Rwandan and Mozambican troops retook the port city of Mocímboa da Praia from Islamist militants—their last stronghold in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province. The 1,000 Rwandan troops, who arrived in the country last month to help the government battle a four-year insurgency, have proved their effectiveness in a series of skirmishes. They are also being joined by units from regional neighbors Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. But analysts are warning that the insurgents—known colloquially as al-Shabab—are choosing not to stand their ground, preferring to retreat into the countryside. Military force doesn’t address the drivers of the conflict, nor does it prevent ill-disciplined Mozambican troops—who often struggle to distinguish between insurgent and civilian—from stoking further tensions through abuses of the populace. More than 3,000 people have been killed and 820,000 displaced by the conflict. (Map via Moscow Times)
At least three people are dead following an outbreak of inter-communal violence in Djibouti. Fighting erupted in several areas between members of the Afar ethnic group, which straddles Djibouti’s borders with Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Issa, the country’s other main ethnicity, which is a sub-group of the Somali people and straddles the borders with Ethiopia and Somalia. Issa protesters blocked the rail line and road connecting Djibouti’s port to Ethiopia, a key artery for the landlocked Horn of Africa giant. The violence came in response to a deadly attack on Somali Issa civilians four days earlier within Ethiopia. Fighters from Ethiopia’s Afar region raided the town of Gedamaytu (also known as Gabraiisa) in neighboring Somali region, reportedly killing hundreds of residents. The two regions have long been at odds over three contested kebeles (districts) on their shared border, which are predominately inhabited by Issa but located within the regional boundaries of Afar. (Map: ISS Africa)
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi is usually wary of foreign military intervention. But the grim situation in Cabo Delgado seems to have forced his hand. Rwanda is deploying a 1,000-strong force to the insurgency-hit northern province. And troops from the Southern African Development Community regional bloc are also set to arrive. Reports suggest the Rwandans will set up around the Afungi peninsula, where a multi-billion dollar gas project is located. Their battlefield enemy—known locally as al-Shabab—is formidable and entrenched, as Mozambique’s army and its mercenary allies know well. Lost in the military chatter is much mention of Cabo Delgado’s worsening humanitarian crisis: More than 700,000 people have been uprooted, and close to a million are now facing severe hunger. (Map via Moscow Times)
The Biden administration on March 10 designated two alleged affiliates of the Islamic State, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, as “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” The State Department named as FTOs the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in DR Congo and… Read moreAfrican ISIS franchises make US ‘terrorist list’
Twelve rangers were among 17 people killed in an attack by gunmen within Virunga National Park, the critical highland gorilla preserve on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Park administrators said rangers came under “a ferociously violent and sustained ambush” as they were coming to the aid of a civilian vehicle being waylaid by armed men outside a village. The gunmen are believed to belong to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), one of several armed factions that have for years been using the park as a staging ground, and are linked to poaching and illegal logging operations. (Photo: Virunga National Park)
The government of Rwanda, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the African Union signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a transit mechanism for evacuating refugees out of Libya. According to a joint statement, around 4,700 are currently being held in detention centers in Libya and urgently need to be transferred to safety. Under the agreement, refugees and asylum-seekers currently being held in Libya will be transferred to Rwanda on a “voluntary” basis. Evacuees will then either be resettled to third countries, be returned to countries where asylum had previously been granted, be returned to their home countries if it is safe to do so, or be given permission to remain in Rwanda subject to agreement by the competent authorities. (Photo: Alessio Romenz/UNICEF)
The Democratic Republic of Congo recruited former M23 rebel fighters to protect President Joseph Kabila after protests broke out last December over his refusal to step down at the end of his constitutionally mandated two terms, Human Rights Watch reports. During the protests, at least 62 people were killed and hundreds arrested. The crisis de-escalated when Kabila agreed to hold elections by the end of 2017, and not run again. But the elections were never held, and have now been scheduled for the end of 2018—prompting renewed protests.
Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, a wanted militia leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, turned himself in to UN peacekeeping forces after six years on the run. He will be transferred to DRC authorities to stand trial for crimes against humanity. Sheka is a former commander of the Mai-Mai, a paramilitary network established by the DRC government to fight Rwanda's proxy forces in the 1990s.
The International Criminal Court declared unanimously that Congolese ex-military leader Jean-Pierre Bemba is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda formally closed after issuing 45 judgments, with 61 sentenced to terms of up to life imprisonment for involvement in the 1994 genocide.
Rwandans approved a referendum potentially allowing President Paul Kagame to stay in power for another 17 years—drawing protests from the US State Department.
The trial of former Congolese rebel leader Bosco "Terminator" Ntaganda began at The Hague—the first defendant to surrender to the International Criminal Court.