Africa Theater

Sudan: Darfur rebels sentenced to death

A Sudanese court Aug. 18 sentenced eight Darfur rebels to death, including the half-brother of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim. Abdul Aziz Ashur and others were found guilty on charges related to a May rebel attack on Khartoum, in which at least 200 died. In June, Sudanese security forces arrested more than 100 JEM members in connection with the attack. Later that month, 39 accused Darfur rebels appeared before special courts to be tried under a 2001 anti-terrorism law.

Coup d'etat in Mauritania: slave system strikes back?

The international community is condemning the Aug. 6 military ouster of Mauritania's President Sidi Mohamed ould Cheikh Abdallahi and Prime Minister Yahya ould Ahmed Waghf. The coup started just hours after a presidential decree that declared the dismissal of Mauritania's top four military leaders. By the morning, soldiers had barricaded and occupied the presidential palace. Coup leaders announced the creation of a state council to be led by head of the presidential guard, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz—who told the reporters the takeover was not a coup, but rather an attempt to restore security. He cited security problems, including terrorism, that only the army is capable of eradicating.

Eritrea vs. Djibouti: our readers write

No, it's not a football match. Our July issue featured the story "Shake Djibouti: Eritrea Crisis Destabilizes Imperialism's Horn of Africa Beachhead" by Sarkis Pogossian, on the brief war between the two states in June. Pogossian writes: "While Eritrea increasingly poses itself as an anti-imperialist vanguard in the region, much smaller Djibouti remains a de facto Western protectorate, hosting both French and US military forces for policing the region. Despite a halt in the fighting, the crisis has not been resolved—and France has already jumped into the fray." Our July Exit Poll was: "Are you rooting for Eritrea or Djibouti?" We received the following responses:

Human Rights Watch: rapes, killings continue in Congo

From Human Rights Watch, July 21, via Congo Planet:

Congo Peace Accord Fails to End Killing of Civilians
Brussels — The killing and rape of civilians in the eastern province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues at a horrifying rate despite the signing of a peace accord six months ago, Human Rights Watch said today. The agreement was supposed to stop such attacks.

China biggest player in Congo mineral rush

The Chinese Railway Engineering Company is rebuilding 2,050 miles of roads in the Democratic Republic of Congo, abandoned in the jungle after the Belgian colonialists pulled out 48 years ago and further shattered by years of war. The vast project, which will triple Congo's current paved road network, is part of China's largest investment in Africa, a $9 billion infrastructure-for-minerals deal signed in January. Beijing has also pledged to repair 2,000 miles of railways, build 32 hospitals and 145 clinics, expand the electrical grid, construct two hydropower dams and two new airports. In return, China wins the rights to five copper and cobalt mines in Congo's southern mineral belt. (The Telegraph, July 14)

BBC: China "fueling war in Darfur"

BBC's Panorama TV crew claims to have uncovered the first evidence that China is providing military aid to Sudan's Darfur counter-insurgency operations, in violation of an international embargo. The crew, traveling deep in Darfur's desert with a rebel faction, reportedly found a Chinese Dong Feng army trucks the insurgents had captured from government forces. Plates on one truck show it was imported after the embargo. Rebels also told the crew that China was training Sudanese fighter pilots who fly Chinese A5 Fantan fighter jets in Darfur. (BBC, July 13)

Mauritania: refugee repatriation begins —as democratic transition founders

<em />Mauritanian refugees in SenegalMauritanian refugees in SenegalMauritania's new government resigned July 3, pre-empting a no-confidence motion filed by dissidents from the ruling National Pact for Democracy and Development (PNDD). But President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi immediately reappointed Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waghf. (AFP, July 3) The no-confidence measure was also supported by the main opposition parties, the Democratic Forces Rally (RFD) and New Forces for Change (NFC). NFC Prime Minister Zeine Ould Zeidane was forced to resign in early May, after a year in office marked by a food crisis and terror attacks. Opposition leaders denounced the return to office of many officials from the Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya dictatorship, ousted in 2005. (Afriquenligne, July 3)

Somalia: Islamists attack traditional dance ceremony

Armed Islamic Courts Union fighters assaulted at "cultural boogie" at El-Ghelle village, Balad district, some 30 kilometers north of Mogadishu in Somalia late June 29, residents said. The fighters reportedly opened fire on a circle where drummers, singers and musicians were playing for a traditional dance. A man and women were wounded, while other participants fled barefooted to bush. In their six months in power, the ICU banned music and repeatedly raided wedding parties in Mogadishu. (Shabelle Media Network, Mogadishu,, June 30)

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