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The UN chief on Tuesday together with the Security Council, strongly condemned an attack by suspected militia members, on peacekeepers serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which left one Nepali ‘blue helmet’ dead.

In a statement issued by his Deputy Spokesperson, Secretary-General António Guterres said that the attack, believed to be carried out by the Coopérative pour le dévelopement du Congo (CODECO), had taken place which troops from the UN mission MONUSCO, were in Bali, Djugu territory, in Ituri province.

“The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the family of the fallen peacekeeper, as well as to the Government and the people of Nepal”, said the statement, adding that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime.” 

Mr. Guterres called on the Congolese authorities to investigate the incident and “swiftly bring those responsible to justice”.

He said the UN would continue to support the Congolese Government and people through the 18,000-strong MONUSCO mission, in their efforts to bring about peace and stability in the east of the country.

Security Council concern over increase in attacks

The members of the Security Council also delivered rapid condemnation of Tuesday’s attack, expressing their deepest condolences to the family of the victim and to Nepal, as well as to the United Nations.

“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms all attacks and provocations against MONUSCO. They underlined that deliberate attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law. The members of the Security Council called on the Congolese authorities to swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice, and to keep the relevant troop-contributing country informed of the progress.”

The Council also expressed concern “at the increase of armed group activity in the eastern provinces”, and once again, condemned all armed groups operating in the country. They called on “all actors” to end violence and their violations and abuse of international human rights and international humanitarian law.

Ambassadors stressed the importance of MONUSCO “having the necessary capacities to fulfil its mandate and promote, including by taking additional measures as appropriate, the safety and security of the United Nations peacekeepers and its operations, pursuant to relevant Security Council resolutions.”

Helicopter crash

Just last week, a helicopter carrying our reconnaissance for MONUSCO, crashed over eastern DRC, killing eight peacekeepers and UN observers, six from Pakistan, one Russian and one Serbian.

Some reports cited a news release from the Congolese military, accusing an armed group of shooting down the helicopter.

They had been reporting on community displacement movements, following armed attacks, in order to coordinate humanitarian assistance, according to news reports.

The UN said last week that it was too early to establish the exact cause of the crash, which took place in North Kivu, but confirmed that there had been clashes in the days preceding the incident, between M23 militia, and Congolese troops on the ground. Source: UN


Kenya will fine fuel marketers accused of hoarding petrol and diesel as it released Ksh8.2 billion ($71 million) subsidy arrears to petrol retailers to ease nationwide fuel shortage and forestall a crisis.

Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau said on Monday that investigations into the shortage were being finalised, setting the stage for financial penalties and licence withdrawals.

He added that the supply hitches that caused the nationwide fuel shortage are expected to ease from Thursday after oil marketers steeped supplies to stations from depots.

“By Thursday we will be back to normal, today we paid Ksh8.2 billion to the marketers and since yesterday (Sunday) depots were opened and marketers have been working to refill their stations,” Mr Kamau told the Business Daily.

The marketers are said to have gone slow in evacuating their products from the depots to protest delays in the payment of subsidies to the companies.


JUBA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Monday assured the country he would implement the revitalized peace agreement which ended years of conflict despite the challenges facing it.

While addressing a news conference in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, Kiir called for unity in the implementation of the peace deal and assured the country that there was no cause for alarm.

"We all considered this agreement as the path to our stability and I am committed with our partners to implement it. I come before you today to affirm my government's commitment to peace in our country," Kiir told journalists.

He said full implementation of the peace deal cannot be done without having a sustainable dialogue among the parties, noting that parties to the agreement do at times "hit minor bumps on the road" during the process.

"There are challenges we need to confront honestly as a people along with our partners to maintain total peace and bring prosperity to our people," he said.

The president's remarks came after the recent announcement by the main opposition Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-In-Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) to withdraw from the various security mechanisms under the 2018 revitalized peace deal.

Riek Machar, first vice president in the transitional unity government and leader of SPLM/A-IO, cited "unprovoked" attacks on his troops prompting fears of a return to war as the reason for the withdrawal.

Machar's party also criticized the SPLM-In Government under Kiir for irregularly attending meetings of these various key security mechanisms, saying this has stalled progress on the peace process, especially on the security arrangements. - Xinhua

FILE - A young man is arrested by police during a curfew in Juba, South Sudan, April 9, 2020.

Months of nonviolent protest by brave Sudanese women and youth led to the fall of Sudan’s brutal dictator, Omar al-Bashir, in 2019. Following two years of uneasy balance, Sudan’s military abrogated its political agreements and disrupted the country’s transition to democracy, when in October 2021 it seized power, jailed civilian leaders, and cracked down on dissent. The massive prodemocracy protests that followed, and which continue to this day, were met with increasing violence by Sudan’s security forces.

The Sudanese Central Reserve Police, or CRP, is a militarized police unit that has been documented by Sudanese and international organizations as having been involved in violent crackdowns of protests in Sudan.

On March 21, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, designated the CRP pursuant to Executive Order 13818. This executive order implements and builds upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and authorizes the blocking the assets of, among others, persons or entities responsible for or complicit in, or directly or indirectly engaged, in serious human rights abuse or corruption.

Treasury sanctioned the CRP for using excessive force against demonstrators following the October 2021, military takeover.

"On January 17, CRP officers used live ammunition against protesters, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a written statement. “Reports of rape, killings, torture, and arbitrary detentions, among other abuses committed by CRP officers as recently as March 14, are ongoing.”

As a result of the designation, all property under U.S. jurisdiction in which CRP has any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with this organization. this first sanctions action since the military’s takeover demonstrates the United States’ commitment to both Sudan’s democratic transition and respect for the rights of all individuals in Sudan.

The United States fully supports the ongoing effort by UNITAMS, AU, and IGAD to facilitate an inclusive, Sudanese-led political process to restore a civilian-led transition to democracy. But this process cannot begin until military and security services “create an environment where all actors can safely participate in negotiations,” said Secretary Blinken.

To demonstrate the United States’ continued resolve in combating efforts to quash the Sudanese people’s aspirations for democracy, Secretary Blinken added, “We remain poised to use all tools at our disposal to support the Sudanese people in their pursuit of a democratic, human rights-respecting, and prosperous Sudan.” Source: VOA

Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente has indicated that the government has been dolling out subsidies in order to help farmers to access chemical fertilisers at a relatively low cost in the midst of rising prices. 

He made the observation on Monday, April 4, while presenting government actions related to agriculture inputs to the plenary session of both Chambers of Parliament. 

The Premier told legislators that fertiliser prices rose drastically on the global market because of various factors.  

They include, he said, the Covid-19 pandemic effects which disrupted the supply chain such as through rising the transport cost, major fertiliser producing countries that cut exports in a bid to increase their local [agricultural] production, as well as the hike in gas tariffs used as one of the raw materials in fertiliser manufacturing. Consequently, imported fertilisers were more expensive by the time they arrived on the local market. 

In a bid to continue promoting the use of fertilisers and supporting farmers to get access to them, Ngirente said, the government has been increasing the budget for fertiliser subsidies as it more than doubled from Rwf5 billion in the fiscal year 2018-2019 to Rwf13 billion in the current fiscal year 2021-2022.

The move, he said, helped ease the cost for farmers.

For instance, he said that for NPK NPK – one of the commonly used fertilisers in the country which is made of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – the government was providing Rwf107 per kilogramme for the farmer, but increased the financial support to Rwf475 a kilogramme after the fertiliser price hike, representing a fourfold increment.

“As such, a farmer only pays Rwf882 per a kilogramme of NPK instead of Rwf1,357. This shows the role of subsidies and how the government takes care of agriculture development and supporting our farmers,” he said.

According to accounts from some farmers, chemical fertiliser use significantly increases farm productivity, sometimes doubling or tripling it.

The Premier indicated that the Crop Intensification Programme (CIP) – which started in 2008 improved farmers’ understanding on the importance of chemical fertiliser use in agriculture production.

Such a situation, he said, later resulted in the increase in the [average] fertiliser use in the country, indicating that it rose to 60 kilogrammes per hectare in 2021 from 32 kilogrammes per hectare in 2017, implying an increase of 87.5 per cent over the last four years.

The average fertiliser use in Rwanda is way above that of Sub-Saharan Africa, which is 20 kilogrammes per hectare.  But, it still falls short of the global level average – 140 kilogrammes of fertiliser per hectare, according to the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB).

Under the first phase of the National Strategy for Transformation which runs from 2017 to 2024 (NST1), Rwanda targeted to use an average of 75 kilogrammes of fertilisers per hectare by 2024.

Ngirente observed that the current progress is promising towards the achievement of that target.

He also said that the government was in a drive to encourage farmers to use a mixture of organic and chemical fertilisers in order to optimise farm yields, and indicated that there are also some private entities that were making composted manure from organic wastes.

MP Theoneste Begumisa Safari said that the rising fertiliser prices on the international market should stir interest in the local production of this crop growth stimulant.

“Increasing fertiliser prices are a challenge to farmers. There is a need for efforts to produce it locally,” he said.

For MP Christine Mukabunani, more efforts should be invested in promoting the use of organic fertilisers among farmers.

“Some farmers are requesting a Government subsidy on organic fertiliser… Instead of putting more money in chemical fertiliser, you should invest it in scaling up the use of manure so as to gradually cut the former's use,” she said, arguing that consumers tend to prefer foods produced by using organic fertiliser instead of the chemical one.

Construction of fertiliser blending factory

Meanwhile, the Premier talked about the construction of a fertiliser blending factory which it said would help Rwanda reduce reliance on fertiliser imports, though he pointed out that it would be importing some of the raw materials to use in producing this farm input.

It was estimated that the factory, which would be located in Bugesera District, would cost $38 million (about Rwf38 billion at the current exchange rates), and the capacity to blend 100,000 tonnes of fertilisers annually, according to data from the RAB.

The project is a joint venture involving Morocco’s OCP Group – one of the leading exporters of phosphate fertilisers in the world – the Government of Rwanda and a local firm—Agro-Processing Trust Corporation (APTC).

With Rwanda’s annual demand for fertilisers at 53,000 tonnes as of 2019, as per RAB, once the factory begins production, Rwanda will have a surplus of fertilisers, potentially opening up a new avenue for export diversification.

Initially, the factory was expected to be operational by the end of 2019. However, Ngirente told legislators that its construction works were delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We hope that in the coming few years, the factory will be helping us to produce the fertilisers we need in the country,” he said, without specifying when it will be operational. Emmanuel Ntirenganya, New Times


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