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Opposition calls for cease fire to end crisis in Cameroon

At the moment there are no channels for dialogue between the government and the rebels.

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Cameroon's Social Democratic Front (SDF) leader Ni John Fru Ndi

Cameroon’s main opposition party on Friday called for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all political prisoners, during talks with Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute on resolving the country’s regional conflict with anglophone separatists.

At the meeting in Bamenda, capital of the restive anglophone Northwest Region, Social Democratic Front (SDF) leader Ni John Fru Ndi also called for the appointment of a mediator for resolving the conflict

“Everyone must be listened to. The SDF is for inclusive political debate on the crisis…,” said SDF official Jean Robert Wafo.

“We can listen to the secessionists without, however, agreeing to the principle,” he said explaining that a “clear and unambiguous” against secession had to be taken.

During Friday’s discussion the federalist SDF recommended four measures to resolve the crisis, according to a party statement received by AFP.

The party called for “an immediate ceasefire” and the demobilisation of all separatist forces as well as “the immediate release of all political prisoners held as part of this crisis” as well as the naming of a mediator to prepare negotiations.

On Thursday, Dion Ngute arrived in Bamenda with the message that the government was ready for dialogue to resolve the regional conflict with separatists, while stressing that independence was not on the table.

He said President Paul Biya was “ready to organise a formal dialogue to resolve the socio-political crisis” while stressing that independence was not on the table.

Since 2017, fighting between government troops and anglophone separatists demanding independence in the Southwest and Northwest regions has killed hundreds and forced nearly 500,000 people from their homes.

English-speaking communities chafe at what they see as discrimination from the French-speaking majority. But the government rejects demands for autonomy and has dispatched thousands of troops in a crackdown.

At the moment there are no channels for dialogue between the government and the rebels.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Monday that Cameroon authorities have regularly tortured and held incommunicado detainees arrested in the government’s crackdown on the armed separatist movement.

In October 2017, radicals declared the creation of the “Republic of Ambazonia,” covering the two English-speaking regions incorporated into francophone Cameroon in 1961.

The declaration went largely unnoticed outside Cameroon, and “Ambazonia” — named after a bay at the mouth of the Douala River — has been recognised by no-one.

Dion Ngute was also due to visit the other anglophone region — the Southwest Region.

The separatist conflict has forced more than 530,000 people to flee their homes while 32,000 others have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.

The UN Security Council will hold its first meeting this month to discuss the country’s separatist conflict.

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Central Africa News

Measles is a bigger threat in DR Congo than Ebola – NGO

Last year, cases more than doubled to almost 350,000 from 2017, according to the World Health Organization

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Measles has killed 2,758 people in DR Congo since January, more than the Ebola epidemic in a year, medical NGO Doctors Without Borders said, and called Saturday for a “massive mobilisation of funds.”

The disease, preventable with a vaccine, has infected over 145,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo between January and early August, it said in a statement.

“Since July, the epidemic has worsened, with a rise in new cases reported in several provinces,” said the NGO that goes by its French acronym MSF.

“Only $2.5 million has been raised out of the $8.9 million required for the Health Cluster response plan  — in stark contrast with the Ebola epidemic in the east of the country, which attracts multiple organisations and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding,” it added.

MSF tweeted that without a “massive mobilisation of funds and response organisations, the current measles outbreak in #DRCongo could get even worse.”

The NGO said it has vaccinated 474,860 children between the ages of six months and five years since the beginning of the year and provided care to more than 27,000 measles patients.

In the country’s east, Ebola has claimed more than 1,900 lives since erupting last August.

Measles is a highly-contagious diseased caused by a virus that attacks mainly children. The most serious complications include blindness, brain swelling, diarrhoea, and severe respiratory infections.

Last year, cases more than doubled to almost 350,000 from 2017, according to the World Health Organization, amid a rise in “anti-vaxxer” sentiment in some countries that can afford the vaccine, and lagging resources for the preventative measure in poor nations.

DR Congo declared a measles epidemic in June.

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76 people survive shipwreck in DR Congo

The motorised boat was carrying around 100 passengers when it capsized on the lake, near the eastern city of Bukavu.

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DR Congo boat accident claims 11 lives, dozens missing

76 people have survived a shipwreck on Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a regional official said Saturday. However, more than a dozen people are feared to have drowned in the same incident.

The motorised boat was carrying around 100 passengers when it capsized on the lake, near the eastern city of Bukavu. 

“We have already registered 76 survivors,” said Swedi Basila, the regional transport minister for South Kivu province, adding that up to 20 people were still missing.

“No body has been found until now,” he told AFP.

The vessel had been on its way to the island of Idjwi when it hit a large rock and capsized, Basila said.

River transport is one of the most used in DR Congo with its numerous waterways. Boat mishaps are common, typically caused by overloading of passengers and cargo.

Tolls are often high because there are no life jackets and many Congolese do not know how to swim.

In April, at least 167 people were killed in two accidents, prompting President Felix Tshisekedi to make it mandatory for boat passengers to have life jackets. 

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DR Congo authorities ban rallies in Kinshasa as tensions rise

Tensions rose in the capital after youths announced they would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister

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UDPS opposition party leader Felix Tshisekedi gestures to supporters as Authorities bans rallies

DR Congo authorities have banned political rallies this week in the capital Kinshasa because of tensions between supporters of President Felix Tshisekedi and those of former leader Joseph Kabila, police said Sunday.

Tshisekedi was elected in December to replace Kabila who presided over sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country for nearly two decades.

Tensions rose in the capital after the youth wing of Tshisekedi’s Democracy and Social Progress party (UDPS) announced it would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister for the senate presidency.

In response, the pro-Kabila Red Berets movement said it would hold a counter-march to support the candidacy of Alexis Thambwe, who is considered by many a hardliner from the Kabila regime.

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Kinshasa police chief General Sylvano Kasongo told state television that given the tensions in the capital, Kinshasa’s governor had banned all political rallies for this week. “He instructed the police to take all appropriate measures. Anyone who attempts to march or disturb the public order this week will find the police in their way,” he said.

UDPS youth wing spokesman Fils Mukoko told reporters they wanted to protest against seeing “the same faces in charge of the country’s institutions or in the government.”

Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition won comfortable majorities in both houses of parliament as well as provincial assemblies, and his supporters also dominated elections for the governorships across the country.

Read also: GNA announces a new political plan, promises elections in Libya

None of the candidates the FCC presented for seven key Senate posts is from Tshisekedi’s CACH alliance in the legislature despite an agreement to work together between the two political blocs.

Six months after Tshisekedi’s inauguration and more than a month after the appointment of Prime Minister Ilunga Ilunkamba, who was proposed by Kabila, CACH and FCC negotiators are still struggling to agree on the composition of the government.

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