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African Press Review 14 December 2017


Rwanda again accuses senior French officials of facilitating the 1994 genocide. Aid agencies in South Sudan have asked for 1.5 billion euros to avert the growing humanitarian crisis. South African President Jacob Zuma had a bad day in court. And Pierre Nkurunziza opens the campaign to change Burundi's constitution to let him remain in power until 2034.

Rwanda has issued a new report accusing senior French officials of facilitating the 1994 genocide, regional paper the East African tells us.

The report, issued yesterday, was prepared by US law firm Cunningham Levy Muse, commissioned by Kigali following a decision by Rwanda to investigate senior French officials for their role in the 1994 tragedy.

It documents the role of French military and government officials in abetting the massacres, which began on 7 April 1994.

The report alleges that French officials facilitated the flow of weapons into Rwanda in the build-up to the genocide, despite knowing about violent attacks against the minority Tutsis.

The report further says that private communications between French officials reveal that France's Opération Turquoise, which was presented as a humanitarian mission, in fact had the military objective of propping up the interim government responsible for the genocide and preventing its removal by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, whose fighters eventuality halted the atrocities in July 1994.

France is further accused of protecting suspected killers and of obstructing attempts to bring them to justice at various points during the 23 years since the genocide.

Kigali maintains that the genocide was planned and executed with the knowledge and support of France. Paris has yet to react to the new report.

Six million people in danger in South Sudan

Aid agencies in South Sudan have asked for 1.5 billion euros to avert the growing humanitarian crisis.

The humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, Alain Noude’hou, said the cash would provide critical assistance to more than six million people affected by the conflict.

The South Sudan conflict has forced about four million people to flee their homes.

Noude’hou further said the continuous conflict in some parts of the country was accelerating the rates of hunger and malnutrition.

Meanwhile, President Salva Kiir's administration has apologised for gross human rights violations committed against civilians by some state officials and institutions during the four years of fighting between government forces and rebels.

Zuma gets zapped by Pretoria High Court

Jacob Zuma is back in the legal wars.

According to the top story in BusinessDay, the High Court in Pretoria yesterday ordered the South African president to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of "state capture" within the next 30 days. This had already been demanded by South Africa's former public protector, Thuli Madonsela.

"State capture" refers to the alleged taking of executive decisions by persons close to the president, who had no elected mandate. Zuma’s son Duduzane and his friends the Guptas are at the heart of the state capture allegations.

Zuma claimed that the public protector did not have the power to instruct the president on how to exercise his executive powers. The court yesterday decided otherwise and ordered Zuma to pay legal costs in a personal capacity.

Nkurunziza could rule Burundi until 2034

There are no such problems for Burundi's president. Yesterday Pierre Nkurunziza launched a campaign to change the constitution in a move that could see him rule until 2034.

The government adopted a plan in October to revise the constitution. If that change is passed by the referendum, it would allow Nkurunziza to serve a further two seven-year terms from 2020.

Burundi was plunged into crisis in 2015 when he won a controversial third five-year term.

Opposition figures have already denounced the referendum project as the death knell for the peace agreement signed in 2000 to end a 13-year civil war in which more than 300,000 people were killed.

Earlier this week the Bujumbura government launched a fundraising drive for the 2020 elections. Contributions are officially described as "voluntary" but have been condemned by rights groups as "organised robbery".

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