and another (Respondents) | 12 February 2021 | The Supreme Court (UK)

UK Okpabi et al v Shell: UK Supreme Court Reaffirms Parent Companies May Owe a Duty of Care Towards Communities Impacted by their Subsidiaries in Third Countries | 16 February 2021 | Opinio Juris

The English Supreme Court’s February 12, 2021 judgment in Okpabi and others v Royal Dutch Shell Plc and another [2021] UKSC 3 is a landmark decision in the field of human rights and environmental protection. In a unanimous ruling,[1] the Court allowed the claimants to continue with a claim that the UK-domiciled parent of a multinational group owed a duty of care to those allegedly harmed by the acts of a foreign subsidiary.

Camellia reveals £4.6 million settlement over Kenya human rights abuse claims | 11 February 2021 | Evening Standard

Camellia, the British agriculture and engineering firm hit by allegations of human rights abuses on its avocado farming estate in Kenya, said today that it has settled with claimants for up to £4.6 million.

Child of All Nations – The UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights | 11 February 2021 | TaylorWessing

The origins of corporate social responsibility (CSR) lie to a considerable extent in the protection of human rights and can therefore be attributed to international law. At the international level, there have been efforts since the 1970s to cast the legal concept of CSR into binding form. First and foremost, international law regulates relations between states and, thus, rarely constitutes a priority to economic stakeholders. Yet, even at the stage of international law initiatives can be triggered that have direct legal consequences for private stakeholders such as companies. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to keep a close eye on the current developments in international law regarding CSR.

Systemically important – CSR and Compliance Management Systems | 11 February 2021 | TaylorWessing

Companies must comply with the law. So far so good. However, to ensure that the large number of individuals and processes in a company do not lead to any legal violations in the long term, a company must proceed in a structured manner. It must create an auditable system that is geared towards avoiding violations of laws and internal company requirements – in other words, a Compliance Management System.

EU law will be game changer for human rights | 9 February 2021 | The Asset

Last year was big for the “S” of environmental, social and governance (ESG) trends – the people who we depended on for survival and safety during the pandemic were the most vulnerable in society.

Update regarding allegations of human rights abuses at the Williamson Mine in Tanzania | 9 February 2021 | Petra Diamonds

Petra Diamonds Limited today provides an update on the status of its work in relation to allegations of human rights abuses at the Williamson Mine in Tanzania, including information relating to incidents on the Mine in the three months since November 2020. This follows previous statements made on 9 September and on 12 November 2020; in the latter Petra advised that it would provide a further update to the market which this represents.

Mandatory Corporate Human Rights Due Diligence: What Now and What Next? An International Perspective | 8 February 2021 | Gibson Dunn LLP

The concept of mandatory corporate human rights due diligence is gaining momentum, both within Europe and on the international stage. In this two-part alert, we examine key global legislative developments and proposals on this important topic. In Part One, we look at very recent steps taken by the institutions of the EU towards implementation of legislation at a pan-European level. In Part Two, we will consider developments at a national level within the EU and also look beyond Europe as we discuss the position in APAC, the US and Canada.

Europe handcuffed by current corporate liability laws; is change coming? | 4 February 2021 | Compliance Week

Compared to the United States, Europe has had a checkered record of holding companies and their executives accountable for criminal wrongdoing. Indeed, France’s anti-corruption law, known as “Sapin II,” was enacted—in part—because U.S. prosecutors were cashing in huge sums from bribery cases involving French firms while France’s enforcement agencies looked on indifferently.

Beny Steinmetz case shows how hard it is to prove corruption | 4 February 2021 | Financial Times

Here’s a tip for anyone seeking to bribe their way into a multibillion-dollar deal. If your name is say, Beny Steinmetz, it might be wise not to draw attention to yourself by being associated with a company named, for example, Beny Steinmetz Group Resources.

Human Rights First Welcomes Introduction of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Reauthorization Act | 3 February 2021 | Human Rights First

Human Rights First welcomes introduction in the U.S. Senate of S. 93, the ‘‘Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Reauthorization Act,” which would strengthen and permanently reauthorize the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016. Introduced by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), the Global Magnitsky Reauthorization Act would significantly bolster the Global Magnitsky sanctions program and improve the ability of the U.S. government to hold accountable many of the world’s worst human rights violators and corrupt actors.

Joint Letter to the US on Dan Gertler’s License | 3 February 2021 | HRW

US Backtracks on Fight Against Graft in Congo | 3 February 2021 | HRW

We write to you as members of Congolese and international civil society organizations. We would like to share with you our deepest concerns with regards to the decision of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), dated January 15, 2021 and made public on January 24, 2021, granting a license to businessman Dan Gertler, who was sanctioned for corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act in December 2017. The license allows him to resume transactions with American entities for a year and unblock his frozen property.

Chadian villagers confront mining giant Glencore over abuses linked to oil spill | 2 February 2021 | RFI

A group of villagers in southern Chad, who claim a number of accidents by British mining giant Glencore poisoned their drinking water, harming people and destroying farmland, are to confront company representatives in mediation, after the UK government accepted their human rights complaint.

Glencore inks ‘ethical cobalt’ deal with Norway’s FREYR | 1 February 2021 | Canadian Mining Journal

Miner and commodities trader Glencore has inked a preliminary deal with Norwegian battery producer FREYR to supply 3,700 tonnes of “ethically sourced” cobalt metal cut cathodes.

African corruption and environmental scandals mark a turning point for companies | 1 February 2021 | The Africa Report

Tribunals and courts that are holding companies to account on charges of corruption and environmental destruction are changing the economic weather, little by little.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Conflict Gold to Responsible Gold, A Roadmap for Companies and Governments | 22 February 2021 | The Sentry

The technology, jewelry, financial, and automotive sectors are increasingly at risk of purchasing gold via Dubai that benefits armed groups responsible for mass atrocities in multiple countries in East and Central Africa. Five main policy issues continue to incentivize the conflict gold trade and disincentivize the responsible artisanal trade, presenting key opportunities for action by governments, companies, and banks.

DR Congo campaigners take minister to court over illegal logging rights claims | 17 February 2021 | Climate Home News

Campaigners in the Democratic Republic of Congo are taking the country’s environmental minister to court over accusations he illegally allocated nearly three million hectares of logging concessions to two Chinese firms and a Congolese cleaning company.

Cameroon: Customs officers seize 7kg of gold at Garoua-Boulaï | 15 February 2021 | Business in Cameroon

Entre le Cameroun et la Centrafrique, le trafic de minerais s’exporte bien | 19 February 2021 | Sputnik News

Cameroonian customs officers stationed in Garoua-Boulaï (an eastern region town bordering the Republic of Central Africa) recently seized seven (7) kilograms of gold being smuggled. The precious metal was hidden in the luggage of a Chinese national coming from the Republic of Central Africa, the customs authorities revealed.

DRC: Congo Basin forests threatened by 19 oil blocks | 10 February 2021 | Afrik21

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) wants to launch tenders for 19 oil blocks identified in the Congo Basin forest. According to the Congolese DR government, the revenues from this operation will have to finance several development projects in this Central African country. But for the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Greenpeace, this project is a crime against nature, a paradox for a country that has just expressed its commitment to the UN’s 30% target. That is, to convert 30% of the world’s land into protected areas.

Mali gold production hits fresh high in 2020 | 2 February 2021 | Mining Weekly

Mali’s industrial gold production reached 65.2 t in 2020, slightly higher than the previous year’s record production of 65.1 t, mines ministry statistics showed on Tuesday.

Uganda’s tungsten miner files competition case against International Tin Association | 1 February 2021 |Mining Weekly

The owner of Uganda’s only tungsten mine has filed a claim against the International Tin Association (ITA) over alleged anti-competitive behaviour, a claim summary published by Britain’s Competition and Appeal Tribunal shows.

ARMS TRADE

The Illegal Arms Trade and Israel | 24 February 2021 | World Beyond War

An Israeli documentary film called The Lab was made in 2013. It was shown in Pretoria and Cape Town, Europe, Australia and the US and won numerous awards, even including at the Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival. The thesis of the film is that the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank is a “lab” so that Israel can boast that its weapons have been “battle-tested and proven” for export. And, most grotesquely, how Palestinian blood is turned into money!

Paramount and Bharat Forge to produce armoured vehicles in India | 23 February 2021 | DefenceWeb

Paramount Group and Bharat Forge Limited have announced a cooperation agreement that will see them manufacture armoured vehicles in India. The agreement was signed at the International Defence Expo (IDEX) held in Abu Dhabi.

How Russia Became Africa’s Dominant Arms Dealer | 23 February 2021 | National Interest

Russia’s state arms export agency, Rosoboronexport, announced earlier this week that it signed export contracts with African states worth as much as $1.5 billion in 2020.

Arms deal corruption trial against South African ex-President Zuma to start in May | 23 February 2021 |DefenceWeb

A corruption case against former South African President Jacob Zuma and French company Thales related to a $2 billion arms deal will begin on 17 May, a court said on Tuesday.

Blackwater founder Erik Prince accused of helping evade U.N. Libya sanctions | 21 February 2021 | Reuters

UN report connects Malta with operation to supply Libyan rebel commander with military equipment | 22 February 2021 | Independent

Erik Prince, the private security executive and supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trump, “at the very least” helped evade an arms embargo on Libya, according to excerpts from a United Nations report seen by Reuters.

Navy stops smugglers loaded with Russian weapons off Somali coast | 19 February 2021 | SOFREP

On February 12, two vessels were boarded and searched off the coast of Somalia. The boarding force, which had deployed from the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), searched the vessels and found a cache of weapons. According to a brief by the Department of Defense, the cache consisted of “thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, light machine guns, heavy sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs), and crew-served weapons.”

Verint Systems supplied South Sudan with surveillance technology says Amnesty | 2 February 2021 | Calcalist

Verint Systems supplied South Sudan with surveillance technology says Amnesty

Amnesty International obtained documents that prove that between March 2015 and February 2017, the South Sudanese government paid the company $762,000 for surveillance equipment that was used to illegally wiretap citizens’ phones

Zuma refuses to testify in the Zondo commission, saying he’d rather go to jail | 1 February 2021 | Mail & Guardian

Former president Jacob Zuma said on Monday that he would defy the Constitutional Court order to appear before the Zondo commission, accusing the court of political bias and the commission of persecuting him in a manner reminiscent of the apartheid regime.

CONFLICT

Human Rights Watch accuses Cameroonian soldiers of mass rape and killing man | 23 February 2021 | BusinessLive

Cameroonian soldiers raped at least 20 women and killed a man in a raid on a village last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has alleged, calling it one of the worst attacks by the army since an insurgency by anglophone separatists began in 2016.

RDC : l’assassinat de l’ambassadeur Luca Attanasio illustre l’impuissance de l’ONU à sécuriser l’est du pays |23 February 2021 | FranceInfo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is Back on the Front Page | 24 February 2021 | Council on Foreign Relations

Voilà plus de vingt ans que les Casques bleus de la Monusco sont présents sans parvenir à rétablir la paix dans tout l’est de la République démocratique du Congo.

Uganda under Museveni: Trial of civilians in military courts violates human rights | 23 February 2021 | Daily Maverick

A casual observer of the electoral processes for 2006, 2011, 2016 and 2021 would be forgiven for thinking Uganda is a police state and that electoral processes are a war of sorts where political opposition leaders are subject to martial law.

Italian Ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo Killed in Ambush Monday | 22 February 2021 | VoA

L’ambassadeur d’Italie victime d’une paix introuvable dans l’Est de la RDC depuis 25 ans | 23 February 2021 | VoA

Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo has been killed in an attack on a United Nations convoy near the eastern Congolese city of Goma.

Exiled Rwandan opposition politician shot dead in Cape Town | 22 February 2021 | The Guardian

A Rwandan opposition figure exiled in South Africa has been shot dead in Cape Town in what his party described as an “assassination”.

RDC : nouvelle cartographie des groupes armés | 22 February 2021 | DW

The landscape of armed groups in Eastern DRC (pdf) | February 2021 | Kivu Security Tracker

Le groupe d’études sur le Congo (GEC) a identifié une centaine de groupes actifs dans les provinces de l’Ituri et du Tanganyika. Christophe Vogel, l’un des auteurs du rapport, détaille les particularités de ces groupes.

République Démocratique du Congo : Retour en arrière en temps de COVID-19 (pdf) | 18 February 2021 | Forest Peoples

Évaluation des changements des sauvegardes sociales et environnementales en République Démocratique du Congo pendant la pandémie de COVID-19 et les conséquences pour les peuples forestiers et leurs territoires.

A Holocaust refugee’s son is one of the most powerful politicians in Congo | 17 February 2021 | Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Like many powerful politicians in Africa, Moise Katumbi goes by multiple titles. He is widely seen as the leader of the opposition of his native Democratic Republic of Congo, and he’s the president of its TP Mazembe soccer team, which is one of Africa’s finest.

Sudan says Ethiopian forces crossed border, raising tensions | 14 February 2021 | Reuters

Ethiopian forces crossed into Sudanese territory in an act of “aggression”, Sudan’s foreign ministry said on Sunday, marking the latest flare-up in a long-standing border dispute.

Uganda: Set Up Commission of Inquiry Into Killings, Disappearances | 14 February 2021 | The Monitor | AllAfrica.com

Today, Uganda is facing an exigent national crisis – several families, mainly supporters of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party led by Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu, the runner-up in the recent presidential election, have reported their relatives missing. Many have been abducted by people suspected to be security operatives moving in numberless vehicles and confined in non-gazetted places.

Certains groupes armés servent de “béquilles” aux ADF à Beni, selon le Général Chirimwami | 13 February 2021 | politico.cd

Le Commandant des opérations Sukola 1 a affirmé qu’au sein des groupes armés locaux actifs dans la région de Beni, se trouvent ceux qui servent des béquilles aux rebelles Allied Democratic forces (ADF). Il a fait cette déclaration dans une interview accordée ce samedi 13 février à la presse locale.

Switzerland: Liberian War Crimes Trial Resumes | 12 February 2021 | HRW

The trial of a former Liberian rebel leader arrested in Switzerland for alleged war crimes during Liberia’s first civil war will start its second important phase on February 15, 2021, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch issued a Question-and-Answer document on the trial on February 12.

South Sudan: Rampant Abusive Surveillance by National Security Service Instils Climate of Fear | 11 February 2021 | Modern Diplomacy

South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS) is using abusive surveillance to terrorize journalists, activists and critics, leading to a climate of intense fear and self-censorship, Amnesty International said in a new report.

Ethnic clashes in Darfur could reignite Sudan’s old conflict | 10 February 2021 | Associated Press

Sayid Ismael Baraka, a Sudanese-American visiting from Atlanta, was playing with his three children, and his wife was making tea, when the gunmen stormed into his family village in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Djugu: imposition de taxes par des miliciens CODECO, un acteur politique très préoccupé | 10 February 2021 | Mediacongo.net

L’acteur politique Christian Shauri dénonce la perception illégale et permanente de taxes par des miliciens de CODECO sur différents axes routiers en territoire de Djugu.

Ituri : plus de 200 miliciens de la CODECO quittent le site minier de MGM de Mongwalu | 9 February 2021 | Radio Okapi

Certains miliciens de la CODECO se sont retirés depuis dimanche 7 février, de la concession de la compagnie minière MGM, à Mongwalu où ils exploitaient de l’or depuis environ deux semaines. Selon des sources locales, d’autres résistent encore et posent des préalables pour leur retrait. D’après les mêmes sources, ils exigent au gouvernement provincial de leur accorder un autre site riche en or en dehors de la concession de MGM pour leur survie.

DRCongo: Seeking Support In The Shadow Of Kabila | 9 February 2021 | Global Risk Insights

The collapse of the coalition between President Tshisekedi and Joseph Kabila threatens to create a void in DRC politics. Whilst international actors have been swift to commend Tshisekedi, his own political fortunes now rely on finding allies amongst the very opposition who question his victory in 2018, all the while fending off Kabila’s still-potent influence.

Djugu: intenses affrontements entre les FARDC et les miliciens de CODECO à Kilo | 8 February 2021 | Mediacongo.net

Une attaque est signalée la nuit de dimanche à ce lundi 08 février 2021 dans le centre de nogoce de Kilo en secteur de Banyali Kilo, territoire de Djugu.

Cameroon Recruits Apply for Elite Unit to Fight Separatists, Boko Haram | 7 February 2021 | VoA

Cameroon said a recruitment drive for troops to fight separatists and terrorists has seen 10 times the number of needed applications, including — for the first time hundreds of former rebels.

Suspected Islamists kill 10 in eastern Congo machete attack | 7 February 2021 | Reuters

Suspected Islamists killed 10 people in a raid on a village in eastern Democractic Republic of Congo and kidnapped several others, local authorities and a witness said.

Swedish troops join French-led Takuba task force in Mali | 5 February 2021 | France24

Swedish soldiers have deployed in a new European special forces mission fighting jihadists in Mali, French military sources said on Friday.

Tensions rise in Uganda over abductions during elections | 5 February 2021 | Associated Press

Ugandan authorities face pressure to find more than two dozen people allegedly abducted by security forces before or after last month’s presidential election, whose outcome has been rejected by the main opposition candidate as fraudulent.

Ituri : des miliciens de la CODECO installent une administration parallèle à Mongwalu et ses environs | 4 February 2021 | Radio Okapi

Des miliciens de la CODECO ont établi une administration parallèle dans la cité de Mongwalu et ses environs à environ 80 Kilomètres au Nord de Bunia (Ituri).

The Conflict in Libya Is Getting Even Messier | 4 February 2021 | Foreign Policy

A new United Nations report alleges that the United Arab Emirates has established direct contact with armed Sudanese groups fighting in Libya’s proxy conflict on the side of Khalifa Haftar.

Dominic Ongwen declared guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Uganda | 4 February 2021 | ICC

Guilty on 61 Counts – What the Ongwen Verdict Indicates about the Limitations of Individual Criminal Responsibility for Mass Atrocities | 9 February 2021 | Opinio Juris

Today, 4 February 2021, Trial Chamber IX of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) found Dominic Ongwen guilty for a total of 61 comprising crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed in Northern Uganda between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2005. The verdict may be appealed by either party to the proceedings within 30 days after the notification of the Judgment.

Angola: Security Forces Kill Protesters in Lunda Norte Province | 4 February 2021 | HRW

Angolan authorities should immediately ensure a prompt, independent, and thorough investigation into the killing by security forces of at least 10 unarmed protesters on January 30, 2021 during a protest organized by the Lunda Tchokwe Protectorate Movement in Lunda Norte province, Human Rights Watch said today.

Sahel jihadists eye expansion into Cote d’Ivoire and Benin says French spy boss | 3 February 2021 | RFI

France’s top spy chief warned this week that militant jihadist groups in the Sahel are pursuing expansion into the Golf of Guinea, with a focus on Cote d’Ivoire and Benin. In a rare public appearance, Bernard Emié, head of the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) revealed intelligence purportedly showing a meeting between top al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb commanders.

Trial of Sierra Leonean Suspected of War Crimes in Liberia Begins Tomorrow in Finland | 2 February 2021 | Front Page Africa

Liberia: War Crimes Court Finally Comes to Liberia | 10 February 2021 | The New Dawn | AllAfrica

The trial of Gibril Massaquoi, a Sierra Leonean man accused of committing war crimes in Liberia, will start Wednesday, the Pirkanmaa District Court in the Finnish city of Tampere has said.

Widespread attacks in DR Congo may amount to crimes against humanity | 2 February 2021 | UN News

The UN human rights office, OHCHR, has warned against potential crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following a spike in attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group, in two provinces in the east of the country.

Mozambique set to deport Zitamar editor Tom Bowker this week over Cabo Delgado conflict reports | 2 February 2021 | Daily Maverick

Journalist and editor Tom Bowker, an important source of reliable news from the conflict in northern Mozambique, is set to be deported from the country this week. It seems the Mozambique authorities want him out because of his comprehensive reporting on the growing extremist insurgency in the country’s northernmost province Cabo Delgado.

Countries Call Out Rwanda’s Rights Record | 1 February 2021 | HRW

United Nations member countries offered strong criticism and scores of recommendations addressing Rwanda’s human rights record during the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on January 25, 2021.

How DRC’s colonial legacy forged a nexus between ethnicity, territory and conflict | 1 February 2021 | The Conversation

Throughout history, ethnic stereotypes have been used to justify mass violence, exclusion, oppression, and inequality in many corners of the world. In times of violent upheaval and conflict, ethnic narratives often come to the fore. This is true even when the origin and the stakes have little to do with ethnicity. This colours people’s understanding of the conflict’s stakes and fault-lines.

Ituri : des miliciens de la CODECO occupent trois chefferies dans le territoire de Mahagi | 1 February 2021 |Radio Okapi

Des miliciens de la CODECO se sont installés depuis dimanche 31 janvier dans trois chefferies du territoire de Mahagi où ils commettent des exactions contre la population. La société civile de la chefferie de Djukot déplore l’enlèvement d’une personne et le pillage de plus de 100 vaches et des chèvres aux villages Jusiga et Lamuka.

Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on Uganda | 1 February 2021 | HRW

Ugandan soldiers deployed in the Central African Republic have sexually exploited or abused at least 13 women and girls between 2015 and 2017, including at least one rape, and threatened some victims to remain silent. The Ugandan military was deployed in the country between 2009 and 2017 as a part of the African Union’s Regional Task Force to eliminate the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group.

ETHIOPIA-TIGRAY CONFLICT

Ethiopia Criticizes Amnesty Report on Massacre in Tigray | 27 February 2021 | Bloomberg

Ethiopia’s government criticized a report by Amnesty International that alleged war crimes in the northern town of Axum last year.

Amnesty says Eritrean troops killed hundreds of Ethiopian civilians in Axum | 26 February 2021 | Reuters

Tigray conflict: Joint Statement by HR/VP Borrell and Commissioner Lenarčič on massacres in Axum | 26 February 2021 | European Commission

Atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region, press statement Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State | 27 February 2021 | Department of State

Eritrean soldiers killed hundreds of civilians in Ethiopia’s ancient town of Axum between Nov. 28 and 29, rights group Amnesty International said on Friday, one of several mass killings reported during a conflict that erupted nearly four months ago in the northern region of Tigray.

EU envoy says Ethiopia in ‘denial’ over Tigray | 23 February 2021 | Devex

When it comes to the conflict in northern Ethiopia, the federal government in Addis Ababa has no common understanding of events and is in “denial” over the scale of the problem, said Pekka Haavisto, European Union envoy, on Tuesday.

Ethiopia’s regional Tigray forces name conditions for peace with government | 19 February 2021 | Reuters

Forces fighting Ethiopia’s military in the Tigray region laid out eight conditions on Friday for beginning peace talks, including the appointment of an international mediator and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid.

Horrible’: Witnesses recall massacre in Ethiopian holy city | 18 February 2021 | AP

Eritrea disputes AP story detailing massacre in Tigray | 19 February 2021 | AP

Bodies with gunshot wounds lay in the streets for days in Ethiopia’s holiest city. At night, residents listened in horror as hyenas fed on the corpses of people they knew. But they were forbidden from burying their dead by the invading Eritrean soldiers.

Paul Kagame calls for direct UN Security Council intervention in Tigray | 16 February 2021 | Ecofin Agency

For Rwandan president Paul Kagame, the UN, the USA, and other African countries are not sufficiently engaged in finding a solution to the Tigray conflict. This negligence could worsen the crisis in the coming years, he believes.

Mass Atrocities, Including The Use Of Rape And Sexual Violence, In The Tigray Region Of Ethiopia | 16 February 2021 | Forbes

In recent months reports have emerged highlighting the deteriorating situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The ongoing armed conflict began on November 4, 2020, when “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF) to militarily engage with the Tigray Regional Paramilitary Police and militia loyal to the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) in what he stated was a response to multiple attacks by the Tigray security forces on the EDF North Command base in Mekelle and other military camps in Tigray Region.”

Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: ‘I lost my hand when a soldier tried to rape me’ | 15 February 2021 | BBC News

An Ethiopian schoolgirl has told the BBC how she lost her right hand defending herself from a soldier who tried to rape her – and who had also tried to force her grandfather to have sex with her.

Ethiopia confirms widespread rape in conflict-hit north | 12 February 2021 | Reuters

Scores of women have been raped in Ethiopia’s northerly Tigray region, authorities have confirmed, in the chaotic aftermath of an armed conflict last year that ousted the local ruling party.

We’ll be left without families’: Fear in Ethiopia’s Tigray | 11 February 2021 | Associated Press

As soldiers from Eritrea looted the border town of Rama in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, one home became a dispensary for frightened residents seeking medicine in the midst of war. In return, they shared details of killings in nearby communities. An American nurse visiting her family listened in shock.

Ethiopia: Unlawful Shelling of Tigray Urban Areas | 11 February 2021 | HRW

Ethiopian federal forces carried out apparently indiscriminate shelling of urban areas in the Tigray region in November 2020 in violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said today. Artillery attacks at the start of the armed conflict struck homes, hospitals, schools, and markets in the city of Mekelle, and the towns of Humera and Shire, killing at least 83 civilians, including children, and wounding over 300.

The Conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region: What to Know | 10 February 2021 | Council on Foreign Relations

The military campaign has resulted in a humanitarian crisis and fears of regional instability. A path forward will require international cooperation, careful diplomacy, and an inclusive political process that restores confidence among the country’s diverse population.

Emaciated’ survivors hint at worse in Ethiopia’s Tigray | 10 February 2021 | Associated Press

Many, many severe cases of malnutrition” are being reported in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region, Red Cross officials said Wednesday, as 80% of Tigray’s 6 million people are unreachable in the fourth month of fighting and “emaciated” women and children fill displacement camps.

U.N. official warns of high risk of atrocities in Ethiopia | 6 February 2021 | Reuters

A senior United Nations official warned on Friday that “the risk of atrocity crimes in Ethiopia remains high and likely to get worse” if the country does not urgently combat ethnic violence, stigmatization, hate speech and religious tensions.

Ethiopia – Tigray Region humanitarian update | 4 February 2021 | OCHA

With fighting and ongoing clashes reported in many parts of Tigray, including violence against civilians, the humanitarian situation in the region continues to rapidly deteriorate.

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