There been talk about the long terms in Great Lakes Regions, as the big-men lingers, it is a tale I written about for a long time. That Samantha Power addressed it yesterday during the United Nations Security Council in New York. This is where she was direct to the Presidents of the area on accountability and democratic values.
On President Kabila
“The DRC is not the only country in the region where civil society is threatened, or where democratic processes are being deliberately undermined. This, unfortunately, has been the accelerating trend in recent months – evident at the top, where leaders make increasingly blatant power grabs to remain in office”.
This here a remark on the long-term plan for President Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who is thinking and making the possibility for a third term in the coming election. This is together with the detaining and jailing the opposition and human rights activists. That is what she is calling this grabbing the power and office, which is true. He plans to continue his power and leave the public wish behind even with the #Telema uprising. Still he want to linger and keep the power in his reach as the Executive. So the coming time will be interesting to see how far President Kabila will go to keep power and how much he oppress the other candidates, medias and civil society during the pre-election period in the country.
On President Kagame
“The United States remains deeply committed to our partnership with Rwanda, but the continued absence of political space – the inability of individuals and journalists to discuss political affairs or report on issues of public concern – poses a serious risk to Rwanda’s future stability. Rwanda can achieve lasting peace and prosperity through a government centered on the principle of democratic accountability, not centered on any one single individual”.
Here the American is singling out the Rwandan President and his work to get a third term for President Kagame, who has first been the Vice-President, then the President. He has been a central figure in the political framework since the Genocide in the country. Kagame might have built a steady economy, but killed the democratic values as he strengthens the powers and government: President Kagame has steady getting rid of opposition and silencing them.
On President Museveni
“The government and its security forces detained opposition figures without legal justification, harassed their supporters, and intimidated the media. It passed legislation restricting the operations of NGOs, banning them from acting against the “interests of Uganda.” President Museveni’s actions contravene the rule of law and jeopardize Uganda’s democratic progress, threatening Uganda’s future stability and prosperity”.
A man I have discussed and written page up and page down. This is all not news, as the detaining opposition, rigging the election and shutting down the media. As media and radio stations lost transmitters because of their content during the pre-election period, even loses the passes to go the NRM rallies for being against the President. Having NGOs and seeming them as a problem. That the U.S. now claims that Museveni is the man who creates unstable society seems viable, as the creates lawlessness where a Presidential Candidate can be detained for no “charges”, detained witnesses and rewritten the Candidates Declarations Form from the Polling Stations to fit the announced Election Day results; so they fit the result wished from President Museveni, and not the people’s will. NRM more owns the country, then getting the blessing to control the country. It is in that disregard that President Museveni clearly didn’t recognize the power he controls and what he has lost. As he needs more the army and guns to keep it, while losing the goodwill of his own citizens; also the trust between the government and people is gone; that is what creates an unstable future.
On President Nkurunziza
“We need look no further than Burundi to see the dangers of pursuing personal power over the people’s interests. Burundi’s economy grew steadily for a decade, but contracted by an estimated 7 percent last year. President Nkurunziza’s decision to stay in office in defiance of the Arusha Accords and his crackdown on political opposition have swiftly undone the country’s progress of recent years. This is evident in the widespread reports of sexual violence, the more than 400 people who have been killed, the 250,000-plus who have fled the country, and the even-more challenging economic times that unfortunately lie ahead”.
President Nkurunziza made sure with a little fix in court right before the election to secure a third term, as even the opposition decided to skip the election, as the result was fitting the President to keep power. This in turn led to the failed Coup d’état and after been a civil unrest and crises. Which has led to people fleeing and recurring violence has ever since happen, opposition leaders killed, tried assassinations and governmental leaders killed. Even top officials and ministers have fled the country to safety as the power of unstable forces happens in the country, even circulated that the Rwandan Government have sponsored militias to coup the power and settle the regime in the country. The Army strength even with the international problems and suspending the aid; even having issues with inter-Burundian inclusive dialogue that even
Here is the remarks from the Burundian, Congolese and Rwandan officials as they re-addressed Samantha Power during the Security Council meeting with this.
ALAIN AIMÉ NYAMITWE, Minister for External Relations and International Cooperation of Burundi, said” his country was recovering from a massive and severe campaign of violent regime change. Contrary to the rhetoric used in the Council, the security situation was improving, he said, adding that, on the human rights front, the Government had issued a presidential decree granting pardons to 2,000 prisoners. While emphasizing his understanding of the legitimate concerns raised by Member States, he invited them to understand Burundi’s peculiar situation. It was difficult to understand some of the decisions made against Burundi, he said, pointing out that cutting aid to the Government did not fall into the category of decisions aimed at stabilizing the country” (…)”On Burundi’s cooperation with the United Nations, he noted that the Government had demonstrated its openness to working with the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, stressing the need to discuss the deployment of his office to Burundi. Turning to Rwanda’s actions against his country, he emphasized that such acts of aggression contravened the United Nations Charter and the Framework agreement”.
RAYMOND TSHIBANDA N’TUNGAMULONGO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said “the recurring conflicts in the Great Lakes region were the result of the moral and political failings of the elite, which had resulted in a selective application of international law. Nevertheless, the spirit of the United Nations Charter was alive and well in the region, he said, pointing out that, since the creation of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, and the adoption of the relevant Council resolutions, his country had been one of their most responsible implementers. The Democratic Republic of the Congo continued its collaboration with MONUSCO, and the country’s struggle would not end until the remaining retrograde forces and armed groups had been neutralized”, he emphasized (…)”The Democratic Republic of the Congo called upon other signatory States of international and regional instruments to be scrupulous in their implementation, with a particular eye to non-interference in the affairs of other States, and asked them not to provide assistance to retrograde armed groups. He called for the adoption of policies that would encourage private investment and regional cooperation in order to achieve balanced development. “The wounds of the past cannot lock us forever in a hopeless situation,” he emphasized, calling upon all States in the region to eschew the use of force for dialogue in settling disputes”.
EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA, Minister of State for Cooperation of Rwanda, said “that, while conflict prevention and resolution had become the centrepiece of the work of the United Nations since the 1994 genocide in his country, the concept had been used more in theory than in practice. The Council was still much more focused on crisis management than on crisis prevention. Instead, early warning mechanisms should guide its efforts to prevent conflict. In the Great Lakes region, very few efforts deployed had been aimed at addressing the root causes of conflict, he noted, adding that the current situation in Burundi proved that the region was far from stable. That country was in political turmoil, with State-sponsored militias killing civilians in broad daylight. Unsubstantiated allegations against Rwanda by the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo were yet another attempt to shift responsibility away from the real causes of conflict, he said, stressing that his country should not be “negatively exploited” by those who were expected to find solutions to the crisis in Burundi” (…)”In conclusion, he responded to the statement by the representative of the United States by noting: “Ms. Power does not have power over Rwanda”. She should avoid lumping the countries of the Great Lakes region together because there was no “one-size-fits-all” solution to their problems. Moreover, no other country could occupy Rwanda’s political space, he added”.
That was the defense for the remarks from the United States of America during the UN Security Council. They all defended the authority and sovereignty in different ways, thought the Burundian government claims the suspension of aid is not stabilizing the county. The DRC officials was more on the implemented laws and the ratifications as a recognition of what his government has done to be a better society and would not step the United States comments on the leaders. The Rwandan Official was more on the defensive telling the Security Council that they we’re not at fault for the violence in the DRC or Burundi as the violence is state-sponsored by the Congolese and Burundian, and they are not involved. They claim they are victims by the neighbor countries and do not accept the stance of the United States. Just as Rwandan Government says that Mrs. Power does not have over Rwanda and feels the urge to say so. All of this here is interesting and should be discussed as this is a high-end discussion in the United Nations. This is firmly not over as the situation in the Great Lakes area is tense and interesting as the Big-Men keeps power at any cost and at any price of lives and justice. The world will discuss it and the question remain will it be more than words or just silently. Peace.
Yesterday on the 21.07.2015 the NRM regime cut off the radio transmitter for the “Baba Radio” or as it’s really named 87.7 Basogo Baino FM in Jinja after Dr. Kizza Besigye had a great rally earlier in the day in Iganga and Jinja. Therefore it made me go through the report on ‘Press Freedom in 2014 – Harsh Laws and Violence Drive Global Decline’ that is coming from the NGO Freedom house. Today on 22.07.2015 Mr. Innocent Anyole is sacked from his job after trying to interview Dr. Kizza Besigye this sacking happen by Radio Director Hon. Moses Grace Balyeku, the NRM Chairman of Jinja and MP for Jinja West Constituency. He sure followed party line and broke the wing of the man who introduced FDC man Dr. Kizza Besigye. Well, let me introduce the Press Freedom in East Africa according to the global rankings of the Freedom House and their report on how it was in 2014.
This report has three important levels of how the media is and which place in society it has:
The difference between them comes to how great power the countries government controls the media or let them be. How the laws and treatment of journalist and media institutions is and how the events surrounding them have been in the recent year.
I will focus on the East African Countries and those in the “area” around how the quote and place this countries in the report. Because I write about the South Sudan, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda. These are the countries that will be taken. Not the whole world but the basic places that I usually cover in my blog somehow. So it shouldn’t be surprise to anyone.
Before addressing the numbers and rankings of the nations, let me take the quotes on some of the nations from the report as well:
“Ethiopian authorities stepped up arrests of independent journalists, including the Zone 9 bloggers, leading more than 30 to flee the country during the year, according to CPJ” (…) “In Kenya contained several vaguely worded clauses curtailing press freedom, including the threat of three years in prison for journalists who fail to obtain police permission before reporting on terrorism investigations or operations, or for coverage “likely to cause public alarm, incitement to violence, or disturb public peace” (…) “Somalia’s score improved from 82 to 79 due to the increased ability of private actors to open media outlets and the greater distribution of media, especially radio, throughout the south-central part of the country” (…) “South Sudan’s score declined from 62 to 68 due to the government’s near-complete disregard for constitutional and legal protections for freedom of the press in 2014, as well as the lack of such protections in rebel-held areas; a marked increase in restrictions imposed on journalists by the security forces; and heightened censorship, self-censorship, and retaliatory attacks on journalists”.
From here I will address the rankings of the East African nations coming when it comes to press freedom and the numbers that they have gotten from the expert committees that gone through reports and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). The stories this numbers are telling and the situation that the media has on the ground is staggering. Therefore it’s a story that has to be told. Now will explain the criteria of the global ranking that is made of scoring process, the value of the levels and what they mean for each country and last the main groups of questions that the researchers and analyst in cooperation with IFEX. That has crunched the numbers with the questions and reports from sources from the whole world.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”
“The research and scoring process involves more than 90 analysts—including outside consultants and members of the core research team headquartered in New York—who prepare the draft ratings and country reports” (…) “the other members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) network for providing detailed and timely analyses of press freedom violations in a variety of countries worldwide, on which we rely to make our judgments”.
Scale Point for the levels:
“A country’s final score (from 0 to 100) represents the total of the scores allotted for each question. A total score of 0 to 30 results in a press freedom status of Free; 31 to 60 a status of Partly Free; and 61 to 100 a status of Not Free”.
Questions that makes the score:
The scores are put into three categories: Legal Environment (0-30points), Political Environment (0-40points) and Economical Environment (0-30points).
Placing of the East African nations:
|172||Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)||79||Not Free|
|152||South Sudan||68||Not Free|
*Somaliland got ranked 115 – Score of 54 and was set to be ‘Partly Free’
What this means:
This tells something about the environment that the press in the East African nations goes through. Of the eight nations three is ‘Partly Free’: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This means that certain levels of freedom is on the media, but has certain levels of strings on the press. It’s worse in the rest of the nations because they are on the level of ‘Not Free’: Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, Somalia and South Sudan. And they did make Somalialand as a separate territory as a ‘Party Free’ whiles the country as a whole is set as ‘Not Free’. Therefore in that setting certain areas of Somalia federation has more freedom then the rest.
What that is shocking for me is how low scores countries of Uganda has compared to Ethiopia. Ethiopia has been strict on media and journalist. Especially to those who are abiding opposition in the country. Uganda has many outlets, still the big ones has over time been disorganized by the regime like the Daily Monitor. That has not happen with similar media in Kenya. Though the laws for media there is isn’t similar reports on shut downs of radio station and papers when the regime disagrees. Rwanda I am sure that the government is strict on the media, because the news from there is usually in the mood of the regime. Burundi if it wasn’t for protests and deflectors, there would be less news and information on the regime of Pierre Nkuruziza. DRC and Kabila haven’t put this into motions after all the issues that have been in the last decades. The regime has control and want to be sure of the information that is put out. Therefore when you hear something negative it’s from the UN bodies or MONUSCO but not the press of the DRC or journalists. Tanzania has its freedom but also strangles on the media. The party has been running the country since independence so the feelings is that their intertwined and feel like they are together, instead of actually being critical of the politicians and society. But it should be worried that the different countries and how big the difference between the top and bottom of the scale in the East African. From Tanzania who got 54 points and the worst was Ethiopia got 83 points – the close competition was Rwanda, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo got all 79 points on the scale. 60 Points scale is the max for the ‘Partly Fee’ media nations. So that the environment is on a far level from partly and even longer way to being free. The thing that is worrying is that it’s less than 5 points from ‘Partly Free’ to ‘Not Free’ with Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. It’s just small tweaks and harassment of the media and in 2016 report will degrade this nations and how the media has a place in these countries. Though it doesn’t look to good, but hopefully I and others can be surprised. Until then let hope that the media get into a place where they can actually monitor their areas and speak their minds without fear or legal repercussions. Peace.
Dunham, Jennifer, Nelson, Bret & Ahekyan, Elen – ‘Press Freedom in 2014 – Harsh Laws and Violence Drive Global Decline’ – April 2015 – Freedom House