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Nigerian defence chief pledges trials for abusive soldiers
by Staff Writers
Maiduguri, Nigeria (AFP) July 27, 2011

Eritrea rejects suffering from Horn of Africa drought
Nairobi (AFP) July 28, 2011 - Eritrea has rebuffed calls to reveal the impact of an extreme drought gripping the Horn of Africa on Thursday, calling US concerns a "subversive act."

"The people and government of Eritrea... shall owing to the nation's industriousness, never default on making the grade towards food security," the information ministry said in a editorial posted on its website Thursday.

Last week Johnnie Carson, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said it was presumed that Eritrea has also been affected, warning that people may be at risk.

"Eritrea is a closed and an increasingly reclusive country and its government has not been particularly helpful in sharing data and information about the severity of the food shortages or the drought," Carson said.

Weather analysis suggests Eritrea has also been struck by the drought that has left up to 12 million people struggling for survival across the region.

Tens of thousands of people have died in affected areas which include Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti, the UN warns, but secretive Asmara has resolutely insisted it is "hunger free."

An editorial earlier in July praised efforts to be self-reliant and its ban on foreign aid agencies.

"Eritrea has all on its own managed to maintain a hunger free situation devoid of the hustle and bustle of NGOs, thereby setting self-reliance as a proven standard for others," it said in an editorial this month.

The United States has tense relations with Eritrea, accusing it of backing the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab movement that controls much of southern Somalia.

Eritrea suffered from poor rains in 2009 but president Isaias Afewerki said publically no one was affected.

However, US diplomatic cables leaked by the Wikileaks website reported he had told foreign aid officials in private that Eritrea had struggled from "famine."

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
Maputo (AFP) July 28, 2011 - Mozambique's official opposition party, the former rebel group Renamo, will build barracks for its demobilised soldiers to "defend democracy", its spokesman said Thursday.

"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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Ugandan security forces holding journalist: army
Kampala (AFP) July 27, 2011 - Ugandan security forces are holding a journalist who had been missing for two weeks to investigate him for alleged terrorism offences, an army spokesman said on Wednesday.

Augustin Okello, a reporter for the private radio station Rhino FM in the northern town of Lira, went missing on July 13 following a meeting with a security official.

Army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said that Okello was being investigated for alleged terrorism offences, with accusations of links to a rebel leader who died in May.

"We are carrying out investigations. If we find that he is innocent then then we will release him, but if we find he has a case to answer then we will charge him," Kulayigye said.

Okello has been visited by his wife and is in good condition, he added.

However, Okello's wife has raised a legal challenge due to be heard on Thursday in the high court in Kampala against four top army and police commanders, demanding they produce the reporter in court.

"We are asking for his immediate production before a court of law so that he can be charged," Okello's defence lawyer Makmot Kibwanga told AFP.

Kibwanga said that the defence will also demand that Okello be moved to an officially designated prison and that doctors and lawyers be given access to him.

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Tuesday condemned the journalists continued detention without charge as illegal.

"Authorities must follow the law and bring Okello to court immediately or release him," CPJ official Tom Rhodes said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday also called on Uganda to stop using military courts to prosecute civilians.

More than 1,000 civilians have been court martialled since 2002 despite Ugandas constitutional court ruling that the military cannot try civilians charged with common crimes, the New York-based rights group said in report.

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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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