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Opposition party in Cameroon condemns mass arrests2 minutes read

The party also said that those arrested were denied access to lawyers or any medical aid.

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Cameroon’s opposition on Sunday denounced the arrests of more than 350 supporters at demonstrations calling for the release of their jailed leader, and criticised the refusal to grant them access to lawyers.

Maurice Kamto, the country’s main opposition figure, who has been held in jail in Yaounde since January, issued a statement via his spokesman decrying “excessive and unjustified use of violence” at the demonstrations held on Saturday.

According to Kamto’s Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) party more than 350 people were arrested, including 180 at Yaounde and 100 in the western city of Nkongsamba.

The party also said that those arrested were denied access to lawyers or any medical aid.

Contacted by AFP Saturday, Cameroon’s communications ministry did not respond.

The MRC has been organising demonstrations since the October 2018 presidential election. According to official results, Kamto came second but the MRC says the vote was rigged in favour of President Paul Biya, who has been in power for 36 years.

As well as Kamto, more than 150 of the party’s activists were also imprisoned after one such march at the end of January.

In February, they appeared before a military tribunal in Yaounde accused of “insurrection, hostility to the homeland (and) rebellion”, offences which carry a possible death penalty.

Their lawyers have appealed to the UN working group on arbitrary detention over the arrests.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini criticised the arrests in March and what she called the military court’s “disproportionate” proceedings against them.

US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Tibor Nagy said in March that Cameroon would be “very wise” to release Kamto because his detention is widely perceived as politically motivated.

The government has rejected the international criticism.

On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told his parliament’s foreign affairs committee that he was “very concerned” by the plight of Maurice Kamto and wanted to see him released.

As well as the political crisis, Cameroon is wracked by a conflict between separatists and government forces in its English-speaking regions, combined with an influx of refugees from the Central African Republic and Nigeria.

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East Africa looks to end illicit gold trade

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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.

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Business News

Teodorin Obiang faces $30 million corruption fine

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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
laundering.
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.

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Business News

DRC’s artisanal monopoly to seek private partner

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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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