Sunday, 21 January 2018
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (743)

Equities investors in the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) have accumulated capital gains of about N4 trillion over the past 11 months.  Low valuations, improved macro economy and more coordinated monetary policy management, led to sustained considerable rally across the stock market.

Benchmark indices at the NSE showed average year-to-date gain of 41.19 per cent for the 11-month period ended November 30, 2017, equivalent to net capital gain of about N3.97 trillion, representing a two-month increase of 33.7 per cent on net capital gain of N2.97 trillion recorded at the end of third quarter (Q3).

With largely positive and steady Q3 corporate earnings and stronger macroeconomic data, quoted equities rode above recurring profit-taking transactions, to sustain month-on-month positive trend.

With a net capital gain of N3.97 trillion by November, investors have almost technically recovered what they had lost in the past three years, a major recovery that could reverberate across many other sectors, especially finance and investment institutions with large exposures to equities.

The stock market had been on a losing streak since 2014. Investors lost N1.75 trillion in 2014 and followed this with another loss of N1.63 trillion in 2015. Against the general expectation that political transition and new government will quicken a rebound, equities closed 2016 with a net capital loss of N604 billion. Aggregate market value of all quoted equities on the NSE closed 2016 at N9.247 trillion as against N13.226 trillion recorded at the start of trading in 2014, representing a net capital loss of N3.98 trillion.

Aggregate market value of all quoted equities closed November 2017 at N13.215 trillion as against its opening value of N9.247 trillion for the year, representing net capital gain of N3.968 trillion. The All Share Index (ASI)-the main common price index that tracks share prices at the NSE, indicated 11-month return of 41.19 per cent, rising from the year’s opening index of 26,874.62 points to close this weekend at 37,944.60 points.

Investors in the banking sector were far ahead of other sectors with the NSE Banking Index indicating average year-to-date return of 71.60 per cent for the 11-month period. The NSE 30 Index, which tracks the 30 most capitalised companies, posted above average return of 43.51 per cent, underlining the fact that the recovery was partly driven by large-cap stocks. The NSE Consumer Goods Index ended the period with 28.87 per cent. The NSE Industrial Goods Index recorded the second highest sectoral gain of 33.08 per cent. The NSE Insurance Index posted a modest return of 10.97 per cent. However, the NSE Oil and Gas Index remained on the downtrend with a negative return of -7.01 per cent.

The recovery also impacted positively on the Nigerian pension industry and ethical finance segment. The NSE Pension Index, which tracks stocks specially screened in line with pension investment guidelines, showed that pensioners might be in for wider dining tables with above-average return of 62.58 per cent. The NSE Lotus Islamic Index-which tracks stocks that comply with the Islamic law, recorded considerable return of 32.58 per cent, underlining the attractiveness of ethical investment in the midst of the rally. The NSE Lotus Islamic Index excludes interest-based banks, breweries, gambling and overleveraged companies among others.

The 11-month performance further confirmed quoted equities as the most attractive asset class for the period. With inflation rate at 15.9 per cent and the benchmark interest rate at 14 per cent, average inflation and interest-adjusted return remains in double digit at about 11.3 per cent.

The past two months had built on considerable gain made by the third quarter of the year. Aggregate market value of all quoted equities on the NSE had closed the third quarter at N12.217 trillion, representing net capital gain of N2.97 trillion or 32.1 per cent. The ASI had also crossed nine levels to close September at 35,439.98 points, representing an increase of 31.87 per cent.

Quarter-on-quarter analysis showed that the ASI has already surpassed its third quarter performance within the first two months of the fourth quarter. Between October and November, the ASI recorded average gain of 7.07 per cent compared with 7.01 per cent recorded in the third quarter. The performance so far in the fourth quarter was driven largely by the industrial goods and banking sectors.

Posted On Monday, 04 December 2017 03:11 Written by

• Lamido, Shekarau, Dankwambo, others may not step down 

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has one more hurdle to cross in his secret deal with some stalwarts of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, The nation can authoritatively report.

It was learnt yesterday that Jonathan said Atiku must beg or apologize to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to get the 2019 presidential ticket of the PDP on a platter of gold.

Although Obasanjo has quit partisan politics, Jonathan was of the opinion that “he is still a strong factor in shaping the future of the nation in 2019 because he is a force among the revered kingmakers.”

Former President Jonathan  had in early November told the publisher of Ovation magazine in an interview that “If Atiku gets our party ticket, he would compete well. But he would have to reach out to our boss, Baba OBJ, the boss of all bosses. We’ve all learnt at different times that you ignore OBJ at your peril. OBJ has the magic wand. He is respected at home and abroad.”

It was however unclear if Atiku has either accepted the condition or opted to go it alone in seeking the presidential mandate of the PDP.

But some presidential aspirants in PDP were said not to be ready to step down for Atiku, whom Jonathan is working to the answer for.

The aspirants said they prefer to slug it out with Atiku during the presidential primaries.

The affected aspirants are ex-Governor Sule Lamido, ex-Minister Ibrahim Shekarau, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo and a former governor (now a Senator), who is expected to defect from APC to PDP.

The fate of the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of PDP, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi on the party’s 2019 ticket was hanging in the balance as at press time.

Findings by our correspondent revealed that the secret deal, which made Atiku to resign from the All Progressives Congress (APC), was comprehensive and targeted at the ex-VP securing the PDP presidential slot.

It was gathered that the package also borders on hijacking the party structure at the National Convention on December 9 to make Atiku’s choice as the PDP presidential candidate a reality.

Following lobbying by Jonathan, some founding fathers of PDP (including a few retired military officers), have been part of the latest course in PDP.

Investigation revealed that most governors of the PDP were said to have bought into the Atiku project in deference to Jonathan.

A top source, who was privy to the deal, said: “The unfolding script on Atiku’s return to PDP has the blessing of some founding fathers of PDP who are out to salvage the party. A major component is a likely waiver for the ex-VP to contest the party’s presidential primaries.

“So far, Atiku is complying with the secret accord for his return to PDP. A formal declaration in Yola is being expected either on Wednesday or December 6 as indicated in a tentative timetable.

“But in one of the negotiation shuttles with Atiku, ex-President Jonathan added a caveat that the former Vice President can comfortably secure PDP ticket and win the 2019 poll if he begs ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“We were all shocked by this condition because Obasanjo is no longer in partisan politics. But Jonathan said Obasanjo is an institution whose action or inaction could make or mar the electoral fortunes of Atiku.

“The former President also believes that Obasanjo may persuade any of the presidential aspirants to withdraw for Atiku after weighing all the indices. He said if Obasanjo could reconcile with him, he can also forgive Atiku.

“As a matter of fact, Jonathan cited cases of chairmanship aspirants in PDP travelling to Abeokuta to seek his blessing.

“We are expecting Atiku to comply with this proviso because we want to begin the media war (based on facts and figures) in earnest.

“Jonathan’s position on Obasanjo has been endorsed by some founding fathers of PDP, especially the military class which contrived the existence of the party.”

Meanwhile, there were indications yesterday that some presidential aspirants in the PDP may not step down for Atiku.

These include Lamido, Shekarau, Dankwambo and a former governor (now a Senator), who is expected to defect from APC to PDP.

It was not clear if the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of PDP, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi will seek the party’s 2019 ticket.

A governor, who played a significant role in the pact with Atiku, said: “As part of the deal, we have been trying to prevail on some of these aspirants to step down but they have chosen to contest the primaries with the ex-Vice President.

“Some of them queried why a politician will cross from the opposition party and just be given PDP presidential ticket.

“One of the aspirants said since 1999, he has never defected to any party. He said loyalty to the party and competence should be compensated by PDP.

“Well, we have looked into PDP Constitution, it is immaterial when you join, you can enjoy the rights and privileges which a Methuselah member enjoys. Go and look at sections 8 and 18 of our constitution.”

While Section 8(a) and (b) of the PDP Constitution deals with the procedure for rejoining PDP, Section 18 is on the Status of Returnee Members.

Section 8 reads: “A person who desires to rejoin the party after leaving it shall: (a) apply to his Ward Secretary for readmission; and (b) unless given waiver by the National Working Committee(NWC), be placed on probation for a period of not less than one year.

“Subject to the provision of Section 8(b), a member on probation shall have the right to attend all meetings of the party but shall not be entitled to vote at such meetings, nor shall he be eligible to contest for elective office on the platform of the party.

Section 18 says: “A person who has earlier decamped from the party but later decides to return to the party shall lose the seniority and privileges conferred on him by his previous status.”

But the PDP top shot said: “As the opposition party, we are looking at the larger picture of the return of Atiku, we will give him all waivers required to ensure his readmission.

“Some of our leaders, who were initially opposed to the return of the ex-VP, had shown enough understanding in the past few months.”

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan yesterday said the exit of Atiku would not have any significant effect on the fortunes of the party in the 2019 general elections.

He said no serving governor, no presiding officer of the National Assembly or key national executive officer of the party was in sync with Atiku’s defection.

Olaosebikan who spoke with journalists in Abuja yesterday said in spite of the defection, President Muhammadu Buhari would win hands down and that the party would perform better in 2019.

He added:  “Going through the resignation letter, I found out that the Turaki did not exercise enough fortitude. He allowed politics and ambition to take control of him. He should have stayed with his avowed position in 2013 that the All Progressives Congress was his last bus stop politically, and leave the rest in the hands of Allah.”

“What the President needs from us, particularly the big political players is love, understanding, support and prayers as already being exhibited by the National Executive of the party and our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who at different fora recently gave us hope and assurances of a better tomorrow.”

When asked of the declaration of Asiwaju Tinubu that the party would not give automatic ticket to President Buhari for a second term, Olaosebikan told journalists that the position of Tinubu was in the best interest of the President, APC and the country as a whole.

“Asiwaju,  with the declaration of no automatic ticket was merely portraying  the President as a genuine democrat who believes in due process. What Asiwaju Tinubu said was in support of strengthening our democracy and our political institution which we need to do with all seriousness.

“You would recall too, that he stated that all the organs of the party would support him through the processes. In a nutshell, he is in full support of his second term and you know with him, all the APC governors and the presiding officers in the National Assembly, the ticket is already in the pocket of the President.

“And when it comes to the general election, it is a platitude that you cannot compare the popularity and acceptability of President Muhammadu Buhari with that of any person in the country today. He will win in the North and in the South convincingly. Buhari is not loved for money or any material thing; he is passionately loved for his strong character and piousness.”

Posted On Sunday, 26 November 2017 17:38 Written by

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has defected from the All Progressives Congress.

Atiku, in a statement he personally signed on Friday, recalled how he joined the ruling party in 2013.

Below is the statement:

“On the 19th of December, 2013, I received members of the All Progressives Congress at my house in Abuja. They had come to appeal to me to join their party after my party, the Peoples Democratic Party, had become factionalized as a result of the special convention of August 31, 2013.

“The fractionalization of the Peoples Democratic Party on August 31, 2013 had left me in a situation where I was, with several other loyal party members, in limbo, not knowing which of the parallel executives of the party was the legitimate leadership.

“It was under this cloud that members of the APC made the appeal to me to join their party, with the promise that the injustices and failure to abide by its own constitution which had dogged the then PDP, would not be replicated in the APC and with the assurance that the vision other founding fathers and I had for the PDP could be actualized through the All Progressives Congress.

“It was on the basis of this invitation and the assurances made to me that I, being party-less at that time, due to the fractionalization of my party, accepted on February 2, 2014, the hand of fellowship given to me by the All Progressives Congress.

“On that day, I said ‘it is the struggle for democracy and constitutionalism and service to my country and my people that are driving my choice and my decision” to accept the invitation to join the All Progressives Congress.

“Like you, I said that because I believed that we had finally seen the beginnings of the rebirth of the new Nigeria of our dreams which would work for all of us, old and young.

“However, events of the intervening years have shown that like any other human and like many other Nigerians, I was fallible.

“While other parties have purged themselves of the arbitrariness and unconstitutionality that led to fractionalization, the All Progressives Congress has adopted those same practices and even gone beyond them to institute a regime of a draconian clampdown on all forms of democracy within the party and the government it produced.

“Only last year, a governor produced by the party wrote a secret memorandum to the president which ended up being leaked. In that memo,  he admitted that the All Progressives Congress had ‘not only failed to manage expectations of a populace that expected overnight ‘change’ but has failed to deliver even mundane matters of governance’.

“Of the party itself, that same governor said ‘Mr. President, Sir Your relationship with the national leadership of the party, both the formal (NWC) and informal (Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso), and former Governors of ANPP, PDP (that joined us) and ACN, is perceived by most observers to be at best frosty. Many of them are aggrieved due to what they consider total absence of consultations with them on your part and those you have assigned such duties.’

“Since that memorandum was written up until today, nothing has been done to reverse the treatment meted out to those of us invited to join the All Progressives Congress on the strength of a promise that has proven to be false. If anything, those behaviours have actually worsened.

“But more importantly, the party we put in place has failed and continues to fail our people, especially our young people. How can we have a federal cabinet without even one single youth.

“A party that does not take the youth into account is a dying party. The future belongs to young people.

“I admit that I and others who accepted the invitation to join the APC were eager to make positive changes for our country that we fell for a mirage. Can you blame us for wanting to put a speedy end to the sufferings of the masses of our people?”

He stated, “After due consultation with my God, my family, my supporters and the Nigerian people whom I meet in all walks of life Atiku Abubakar, Waziri Adamawa” has resigned from the APC.

Posted On Friday, 24 November 2017 17:16 Written by

Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo says there is no better man for the Presidency than President Muhammadu Buhari.Okorocha said this while addressing leaders of the ‘Democratic Youths Congress for Buhari 2019,” who were on a courtesy visit to him at the Government House, Owerri on Tuesday.

He urged every Nigeria to support President Buhari for second term, adding that all but two Governors in the country, regardless of party affiliation, were in support of a second term for the President.

“President Buhari is the best for the country at the moment and that there could not have been a better option now.‘’I am a believer of Buhari and I made it clear years ago that if President Buhari is running for president, I will not run.

“Now God has chosen him to be the president of Nigeria and some of us are witnesses that Buhari was and is still the best for Nigeria at this material time,” he said.

Okorocha also said that Nigeria’s quick exit from economic recession was a testament to Buhari’s tenacity, adding that he had shelved his ambition in preference to support Buhari.

While appealing to others to extend the same level of support, he noted Buhari’s second term would bring about enhanced unity and peace of Nigeria.

“Supporting Buhari for a second tenure will bring about the new Nigeria we are talking about. This will put Nigeria first and the unity we are looking for will be guaranteed under this administration.

“Our nation is going through a challenging moment and we will require a man of his calibre to see us through this period.

“People should not use the Anambra election result to judge the support for Buhari as it does not reflect the support.

“Even the government and people of Anambra support President Buhari, what happened was that an internal disagreement among the leaders in APC in Anambra cost us the election.”

Earlier, the National Chairman of the group, Mr Kassim Kassim, said the group came to appeal to Okorocha to shelve his ambition of running for the office of the president of the country.

He noted that although Okorocha was well qualified to run, his support was needed to enable Buhari to complete his “good works for the nation.”

“With your track records, we would have gladly chosen you to run for 2019, but we have all endorsed Buhari and accepted that you lead us all the way in the support.

“We are begging and pleading that you lead all the governors of APC to support Buhari for what he has done and what he stands for in Nigeria.“With you on our side, victory is assured” Kassim said.

Posted On Wednesday, 22 November 2017 13:45 Written by

Zimbabwe’s parliament opened a session on Tuesday to begin the process of impeaching President Robert Mugabe, which could lead to him being stripped of office, an AFP correspondent saw.

Parliament speaker Jacob Mubenda gave permission for a joint session of the House of Assembly and the Senate to debate a motion that would trigger impeachment proceedings against Mugabe.

“This motion is unprecedented in the history of post-independence Zimbabwe,” Mubenda declared.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum have called on Mugabe to quit after the military seized power and tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets to demand the 93-year-old’s resignation.

They accuse him of allowing his ambitious wife Grace to plunder the country and to usurp his power.

She emerged as the front-runner to replace the veteran leader when Mugabe fired his vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

That prompted the current crisis as the army, alarmed by Grace’s rise, deployed armoured vehicles on the streets and took power.

There were tense protests outside parliament as hundreds of demonstrators — from rival political parties — shouted for Mugabe to go.

Posted On Tuesday, 21 November 2017 14:18 Written by

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party will launch the parliamentary process on Tuesday for impeaching President Robert Mugabe, a government lawmaker told AFP.

The decision on Monday came after Mugabe missed a deadline to resign given to him by his party over the weekend.

Once a simple majority of parliamentarians vote for impeachment, an investigative committee is formed by lawmakers, who report back to both houses of parliament. Each house must then vote by a two-thirds majority for him to be stripped of office.

“We are expecting the motion to be over (Tuesday),” said ZANU-PF lawmaker Paul Mangwana, referring to the initial procedure to commence impeachment proceedings.

He added that ZANU-PF had approached the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to seek their cooperation to pass the necessary parliamentary votes.

In a televised address late Sunday, the 93-year-old veteran leader defied expectations he would quit, pitching the country into a second week of political crisis.

The speech provoked anger and disbelief among many Zimbabweans, fuelling concerns that Mugabe could face a violent backlash.

Zimbabwe’s crisis erupted on November 13 after a factional squabble over the presidential succession erupted into the open prompting the army to seize power.

Posted On Monday, 20 November 2017 17:51 Written by

Fresh facts have started emerging on what has been tagged illegal acquisition of a property by one of the lawmakers in Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adefunmilayo Tejuoso. In fact, many tales were given to be the real cause of the invasion of her residence, 3 Sasegbon Street, GRA Ikeja, Lagos, by security operatives on the orders of Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.

To some, she has done everything wrong by not vacating the building for other Deputy Speakers that came after her. Some others believed she has settled the issue by buying the property from the government at N150m.

However, according to the new findings, the issue that is still generating mixed feelings amongst many in the state with appellation, Centre of Excellence, is not only limited to the female lawmaker, who claimed to have bought the property from the state government through her company, Debam Mega Solutions Limited, when she was the Deputy Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly through the monetization policy of the government.

We further gathered that no Deputy Speaker of Lagos Assembly has ever made use of the property as official quarters, two Deputy Speakers had emerged before Tejuoso became the Deputy Speaker of the House, and none of them stayed in the property.

It was one Mrs. Dawodu, a retired Permanent Secretary that was the last occupant of the premises, before Tejuoso packed him. 

Aside Tejuoso, findings revealed that the likes of Governors, Ambode, Rauf Aregbesola, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi are also beneficiaries of the monetization policy which saw them acquiring properties the way Funmi Tejuoso did.

We gathered exclusively that, aside Funmi Tejuoso, the governor of Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode also benefitted from such privilege when he bought his house on Glover Street, Ikoyi Lagos, a prominent part of the acquatuc state.

Many who are privy to this information are wondering why Governor Ambode who intends to recover government assets sold at an undervalued price cannot start with his own property

Aside the governor, there are so many other top government officials who also benefitted from the monetization policy. Now, the question that is being asked is: why are others being shielded from the same treatment the female lawmaker is getting at the moment.

Other top politicians who have benefited from the policy include Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi who bought his property at 7 Oduduwa Street.  

Other government officials present and past who are also beneficiaries include - Justice Atilade; Justice Akande; Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN); Dele Alake; Justice Phillips; current Commissioner for Housing, Hon. Gbolahan Lawal; APC Lagos State Chairman, Henry Olawale Ajomale, amongst others.

It, however, remain to be seen if Governor Ambode will have the political will to also go after the listed beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, many have continued to allude the illegal action of the governor as a pure vendetta on the lawmaker due her perceived closeness to National legal adviser of APC, Dr Muiz Banire.

Posted On Sunday, 19 November 2017 01:09 Written by

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has made his first public appearance since the army took over on Wednesday.

He attended a graduation ceremony in the capital, Harare, handing out degrees.

Mr Mugabe had been under house arrest for days. The army made its move after a power struggle over his successor.

The military said on Friday it was "engaging" with Mr Mugabe and would advise the public on the outcome of talks "as soon as possible".

Meanwhile Christopher Mutsvangwa - the leader of the influential war veterans' association, once loyal to Mr Mugabe - said he should step down at once.

He called for a huge turnout in street protests on Saturday.

"We want to restore our pride and tomorrow is the day... we can finish the job which the army started," Mr Mutsvangwa said.

"There's no going back about Mugabe. He must leave."

Liberal groups opposed to the president have also backed the rally.

The leader of last year's #Thisflag protests, Evans Mwarire, urged people to turn up.

President Mugabe at graduation ceremony - 17 NovemberImage copyrightAFP
Mr Mugabe is chancellor at the Open University

Mr Mugabe's attendance at the graduation is an annual tradition but he was not expected this year.

BBC Online Africa editor Joseph Winter says he was allowed to be there partly to keep up the pretence that the military have not staged a coup and partly because of a genuine, deeply felt respect for him going back more than 40 years.

Mr Mugabe walked slowly up a red carpet and joined the crowd in singing the national anthem, then opened the graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe's Open University, where he is chancellor.

One of the people he conferred a degree upon was Marry Chiwenga, the wife of the general who detained him on Wednesday, the state broadcaster reports.

Neither the 93-year-old president's wife, Grace Mugabe, nor Education Minister Jonathan Moyo - an ally of hers whose house was reportedly raided by the military - were present.

The army acted after Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.

Mr Mnangagwa was seen as a potential successor and his sacking was supposed to have paved the way for Grace Mugabe - who is four decades younger than him - to take over the presidency instead.

Posted On Friday, 17 November 2017 17:31 Written by

Zimbabwe's military has placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest in the capital Harare, South African President Jacob Zuma says.

Mr Mugabe told Mr Zuma in a phone call that he was fine, the South African leader's office said.

Troops are patrolling the capital, Harare, after they seized state TV and said they were targeting "criminals".

The move may be a bid to replace Mr Mugabe with his sacked deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, BBC correspondents say.

Mr Mnangagwa's dismissal last week left Mr Mugabe's wife Grace as the president's likely successor.

Heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of Harare early on Wednesday.

Mr Mugabe, 93, has dominated the impoverished country's political scene since it gained independence from the UK in 1980.

The UK Foreign Office advised Britons "currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer", while the US embassy in Harare advised US citizens in Zimbabwe to "shelter in place" until further notice.

China, Zimbabwe's biggest trading partner, says it is closely watching the situation and hopes that the relevant parties can properly handle their internal affairs.

 

What do we know of Mr Mugabe's situation?

The firing heard during the early morning came from Harare's northern suburbs, where Mr Mugabe and a number of government officials live, the BBC's Shingai Nyoka reports from Harare.

In a statement, Mr Zuma's office said: "President Zuma spoke to President Robert Mugabe earlier today who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine."

Young women walk past an armoured personnel carrier in Harare, 15 NovemberImage copyrightAFP
Troops are patrolling Harare

Special envoys from the Southern African Development Community would be sent to Zimbabwe, he added.

A Zimbabwean army officer, Major General Sibusiso Moyo, went on TV after the takeover to say Mr Mugabe and his family were "safe and sound and their security is guaranteed".

 

How did the military justify its move?

"We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes... that are causing social and economic suffering in the country," Maj Gen Moyo said, reading out a statement.

 
Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo read out a statement on national TV early on Wednesday

"As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy."

Maj Gen Moyo also called on the security services to co-operate "for the good" of the country and warned that any provocation would "be met with an appropriate response".

It is not clear who is leading the military action.

Army chief Gen Constantino Chiwenga, who visited China last week, said on Monday the army was prepared to act to end purges within the ruling Zanu-PF party.

In Harare, some people greeted the news with delight. "We are going to have a good life, we are looking forward to Christmas, because of what has happened," one woman told BBC News.

"I want to thank the general for removing this tyrant," said a man. "He was ruling the country as if it belonged to his family."

Posted On Wednesday, 15 November 2017 13:33 Written by

The UN mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) released rebel fighters accused of shooting a UN peacekeeper, confidential documents seen by the BBC show.

The two men were handed back to their commander in 2015 despite injuring the UN peacekeeper - a war crime under international law.

Because the incident happened shortly before crucial elections, UN officials chose to "appease the electoral process" by "set[ing] the alleged war criminals free, handing them over", a UN report says.

This revelation is the latest blow for a peacekeeping mission beset by problems.

'This cannot go unpunished'

The incident itself took place in December 2015.

Four rebel soldiers belonging to a mainly Muslim militia, Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) which translates as the Union for Peace in CAR, approached a UN checkpoint on motorcycles in the central town of Galaboroma.

A peacekeeper asked them to stop and told them to put their hands above their heads for a search. But instead, two of the men took out weapons and aimed at the UN troops, a confidential investigative report reveals.

UN soldiers shot back, killing a rebel named Junior and injuring another.

The remaining two rebels were arrested and transferred to the battalion headquarters in the nearby mining town of Bambari. The detained men had allegedly injured one of the UN peacekeepers.

Following a previous attack against civilians and UN peacekeepers, the UN mission in CAR, known as Minusca, said: "Any attack targeting the civilian population, UN and humanitarian personnel is a war crime that can be prosecuted in accordance with Central African law and international law."

For its part, the UPC denied that its troops had attacked the UN peacekeepers. "It's false," said UPC spokesman Souleymane Daouda.

But the UN's top official in Bambari at the time, Zlatko Bars-Dimitroff, recommended an "immediate transfer" of the rebels to Bangui for a "proper investigation" by local judicial authorities.

For the next 14 days, a flurry of emails between senior UN and CAR officials decided the fate of the two rebels - Rodolphe Sombo-Igain and Ilyassa Ibrahim.

'They effectively let them go'

"Kindly convey to UPC leadership that by taking such reckless actions their elements have committed a serious crime which cannot go unpunished," Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR, known as Minusca, wrote in an email obtained by the BBC.

"UPC would receive a strong message that attacks against Minusca [the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR] will have consequences (no impunity)," Mr Bars-Dimitroff wrote in agreement.

Yet, in order to "appease the electoral process in Ouaka Region, UN authorities decided to set the alleged war criminals free, handing them over to local UPC leader Ali Darassa," the confidential UN report says.

 
Fergal Keane visits Bambari - where UN peacekeepers separate two rival warlords.

Human Rights Watch has documented multiple war crimes committed by Mr Darassa and his faction, one of the major rebel groups fighting for control of the country's resource-rich central region.

Technically, the two rebel soldiers were released on "liberté provisoire", (provisional freedom) and effectively means the court can still investigate the suspect while that person is free from detention.

But "releasing someone on 'liberté provisoire' in the current context, is effectively just letting them go," explained Human Rights Watch researcher Lewis Mudge.

Posted On Friday, 10 November 2017 05:13 Written by
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