The government of the Republic of Congo on Saturday agreed a ceasefire with rebels in the southeast region of Pool, halting a 15-year conflict that rights groups say has cost dozens of lives and forced tens of thousands to flee.
Political violence spiked in the Central African oil producer after a contested presidential election in April 2016 was won by President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled for 33 of the last 38 years.
A militia led by Frederic Bintsamou, better known as Pastor Ntumi, which fought Sassou Nguesso during and after a 1997 civil war, has been blamed by the government for deadly raids on police, military and government bases, and has also halted trade through the Pool region with blockades.
In return, the government has bombed the Pool region, including one helicopter raid last year on a residential area that Amnesty International said killed at least 30 people.
The unrest has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes and sparked allegations from human rights groups of abuse by government troops.
Ntumi’s so-called “Ninja” rebels have clashed with the Congo government since 2002 and have long sought an end to government military intervention in the Pool region.
The peace agreement between the two sides was signed by the Interior Ministry security advisor François Ndé and Pastor Ntumi’s representative, Jean Gustave Ntondo.
“Today is a great day for the Congolese. This is the day we have just signed the cessation of hostilities agreement,” said Ntondo.
Under the deal, the militias have agreed to hand over arms and allow the free movement of trade between the capital Brazzaville and the commercial hub of Pointe Noire. During hostilities, trains and cars were often halted by militias.
The government will oversee a commission that will monitor the peace, and loosen security in the region to allow people to travel to and from their family homes.
Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe
Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.
The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).
The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.
According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.
It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.
“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.
“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”
The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.
Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival
Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.
Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.
But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.
“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.
The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.
Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.
The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.
That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.
Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.
“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.
He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.
“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”
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