The chairman of Cameroon’s main opposition party Ni John Fru Ndi has been released after being kidnapped earlier Saturday in the Northwest Region, one of two English-speaking provinces in the grip of an armed conflict for over a year, his party said.
The SDF leader was abducted while leading a funeral procession, his party said earlier, without giving any indication of whether the kidnappers were believed to be separatists.
“President Ni John Fru Ndi has just been freed at 1834 (1734 GMT),” Social Democratic Front (SDF) official Jean Robert Wafo said in a statement.
A number of officials and members of the SDF have already been targeted in similar attacks.
In October 2018, Fru Ndi’s home was attacked by arsonists and his sister kidnapped and later released.
His party is the main opposition to 86-year-old President Paul Biya who has ruled Cameroon since 1982.
It has always opposed any partition of the country and defied separatists in the English-speaking regions who called for a boycott of the last presidential election in October.
Conflict in Cameroon, a majority French-speaking nation, broke out in October 2017 when anglophone militants declared an independent state in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.
The International Crisis Group has said the death toll since the start of the fighting had topped 500 for civilians and more than 200 for members of the security forces.
Around 530,000 people have fled the fighting, according to the United Nations.
English-speakers, who account for about a fifth of Cameroon’s population of 24 million, have chafed for years at perceived discrimination in education, law and economic opportunities at the hands of the francophone majority.
The self-declared entity, the “Republic of Ambazonia,” which has been named after the local Ambas Bay, has not been recognised internationally.
East Africa looks to end illicit gold trade
Countries in the East Africa region are discussing the adoption of stringent traceability mechanisms for the gold industry to stamp out rampant smuggling across East and Central Africa to overseas buyers particularly in Asia.
Mining officials from the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) countries are in negotiations and are meeting next month to discuss the body’s Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Strategy which calls for harmonisation of gold export procedures including taxation and traceability and certification.
The ICGLR wants its member countries to adopt the strategy by mid-this year.
According to the director of Democracy and good Governance at ICGLR, Ambeyi Ligabo, It is disheartening to see so much gold being smuggled from the DR Congo through its neighbouring countries while much attention over the past 10 years has focused on implementing traceability for tin, tungsten and tantalum (Three Ts) in which little has been done in terms of monitoring the flow of gold in the region.
Mr Ligabo also revealed they have agreed that it is crucial to implement the ICGLR guidelines on gold trade because the region’s image has been smeared by smuggling. We hope they speed up the process so these guidelines are affected by March this year.
Rwanda’s efforts to boost gold exports has been hampered by constant reports that the country serves as a route through which gold is smuggled out of the DR Congo to overseas buyers. The government is firm that all its gold is traded legitimately.
Teodorin Obiang faces $30 million corruption fine
A French court has ruled against Teodorin Obiang Nguema, Vice president of Equatorial Guinea, in a year – long embezzlement process launched by a group of anti-corruption NGOs
Obiang was ordered to pay a $32.9 million fine. He also faces a suspended jail term of three years after a lower court found him guilty on a range of charges relating to graft and money
Additionally, the Paris appeals court confirmed the seizure of his property, including a six-level mansion in Paris which had been valued at €107 million in 2012.
According to Marc-Andre Feffer of Transparency International France, the ruling is an important moment.
Obiang has appealed to the International Court of Justice, arguing that his residence should be protected as a diplomatic building. A hearing on the issue has been scheduled in The Hague next week.
His legal team has one final option for appeal left — they could challenge the Monday verdict before the Cour de Cassation, France’s highest appeals court for criminal cases.
DRC’s artisanal monopoly to seek private partner
A new state company set up by the Democratic Republic of Congo to manage the country’s artisanally mined cobalt could seek a private partner if the state does not have the funds to purchase all production, according to the country’s minister of mines, Willy Kitobo Samsoni.
DRC currently produces about 60% of the world’s cobalt. Most of which is extracted by industrial operators like Glencore and China Molybdenum, with artisanal miners accounting for about a quarter of output.
The country recently granted the new company a monopoly to purchase and market all cobalt that is not mined industrially in an effort to exert greater influence over prices.
According to Samsoni, the easiest way out is to be financed by the Congolese state, but if the state cannot raise the funds to buy all the artisanally mined cobalt, it will then have to enter into partnership with a company.
He also adds that plans for talks with financiers are on ground.
Samsoni further adds that the new company, Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC) will be managed independently by state mining company,Gecamines.
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