African press review 1 October 2016

The UN Human Rights Council decides to take a hard look at killings and torture in Burundi. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says it is unable to confirm claims by Amnesty International that Sudanese government forces had used toxic arms in Darfur. And Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini gets off the hook on hate speech charges.


The main story in regional paper the East African reports that the United Nations Human Rights Council agreed yesterday to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate alleged violations including killings and torture in Burundi.

The moves come barely a week after UN investigators released a report accusing the government in Bujumbura of being behind systematic human rights abuses.

That report warned of crimes against humanity as well as a possibility of the country descending into civil war.

The UN rights council adopted yesterday's resolution submitted by the European Union by a vote of 19 countries in favour, seven against, including Russia and China, with 21 abstaining.

The council is made up of 47 member states with Burundi being one of them.

Burundi opposed yesterday's resolution saying the country has a national commission that is already probing the abuses and bringing perpetrators to justice.

According to the authorities in Bujumbura, at least 150 police officers have been prosecuted including 59 jailed and 37 dismissed from service since April 2015 when protests erupted against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office.

Chemical weapons body unable to confirm accusations against Sudan

Also in the East African, news that the global chemical weapons watchdog said yesterday that it was unable to confirm allegations that Sudanese government forces had used toxic arms in Darfur.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it had examined the report released on Thursday by Amnesty International.

Amnesty said more than 30 chemical weapons attacks were believed to have been carried out as part of a military campaign against rebels in Darfur's Jebel Marra between January and September.

Amnesty alleged that between 200 and 250 people may have died as a result, backing up its allegations with interviews with over 200 survivors and photographs of children suffering from apparent chemical burns.

But the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it needed further information and evidence before it would be possible to draw any conclusions.

Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations rejected Amnesty International's report as "baseless and fabricated".

Goodwill Zwelithini gets off the hook on hate speech charges

Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay reports that the South African Human Rights Commission yesterday criticised the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini for telling foreigners to go back to their countries at the height of last year's wave of xenophobic violence.

The Zulu monarch had‚ by making multiple references to foreign nationals as "criminals"‚ attacked a vulnerable minority, the commission found, but ruled that this did not amount to hate speech.

Neither could the Zulu king's comments be interpreted as "instigating violence" against migrants‚ the commission said.

Zwelithini made the comments at a moral regeneration event in KwaZulu-Natal in March 2015.

Zwelithini initially denied telling foreigners to back to their countries until media replayed a recording of his speech. The king defended his statement‚ saying the media had distorted his words to sell newspapers.

Interest rates up in DRC in an effort to slow inflation

The central bank in the Democratic Republic of Congo has raised the main interest rate from two percent to seven percent in a bid to control inflation, as low commodity prices continue to batter the economy of Africa’s top copper producer.

The government slashed its 2016 budget in June by nearly one quarter because of falling revenue from the mining and oil sectors, which account for about 95 percent of export earnings.

It has also cut earlier growth estimates from nine percent to 4.3 percent.

Appeal against Uganda's homosexuality legislation thrown out

The Kampala-based Daily Monitor reports that the Arusha-based East African Court of Justice has thrown out a case in which a Uganda civil society group challenged the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 as being contrary to the rule of law and good governance.

Dismissing the case, the panel of three judges held that the regional court could not pronounce on the matter since the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 had already been annulled by the Constitutional Court in Uganda.

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