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Hutu Militia, FDLR, Deny Ambush, Assassination of Italian Envoy to D.R. Congo

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A Hutu militia in eastern Congo, as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), has denied any involvement in Monday’s killing of Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Luca Attanasio, 43, died of his injuries he sustained during an ambush on a United Nations convoy he was travelling in the eastern town of Goma. Vittorio Iacovacci, a 30-year-old Italian military police officer travelling with the envoy, and a Congolese World Food Programme driver, Mustapha Milambo, also died in the incident.

According to reports, the ambush was carried out by six armed men, who stopped the two-car convoy on the road. They fired point-blank shots at the bodyguard who died on the spot and at the ambassador, wounding him in the abdomen.

“The ambassador died of his wounds an hour later at the United Nations peacekeeping hospital in Goma,” the presidency said.

DR Congo’s Ministry of the Interior and Security had blamed the incident on FDLR but the group’s spokesman, Cure Ngoma, denied any involvement.

Describing the killing as ‘heinous assassination’, Ngoma wondered why his group was linked to the ambush, noting that over 100 armed groups operate in the area.

Ngoma said that “whoever will be identified as responsible for the attack should be severely punished”.

In a statement, the armed group said the attack happened in an area where both of DR Congo and Rwanda had a military presence – so any investigation should take that into account.

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Italian Ambassador to DR Congo, Luca Attanasio, Killed in Attack on U.N. Convoy

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The Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, was killed on Monday in an attack on a United Nations convoy in Goma, the east of the country.

A policeman travelling with him was also killed in the attack, Italy’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed.

“It is with deep sorrow that the foreign ministry confirms the death today in Goma of the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, and of a policemen from the carabinieri,” the Italian foreign ministry statement said.

“The ambassador and the soldier were travelling in a car in a convoy of Monusco, the United Nations Organisation stabilisation mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

According to local reports, the convoy was attacked near the town of Kanyamahoro at around 10:15 a.m. (0815 GMT) and was part of a kidnap attempt.

Many armed groups operate in and around Virunga, which lies along Congo’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda, and they have repeatedly attacked Virunga rangers.

“The three fatalities have been identified as the Italian Ambassador to DRC, Luca Attanasio, an Italian embassy official, and a WFP driver,” the UN agency said in a statement.

Other passengers were also injured as the delegation was set to visit a WFP school feeding program.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio left a meeting in Brussels to return to Rome following the news.

“The circumstances of this brutal attack are not yet known and no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened,” Di Maio said on Facebook, honouring the victims as “two servants of the state.”

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Burundi, Ethiopia to Strengthen Bilateral Ties

The two Presidents later released a joint communique, asking concerned sector Cabinet ministries to put in place a strategy that will revive their co-operation, through working sessions and of the joint permanent commission between both countries to be convened.

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Burundi and Ethiopia’s Presidents have met in Bujumbura, the Burundian capital to discuss the strengthening of bilateral ties, among other issues.

Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde ended a two-day working tour of Burundi last week, as the two countries move to improve their bilateral ties.

Speaking on her arrival at the Melchior Ndadaye International Airport in Burundi, she said; “We felt something has been missing in our relations and even with this high level of delegation of Ethiopia to Burundi, none of us has visited this beautiful country before. So I’m extremely honoured to be the first.”

She was met by her counterpart President Evariste Ndayishimiye. During her tour of the capital Bujumbura, Zewde visited the manufacturing companies, and the mausoleum, before holding a closed-door meeting with President Ndayishimiye.

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The two later released a joint communique, asking concerned sector cabinet ministries to put in place a strategy that will revive their co-operation and bilateral ties through working sessions, and the joint permanent commission between both countries to be convened.

Part of the communique reads: “Both presidents stressed the need to strengthen continental, regional, and sub-regional organizations in the promotion and consolidation of peace, security, stability and sustainable development.”

Ethiopia and Burundi are among African countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) and are under the Inter-governmental partnership of the Nile Basin Initiative.

The Ethiopian president is the first to visit Burundi since Ndayishimiye was elected last year.

Over eight months in office, President Ndayishimiye’s government has prioritized mending and strengthening of diplomatic ties and relations with neighbouring countries and the international community.

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African Countries Seek Debt Restructuring from G-20 Countries

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The economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic will probably make many African countries seek debt restructuring from G-20 countries, according to the head of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, (UNECA) Vera Songwe.

Last month, Chad became the first country in the African continent to request relief under a Group of 20 initiative to help African countries cope with the economic fallout from the pandemic. Days later, Ethiopia applied, followed by Zambia, which last year became the first African country to default on its debt since the beginning of the pandemic.

Songwe said with government revenue taking strain because of the slowdown in economic growth, some countries are less equipped to meet the demands of their citizens.

She further said: “African countries don’t have the resilience buffers that we had in 2020.” “There probably will be more countries that will opt for the G-20 debt framework, because they need additional fiscal space to purchase vaccines.”

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Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo are particularly vulnerable to distress because they have high debt levels, severe economic declines and borrowed significant amounts from China using resource-backed loans, Verisk Maplecroft said in a research note last week.

The G-20 framework aims to bring creditors including China into an agreement to rework the debt of countries in danger of defaulting. China is Ethiopia’s biggest bilateral creditor, accounting for 23% of its total public debt burden of $27.8 billion, according to World Bank data.

Under the G-20 program, debtors are committed to seek similar terms of the resulting bilateral restructuring with private creditors. It’s unclear what that will mean for Eurobond-holders, said Songwe, who spent more than a decade at the World Bank before being appointed head of the UN body in 2017.

Last year, Ecuador restructured its debt with bondholders and China after updating its International Monetary Fund loan program.

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