by Staff Writers
Maiduguri, Nigeria (AFP) July 27, 2011
Nigeria's defence chief on Wednesday pledged that soldiers who commit abuses will face the law after accusations of dozens killed in security raids in the violence-hit northeast.
"The military has orders of engagement, and all troopers are expected to adhere to the rules of engagement," Chief of Defence Staff Oluseyi Petirin said during a visit to the city of Maiduguri, the epicentre of the violence.
"And those who are found wanting will be directed to face the law."
He told journalists the military had put five soldiers on trial in Maiduguri "for alleged excesses," though he did not provide details.
Nigeria's northeast has been hit by almost daily bomb blasts and shootings in recent weeks blamed on an Islamist sect known as Boko Haram.
Hundreds of troops have been deployed to Maiduguri as a result of the violence, and soldiers have been accused of shooting civilians and burning homes after accusing residents of cooperating with the Islamists.
The violence has prompted some to call for the troops to be withdrawn as well as for dialogue with the Islamists.
"The military is not in Maiduguri for discussion with anybody," Petirin said. "Soldiers wil remain in Maiduguri until peace returns. Those calling for the withdrawal of (the police-military task force) should have a rethink."
Amnesty International has said security forces killed at least 23 people following a bomb blast in Maiduguri on Saturday, while it said 25 people died in a raid following another bomb attack earlier in the month.
The city has been extremely tense, with thousands of residents having fled.
The sect claims to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation of some 150 million people roughly split between Christians and Muslims.
Former Mozambique rebel group to build barracks
"The provinces have asked the (Renamo) president to create their own barracks to defend democracy," Renamo spokesman Fernando Mazanga told AFP.
He said the first barracks will be built in the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Niassa, and in the central provinces of Sofala and Zambezia, one-time Renamo strongholds.
Mazanga said the barracks were needed to protect ordinary Mozambicans, after deadly riots in September last year left 14 dead when police fired live rounds during protests over rising food prices.
"If the government sends agents to attack people, Renamo will defend them," he said.
Renamo accuses ruling party Frelimo of violating the 1992 Rome Peace Accord that ended the southern African country's 16-year civil war, which killed some five million people and displaced millions more.
Under the agreement, a new national defence force was meant to include 15,000 soldiers from each group and divide command posts evenly, but only 5,000 Renamo fighters were incorporated, Mazanga claimed.
He accused President Armando Guebuza's administration of selectively rooting out Renamo soldiers since the leader came to power in 2005.
"From the start of Guebuza's governance Renamo-allied commanders of the national armed forces were dismissed and Renamo-allied soldiers were forcefully demobilised," he said.
Mozambique's military press office denied any forced demobilisations had occurred.
Renamo enjoyed strong support in some areas immediately after the war, but its support has since dwindled.
It claimed just 17.7 percent of the vote at the last elections in 2009, down from 37.7 percent at the first democratic polls in 1994.
Afonso Dhlakama, the party's leader since 1980, claimed 16.4 percent in the presidential race, losing out to Guebuza's 75 percent.
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DR Congo urged to nab war crimes suspects before vote
Washington (AFP) July 26, 2011
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on the Democratic Republic of Congo to bring suspected war criminals to justice ahead of November's general election in the war-ravaged African country. "Even if the elections go well, Congo will not be a paradise afterwards," Anneke van Woudenberg, a senior researcher for HRW, told a conference on DR Congo held at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washing ... read more
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