Father of American citizen whose body was found in DRC with that of fellow UN peacemaker calls on US to honour their memory by ‘paying its UN dues’
Professor John Sharp said his son Michael was a “warm-hearted” man who would never have taken risks or been reckless. The 34-year-old from Indiana was found dead along with Zaida Catalan from Sweden. Their Congolese interpreter Betu Tshintela and three motorbike drivers who were with them remain missing.
Part of the UN group of experts on Congo, Sharp and Catalan were investigating violence and alleged human rights violations by rebel militias when they were abducted on 12 March.
John Sharp said his family had last spoken to Michael just a few weeks before he went missing, as he was about to fly back to DRC after a trip home, to tell him he had become an uncle to a baby boy.
“We spoke to him at the time his younger sister had just given birth and as he was going back to the Congo from New York,” he said.
Sharp said his son, a Mennonite who embraced the “core conviction of peacemaking” that underpins his faith, would have taken all the necessary precautions in planning the fact-finding mission in and around Kananga, the country’s third largest city.
“Michael was meticulous, he followed protocol, he would have felt very responsible for the people working with him so he would have been doubly careful. Nothing about it would have been reckless.”
Sharp had been working in the country for five years and had joined the UN’s panel of experts following a stint with the Mennonite Central Committee in eastern Congo.
In his peace-building role for the religious organisation he became a leading expert on the armed group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.
Through church networks he built trust with commanders from the rebel group, negotiating the release of soldiers and offering them paths to repatriation and demobilisation.
Catalan, his colleague, had left a promising political career in Sweden to join the panel as a humanitarian expert.
Described by friends in Goma as having a “passionate commitment to the truth”, the 36-year-old had previously worked in Afghanistan and Palestine and had extensive experience of conflict resolution and working in hostile environments.
Sharp, a bible teacher in Kansas, admitted it had at times been hard accepting his son would always live in dangerous places, but added: “We always supported him in the choices he made and we were not about to say that because of our fears he should not fulfil his passion.”
Paying tribute to his son, he said: “He had a great sense of irony and humour, could be the centre of a party and was a great story-teller. We often marvelled at his intellectual capacity combined with a warm-hearted compassion.”
He warned that if provision were not made to continue the type of specialist work Michael and his colleagues undertook in the region “it would double the tragedy and the loss”.
“I just hope the tragedy of these deaths will not be compounded by a lack of resolve to continue the peace-building work that the UN has been doing there. Further, I would hope the US government would pay its UN dues so their work can continue.”
The Trump administration has vowed to “reduce or end funding for international organisations whose missions do not substantially advance US foreign policy interests”.
US cuts will fall hard on the DRC, adding pressure to President Joseph Kabila’s government, which is presiding over an an increasingly chaotic landscape. The DRC’s UN mission is among the leading recipients of foreign aid globally.
Parts of the country, particularly the east, have suffered insecurity for decades but violence in Kasai is a new expansion of tensions.
The conflict has escalated since last August, when security forces killed militia leader Kamwina Nsapu. Clashes between government groups and rebel forces have claimed 400 civilian lives and forced 434,000 people from their homes.
The mounting violence included the beheadings of more than 40 police officers whose bodies were found towards the end of last month. On Tuesday, 13 new mass graves were discovered in central Congo, bringing the total to 23.
It is believed the UN investigators planned to research the structural organisation of the relatively new militia group and investigate allegations about the use of child fighters.
They had met with local people, government and military officials in Kananga before heading south of the city on motorbikes as part of plans to meet the militia group. It was then, in Dibaya territory, they went missing.
After villagers discovered their bodies in shallow graves near a river, a government official reported: “The woman was beheaded.”
The UN has launched an inquiry into the killings as the search continues for the three other Congolese nationals.
The NGO community has been left shaken by the deaths. Michael Sharp’s friend Rachel Sweet, of the Congo Research Group, said the deaths were unprecedented.
She said sources in Kananga claimed it would be unusual for Kamwina-Nsapu to kidnap people in this way, adding that it is not yet clear who is responsible.
“We have no clear proof in any given direction so we must wait for answers from the investigations team,” she said.
She added: “Michael is someone who at this moment would remind us of peace and not vengeance as the solution. Both he and Zaida would be the first to situate their own deaths within the broader context of what is happening in Congo.
“They would want us to organise the same effort to understand the deaths of all the hundreds of Congolese who have been killed, even just in the past few weeks since their kidnapping.”
Go To War Because You Can Win Not Because You Are Angry – Southern Cameroonians Advised
Of recent, there has been increasing calls towards self defence for Ambaland.
Coincidentally, its 50 years anniversary since the Southern Part of Nigeria thought they could defend Biafraland.
Its also about 30 years since Ahidjo and Northerners launched a coup d’etat bc Biya’s government had tricked them out of power.
Is approximately 20 years since Nigeria suffered a big blow in Bakassi in war with lrc
They had one thing in common AK47. They also had one thing in common, they all LOST
Proponents of self defence says there has never been independence without war. On the contrary, all African Countries had independence from the UN except for Ethiopia and Liberia that were never colonized. The rest used diplomatic means. The first being Ghana.
Before you start to buy your AKs evaluate the strength of your enemies. Cameroun has the 7th strongest military in Africa. Nigeria could not move an inch in Bakassi, Ahidjo was crippled in less than hours.
I do not want to overemphasize on human casualties, pictures speaks for themselves.
Diplomacy for SCACUF does not exclude self defence but must be government. Strategy will not be a problem when that time comes.
We can make the land (un)governing for lrc.
Parents should keep their children home for a second blank school year
There is no lrc election in Ambaland ever. Those hosting ELECAM should consider their buildings
CDC SONARA workers etc should consider quitting except they need help
SCACUF’s power rests on us
If you start war now this fight ends up in museums after 50 years. After all the the Biafrans are learning from us.
Ambazonia (Southern Cameroon) – The Will To Win, The Desire To Change Our Fate By Dr Akwanga
Top Southern Cameroonian Non Violence Freedom Figher, Dr Akwanga Talks on Will to win, the desire to be free and the urge to change our fate. In this video Dr Akwanga speaks on the way forward for the freedom of southern Cameroon.
Angolan Opposition Parties Rejects Election Results Declared By The Electoral Commission (CNE)
Angolan Opposition parties declares the results of the just concluded August 23rd Presidential polls illegitimate. Angola’s long serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been the president of the oil rich African country for 40 years will soon hand over to a successor. However, 4 opposition parties has declared the results of the election illegal and unconstitutional. MPLA and 3 other political parties rejected the results declared by the National Electoral Commission, (CNE)
Something has happened with the Angolan elections of August 23 that may well be a first in Africa, if not universally. The spokesperson of the National Electoral Commission (CNE) yesterday announced “preliminary results” of the general elections when votes had not been tallied at municipal, provincial, or national levels.
The CNE official simply read a statement saying that the ruling MPLA, in power for the last 42 years, had won the elections by 64.57%, a landslide. According to the official, the main opposition UNITA trailed behind with 24.04%, the coalition CASA-CE came in third with 8.56%, while three other parties split the remainder of the votes.
With the 63% of the votes the CNE claims to have been counted, it has already gone ahead to allocate the 220 parliamentary seats, giving the ruling MPLA a two-thirds majority with 154 seats. After the public’s disbelief, CNE lowered MPLA’s majority to 61.10% and 150 seats.
The election results are: “False,” “fabricated,” “invented,” and “made up” are some of the words that various watchers and monitors of the electoral process have used to describe the results and numbers announced by CNE. Nowhere in Angola’s 18 provinces were votes tallied beyond the polling station.
Members of the National Electoral Commission who were on duty at the local, provincial and national level have confirmed that they did not observe or undertake any collation or tallying of results. Seven members of the National Electoral Commission board held a night press conference yesterday to distance themselves from the announced results.
They stated in no uncertain terms that there had been no official tallying of results anywhere beyond the polling stations. Furthermore, they explained that, by law, they must certify the tallying at the national level with all of their signatures for any official results to be valid.
That, however, did not happen. The situation was the same at the municipal and provincial levels. There was no tallying and, therefore, no certification of results took place at either of those levels.
But it does not matter anymore. Prior to the announcement by the spokesperson of CNE, Júlia Ferreira, the head of political and electoral affairs of MPLA, João Martins had already rallied the national and international media to claim victory by a landslide.
What numbers he put out were the very same ones read out later by CNE’s spokesperson.
It does not seem to matter anymore because the international media, whose opinion or verdict is, for better or worse, often important to lend credibility to elections in places like Angola, had already concluded even before a single vote was cast, that the MPLA would win comfortably.
Whether that win would be procured by fair or foul means was of no moment to them. The only thing they seemed interested in was to know a little bit more about Dos Santos’s sucessor – General João Lourenço.
A number of international observers, particularly Portuguese politicians, predictably praised the elections as “perfect”.
What now? As a critical Angolan citizen it is my duty to question the whole process. There is already an international narrative established by the international media and political pundits about the comfortable win of MPLA.
Why couldn’t the National Electoral Commission abide by the law, and have the votes tallied? In the past three elections (1992, 2008, 2012), there was no shame in stuffing ballots, and other tricks in the book to ensure predetermined “landslide victories”. But at least the Electoral Law was observed as far the tallying of the results.
This time there was a major difference.
The opposition organized itself to undertake parallel tallying of the votes. They had battled hard for the electoral law to be observed as far as the monitoring of the polling stations and access of the official and signed copies of local results.
Also, the broader use of smartphones helped. Within minutes copies of the certified polling station results were being disseminated in the social media, as citizens took a keen interest in monitoring the elections.
By law, the results of each polling station must be posted locally for the public to see, immediately after they have been certified by the local members of the Electoral Commision and agents of the competing political parties.
As the evening progressed on August 23, it became clear from the certified results at polling stations across the country that the ruling MPLA would not coast comfortably to victory. In fact, it was well on the way to losing in the capital Luanda. That was when the official tallying of the votes at local, provincial and national levels was suspended.
Ordinary Angolans have long been fed up with the kleptocratic regime of the MPLA and the accompanying neglect by the government of its social responsibilities, a severe economic crisis, widespread joblessness, and decades of misrule and sheer incompetence.
What happened in these elections is that the Angolan people came to understand the value of the secrecy of the vote. MPLA could no longer control the hearts and minds of people through fear mongering, outright repression and corruption.
Yet, MPLA has proven to be a master manipulator of the international media by getting it to buy into its narratives that serve to perpetuate and legitimize its power. This time it has managed yet again to procure international acceptance of the outright stealing of elections in the most crude and unbelievable manner: No tallying of the results.
Angolan voters have been robbed. These elections have cost over half a billion dollars. Recently, the National Electoral Commission received an additional US $250 million from the presidency, from a slush fund, according to some sources. What for?
For the international community it might be just business as usual with the Angolan regime. All that conversation about democracy and rule of law has never been meant sincerely. The Southern Africa Development Community Observation Mission has already declared the Angolan elections free and fair.
Angolans must learn how to overcome the fractures of its social fabric to band together in ending this state of affairs and this regime of bandits.
Cameroon Hopes Of Qualifying For World Cup Over After 4-0 Defeat To Nigeria
Hugo Broos admitted that Cameroon’s 2018 World Cup qualification hopes are all but over following their 4-0 defeat to Nigeria on Friday in Uyo.
The Super Eagles are top of Group B on nine points after three matches, seven ahead of African champions Cameroon.
They meet again in Yaounde on Monday, with Broos admitting there is nothing but pride at stake.
“There is no pressure anymore on Monday, Nigeria have nine points, we have two points,” Broos said.
“But there is only an honour to defend, there is no importance to this. I just hope my players will have the same mentality that I have – that they will fight on Monday till the last minute – to beat Nigeria.
“If we had won this game, we would have a chance, but we lost it and I hope everyone will learn from this.”
Goals from Odion Ighalo, John Mikel Obi, Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho sealed the win, with Broos refusing to hold any hopes of a ‘miraculous’ route to Russia.
“Why should we have a chance to the World Cup? We need to win all three games and Nigeria have to lose all three games, I don’t think that will happen,” said the Cameroon boss.
Cameroon are the reigning champions of Africa after their triumph over Egypt in the Nations Cup final in Gabon earlier this year.
The Indomitable Lions have played at seven Fifa World Cups and their best outing was at the 1990 World Cup where they reached the quarterfinals.
Equatorial Guinea – One Stop Business Window To Open Before The End Of 2017
The Minister for the Promotion of Small and Medium-sized Businesses, Hermes Ela Mifumu, has revealed that the One-stop Business Window could be in operation by the end of 2017.
The meeting took place at the headquarters of this Ministry in Malabo II, where the minister Ela Mifumu made the declaration alongside the Executive Council.
“The ministry expects that the One-stop Business Window, after going through all the procedures, beginning today, should be operational at the end of this year, 2017”, declared Ela Mifumu.
During the meeting, and after analysing the package of laws involved in the launch, the minister Ela Mifumu, together with the executive at the ministry, representatives of SMEs and the agency in charge of the project, agreed to submit the document to the Presidency of the Government for approval.
Gabonese, Solena Ndama Wins Gold European Junior Athletics Championship
Athletics: a Gabonese gold medalist at the world championships
Born on September 23, 1998, the young Franco-Gabonese Solène Ndama, recently won the European Junior Athletics Championships in Grosseto, Italy, winning a gold medal in 100m hurdles in 13 ”.While Gabon’s athletics disappeared from the radars internationally, the young Franco-Gabonese Solène Ndama who lives in Bordeaux won the gold medal on 100 m hurdles in 13”15 at the European Junior Championships Of Grosseto in Italy.Very sure of her, the Franco-Gabon dominated her opponents in the series and semi-finals of the 100 m hurdles. In the final, young Ndama improved her personal best in 13”15 (+01) to claim this gold medal.Very closely followed by the Gabonese Olympic Committee led by Folquet Léon Louis, Solène Ndama was champion of France. She had recently won the women’s final in the junior category of 60m hurdles in 82”42 at the stadium Pierre Guinon.
Angolan Presidential Election – Job, Corruption Top On João Lourenço’s Agenda
João Lourenço was speaking Saturday in central Huambo province during a public rally that kick-started his party’s electoral campaign.
João Lourenço mentioned decentralization of public services as other measures MPLA will take to improve the living of the population, should it win the forthcoming 23 August election.
The politician said that “if the fight against corruption fails, the whole organization of the national economy will be affected.”
He spoke of the need for a greater attention to the economy in order to improve the country’s business environment and attract more foreign investment.
João Lourenço also mentioned measures to fight the regional asymmetries, by taking development into the inland regions of the country and significantly reduce bureaucracy.
The ruling MPLA party’s presidential candidate spoke of the need for a fairer distribution of the national wealth, through social and economic inclusion policies, so that more people gain access to businesses.
With 763,936 registered voters, Huambo ranks fourth among the country’s most disputed electoral regions.
In the 2012 election, MPLA grabbed four of the five parliamentary seats of Huambo’s constituency.
Six parties are gearing to the fourth Angolan general election. They are the ruling MPLA party, and opposition UNITA, PRS, FNLA, APN and CASA-CE coalition.
Central Africa – Suspected Christian Militia Kill Two Moroccan Peace Keepers
Bangui – Two United Nation Peace-Keepers in Central Africa Republic, from Morocco has been killed by suspected Christian Militia. The mission said this is the second deadly attack on Moroccan forces this week.
The peacekeepers were ambushed by suspected anti-balaka fighters in the town of Banagassou, 700 kilometers (435 miles) east of the capital Bangui, as they stocked up on water to deliver to the population, the mission said in a statement.
Thousands have died in an ethnic and religious conflict that broke out when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.
Tuesday’s raid, which injured a third soldier, followed similar attacks by suspected anti-balaka fighters in the diamond-mining town in recent days, including one on Sunday that killed a Moroccan peacekeeper and left three others wounded.
The violence has prompted several humanitarian organizations to suspend their activities in Bangassou, where fighting in May killed at least 115 people.
It also points to the inability of the 13,000-strong U.N. force to contain violence in a country where government control barely extends outside the capital.
“I am shocked by these new losses of human life and I firmly condemn this flagrant violation of the right to life and of international law,” mission chief Parfait Onanga-Anyanga said in the statement.
Violence has escalated in Central African Republic since former colonial power France ended its peacekeeping mission in the country last year, and despite a peace deal signed between the government and rival factions in Rome last month.
Chad – Fight Against Boko Haram, The Joint Multinational Force Gets A New Commander
Several times commander in the military operations against Boko Haram, Major General Leo Irabor is a man full of experiences in the fight against terrorism
Nigeria’s Leo Irabor has replaced his compatriot Lo Adeosun as head of the Mixed Multinational Force (FMM) command. The official change of command ceremony was chaired by the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), FMM Head of Mission Sanusi Imran Abdullahi, on Saturday, 08 July 2017, at the Headquarters of the Force in N’Djamena.
Several times commander in the military operations against Boko Haram in Nigeria and in the border countries, Major General Leo Irabor is a man full of experiences in the fight against terrorism. His appointment comes within the framework of the strategies adopted by the Nigerian army in the fight against Boko Haram where several officers were appointed and assigned to military operations nationally and internationally. Major General Leo Irabo is the fourth commander of the FMM since his installation in Chad.
Founded in 2015, the FMM has genuinely entered into action only from February 2016 when the first major operations were carried out to fight Boko Haram. At least four of them can be mentioned: that of 11 to 14 February 2016 in the Nigerian city of Ngoshe; The 24 February attack in the town of Kumshe in Nigeria near the Cameroon border considered as a rear base of Boko Haram; That of 16 March 2016 in the Cameroonian and Nigerian communities of Djibril and Zamga; And from 10 to 16 March 2016 in the Madawya Forest in Nigeria. Through its presence and actions, the FMM has contributed to a relative improvement in the security situation in the localities around Lake Chad.
2019 AFCON – Cameroon, Gets Ready
Cameroon’s bid to host the 2019 AFCON, the biggest football event in the continent has kept football fans wondering if the country will meet up with CAF’s expectations.
Photo de: 2019 AFCON: Cameroon in the heat of preparations
These sceptics point to the slow progress of work at the construction sites and facilities that will host participants during the 2019 AFCON.
On Thursday 20th July 2019, a CAF executive meeting in Rabat, Morocco made reforms some of which directly concern Cameroon.
1-The number of participating countries at the AFCON competitions increased from 16 t0 24.
2-The tournament moved to the months of June and July from the innitial January.
In view of the new developments, many Cameroonians took to the social media and other media platforms to express worries concerning Cameroon’s readiness to host 24 instead of the 16 countries.
They argue that work has to speed up and the innitial four stadia and three training grounds earmarked to serve during the competition will not be enough.
Before the changes, the sixteen teams to participate at the 2019 Cameroon AFCON had to be divided into four groups.
Group A to be positioned in Yaounde
Group B,Douala and Limbe
Presently, the 24 teams has to be grouped in six.
The most probable option at present is to have Limbe which served as a play ground during the 2017 Women AFCON host a group.
Yaounde with the Ahmadou Ahidjo and the Olembe stadia, can host an additional group.
Thankfully the Italian company,n, Piccini, charged with the construction of the 60000-seater capacity football structure in Olembe only recently assured the public that it will meet the deadline .
Another change in Cameroon’s favour is the competition month that has been moved from January to June.
The gives the country an additional six months
Though many think the 2018 Presidential elections will be a distraction from a smooth preparation, the Minister of Sports and Phisical Education, in a recent media outing, was very reassuring.
As the CAF executive meeting continues in Rabat Morroco, many expect other changes