Benin takes lead among 14 African countries in currency move
Benin’s President Patrice Talon recently took a rare stance in a televised interview with Radio France Internationale, announcing his plans to reclaim the nation’s currency reserves from France, which has managed Benin’s reserves since the colonial era. France also has managed currency reserves of 13 other francophone Central and West African nations. According to President Talon, the countries want more control over their money. The West African CFA Franc is the currency of eight West African countries, and the Central African CFA Franc is the currency of six Central African countries. Both currencies are guaranteed by the French treasury.
Established after World War II, the CFA Franc is controversial. Many see France’s hold on the currency as a patronizing move by the former colonial power toward its former colonies, which hinders the region’s economic competitiveness. Others believe that French Treasury management of the CFA is behind low inflation and currency stability in the region.
Conflict in South Sudan Enmity not settled between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar
In 2011, South Sudan declared independence from Sudan after a long and bloody civil war, and Salva Kiir, who had led the war for independence, assumed the presidency, naming Riek Machar as vice president. The alliance between the two powerful men had been uneasy for many previous years. In 2013, Kiir dismissed Machar, accusing him of an attempted coup. Machar formed a rebel group, and civil war broke out. The war ultimately claimed close to 400,00 lives, caused an estimated four million people to flee their homes, and created food insecurity throughout the country. Kiir and Machar represent the Nuer and Dinka, two major South Sudan ethnic groups. Many South Sudanese who now live in Maine arrived as refugees from this war.
Uganda facilitated the most recent of many attempts at drawing up a lasting peace accord between the two men, in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa in 2018. The Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan was due to take effect November 12. However, Al Jazeera has reported that President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar have pushed back the deadline by 100 days as they work to finalize the agreement, which is aimed at forming a coalition government. The delay in the agreement is a possible set-back for the country. While recent years have been less violent in South Sudan than during the civil war era, life in the new country remains unstable eight years after independence. In previous issues of Amjambo Africa, South Sudanese in Maine have expressed their fervent hope for peace in their home country.
A slap to armed groups operating in Democratic Republic of Congo
During a November 9 security raid aimed at wiping out armed rebel groups operating in North Kivu province, Congolese armed forces killed Musabimana Juvenal, a.k.a. Jean Michel Africa, a top commander of the Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). His four bodyguards also were killed. This death comes on the heels of the September 18 killing of General Mudacumura, another top commander of FDLR. Mudacumura had been the subject of an international arrest warrant since 2012.
FDLR members are accused of having actively participated in the Tutsi Genocide that claimed one million Rwandan lives over a period of 100 days in 1994. They fled Rwanda after being defeated by the then-Rwanda Patriotic Army, now called Rwanda Defense Forces. A 2011 United Nations report determined that FDLR – among other groups in the Kivu area of Congo – massacred civilians, raped women and children, and kidnapped civilians for forced labor.
In July, former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda was sentenced by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to a 30-year jail term for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was found guilty of ordering the massacres of villagers in the Ituri region in 2002 and 2003.