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Report: South Sudan Armed Opposition Seized Girls As ‘Wives’

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UN, AU Ask South Sudan's Warring Sides To Deliver On Peace Deal

South Sudan’s armed opposition abducted women and girls as young as 12 and lined them up so commanders could choose “wives,” and those not selected were left to be raped repeatedly by other fighters, a new UN report said on Thursday.

The report , based on victim and witness accounts, gives new details on the surge in violence and abuses that occurred even as South Sudan’s rivals negotiated the latest agreement to end a five-year civil war.

“Most of the abducted civilians are, as far as we know, still being held captive,” new UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

The report focuses on the Western Equatoria region between April and August, saying 900 people were abducted and some 24 000 people forced to flee their homes as fighting surged after months of relative calm. It says opposition forces attacked at least 28 villages and a refugee camp, and abducted young men and boys were made to be fighters or porters.

One survivor said she was “tied to a tree and raped by two fighters until she passed out due to pain and bleeding. When she regained consciousness, she was threatened with rape again.”

While the report also notes “harm to civilians” by South Sudanese troops, it focuses on the armed opposition led by Riek Machar. It notes that the human rights division of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has identified three opposition commanders “who allegedly had effective command and control of the forces committing these abuses, which may amount to war crimes.” The report does not name them.

There was no immediate response on Thursday from the armed opposition.

This is just the latest in a series of reports by the UN and others that have described civilians being raped, shot, hung, tortured and burned. Often the reports say South Sudanese government troops are largely to blame but opposition forces also have been accused.

South Sudan’s latest attempt at a peace deal returns Machar once again to his post as deputy to President Salva Kiir, an arrangement that more than once has led to deadly violence. The civil war erupted in late 2013, just two years after the world’s youngest country won independence from Sudan, when fighting broke out between supporters of Kiir and Machar largely along ethnic lines.

A report last month estimated that the civil war has caused more than 380 000 deaths either through violence or disease as humanitarian efforts struggle in what has been called the world’s most dangerous country for aid workers.

“The abuses in the UN report are horrendous and stress the devastating impact that the continued impunity by forces has had on civilians, especially women and girls,” Nyagoah Pur, a researcher in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press, calling for the speedy establishment of a long-promised hybrid court in South Sudan to prosecute abuses.

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Ghana Opens First Round Of Bidding For Exploratory Licenses

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Ghana Opens First Round Of Bidding For Exploratory Licenses

President Nana Akufo-Addo announced the opening of the country’s first open and competitive round of bidding for energy exploration licenses, with three offshore blocks being offered. Previously, Ghana had awarded leases through a closed negotiation process.

All of the blocks are located in ghana’s central basin. To undertake the exploration and extraction.

Bidders have to show financial capacity and technical expertise and present a timetable for their exploration and development program.

President Akufo-Addo also announced a review of all licensing agreements covering blocks that were inactive, where concession holders had not undertaken the required exploratory or development work.

This move could see a number of blocks re-enter the market, either through competitive bidding or direct negotiations, generating further interest in the upstream component of the industry from both independent operators and major players.

Although the development of these offshore sites will require significant investment, rising international oil prices could well justify the expense.

Development of major offshore oilfields is set to boost export earnings and stimulate investment inflows.

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Namibia National Council Chairperson Tasks MPs On Safe Driving

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Namibia National Council Chairperson Tasks MPs On Safe Driving

As the Namibian National Council adjourned for the holidays on Thursday, chairperson margaret mensah-williams gave an unusual advise to members of parliament. She asked them to take the lead by being safe drivers and obey traffic rules.  She especially harped on obeying speed limits.

She referred to some highways in the country that have historically recorded high numbers of accidents, some of which had involved members of parliament.  One of such fatal accidents recently occurred on the country’s b-one highway.

Mensah-williams advised everyone to be responsible drivers this holiday season, asking drivers to be more patient on the roads.  She said it is unacceptable that road accidents have become the leading causes of death in the country.

She warns against drinking and driving and gender-based violence, appealing to namibians not to rape, kill or abuse their partners and children in anyway whatsoever.

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Angola Admitted Into Gas Exporting Countries Forum As Observing Member

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Angola Admitted Into Gas Exporting Countries Forum As Observing Member

Angola has been admitted into the Gas Exporting Countries Forum as an observer member. GECF is an international governmental organization based in Doha, Qatar.

The group brings together the world’s leading gas producers and supports the sovereign rights of member countries over their gas resources.  It also helps them with their rights and capability to manage, develop, use and conserve those resources in a way that is sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly.

Executive Chairman of African Energy Chamber, N.J. Ayuk said this is a step in the right direction for Namibia, and it’s in line wth the country’s  economic goals and projects.  He also said this would help in expanding economic diversification.

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