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Russia, Sudan Foster Deal Among Central African Militia

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Russia, Sudan Foster Deal Among Central African Militia

Russia and Sudan have hosted talks in Khartoum among some of the Central African Republic’s rival militias, Central African Republic officials said on Wednesday, while documents showed the groups had signed a preliminary agreement.

The meeting in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday unfolded in parallel to an official mediation effort in the troubled Central African Republic led by the African Union (AU).

Russia and Sudan “took the step of holding a meeting in Khartoum with the heads of armed groups,” Communications Minister Ange-Maxime Kazagui said in a statement read on national radio.

The Central African Republic exploded into violence following the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize, a Christian, by majority-Muslim militias in a coalition called the Seleka.

France, the former colonial power, intervened to oust the Seleka and the UN deployed a peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, in 2014.

But President Faustin-Archange Touadera, elected in 2016, controls only a fraction of the country.

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Most of the territory is overrun by armed groups, many of which claim to protect Christian or Muslim communities, and which often fight bloodily over resources.

Violence has led to thousands of deaths, while according to the UN, nearly 700 000 people have been internally displaced, 570 000 are refugees abroad and 2.5 million are in need of humanitarian aid.

Three Seleka groups and a nominally Christian militia leader signed a “declaration of understanding” in Khartoum on Tuesday, according to the document, which was obtained by AFP.

The three Seleka groups are the Popular Front for the Rebirth of the Central African Republic (FPRC), led by Noureddine Adam; the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), led by Ali Darassa; and the Central African Patriotic Movement (MPC), led by Mahamat Al-Khatim.

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Maxime Mokom, who heads one of the biggest nominally Christian armed groups, also signed the document.

Russian role

The initiative in Khartoum marks the latest sign of Russia’s deepening involvement in the Central African Republic, a country that is poor and fragile but strategically located and rich in gold, copper, iron ore and uranium.

Since the start of the year, Russia has supplied weapons to the Central African Republic army after gaining UN authorisation to do so and provides close protection for Touadera, whose security advisor is Russian.

It has also sent five military officers and 170 civilians as “instructors” for Central African Republic’s armed forces, even though its troops are already being trained by the European Union.

On the diplomatic front, Russia has twice attempted to mediate among the militias in the past two months, but without success.

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The Central African Republic communique on Wednesday said the government “takes note of the declaration” signed in Khartoum but “supports the AU’s initative for peace and reconciliation.”

The AU, supported by the UN and the Central African Republic’s main partners, has been striving to set up negotiations between the militias and the government since July 2017 but progress has been scant.

An AU panel is scheduled to meet with the militias in the coming days in Bouar, western Central African Republic, to “harmonise” 97 claims that the armed groups have set down ahead of any official agreement.

Seven peace agreements have been signed in the Central African Republic over the past half-dozen years but none has had a lasting effect.

African News

Zimbabwe: Government, Civil Servants Agree Salary Deal

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Zimbabwe: Government, Civil Servants Agree Salary Deal

Zimbabwe government and civil servants have finally agreed to a salary accord after the government increased its offer to four hundred million dollars, up by fifty million.

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This means government workers and civil servants will each receive an increment of a hundred twenty-nine dollars effective on April the first.

Negotiations for a further salary review, possibly in June, will continue with consideration of other non-monetary incentives.

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Apex council chairperson, Cecilia Alexander, says the welfare negotiations will continue until the welfare of civil servants improved.

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African News

Niger’s Top Court Outlaws ‘Fifth Wife’ Sex-Slave Maids

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Niger's Top Court Outlaws 'Fifth Wife' Sex-Slave Maids

Niger’s top court has outlawed the practice of keeping women as maids and sex slaves known as “fifth wives.”  This ends a decade-long legal battle by one victim that lawyers say could inspire others in the West African nation to seek justice.

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UK-based anti-slavery international, says the “fifth wife” custom, also known as “wahaya,” is when, in addition to the four wives permitted by Islam, rich men take on other, unofficial wives who live as domestic and sexual slaves.

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Thomson-Reuters Foundation says a Nigerien court had initially ruled in favor of the victim’s master, but she appealed the decision.  Last month, the Niger court of appeals ruled that her first marriage was never valid and that all “fifth wife” marriages are illegal.

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African News

Gunmen Abduct Student Football Team In Cameroon

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Gunmen Abduct Student Football Team In Cameroon

Gunmen have abducted twenty University of Buea male football team members in Cameroon’s southwest. A report says university Vice-Chancellor, Ngono Horace Manga, has confirmed the incident.

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The Vice-Chancellor is quoted as saying armed men stormed the university’s football ground and ordered the players who were training for an upcoming competition to leave with them.

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Manga also said the kidnappers contacted university authorities and demanded a ransom.  He did not disclose the amount for which they were asking.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

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